September 1, 1830
Today in 1830, voters of St. James Parish approved the creation of the "College of
Jefferson" in the town of Convent. The College of Jefferson would be established by
the legislature in early 1831, and the college would open in February, 1834, offering
curricula in English and French. Over the next seventy years, fire, civil war and lack of
funds would plague the college. In 1931, the Jesuits purchased the campus and
renamed it the Manresa House of Retreats. One distinctive legacy of the college is the
tradition of bonfires on the levee on Christmas Eve, which had been brought from
France by faculty members in the 1880’s.
September 2, 1990
This week in 1990, the Shreveport Captains of the Texas League made the league
play-offs and went on to defeat the San Antonio Drillers to win their first league title.
Shreveport had been a member of the Texas League since 1971, when the Captains,
an affiliate of the California Angels, started playing at SPAR Stadium. They would move
to the stadium at the Fairgrounds in 1985 and play there until being purchased and
moved to Frisco, Texas, in 2002. The team’s affiliation with the Angels would end after
the 1972 season and be replaced by the Milwaukee Brewers (1973–74), Pittsburgh
Pirates (1975–78) and San Francisco Giants (1979–2002).
September 3, 1859
Disputes between outlaws and vigilantes in in Vermilion, Lafayette and St. Landry
parishes came to a showdown today in 1859 at the “Battle of Queue de Tortue. In the
years before the civil war, Acadian settlers frequently ran afoul of their “Americain”
neighbors, who eventually resorted to forming vigilante committees. The committees’
punishments ranged from expulsion and whipping to death. The disputes came to a
head with a confrontation on Bayou Queue de Tortue between Lafayette and St.
Landry Parishes. Several hundred vigilantes took twenty-four prisoners and gave their
leaders a hundred lashes of the whip. The 1986 film Belizaire the Cajun was based on
the events of this era.
September 4, 1971
The 1972 classic film Sounder was being filmed in St. Helena and East Feliciana
Parishes today in 1971. The film was based on the young adult novel by William H.
Armstrong that had been published in 1969 and won the Newbery Award for American
Fiction for Children in 1970. The film would premier in 1972 and starred Cecily Tyson
and Paul Winfield, who were both nominated for Academy Awards in that year of The
Godfather and Cabaret. The supporting cast included Kevin Hooks, son of actor
Robert Hooks, and musician Taj Mahal, who also provided the score, made his film
debut as the family’s optimistic friend, Ike.
September 5, 1947
Steen's Syrup Mill of Abbeville incorporated today in 1947. C. S. Steen, Sr. began
boiling cane syrup in 1910, in an effort to save his freezing crop of sugar cane. Cane
syrup is made by the simple concentration of cane juice through long cooking in open
kettles. The dark syrup is sweeter than molasses because no refined sugar is removed
during the cooking process. At the time of Steen’s death in 1936, the mill was
processing about ten thousand tons of cane into syrup annually, and Steen’s widow
and surviving children-now in the fifth generation-would take over the company and
September 6, 1940
New Orleans native Dorothy Lamour was the toast of her hometown today in 1940 as
she made her triumphal return to the city after becoming the number one female box
office attraction in the United States. She was born Mary Leta Dorothy Slaton, and
when her mother married for a second time to Clarence Lambour, Dorothy later
adopted and modified this as her stage name. She quit school at the age of 14, worked
as a secretary and entered beauty pageants to support herself. When she was
crowned "Miss New Orleans" in 1931, she used the prize money to move to New York
and begin her stage career.
September 7, 1908
World-renowned heart surgeon Michael DeBakey born in Lake Charles today in 1908.
DeBakey received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Tulane and he
remained in New Orleans to complete his internship and residency in surgery at
Charity Hospital. Later, he would move to the UT Medical Center in Houston and
pioneer the development of the artificial heart. DeBakey was the first to use an external
heart pump successfully in a patient, and he pioneered the use of Dacron grafts to
replace or repair blood vessels. In 1958, he performed the first successful patch-graft
angioplasty. The DeBakey artificial graft is still used around the world to replace or
repair blood vessels.
September 8, 1935
Tonight in 1935, somebody shot Senator Huey Long. Police witnesses said that Baton
Rouge physician Carl Austin Weiss approached Long and fired the shot that would
cause his death thirty hours later. Weiss’s defenders would say that the doctor
approached the Senator in a manner that the Senator’s bodyguards deemed to be
threatening. An errant bullet from a guard’s gun struck Long, before their next sixty-two
bullets would strike Weiss. It was said later that when Weiss’s body was moved, the
sound of bullets falling out of his body and hitting the marble floor sounded like
somebody dropping a fistful of nickels.
September 9, 1965
Betsy, the fist billion-dollar hurricane, smashed ashore near Grand Isle tonight in 1965.
The storm arrived in Louisiana as a Category 3 monster, packing wind gusts of 145
mph. It wiped out the villages of Yscloskey and Delacroix and sent floodwaters through
levees throughout the area. A half-million people would flee South Louisiana ahead of
the storm, but seventy-five people would be killed in the most destructive storm in
Louisiana history up until that time. Because the storm hit in the dead of night,
countless New Orleanians awoke to find their homes already flooded. To flee, many
sought higher ground in their attics, where some drowned as waters rose.
September 10, 2001
Pelicans were on Parade at the annual Festival Acadiens parade this week in 2001.
The “Pelicans on Parade” public arts project which featured 54-inch high fiberglass
pelicans festooned in various disguises was a fundraising effort of the Acadiana Arts
Council. It had kicked off in February 2001, and the first of fiberglass foul had made
their debut at Festival International de Louisiane’s Artwalk in April, and most would
participate in the Festival Acadiens parade in September. Several of the birds can still
be found around Lafayette, and the “Pelicans on Parade” motif would be repeated with
success in Slidell in 2013.
September 11, 1722
“The Great Hurricane of 1722” hit New Orleans today in the eponymous year. The
storm struck with a vengeance the evening of September 11th, when hurricane-force
southeast winds and a high surge struck New Orleans, whose three-foot levees proved
inadequate. Hastily-built buildings in New Orleans that had been constructed in the
four years since the establishment of the city in 1718 suffered extensive destruction.
Thirty-six huts were destroyed during the storm, which included the area hospital and
the St Louis church. Ten flat-boats were broken apart and sunk, as were launches,
canoes and pirogues. The storm's eye would move inland west of the Mississippi and
headed north across Central Louisiana.
September 12, 1987
Louisianans of all faiths fell in love with Pope John Paul II today as he visited New
Orleans this weekend in 1987. He stayed at the residence of the archbishop of New
Orleans and was served dinner that had been prepared at Antoine’s and served by ten
of the restaurant’s waiters who had over 500 years of waiting experience among them.
On Saturday, he spoke to 80,000 Catholic youth at the Louisiana Superdome, where it
was alleged that he removed the curse on the building that had afflicted the Saints
since 1967. He later led an outdoor mass held on the grounds at the University of New
Orleans in the afternoon.
September 13, 1943
Today in 1943, some genius serving at Harding Airfield in Baton Rouge during World
War II made the startling discovery that women liked to gossip as much as men. A no-
byline article in the base’s weekly newsletter Echelon stated, “If you are stationed at
Harding Field, you may be sure that your name has been brought up at least once.”
Asserting that women’s “gossip sessions” were more than a match for men’s “bull
sessions,” the article continued that WAC sessions begin “with one or two girls
swapping ideas that are too interesting for the innocent bystander to resist,” and grow
September 14, 1974
Randy Newman's fifth album Good Ole Boys was released this week in 1974. While the
album would peak at Number 36 nationally, it quickly became iconic in Louisiana, as it
featured to songs relating to the state's history. Ev'ry Man a King was co-written by
Huey Long and Castro Carazo in the 1930’s; and Louisiana,1927 was a woeful lament
about about the devastating flooding of that year and the anemic national response to
it. Newman was born in Los Angeles, lived in New Orleans as a small child, and spent
summers there until he was eleven. Newman attended high school in Los Angeles and
studied music at UCLA.
September 15, 1922
The world’s first Shriners Hospital for Children opened in Shreveport this week in 1922.
In 1920, the Imperial Session of the Shriners was held in Portland, Oregon, and the
membership unanimously passed a resolution to establish what at the time was called
the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children system. The first hospital in the system
opened in 1922 in Shreveport, and provided pediatric orthopaedic care. Today, there
are 22 Shriners hospitals across America, and the Shreveport hospital, which moved to
a new facility in 1986, specializes in orthopaedic services and provides care to children
from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and the Republic of