August 16, 1963
Nobody paid much attention at the time, but the image of Lee Harvey Oswald
distributing leaflets urging “Fair Play for Cuba” on Magazine Street in New Orleans
today in 1963 would challenge investigators for the next fifty years. On May 26,
1963, Oswald wrote to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and proposed "renting a
small office at my own expense for the purpose of forming a FPCC branch here in
New Orleans.” Three months later, Oswald would be filmed distributing a thousand
copies of a handbill from a local printer. Neither Oswald’s motives or why anyone
would think to film him was ever fully explained.
August 17, 1769
In 1768, Spanish Governor Antonio de Ulloa had tried to take the reins of power in
New Orleans following the Treaty of Paris, but French settlers had refused to
recognize him, and expelled him from the colony. Today in August 1769, his
replacement, Don Alejandro O’Reilly arrived in New Orleans to show the French
settlers who was boss. The Irish-born don would quickly earn the name "Bloody
O'Reilly," executing six prominent rebel French colonists in the first two months and
exiling others to life imprisonment in the Morro Castle in Havana. Having crushed the
rebellion, he concentrated on organizing Louisiana's administration and on stabilizing
the food supply
August 18, 1894
Coozan Dudley LeBlanc was born in Youngsville this week in 1894. He was a four-
term state senator, the “father of the old age pension” in Louisiana, a French culture
warrior and a Cajun Renaissance man, but he would be remembered forever as the
entrepreneur of the patent medicine he called "HADACOL" because he "had to call"
it something. Le Blanc devised never-before-seen marketing techniques to sell the
medicine techniques never before seen in America, and HADACOL became a best-
selling patent medicine throughout the United States. As a candidate for office,
LeBlanc often campaigned in French, attacking opponents in a language that most
of them could not understand.
August 19, 1888
The Association of Northern Settlers held its first convention in New Orleans this
month in 1888. When Sylvester L. Cary came south in the early 1880s to escape the
frozen Iowa winter, he knew he was home when the train reached Jennings. Almost
immediately, "Father Cary” was staking a land claim. He soon became the station
agent for Southern Pacific Railroad and began writing letters home to Iowa promoting
settlement around Jennings. Cary produced a booklet titled “Southwest Louisiana,”
and Southern Pacific distributed 30,000 copies throughout the country. Eventually,
hundreds of Iowans would heed his call and move south, mostly to the area around
the community of “Iowa.”
August 20, 1912
This week in 1912, Bobby Dunbar, the four-year-old son born to Lessie and Percy
Dunbar of Opelousas, disappeared on a fishing trip. The boy's supposed kidnapping
was sensationalized by newspapers across the country, and hundreds of rumors and
leads in the case were widely reported in 1912 and 1913. After an eight-month
nationwide search, investigators believed that they had found the child in Mississippi,
in the hands of William Cantwell Walters of North Carolina. Dunbar's parents claimed
the boy as their missing son, and he would live out his life as Bobby Dunbar.
However, in 2004, DNA profiling established that “Bobby” was not a blood relative of
the Dunbar family.
August 21, 1755
The French called it the “Le Grand Dérangement,” and others named it “Great
Expulsion”-and it began this month in 1755. The British had taken possession of the
French Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island —
an area also known as Acadia. But the Seven Years War was still raging, and the
British wanted the potentially dangerous French settlers out of the region. The first
wave of the expulsion began in August 1755, with the Bay of Fundy Campaign.
Although as many as half of those who would be forced out would die in the
expulsion, approximately four thousand Acadians had made their way to Louisiana
August 22, 1969
The proposed Riverfront Expressway in New Orleans was finally abandoned today in
1969. Since 1946, the Louisiana Highway Department had been searching for a
route for what would become I-10 through New Orleans. Consultant Robert Moses
proposed a 40-foot high, 108-foot wide freeway running 3.5 miles from I-10 near
Elysian Fields Ave, following Elysian Fields at ground level to the riverfront, and
continuing south, elevated to the BR US 90 bridge approach, and it was officially
added to the Interstate Highway System as Interstate 310. After years of intense
local opposition by French Quarter residents and other preservationists, the freeway
was finally removed from the Interstate System on August 22, 1969.
August 23, 2003
Today was a big day at the House that Ruth Built in 2003. At Yankee Stadium in the
Bronx, it was Ron Guidry Day, and the Yanks retired Number 49, worn by the
legendary pitcher Ron Guidry during his fourteen-year career with the team. Guidry
had been born in Lafayette in 1950 and attended the University of Southwestern
Louisiana, where his two-year combined record was 12–5 with a 2.03 earned run
average in 1969 and 1970. He was selected in the third round by the Yankees in the
1971 draft, and from 1977 to 1985, he recorded 154 victories, more than any other
pitcher in the majors.
August 24, 1806
Two of Louisiana's most iconic buildings were designed by architect James Harrison
Dakin, who was born in New York today in 1806. He moved to New Orleans in
November 1835, and joined his brother, Charles, in forming the firm of Dakin &
Dakin. He was the architect of the New Orleans Custom House and the Louisiana
State Capitol in Baton Rouge, which gave him the reputation of being one of the
more original Romantic-era architects. During his career, he would also design St.
Patrick’s Church, State Arsenal and the Medical College of Louisiana in New
Orleans. He died a week after completing his work on the Old State Capitol.
August 25, 1946
This week in 1946, John, Anthony and Paul Schwegmann opened the first
Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market on St. Claude Avenue Elysian Fields in
New Orleans. By 1957, there were Schwegmann stores all over New Orleans, and in
time, the brothers’ empire would grow to eighteen stores with 5,000 employees. The
Schwegmanns revolutionized grocery shopping in New Orleans, and the stores sold
everything from gourmet food to garden supplies. The largest store was the one on
Old Gentilly Road, which at the time was the biggest supermarket in the world, which
was a staggering 155,000 square feet and attracted customers and curious tourists
who came by bus to see it.
August 26, 1884
Today in 1884, The Shreveport Times announced, ”On and after September 1st,
Lawrence Station on the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad will be known as
Haughton. In 1881 Mary Jane Haughton Lawrence sold land to the railroad. At the
time of the purchase, the town was known as Lawrenceville, but in 1884 it would be
changed to Haughton because the railroad already had a Lawrenceville on its route.
The railroad brought life to Haughton which at the time boasted three saloons and a
box car used as a railroad station. In 1885, Mrs. Lawrence began selling lots and
Haughton soon became a town and businesses started to prosper.
August 27, 2012
This week in 2012, Drew Ramsey, operations manager at Hubig's Pies bakery asked
people wanting to use the company’s trademark featuring “Savory Simon” to contact
the company for permission. The Marigny Street factory of New Orleans producer of
fried pies stuffed with chocolate, lemon and other fruits had burned down on July
27th, and Ramsey said that “our brand is of the utmost importance to the future of
the company." Several entities had reached out to Hubig’s to offer support, including
Lauren Thom, owner of Fleurty Girl which sold Hubig's themed T-shirts and donated
more than $9,000 in profits to Hubig's to help it recover.
August 28, 1956
The Pontchartrain Causeway, the “World’s Longest Bridge Over Water”, opened to
the public today in 1956. The original Causeway was a single span containing two
lanes and measuring 23.86 miles. The second two-lane span was added in 1969 and
is 1/100 of a mile longer than the original span. The twin spans are constructed of
prestressed panels supported by 9,000 concrete pilings. The causeway also was the
first to employ assembly line techniques in fabricating and assembling a bridge.
Since its completion—and especially since the completion of the second bridge, the
causeway has been a primary driver in the Northshore boom in St. Tammany Parish.
August 29, 2005
It was the storm that changed everything. Hurricane Katrina came ashore today in
2005, killing more than 1500 people, leaving more than two million homeless and
causing damage that may never be repaired. Over fifty breaches in New Orleans's
hurricane surge protection were the cause of most of Katrina’s death and
destruction. Eventually 80 percent of the city and large tracts of neighboring
parishes became flooded, and the floodwaters lingered for weeks. According to a
modeling exercise conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, two-thirds of the
deaths in Greater New Orleans were due to levee and floodwall failure.
August 30, 1874
A year after the Colfax Massacre in neighboring Grant Parish, Thomas Floyd, an
African American state senator was murdered in Brownsville. Members of the White
League arrested several white Republicans and twenty freedmen, accusing them of
plotting a rebellion. Within two days, hundreds of armed whites arrived in Coushatta,
and Republican officeholders including the sheriff, parish attorney and tax collector
were taken hostage. The officeholders were forced to sign statements promising to
leave Louisiana immediately. As they left, six of the captives were murdered by a
band of armed whites. At the same time, at least four African Americans in the parish
were attacked and killed in what would be known as the Coushatta Massacre.
August 31, 1927
Geoffrey Beene was born in Haynesville this week in 1927. He was born into a family
of doctors as Samuel Albert Bozeman, Jr., and he was encouraged to follow in his
father’s and uncles’ footsteps. After three years of studying medicine at Tulane, he
realized that he was the only one of his classmates drawing clothes on anatomical
figures. He dropped out and moved to Los Angeles, where he studied fashion design
at USC and worked in the display department of the I. Magnin before moving to New
York in 1947. He would become one of New York's most famous fashion designers,
creating simple, comfortable and dressy women's wear.