June 1, 1885
The British claim to have invented brunch in the 1880's, but perhaps they stole the
idea from Louisianan Elizabeth Begue. Elizabeth Begue came to New Orleans from
Bavaria in 1853. Along with a Creole butcher named Dutrey, a Creole butcher, she
opened "Dutrey's Place" at 207 Old Levee (now 823 Decatur), catering mainly to
butchers in French Market who ate a light breakfast at dawn and came to the
restaurant for a leisurely second breakfast. In 1885, "the French Market breakfast"
gained international attention when visitors to the World's Industrial and Cotton
Centennial Exposition, which closed this week in 1885, dined at Bégué's and returned
home praising its notable cuisine.
June 2, 1961
Today in 1961, arguments were heard in federal court in New Orleans on Hart v. St.
Helena Parish School Board. In 1960, the court had enjoined the parish from
continuing the practice of racial segregation in the public schools. In early 1961, Act 2
of a Special Session called by Governor Earl Long established the “local option law,”
to continue segregation by changing public schools to "private" schools operated in
the same way, in the same buildings, with the same furnishings, with the same money,
and under the same supervision as public schools. Not surprisingly, the court rejected
the arguments of segregationist Attorney General Jack Gremillion and overturned the
June 3, 1966
Today in 1966, Governor John McKeithen announced that the files of the Louisiana
Sovereignty Commission would be opened for public review. The Louisiana State
Sovereignty Commission was formed in June 1960 and based out of the State Capitol
in Baton Rouge. The Louisiana commission’s philosophy espoused states rights, anti-
communist and segregationist ideas, with a particular focus on maintaining the status
quo in race relations. The newly-opened files would not reveal that McKeithen himself
had used the commission to send privately raised money to the Ku Klux Klan in the
first years of his administration to “insure that no violence occurred."
June 4, 1942
While the World War II Battle of Midway was about to unfold half a world away, life was
proceeding as normally as possible for 250 high school boys and girls attending the
annual 4-H summer camp at Camp Dennison near Denham Springs. The boys and
girls began their days with setting up exercises, followed by a dip in the nearby Amite
River and discussions of patriotism, nature and farm and home management. Evening
entertainments included "sound" motion pictures of farm life in Cuba, Mexico and
other countries. The war was not entirely forgotten as war coupon books were given
as prizes for the best essays about farm and household mechanics.
June 5, 1917
World War I got very serious for men across Louisiana and the United States as
registration for the draft got underway today in 1917. Men had been conscripted for
military service for both sides of the Civil War, but there would be no systematic
registration of men eligible for service until the Selective Service Act was enacted by
Congress in early 1917. The draft meant explosive growth at military facilities like
Camp Beauregard near Alexandria, a National Guard facility before the war that
swelled to include more than 1,300 buildings on fifteen square miles. At its peak
enrollment in the summer and fall of 1918, more than 22,000 men.
June 6, 1944
After D-Day, General Eisenhower would famously say that it could not have happened
without Higgins boats. Andrew Jackson Higgins was born in Columbus, Nebraska in
1885, and came south to own and manage lumber mills in Alabama and Mississippi in
1908. He moved to New Orleans in 1915 and established in 1915 and later
established Higgins Industries in 1930. In 1936, Higgins designed the Eureka boat, a
shallow vessel used by oil drillers and trappers along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi
River, which the Marine Corps adapted as a landing craft for infantrymen in 1939.
Higgins also designed torpedo boats and patrol boats used during World War II.
June 7, 1965
Today in 1965, the U.S. S. Orleck assisted in the recovery of the Gemini IV space
mission, the second successful launch in NASA's Gemini program. The Orleck (DD-
886) was laid down on November 28, 1944, in Orange, Texas. After decommissioning
and a brief career in the Turkish navy, the Orleck returned to Orange as a memorial
and museum in 2000. After the ship was damaged in Hurricane Rita and removed for
repair, the City of Orange refused to allow her to return. In May, 2009, the Lake
Charles City Council voted bring the Orleck to Lake Charles, where the ship’s Grand
Opening was held in April, 2011.
June 8, 1892
Today in 1892, Homer Plessy, an African American shoemaker and insurance agent,
purchased a first class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway from New Orleans to
Covington and was later arrested for taking a "Whites Only" seat on the train. He was
charged with violating an 1890 Louisiana statute requiring separate transportation
accommodations for the race. Plessy contended that the law violated the Thirteenth
and Fourteenth Amendments and petitioned the state supreme court to prohibit Judge
John H. Ferguson from holding a trial. The state supreme court, and later the U. S.
Supreme Court, held that the statute did not violate the amendments, setting legal
precedent for the next sixty years.
June 9, 1857
The Times-Picayune waxed poetical on the languid summer atmosphere this morning
in 1857, with an Ode to the Levee: "The levee begins to wear a sober, summer air-tho
hot sun amusing itself by frying pitch from the pine covering of the wharves, and a
vagrant breeze occasionally grasping up a handful of dust and waltzing round and
round in a listless, lazy manner...June is but a junior partner in the great business of
months, and the senior members of firm look on it with something of disdain. Cotton,
their staple sovereign, has disappeared on a European tour, and his ample throne,
the Levee, stares vacantly about and sighs for his return."
June 10, 1868
Straight College in New Orleans was founded this week in 1868. Responding to the
post-Civil War need to educate newly freed African Americans in the city, the
American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church founded Straight
College, and in 1930, it would merge with New Orleans University to become Dillard
University. James Hardy Dillard, a native of Virginia, had moved to New Orleans in
1891, and had been an academic and pioneer in race relations. He led a movement
to establish a branch for African Americans and served as a director of the Negro
rural school fund and other organizations.
June 11, 2002
American Idol debuted as a summer replacement series tonight in 2002. The judges
included Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Baton Rougean Randy Jackson. In his long
musical career, he’d recorded, produced, or toured with many well-known artists and
bands, including Mariah Carey, 'N Sync, Whitney Houston, Céline Dion and Madonna.
His credits as a musician include George Benson, Blue Öyster Cult, Jon Bon Jovi,
Michael Bolton, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin and playing at the Grand Ole Opry
with The Charlie Daniels Band. In March, 2008, Jackson released an album produced
entirely by himself. In 2009. He would continue to judge American Idol until the long-
running show wrapped in 2014.
June 12, 1863
This date in 1863 is remembered in St. Francisville as "The Day the Civil War
Stopped." The U.S.S. Albatross, captained by Lt. Commander John E. Hart was in the
Mississippi River above Port Hudson, shelling positions along the river north of the
Confederate fortifications including St. Francisville. Grace Episcopal Church stood
high atop the ridge overlooking the Mississippi and was used as a target. Aboard the
Albatross, delirious from fever, Hart, a Mason, had taken his own life. A messenger
under a white flag asked for permission to bury Hart in the cemetery of Grace Church.
Permission was granted, and Hart was buried in the cemetery with honors.
(Reenacted in photo.)
June 13, 1950
Nordoff, sired by the German Derby champion Nordlicht won at Aqueduct Race Track
today in 1950. Nordoff had been sired by Nordlicht, one of the great German
racehorses of the mid-20th century and had been the personal property of Adolf
Hitler. He was confiscated as a “spoil of war” by the US Army in 1945 and brought to
the United States to be sold at auction by the Army Remount Service in Virginia. He
was sold for $20,300 to a syndicate that included Christopher Chenery, the breeder
of Riva Ridge and Secretariat. Nordoff aside, Nordlicht’s stud career was not stellar.
He was buried at La Branche Plantation in St. Charles Parish.
June 14, 1861
On this Flag Day, spare a moment for the flag that served as Louisiana's official state
flag from 1861 until 1912. After secession in 1861, the legislature of the new Republic
of Louisiana adopted a flag with thirteen stripes alternated red and blue stripes with
white stripes, and the upper left-hand corner featured a pale yellow star on a red
background. Officially, the flag would remain in use until the end of the Civil War, but
by the end of 1861, the familiar blue flag with pelican and state motto of “Union,
Justice, Confidence” was already put into unofficial use. It would be named the official
state flag in 1912.
June 15, 1908
Evangeline Parish was created by the legislature today in 1908. Residents in the
northern part of St. Landry Parish, one of the nineteen original parishes in the state,
lived far from the parish seat at Opelousas. Some having to travel as far forty or fifty
miles to pay their taxes, attend court or tend to other legal business. In 1908, the bill
providing for the creation of Evangeline Parish was signed into law, and the location
of the parish seat was left up to the voters of the parish. Ville Platte was chosen by
voters in 1909, and Eunice, smarting over not being selected, elected to remain in St.