Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Walter J. Masling

            The place where I work is currently indexing Ouachita Parish newspapers for deaths and marriages.  Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of causes of death, some gruesome, some peaceful.  This particular death has stuck with me through the years as one of the most unusual ways to enter the great beyond that I have ever read about. Apparently, this poor man died after drinking gasoline.  I felt so sorry for this gentleman who died so horribly!  Where did he come from?  Who were the members of his family?  I began to research.
            Walter J. Masling was born September 4, 1871 in the small town of Delhi, LA.  His father William George and his mother Martha Miggs Masling were British immigrants from London and Liverpool respectively.  His father died in the late 1870’s leaving a widow with four sons to rear.  The little family scratched out a living, and when Walter got old enough, he and his brother Frank learned carpentry skills and worked on their own.
            Walter soon met and fell in love with a beautiful Arkansas lass named Cordelia.  The two lovebirds were wed around 1900.  Their lives were blessed with ten children according to Walter’s obituary, but only eight are listed on the census:  Eva May, Katie May, Evelina, Walter J. Jr., Clifford, Edith G., Martha E. and Frank.  Things were going quite well for the little family; then came the events of Thursday, December 3, 1925.
            Walter had been hired to do work on the state Baptist orphanage in Monroe.  We now know it as the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home.  Six months before, the orphanage had moved from its Lake Charles home to permanently settle in Monroe.  One hundred twenty-five children and the entire staff had made the move.  All that remained to be done were some finishing touches on some of the buildings.  Walter was just the man for the job.  Carpentry was thirsty work, and Walter kept a mason jar nearby full of cool water.  Not even thinking to look, he grabbed the nearest jar, thinking it was his water and took a large gulp.  Instead of water, it was a jar of gasoline.  The article about his death reported that he suffered “great distress”, but reported for work the next day.  His family had begged him not to go.  Several hours later, his stomach hemorrhaged.  Walter was quickly taken to Riverview Sanitarium for treatment.  After growing weaker and weaker day by day, Walter lost his fight for life at 1pm on December 8, 1925.  Peters Funeral Home handled arrangements.  His body was taken to his home at 2711 Lee Avenue where services were held by Rev. L.T. Hastings of the First Baptist Church of Monroe.  The body was then taken to the Old City Cemetery and buried in the Masling family plot.  Thirteen years later, his beloved wife Cordelia would be buried beside him.  Their soldier son Clifford would also be buried with them in 1942.  Walter’s parents William and Martha are here too, buried in unmarked graves.  May Walter’s sleep be more peaceful than his life!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cemetery Tour Coming in March.

Keep a lookout on this page, our Facebook page and in the local media for the announcement of our first annual Old City Cemetery tour.  Some of our cemetery "residents" will come to life and tell you about their life and the impact they had on our local history.  Some names include:  Annie E. Livingston Saunders Hardin, Maria Copely Ludeling, Narcissa Garrett, Robert Endom, Joseph Bennett McGuire and his wife Louisa Lamy McGuire, Julia Dabbs, and a Confederate Soldier buried in an unmarked grave.  The date will be coming soon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beautiful "Little Lady": The Obituary of Mary McCranie

Little Mary McCranie, was the daughter of local newspaperman and Confederate soldier, Capt. George William McCranie.  We do not know what illness took her from her family at the age of ten months, but we do know the effect it had on her father.  The following article was written by George and published in his newspaper, The Ouachita Telegraph.

The Ouachita Telegraph
January 3, 1867
Page 2, Column 1

Baby Mary,

Among our readers, there are doubtless a few who have not forgotten the playful little paragraph which appeared in the TELEGRAPH not quite a year ago, announcing the birth of a "little lady," in our family, over whose quiet advent and promising appearance we grew exultant and proud. A father's heart, no less than a mother's bounded high at the fulfillment of a long cherished desire, and home seemed brighter ten-fold for the presence of the beautiful and innocent babe.

Heaven, for a while, smiled upon a parent's joy and little MARY grew hourly in beauty and loveliness. Her mild blue eyes assumed a deeper blue, and her fair little cheeks a more roseate tint. One baby accomplishment was added to another, all so graceful and womanly, until her little store of knowledge grew to be our pride and admiration. The slightest gesture or the faintest sigh conveyed a meaning which might have outweighed the eloquence of a Tully and touched our heart more deeply than any melody human ingenuity might devise.

But, piteous tale to tell! While others were merry-making and cutting loose from the weighty cares of an expiring year, Death came stealthily to our darkened chamber, and on the 28th of December, (woful day!) Even while a fond mother was praying for her suffering babe, bore away our darling, our beautiful "little lady!" The bright and joyous little sunbeam, coming like an exhalation from Heaven, was extinguished by the shadow of Death, and today just dawning set in darker and more gloomy than the anxious night just passed.

Was born; died; and was buried, might possibly tell all that a selfish and unfeeling world would care to know of little MARY. Ten months and two days comprise the duration of her brief existence, and, truly it might be said, she went "from the cradle to the grave." And yet a life-time would be exhausted in the effort to realize the hopes and aspirations which centered upon our fair little daughter, and which now lie buried with her! Spare, then, bustling world, your cold criticism, and say not, as you have been, or may be bereaved, that ours is a foolish sorrow! A prattling boy, who erstwhile hung about our knees, or followed us with tottering steps, his rosy lips making sweet music for our ears, is now followed to rest by his baby sister. -- Heaven has been unkind in calling them away? Nay, nay; it is well!

Starting later, these little suffering pilgrims have even outstripped us in the hasty march to the Hereafter, the order of Nature having been happily reversed in their favor. An earthly existence could have added nothing to their happiness, and dying first, we might have left them the beneficiaries of an uncharitable world. Seventy years! What are they? The gnarled oak or the scrubby pine that darkens the forest and that we heed not in passing, has lived longer. Eternity is the goal the New Life the soul's true and Heaven designed sphere. Thither our little ones have gone. God help us to follow in the path they have trod!

Mary's broken little headstone lies next to that of her father George in the City Cemetery.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cluff McCullough (1826-1883)

                Cluff was born in Alabama in 1826 and moved to Caldwell Parish in adulthood.  After a few years living in Jackson Parish, he moved to Cottonport, Ouachita Parish in 1878.  Cluff had a wife and five children at home January 10, 1883 when he met his fate. 
                Cluff and Capt. Lemuel Dawson McLain, a local merchant, had an argument about money.  Lemuel owed Cluff and Cluff was planning to move his family to Florida.  Cluff wanted his money right then and Lemuel told him he would meet him at the local bank the next morning.  This wasn't good enough.  The two men began to exchange words.  An eyewitness, W.G. Dunn, testified at the coroner's inquest and described what he saw.  Punctuation has not been changed from the report:
                "I met McCullough this evening and he asked me where McClain was.  I told him he was gone to Black Bayou.  He said he wanted to see him.  I told him we would walk up the street and perhaps we would meet him.  We went as far as Dr. Sholars’ and I turned back.  When I saw him again I had seen McLain, and he asked for him again.  I told him McLain said he would be back there in a few minutes.  He said he would go up the street and look for him and walked off.  After some little time I went up the street and met Mr. McCullough and he said he had been told McLain had come down the street and said McLain was a damn big head fool with his money and that he did not intend to fool with him much longer.  We walked together as far as Mr. Kelley’s saloon; he went in; McLain saw me and came out to me and said he wanted to see me and we walked out on the crossing, about midway in the street, perhaps further, and were talking on business, when McCullough walked up and asked McLain if he was going to pay that money.  McLain said he would, but was very busy then, but if he would meet him at the bank in the morning at 9 o’clock, he would pay him.  McCullough walked off to the other side of the street and turned around and told McLain he would carry the order back to Mr. Mitchner.  McLain repeated again that he would pay him in the morning at 9 o’clock if he would meet him at the bank.  McCullough said he would take it back to Mr. Mitchner; McLain said; “Well carry it back to him then.”  McCullough said to McLain:  “You are acting the damn rascal with me,” and put his hand in his pocket and started back towards McLain; McLain drew his pistol; McCullough had then reached McLain, who shoved him off once or twice and slapped him once.  I shoved him off once and still he pressed upon McLain and shoved him back to the ditch.  I thought McLain would shoot him and I got away; I saw him shoot and McCullough fall."
                W.W. Farmer also testified.  "At one o’clock to-day I went to the house of L.D. McLain on business.  I found McLain absent.  I left the house at 15 minutes past 4 o’clock; as I walked off the gallery McCullough had reached the front gate, after having inquired for McLain at the front door.  Having business with McCullough, I called him and he stopped and we walked together up Jackson street and up DeSiard to Mr. Dedman’s saloon.  We had not quite finished our business, and he said he would call to see me the next morning; he had to see McLain and asked me if I knew where he could find him.  I told him I did not know, but that I was sure he had come back, for Charley Crosley had come back with him, and he said he knew he was in town and was bound to hunt him up.  He said he need not think because he could prance around on fine horses, he could put him off.  Both parties being friends of mine, I made no reply.  He walked into Dedman’s saloon and I walked to Breard’s front door and while standing receipting for a telegram, McCollough passed by and enquired of some one.  If he had seen that high headed McLain.  I did not observe the reply.  I went to D.B. Gunby’s store to show him the telegram; leaving there with D.B. Trousdale, we reached the corner at Sanders’s store and stopped there talking.  At about 5 o’clock I saw McLain and Mr. Dunn standing on the crossing in front of Keller’s saloon, about 8 feet from the western ditch.  McLain had his back to me, Dunn facing me; McCullough was standing on the plank crossing with his back to the river, facing McLain and Dunn.  My attention was attracted particularly to them from McCullough’s excited manner.  I could not hear what either of the two men said; I was distant from them about 90 feet. McCullough suddenly walked in an excited manner from the crossing onto the side walk and suddenly stopped and the next moment he stepped across the ditch towards McLain, and had advanced two or three steps, when McLain drew a large bright pistol, he did not attempt to shoot McCullough at that time, but held it in his right hand and was gesticulating with his left.  I could not hear what either one said.  McCullough continued to advance until he reached McLain; he attempted to catch hold of McLain who pushed him off.  This scuffling began on the north side of the crossing and during its continuance on the south side, Mr. Green Dunn interfered between the parties and separated them.  After he had separated them, Mr. McCullough was about 20 feet from the western ditch out in the street, McLain about 5 feet north west of him.  During this time McLain had not attempted to shoot.  They still continued talking, but I could not hear them. McCullough passed forward towards McLain again, and Mr. Dunn suddenly left and got to the side walk at Keller’s.  McCullough struck at McLain and hit him on the nose and McLain struck at McCullough with his pistol.  McCullough by dodging back escaped the blows; he attempted to catch hold of McLain’s pistol.  McLain jerked back his pistol and extended his left hand to push McCullough back; McCullough caught hold of McLain’s left hand and gave him a jerk which came near throwing McLain down; McLain struggled and thought he was falling, but did not, and as soon as he straightened himself up he leveled his pistol at McCullough.  McCullough till had hold of McLain’s left hand and pressed him back towards the western ditch; then for the first time did I believe McLain intended to shoot and I ran towards the parties with the intention of separating them.  When I had gone about 50 feet towards them the pistol fired and McCullough fell dead."
         Cluff lay dead in DeSiard Street.  The shot had hit him above the right eye.  A massive funeral was held and all that was mortal of Cluff was laid to rest in the Old City Cemetery.  Just a few steps away is the stone angel standing watch over the McLain plot where Lemuel now lies buried. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Isaiah Garrett (1812-1874) and Narcissa Grayson Garrett (1816-1890)

The Garrett family is one of Monroe's most well-known families. They contributed much to our local history and their names still grace buildings and roads throughout the Parish.
     The patriarch of the family, Isaiah, was born in the town of Franklin, TN September 16, 1812. His birthplace would later be the site of the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War. In 1816, Isaiah's parents moved to Saline County, MO, from which state he was appointed to West Point. He became a graduate of that famous academy in 1833. Isaiah's sight was defective, so he resigned his military commission in 1834 and moved to Ouachita Parish. Garrett was interested in the legal profession, so in 1835 he obtained his license to practice. He went into practice with Judge E.K. Willson, one of the most distinguished lawyers of North Louisiana. Garrett's law office on South Grand Street, is still standing today and is considered one of Monroe's oldest buildings.
     Shortly after moving to Monroe, Isaiah met and fell in love with a charming lady by the name of Narcissa Grayson. Narcissa's father, Col. Thomas Grayson, was a compatriot of Daniel Boone and moved to Caldwell Parish in 1813. The Graysons were one of the founding families of Caldwell Parish. The town of Grayson was named in honor of the family. Thomas approved of the young lawyer courting his youngest daughter, and so, Isaiah and Narcissa were married in Ouachita Parish on May 10, 1836. The couple were the parents of eleven children; five of whom lived to maturity.
     An incident in the life of Narcissa and Isaiah, illustrates the limited medical knowledge of the early 1800's. In February of 1844, Isaiah and Narcissa took a trip to New Orleans to hear the great orator and Congressman Henry Clay speak. With them on the trip were their three year old son Frank and his nurse. After a delightful time in the city, the couple and several others from Ouachita decided to take the trip back home to Monroe on board the steamboat Buckeye. Isaiah refused to retire to his room until the boat had left the Mississippi river. Narcissa placed her son on the lower berth and lay down on the upper berth. Some time between three and four o'clock in the morning, Narcissa was jarred awake by a collision. It felt as if the ship had run into the bank. In reality, the Buckeye had collided with the steamboat DeSoto. Isaiah came back to his cabin, collected the family and began making his way to the bow. Narcissa was swept away by the current and became separated. She was later rescued. Frank had been separated from Isaiah by the crowd, but was found floating on a mattress by a family friend. Isaiah was later found half drowned, but alive. Only after Narcissa was rescued and placed by a fire did she feel her left wrist in excruciating pain. It was later determined that her wrist bone had split during the accident. A year after the accident when her hand did not improve it was amputated by a doctor in New Orleans. The operation was before the use of chloroform, so Narcissa endured the procedure awake.
Narcissa <i>Grayson</i> Garrett

     Isaiah retired from law in 1857 to his estate called Lindwood. He had a reputation of being an honest, upright citizen and everyone thought well of him. It was that reason why, in 1861, he was called to represent Ouachita in Louisiana's Secession Convention. Garrett lobbied hard as a cooperationist, and warned the convention that it would be a long and bloody war if Louisiana seceded. He was one of only seven men that refused to sign the ordinance of secession. Garrett returned to his beloved Lindwood and prepared for war.
Because of his vision, Isaiah could not serve the Confederacy as a soldier, but he served in other ways. Two sons were sent to serve the Confederacy. Isaiah became chairman of the state military board. After his service there, he returned to Ouachita and established a private hospital for wounded and sick Confederate soldiers all the way to the end of the war.
     After the Civil War, Isaiah came out of retirement and practiced law again. He became a well-known Democrat and fought against Reconstruction right up until his death. In early May of 1874, Isaiah and his friend Henry Dobson were riding down DeSiard Street in a two-horse buggy. The horses took fright and made for the river at head-long speed. Mr. Dobson saw a vacant lot and steered the horses into it. While turning the buggy, it overturned in the lot, throwing Dobson and Garrett on the ground. Garrett landed on his head. Dobson recovered, but Garrett lingered in a coma for three days. On May 7, surrounded by friends and family, Isaiah breathed his last. He was buried in Monroe's Old City Cemetery. Narcissa survived Isaiah by sixteen years and was buried beside him. There they continue to rest over one hundred years later.
Narcissa <i>Grayson</i> Garrett

Sunday, November 7, 2010

William Mills Wood Farmer (1840-1883)

William Wood Farmer, Jr. was born the son of William Wood, Sr. [A Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana.  The town of Farmerville, LA was named for him.] and Pamela Ann Mixon Mason Farmer. His original middle name was Mills in honor of his father's father, but in 1861 he changed it to Wood in memory of his father. He never married. He apparently dated an Emily Tew but it didn't work out. Sallie Garrett [daughter of Isaiah and Narcissa] wrote a letter to her brother dated September 9th, 1860 in which she said, "I believe Emma Tew's and Mr. Farmer's attachment has ceased. I think as he generally does he was only coqueting with her." When he died, William was buried in the Monroe Cemetery. His grave is not marked. On an 1886 Plat Map for the Monroe City Cemetery, the W.W. Farmer plot was plot #80, which was located where the two avenues in the cemetery meet (near the Purvis/Stevens marker and flag pole).

W.W. Farmer Plot, Old City Cemetery

The Monroe Bulletin
Wednesday, April 18, 1883
Page 3, Column 1
Judge Farmer's funeral took place Sunday evening at 4 o'clock from Grace Episcopal Church to the Monroe Cemetery. The church was filled with friends. Rev. Mr. Prosser officiated. The pall bearers were L.D. McLain, Dr. T.O. Brewer, W.G. Kennedy, Dr. T.Y. Aby, F.Y. Dabney, W.T. Atkins. The floral tribute was beautiful and plentiful.

The Monroe Bulletin
Wednesday, April 18, 1883
Page 3, Column 2
Judge W.W. Farmer.
Judge William Wood Farmer died at his residence in Monroe, at 3 o'clock a.m., last Saturday, the 14th of April. Life's fitful fever is over at the early age of 43 years and 15 days.
Judge Farmer was the only son of ex-Gov. Farmer, and was born in Union parish on the 29th of March, 1840. He graduated at Centenary College in 1858 with first honors. He read law with Morrison & Purvis and was licensed by the Law College of New Orleans in 1861.
The war found him an ardent sympathizer with the South, and he joined Dreux's battalion [Co. D, 1st Special Battn.] and served the first term of his enlistment as a private. In 1862 he was chosen captain of a company that became a part of Morrison's regiment [Co. H, 31st LA Inf.]. He was engaged in all the battles preceding the investment of Vicksburg and was among the prisoners of that memorable surrender.
He formed a law partnership with Col. C.H. Morrison [note: This is William's brother-in-law Charles Henry Morrison, married to his sister Fannie] in 1865 and continued it with great success until Morrison died and his health failed in 1875. He was a member of (t)he lower House of the State Legislature in 1880 and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. He was chosen by that assembly Judge of the Second Circuit and resigned. In 1881 he gave up the judgeship and resumed the practice of the law.
Judge Farmer's mind was large, his perception quick and his reasoning bordered upon intuition. There was no plodding — a case stated was covered by an opinion. His reading was extensive, his memory tenacious and the collation of the authorities was all that was necessary to confirm his conclusion. He was honest and had a supreme contempt for Quirk, Gammon & Snap practice. Whenever a client had a case to make he found in Farmer a lawyer unremitting in his exertions to secure his rights. He never made an effort to mislead a court by suppressing evidence, garbling authorities or toadying his views to judges in private. He rested upon the law and the evidence as they were written and his urged them with a force that every adversary dreaded.
As Judge of the Second Circuit he was laborious beyond his strength. He heard argument patiently, examined evidence closely, read authorities carefully and decided conscientiously. We have it from him that he made no law while in the ermine; that he was merely its interpreter, no matter at times of its distastefulness.
Judge Farmer never married, and a name that will ever be remembered in Louisiana with honor is now extinct. His nearest relation is Farmer Morrison, a nephew and an orphan, a lad of eight years. "Gone forever! Such men always die too young; but their example lives after them, and so molds and shapes coming events that the order of affairs is tending ever to a higher and a more just public control, is carving a pathway through the darkness of the past to a brighter, more hopeful and peaceful future. In losing him the State has lost an able defender, and good men an admirer, and ourself one of the best of friends and the safest of advisers."