WAGGAMAN, Eugene, soldier, planter. Born, New Orleans, October 18, 1826; son of George Augustus Waggaman (q.v.) and Marie Camille Arnoult. Education: St. Mary’s College, Maryland, graduated 1846. Although trained as civil engineer and architect, chose to manage mother’s plantation, Avondale. Married, March, 1852, Félicie Sauvé. Six children: William, Marie, Christine, Albert, Charles, and Frank. Member, state legislature, 1858-1859. At outbreak of Civil War raised a cavalry company but Confederate government declined its service. Captain, Company I, Tenth Louisiana Infantry Regiment, July 22, 1961; lieutenant colonel, January 16, 1862. Colonel, October 1, 1862; frequently in brigade command; commanding remnants of Louisiana regiments at Appomattox. Returned to plantation after the war. Led a company of White Leaguers at the Battle of Liberty Place, September 14, 1874. Farmer near Lake Charles in 1890s. Died, New Orleans, April 24, 1897. A.W.B. Sources: “Eugene Waggaman,” Southern Historical Society Papers, XXV (1897); Robert K. Krick, Lee’s Colonels (1979); Stanley C. Arthur, Old Louisiana Families (1931; reprint ed., 1971).
WAGGAMAN, George Augustus, congressman. Born, “Fairview” near Cambridge, Dorchester County, Md., 1790; son of Sarah Ernnells and Henry Waggaman, the first attorney general of Maryland. Completed preparatory studies under private tutors; studied law; admitted to the bar in Caroline County, Md. Arrived in New Orleans in 1810; soon after married Marie Camille Arnoult, daughter of Cyril Honoré Arnoult and Christine Juana Battista de Brounner. Children: Henry St. John, Christine, Eugene (q.v.), Mathilde, Eliza and Camille. Veteran of the War of 1812; removed to Baton Rouge, commenced practice of law, 1813; district attorney, Third Judicial District, 1813; judge, Third Judicial Circuit Court, 1818; assistant judge of the criminal court in New Orleans, 1819. Interested in sugarcane growing. Secretary of state of Louisiana, 1830-1832; elected as a National-Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Edward Livingston (q.v.), served from November 15, 1831, to March 3, 1835. Resumed practice of law in New Orleans and also again engaged in sugarcane planting. A leader of the Whig party; engaged in a duel with a leader of the Democratic faction; received injuries from which he died in New Orleans, La., March 23, 1843; interred Girod Street Cemetery. J.B.C. Sources: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (1950); Stanley Clisby Arthur and George Campbell Huchet de Kernion, Old Families of Louisiana
WAILES, George Bell Newell, attorney, planter, soldier, politician, journalist. Born, Laurel Hill Plantation, Wilkinson County, Miss., September 28, 1828; son of Edmund Howard Wailes and Jane Bell Newell; grandson of Levin Wailes who was appointed in 1810 by President James Madison as register of the land office for the Southwestern District of Louisiana. Education: private tutors; Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., A.B. degree, with honors, 1847; member of College Secret Society known as the Mystic Seven and Beta Theta Pi Fraternity; graduate of University of Louisiana (now Tulane University). Editor of the Wilkinson County Whig, 1848-1850. Practiced law in Natchez, Miss., 1850; Democratic leader in fight against Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s. Married, November 29, 1855, Euphemie Cecilia Cropper of Plaquemine, La., daughter of Antoine Norbert Cropper, planter, and Henrietta Lauve. Children: Julia Cecilia (b. 1858), Ernestine Jenny Bell (b. 1859), Cecil “Nat” Cropper (b. 1860), Marie Georgine (b. 1862), Louise Rebecca (b. 1868), Celeste Eulalie (b. 1870), and Mary Olive (b. 1876). Civil War service: commissioned by Governor Moore (q.v.) as colonel, commander of St. Charles Parish militia. Regiment he raised figured conspicuously in Battle of Bayou des Allemands in which Federal post captured. Family plantation in St. Charles Parish, occupied by Federal troops during war and three years during Reconstruction. After war, resumed law practice in New Orleans and Plaquemine. Politics: before Civil War served as representative in Louisiana legislature; 1876, elected to Louisiana senate, served two terms. Family removed to Plaquemine, La, 1885, continued law practice. Editor, Iberville weekly newspaper, The Home Journal, 1887. Died, Plaquemine, La., February 3, 1904; interred St. John’s Catholic Cemetery. D.S.B. Sources: “The Battle of Bayou Des Allemands,” New Orleans Times-Democrat; “Death of a Gallant Citizen,” The Iberville South, February 1904; The Wailes-Cropper Family Papers, David S. Ball; Albert L. Grace, The Heart of the Sugar Bowl (1946).
WAITZ, Julia Ellen Legrand, diarist. Born, “Portland Manor,” Ann Arundel County, Md., 1829; daughter of Claudius F. LeGrand and Anna Maria Croxall. Removed to a Louisiana plantation with family at an early age. Was engaged to a Vicksburg man who disappeared in Mexico. She and her sister, Virginia, corresponded with Edgar Allen Poe’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Virginia Clemm. Lived in New Orleans with Virginia in 1861. After Federal occupation moved to various Southern cities: Clinton, Miss., Newnan, Ga., Thomasville, Ga., and finally Tampa, Fla., where Federal transport took her to Galveston, Tex., to rejoin her family. Married, May, 1867, Adolf Waitz of Germany in Galveston. Did not publish during her lifetime, but left a journal of her Civil War experiences and two novels in manuscript. Died, Galveston, January, 1881. P.D.A. Sources: Kate Mason Rowland and Mrs. Morris L. Croxall, eds., The Journal of Julia LeGrand, New Orleans, 1862-1863 (1911).
WALDEN, R. B., attorney, state director of hospitals. Born, Terry, Miss., April 14, 1901. Family removed to Winnsboro, La. Education: Winnsboro High School, graduated 1918; Louisiana State University, B. A., and LL. B. degrees. Married Lillian Cordill in Winnsboro, June 18, 1924. Children: two daughters. Practiced law in Winnsboro; mayor of Winnsboro, 1926-1934; attorney for Louisiana State Hospital Board. Removed to Baton Rouge, 1940; assistant secretary of Louisiana Tax Commission; chairman of State Employees Retirement System; organized the Department of Hospitals Credit Union, largest among the state employee groups, and served as its president for many years; named acting director of State Civil Service in 1948; director, Louisiana Merit System Council, which governed employment practices in state agencies receiving federal funds; general counsel for civil service department, 1952-1956; appointed director of Department of Hospitals in June 1964; launched improvements in mental hospitals and construction of facilities for mentally retarded; ordered integration of state charity hospitals; helped launch medicare program in Louisiana. Member, First Baptist Church, St. James Lodge, Shrine Club, Scottish Rite Masons, Delta Sigma Chi, Phi Delta Phi, Lambda Chi Alpha, local and state bar associations. Died, February 6, 1966; interred Roselawn Memorial Park, Baton Rouge. J.B.C. Source: Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, obituary, February 7, 1966.
WALDO, John F. C., attorney, historian, author. Born, West Cambridge (Arlington), Mass., October 26, 1855; son of James Elliott Waldo and Araminta Fowle. Removed with family to New Orleans. Education: Boy’s High School, studied law in the offices of Judge Thomas Ellis; admitted to bar in 1882. City attorney of New Orleans, 1904-1920. Contributor of articles to law journals; author of Atlantis. President of Prison Reform Association; director, Charity Organization Society; member, First Unitarian Church (served as president), Masonic order, Knights of Pythias; patron of the Order of the Eastern Star; Shakespearean Society of New Orleans. Married Odette Francke. Children: Odette, Carrie, Edwin, John, and Rudolph. Died, New Orleans, November 28, 1923; interred Metairie Cemetery. G.R.C. Sources: “In Memoriam: John F. C. Waldo,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, VII (1924); New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 29, 1923.
WALKER, Alexander, journalist, author. Born, Fredericksburg, Va., October 13, 1818; son of Susan and Alexander Walker. Education: Fredericksburg Academy; attended the University of Virginia, 1836, and returned to study law, 1838-1839. Married, 1842, Mary Elizabeth McFarlane, daughter of Dr. John S. McFarlane, head of the Marine Hospital in New Orleans. Children: Norman and Alexander. Began New Orleans law practice, 1840; was manager of the Democratic journal, Jeffersonian; city court judge, 1846-1850; wrote for the Daily Delta, 1846-1860; a backer of the Narciso Lopez (q.v.) expedition, 1851; his City Digest was published in 1852; editor, Cincinnati Enquirer, 1853-1857; his unsigned account of the yellow-fever epidemic in New Orleans appeared in Harper’s Magazine, November 1853; wrote Jackson and New Orleans (1856); and The Life of Andrew Jackson (1860). Was a member of the secession convention, 1861; was imprisoned on Ship Island after the capture of New Orleans. Returned to New Orleans after the Civil War; was secretary of the city board of aldermen, 1866; an organizer of the State Press Convention, 1870; editor of the Times through 1872; established and edited the Herald, 1873; editor of the Picayune through 1875; wrote books on New Orleans duels, the Myra Clark Gaines (q.v.) case, and local history; his journalistic career in New Orleans covered almost half a century, yet his name does not appear on the masthead of a single newspaper as either owner, partner, editor, or contributor. Died, Fort Smith, Ark., January 24, 1893, at the home of his son. J.B.C. Sources: Fayette Copeland, “The New Orleans Press and Reconstruction,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXX (1947); Dictionary of American Biography, XIX (1946); New Orleans Daily Picayune, obituary, January 25, 1893.
WALKER, Bernard Shaw, educator, community leader. Born, Selma, Grant Parish, La., August 30, 1907; son of Matthew A. Walker and Ula Barron. Education: local schools; Louisiana College; graduate work Louisiana State University, Texas Tech, Lubbock, Tex. Teacher, Selma, 1928-1929. Removed to Vinton, La., 1931, assistant principal and coach, 1931-1940. Married, November 8, 1940, Yvonne Hagler, daughter of Russell Hagler and Ona Mitchell of De Quincy, La. Children: Linda (b. 1941), Johnny (b. 1945), Mary Ann (b. 1949), Jimmy (b. 1954). Removed to Alexandria, La., 1940; athletic director Bolton High School. Removed to Sulphur, La., 1941, principal Sulphur High School, 1941-1967, interim coach, 1943-1945; assistant superintendent Calcasieu Parish Schools, 1967-1972. Member: Methodist church; Principal’s Association of Louisiana, president, 1952-1954; Calcasieu Education Association, president, 1953-1954; permanent member Louisiana High School Rodeo Association; Louisiana Committee Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges, chairman, 1959-1967; National Educational Association; Louisiana Education Association. Inducted posthumously, Louisiana High School Hall of Fame, January 28, 1982. Died, Sulphur, La., March 28, 1972; interred Rigmaiden Cemetery, De Quincy, La. G.S.P. Sources: Lake Charles American Press, January 29, 1972; March 28, 1972; obituary, March 30, 1972; Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, January 28, 1972; Sulphur Southwest Builder, January 30, 1972; Sulphur High School Cyclone, January 1959, February 1959, May 1961; Alexandria Daily Town Talk, March 29, 1972; Walker Family Papers.
WALKER, Joseph M., planter, politician, governor. Born, New Orleans, July 1786; son of Constantia Revoli and Peter Walker. Education: local schools. Bought lands in Rapides Parish, La., and became a cotton planter. Married Catherine Carter of Adams County, Miss. Twelve children. Served as brigadier general of militia, 1812-1815. Elected to the lower house of the state legislature in 1820 and reelected in 1822, 1832, and 1836; also served in the state senate. Elected president of the state constitutional convention, 1845. Nominated for governor, 1849; sworn into office, January 20, 1850. First governor to be inaugurated in Baton Rouge in the new state capitol. Established a system of public schools, directed that the levee system be kept in repair, and that election of public officials be by popular vote. During his administration Narciso Lopez (q.v.) organized in New Orleans in 1851 a military expedition for the invasion of Cuba. Opposed the withdrawal of the prohibition against creating banking institutions; equally opposed to the adoption of a new constitution. Resigned his office when the 1852 constitution came into operation; retired to his plantation in Rapides Parish. Died, January 20, 1856; interred on his plantation. J.B.C. Sources: The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, X; Miriam G. Reeves, The Governors of Louisiana (1972).
WALKER, Lawrence, Cajun musician (violin accordion), singer, composer, and bandleader. Born, Duson, Lafayette Parish, La., September 1, 1907. First recorded in 1928 with family members as the Walker Brothers; performed at the 1936 National Folk Festival in Dallas with Broussard family band; leader of popular Wandering Aces dance band; recorded extensively from the 1920s through the 1960s; important in modernization of Cajun music style after World War II. Died, Rayne, La., August 15, 1968. B.J.A. Source: Author’s research.
WALKER, Sarah Breedlove “Madame C. J.,” Born, Delta, La., December 23, 1867; daughter of Owen Breedlove and Minerva Breedlove. Born into an impoverished family, she was orphaned at age six and raised by an older sister. Married at age fourteen to one McWilliams, of Vicksburg, Miss; a daughter, A’Lelia, soon followed. Widowed at age twenty, 1887; subsequently moved from Vicksburg to St. Louis, Mo., where she worked as washerwoman and attended night school. In 1905 Walker uncovered a formula and method for straightening the hair of African American women, as well as a cream for improving complexion. She spent the next year in Denver, Col., perfecting her designs. In Denver, she married Charles Walker, a newspaperman. Walker used door-to-door salesmanship by trained agents, mail-order, and extensive travel demonstrations in the South and East to establish a budding cosmetics enterprise. She opened a second office managed by her daughter in Pittsburgh, Pa., 1908. She combined the Denver and Pittsburgh offices into one headquarters in Indianapolis, where she also built a manufacturing plant for her products, 1910. At the height of her career she employed over 3,000 people—most of whom were African Americans—had over 2,000 agents selling her products and did a business of more than $50,000 annually. Walker became one of America’s first African American millionaires. She was a liberal contributor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), helped establish homes for the aged in St. Louis and Indianapolis, and was an organizer of the black YMCA in Indianapolis. Walker also maintained scholarships for women at Tuskegee Institute and contributed to the Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, N.C. Her bequests established industrial and mission schools in West Africa. Despite doctor’s warnings that her hectic schedule was a serious health threat, Walker continued to personally oversee the marketing and distribution of her products until she died from chronic nephritis at her country home, “Villa Lewaro,” Irvington-on-Hudson, N. Y., May, 1916. In her will she left one-third of her fortune to her daughter and the other two-thirds to charitable institutions. J.D.W. Sources: Rayford Logan and Michael Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (1982); Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 19.
WALKER, William Aiken, painter, teacher, poet. Born, Charleston, S. C., March 23, 1838; son of Irish merchant and cotton factor John Falls Walker and Mary Elizabeth Aiken. Education: private school, Charleston. Civil War service: Gen. Wade Hampton’s South Carolina brigade; wounded, Battle of Seven Pines, 1862; transferred to Charleston as cartographer and draftsman, sketched the defenses of Charleston, 1863. After war, traveled the South, in particular Louisiana, Florida, and North Carolina, painting his famous cabin scenes and Negro portraits. Frequent extended visits to New Orleans. Two of his paintings lithographed by Currier and Ives. Member: Artists Association of New Orleans (1890-1899); Cup and Saucer Club, New Orleans Died, Charleston, January 3, 1921; interred Magnolia Cemetery. H.M.E. Sources: The Historic New Orleans Collection, Encyclopaedia of New Orleans Artists, 1718-1918 (1987); August Trovaioli and Roulhac Toledano, William Aiken Walker: Southern Genre Painter (1972).
WALL, Isaac, architect, religious leader. Born Burlington County, N. J., July 31, 1798; son of Humphrey Wall and Edith Rogers. Removed to Louisiana, 1827. Married Mary Susannah Winans (q.v.), daughter William Winans (q.v.) and Martha Dubose, January 15, 1834. A Quaker, he joined Methodist church and was ordained deacon, 1837, and elder, 1843. Designed and built portions of East Feliciana Courthouse, 1839-1841, portions of Lawyers’ Row, Clinton, 1840-1860, houses throughout East Feliciana, and is thought to have designed a portion of the auditorium of Centenary College, Jackson. Died, February 13, 1872; interred Centreville, Miss. E.K.D. Sources: Diary of Isaac Wall in possession of Ann Reiley Jones, Baton Rouge, La.; Jane Dart Maunsell, New Orleans, La.
WALL, Mary Winans, educator. Born, Wilkinson County, Miss., August 1, 1816; daughter of William Winans (q.v.), early Methodist missionary, and Martha Dubose. Education: Elizabeth Academy, Washington, Miss. Married Isaac Wall (q.v.), January 15, 1834. Established Sunday school for blacks in Clinton, La., which saw over 100 men, women and children in weekly attendance, 1833-1861. Conducted the Clinton Female Seminary, 1833-1873. United Methodist Church in Clinton was named in her honor. Died, February 28, 1897; interred near Centreville, Miss. E.K.D. Sources: Jane Dart Maunsell, New Orleans; Records, Mary Winans Wall Methodist Church, Clinton, La.
WALLACE, Nathaniel Dick, congressman. Born, Columbia, Tenn., October 27, 1845; son of John B. Wallace, a native of Ireland, and Ann J. Todd, of an old Virginia family. Attended public schools; Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, graduated 1865. Returned to the United States in 1867, and engaged in the commission business at New Orleans, 1878. Married Jennie Gottraux, daughter of E. P. Gottraux. No children. Twice elected president of the New Orleans Produce Exchange; active in manufacturing enterprises. Elected as a Democrat to Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Michael Hahn (q.v.) and served from December 9, 1886, to March 3, 1887; was not a candidate for renomination in 1886. President of the Board of Trade, New Orleans, president of Consumers Ice Co., New Orleans, from 1886 until his death, July 16, 1894, in Kenilworth, near Asheville, N. C., while on summer holiday; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. J.B.C. Sources: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (1950), 1969); New Orleans Times-Picayune, obituary, July 17, 1894.
WALLIS, Hugh Maxwell, physician, publisher, politician. Born, Kent County, Md., November 12, 1836; son of Hugh Wallis and Hannah Brooks Wright. Education: Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pa., graduated, 1860. Married, January 17, 1860, Mary Howard Price, a native of Natchez, Miss., daughter of Dr. Isaac Mitchell Price and Louise C. Howard. Children: Morley Howard (b. 1860); Hugh Maxwell (1862-1863); Hugh Maxwell, Jr. (b. 1863); Mitchell; Mary Rosalie (b. 1866); Ida Louise (b. 1868); Mitchell Granville (b. 1870); Luther Ellerslie (b. 1872); Helen Gertrude (b. 1875); Claude Humphrey (b. 1877); Ethel Rosalie (b. 1880); Percy L. (b. 1885). Removed to Terrebonne Parish, La., 1861. Practiced medicine for many years in Houma. Mayor of Houma, 1878-1882. Founder and publisher of Terrebonne Times, a Republican oriented journal. Episcopalian. Republican. Died, Covington, La., December 23, 1903; interred Magnolia Cemetery, Houma. L.A.W. Source: Author’s research.
WALLIS, John Samuel, wholesale merchant, plantation owner. Born, Baltimore, Md., February 8, 1825; son of Philip and Elizabeth Custis Teackle Wallis. Educated locally, left school at 16 years of age. Civil War service: aide to General Brandon (rank of colonel on staff) in Louisiana and Mississippi and also served as special agent of the Confederate War and Treasury departments for the purpose of introducing supplies to the Confederate Army after the fall of Wilmington. Resided in New Orleans for a long time, corner of Camp and First streets; later constructed a home on St. Charles Avenue. Also a summer home at Lake Pontchartrain. After the war resumed the wholesale produce business under the name of John S. Wallis & Co. Became a planter in connection with his local business, at one time owning Belle Alliance Plantation in St. James Parish, later known as “Hester.” Retired from the produce business about 1870 and in 1881 sold Belle Alliance Plantation and organized the Louisiana Sugar Refining Company of which he was president and general manager until its absorption by the Sugar Trust in 1887. Closed out his interests in August 1891 and removed to Baltimore, Md. Married April 12, 1849, Louisa Mather (1827-1871) of St. James Parish, daughter of George Mather (q.v.), planter, and Josephine Françoise Aurore Trudeau, daughter of Zenon Trudeau (q.v.) and Eulalie Delassise. Children: Louise Elizabeth (1850-1932), married, 1869, James Fortescue Giffen of New Orleans; John Mather (1853-1912), married, 1889, Alice S. Meredith of Gloucester County, Va.; Severn Teackle, Jr. (1855-1928), married, 1903, Bessie S. Wharton of Camden, N.J.; Philip (1857-1918), unmarried; Alexander (1858-1864); Samuel Boyd (1862-1918), married, 1886, Mary L. Mitchell of Washington, D.C.; and James Tureaud (1868-1930), married, 1896, Mary Deans Mayer of Virginia. Member: Boston Club. Episcopalian. Died, New York City, October 6, 1897; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. L.A.W. Sources: Family Bibles of Philip Wallis, E. C. Teackle Wallis, John Wallis, Louisa Mather, S. T. Wallis, Jr., and Bessie Wharton; death certificates, John S. Wallis and S. T. Wallis, Jr.; parish register: St. Mary Anne’s P. E. Church, North East, Md.; marriage certificate, S. T. Wallis, Jr., Bessie Wharton; newspaper clippings, obituary; conveyance records, St. James Parish.
WALMSLEY, T. Semmes, mayor of New Orleans. Born, New Orleans, June 10, 1889; son of Sylvester Pierce and Myra E. (Semmes) Walmsley. Educated, local schools, Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala.; Tulane University Law School, graduated 1912. Practiced law in New Orleans. Married Julia Harvard of New Orleans, April 15, 1914. One child: Augusta Walmsley (later Mrs. Frederick J. King). World War I service: captain, later major; administrative assistant in charge of construction and supply at an army airfield; Reserve commission, Army Air Corps. After the war became a leader in American Legion activities. Active in Democratic party. Political career; assistant attorney general of Louisiana, 1919-1924; city attorney, 1925-1926; commissioner of finance, 1926-1930; mayor of New Orleans, 1930-1936; elected president of the National Conference of Mayors, 1933. After resignation from the mayorship of New Orleans due to his fight for home rule against Long forces, he left for Washington to become chief assistant in the office of Civilian Defense, 1936. Member, Choctaw Club. Died, San Antonio, Tex., June 17, 1942. M.L.K. Sources: Melvin G. Holli and Peter d’A. Jones, eds., Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820-1980 (1981); Melvin G. Holli and Peter d’A. Jones, eds., Big City Mayors; Biographies of the Mayors of New Orleans, written and edited by Works Progress Administration; New York Times, obituary, June 18, 1942.
WALSH, Patrick, clergyman, administrator. Born in Ireland, 1769. Educated for the priesthood at the Irish College of Nobles, University of Salamanca, Spain. Volunteered for service in Spanish Louisiana. Ordained February 25, 1792. Arrived in New Orleans, 1792, by way of Havana, and remained there as chaplain of the Louisiana Regiment. During the dispute between Cirillo de Barcelona (q.v.) and Antonio de Sedella (q.v.), Walsh appointed, 1793, vicario and urged to hold a neutral attitude and restore harmony. Succeeded in this office and remained ecclesiastical head of the Louisiana-West Florida province until the arrival of Bishop Peñalver (q.v.) in 1795. Before departing for Guatemala, in late 1801, Peñalver appointed Rev. Thomas Hassett administrator of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas until the arrival of the new bishop. As a caution Peñalver appointed Father Walsh as assistant to Father Hassett, to assume jurisdiction should Hassett default through sickness, absence, or death. When Hassett died on April 23, 1804, Walsh exercised jurisdiction as vicar-general. Walsh’s second administration was harmonious until March 1805. A religious dispute, with powerful ethnic and political overtones, erupted when Sedella, frustrated by behavior of two French assistants, resigned as rector of St. Louis Cathedral. When Walsh accepted the resignation and appointed himself rector, the people rebelled and, at a mass meeting, elected Sedella as their pastor. Gov. Claiborne (q.v.), the Spanish boundary commissioner Casa Calvo (q.v.), and James Pitot (q.v.), mayor of New Orleans, became involved in controversy. Pitot urged election of five trustees to administer church property. Died, August 22, 1806, with controversy unresolved. E.F.N. Sources: Archives of the Archdiocese of New Orleans; Michael J. Curley, Church and State in the Spanish Floridas (1783-1822); George Dargo, Jefferson’s Louisiana (1975).
WALTER, John Peter, engineer, mayor of Brashear, now Morgan City. Born, Louisville, Ky., 1812 or 1813. Was serving on Brashear town council in September 1862 when meetings were suspended due to Civil War. Appears as mayor of Brashear in minutes of the September 18, 1865, meeting and subsequent minutes show his efforts to get compensation from the Federal government for public buildings destroyed by Union forces which occupied the town for three years. Adding to his administration’s difficulties in rebuilding was an outbreak of smallpox in 1865. Married, 1854, Guly (Julia) Ann Stansbury, daughter of early settlers Edwin Stansbury and Mary Collins. Children: Alfred Benjamin (b. 1855/56), Joseph S. (b. 1859/60), John Peter, Jr. (b. 1861/62), Mary M. (b. 1864/65), and Susanna Isabelle (b. 1869/70). Walter managed his father-in-law’s plantation “Stansbury” on Bayou Boeuf near Bayou Ramos east of Morgan City. The family was affiliated with the Episcopal church. Died, March 27, 1892; interred in Walter Cemetery on Bayou Boeuf. L.K.L. Sources: Stansbury Family File, Morgan City Archives; Federal censuses, 1860-1880; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Franklin.
WALTERS, Albert Vincent “Fernandez”, jazz musician (trumpet). Born, New Orleans, July 19, 1905. Wide experience in brass bands since 1929, when he joined the Tulane Brass Band. Organized with Albert Jules, the Crescent City Seranaders. He was later a regular member of George Williams’s brass band and in 1958 recorded with Casimer’s Young Tuxedo Band and played from time to time at Preservation Hall. Died, New Orleans, October 20, 1980. H.C. Sources: Noel Rockmore, Preservation Hall Portraits (1968); New Orleans Times-Picayune/States-Item, obituary, October 22, 1980; Al Rose and Edmond Souchon, New Orleans Jazz: A Family Album (1984).
WALTON, James Burdge, soldier, businessman. Born, Newark, N. J., November 18, 1813. Removed to Louisiana with his family. Education: Louisiana College graduate. Married, 1836, Amelia Slack. Adjutant of the Washington Artillery when it was formed in 1839; lieutenant colonel, 1844. Led a regiment under Zachary Taylor (q.v.) in the Mexican War. Operated wholesale grocery business in New Orleans. Secretary, state constitutional convention, 1852. Major, Washington Artillery Battalion, May 1861; promoted to rank of colonel, March 26, 1862. Assigned to duty as inspector general of field artillery, June 1864, but resigned July 18, 1864. Returned to his business after the war. Colonel of the reorganized Washington Artillery, 1875-1877. Died, New Orleans, September 7, 1885. A.W.B. Sources: Robert K. Krick, Lee’s Colonels (1949); John Dimitry, “Louisiana,” Confederate Military History, 13 vols. (1899).
WALTRIP, James Wilson, clergyman. Born, Edna, Tex., January 27, 1906. Father, Reuben Waltrip, died a chaplain in the U. S. Calvary Division during World War I. Reared by mother, Lila. Worked his way through school. Removed to Jennings, La., 1934. Married Carlena Lancaster. Children: James, Richard, Bobby, and Ruth (Kennedy). Founded Faith Tabernacle, Inc., a church to preach the gospel, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. With helpful citizens and congregation, sponsored and equipped a children’s playground; fed and fixed lunches for over forty children daily until government program began. Was scoutmaster for Jennings Boy Scout Troop #67. Assisted blacks to start a troop. Started first religious Christmas parade in Jennings; built all floats for annual parade for over ten years. Began an underprivileged Christmas party, which has now increased to five, taking care of Jennings and nearby towns. Received an award from President Truman and Office of Price Administration for his work as chairman of Jeff Davis Parish War Price and Rationing Board. Headed American Red Cross at Jennings; taught Civil Defense classes; was El Karubah Shriner. Died, June 19, 1974; interred Greenwood Cemetery, Jennings. C.L.W. Sources: Official letters, awards, family records, and Jennings Daily News.
WANDS, James B. W., Reconstruction-era political activist. Born, New Scotland, N. Y., December 25, 1839. Married Mary Jane Bowers, October 2, 1869; three children. Served in the Federal navy on the Mississippi River during the Civil War. Secured appointment as tax collector and later as state representative of newly created Tangipahoa Parish from Governor Henry C. Warmoth. During the later years of Reconstruction, Wands served in the Federal customhouse at New Orleans. He aggressively promoted the Republican cause in the piney woods of eastern Louisiana during Reconstruction, arousing the ire of local Democrats as a result his efforts in support of black suffrage. After surviving numerous assassination attempts in Louisiana, Wands died peacefully in Olean, N. Y., February 1, 1902. S.C.H. Sources: Testimony of James B. Wands and Charles Benedict in “Report of the Sub-Committee Investigating Elections in Louisiana,” Congressional Hearings Supplement, House Committee on Elections, 41st Congress, Second Session, No. 1, 1869, pp. 97-102, 218-224; Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana, Extra Session, 1872, December 9, 1872, and First Legislature, First Session, January 5, 1874; State of Louisiana, Certificate of Marriage, James B. W. Wands to Mary Jane Bowers, October 2, 1869.
WARBURG, Eugene, sculptor. Born, New Orleans, 1825 or 1826, a Creole of Color; son of Marie Rose, native of Santiago, Cuba, and Daniel Warburg, her master. Warburg freed Marie Rose shortly after the birth of Eugene. He emancipated Eugene after that son’s fourth birthday. Trained as a marble cutter, Eugene opened a studio-shop on St. Peter Street in New Orleans when in his early twenties. Patrons and fellow artists quickly recognized his ability. Eugene, meanwhile, continued to develop his native talent for sculpture, studying for a brief period under Garbeille, New Orleans’ leading sculptor. In 1850 Warburg exhibited and sold a Ganymede. The New Orleans Bee raved at the artistic quality of the piece. Unfortunately, according to Rodolphe Desdunes (q.v.), hostility was the more usual fare for Warburg in New Orleans as racial tensions rose during this period. So in 1852 Warburg sailed for Europe, as did Louisiana Creoles of Color before and after him. He studied and sculpted for a while in Paris, coming to the attention of United States Minister to France John Young Mason who commissioned a bust in his likeness which Warburg rendered in the classical style. In 1856 he left for Belgium then England where the duchess of Sutherland commissioned him to do some bas-reliefs representing scenes from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In mid-1857 Warburg set out for Italy, staying briefly in Florence then settling happily with his wife, Louise Ernestine—date and place of marriage unknown—in Rome. There, Warburg fell seriously ill. Died, January 12, 1859. D.W.M. Sources: Charles O’Neill, “Fine Arts and Literature: Nineteenth Century Louisiana Black Artists and Authors,” in Robert Macdonald, et al., eds., Louisiana’s Black Heritage (1979); Rodolphe Desdunes, Our People and Our History (1973); New Orleans Bee, December 13, 1850; March 9, 1859; Howard University, Ten Afro-American Artists of the 19th Century; Regenia Perry, Selections of 19th Century Afro-American Art; Cedric Dover, American Negro Art (1960).
WARBURG, Joseph Daniel, engraver, tombstone carver, sculptor-stonemason, artist. Born, New Orleans; son of foreign-born parents. Worked with brother, Eugene Warbourg (q.v.), in a stonemason workshop in New Orleans. Served as a tombstone carver in New Orleans for the A. Weible Marble Works. Created, ca. 1860, “Holcombe Memorial,” Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. Died, New Orleans, 1922. D.D.C. Sources: Theresa Dickason Cederholm, Afro-American Artists: A Bio-Bibliographical Directory (1973); Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes, Our People and Our History, trans. by Dorothea Olga McCants (1973); Cedric Dover, American Negro Art (1960); Elsa Honig Fine, The Afro-American Artist: A Search for Identity (1973); Samella S. Lewis, Art: African-American; James A. Porter, Modern Negro Art.
WARD, James, educator, businessman. Born, New Orleans, June 23, 1920; son of James, Sr., and Ida Stevens. Education: Jefferson Davis Parish schools; Southern University (Baton Rouge), B. S., 1942; Texas Southern University (Houston), M.A., 1954; further study at McNeese State University, Wayne State University, University of Southwestern Louisiana, and Louisiana State University. No military experience, taught National Defense classes and Mechanical Arts, McKinley High School, Baton Rouge. Married, Josephine Laws of Eunice, La., daughter of Carlton and Laura Arceneaux Laws, April 24, 1943. Children: Errol (b. 1944), Jamesetta (b. 1946), Carl S. (b. 1948), Alana (b. 1951), adopted daughter Constance. Active educator: 1942-1945, 1949-1977, teacher twelve years, assistant principal four years; principal nineteen years. Active member: Union Baptist Church (deacon, secretary/treasurer for building fund; secretary, trustee board); Prince-Hall Goodwill Masonic Lodge #157; Democratic party; Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (exchequer twenty-two years); Phi Delta Kappa; National Education Association; Louisiana Education Association; NAESP; Louisiana Association of Principals; DESP (president, four years); Jefferson Davis Education Association (president, seven years); Jennings Recreation Commission, eighteen years; Jennings Dental-Aid Association (treasurer); Boy Scouts of America; Jennings Chapter, American Red Cross; Keystone Life of America; NAACP; CAP; charter member and treasurer/manager of JDEA-Federal Credit Union, seventeen years Licensed Notary Public. Honors: JDEA-FCU renamed James Ward, Jr., F.C.U.; “Man of the Year”, 1965; Southern Province Kappa Alpha Psi Achievement Award, 1967; JDEA Le Leadership Award, 1973; several other awards. Died, Jennings, La., May 18, 1977; interred Memorial Gardens Cemetery. J.L.W. Source: Authors research.
WARDLOW, Lula, Methodist minister, business woman, and the first elected woman mayor in Louisiana history. Born, April 9, 1876; daughter of Wesley Ethredge, prominent Grant Parish, La., planter, merchant, and cotton gin owner, and Alpha Jane Baker, also from a distinguished pioneer family. Education: Montgomery public schools; two years at Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. Married Felix Graves Wardlow, merchant/farmer of Montgomery, April 3, 1901. Children: Wesley Bernie and Felix Ray. Became lay Methodist preacher in 1909; admitted “on trial”, i. e., ministerial study and internship, to the Methodist Protestant Church (Louisiana Conference) in 1912; ordained elder with full connection in 1916. Conference evangelist 1913-1920; pastor, Hicks circuit, 1921-1922; pastor, various North Louisiana circuits, 1922-1926; conference evangelist, 1927-1928. Elected mayor of Montgomery on a reform ticket in 1926; re-elected in 1928; resigned in 1930 to devote more time to the ministry and family, but remained selectively active in politics until a few years before her death. Featured in major Louisiana newspapers at various times as Louisiana’s first woman mayor and for her progressive programs, i. e. , gravel-surfacing of town dirt streets, and securing first electric, water and gas systems for the town. Strict enforcement of anti-gambling and prohibition laws cleaned up the town’s image. Through the years governors, would-be governors, and other politicians called on her when campaigning in Montgomery. Ministerial assignments continued: pastor, Colfax, 1929-1939. In 1939 attended the historic national uniting conference of Methodism which officially merged the Methodist Protestant Church, the M. E. Church, South, and the M. E. Church (North) into what became the United Methodist Church. Retired from full-time ministerial duties in 1942 but continued to be called to various interim pastoral assignments in rural North Louisiana for the next twenty years. At the age of 76 she embarked on a short missionary assignment to selected rural villages in Cuba. Has been called one of the three most important women in the approximately 150-year history of Louisiana Methodism. Died, August 1, 1970; interred Mt. Zion (United Methodist Church) Cemetery, Winn Parish, La. H.H. Sources: Mable Fletcher Harrison and Lavinia McGuire McNeely, Grant Parish, Louisiana: A History (1969); Alexandria Daily Town Talk, July 6, 1929; September 9, 1929; obituary, August 1970; New Orleans States, August 25, 1929; Shreveport Times, July 16, 1967; Who’s Who in Methodism (1952); Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana (1890); Minutes, Louisiana Annual Conference, Methodist Protestant Church, 1910-1939, passim; Journal, Louisiana Annual Conference, United Methodist Church, 1971; personal information form great-nephew, Steve Gunn.
WARE, Edwin Oswald, clergyman, educator. Born, West Berea, Powell County, Ky., October 29, 1853. Education: local schools; the University of Kentucky; the Southern Baptist Seminary at Louisville, Ky. Licensed to the Baptist ministry in 1880; removed to Louisiana in 1888 locating at Cheneyville. Married 1890, Blanche Fortson of Keatchie, De Soto Parish, La. Children: Marguerite, Clayton, Winsome, Elizabeth, Blanche, Ruth, Edwin O., Jr., Philip, James. Active in various Southern Baptist ministries: pastor of churches at Pineville, LeCompte, Boyce, and Alexandria; executive secretary of the State [Baptist] Mission Board, 1892-1906 and 1910-1912; general missionary of the State Mission Board, 1919-1933; president, Louisiana Baptist Convention, 1892, 1922, 1923; owner and editor of the Baptist Chronicle, 1912-1919, forerunner of the Baptist Message, the Louisiana Baptist organ. Regarded as the principal founder of Louisiana College, Pineville, Louisiana, offering a resolution at the Louisiana Baptist Convention in 1893 that ultimately resulted in establishing Louisiana College in 1906; served as financial agent for the college, 1906-1907, and was its first president, 1908-1909. Died, Alexandria, December 6, 1933. T.H. Sources: John Pinckney Durham and John S. Ramond, Baptist Builders in Louisiana (1934); Glen Lee Greene, House Upon a Rock (1973); Edwin O. Ware, III, to the author, March 28, 1983; Alexandria Daily Town Talk, January 1, 1913.
WARMOTH, Henry Clay, carpetbagger, Reconstruction governor, planter, businessman. Born, McLeansboro, Hamilton County, Ill., May 9, 1842; son of Isaac Sanders Warmoth and Eleanor Lane. Attended village schools in Fairfield, Wayne County, worked as typesetter, and read law locally. Removed to Lebanon, Mo., in 1860; admitted to Missouri bar the same year. Civil War service in Union Army: lieutenant colonel in Thirty-second Missouri; assigned to the staff of Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand during Vicksburg campaign, wounded in action; dishonorably discharged by U. S. Grant, reinstated by Lincoln; rejoined his regiment and commanded at Lookout Mountain; reinforced General Banks during Red River retreat; served as judge of the provost court, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, 1864; left the army and opened a law office in New Orleans in early 1865; took the lead in organizing Louisiana Grand Army of the Republic, chosen first Grand Commander in 1868. Political career as Republican: unofficial “territorial delegate” to Congress, 1865; first Reconstruction governor, 1868-1872; state representative, 1877-1879; member of constitutional convention of 1879; Republican candidate for governor in 1888; collector of customs, New Orleans, 1890-1893. Married, May 30, 1877, Sally Durand of Newark, N.J., daughter of James M. Durand. Three children: Frank Sheridan, Reinette Lester, and Carroll Kennon. Business career: invested in Magnolia Plantation in early 1870s and became sole owner after Reconstruction; helped organize the Magnolia Sugar Refining Co., a consolidation of eight plantations; investigated beet-sugar industry in France and Germany in 1884 as official representative of U. S. Department of Agriculture; Washington lobbyist for Louisiana Sugar Planters’ Organization in 1890s. Died, New Orleans, September 30, 1931; interred Metairie Cemetery. T.T. Sources: Henry Clay Warmoth, War, Politics and Reconstruction: Stormy Days in Louisiana; Henry Clay Warmoth Papers, University of North Carolina; Dictionary of American Biography; New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 1, 1931.
WARREN, John Bliss, clergyman, educator, journalist. Born in New England, ca. 1800. During his last twenty-five years resided in the Deep South where he was instrumental in founding the Presbyterian church in Mobile and the Louisiana Institute in New Orleans. Warren’s missionary zeal in behalf of Presbyterianism also led to his founding of the New Orleans Protestant (1844-1846), a denominational weekly newspaper. Besides its rigid doctrinal approach, the Protestant engaged in social criticism, and was particularly outspoken in its anti-Roman Catholic bias. Bishop Warren also fought against the widespread notion among some clerics, who were opposed to slavery, that Southerners and slaveholders were unfit subjects for the inculcation of religion and learning. Died, August 13, 1845, of a recurring illness. T.F.R. Sources: Records. Synod of Mississippi, 1829-61 (1880); John B. Warren, A Discourse on Domestic Missions, Delivered at Vicksburg [sic], October 24, 1838, Before the Synod of Mississippi and Louisiana (1839); Timothy F. Reilly, “Religious Leaders and Social Criticism in New Orleans, 1800-1861” (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Missouri at Columbia, 1972).
WARREN, Robert Penn “Red,” poet, novelist, teacher. Born, Guthrie, Ky., April 24, 1905; son of Robert Franklin Warren and Anna Ruth Penn Warren. Married (1) Emma Brescia, 1930; divorced, 1951. Married (2) writer Eleanor Clark, 1952; two children: Rosanna and Gabriel. Education: graduated from Clarksville, Tenn., High School, 1921; graduated summa cum laude, Vanderbilt University, 1925; Masters degree, University of California at Berkeley, 1927; graduate student, Yale University, 1927; a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, 1928. Career: Taught English at Southwestern College in Memphis, 1930; Vanderbilt University, 1931; Louisiana State University, 1934. In 1935 he co-founded The Southern Review, which published literary criticism and the writings of several nationally acclaimed authors. He was professor of English at University of Minnesota, 1942, and at Yale University from 1950 until his retirement in 1973. Warren’s first published book was John Brown: The Making of a Martyr (1929), a fictional work inspired by actual biographies. Warren wrote many novels and books of poetry throughout his career, including Night Rider (1939), At Heaven’s Gate (1943), All The King’s Men (1946), World Enough and Time (1950), Band of Angels (1955), Wilderness: A Tale of the Civil War (1961), Flood: A Romance for Our Time (1964), and Portrait of a Father (1988). Warren is the only writer to have received the Pulitzer Prize for both poetry (twice), Promises: Poems, 1954-1956 (1957), and Now and Then (1978), and for a novel, All The Kings Men (1946); the latter, his most famous work, is based on the political career of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long and the scandals of his regime. Other honors include Guggenheim Fellow, 1939; Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award of the American Poetry Society, 1957; National Book Award, 1957; Copernicus Prize for Poetry, Academy of American Poets, 1974; the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1980, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 1986, Warren was named the nation’s first poet laureate. Died, Stratton, Vermont, September 15, 1989. C.H.M. Sources: New Orleans Times-Picayne, September 16, 1989; Charles Bohner, Robert Penn Warren (1981).
WARTELLE, Pierre Gabriel, military officer, merchant, planter. Born, Brie region of France, east of Paris, baptized April 1787; son of Jean Wartelle and Anne Anceaux. Married Louisa King, 1827. Children: Six, four of whom, George, Felix, Jean, and Annette, died between 1859 and 1867. Career: Studied at Fontainebleau Military School; joined French army, 1802; by 1812 held rank of captain, 128th Infantry Regiment; served in Poland, Austria, Germany, and Russia; awarded Cross of Honor and nominated for Legion of Honor (awarded Medal of St. Helena by Napoleon III in 1857); sailed to Louisiana after fall of Napoleon I; became merchant in New Orleans; moved to St. Landry Parish and opened general stores in Opelousas, Ville Platte, and Lake Charles; established 2,200-acre plantation near village of Moundville, located at confluence of Bayous Carron, Cocodrie, and Courtableau, producing sugarcane and cotton tended by almost two hundred slaves. Died, June 25, 1865. Wartelle’s family continued to operate plantation into twentieth century. S.K.B. Sources: Valerie Jean Conner, “Retreat from Waterloo: Captain Wartelle’s Legacy,” Attakapas Gazette 11 (1976); Donald J. Hébert, comp., Southwest Louisiana Records, 35 vols. (1976-1992); see also Shane K. Bernard, “A Biographical Sketch of Pierre Gabriel Wartelle,” Louisiana History, 35 (1994).
WASHBURN, William Micou, soldier, inventor. Born, Augusta, Ga., October 21, 1835. Civil War service: captain, Company B, Third Louisiana Regiment. Said to have invented an incendiary bullet capable of igniting baled cotton. After war, surveyor of railroad lines in North Louisiana. Executed plats of Ruston, Gibsland, and other North Louisiana towns in the 1880s. Died, October 12, 1904. F.L.M. Source: Author’s research.
WASSLER, Augustin, clergyman, prelate. Born, St. Pierre Bois, Bas Rhin, France, April 23, 1897; son of Justin Wassler and Anna Kempf. Educated in Holland, Belgium, France and Tenafly, N. J., where he was ordained on March 25, 1925, for the religious order of the Missions Africaines de Lyon. Assigned to Savannah, Ga., until 1937, when he became assistant pastor of St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Lafayette, Louisiana. Remained at St. John’s until December 1946; excardinated/incardinated to the Lafayette diocesan priesthood, July 20, 1961. During his tenure at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, he trained sixty altar boys, eight of whom were ordained to the priesthood. Named pastor of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Carencro, La., December 1946. Wassler served at St. Peter’s until his retirement in July 1968. Named pastor emeritus, September 1968. Invested domestic prelate, October 20, 1961. Provided weekend assistance at masses for twelve years after retirement at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Erath. He was a Third Degree Knight of Columbus and an active member of the Knights of Columbus for thirty-nine years. Wassler was a life member and chaplain of the Hobo Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the Louisiana State Fireman’s Association. Died November 11, 1984; interred St. Peter’s Cemetery Mausoleum, Carencro. B.A.C. Sources: Lafayette Daily Advertiser, November 12, 1984; Parish History Collection in Archives of the Diocese of Lafayette; Lafayette Morning Star, November 28, 1984.
WATKINS, Caleb Baker, pioneer. Date and place of birth unknown; son of William Sternin Watkins, surveyor, and Betsy Baker. First sheriff of Terrebonne Parish, La., 1822-1832. Married, April 28, 1823, Fidelie Gaudin, daughter of Charles Gaudin and Marie Joseph Babin. Five children: George Washington (b. 1824); Lafayette (b. 1825); Louisiane; America (b. 1835); Virginie Bonite (b. 1830). Died, Terrebonne Parish, August 30, 1837. C.C.C. ources: Marguerite E. Watkins, “History of Terrebonne Parish to 1861” (M.A. thesis, Louisiana State University, 1939); Centennial Celebration of Houma, Louisiana, 1934, Work Projects Administration, Louisiana Historical Records Survey, Inventory of the Parish Archives of Louisiana: No. 55, Terrebonne Parish; Donald J. Hebert, South Louisiana Records, 12 vols. (1978-1985).
WATKINS, Jabez Bunting, attorney, entrepreneur. Born, Trade City, Pa., June 25, 1845; son of James Watkins and Widow Barbara Sprankle Mutersbaugh. Education: Dayton, Pa., Academy, 1864-1866; University of Michigan, LL. B, 1869. Married Elizabeth Josephine Miller, Lawrence, Kan., daughter of Dr. Valentine Miller and Ella Gardner. No children. Removed to Lake Charles in 1883 and purchased a million and a half acres of marshland from Sabine Lake to White Lake as a representative of the North American Land and Timber Co. Experimented in scientific cattle raising, rice growing in the marshes, and brought to the Lake Charles area thousands of Northerners. Active in the Democratic party. Unsuccessfully lobbied the Kansas legislature in 1893 to get elected to U. S. Senate. Member: First Baptist Church of Lawrence, Kan. Died, Lawrence, Kan., February 4, 1921; interred Oak Hill Cemetery. D.J.M. Sources: Jabez Bunting Watkins Collection Rh MS 1), The Kansas Collection, University of Kansas Libraries.
WATKINS, John T., attorney, congressman. Born, Minden, La., January 15, 1854; son of John D. and M. F. Morrow Watkins. Education: Minden Male Academy; three years at Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tenn.; studied law; was admitted to the bar, 1878. Law practice in Minden. Married Lizzie R. Murrell, January 15, 1879. Children: Dana, Willie Kyle, and Mary Ella. Member, Baptist church; judge of the district court, 1892-1904; resumed law practice. Elected as a Democrat to Congress and served from March 4, 1905 to March 3, 1921; unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1920. Engaged in the practice of law in Washington, D. C., until his death on April 25, 1925; interred Murrell Cemetery, Minden, La. J.B.C. Sources: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1971 (1971); Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana (1890).
WATSON, Arthur Chopin, attorney, legislator, civic leader. Born, Natchitoches, La., December 15, 1909; son of Arthur William Watson and Marie Eugenie Chopin. A victim of polio during infancy, Watson lost the use of both legs but developed a zest for life that earned him the nickname “Speedy.” Education: St. Mary’s High School, Natchitoches (valedictorian), 1926; Spring Hill College, Mobile, Ala. (magna cum laude), 1930; Tulane Law School, New Orleans, LL. B., 1933, ranked first in his class; member of the Order of the Coif; served on the student board of governors of the Tulane Law Review and was active in social and academic fraternities. Returning to Natchitoches, Watson entered law practice with Judge Denis Joseph Hyams and rose to prominence in both local and state affairs. Married Marion Eugenia Hickman. Children: three daughters. Served as director of the Natchitoches Parish Chamber of Commerce, 1936-1940, was Exalted Ruler of the Natchitoches Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, 1938-1939, president of the Louisiana Association of Young Men’s Business Clubs, 1942-1943. As secretary of the Cane River Levee & Drainage District, 1944-1973, and as organizer and long-time secretary of the Natchitoches Levee & Drainage District, 1952-1973, the Gravity District No. 1, and the Campti-Clarence Levee District, 1957-1973, he was principal force behind the protection of Natchitoches Parish from the devastation caused by periodic floods of Cane River and Red River. As city attorney for Natchitoches, 1946-1973, he also served two years, 1960-1962, as president of the City Attorney’s Association of Louisiana. After a long tenure as president of the Natchitoches Parish Bar Association, 1938-1945 and a year as president of the Junior Bar Association of Louisiana, 1942, Watson’s career was temporarily slowed in the late 1940s by a bout with Guillaume-Barre syndrome which deprived him of the use of both arms. Recovering, Watson went on to serve on the board of governors of the Louisiana State Bar Association in 1955, sat in its house of delegates from 1958-1966, ramrodded the creation of a local government section, which he served as first chairman, and held a seat on the Law Reform Committee for sixteen years. Ran unsuccessfully, 1936, for the Louisiana legislature on a ticket opposing the Long faction. Elected to the Louisiana house of representatives, 1940, and served through 1943. Appointed to the Louisiana State Democratic Committee, 1940, and served continuously on that body for the next 26 years, acting as vice-chairman from 1960-1964, as chairman from 1968 until his retirement in 1976, and as a member of the Democratic National Committee in 1975. A businessman and a philanthropist, Watson was keenly interested in all aspects of Louisiana’s heritage. He organized the Foundation for the Preservation of the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve and served as treasurer until his death. He was a board member of the Melrose Commission, which has overseen the restoration of a plantation founded in the colonial era by a family of freed slaves, and was instrumental in securing a National Historic Landmark designation for this site in 1975. He was an organizer and heavy contributor to the Louisiana Outdoor Drama Association, a boost to tourism in north-central Louisiana. Watson chaired the drive to build Natchitoches Parish’s first modern hospital and was a motivating force as well as a heavy contributor to the construction of a new St. Mary’s Elementary and High School in Natchitoches. He also served as an officer of numerous banking and realty development firms, including the institution formerly headed by his father, Exchange Bank & Trust, for which he served as chairman of the board from 1967. Died, November 15, 1984. G.B.M. & E.S.M. Sources: Resumé, Charles Arthur Watson, on file in firm of Watson, Murchison, Crews & Arthur, Natchitoches, La.; Arthur C. Watson to Gary B. and Elizabeth S. Mills, memoirs and letters, various dates, 1973-1984.
WATSON, Eugene B., Sr., politician, lumberman. Born, St. Helena Parish, La., November 7, 1873. Married Mary Cornelia “Mamie” Hyde, April 23, 1902; one child: Eugene B., Jr. Served as sheriff of St. Helena Parish 1900-1908. Elected state senator for the Tenth Senatorial District, 1908. Served as warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary under the administration of Gov. J. Y. Sanders (q.v.), Louisiana livestock commissioner under Gov. Huey P. Long (q.v.), and insurance commissioner under Gov. O. K. Allen (q.v.). Co-manager of Hyde and Watson Lumber Company and president of Watson Sand and Gravel Company, both in Fluker, La. Hit by a train and killed in Fluker, La., on December 10, 1938. S.C.H. Sources: Baton Rouge Daily Advocate, December 11, 1938; Official Journal of the Senate of the State of Louisiana, First Assembly, Third Session, May 11, 1908, and Third Assembly, Second Session, May 9, 1910; St. Helena Parish Clerk of Court Archives, Greensburg, La.
WATSON, Eugene Payne, academic, fraternity founder. Born, Natchitoches, La., June 29, 1911; son of Eugenie Chopin and Arthur W. Watson. Education: St. Mary’s Academy and St. Mary’s High School; Louisiana State Normal College (now Northwestern State University), B. A., 1933; Louisiana State University, M. A., 1934, Library Science degree, 1937; University of Texas, Ph. D., 1951; advanced studies, Columbia University, 1959 and 1960. Unmarried. Joined NSU staff in 1934 as English instructor; assistant librarian, 1937-1940; head librarian and professor of Library Science, 1940-1964. His articles on education and library subjects published in professional magazines, as book reviews, and editorials. Founded Alpha Beta Alpha, the first undergraduate library science fraternity in the nation, at NSU on May 3, 1950; there were twenty-nine chapters in the United States in 1964. Established the Louisiana Room at Russell Library at NSU. Member, American Library Association, Modern Language Association, Bibliographical Society of America, Louisiana Historical Association, Louisiana Chess Association, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Beta Alpha, Beta Phi Mu, Phi Kappa Rho, Kappa Delta Pi, Roman Catholic church, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, United Fund, Red Cross, and Restoration of Colonial Natchitoches, Inc. Died, February 29, 1964; interred Catholic cemetery, Natchitoches. A national library science scholarship founded in his name; Watson Memorial Library on NSU campus named in his honor. J.B.C. Sources: Who’s Who in America, XXXIII; Alpha Journal, V (1963-1964); Louisiana History, V (1964); XV (1974), 62; Northwestern State College Current Sauce, obituary, March 6, 1964.
WATSON, Robert E., educator. Born, Weir, Miss., October 16, 1888; son of J. A. D. Watson and Martha Jane Fair. Education: Mississippi College, B. S., 1916, Columbia University, LL. D., 1920; Louisiana State University, M. A., 1928. Military service: lieutenant, U. S. Expeditionary Force, World War I. Married Margaret McNeil of Washington, Miss., August 17, 1917. Principal, Julius Freyhan High School, St. Francisville, La., 1924; named superintendent of schools, West Feliciana Parish, 1926, and served in dual capacity until retirement, 1950, bringing parish school system into Southern Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges for the first time. Mayor of St. Francisville, 1962-1971. Died, November 11, 1971; interred Feliciana Cemetery, St. Francisville. E.K.D. Sources: Jane Watson Ware, St. Francisville; West Feliciana School Board Minutes.
WATTIGNY, Gerard H. “Jerry,” sheriff. Born, Jeanerette, La., February 3, 1918; son of Lothaire Domere Wattigny and Lillian Hanigriffe. Married Louise Bernard, Jeanerette, June 8, 1941; children: Gerard Bernard, Wayne James, and Dean Michael. Graduated from Jeanerette High School, 1934; subsequently worked as a chemist at the Albania Sugar Mill. Joined the National Guard, 1940; his unit was mobilized at the beginning of World War II; served in North Africa, Italy, and France; served as provost marshal of the Eastern Division of Rome, Italy, and, later, Reims, France, following the cities’ liberation by American forces; also served as commanding officer, Company G, 156th Infantry; served eight months in the American counter-intelligence service; attained the rank of major by the time of his discharge in 1946. Returned to Iberia Parish, La., following the war and established an automobile dealership; auto dealer, 1946-1956. Political career: Served one term on the Iberia Parish School Board before his election as Iberia Parish sheriff in 1956; sheriff, Iberia Parish, 1956-1980. Subsequently opened a private security firm. Failed in reelection bid for sheriff, 1984; ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana Public Service Commission, 1988. During his twenty-four years of service as sheriff, Wattigny “cleaned up vice” in Iberia Parish and helped maintained calm in the area during the turbulent period of integration. President, Louisiana Sheriffs Association and the National Sheriffs Association. Civic service: established a junior deputy sheriffs organization in Iberia Parish; organized softball leagues for parish youth; vice-president, Louisiana State Parent-Teachers Association; chairman (five years), Iberia Parish March of Dimes; chairman, New Iberia Community Chest, 1954; chairman, U.S.O., Iberia Parish; vice president, New Iberia Lions Club, 1954; president, Travelers Protective Association; district deputy, Louisiana State Council of the Knights of Columbus. Member: Navy League, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Amvets, Louisiana Peace Officers Association, St. Peter Catholic Church (New Iberia). Fourth degree Knight of Columbus. Died, Lafayette, La., June 25, 1997. C.A.B. Sources: New Iberia Daily Iberian, June 26, 1997; Lafayette Daily Advertiser, June 27, 1997; The Story of Louisiana, 4 vols. (1960), 3:236.
WAUD, Alfred Rudolph, artist, illustrator. Born, London, England, October 2, 1828. Studied art at School of Design, Somerset House, London. Arrived in New York, 1850. Produced illustrations for various publications in Boston and New York during 1850s. In May 1861 went to work for the New York Illustrated News producing sketches of Civil War scenes, but later that year went to work for Harper’s Weekly. Depicted scenes of the Civil War. After war (1867) arrived in Louisiana and produced drawings of life among the Acadians of south-central Louisiana. In 1871 returned to the state with writer Ralph Keeler to report life in New Orleans and environs. Produced nearly 500 drawings which are now in The Historic New Orleans Collection. Married. Three daughters. Died, April 6, 1891, South Orange, New Jersey. G.R.C. Sources: Frederic E. Ray, Alfred R. Waud, Civil War Artist (1974); George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, The New York Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860.
WEATHERSBY, Hal Monroe, academic. Born, September 21, 1885; son of William Weathersby and Hallie Hennington. Education: Mississippi College, B. A.; University of Chicago, M.A. Professor, Greek and History, Louisiana College, 1911-1914. Dean, Louisiana College, 1914-1956, dean emeritus, 1956-1965, acting president, 1941-1942. Weathersby Fine Arts Building on Louisiana College campus named for subject. Married Natalee Thompson. Children: Hal T., Scott M., Rose. Member, Baptist church. Died, Pineville, La., August 15, 1965; interred Forest Lawn Cemetery. L.S.* Sources: Louisiana College Archives; Mrs. Murrell Norman (daughter).
WEBB, Samuel Jackson. businessman, inventor. Born, Webster Parish, La., September 3, 1852; son of Dr. S. M. D. Webb and Carrie Jackson Webb. Education: by governess, Miss Mildred Boyle of Minden; Minden Male Academy. Was inventor of the cotton compress and president of Webb Press Company in Minden. In 1885 he exhibited a steam wheel of novel design at the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, New Orleans. Although he registered more than 100 patents with the U. S. Interior Department, it was the Webb cotton compress, the largest and most powerful in the world, which brought him great financial success and acclaim througout the South. Died, April 4, 1909. P.L.M. Source: Webb Papers, Louisiana State University-Shreveport Archives.
WEDELL, James R. “Jimmy,” aviator. Born, Texas City, Tex., March 31, 1900; son of Robert Carl Wedell. Education: local public schools through ninth grade. Married Mae Lavigne. Opened small garage, built his first airplane from parts of two wrecked planes, learned to fly from itinerate flyer. Turned down by the army for flight training during World War I because of eye lost in motorcycle accident. Barnstormed throughout Texas and the South, flew guns into Mexico. Met Louisiana millionaire Harry P. Williams (q.v.), formed Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation which built and raced airplanes and ran a flying service. Designed highly successful racing planes used by many racers of the day. Achieved many speed records, including the world’s speed record for land planes in 1933. Volunteered his services in many humanitarian flights. Died, Patterson, La., June 24, 1934, in plane crash while teaching a student pilot; interred West Columbia, Tex. Wedell Monument, Canal Boulevard at City Park Avenue, New Orleans. J.F.T. Sources: Paul O’Neil, Barnstormers and Speed Kings; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 25, 26, 1934.
WEEKS, David, planter, builder of Shadows-on-the-Teche plantation house. Born, Feliciana, Spanish West Florida, 1786; son of William Weeks and Rachel Hopkins Swayze. Married Mary Clara Conrad (1796-1863), December 31, 1818. Children: Frances Sydney Weeks (1820-1856), Harriet Clara Weeks (1824-1894), William Frederick Weeks (1825-1895), Alfred Thruston Conrad Weeks (1826-1864), Frederick Weeks (1830-1831), Charles Conrad Weeks (1832-1900), David Weeks, Jr. (1834-1843). Took over management of father’s property in and around Weeks Island; purchased Parc Perdu Plantation and assumed management of Weeks family estate upon father’s death, 1819. Inherited extensive lands in West Feliciana and acquired large holdings on Grand Côte Island (now Weeks Island), 1814-1832; purchased site of “The Shadows” plantation, 1825; completed and moved into plantation house, 1834. Grew sugarcane, manufactured sugar, owned own vessel, and transported his sugar to markets in New Orleans and along East Coast. Other landholdings acquired by inheritance and by purchase included Ricohoc, Cypremort, New Town Farm. Died, New Haven, Conn., August 25, 1834; interred Grove Street Cemetery. F.M.J. Sources: Alfred Duperier, “The Obituary of William F. Weeks,” ed. and annot. by Glenn R. Conrad, in Glenn R. Conrad, comp., New Iberia: Essays on the Town and Its People (1986); Morris Raphael, Weeks Hall: The Master of the Shadows (1981); Allie Bayne Windham Webb, “Introduction” in Mistress of Evergreen Plantation: Rachel O’Connor’s Legacy of Letters, 1823-1845 (1983); Mary Elizabeth Sanders, Selected Annotated Abstracts of Marriage Book 1, St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, 1811-1829 (1973).
WEGMANN, John Xavier, businessman. Born, New Orleans, January 24, 1878; son of George John Wegmann, native of Bavaria, Germany, and Caroline Holderith of Alsace, France. Married Sophia Johanna Bonhage, February 18, 1901. Children: eleven sons. Education: St. Mary Assumption Elementary School. A clerk in grocery before becoming, 1898, employee of Lafayette Fire Insurance Company, New Orleans. Named secretary, 1899, and on August 14, 1909, elected fourth president of the company, served until his death. Served as vice-chairman of local Liberty Bond Drive, World War I; served as president of Orleans Parish School Board, the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Chest; member, Charity Hospital Board. A director of Pan American Life Insurance Company, Whitney National Bank, the Premium Acceptance Corporation; president, New Orleans Insurance Exchange and Louisiana Rating and Fire Protection Bureau; vice-president, Hospital Service Association (later Blue Cross Hospital Association). Member Roman Catholic church; served as treasurer for Notre Dame Seminary Fund Drive; president and treasurer of Associated Catholic Charities; director, National Council of Catholic Men; president, Archdiocesan Union of Holy Name Societies; treasurer, St. Mary’s Boys Orphan Asylum; member, Advisory Board of Ursuline College; member, Mercy Hospital Board and the Catholic Committee of the South; served on Executive Committee of Archdiocesan Youth Progress Program. Served as state deputy, Knights of Columbus for Louisiana, Grand Knight of Council No. 714, Fourth Degree, Marquette Council; and member of the Alhambras. He was team-captain for Manresa Retreats for many years. Service to the church recognized by Pope Pius XI who dubbed him a Knight of St. Gregory in 1925. Died, New Orleans, December 10, 1945; interred Metairie Cemetery. R.A.W. Sources: Wegmann Family Papers; numerous newspaper articles.
WEHRMANN, Henry W., musician, composer, teacher. Born, New Orleans, December 27, 1871; son of music printer Henri Wehrmann and engraver Charlotte Marie Clementine Bohne. Education: public schools; studied violin and piano with Oweezka and Hasse, New Orleans, and with Kiesgen, Bertin and Lefort, Paris Conservatory, ca. 1889. Married (1), late 1890s, _____ Fuchs (b. ca. 1871-1903). Married (2) Mathilde Alciatore (d. 1949). Children: Henry F. and Lise. Organist, choir director, First Presbyterian Church, New Orelans; music supervisor, Newman Manual Training School; president, New Orleans Music Teachers’ Association. Died, New Orleans, October 21, 1956; interred St. Louis Cemetery III. H.M.E. Sources: The Historic New Orleans Collection, Encyclopaedia of New Orleans Artists, 1718-1918 (1987); New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 15, 1903; New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 8, 1949; October 22, 1956.
WEINSTEIN, Benjamin Bernard, physician. Born, New Orleans, August 25, 1913; son of Jacob Weinstein and Nellie Salomon. Education: Boy’s High School, 1930; Tulane University, B. S., 1933; M. D., 1937; M. S. in gynecology, 1940. Taught Anatomy and Gynecology at Tulane School of Medicine, 1937-1952. Weinstein actively enlisted Mexican and other Latin American physicians in his gynecologic activities. A specialist in fertility research, he supported international perspectives on his specialty and his profession. He supported appreciation of literature and medical history at Tulane and other institutions from his earliest days as an energetic undergraduate. He is memorialized through the scholarly annual B. B. Weinstein Lecture in the History of Medicine at Tulane University Medical Center. Died, New Orleans, May 10, 1974. J.P.M. Sources: Weinstein’s papers remain in family hands; Who’s Who in the South and Southwest; Who’s Who in World Jewry; New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 11, 1974.
WEISS, Carl A., physician. Born, Baton Rouge, December 18, 1905; son of Dr. Carl Adam Weiss and Viola Maine Weiss. Education: local schools; Louisiana State University, B. S., 1925; Tulane University, M. D., 1927. Medical career: awarded internship, American Hospital in Paris, 1928; internship, Bellevue Hospital, New York, 1930; returned to Baton Rouge to enter practice with his father, 1932. Member: Kiwanis Club; elected president of the Louisiana Medical Society, 1933. German Catholic. Married, 1933, Louise Yvonne Pavy. One son. Died, Baton Rouge, September 8, 1935, after his attack on Huey P. Long (q.v.); interred Roselawn Cemetery. M.L.K. Source: James W. Clarke, American Assassins: The Darker Side of Politics (1982).
WEISS, Leon Charles, architect, civic leader. Born, Farmerville, La., December 10, 1882. Education: Tulane University engineering school, graduated 1903. Formed Weiss and Dreyfous, 1920-1927, with F. Julius Dreyfous. Name changed to Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth, 1927-1941, with admission to partnership of Solis Seiferth (q.v.). In 1920s, designed Jung and Pontchartrain hotels, New Orleans, and Eola Hotel, Natchez, Miss. Met Huey Long (q.v.) during free bridges battle; backed him for governor, 1928, and in impeachment, 1929. Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth designed most major monuments of the Long administration: state capitol, governor’s mansion, Louisiana State University Medical School, and much of LSU campus. Under Richard Leche (q.v.), did Charity Hospital, New Orleans, and many state university buildings. Weiss (only) indicted, 1939, during so-called “Louisiana Scandals” for using the mails to defraud concerning Louisiana Tech building contract which was for an unspecific amount. In a trial marred by “guilt-by-association” tactics by the federal attorney and an anti-Semitic whisper campaign in North Louisiana was convicted, 1940. Resumed practice, 1952, and with Edward Silverstein, designed addition to Jung Hotel, 1952. Died, New Orleans, April 1, 1953. A.S.J. Sources: James M. Thompson, ed., Louisiana Today (1939); Arthur Scully, Jr., “The Physical Legacy of Huey Long” (Ph. D. dissertation, Tulane University).
WEISS, Seymour, businessman, hotel executive, civic leader. Born, Bunkie, La., September 13, 1896; son of Samuel Weiss and Gisella Elias. Education: local public schools, Bunkie and Abbeville. Removed to Alexandria, where he worked as a clerk in his uncle’s department store. Removed to New Orleans, 1916, began work as a clerk in a shoe store. Military service: attended officers training, Camp Gordon, Ga., during World War I, but the war ended before he completed training. Returned to work as a shoe clerk after the war. Became manager of barber shop at Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans, 1923; became assistant manager of the hotel, 1924. Married (1), April 19, 1925, Notie Turner. Married (2), June 12, 1963, Elva Kimball. Became manager of Roosevelt Hotel, 1928; elected president of the New Orleans Roosevelt Corporation, 1931; became principal owner and managing director of the hotel, 1931-1965. Active in politics through close relationship with Huey Long (q.v.), whom he first met during 1928 gubernatorial race; close confidante of Long, who made his New Orleans headquarters at the Roosevelt Hotel; made treasurer of the State Democratic Association by Long; treasurer of Long organization’s secret political fund, late 1920s-1935; had control of federal relief funds in Louisiana during the Depression; vice-president of the Win or Lose Corporation, an oil company whose structure was devised by Long; member, New Orleans Zoning Board and commissioner of city fire and police departments, 1932-1936; president of the board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans, 1933-1938. Indicted by a federal grand jury in New Orleans on tax-evasion charges, 1934; paid back taxes after the charges were dropped; chairman, Huey P. Long Memorial Commission following Long’s assassination, 1935. Became one of the leaders of the Long political machine following his death; indicted on mail fraud and tax evasion charges growing out of the “Louisiana Scandals”; found guilty and sentenced to serve jail sentence; served 16 months, 1940-1942, before being paroled and required to pay back taxes; given full and unconditional pardon by President Truman, 1947. Active in hotel organizations: director and member of the executive committee of the American Hotel Association, president of the Louisiana Hotel-Motel Association; president, New Orleans Hotel Association; named Louisiana’s Hotel Man of Distinction, 1952, and Hotel Man of the Year, 1957. Active in many civic organizations: director, New Orleans chapter, American Red Cross; director, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce; director, International House and International Trade Mart; chairman, committee for the 250th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans, 1968. Sold Roosevelt Hotel, 1965. Died, Baton Rouge, La., September 17, 1969. L.V. Sources: National Cyclopaedia of American Biography; obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 18, 1969; obituary, New York Times, September 19, 1969; Seattle Star, January 26, 1935; Who Was Who in America, vol. V; T. Harry Williams, Huey Long (1969).
WELLS, George H., attorney, politician. Born, Schenectady, N. Y., September 1, 1833; son of Joel Wells and Susan Bellows. Education: local public schools. Civil War service: enlisted as a private in Company G, Eleventh Louisiana Infantry. Promoted to rank of sergeant major and rose to rank of lieutenant. When the Eleventh was mustered out, he joined Shelly’s Battalion. Afterwards he united with the Houston (Tex.) Battalion as major. Discharged at end of war. Married (1), May, 1861, Ellen C. Lewis, of Rapides Parish, La. Married (2) Jessie Barden of Lake Charles. Children: five daughters and two sons by first wife. Democratic party. Served as district attorney in 1859 in Catahoula Parish. Removed to Lake Charles in 1866. Practiced law. Elected to the state senate in 1878 from the district composed of the parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, Vermilion, and St. Mary. Member: Methodist Episcopal church; served as president, board of stewards; a Free Mason, he served as district deputy grand master of Eighteenth District of Louisiana. Died, Lake Charles, February 1, 1905; interred Orange Grove Cemetery. D.J.M. Sources: William Henry Perrin, ed., Southwest Louisiana Biographical and Historical, 2 pts. (1891; reprint ed., 1971); Lake Charles American Press, obituary, March 3, 1905.
WELLS, Germaine Cazenave, restauranteur. Daughter of “Count” Léon Bertrand Arnaud Cazenave of Bosdarros, France, and “Lady” Irma. Father was founder of Arnaud’s Restaurant in the Vieux Carré and creator of Shrimp Arnaud and Oysters Bienville. Education: local schools; Sophie B. Wright High School; attended Loyola University, New Orleans; studied voice at Boulevard School, Paris. Sang with the San Carlo Opera Company and at Carnegie Hall; toured in vaudeville act called Harry Girard & Girls. Taught drama in New Orleans parochial schools. Married and divorced twice, to James Dillard Kennell and Barkeley Jefferson Wells. One daughter: Arnaud Wells Milner (d. 1977). After her father’s death managed Arnaud’s Restaurant, 1948-1978. Restaurant, later leased, contains nine banquet rooms, six dining rooms and the Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum containing gowns she wore as queen of twenty-two carnival balls. Entertained many celebrities at her establishment; named one of country’s top hosts by the National Restaurant Association, 1957. In 1956 began tradition of holding Easter parades through the Vieux Carré where she and other paraders rode in horse-drawn carriages. Member: Catholic church. Died, New Orleans, December 14, 1983; buried in gold lamé gown worn as queen of the Krewe of Naids in 1960; interred Metairie Cemetery. B.R.O. Sources: Atlanta Journal, obituary, December 17, 1983; “Portrait of a Survivor,” Figaro, December 29, 1980; New Orleans Times-Picayune/States-Item, obituary, December 16, 1983.
WELLS, James Madison, planter, lieutenant governor, governor. Born, New Hope Plantation, near Alexandria, La., January 8, 1808; son of Samuel Levi Wells II (q.v.) and Mary Elizabeth Calvit. Education: Jesuit school, Bardstown, Ky.; Captain Partridge’s Military School, Middletown, Conn.; Cincinnati School of Law, Cincinnati, Ohio. Married Mary Ann Scott. Children: Thomas Montfort (b. 1836); Mary Elizabeth (b. 1838); Charlotte Frances Laulette (b. 1840), Caroline Josephine (b. 1841); James Madison, Jr. (b. 1842); Samuel Levi (b. 1844); Jefferson Johnston (b. 1846); Clara Calvit (b. 1850); Eugenie Carnal (b. 1851); Courtenay Calvit (b. 1853); Alexander Carnal (b. 1854); Samuel Scott (b. 1856); and Elizabeth Gordon (b. 1859). Controversial as scalawag political figure during Reconstruction; owner of Sunnyside Plantation in Rapides Parish; appointed by President Grant surveyor of Port of New Orleans, 1868; president of Louisiana Returning Board, 1876. Died, Sunnyside Plantation, near Lecompte, February 18, 1899; interred Rapides Parish Cemetery, Pineville, La. S.E. Sources: G. M. G. Stafford, The Wells Family and Allied Families (1942); G. M. G. Stafford, Three Pioneer Families of Rapides Parish (1946).
WELLS, Montfort, planter, sportsman, owner of showplace, “Wellswood.” Born on Bayou Rapides, near Alexandria, La., February 7, 1800; son of Samuel Levi Wells II (q.v.) and Mary Elizabeth Calvit. Education: Transylvania College, Lexington, Ky. Operated Wellswood Plantation row crop production in collaboration with his brother, Thomas Jefferson Wells, who ran Dentley Plantation where the brothers sought to breed improved livestock and bred some of the nation’s and world’s outstanding racehorses. Married Jeannette Amelia Dent, February 9, 1825. Children: Martha Lucie (b. 1826); Samuel Levi IV (b. 1827); Montfort (b. 1829); Ennemond Meuillon (b. 1831); Jefferson (b. 1834); Jeannette Dent (b. 1836); Mary Elizabeth (b. 1839); Ellen Montfort (b. 1843); Charles Mathews (b. 1845); Hatch Dent (b. 1848); Annie Desiree (b. 1850); and Alice Calvit (b. 1854). Wells was a state senator during the 1830s and with his brothers, Thomas Jefferson (q.v.) and James Madison (q.v.), exercised considerable power in Rapides Parish. Died at Wellswood near Lecompte. S.E. Sources: G.M.G. Stafford, The Wells Family and Allied Families (1942); G. M. G. Stafford, Three Pioneer Families of Rapides Parish (1946).
WELLS, Samuel Levi, II, planter. Born in colonial Louisiana, possibly at Manchac, June 27, 1764. Family removed to the Opelousas area about 1780. Trained by his father as a surveyor. Moved to Rapides Post about 1785. Received large land grants from the Spanish government on Bayous Rapides and Boeuf. Married (1) Miss Bonner, date unknown. Two children. Married (2) Mary Elizabeth Calvit, 1794, eight children. Member of constitutional convention of 1812. Elected to state house of representatives, 1812. Died on his plantation, Rapides Parish, June 10, 1816. A.W.B. Source: G. M. G. Stafford, The Wells Family of Louisiana and Allied Families (1942; reprint ed.; 1976).
WELLS, Thomas Jefferson, planter, stock breeder, racehorse breeder. Born, January 30, 1806, at New Hope Plantation on Bayou Rapides near Alexandria, La.; son of Samuel Levi Wells, II (q.v.) and Mary Elizabeth Calvit. Married Martha Lucie Dent, lifelong invalid. No children. Education: Transylvania College, Lexington, Ky., where he probably became knowledgeable about racehorses and the breeding of better livestock, the latter through Shakertown Colony located there. Representative, Louisiana legislature, 1841-1843; candidate for governor on Whig ticket, 1860; one of seconds of his brother, Samuel Levi Wells, III, in famous Sandbar Duel of 1827. Owner of world-famous racehorse Lecompte. Died July 15, 1863, during a visit to Hempstead, Tex.; interred there. S.E. Sources: G. M. G. Stafford, The Wells Family and Allied Families (1942); G. M. G. Stafford, Three Pioneer Families of Rapides Parish (1946).
WELSH, Henry, founder of town of Welsh. Born, Plaquemine Brulée area, St. Landry Parish, La., February 22, 1831; son of Miles and Mary Ann Clark Welsh. Married Sarah Jane Simmons of Sugartown, 1850. During this marriage two daughters died as infants; two sons, Coleman David and Felix King. Served in Confederate Army. After war, farmed near Welsh until his father’s death in 1868. Assumed his father’s business of a boarding-house. Gave Louisiana Western Railroad right-of-way through his land and donated land for depot and station. In return the station was named Welsh. First train in 1881. Donated land for a school, park, and Catholic church and store. First wife died in 1884. Married (2) Myrtiller Cummings in 1886. Elected first mayor of Welsh, March 15, 1888. Died November 17, 1888. C.F.L. Sources: Jefferson Davis Parish Library vertical files, “New Town,” and “History of Welsh”; Jennings Daily News, July 2, 1976, special section, “Jeff Davis Parish History, 1803-1901”; Lake Charles American Press, October 1, 1933; “The Early History of Welsh” (term paper by Randall La Bauve, April 25, 1979).
WELSH, Samuel John, civil engineer, canal manager, politician. Born, Newcastle, Pa., September 17, 1879; son of Calvin Welsh. Education: local schools; studied civil engineering, licensed in Pennsylvania and Louisiana. Married, February 26, 1902, Margaret Friggle, of Oil City, Pa., daughter of James and Ann Friggle. Children: John Edgar (b. 1903), James Herbert (b. 1906), Robert Bruce (b. 1910), Samuel John, Jr. (b. 1915), William Max (b. 1920). Removed to Vinton, La., 1902, railroad and canal surveyor, manager Sabine Canal Co. Active in Democratic party; member, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, 1916-1920; member, past president, Calcasieu Parish School Board, 1936-1950; member, past president, Vinton Drainage Board. Member: Methodist church; charter member, Vinton Rotary Club; director, West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital, 1950; charter member, first master, Vinton Masonic Lodge, Knights Templar; El Karubah Shrine. S. J. Welsh Middle School, Lake Charles, La., named for subject; Welsh Memorial United Methodist Church, Vinton, named for subject and Mrs. Welsh. Died, Vinton, October 25, 1950; interred Big Woods Cemetery, Edgerly, La. G.S.P. Sources: Lake Charles American Press, October 29, 1950; Welsh Family Papers.
WERLEIN, Philip, music publisher, businessman. Born, Vicksburg, Miss., February 22, 1847, son of Philip P. (q.v.) and Margaret Halsey Werlein. Worked in the Department of War of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Later reestablished his father’s music business in New Orleans. In addition to business activities, was active in the Young Men’s Christian Organization, the White League, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Masonic fraternity. Married Betty Frances Parham, January 9, 1877. Six children: Philip, Jr., Mary, Ethel May, Betty Parham, Fred Parham and John Parham. Died, November 6, 1899. A.E.L. Sources: Alcée Fortier, Louisiana: Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedia Form (1914); obituary, New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 7, 1899.
WERLEIN, Philip Peter, music publisher and businessman. Born, Rheinkreiss, Germany, March 30, 1812. Established music business in Vicksburg, and later in Natchez. Established an all girls’ school in Clinton, Miss. In 1853, removed to New Orleans, where he purchased the music business of Emile Johns. During the Civil War, he served with the New Orleans Home Guard. Democrat. Member, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Married Margaret Halsey in 1846. Children: Philip (q.v.), Lilla, Shepard Halsey, and Mary. Died, April 17, 1885. A.E.L. Sources: Alcée Fortier, Louisiana: Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events, Institutions and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedia Form (1914); John Baron, Piano Music from New Orleans, 1851-1898 (1980); obituary, New Orleans Daily Picayune, April 18, 1885.
WEST, Abel Jerome (A. J.), businessman, cattleman. Born, Carlyss, Calcasieu Parish, La., August 20, 1909; son of Abel Jerome West, Sr., and Allie Curly. Education: local schools. Played professional basketball for Mobil Oil, Beaumont, Tex. Married (1) Alma White of Westlake, La. One child: Abel Jerome, III. Married (2), August 18, 1842, Grace Calhoun, of Sulphur, La., daughter of Edward Bryant Calhoun and Marie Miller. Special deputy sheriff, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department, 1950-1965; part owner West and Ellender Slaughter House, Carlyss. Member: Methodist church, helped establish Wesley Methodist Church. Charter member, Louisiana High School Rodeo Association, fifteen years. Involved in training and riding horses; trained local and area high school students in riding and roping. Louisiana High School Rodeo Association State Finals Arena, Sulphur, named for subject. Died, Sulphur, April 8, 1965; interred Mimosa Pines Cemetery, Carlyss. G.S.P. Source: West Family Papers.
WEST, Joseph Rodman, congressman. Born, New Orleans, September 19, 1822. Removed with his parents to Philadelphia, 1824. Education: private schools; attended the University of Pennsylvania, 1836-1837. Removed to New Orleans, 1841; captain attached to Maryland and District of Columbia Volunteers in the Mexican War from July 17, 1847, to August 10, 1848. Removed to California in 1849 and engaged in newspaper work in San Francisco; proprietor of the San Francisco Price Current. During the Civil War entered the Union Army as lieutenant of the First Regiment, California Volunteer Infantry, August 13, 1861; promoted to rank of colonel, May 1, 1862; brigadier general of volunteers, October 25, 1862; brevetted major general, January 4, 1866, “for faithful and meritorious services”; served in Arizona, New Mexico, and Arkansas, and led expedition which resulted in the death of the Apache chieftain, Mangus Coloradas, January 16, 1863; honorably mustered out at San Antonio, Tex., January 4, 1866. Returned to New Orleans; deputy United States marshal; auditor for customs, 1867-1871; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1871, to March 3, 1877. Was not a candidate for reelection. Member, board of commissioners of the District of Columbia, 1882-1885. Retired from public life, 1885. Died, Washington, D. C., October 31, 1898; interred Arlington National Cemetery. J.B.C. Source: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (1950).
WESTMORE, Samuel M., soldier, adjutant general. Born M. West Moore, Charleston, S. C., 1806; son of Stephen Moore. Graduated from West Point with commission of lieutenant. First assigned to New Orleans, later served under Gen. Zachary Taylor (q.v.) during Mexican War. After war killed a fellow officer in a duel and resigned from army. Settled in New Orleans; legally changed name to Samuel M. Westmore. Married (1), a New Orleanian. Children: Robert, William, and a daughter. Married (2), 1876, Louise Hartz of New Orleans. One child, died in infancy. Brother of Dr. Preston Moore, surgeon general of the Confederacy. Appointed adjutant general of Louisiana by Governors Joseph Walker (q.v.) and Paul Hebert (q.v.); served in that capacity, 1853-1854. Died, New Orleans, February 4, 1896. E.J.C. Source: New Orleans Daily Picayune, February 5, 1896.
WETMORE, Elizabeth Bisland, see BISLAND, Elizabeth
WHARTON, Vernon Lane, academic. Born, Handsboro, Miss., September 29, 1907; son of Guy Vernet Wharton and Fannie Henningham Lane. Education: local schools; Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss., B. A., 1928; University of North Carolina, M. A., 1931, Ph. D., 1940. U. S. naval officer during World War II (1942-1946); rose to rank of lieutenant commander. Married Beverly Dickerson of McComb, Miss., June 16, 1943. Children: John B. Wharton (b. 1945) and Vernon Lane Wharton, Jr. (b. 1947). Commenced teaching career at Slidell High School, 1933-1935; joined faculty of Millsaps College in 1935 as assistant professor of History and Sociology; became head of Department of Sociology, 1945; proceeded thence to Texas Women’s College as dean of the College and the Graduate School, 1952; removed to Lafayette, La., to join staff of Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now University of Southwestern Louisiana) as professor of History and dean of the College of Liberal Arts, 1956. Renowned as a classroom teacher and a capable and innovative administrator; scholarly reputation rests securely on the publication of several noteworthy articles and one book: The Negro in Mississippi, 1865-1890 (1947), a ground-breaking revisionist study that marked the turning point in Reconstruction historiography. Member: Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Delta, American Historical Association, Southern Historical Association, American Association of University Professors. Served on Conference Board on World Peace of Methodist church; Louisiana Public Affairs Research Council; Rotary Club and other service organizations. V. L. Wharton Hall, USL, named for subject. Died, Lafayette, La., September 7, 1964; interred Hollywood Cemetery, McComb, Miss. J.H.D. Sources: Vernon Lane Wharton Papers, 1935-64, U.S.L. Archives, Lafayette, La.; Lafayette Daily Advertiser, September 8, 1964; Louisiana History, V (1964); Journal of Southern History, XXXI (1965).
WHEAT, Chatham Roberdeau, adventurer, soldier. Born, Alexandria, Va., April 9 1826; son of the Rev. John T. Wheat and Selina Patten Wheat. Removed with family to Nashville, Tenn., 1837. Education: Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Va.; University of Nashville. Practiced law, Memphis, Tenn. Mexican War service: second lieutenant, Company G, First Tennessee Mounted Regiment, June 1846 to May 1847; captain, independent Tennessee cavalry company, May 1847 to July 1848. Admitted to the Louisiana bar, 1849; practiced law, New Orleans. Raised a Louisiana regiment to accompany the unsuccessful expedition of Gen. Narciso Lopez (q.v.) to overthrow Spanish government of Cuba in May 1850. Returned to law practice, New Orleans. Joined Col. José María J. Carvajal in unsuccessful insurgent campaigns into northern Mexico, late 1851 to early 1852. Elected to Louisiana house of representatives, December 1852, served only during session of 1853. Made brigadier general, April 10, 1855, by Gov. Juan Alvarez of state of Guerrero in Mexico; participated in successful revolt against government of President Santa Anna; retired from army July 1856. Joined filibuster William Walker in Nicaragua in 1857 but left before fall of Walker’s government. Went to Italy to aid Garibaldi in late 1860; left upon learning of election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States. Civil War service: raised volunteer company called Old Dominion Guards in New Orleans, April 1861; organized a battalion of five companies in May 1861; commissioned major, First Louisiana Special Infantry Battalion (“Louisiana Tigers”), May 25, 1861; fought in battle of First Manassas, July 21, 1861, and severely wounded; led battalion as part of Gen. Richard Taylor’s (q.v.) brigade under “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. Killed in battle of Gaines’ Mill, June 27, 1862; interred Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Va. A.W.B. Sources: Charles L. Dufour, Gentle Tiger: The Gallant Life of Roberdeau Wheat (1957); Southern Historical Society Papers, XVII (1889); Alison Moore, He Died Furious (1983).
WHEELER, Mrs. C. L., missionary. Born, Cheneyville, La., February 26, 1875; daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Snellings. Education: Bunkie, La. schools; Liberty Female College, Glasgow, Ky. Married, December 14, 1904, C. L. Wheeler. Children: Mrs. H. S. McCall, Mrs. Will K. Norton, George Wheeler and Clarence Wheeler. Removed to Shreveport, 1904, to serve as city missionary for the Central Christian Church. Taught Sunshine Bible Class of the Central Church for twenty-five years. Elected president of the local branch of the International Sunshine Society in 1910. During World War I, served the local Red Cross and made special preparation to serve in “Home Nursing.” She was one of the organizers of the Shreveport Training School for Girls. President of the local W.C.T.U. President, Travellers Aid Society. One of the early members of the Mothers’ Union. Appointed to direct the Child Welfare Department of the Louisiana State Fair, a post she held for thirteen years. P.L.M. Source: Lilla McLure and J. Ed Howe, History of Shreveport and Shreveport Builders (1937).
WHELESS, Nicholas Hobson, businessman. Born, Shreveport, La., January 10, 1891; son of Hewitt Hobson and Elvira (Eakin) Wheless. Education: public schools in Alden Bridge, La.; Sewanee Military Academy in Tennessee; attended University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.; member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Entered the family business, Allen Millwork Manufacturing Company, Shreveport. During World War I, served in France as a second lieutenant in the 334th Infantry, the Forty-eighth Division of the A.E.F. Returned to Shreveport and founded Federal Securities Company in 1921 and Sultana Drilling Company (later Wheless Drilling Company) in 1923; became a director of Commercial National Bank of Shreveport in 1926; served as a director of the Louisiana and Arkansas Railway Company, the Louisiana State Fair Association, and the Louisiana Board of Conservation; trustee of the William C. Woolf Foundation and chairman of the Wheless Foundation. From 1934 to 1941, was junior warden of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Shreveport; from 1941 to 1960, served as second warden; was a trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. Established the N. Hobson Wheless Award at Sewanee Military Academy. Became director of Tensas Delta Land Company in 1941; elected president of this firm in 1958, and moved its headquarters from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Shreveport, La. During World War II, served as a member of the Petroleum Administration for War. Was managing partner of the N. H. Wheless Oil Company; member, national director, and president, American Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (now the International Association of Drilling Contractors); chairman, Sponsor’s Committee of the United Fund of Caddo and Bossier parishes; received the United Fund Medallion Award in 1959; director of the Public Solicitation Review Council; a founder, Shreveport Club; member, Shreveport Country Club and the Petroleum Club. Married Mary Lillian Hicks. Children: Marilyn Wheless Hendrick Denton (deceased) and Nicholas Hobson Wheless, Jr., of Shreveport. At the time of his death, October 2, 1972, he was chairman of the board of both Commercial National Bank in Shreveport and Wheless Industries, Inc. Interred Forest Park Cemetery, Shreveport. E.W.H. Source: Author’s research.
WHETSTONE, William Edwin, businessman, civic leader. Born, Oak Ridge, La., August 29, 1908; son of Will Whetstone, a farmer, and Luta Craig. Education: Oak Ridge school. Married, October 3, 1931, Josephine Elizabeth Hudson, daughter of C. R. Hudson and Annie Childres of Shreveport. One son: Eddie Craig (b. 1932). Served South Central Bell Telephone Co., 1928-1977, in Shreveport, New Orleans, Birmingham, Ala., and Monroe. A district manager for the company for fourteen years. On Monroe Utilities Commission, 1975-1978. Member, Louisiana State Board of Education, served as vice president and president; Board of Trustees for State Colleges and Universities, sixteen years; Northeast Louisiana University Scholarship Foundation, president; Monroe City School Board, two terms; Louisiana Educational Television Authority. Active in civic affairs; baseball umpire and coach; Monroe Chamber of Commerce, president, 1960; Chamber of Commerce Foundation; Silverstein Award Man of the Year, 1978; West Monroe Chamber of Commerce. A director of YMCA, American Red Cross. Chairman, United Givers Fund, United Way and Northeast Louisiana University Wesley Foundation. Member, Methodist church, Rotary Club, Louisiana Farm Bureau, Telephone Pioneers of America, Ouachita Valley River Association, Louisiana Forestry Association. Outstanding citizen recognition, Louisiana Municipal Review. Awarded honorary LL. D. by Northeast Louisiana University, 1986. Farmed in Morehouse Parish, La., after retirement. Died, Monroe, February 28, 1987; interred Oak Ridge Cemetery. M.N.N. Sources: Cemetery and church records; Monroe News Star World, obituary, March 1, 1987.
WHITE, Alice Anna, pioneer. Born, Chênière au Tigre, Vermilion Parish, La., November 8, 1871; daughter of Isaac White (q.v.) of Goliad, Tex., and Mary Stein of Morgan City, La. Educated by private teachers on Chênière au Tigre. Married Dr. Raphael E. Sagrera (q.v.) at Chênière au Tigre. Upon her husband’s death, December 24, 1910, she was faced with rearing her large family alone on the remote chênière on the Gulf Coast. A pioneer whose devotion to her children’s education forced her to acquire a home in Abbeville in 1919 in order that her children could secure an education. She returned home to Chênière au Tigre for holidays and the summer months. She served as a nurse to the sick on the chênières when her husband doctor was away on call. She rendered first aid to the people of the chênières throughout her life. In the operation of the Sagrera Hotel Health Resort, she served as hostess to elderly tourists. Children: Raphael Semmes (q.v.), Mary Gertrude (Sister Mechtilde), Isaac Wise, Clare Mercedes, Alice May, George Dewey, M. D., Solomon Rex, Margaret Elizabeth, Andrew Jackson, Walter Teurlings, D.D.S., and Seraphine Georgette. Died, Esther, Vermilion Parish, La., April 2, 1931; interred St. Mary Magdeline Cemetery, Abbeville, La. A.S.H. Sources: Childhood recollections by granddaughter, Amanda S. Hanks; History of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana (1983).
WHITE, Benjamin Rogers, carpenter. Born, Edgecomb County, N. C., January 15, 1800; son of William White and Mary Ann Rogers. Removed to Franklin, Tenn., 1812. Married, August 8, 1822, Eliza Mothershed McKinney of Williamson County, Tenn., daughter of William McKinney, a sea captain, and Eliza Mothershed of North Carolina. Children: Mary Ann (b. 1823), Joseph (b. 1825), Frank (b. 1827), Tom (b. 1832), Eliza (b. 1833), James (b. 1834), Will (b. 1836), Henry (b. 1840), Margaret (b. 1843). Removed to Opelousas, 1860. One son was a carpenter; another was a doctor; and four sons, one son-in-law and two grandsons were Methodist ministers. Died, Opelousas, December 30, 1873; interred Myrtle Grove Cemetery. M.N.N. Sources: Tennessee Methodist, January 5, 1893; White Family Papers.
WHITE, Edward Douglass, jurist, governor, congressman. Born, Maury County, Tenn., March 3, 1795; son of James White (q.v.), an attorney and judge descended from an Irish Catholic ancestry, and Mary Wilcox White. Married, September 22, 1834, Catherine Sidney Lee Ringgold (known as Sidney), daughter of Tench Ringgold, marshal of the federal district under Presidents Madison and Monroe. Children: Susan, James, Eliza, Edward Douglass (q.v.), and Mary Sidney (James would become a prominent physician, Edward Douglass a member of the United States Supreme Court in 1894 and chief justice in 1910). Removed to Louisiana with family in 1799, and settled in St. Martin Parish, where the elder White became a district judge after the Louisiana Purchase. Education: University of Nashville, graduated 1815. Later studied law under Alexander Porter (q.v.), member of the Louisiana Supreme Court; began legal practice at Donaldsonville, La. Political career: appointed judge of New Orleans city court, 1825; resigned, 1828; became a sugar planter in Lafourche Parish; adherent of Henry Clay and Whig party; elected to U. S. Congress, 1828; resigned seat to run for governor, 1834; governor of Louisiana, 1835-1839; as governor signed charter for Medical College of Louisiana, foundation of Tulane University; at expiration of gubernatorial term, returned to Congress, 1839-1843, where he vigorously championed construction of the branch U. S. Mint in New Orleans; retired from politics at end of second congressional stint; returned to Lafourche plantation. Died, New Orleans, April 18, 1847; interred St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery, Thibodaux, La. J.G.T. Sources: Diedrich Ramke, “Edward Douglas White, Sr., Governor of Louisiana, 1835-1839,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly , XIX (1936); W. H. Sparks, The Memories of Fifty Years (1870); Arthur Meynier, Louisiana Biographies (1882); Succession of Edward D. White, Probate Record Number 41, (1847), office of the clerk of court, Lafourche Parish.
WHITE, Edward Douglass, Jr., jurist, politician, U. S. senator planter. Born near Thibodaux, La., November 3, 1845; son of Edward Douglass White, seventh governor of Louisiana, and Catherine S. Ringgold. Education: Mt. St. Mary’s College, Emmitsburg, Md.; Jesuit College, New Orleans; Georgetown College, District of Columbia. Private (later lieutenant) in Confederate Army and taken prisoner in 1863 at Battle of Port Hudson. After war read law in New Orleans office of Judge Edward Bermudez (q.v.) and at age 23 admitted to the bar. Married Leita Montgomery Kent in 1894. A Democrat and a Catholic, he was in the state senate, 1875-1879, where he built a reputation opposing the Louisiana Lottery; associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, 1879-1880; U. S. senator, 1891-1894. In 1894 White was appointed associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court by Grover Cleveland and in 1910 was named chief justice by William Howard Taft. In twenty-seven years on the Supreme Court he wrote opinions in more than 700 cases. He was moderately conservative and consistent, although he dissented in the Court’s invalidation of the income tax in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Company (1895) and in Lochner v. New York (1905). In the Insular cases (1901) he upheld the power of Congress to acquire and govern territory and to protect basic civil rights without conferring citizenship or political rights. In 1911 he espoused the “rule of reason” to moderate the Sherman Antitrust Act (Standard Oil v. United States). Died, May 19, 1921. B.H.G. Sources: Robert B. Highsaw, Edward Douglass White: Defender of the Conservative Faith (1981); American Law Review (July/August, 1926); K. B. Umbreit, Our Eleven Chief Justices (1938); New York Times, May 19, 20, 1921; Alfred H. Kelly, Winfred A. Harbison, and Herman Belz, The American Constitution: Its Origins and Development (1983).
WHITE, Frederick, clergyman. Born, Tennessee, May 30, 1831; son of Redding and Mary L. E. White. Licensed to preach in 1853 and spent two years in the Memphis Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church South. Transferred to Morehouse Parish, La., December 1855. Later assigned to the Chicot Circuit which included much of Avoyelles and St. Landry parishes. Married, October 13, 1856, in Evergreen, La., Henrietta Taliaferro, daughter of Providence Sarah Pierce and Robert Leckie Taliaferro. Children: Mozella Elmina, Sarah Edelene, Frederick Redding, Frances Leona, Henrietta May, Flavilla, and Charles Kavanaugh. Civil War service: served as chaplain for a Texas regiment. After war, returned to Louisiana; became a circuit rider and served two terms in the Alexandria District. Organized, ca. 1870, the Fairview Church of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, on Bayou Boeuf, in St. Landry Parish; used an old sugarhouse for services. In 1886 used a schoolhouse near Milburn Post Office as a preaching house. Sometime between 1890 and 1893 a church was built at the present-day location on Bayou Boeuf. Died, November 6, 1901. Church renamed “White’s Chapel” in memory of subject. R.M.S.P. Sources: Louisiana History, II (1961); La Voix des Prairies (No. 6); Bunkie Record, May 3, 1957; New Orleans Christian Advocate, 1901; family bible records.
WHITE, Gertrude Rolfe, housewife, farmer. Born, Oak Ridge, La., May 3, 1891; daughter of Jo Sam and Gertrude Cooper Rolfe. Education: local schools; Kidd Key Female Academy, Sherman, Tex. Married, November 27, 1915, Warren Shelby White of Mer Rouge, La., son of Walter Scott White and Kate McDuffie. Children: Gertrude Rolfe (1916-1981), Warren Shelby, Jr. (b. 1919), Joe Rolfe (1920-1985), Charles Gilman (1922-1981), Genevieve (b. 1927), and Dorothy Rolfe (b. 1931). Morehouse Farm Bureau Woman of the Year; Morehouse Parish Community Service Award by Bastrop Daily Enterprise. Placed first among 2,000 entries in contest by Famous Artists School. Organized “Twigs” service group, Oak Woods Home for elderly. Presented idea, started fund for Wesley Foundation building, Northeast Louisiana University campus. Active in Methodist church, UMW, Garden Club, Pierrian (federated) Club, Daughters of American Revolution. Winner of many district and state awards for art and handiwork. Died, Mer Rouge, La., November 7, 1981; interred Oak Ridge Episcopal Cemetery. G.W.M. Sources: Bastrop Daily Enterprise, obituary, November 8, 1981; American Artists Magazine (Spring, 1963) and (Summer, 1956); New Orleans Times-Picayune, magazine section, October 21, 1956.
WHITE, Isaac, soldier, merchant, pioneer. Born, Missouri, 1842; son of Simon White. Married Mary Stein of Morgan City. Children: David Washington, Margaret, Alice Anna (q.v.), James, Edmond, Alfred, and Walter, Sr. Civil War service: in the artillery, 1861-1865. Upon return from war, became so distressed over devastation that in 1867 he uprooted his family and joined a band of Teche area planters (led by the Foote brothers) seeking a new home in Central America. Returned to Chênière au Tigre, Vermilion Parish, La., on March 19, 1870, and built a home of palmetto and driftwood. Purchased fifteen acres of land from Ursule Broussard for $22.50 on April 7, 1885. Engaged in the transportation of supplies and merchandise (oysters, cattle, hogs, fruits, and syrup) by sailboat from Morgan City to Abbeville by way of the Gulf of Mexico and the natural streams. Grew sugarcane and operated an open kettle syrup mill. Died, Chênière au Tigre, 1899; interred Sagrera Cemetery. A.S.H. Sources: Interview with Edmond White; Donald J. Hebert, Southwest Louisiana Records, 33 vols. (1974-1984); Doris White family records.
WHITE, James, politician, jurist. Born, Philadelphia, Pa., June 16, 1749. Education: studied law, Jesuit College of St-Omer, France; studied law and medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Married (1) Mary Wilcox of Philadelphia, Pa. At least one child, Edward Douglass (q.v.) Married (2) Levina Scantling. Apparently one child, James, Jr. Removed to North Carolina; elected to the general assembly, 1784. Elected delegate from North Carolina to the Continental Congress, December 1785, and took his seat, May, 1786. In October, 1786, elected Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia). In this capacity came into contact with problems and issues facing people of the Southwest. Became interested in the navigation of the Mississippi for citizens of Trans-Appalachia and thereby became entangled in various schemes of frontiersmen to effect some sort of alliance with the Spaniards of Louisiana. Frequent contacts with Diego Gardoqui, the Spanish minister to the United States, relative to the desires of the frontiersmen for alliance with Spain. Sent by Gardoqui to New Orleans to continue discussions of the separatist movement with Gov. Esteban Miro (q.v.). Miro promised reduced duties on products sent down the Mississippi as an enticement for the separatists, but refused to aid the Westerners in obtaining their independence from the U. S. Suggested, however, that if they established their independence, Spain would accord them all the privileges granted Spanish subjects. Thus uncertain of Spanish reaction to their independence, separatist leaders dropped plans. White returned to the Franklin District of North Carolina, argued against independence, and was in full accord with North Carolina’s session of the Territory South of the Ohio River to the federal government on April 2, 1790. In 1794 elected to the territorial general assembly from Davidson County, and on September 3, 1794, elected a delegate to Congress from the territory. Worked for statehood for Tennessee which was achieved June 1, 1796. Said to have removed to New Orleans in 1798, but actually may have been in the Pascagoula (Miss.) area (owned property there at the time of his death), and removed to the Attakapas Post, 1799. Replaced Edward Church Nicholls (q.v.) as district judge in 1807 and served until death. Died, Attakapas Parish (St. Martinville), December 10, 1809; interred there. G.R.C. Sources: Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XIX (1936); Donald J. Hebert, Southwest Louisiana Records, 33 vols. (1973-1983); St. Martin Parish Estates No. 74; Lafourche Parish Probate Record No. 41.
WHITE, Lulu, madam. Born near Selma, Ala. Removed to New Orleans 1880s; often arrested on charges of prostitution, disorderly conduct, white slavery, and numerous misdemeanors. Despite lack of physical beauty, attracted several wealthy lovers whose largesse allowed her to build “Mahogany Hall,” a fabulous bordello on Basin Street. Women of her “octoroon club” said to be the most beautiful prostitutes in the country. She was noted for her frizzy red wig, big smile, and enormous collection of diamonds which she always wore. Entrusted a large sum of money to her lover, George Killshaw, to invest in a Hollywood film venture in 1907; he disappeared, never found. Continued to manage Mahogany Hall until Storyville closed in 1917. Was probably a mulatto, but claimed to be a West Indian. Little is known of her life; apparently did not die in Louisiana. P.D.A. Source: Al Rose, Storyville, New Orleans (1974).
WHITE, Maunsel, businessman. Born in Ireland, 1783(?). Education: local-non-formal. Military career: captain of a volunteer company at the Battle of New Orleans. Business career: arrived in New Orleans from Ireland, 1801; started as a clerk at a countinghouse and later was an agent for the Wilson and Easton firm; Andrew Jackson’s cotton agent, 1826-1845; established his own firm of Maunsel White and Co., becoming a well-known cotton factor; retired from active management of his firm to become a sugar planter on his four plantations, 1845; elected member on the first board of administrators for the recently founded University of Louisiana (now Tulane University) in New Orleans to which he became a financial patron; sustained the publication of De Bow’s Review; representative of Plaquemines Parish in the state senate, 1846-1850. Political affiliation, Democratic-Unionist. Married, Celestine de la Ronde, and after her death, married her sister, Heloise. One son, Maunsel, Jr. Religious ties, vestryman and warden in the Episcopal church. Died, Plaquemines Parish, La., December 17, 1863. M.L.K. Source: Clement Eaton, The Mind of the Old South (1967).
WHITE, Stuart Lyons, physician, surgeon. Born, New Orleans, March 8, 1871; son of the Reverend Thomas Breman White and Victoria Elizabeth Scales. Education: local schools of Albany, Ore.; Thatcher Institute, Shreveport; Tulane University; University of Maryland, graduated 1893. Married (1) Mary Crenshaw of Arcadia, La. (d. 1900). One daughter: Louise (b. 1900). Married (2) Emma Theus of Arcadia, 1906. Son: Thomas Breman (b. 1907). Practiced medicine, Grant Parish, La., five years; Ruston, 1896-1943. First surgeon in Ruston; built first hospital, offered first formal nursing classes, was first to use X-ray and was among the first to own an automobile. A Louisiana Medical Examiner, eleven years; was city health officer; company physician for Rock Island and Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Pacific railroads. Member, National Amateur Press Association. After more then 300 operations and the delivery of 1,492 babies, subject lost right hand from post-surgical infection, 1920. Spent next twenty-three years as family doctor and X-ray technician, Ruston-Lincoln Sanitarium. Served in World War I, rose to rank of captain. Organized American Legion posts all over Louisiana. First commander, American Legion Post No. 2, Ruston. Member: Methodist church board of stewards, 1900-1948; Ruston Masonic Lodge No. 106. Died, Ruston, 1948; interred Greenwood Cemetery. M.N.N. Sources: Ruston Daily Leader, July 5, 1946; Ruston-Lincoln Parish 100 Year History; White family papers.
WHITE, William Dee Hardman, philanthropist, physician. Born, Franklin, Tenn., August 21, 1836; son of Benjamin Rogers White and Eliza McKinney. Education: Franklin and Nashville literary schools; Nashville Medical College, honor graduate, 1860. Opened practice at once in Vermilion Parish, La. Married, December 24, 1862, Lucinda Reeves Lyons of Vermilion Parish. Of their fourteen children, eight survived him: Birdie Kitchell, James E., Carrie Pipes, Dr. Bascom, Thomas, Rosa Sampson, Lizzie Bier, and Dr. J. Milton. Coroner, Vermilion Parish, eighteen years; president, Louisiana Land and Development Co. Active in many community affairs. Street named for him in Abbeville. Member: Methodist church; Lodge No. 192 F. and A. M., Chapter Girard Hope and Acadian Lodge No. 324 K of H. Died, February 24, 1898; interred Abbeville. M.N.N. Sources: New Orleans Times-Democrat, obituary, February 24, 1898; White family papers.
WHITE, William J., lawyer, politician. Born, Gretna, La., December 25, 1910. Honor graduate of Gretna High School; undergaduate and law degrees from Loyola University. Established a law practice in Gretna, 1935. Served in the United States Navy during World War II. Elected mayor of Gretna, 1949; subsequely elected to nine consecutive terms, serving from 1949 to 1985. Unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor on William “Bill” Dodd’s (q.v.) ticket, 1959. Died December 12, 1990; interred in the Hook and Ladder Cemetery, Gretna, La. J.D.W. Sources: New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 14, 1990.
WHITESELL, Joseph Woodson “Pops”, photographer. Born on a farm near Libertyville, Ind., February 11, 1876. Began taking photographs at age 17. Came to New Orleans 1918; settled 1921, apartment and studio 726 St. Peter St.; self-taught; by 1940s ranked among the top-ten salon exhibitors in the world; among his famous portrait subjects: Wayman Adams, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Lyle Saxon, Erle Stanley Gardner; fifty-eight photographs one-man exhibition at Smithsonian Institution, 1946. Never married. Died, February 18, 1958; interred Terre Haute, Ind. P.O. Sources: Dalt Wonk, “Pops Whitesell,” Dixie, November 29, 1981; New Orleans Item, December 29, 1957; obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 20, 1958, February 12, 1978.
WHITTINGTON, George Purnell, attorney, author. Born, Alexandria, La., June 30, 1881; son of William W. and Emily W. Whittington. Education: local public schools; Tulane University, attended for one year. Studied law in Alexandria under Robert A. Hunter. Admitted to the bar in 1902; practiced in Alexandria. Married Mary Thomas. Wrote and edited numerous historical articles, including “Rapides Parish, Louisiana: A History to 1864.” Roman Catholic. Died, Alexandria, August 31, 1932. A.W.B. Sources: “George Purnell Whittington,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XV (1932); William M. Deacon, comp., Reference Biography of Louisiana Bench and Bar, 1922 (1922).
WHITTINGTON, William White, attorney, politician. Born, Rapides Parish, December 12, 1839; son of Ann C. Holt and W. W. Whittington, Sr. Education: preparatory school in Maryland; Princeton College, N. J., graduated 1862. Civil War service: orderly-sergeant and lieutenant, Captain Benjamin’s Company Cavalry, 1863-1865; assistant adjutant general on staff of Gen. John A. Wharton, 1864; clerk of the district court in Rapides, 1866-1868; studied law and admitted to the bar in 1869. Married Emily Walker, granddaughter of former governor Joseph M. Walker (q.v.), in 1873; seven children: William W. (mayor of Alexandria, 1913-1918), Mary Margaret, J. M. Sandige, George P. (q.v.), Edward F., Robert M., and Emily; appointed justice of the peace in 1867; elected to that post in 1868 and every four years thereafter; deputy clerk of the United States Court in the western district of the state in 1880. Died, 1915. A.W.B. Sources: Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana (Nashville, 1890); Clement A. Evans, ed., Confederate Military History, 13 vols. (1899); Henry E. Chambers, A History of Louisiana (1925).
WICKER, Veronica Dicarlo, lawyer, jurist. Born, Monessen, Pa., 1930; daughter of Vincent James Dicarlo and Rose Margaret Dicarlo. Married Thomas Carey Wicker, Jr.; children: Thomas Carey III, and Catherine. Education: B. F. A., Syracuse University, 1952; J. D., Loyola University Law School, 1966. Admitted to the Louisiana bar, 1966. Spent entire career in New Orleans federal district court for eastern Louisiana; first served as a clerk for Judge Lansing Mitchell, 1966-1977; appointed federal magistrate by Pres. Jimmy Carter, August, 1977; raised to United States district judge by Carter, September, 1979, served in that capacity until her death. Was the first woman ever appointed to a federal judgeship in Louisiana. She was a member of the American, Louisiana, and New Orleans bar associations, Jefferson Parish Bar Auxiliary, the Federal District Judges Association, the Association of Women Judges, Maritime Law Association, Association of Women Attorneys, Justinian Society of Jurists, and the New Orleans Rotary club. Died of cancer at Touro Infirmary, New Orleans, La., December, 10, 1994. J.D.W. Sources: New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 11, 1994; Who’s Who in the South and Southwest (1993-94).
WIKBERG, Ronald G., prison journalist, lawyer, activist. Born, Chicago, Ill., May 26, 1943; the son of a machinist and a legal secretary. Dropped out of high school in his sophomore year. Enlisted in the United States Army, January, 1961; served one-and-a-half tours of duty in Korea; rose to rank of specialist fifth class before his discharge in 1965. While in the Army he attained his graduate equivalency diploma. On September 17, 1969, Wikberg and two accomplices attempted to rob a grocery store in Lafayette, La., resulting in the murder of the store owner. Wikberg plea-bargained to have one of his accomplice’s sentence reduced from death to life in prison, and he received a life sentence. Once at Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola), Wikberg dedicated himself to his own self-improvement; he completed a two-year academic study program from the Southern Career Institute, receiving certification as a paralegal/legal assistant. Instrumental in the establishment of the nation’s first wildlife refuge located inside a penal facility. After serving as a contributor to the Angolite news magazine for over a decade, Wikberg became its associate editor in 1987. He wrote with fellow inmate Wilbert Rideau a series of investigative stories on such topics as prison rape, the politics of parole, and the horrors of electrocution. These collaborative articles were awarded some of the most prestigeous prizes in American journalism. Wikberg and Rideau worked together on several other projects including The Wall is Strong: Corrections and Prisons in Louisiana (1989) and Life Sentences: Rage and Survival Behind Bars (1992), both of which they coedited; for their efforts on the latter project the two were named “Co-Person of the Week” by ABC News. Wikberg’s awards include an honorable mention in the international PEN awards competition, 1988; an honorable mention in the American Penal Press Awards, 1989; and receiving a certificate of merit from the American Bar Association, August, 1989. Wikberg was a finalist in the 1989 National Magazine Awards competition. At the time of Wikberg’s plea-bargain in 1969, it was generally expected in Louisiana that a life sentence with good behavior meant parole in ten years and six months; state law subsequently changed several times and allowed for the indefinite incarceration of inmates with lifetime sentences, as a result Wikberg, despite substantial efforts on his behalf, remained in prison for twenty-three years before being paroled on June 18, 1992. Once released, he married and resettled in Rohrersville, Md., where he died of cancer, October 2, 1994. J.D.W. Sources: New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 4, 1994; miscellaneous clippings and documents provided by Burk Foster, University of Southwestern Louisiana.
WICKLIFFE, Robert Charles, governor. Born, Bardstown, Ky., January 6, 1819; son of Charles A. Wickliffe and Margaret Cripps. Education: studied humanities under Louis Marshall of Buckpond, Ky., then at Jesuit school in Bardstown for a year; two years at Augusta College, Augusta, Ky., and two years at Centre College in Danville, Ky., graduated 1840. When his father was appointed postmaster general by President Tyler in 1841, he moved to Washington, D. C., and studied law with Hugh Legare then attorney general, and returned to Bardstown for admission to the bar. Failing health interrupted his practice so he removed to St. Francisville, La., in 1846, where he engaged in planting cotton and practicing law. In 1851, elected to the state senate from West Feliciana Parish, twice reelected without opposition and chosen president of the senate. Democrats found him so effective campaigning against the Know-Nothing party that they nominated him as their candidate for governor in 1855 and he won. Because he believed the South would remain in the Union he first opposed secession, but when he saw the movement could not be reversed he joined the movement. As a precautionary measure, he urged the removal of free blacks to eliminate their influence on slaves. In his last message to the legislature he said the “fanatics” of the North must be beaten back, and the state should reorganize its militia forces for its own protection and to stand with other Southern states in protecting “our constitutional rights.” At the end of his term in 1860 he returned to planting and law. In 1866 he was elected to Congress but denied admission because he refused to take the Iron Clad Oath. In 1876 he was an elector at large on the Tilden ticket, and served as chairman of the Louisiana delegation to the National Democratic Convention. He ran for the office of lieutenant governor in 1892 with McEnery, but lost and returned to the practice of law. It is recorded that of fifty men charged with murder he successfuly defended all but one. Twice married, in 1843 to Anna Dawson, and in 1870 to his cousin Arnie (Davis) Anderson of Brandenberg, Ky. Died, April 18, 1895. W.H.A. Sources: Dictionary of American Biography, XX; Edwin Davis, The Story of Louisiana, I (1960).
WICKLIFFE, Robert Charles, II, attorney, congressman. Born, Bardstown, Ky., May 1, 1874, while his parents, Arnie Davis Anderson and Robert C. Wickliffe (q.v.), were visiting relatives in that state; grandson of Charles A. Wickliffe, former governor of Kentucky and postmaster general in the cabinet of President Tyler. Education: attended public schools, St. Francisville, La.; Centre College, Danville, Ky., graduated 1895; law department of Tulane University, New Orleans, La., graduated 1897. Married Lydia W. Cooke. One daughter, Brent. Admitted to the bar in 1898 and commenced practice in St. Francisville; member of the state constitutional convention of 1898; enlisted as a private in Company E, First Regiment, Louisiana Volunteer Infantry, during the Spanish-American War; was mustered with his regiment in October 1898; returned to West Feliciana Parish, served as district attorney of the Twenty-fourth Judicial District, 1902-1906. Elected as a Democrat to Congress and served from March 4, 1909, until his death. Died, June 11, 1912, when struck by a train while crossing a railroad bridge in Potomac Park, Washington, D. C.; interred Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Ky. J.B.C. Sources: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1971 (1971); Thomas R. Landry, “The Political Career of Robert Charles Wickliffe, Governor of Louisiana, 1856-1860,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXV (1942); New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 12, 1912.
WICKOFF, William, planter, politician. Born near Wyckoff, N. J., ca. 1749; son of William Wickoff and Agnes Vandal. Removed to Louisiana, ca. 1781. Married Susan Watts. Children: William, Jr., Manuel G., Stephen W., Frances, Daniel, Eliza, and Ralph. Appointed on September 4, 1804, as the Opelousas representative to the legislative council of the Territory of Orleans. In 1805, public auctioneer and treasurer for the County of Opelousas. Appointed justice of the peace the following year. Stockholder in the following firms: New Orleans Insurance Company, Bank of Orleans, Louisiana Bank, and Louisiana State Bank. Active as landowner, cattleman, and planter. Died, Bellevue Prairie of Opelousas, March 26, 1821; interred Grand Coteau Cemetery. K.P.F. Sources: Donald J. Hebert, Southwest Louisiana Records, 33 vols. (1974-1984); St. Landry Probate #214; Clarence E. Carter, comp., Territorial Papers of the United States, vol. IX, Orleans Territory (1940).
WIENER, Samuel G., architect. Born, Monroe, La. Education: University of Michigan and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Was a fellow in the American Institute of Architects, a 15-year member of the state board of architectural examiners, and first president of the North Louisiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Received a certificate of award from the National Board of Architectural Examiners. His early works in the 1920s were traditional in design and include Kings Highway Christian Church and the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. The 1930s Who’s Who in America titled him a “pioneer in contemporary architecture.” The notable International style of the Shreveport Incinerator (1934) brought it the reputation of one of the “25 Best Buildings East of the Rocky Mountains.” It was selected as one of the buildings to be illustrated in the United States Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition of 1937. Wiener’s work is found throughout the Ark-La-Tex and includes the Shreveport Municipal Airport, the Louisiana State University Medical Center, the Big Chain Shopping Centers and the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse. He was noted for his functional style in designing schools which more easily met modern teaching and administrative needs and there are numerous examples in the region. Member B’Nai Zion Congregation. President, Shreveport Jewish Federation and Shreveport-Bossier Goodwill Industries. Former trustee, B’Nai Zion Temple and Shreveport-Bossier Mental Health Center. Died, June 24, 1977. P.L.M. Source: Samuel G. Wiener Papers, LSU-Shreveport Archives.
WIKSTROM, Bror Anders, landscape and marine painter. Born, Laxa, Sweden, April 14, 1854. Began drawing and painting while attending local schools in Sweden; graduated from the University of Stockholm; studied art in Sweden and France. Spent twelve years at sea. Came to the United States and settled in Jacksonville, Fla., where he was known for his genre and marine drawings. In 1883 went to New Orleans to prepare the drawings for the allegorical tableaux of the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition. In 1885, along with Andrés Molinary and Paul Poincy (q.v.), he founded and served as president of the New Orleans Artists’ Association; with local artists, he established the Southern Art Union, the first school in New Orleans to offer art training to local students. To encourage local interest in art in 1887 he began publication of Arts and Letters, a handsome illustrated periodical. However, the publication was short-lived for want of proper patronage. His works, represented in art centers in the United States and Europe, include landscapes, genre and marine paintings which are highly desired by collectors. He was recognized nationally as a leading designer of New Orleans carnival pageantry from 1884 to 1909 and was commissioned to design the Hudson-Fulton Celebration in New York. He was able to complete designs for all floats used in the two commemorative parades before he died in New York, April 26, 1909. Interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. B.R.O. Sources: Isaac Monroe Cline, Arts and Artists in New Orleans During the Last Century (1922); Do You Know Louisiana? (1939); May W. Mount, Some Notables of New Orleans: Biographical and Descriptive Sketches of the Artists of New Orleans and Their Work (1896); New Orleans Daily Picayune, obituary, April 28, 1909; Transit Riders’ Digest, XVIII, No. 40, May 24, 1965; The WPA Guide to New Orleans: The Federal Writers’ Project Guide to 1930’s New Orleans with a New Introduction by the Historic New Orleans Collection/ Written by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration for the City of New Orleans (1983); Martin Wisendanger and Margaret Wisendanger, Louisiana Painters and Paintings from the Collection of W. E. Groves (1971).
WILBERT, Louis J., businessman, politician. Born, Plaquemine, La., February 24, 1892; son of Pauline Baist and Joseph Wilbert. Education: local schools; St. Stanislaus, Bay St. Louis, Miss. Married Gertrude Pope, July 11, 1917. Children: William Pope and Suzanne. President of A. Wilbert & Sons, a sugar and lumber business, 1931-1954; director of the American Sugar Cane League; vice president of Iberville Trust and Savings Bank; past president of the Iberville Parish School Board and member for nineteen years; state senator, 1942-1951. Member, Roman Catholic church, Elks Club, and American Legion. Died, Plaquemine, October 18, 1954; interred Roselawn Memorial Park, Baton Rouge. J.B.C. Sources: Ellis Arthur Davis, ed., The Historical Encyclopedia of Louisiana, (n.d.), II; Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, obituary, October 19, 1954.
WILCOX, Whitman, physician. Born, Albany, N. Y., December 14, 1808. Education: University of Louisiana (now Tulane University), M.D., 1837; appointed Demonstrator of Anatomy, 1837-1838, first alumnus to serve on faculty; named assistant surgeon, Charity Hospital, New Orleans, 1837-1839; published treatise on treatment of rat bites, 1840. Practiced medicine in Baton Rouge, 1839-1843. Married Caroline Eugenie Henderson, widow of H. A. S. Mussenden, June 22, 1843. Removed to West Feliciana Parish, 1843, and began planting cotton on Oak Grove Plantation; coroner of West Feliciana Parish, 1870-1872. Died, July 13, 1876; interred Grace Church Cemetery, St. Francisville. E.K.D. Sources: West Feliciana Oath Book; Virginia Wilcox Osterberger, St. Francisville; University Archives, Tulane University, New Orleans; Grace Church Register; Notarial Records, West Feliciana Parish.
WILDER, William Heatley, attorney. Born, Beauford, S. C., March 25, 1812; son of Asa Wells Wilder and Catherine Binns. Education: schools of Rochester, N. Y.; Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.; studied in Europe; New York University, degree in law; admitted to New York bar, November 1, 1833. Practiced law. Removed to Detroit, Mich. Married, August 1838, Marie Thérèse Palms (d. 1867), a native of Belgium, daughter of Ange Palmes. Children: Emilie and Laura. Removed to New Orleans; admitted to Louisiana bar. Served in the Louisiana legislature and in public office in New Orleans. Although a Democrat, he remained a Unionist with the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1867 became attorney for Myra Clark Gaines (q.v.) and remained as such until her death in 1885. Served as executor of Mrs. Gaines’ estate until his death. A recognized philanthropist. Died, New Orleans, July 6, 1898; interred St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery. G.R.C. Sources: New Orleans Daily Picayune, July 6, 8, 1898.
WILKINS, John Douglas, agriculturist, author, philosopher. Born, Brunswick County, Va., ca. 1780; son of Douglas Wilkins, a Revolutionary War veteran, and Tabitha Ann Wyche. Educational background unknown. Married (1) Maria Cole Claiborne, daughter of John Herbert Claiborne and Mary Cole Gregory, and a cousin of Gov. William C. C. Claiborne (q.v.). Four children reached adulthood. Married (2) Maria Nolan, a native of Ireland; no children. Planter in Brunswick County and a disciple of John Taylor of Caroline, an agricultural reformer and innovator. Removed to Louisiana, 1829; with nephew, Henry Wyche Peebles (q.v.), purchased large tracts of public land south of New Iberia. Became sugar planter and experimenter in sugarcane cultivation. A supporter of Charles Fourier’s socialist theories and a contributor to Fourierist publications, The Phalanx and The Harbinger. Also a natural philosopher and conservationist; author of two books, Man’s Artificial Institutions of Agriculture, Tested by God’s Natural Institutions of Agriculture and Morals and Legislation, Tested by “Natural Faith”. Independent candidate for governor, 1849. Planned, 1850-1851, to establish a farmers’ cooperative in Texas. Died, February 5, 1852, on his plantation at Isle aux Cannes, near New Iberia. G.R.C. Sources: Glenn R. Conrad and Gertrude C. Taylor, “Virginians along the Teche,” Attakapas Gazette, XVII (1982).
WILKINSON, Hugh Miller, attorney. Born New Orleans, La., December 9, 1890, to James Wilkinson and Cecilia Peters Wilkinson. Married (1) Dudley Wilson (died 1969), 1915. Children: Lelia Cecilia Wilkinson (Mrs. William F. Scheyd); Hugh Miller Wilkinson, Jr.; James Wilkinson III; Sheila Bosworth Wilkinson (Mrs. Robert M. Williams); and John Fletcher Bosworth Wilkinson. Married (2) Corinne Dabezies Bartlett; no children from this union. Episcopalian. Graduated from Boys’ High School, New Orleans. Attended Tulane University, but did not graduate. Briefly employed as a reporter by the New Orleans Times-Democrat. After six months of study under the tutelage of licensed attorneys, Wilkinson was admitted to the bar in 1915. He became well known as a criminal trial lawyer, participating in many cases of statewide and national significance. Gained notoriety for his participation in the following cases involving alleged violations of the Volstead Act: United States v. Clesi, United States vs. Coorhies, United States vs. Salvatore D’Angelo, United States vs. Julian Cazenave, United States vs. Jerome Garagno, et al, and United States vs. Accardo. Served as a special prosecutor in the murder trials of Dalleo and Capaci (1933) and Eisenhart and James (1935). Gained convictions of all defendants in both cases. Louisiana state senator, 1924-1928. Authored legislation designed to force disclosure of Ku Klux Klan membership. Charter member, Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo Association, 1927. Founded Annual Lafitte Pirogue Race. Law partner of Gov. Huey P. Long, early 1930s. President, Louisiana Bar Association, 1935. New Orleans City Park commissioner, 1938-1940s. Active in war bond sales and Red Cross work, World War II. Chairman, Community Music Fund, 1945. President, New Orleans Opera Association, 1946-1950. Delegate, Democratic National Convention, 1948. Captain of one of New Orleans’s major carnival organizations, 1950-1972. Chairman, United Fund Speakers Division, 1952. President, Society of the Louisiana Purchase, 1953. Vice President, Society of the War of 1812, 1957. President, Louisiana Society, Sons of the American Revolution, 1961. Vice President, National Society, Sons of the American Revolution, 1962. President, Louisiana Historical Society, 1962-1970. Died June 14, 1973, Touro Infirmary, New Orleans. Interred, Garden of Memories Cemetery. A.Y.B. Sources: “N. O. Attorney’s Rites Saturday; Career Included Famous, Important Cases,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 15, 1973; “A History of the Louisiana Society, Sons of the American Revolution, the First 100 Years and Beyond” (unpublished manuscript), 30-33.
WILKINSON, James, soldier. Born, Calvert County, Md., 1757; son of Joseph Wilkinson and Betty Heighe. Education: Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1773-1775. Military service: commissioned an officer in the Continental Army, 1775; combat service at seige of Boston, 1775-1776; Montreal, 1776; Trenton, 1777; Saratoga, 1778; adjutant for the Northern Department, 1777; secretary of the Board of War, 1777-1781; clothier-general, 1781. Married, November 12, 1778, Ann Biddle of Philadelphia. Two children. Resided in Pennsylvania as farmer, 1781-1783. Removed to Kentucky, 1784; active in western trade, 1785-1789; made commercial visits to New Orleans, 1787, 1789; began receiving secret pension from Louisiana government to represent covertly Spanish interests in western United States, 1787. Involved in various schemes to separate Mississippi Valley from United States. Resumed military career and appointed major general, U. S. Army, 1792; commander at Detroit, 1796; commander of the Southern Department, 1798; co-representative with W. C. C. Claiborne (q.v.) in receiving Louisiana from France, 1803. Involved in the intrigues of Aaron Burr (q.v.), 1800-1806; negotiated Neutral Ground Treaty of 1806; accused of corruption by Daniel Clark (q.v.), 1809; and wrote Memoirs of My Own Times (3 vols., 1816). Married, March 5, 1810, Celestine Laveau Trudeau of New Orleans, widow of Thomas Urquhart (q.v.) and daughter of Charles Laveau Trudeau (q.v.). Three children. Engaged in land speculation in Texas, 1821-1825. Died, Mexico City, December 28, 1825. Buried in crypt, Iglesia de San Miguel Arcángel, Mexico City. L.T.C. Sources: James P. Jacobs, Tarnished Warrior: Major-General James Wilkinson (1938); Thomas R. Hay and M. R. Werner, The Admirable Trumpeter: A Biography of General James Wilkinson (1941).
WILKINSON, Theodore Stark, congressman. Born, Point Celeste Plantation, Plaquemines Parish, La., December 18, 1847; son of Joseph Biddle Wilkinson, Jr., and Josephine Stark; great-grandson of Gen. James Wilkinson (q.v.). Education: private tutors and attended the common schools; Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va., graduated 1870. Married Pauline Spyker of Morehouse Parish, La. No children. Engaged in sugar planting in 1870; member, school board of Plaquemines Parish; member and president, board of levee commissioners for the Third Levee District. Elected as a Democrat to Congress and served from March 4, 1887, to March 3, 1891; declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1890. Chairman of the Louisiana Anti-Lottery convention in 1892; collector of the port of New Orleans, 1893-1898; unsuccessful candidate for governor against J. Y. Sanders (q.v.) in 1898; again engaged in sugar planting; delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore in 1912. Died, New Orleans, February 1, 1921; interred Metairie Cemetery. J.B.C. Sources: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (1950); Stanley C. Arthur, Old Families of Louisiana (1971); New Orleans Times-Picayune, obituary, February 2, 1921.
WILKINSON, W. Scott, attorney. Born, Coushatta, La., February 5, 1895; son of John Dallas and Alice Mai Wilkinson. Education: local schools; Culver Military Academy; Louisiana State University, president of senior class, law degree, 1917. Served in World War I and in World War II. Served in the Louisiana legislature, 1920-1924. Member of the state, national, and international bar associations; in 1962 chosen for membership in American College of Trial Lawyers. Was senior partner in law firm of Wilkinson, Carmody and Gilliam, director and chairman of the board of Lee National Life Insurance Co., and vice president of the Hunter Co. In the late 1950s took a leading role in the court battles in the states’ rights movement in areas such as attempts to maintain segregation policies and to keep tidelands money for the state. Held leadership positions in Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, Rotary Club, and LSU Foundation. Married, April 9, 1919, Margaret West of Corsicana, Tex. Two daughters, Susybelle and Margarret. Died, June 19, 1985. P.L.M. Source: Author’s research.
WILLIAMS, Blanche Blanchard, see BLANCHARD, Blanche Virginia
WILLIAMS, Clarence, pianist, song composer, band arranger, recording director, entrepreneur. Born, Plaquemine, La., October 8, 1893; son of bassist Dennis Williams. Brief marriage to singer Georgia Davis, 1916. Married singer Eva Taylor (née Irene Gibbons), 1922. Children: Clarence, Jr., Irene (Mrs. William Matney), and Spencer Williams. Had a grammar school education in Plaquemine. Moved to New Orleans, 1905, doing odd jobs: pianist at Lulu White’s (q.v.) Storyville establishment, tailor, clothes presser, shoe shiner. Manager of Pete Lala’s club (1913) and of 25 Cabaret (1918). Formed recording groups (1917-18) with musicians Louis Armstrong (q.v.), Sidney Bechet (q.v.), and Joseph “King” Oliver: Blue Five (originally Williams, Armstrong, Bechet, Buddy Christian, Charlie Irvis), Blue Four, Red Onion Jazz Babies, Dixieland Five, etc. First arranged for Blue Five. Collaborator and publishing partner of A. J. Piron (leader of Olympia Band). First successful songs, 1915: “You Missed a Good Woman When You Picked All Over Me,” “I Can Beat You Doing What You Doing Me,” “Brown Skin, Who You For?” Moved to Chicago 1918, opened two music stores, performed at Royal Gardens. Opened Clarence Williams Music Publishing Company, 1922, New York City. Made piano rolls for QRS, Okeh and Black Swan labels, among others in 1920s and 30s. Accompanied and recorded with top female blues singers Sara Martin, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Lizzie Miles and Eva Taylor, 1920s-30s. From 1920-40 Williams composed over 500 tunes, half with collaborators, among them Piron, Spencer Williams (no relation) (q.v.), Peter Bocage (q.v.), Fats Waller, Perry Bradford. His musical, Bottomland, produced in New York, 1927. Other recording labels featuring Williams’ bands included Broadway, Grey Gull, Madison, Van Dyke, Radieux, Gennett, Victor, Riverside, Creole. Recorded (1929) with his Seven Gallon Jug Band. Last recordings on Bluebird label, 1942. Total output, approximately 5,000 entries on sixty labels. Sold Williams Publishing Company catalog to Decca, 1943. Opened antique shop in Harlem, mid-1940s. Blindness, diabetes, and strokes slowed Williams’ productivity by late 1950s. Best remembered as talent scout and organizer of jazz/blues groups for leading recording companies. His intimately communicative tunes were in standard popular song form (AABA), or in tweleve bar blues, using basic chord progressions. Most enduring songs: “Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home?,” “Royal Garden Blues,” “Sugar Blues,” “Gulf Coast Blues.” Died, New York City, November 6, 1965. A. K. S. Sources: Tom Lord, Clarence Williams (1976); Al Rose, Storyville, New Orleans (1974), I Remember Jazz (1987); telephone interview and correspondence with son-in-law William Matney, (November 29, 1995; and December 7, 1995); Lynn Abbott, “Brown Skin, Who You For?,” The Jazz Archivist (December, 1993); Eileen Southern, Readings in Black American Music (1971); Eva Taylor, “My Husband Clarence Williams,” Storyville, 13 (October-November, 1967); New York Times (June 28, 1927 and November 7, 1965); tape of broadcast from station WAMU in Washington, D. C., “Clarence Williams Retrospective,” emcee Rod Bamberger (1994).
WILLIAMS, David Reichard, architect administrator. Born, Childress, Tex., October 17, 1890; son of Thomas Arnold Barlow Williams and Rebecca Holmes Raworth. Education: local schools, International Correspondence School; University of Texas, 1912-1916. Married (1) Norma O’Brien 1921, divorced 1926. Married (2) Louise Lyle Givens, December 31, 1934. One daughter, Davida (b. 1940). Operated own civil engineering and architectural contracting firm in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1919-1922. Studied and traveled in Europe, 1922-1923. Established architectural practice in Dallas, Tex., in 1924, and pioneered the development of an indigenous style of Texas architecture. Photographically preserved the frontier architecture of nineteenth-century Texas; the David Williams Photographic Collection is housed in the University of Texas Architecture Library. Generally regarded as the father of the modern Texas ranch house. Architect for Texas Relief Commission, 1933, designer and supervisor of Woodlake, a back-to-the-land community. From February 1934 to December 1935, chief architect, Division of Rural Rehabilitation, Federal Emergency Relief Administration; supervised building of twenty-nine back-to-the-land communities from Florida to Alaska. From August to December 1935, director, Exhibits Section, Works Projects Administration; in charge of exhibits at 1936 Democratic National Convention, designed WPA logo. Assistant administrator and director, 1936-1940, Division of Work Projects, National Youth Administration; chiefly responsible for developing NYA work-training program for unemployed out-of-school youths. Instrumental in establishing first of a nationwide program of Resident Training Centers at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now University of Southwestern Louisiana) in Lafayette. Author of NYA Architecture: Design and Standards. Directly responsible for the NYA’s transition to a defense training program in 1939-1940. Chief architect, 1941-1943, Defense Housing Division, Federal Works Agency; supervised building of housing for war industries workers, designed Multimax demountable house and other prefabricated housing units. Principal program manager, 1943-1945, Emergency Rehabilitation Division, Institute for Inter-American Affairs; credited with keeping the Nicaraguan gold mines open during World War II. In Panama, developed master city plans for Panama City and Colón and successfully suggested the creation of the Banco de Urbanismo y Rehabilitación to finance urban renewal. In Colombia, designed clinics, hospitals and sanitation projects. Assistant chief, 1945-1947, Agricultural Equipments and Fisheries Branch, Agricultural Rehabilitation Division, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. Consultant, 1947-1948, Instituto Técnico de Inmigración y Colonización, government of Venezuela; planned rural communities for postwar European refugees. Hospital architect, 1949-1950, Public Health Service. Architect, 1950-51, Housing and Home Finance Agency. Retired July 31, 1951, to Lafayette, La, where he designed a “Bayou House” indigenous to South Louisiana. April 19, 1960, inducted into the College of Fellows, American Institute of Architects, for his contributions to design. Died, March 10, 1962; interred Lafayette Protestant Cemetery. M.G.W. Sources: Michael G. Wade, “David Reichard Williams: Avante-Garde Architect and Community Planner, 1890-1962” (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1978); Record Group 119, Records of the National Youth Administration, National Archives and Records Service; Williams Papers, University Archives, University of Southwestern Louisiana.
WILLIAMS, Elijah (“Lige”) Henson, labor leader. Born, Bienville Parish, La., August 16, 1895; son of William Henson Williams, a farmer, and Martha Anne Price. Educated Bienville Parish public schools; high school graduate. Became a barber, and in 1920 joined Local 161 of the Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists’ International Union of America in Shreveport. Elected secretary-treasurer of Local 161. Married (1), February 29, 1928, Anita Rachael. Two children: Robert Henson, and Martha Ann. April, 1933 elected president of the Louisiana State Federation of Labor, a post which he held until 1956 when he decided not to run again. When Williams was elected president, the State Federation had been severely weakened by the Depression. Williams, who served his first three years without pay supporting himself by barbering, presided over the Federation’s recovery. During World War II Williams served on the Regional Advisory Board of the War Manpower Commission, and was a panel member of the War Labor Board. Married (2), November 26, 1946, Annie Laurie Canfield. No children. Served as a regional organizer for the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and director of the AFL’s south-central Region 16. After the merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955; appointed director of the AFL-CIO Region VII (Louisiana and Mississippi) and held that position until his death. During the 1950s was a member of the Louisiana State Democratic Central Committee. Had considerable influence in the state legislature, and played a significant role in the partial repeal of Louisiana’s first “Right-to-Work” law in 1956. Member: Baptist church and Masons. Died, New Orleans, March 17, 1972. B.C.* Sources: Merl E. Reed’s entry in the Biographical Dictionary of American Labor Leaders; Who’s Who in Labor (1946); New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 18, 1972; 1933 and 1936 Proceedings of the Louisiana State Federation of Labor; Thomas Becnel, Labor, Church, and the Sugar Establishment (1980); Bernard Cook and James Watson, Louisiana Labor (1985).
WILLIAMS, Francis Bennett, industrialist, civic leader. Born, Copiah County, Miss., January 18, 1849; son of Charles Williams and Emily Caroline Moore Williams. Began working on railroads at age 12, eventually associated with civil engineering department for the contractors building the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and later the Morgan Louisiana and Texas Railroad. With the bankruptcy of that project in Patterson, La., Williams built plantation bridges and sold cypress lumber in Texas. In 1870, he entered the lumber business. In 1874, he established with Capt. John Pharr (q.v.), the Pharr and Williams’ Saw Mill, the oldest in the Atchafalaya basin. In 1896, he purchased Capt. Pharr’s share and established the F. B. Williams Cypress Company, by 1908, the largest cypress mill in the world. Later established the Williams Lumber Company at Ponchatoula, La., and the St. Bernard Cypress Company, Ltd., near New Orleans. Was one of the organizers of the Louisiana Red Cypress Company and the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association. Vice-president of the Whitney-Central National Bank; president, F. B. Williams Cypress Company, Sterling Sugar Refinery, Atchafalaya Ship Channel Company; St. Bernard Cypress Company, and Shady Side Planting Company. Member of the Boston, Pickwick, and Stratford clubs. Was a past king of the New Orleans Mardi Gras. Prominently identified with the Republican party, and a member of the Louisiana state senate, 1896-1900; chairman of the Republican State Central Committee. Awarded the Times-Picayune Loving Cup for philanthropies which included $250,000 donation to Kingsley House and $50,000 to Community Chest. Married Emily Williamson Seyburn of Patterson, La. Four sons: Harry P. (q.v.), Charles S., L. Kemper (q.v.), and Laurence M. Died, January 31, 1929; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. A.E.L. & A.C.B. Sources: Rachael Edna Norgress, “The History of the Cypress Lumber Industry in Louisiana,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXX (1947); obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 1, 1929; author’s research; Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, obituary, February 1, 1929.
WILLIAMS, Harry Palmerston, businessman, politician, aviation developer. Born, Patterson, La., October 6, 1889; son of Francis Bennett Williams (q.v.) and Emily Williamson Seyburn. Education: Lawrenceville Academy, Lawrenceville, N. J.; University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. Married (1), December 12, 1912, Marian Graham, divorced 1917. Lieutenant, Engineers Corps, World War I. Married (2), August 19, 1918, Helen Marguerite Clark (q.v.). No children. Active in politics and business in Patterson and Louisiana. Mayor, Patterson; president, police jury, St. Mary Parish; highway commissioner; president, Patterson State Bank; director, Williams, Inc.; director, F. B. Williams Cypress Co.; director, St. Bernard Cypress Co.; treasurer, Franklin and Abbeville Railway Co. Built and raced speed boats. Became interested in aviation, met aviator “Jimmy” Wedell (q.v.); furnished the capital to build the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation of which he became president; Wedell-Williams built and raced airplanes and also ran a flying service. The Wedell-Williams 44 won more races (including the 1933 Thompson and the 1934 Bendix) than any other plane of its day. Generously supported the educaton of local boys. Died, May 19, 1936, in a plane crash near Baton Rouge; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. J.F.T. Sources: Paul O’Neil, Barnstormers and Speed Kings; Curtis Nunn, Marguerite Clark; The Historic New Orleans Collection, “Story of the Williams,” (unpublished typescript); The Historic New Orleans Collection, Manuscripts Division, scrapbook 84-60-L; obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 20, 1936.
WILLIAMS, Helen Marguerite Clark, actress, silent film star. Born, Cincinnati, Ohio, February 22, 1883; daughter of Augustus James Clark and Helen Elizabeth Golden. Education: local public schools, Brown County; Ursuline Convent School, St. Martin, Ohio; brief dramatic training at a New York school. Career began 1899, Baltimore; played in New York and with national touring companies in musical comedy, comedy, and drama; accepted a contract from Adolph Zukor with the Famous Players of Paramount Pictures, made thirty-nine silent films between 1914 and 1921, retired shortly after her marriage, at the height of her career and popularity. Married, August 19, 1918, Harry Palmerston Williams (q.v.) of Patterson, La. No children. Lived quietly in Patterson as wife and hostess, presided as acting Tsaritsa of the Mystic Court at the Duke of Alexis Tableau Ball in New Orleans, 1924. After her husband’s death in 1936, lived in New Orleans at the Williams mansion, 5120 St. Charles Ave. (now Latter Memorial Library); inherited her husband’s business as well as his personal property and served as president of Wedell-Williams Aviation Company until it was sold to Eastern Airlines. Went to New York in 1939 to live with her sister Cora Clark, her former guardian and manager. Died, September 25, 1940; ashes entombed in Williams family vault, Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. J.F.T. Sources: Curts Nunn, Marguerite Clark; obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 26, 1940.
WILLIAMS, Joseph “Sunny”, jazz musician. Played guitar, trumpet, clarinet, violin and drums. Born, Arna, La., 1880. Removed to New Orleans from Rapides Parish in 1919. One of the organizers fo the Bull’s Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s band in the 1920s. Also played in Charley Haye’s band and other groups. Awarded a special citation by Mayor Victor Schiro at the Jazz Fest ’68. Wife, Virginia Royal. Children: Ernestine and Hazel. Died, New Orleans, April 1, 1969. Interred Arna, La. H.C. Sources: New Orleans States-Item, obituary, April 3, 1969.
WILLIAMS, Leila Moore, civic and social leader. Born, New Orleans, February 18, 1901; daughter of Robert Moore and Leila Hardie. Education: private tutors; local schools; eastern boarding school. Married L. Kemper Williams (q.v.), October 2, 1920. No children. Active in Junior League of New Orleans, St. Anna’s Asylum, Orleans Club, New Orleans Symphony, Garden Study Group, Colonial Dames. Sponsored scholarships for students of the Music Academy of the West; University of the South; Piney Woods Negro School. Served as Gray Lady during World War II; donated stained glass window to Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans, 1957; member of Altar Guild of Christ Church Cathedral. Co-founder with her husband of the L. Kemper and Leila Williams Foundation that administers The Historic New Orleans Collection. Died, New Orleans, December 13, 1966; interred Metairie Cemetery. E.S.* Sources: Historic New Orleans Collection; A Small Portrait of Leila Moore Williams (1976).
WILLIAMS, Lewis Kemper, civic and social leader. Born, Patterson, La., September 23, 1887; son of Francis Bennett Williams (q.v.) and Emily Williamson Seyburn. Education: University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., 1906-1908. Married Leila Moore (q.v.), October 2, 1920. No children. Entered family lumber business, Patterson, La., in 1908; secretary-treasurer, Frank B. Williams Cypress Co., Patterson, La.; president, Frank B. Williams Cypress Co.; president and director, Williams, Inc.; City Center Realty Co.; director, National Bank of Commerce, New Orleans, International Trade Mart, Central Gulf Steamship Co., St. Charles Hotel Co., Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana; honorary consul of Monaco. Military service: U. S. Army lieutenant, World War I, national president, Reserve Officers Association, 1931-1934, commander, Army Recreation Center, World War II, president, War Department’s Disability Review Board; brigadier general, retired. Chairman, Federal Housing Authority of New Orleans; president, National Association of Housing Officials; chairman, Board of Regents and Senior Warden of Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans; president, Vieux Carré Commission; president, New Orleans Philharmonic Society; trustee, University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn. Member, New Orleans Association of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America, Society of Cincinnati, Mayflower Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Phi Delta Theta, Omicron Delta Kappa, Boston Club, Louisiana Club, New Orleans Country Club, Chevy Chase Country Club (Washington, D. C.), Valley Club (Santa Barbara, Calif.). Recipient of the Times-Picayune Loving Cup, 1937. Co-founder with his wife of the L. Kemper and Leila Williams Foundation that administers The Historic New Orleans Collection. Died, New Orleans, November 17, 1971; interred Metairie Cemetery. E.S.* Sources: Who’s Who in America, 1962-63; The Historic New Orleans Collection.
WILLIAMS, Mattie Harris Watson, educator. Born, Shreveport, La., January 11, 1844; daughter of Matthew Watson, first sheriff of Caddo Parish, and Eliza Harris. Education, private tutors; Minden Female College, graduated 1859. Married, during Civil War, John Routh Williams of Rapides Parish, La. After war, lived in Shreveport; became first assistant at Kate Page Nelson Seminary, Shreveport. In 1891 joined the Caddo public-school system and was named first principal of Texas Avenue School. Later became librarian of the consolidated Central High School, a position she held until retirement in 1916. Served as secretary, treasurer, and president, Louisiana Educational Association. Actively involved in the organization of the Louisiana Chautauqua and worked closely with it, 1889-1905. Organizer, with others, of Caddo Teachers’ Association and Lyceum Bureau. Also involved in summer institutes held in Caddo Parish. Organized, with others Home Charitable Association; also helped to organize King’s Daughter Circle and Bands of Mercy, both international organizations to help the needy. An organizer of the Oakland Cemetery Association. Instrumental in organizing the Free City Library Association which led to the Shreve Memorial Library. Organizer, local Women’s Christian Temperance Union and local chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy. Contributed prose and poetry to the American Folklore Society. Named superintendent of the Educational Department of State Fair in 1906. Served several years as social and education editor for the Daily Caucasian. P.K.B. Source: “The Life and Work of Mattie H. Williams, With Reference to the Development of Education in Northwest Louisiana” (M.A. thesis, Louisiana State University, 1962).
WILLIAMS, Robert Pete, blues guitarist. Born, Zachary, La., March 14, 1914. Even though he played the guitar since 1934, his early history as a musician is sketchy. Only after he was sentenced to Angola for murder in 1956 has it been documented. He was discovered there by folklorists Richard Allen and Harry Oster. He was paroled on a work-release program in 1959 and won a full pardon in 1964. In 1966 he made an appearance at the Berkeley Folk Festival and recorded for Takoma Records. Later that year Williams toured Europe with the annual American Folk Blues Festival. He also appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and had parts in five music documentary films. Among his albums are Angola Prisoner’s Blues, and Those Prison Blues recorded by Arhoolie. His music has been described as the epitome of painful, wailing country blues, although critics said it defied classification because it was so different from other Delta blues or country blues. Died, Rosedale, La., December 31, 1980; interred Scotlandville, La. H.C. Sources: Peter Guralnick, Feel Like Going Home (1971); Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, April 11, 1980; New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 15, 1981.
WILLIAMS, Spencer, pianist and composer. Born, New Orleans, La., October 14, 1889. Though born in New Orleans, Williams grew up in Birmingham, Ala. He played music throughout the South and in Chicago. In 1916 he moved to New York and began to write songs full time with the noted blues and jazz impresario Clarence Williams. During the 1920s he performed extensively in Europe with such performers as Fats Waller and Josephine Baker. Although an excellent performer, Williams’ reputation lies in his strong compositions, many of which became jazz standards. Among the best known are “Basin Street Blues,” “Tishomingo Blues, ” “Mahogany Hall Stomp,” and “Royal Garden Blues.” Williams preferred to live in Europe, residing in Sweden throughout the 1950s. Died, Flushing, N. Y., July 14, 1965. At his death, Williams was widely regarded as one of the finest composers of American popular music. K.S.F. Sources: Gary Giddens, “They Wrote the Songs-the Bard of Basin Street: Spencer Williams,” Village Voice XXXVIII (1993); J. Green “Spencer Williams: Composer,” Storyville, #123 (1986).
WILLIAMS, Spencer, Jr., African American radio, television, and screen actor; film director; and film producer. Born, Vidalia, La., July 14, 1893. Became an actor, ca. 1923. Married Eula Williams. Appeared in the following movies: Tenderfeet, 1928; Georgia Rose, 1930; The Virginia Judge, 1935; Harlem on the Prairie and The Bronze Buckaroo, 1938; Bad Boy and Two-Gun Man from Harlem, 1939; Son of Ingagi, 1940; Blood of Jesus and Toppers Take a Bow, 1941; Of One Blood and Go Down Death, 1944; Beal Street Mama and Dirty Girtie from Harlem, USA, 1946; and Juke Joint, 1947. Best remembered for his portrayal o the bumbling Andy (Andrew H. Brown) in the Amos ‘n’ Andy television series, broadcast by CBS, which produced eighty episodes between June, 1951 and June, 1953; the series subsequently was syndicated throughout the United States for more than a decade. Died of a kidney ailment, Sawtelle Veterans Administration Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif., December 13, 1969. C.A.B. Sources: New York Times, December 24, 1969; Evelyn Mack Truitt, ed., Who Was Who on Screen: Illustrated Edition (1984).
WILLIAMS, Tennessee, author. Born, Columbus, Miss., March 26, 1911; son of Edwina Dakin and Cornelius Coffin Williams. Christened Thomas Lanier and took the name Tennessee while in college. Education: attended universities of Missouri and Washington; graduate of University of Iowa. First came to New Orleans in 1938 to seek a job with the Federal Writers’ Project; was not hired but stayed on to write. Earned his meals by distributing handbills for his landlady’s restaurant and waiting on tables. The play Vieux Carré, set on Toulouse Street, was the location of his boarding house. Wrote A Streetcar Named Desire while living on St. Peter Street in the mid-1940s. His play Garden District, which later became the movie Suddenly Last Summer, took its setting from a friend’s house in that part of the city. Lived in New Orleans off and on for forty-four years and praised the city as a citadel of freedom and inspiration. Died, New York City, February 24, 1983. J.B.C. Sources: Current Biography, 1946 (1947); Current Biography Yearbook, 1972 (1972); New Orleans, Times-Picayune, February 25, 1983.
WILLIAMS, T. (Thomas) Harry, academic Born, Vinegar Hill, Ill., May 19, 1909; son of William D. and Emma Necollins. Education: local schools of Hazel Green, Wis.; Platteville (Wis.) State College, B. Ed., 1931; University of Wisconsin, M. Ph. (history), 1932; Ph. D., 1937. Taught Extension Division, University of Wisconsin, 1936-1938; faculty, University of Omaha, 1938-1941; Louisiana State University, 1941-1979. Married Estelle Skolfield, 1952; one child: Mrs. John J. Doles. Long term (38 years), popular faculty member, LSU-Baton Rouge; Boyd Professor of History, 1953-1979; Gugenheim Fellow, 1957; Harmsworth Professor of American History, Queen’s College, Oxford University (Eng.), 1966-1967. President, Southern Historical Association, 1958-1959; president, Organization of American Historians, 1972-1973. Recognizing long and distinguished service to the university, LSU Board of Supervisors established T. Harry Williams Chair of American History, 1979. Among other honors: guest lecturer at over fifty separate colleges and universities in the U. S., Canada, England, Wales, Norway, and Germany and at countless historical association meetings and Civil War Round Tables. Doctor of Laws, Northland College, 1953; Doctor of Letters, Bradley U., 1959; Harry S. Truman Award in Civil War History, 1964; Resolution of Congratulations, Louisiana legislature, 1970; Doctor of Humane Letters, Loyola University, 1974; Doctor of Humane Letters, Tulane University, 1979. An engrossing and stimulating lecturer, Williams routinely taught overflow crowds of students in auditorium-size classrooms. A stern taskmaster and constant inspiration to several generations of graduate students, his protégés people the faculties of history departments across the U.S. A relentless researcher and prolific writer, Williams authored more than twenty scholarly books; co-authored one of the standard texts in American history survey courses; edited seven works and contributed to many more. He also published over 40 articles and more than 325 book reviews. His works include: Lincoln and the Radicals (1941); Lincoln and His Generals (1952, Book of the Month Club selection); A History of the United States (1st ed., 1959, 2 vols. with Richard Current & Frank Freidel); P. G. T. Beauregard, Napoleon in Gray (1955); Romance and Realism in Southern Politics (1961); McClellan, Sherman and Grant (1962); Americans at War (1960); Hayes of the Twenty-third (1965); Huey Long (1969, National Book Award & Pulitzer Prize); and, posthumously, History of American Wars (1981); Selected Essays of T. Harry Williams (1983). Died, July 6, 1979; interred Roselawn Cemetery, Baton Rouge. R.F.H. Sources: Paul Hilburn, “His Story is History,” Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate, October 10, 1976; Who’s Who in America, 40th ed. (1978-79), II; obituaries, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, July 7, 1979; New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 7, 1979; Monroe (La.) Morning World, July 7, 1979; Washington Post, July 7, 1979.
WILLIAMSON, Charles, missionary. Born in England, ca. 1830. Williamson first arrived in New Orleans to head the city’s French Evangelical Protestant Church (L’Eglise Protestante Française). In 1855, he was appointed pastor of St. Thomas Episcopal Church which was made up of twenty free colored families. This congregation was Louisiana’s only all-black Episcopal church group in existence before the Civil War. Later on, the community fell apart, and its white minister was forced to resign. Shortly after he left New Orleans, young Williamson was mysteriously demitted from the Episcopal priesthood in 1858. T.F.R. Source: Timothy E. Reilly, “Reiligious Leaders and Social Criticism in New Orleans, 1800-1861,” (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Missouri at Columbia, 1972).
WILLIAMSON, George McWillie, attorney, soldier, diplomat, businessman. Born, Fairfax, S. C., September 29, 1829; son of Thomas Taylor Williamson, Mississippi River steamboat captain, and Tirzah Ann McWillie. Education: University of South Carolina, graduated 1850. Married (1) at Dunboyne Plantation to Eleanor Angela Isabel Butler, daughter of Col. Edward G. W. Butler and Frances Parker Lewis, and (2) to Mary Lee Marshall of De Soto Parish, La. Six children by first marriage, one son, George (b. 1857), became professor at Louisiana State Normal College (now Northwestern State University of Louisiana), Natchitoches, and five children by second marriage. Confederate military service, staff officer for Gens. L. Polk (q.v.), J. Magruder, and E. Kirby Smith (q.v.), rising to rank of colonel; wounded at Shiloh and Murfreesboro. Law practice in Mansfield and Shreveport; district attorney, Mansfield, in the 1850s; member, Louisiana secession convention, 1861. After the Civil War, member of law firm, Egan, Williamson, and Wise, Shreveport; elected to U. S. Senate, 1867 (refused seat); U. S. representative in the French Spoilation claims adjustment; minister resident, Central America from May 17, 1873, to January 31, 1879; general counsel, Texas and Pacific Railroad, 1880s. T.D.S. Sources: National Cyclopedia of American Biography, XII; Fortier, Louisiana, III (1914); Henry E. Chambers, A History of Louisiana, III (1925); U. S. Dept. of State, United States Chiefs of Mission, 1778-1973 (1973).
WILLIS, Edwin C., attorney, congressman. Born, Arnaudville, La., October 2, 1904; eleventh of twelve children of Olanda Willis and Julia Hardy. Education: St. Martinville High School; Loyola University, New Orleans, law degree, 1926. Practiced law in St. Martinville; prominent in civic clubs. Strongly supported Huey Long (q.v.) and Earl Long (q.v.) in state politics; elected with Gov. Earl Long’s backing to the state senate, 1948. Encouraged by Long, Willis was elected to Congress as the Democratic party candidate in 1948. In Congress, sought to secure subsidies for constituent sugar planters; successfully sponsored legislation to obtain federal funding for the protective levee in the Morganza Spillway; and with other state congressmen fought for federal royalty payments to Louisiana from the tidelands oil; and opposed the black rights movement. He was most prominent as supporter of the controversial House Un-American Activities Committee’s allegations that communism posed a serious threat to internal security; he advocated anti-communist Cold War laws such as the McCarran-Walter Internal Security Act. He served as a member of the HUAC, 1955-1963; and chairman, 1963-1969. In this capacity during the 1960s he identified the black rights and anti-Vietnam movements as a reflection of communist influences. He also opposed the anti-civil rights activities of the Ku Klux Klan. Last years in Congress devoted to defending the continuing existence of the HUAC which by this point was criticized by liberals and conservatives alike. His conservatism notwithstanding, Willis consistently endorsed Democratic candidates for president, including Hubert H. Humphrey against Richard M. Nixon and George C. Wallace in 1968. Willis suffered a series of strokes in 1966, his poor health being a major issue in his defeat by Patrick Caffery in the Democratic primary in 1968. Willis in effect served as the last chairman of the HUAC which was reconstituted as the Committee on Internal Security in 1969. Married Estelle Bulliard, December 9, 1929. One son, Bobby. Died, October 16, 1972; interred St. Michael’s Cemetery, St. Martinville. M.J.S. Sources: Lawrence Franklin Ingram, “Edwin C. Willis, Louisiana Congressman, 1948-1968: A Career Biography” (Ph. D. dissertation, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1973); Congressional Directory; obituary, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, October 25, 1972; papers, Dupré Library, University of Southwestern Louisiana.
WILLIS, Joseph, father of the Baptist religion in Louisiana. A free black originally from South Carolina who first appeared in Louisiana, 1805. First mission had little success, Willis was not discouraged and returned a few years later. This time Willis gathered a following in the neighborhood of Opelousas. In 1810 Willis sent a petition to the Mississippi Baptist Association requesting ordination. In 1812 the association appointed brethren Hadley and Scarbough to ordain subject. Joseph Willis constituted a church in his neighborhood in Opelousas. Father Willis was held in high esteem among Baptists of both races in Louisiana. J.J.* Sources: Joe Gray Taylor, Negro Slavery in Louisiana; Charles Edwards O’Neill, et al., Louisiana, A History; Charles Gayarré, History of Louisiana.
WILMER, Joseph Pere Bell, second Episcopal bishop of Louisiana. Born, Swedesborough, N. J., February 11, 1812; son of the Rev. Simon Wilmer, from an old Episcopalian clerical family, and Rebecca Frisby. Education: University of Virginia, A. B., 1831; studied Kenyon College, 1833; and Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Va., 1833-1834. Ordained: deacon, by his uncle Bishop Moore, St. Paul’s Church, Alexandria, Va., July 1834; priest, St. Paul’s Church, Petersburg, Va., May 1838. Priest-chaplain, University of Virginia, 1838-1839; chaplain, U. S. Navy, 1839-1844. Priest-in-charge, Hungar’s Parish, Northampton County, Va., 1842-1843, and later at St. Paul’s Church, Goochland County, Va. Rector, St. James-Northam Parish, 1844-1849. First Rector, St. Mark’s Church, Philadelphia, 1849-1861. On the outbreak of the Civil War, Wilmer retired to his plantation of Plain Dealing, Albermarle County, Va. Chaplain in the Confederate Army. Traveled to England in 1863 to purchase Bibles for the Army; captured en route home by Federal cruiser in Chesapeake Bay; imprisoned in Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D. C., 1863-1865. Elected bishop of Louisiana, St. Paul’s Church, New Orleans, May 18, 1866; consecrated November 7, 1866. Inherited a very unsettled diocese; there having been no resident bishop since Bishop Leonidas Polk (q.v.) went to war in 1861. Devoted his energies to rebuilding destroyed churches, securing qualified clergy, and expanding church missions to new areas. Married, March 29, 1842, Helen Skipwith, of Muhlenberg County, Ky. Six children: four sons and two daughters. Died, New Orleans, December 2, 1878; probably interred on his estate on the Rapidan River, Albermarle County, Va. P.C.L. Sources: Journal of the Twenty-Fifth . . . Convention of the Diocese of Louisiana, 1866; Journal of the Twenty-Sixth Annual Convention . . . ; The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, XI; Hodding Carter and Betty Werlein Carter, So Great a Good: A History of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana and of Christ Church Cathedral, 1805-1955 (1955); Herman Cope Duncan, The Diocese of Louisiana: Some of Its History, 1838-1888 (1888); New Orleans Daily Picayune, May 20, November 4, 7, 8, 1866; December 3, 4, 1878; Ella Lonn, “Joseph Père Bell Wilmer,” Dictionary of American Biography, XX.
WILSON, Harry D., railroadman, umpire, farmer, politician. Born at Independence, Tangipahoa Parish, La., May 5, 1869; son of Dr. William D. Wilson and Martha L. George. Married Olivett M. Toadvin at Roseland, La., September 12, 1900; children: William Edward, Mennett, J. Glenn, Olivett, Justin, and Eloise. Worked as a clerk in the town general store at Amite from age twelve until nineteen. In 1888 he began a ten-year career with the Illinois Central Railroad Company, working as an express messenger, baggageman, and cashier. Wilson served on the Amite school board (1896-1900) and as state representative from Tangipahoa Parish (1900-1912). He began a long career with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture in 1911 as an outside field inspector, became state commissioner of agriculture in 1916, a position to which he was reelected to for over thirty-two years, serving until his death in 1948. As commissioner of agriculture, he founded The Market Bulletin, the state’s chief agricultural newspaper; established an advanced seed laboratory; erected a permanent cotton-classing building in Alexandria; established branch entomology offices at New Orleans, Opelousas, and Amite; worked successfully to eradicate the sweet potato weevil and the harvester ant in the western parts of the state; eradicated the pink boll weevil, the citrus canker, the Mediterranean fruit fly and the cattle fever tick; also helped the legislature enact many feed, fertilizer, and insecticide laws. Served as chairman of the Louisiana Livestock Sanitary Board, the Louisiana Market Commission, the Louisiana Pest Commission, and the Louisiana Horticultural Commission. Wilson was a member of the Louisiana Milk Commission, the Louisiana Welfare Commission, the state museum board, and the Louisiana Farm Council. He was president of the Southern Commissioners of Agriculture (twenty-two years), the National Association of Agriculture Commissioners, the Association of State and Parish Fairs and the Council for Increased Use of Cotton. Wilson was the proprietor of a prosperous strawberry farm in Tangipahoa Parish and served for many years as a bush league baseball umpire. Died, Baton Rouge, January 7, 1948; interred in Amite Cemetery. J.D.W. Sources: Henry E. Chambers, A History of Louisiana (1925); New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 8, 1948; Weekly Market Bulletin, May 5, 1949; Baton Rouge State Times, January 7,9, 1948.
WILSON, James, soldier. Born, Chicago, Ill., October 6, 1906; son of Samuel Wilson, Sr., and Estelle Elisabeth Poupeney. Removed with parents to New Orleans, father’s native city. Education: McDonogh No. 23 Grammar School and Warren Easton Boys High School, New Orleans. Appointed to the United States Military Academy, 1923, by Congressman H. Garland Dupré (q.v.); graduated class of 1927. Resigned from active duty in army; entered trucking business in New York. In 1941, on the recommendation of the United States commissioner to the Burma Road, Daniel Arnstein, and Harold C. Davis to Harry Hopkins, advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was recalled to active duty in the army and sent to China as military attaché to the American Embassy at Chungking and head of the United States technical mission directing transportation over the Burma Road, principal supply route for American aid to China. With U. S. entry into war, became a member of the United States Military Mission to China, assigned to the staff of Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell. Continued successfully to direct trucking operations on Burma Road until Japanese invasion of Burma. Removed or destroyed great quantities of supplies abandoned before the fall of Rangoon and was killed in a Japanese bombing of Mandalay on April 26, 1942; interred there in a common grave with other victims of the attack. Wilson was unmarried, but was engaged to Lillian Joan Flint of Scotia, N. Y. S.W. Sources: Family records and personal knowledge; New Yorker Magazine, January 17, 1942, p. 30; Baltimore Sun, September 11, 1941; Newsweek, January 12, 1942; New Orleans States, April 28, 1942; New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 29, 1942; St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 7, 1942; Fred Eldridge, Wrath in Burma (1946); New York Times, April 29, 1942; Buffalo Evening News, April 29, 1942; Washington Post, May 4, 1942; New Orleans Item, April 28, 1942.
WILSON, Riley Joseph, attorney, jurist, congressman. Born near Goldonna, La., November 12, 1871. Education: public schools; Beeson College, Arcadia, La.; Iuka (Miss.) Normal Institute, graduated 1894. Principal of Harrisonburg High School, 1895-1897. Studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1898 and commenced practice in Harrisonburg, La. Member of the state constitutional convention, 1898. Married Pearl Barnett of Iuka, Miss., June 14, 1899. Two sons, one daughter. Edited the Catahoula News, 1898-1904. Member, state house of representatives, 1900-1904; district attorney of the Eighth Judicial District from December 1, 1904, until his resignation on May 1, 1910, to accept a judicial appointment; judge of the Eighth Judicial District from May 1, 1910, until his resignation on December 1, 1914, having been elected to Congress. Delegate, Democratic National Convention at San Francisco, 1920. Elected as a Democrat to Congress and served from March 4, 1915, to January 3, 1937. Unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1936; unsuccessful candidate for governor, 1928; retired from public and political activities. Died, Ruston, La., February 23, 1946; interred Greenwood Cemetery. J.B.C. Sources: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1971 (1971); Elmer C. Hess, comp., Official Congressional Directory 68th Congress (1923).
WILSON, Samuel F., journalist, historian. Born in Connectucut, 1805. Education: local schools; Columbia College, N.Y. Studied law; admitted to bar, practiced law in Connecticut and Maryland but career leaned toward journalism. Wrote for newspapers during first Jackson administration. Became personal friend of President Jackson (q.v.), John C. Calhoun, and Thomas H. Benton. Married; one child (wife and child predeceased subject). Removed to North Carolina, then, in 1832, to Mobile, Ala. Became a partner in the Mobile Register. Removed to New Orelans, 1848; joined the editorial staff of the New Orleans Crescent. With the retirement of Alexander C. Bullitt (q.v.) from the Daily Picayune, subject succeeded him as chief writer, and became a partner in the paper. A devotee of ancient and modern classics, he was also well versed in science and the arts. Served in the state legislature. Authored a history of the United States. After a streetcar accident, health and vigor declined; travelled extensively for health and wrote for Picayune during trips. Died at the home of a friend, B. F. Peters, New Orleans, March 11, 1870; interred Peters family vault, Lafayette Cemetery. G.R.C. Sources: New Orleans Daily Picayune, March 12, 1870; Times-Picayune, January 25, 1937; Fayette Copeland, “The New Orleans Press and Reconstruction,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXX (1947).
WILSON, Samuel Jr., architect. Born in New Orleans, August 6, 1911; son of Samuel Wilson, Sr., and Stella Poupeney. Married Ellen Elizabeth Latrobe. During a career that spanned seven decades, preservation architect, educator, and writer, Samuel Wilson, Jr., was responsible for the careful and historically accurate restorations of many major New Orleans landmarks, including the Cabildo, Gallier House, and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, as well as historic buildings throughout the Gulf South. The most influential preservationist in New Orleans, Wilson’s voice was also heard on the state and national levels. After graduating from Tulane University, he worked with Richard Koch, the preeminent restoration architect, on the WPA’s Historic American Buildings Survey in 1933, recording notable French Quarter buildings and rural Louisiana plantations with measured drawings, now on deposit at the Library of Congress. After working as an associate in Koch’s firm, a formal partnership—Koch and Wilson—was established in 1955. The partnership endured until Koch’s death in 1971. Wilson taught the Louisiana architecture course at Tulane University for forty years, published scores of articles, and edited a volume of nineteenth-century architect Benjamin Latrobe’s (q.v.) journal, all while working as a full-time architect. He was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and honored by the French Ministry of Culture as a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres. His pathbreaking research in the Notarial Archives of New Orleans and the Archives Nationales in Paris provides the framework for a cohesive understanding of New Orleans’ architecture. Died in New Orleans, October 21, 1993; interred, Metairie Cemetery. M.S.F. Sources: Robert Cangelosi “The Wilson Years,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 6, 1993; Jane M. Farnsworth and Ann M. Masson, comps. and eds. The Architecture of Colonial Louisiana: Collected Essays of Samuel Wilson Jr. (1987); Abbye A. Gorin, Conversations With Samuel Wilson Jr.: Dean of Architectural Preservation in New Orleans. (1991); Abbye A. Gorin, Learning from Samuel Wilson Jr.: A Collection of Oral Histories, 1980-1989 (1992).
WILTZ, Louis Alfred, politician, mayor of New Orleans, governor. Born, Third District of New Orleans, January 12, 1843; son of J. B. (Theophile) Wiltz and Louise Irene (Villanueva) Wiltz. Education: private and public schools of New Orleans. Civil War service: captain of a Company in the Chalmette Regiment served with the Seventh Louisiana and commanded the post of Franklin when the surrender took place. After the war, applied himself to commercial pursuits. Married, October 15, 1862, Marie Michaella Guerinière Bienvenu, daughter of Charles Gueriniere Bienvenu and Emilio Delahoussaye. Seven children. Active in the Democratic party; served as speaker of the Louisiana house of representatives; mayor of New Orleans; lieutenant governor; and president of the constitutional convention of 1879. Became governor of Louisiana, January 12, 1880. Served less than half of his term as governor, but during that time he put into operation the provisions of the Constitution of 1879. Established a bureau of Agriculture and Immigration; new railroad lines were built; public heath was improved. Died in office on October 16, 1881; interred New Orleans. S.R. Sources: Miriam G. Reeves, The Governors of Louisiana (1962); Roy Clashan; American Governors and Gubernatorial Elections, 1775-1975 (1975); New Orleans Daily Picayune, October 16-18, 1881; Correspondence with the Church of St. Martin de Tours, St. Martinville, July 24, 1983.
WIMBERLY, Shirley G., attorney, jurist. Born, New Orleans, August 2, 1899; son of Walter K. and Georgiana Carroll Wimberly. Education: St. Aloysius College grammar and high school, New Orleans; Loyola University Law School. Married Bernice Evans. Children: three daughters, two sons. World War I veteran; admitted to bar, 1924; practiced law in New Orleans for thirty years; was a law partner of Earl K. Long (q.v.); appointed to State Tax Commission, 1939-1940; attorney for Alcohol Beverage Control Board, 1948-1952; appointed judge of Division “G”, New Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, 1956; reelected in 1960. Member, student council at Loyola, American Legion, New Orleans Criminal Courts Bar Association and Louisiana Bar Association. Died, New Orleans, June 6, 1963; interred Hope Mausoleum. J.B.C. Sources: Biographies of Judges of Louisiana (1971); New Orleans Times-Picayune, obituary, June 7, 8, 1963.
WINANS, Mary Susannah, see WALL, Mary Winans
WINANS, Theodore de Fonville, photographer of Louisiana persons and scenes, inventor of automatic film developing machine. Born, Mexico, Mo., August 22, 1911; son of Lawrence Lewis Winans (civil engineer) and Ruth de Fonville (musician and teacher). Married Helen Collins, 1936; children: Walker D., Robert Lewis, and Meriget Winans (Mrs. James Turner). Early education, Fort Worth, Tex., trained as saxophonist and clarinetist. Moved to South Louisiana early 1930s, helping father with bridge construction and odd jobs. Developed expert photographic eye for life along bayous and in rural areas, using black and white film exclusively. First camera was 3A Kodak. In public schools showed self-made film on bayou cruise aboard his refurbished boat, “The Pintail.” Photographed Grand Isle area extensively in early 1930s. Attended Louisiana State University on band scholarship, 1934-36. Photographer for State of Louisiana in mid-1930s. Employed by poultry catalog company in Kansas City, Mo., 1936-38. As free-lancer resided in Baton Rouge, La., 1938-92, with a studio on Laurel Street. Most remembered for expressive depiction of rural people and scenes and capturing essence of Depression-era Louisiana, printed in Ben Forkner’s Cajun Fonville (1991), Cyril E. Vetter’s Fonville Winans’ Louisiana: Politics, People and Places (1995), and Harnett Kane’s Bayous of Louisiana. Photos featured also in National Geographic, Life, Popular Mechanics, New York Times, and other leading United States newspapers. Gallery exhibits in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and at Live Oak Gardens (Jefferson Island). Other subjects: politicians, Louisiana State Penitentiary, society weddings, L.S.U. campus life, debutantes. Often gave colorful opinions of subjects. Piloted his own plane. Interests: music, Chinese and Mexican cuisine, bicycling (co-founder of Baton Rouge Bicycle Club). Though debilitated by a stroke, toured France in 1991 as guest of Société Française de Photographie. Died, Baton Rouge, September 13, 1992; interred, Grace Memorial Park, Plaquemine, La. A. K. S. Sources: Walker D. Winans, correspondence, August 4, 1996; J. F. Cado “Interview: Fonville Winans,” Gris Gris, January, 1989; Ruth Laney, “Portrait of the Artist,” Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate Magazine, November 30, 1980; David Snyder, “Beautiful Faces, Crusty Characters,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 30, 1987; Anne Price, “Discover the Heart of Camera Artistry,” Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate Magazine, July 17, 1982; Mary Ann Canossa, “Portrait of a Photographer,” Baton Rouge Magazine, July 1984; Ben Forkner, Cajun Fonville (1991); Cyril E. Vetter, Fonville Winans’ Louisiana: Politics, People and Places (1995).
WINANS, William, clergyman, colonizationist. Born, Chestnut Ridge, Pa., November 3, 1788. Self-educated; ordained as a Methodist deacon in 1812 while engaged as a pioneer missionary in Mississippi Territory. In New Orleans, Winans preached in the Cabildo and wrote anonymous articles in the Orleans Gazette critical of local society’s moral and religious behavior; preached to both blacks and whites, whom he considered spiritual equals. Returned to Mississippi in 1814; ordained elder and became member of Tennessee Conference. Married Martha DuBose in 1815. Until his death Winans combined his Methodist activities in his adopted state with missionary work in New Orleans. He was instrumental in founding New Orleans’ first Methodist church by sustaining the city’s resident missionary, Benjamin M. Drake (q.v.). Both men were active members of the American Colonization Society and attempted to enlarge their movement in New Orleans. In 1835, both men co-authored a catechism for “colored people under Methodist pastoral charge.” As late as 1845, Winans presided at an interdenominational gathering at the Methodist church on Poydras Street in support of colonization and Negro proselytism. During the same period, Winans publicly defended his gradualist reforms against radical attacks by Northern abolitionists and other extremists. In 1851, Winans urged Southern Methodists against formally sanctioning the instituion of slavery on political grounds. Died, Amite County, Miss., 1857. T.F.R. Sources: William Winans, “Autobiography of William Winans” (unpublished MSS in Millsaps-Wilson Library, Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss.; Dictionary of American Biography, XX; Timothy F. Reilly, “Slavery and the Southwest Evangelist in New Orleans (1800-1861),” Journal of Mississippi History, XLI (1979).
WINTERS, John D., Jr., historian and educator. Born, McCool, Miss., December 23, 1916; son of John D. Winters, Sr., and Estrella Fancher. Married Frances Locke. Education: graduated from Lake Providence High School; B. A., English and Psychology, Louisiana State University, 1939; subsequently studied foreign languages, geography, and history at Rollins College and Harvard University. Education interrupted by a tour of duty in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Returned to Louisiana state University after the war and received the following degrees: M. A., 1947; Ph. D., 1966. Taught in the History Department at Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, 1948-1984. Awards: recipient, Louisiana Literary Award, 1963; recipient, Special Merit Book Award, presented by the Greater Tech Foundation, 1964; recipient, Outstanding College Teacher of American History in the State of Louisiana Award, presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1975; holder of the Garnie W. McGinty Chair of History, 1977-1984; recipient, Amoco Award as the outstanding teacher of undergraduates at Louisiana Tech University, 1980; named a fellow of the Louisiana Historical Association, 1993. President, Louisiana Historical Association, 1968-1969; and the Ruston Civic Symphony. Board member, Ruston Community Theater and the Louisiana Tech Concert Association. Member: Southern Historical Association, Southwestern Social Sciences Association, North Louisiana Historical Association, and the Association of University Professors. Published The Civil War in Louisiana (1963), the standard work on the subject. Died, Lincoln General Hospital, Ruston, December 9, 1997. C.A.B. Sources: Obituary and biographical information provided by the Department of History, Louisiana Tech University.
WIRZ, Henry, soldier. Born, Zurich, Switzerland, November 25, 1823; son of Abraham Wirz, a tailor. Educated in Zurich and in the Kingdom of Sardinia. Because his father objected to his becoming a physician, he entered the mercantile trade. Married. Two children: Paul and Louisa Emily; reared by grandparents when mother died. Immigrated to the United States in 1849; worked as a weaver in Lawrence, Mass.; moved west; employed as a doctor’s assistant in Hopkinsville, Ky., 1854. Married, 1854, Mrs. Wolfe, a widow with two children, Susie and Cornelia. They had one child: Cora (b. 1855). Removed to Milliken’s Bend, La., employed as a plantation physician. Civil War service: enlisted at Richmond, Va., as a private in Company A, Fourth Battalion, Louisiana Infantry, May 25, 1861; promoted to rank of sergeant; right arm badly shattered at the Battle of Seven Pines; promoted to rank of captain because of his heroic performance at Seven Pines, he was appointed assistant adjutant general, June 12, 1862, and ordered to report to Brig. Gen. John H. Winder for special duty; completed several assignments as a prison official that included being in command of military prisons in Richmond, Va., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. A fluent speaker of English, French and German, President Jefferson Davis (q.v.) sent him to Paris and Berlin in 1862 as a plenipotentiary of the Confederate government. Returned to the Confederacy in 1864; assigned to command of the interior of the prison camp at Andersonville, Ga., March 27, 1864; assumed command in April 1864. Arrested by Federal authorities at Andersonville, May 7, 1865; imprisoned at Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D. C.; charged with committing crimes against several prisoners and for conspiring to murder Federal prisoners en masse; his plea that the charges were too vague and that he was protected by the surrender terms agreed upon by Gens. William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston fell on deaf ears; found guilty by a military commission; hanged in Washington, D. C., November 10, 1865; interred Mount Olivet Cemetery. Despite numerous claims to the contrary, Wirz was not part of a conspiracy by Confederate officials to exterminate Federal soldiers imprisoned at Andersonville. L.L.H. Sources: Raymond F. Baker, Andersonville: The Story of a Civil War Prison Camp (1972); Mildred Lewis Rutherford, comp., Facts and Figures vs. Myths and Misrepresentations: Henry Wirz and Andersonville Prison (1921); Compiled Service Recods of Louisiana Confederate Soldiers, Record Group 109, National Archives, Washington, D. C.
WISDOM, William Bell, advertising executive, bibliophile. Born, New Orleans, June 9, 1900; son of Mortimer Norton Wisdom and Adelaide Helen Labatt. Brother of Judge John Minor Wisdom, Fifth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Education: local schools; Washington and Lee University, A. B., 1921; attended School of Commerce, Tulane University, 1921-1922. War service: private, U. S. Army, World War I; major, U. S. Marine Corps, World War II. Married, October 30, 1929, Mary Ella Freeman of New Orleans, daughter of Alfred Bird Freeman (q.v.) and Ella West of Georgia. Three children: Mary Elizabeth (Mrs. Betty Wisdom), Adelaide (Mrs. Edward B. Benjamin, Jr.), William Bell, Jr. Began career, Hibernia Bank and Trust Co., 1921; advertising manager, editor, house organ, 1922-1926. Advertising director, Standard Fruit & Steamship Co.; Insurance Securities Group. President, William B. Wisdom, Inc.; partner, Freeman & Co.; secretary, director, General Enterprises, Inc. Director: National American Bank, Iberville Realty Co., Southern Music & Television Co., Inc. Recipient numerous local, regional, national awards for best advertising. Trustee, Rosa Mary Foundation; executive committee, New Orleans War Memorial; director 250 anniversary celebration of founding of New Orleans. Member board: Louisiana State Museum; Gaudet Episcopal School for Boys; New Orleans Y.M.C.A.; Children’s Bureau of New Orleans; Advertising Club of New Orleans; Better Business Bureau; Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation; New Orleans Public Library. Committee: Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital; Liberty Monument, Commission; Greater New Orleans, Inc. Vice president Community Chest. Vice president, board, Flint-Goodridge Hospital; Tulane Lyceum Association; New Orleans Academy of Arts; Arts and Crafts Club; National Advisory Council of Thomas Wolfe Memorial Association; Industrial Development Committee; New Orleans and the River Region Chamber of Commerce. One of five founders, vice president, board member, New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. First chairman, Parents Committee, Friends of Tulane, vice president Friends of Tulane Library, co-author brochure The Challenge of Tomorrow used in Tulane University endowment drive; member, board, Archives, treasurer, board chairman, Alumni Fund, Washington and Lee University; secretary, board, Dillard University. Selected themes, worked with designers of three New Orleans Carnival organizations; guest columnist, topics related to Carnival, New Orleans Times-Picayune. Member: Phi Gamma Delta; Sigma Upsilon; Grolier Club, the Baker Street Irregulars, New York; Boston Club; Recess Club; Louisiana Club, New Orleans. Collector of books, rare manuscripts and prints. Donor: William B. Wisdom Collection on Thomas Wolfe, Houghton Rare Book Library, Harvard University; Wisdom collections on Huey P. Long, William Faulkner, rare Carnival color prints and drawings, Howard-Tilton, Library, Tulane University Member: vestry, Trinity Episcopal Church. Died, New Orleans, March 19, 1977; interred Metairie Cemetery. B.R.O. Sources: New Orleans States-Item, obituary, March 21, 1977; March 22, 1977; New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 1, 1929; obituary, March 20, 1977; Who’s Who in the South and Southwest (1950).
WISE, Charles Leonard, attorney, mayor of Morgan City, La. Born, Fort Jackson, La.; son of Dr. James H. P. Wise (q.v.) and Mary O’Neill Comerford Wise. Reared by his maternal grandmother in New Orleans and Chicago. Education: St. Ignatius College, Chicago, law degree 1895; practiced until 1899. Returned to Louisiana to practice in Morgan City. Elected mayor in 1907, served one term. Served 28 years, 1911 to 1939, as city attorney of Morgan City. Married Eugenia Adelaide Dagenais of Chicago. Children: Elizabeth (b. 1900) and Leonard Charles (q.v.). Roman Catholic; charter member of Knights of Columbus, Morgan City Rotary Club; an exalted ruler of Elks Lodge. Died, Morgan City, January 30, 1940; interred Morgan City Cemetery. L.K.L. Source: Wise Family Papers in Morgan City Archives.
WISE, James H. P., physician, mayor of Morgan City, La. Born, Northampton, Mass., February 3, 1845; son of Servino Wise and Anne Smith. Education: Springfield, Mass. In 1863, joined the Twentieth New York Cavalry; mustered out in 1866 as sergeant major. While stationed at Fort Jackson, La., began study of medicine; completed course at Louisiana Medical College. Served three years as hospital steward, Marine Hospital, New Orleans. Removed to Glencoe, La., to practice medicine. Removed to Morgan City, 1879. Appointed mayor of Morgan City, December, 1884, to fill vacancy; elected to office, 1887 and 1891; resigned in 1894 to serve as collector of customs at Morgan City until 1900. Headed Board of Health and was quarantine officer. In 1870 married (1) Mary Comerford, daughter of James Comerford and Mary O’Neill of Ireland and New York. Children: Charles Leonard Wise (q.v.) and Mary Cecilia (b. & d. 1872). Married (2), 1877, Martha Aurelie Grevemberg, daughter of Gabriel Grevemberg and Frances Elizabeth Wikoff. Children: Fanny, Libbie, Louise, and Alice. Active in Masonic Lodge and Knights of Pythias. Died, Morgan City, July 9, 1901; interred Morgan City Cemetery. L.K.L. Sources: Wise Family Papers in Morgan City Archives; Donald J. Hébert, comp., Southwest Louisiana Records, 33 vols. (1974-1984).
WISE, Leonard Charles, attorney, politician. Born, Morgan City, La., February 5, 1905; son of Charles Leonard Wise (q.v.) and Eugenia Adelaide Dagenais. Education: private schools, Morgan City and New Orleans; Loyola University, New Orleans, law degree, 1928. Practiced law in Morgan City. Served in Louisiana legislature, 1938-1939; state senator, 1944 to 1948. Member of parish, state, and national bar associations; served on board of governors of Louisiana Bar Association, president of St. Mary Parish Bar Association. Married, 1931, Mary Catherine Pennington of Lockport, La. Children: Lucille Ann (1942-1946), Mary Catherine (Mrs. Leroy Gray), Adelaide, and Charles Leonard Wise II. A Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, a Roman Catholic, active in Rotary, Boy Scouts, Chamber of Commerce, and Red Cross. Died, Morgan City, November 29, 1973; interred Morgan City Cemetery. L.K.L. Source: Wise Family Papers in Morgan City Archives.
WITHERSPOON, Cora, actress. Born, New Orleans, January 5, 1890. Made her stage debut with a New Orleans stock company. Portrayed a seventy-year-old woman in “The Concert” during her New York stage debut, 1907. Subsequentlly worked with the Ditrichstein theatrical company and with Henry Miller. Appeared on stage with such theatrical luminaries as Ethel Barrymore, Tallulah Bankhead, George M. Cohan, Dick Powell, Robert Montgomery, and Tyrone Power. Plays in which she was a featured performer include “Daddy Long Legs,” “The Awful Truth,” “Grounds for Divorce,” “The Constant Wife,” “Waterloo, Bridge,” “Three Faces East,” and “Forsaking All Others.” Became a movie actress in 1931. Appeared in numerous motion pictures, including: Night Angel, Peach O’Reno, 1931; Ladies of the Jury, 1932; Midnight, Gambling, 1934; An Educational (short feature), Frankie and Johnnie, 1935; Piccadilly Jim, Libeled Lady, 1936; Dangerous Number, Personal Property, Madame X, Beg, Borrow, or Steal, On the Avenue, The Lady Escapes, Quality Street, Big Shot, 1937; He Couldn’t Say No, Port of Seven Seas, Marie Antoinette, Three Loves Has Nancy, Professor, Beware I, Just Around the Corner, 1938; Woman Doctor, Dodge City, For Love or Money, The Women, Dark Victory, The Flying Irishman, 1939; Charlie Chan’s Murder Cruise, I Was en Adventuress, The Bank Dick, 1940; Follies Girl, 1943; She Wouldn’t Say Yes, Over 21, Colonel Effingham’s Raid, This Love of Ours, 1945; She Wrote the Book, I’ve Always Loved You, Dangerous Business, Young Widow, 1946; Down to Earth, 1947; The Mating Season, 1951; The First Time, Just for You, 1952; and It Should Happen to You, 1953. Died of a heart attack at her home in Las Cruces, N. M., November 17, 1957. C.A.B. Sources: Evelyn Mack Truitt, ed., Who Was Who on Screen: Illustrated Edition (1984); New York Times, November 19, 1957.
WOOD, Albert Baldwin, inventor, engineer. Born, New Orleans, December 1, 1879; son of John S. Wood and Octavie Bouligny, great-granddaughter of Don Francisco Bouligny (q.v.). Married Nola Smith (1887-1974). One child who died in infancy. Education: Tulane University, engineering degree, with honors,1899. Began work with the Drainage Commission of New Orleans, which later became the Sewerage and Water Board. In 1915 designed and put into operation the new pumping system with twelve-foot screw pumps, patented as the Wood Screw Pump. These pumps were used throughout the United States, and under his supervision drained the Zuyder Zee in order to reclaim the land beneath it. He remodeled the Chicago Drainage System and installed pumps in the Dutch East Indies. In 1938 he became superintendent of the Sewerage and Water Board and remained in that office until death. Listed as a consultant for many of the world’s largest cities and business institutions. Died, November 10, 1956, while sailing his 30-foot sloop Nydia. Under the provisions of Wood’s will, made in connection with a bequest of his entire fortune, the Nydia is on permanent display on the Tulane campus. G.D. Source: Family papers, newspaper reports and obituaries.
WOOD, Elmer E., soldier. Born, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1877. Education: Louisiana State University, completed three year course. Commanded Second Infantry Regiment, Spanish American War. Married Alice B. Carter of St. Louis, Mo., 1882. Died, New Orleans, October 16, 1928; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. Survived by widow, two sons and daughter. TAG, LA Sources: Military records, Jackson Barracks Library, compiled by Mary B. Oalmann, Military Historian.
WOOD, Margaret, see ROBINSON, Margaret Wood
WOODBRIDGE, Sylvester, clergyman. Born, 1790. Originally from the North, he did his first preaching there before removing to New Orleans. Woodbridge held a D.D. and served for eight years as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church following the departure of his predecessor, Dr. R. L. Stanton (q.v.), in 1852. Died, August 12, 1863, having refused to leave the city, which was then under Union occupation, or to take the oath of allegiance to the government of the United States. T.F.R. Source: Minutes of the Synod of Mississippi from 1861 to 1867 (1880).
WOODROOFF, Clark, educator, politician. Born, South Farms, Litchfield County, Conn., August 23, 1791. Established academy near St. Francisville, La., 1811. Incorporated St. Francisville Library Co., 1816. Married Matilda Bradford, daughter of David Bradford with whom he studied law, November 19, 1817. Admitted to Louisiana bar, 1817. Incorporator, St. Francisville Baptist Church, 1823; member, first board of trustees, College of Louisiana, Jackson, 1825; incorporator, Presbyterian Church, St. Francisville, 1828; served in Louisiana legislature, 1827-1828; appointed judge, Eighth Judicial District by Gov. Henry Johnson (q.v.) and served 1828-1836; practiced law in New Orleans, 1840-1846; appointed first auditor of public accounts by Gov. Isaac Johnson (q.v.), 1846-1849. Retired, 1850; died at home near New Orleans, 1851. E.K.D. Source: Elrie Robinson, Early Feliciana Politics (1936).
WOODWARD, Ellsworth, artist, educator. Born, Bristol County, Mass., July 14, 1861. Founded along with his brother William Woodward, the School of Art at Newcomb College and for more than half a century influenced art in Louisiana and the South. Woodward was educated in his field at Rhode Island School of Design and studios of Samuel Richards and Carl Marr, Munich. Director of the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College School of Art from its organization in 1887. The Newcomb pottery attracted notice both in the United States and abroad. The ceramic work turned out by Newcomb Art pottery is noted for originality in design and beauty in decoration, and ranks with the best produced anywhere. President of the Art Association of New Orleans, the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art and the Southern States Art League, which has had its headquarters in New Orleans since 1923. Honorary membership in the Providence Art Club; Gold Medal Art Association of New Orleans; honorary member of Beta Kappa; director of the School of Art, Newcomb College of Tulane; member, board of directors Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute (now University of Southwestern Louisiana); vice-president of the Art Association of New Orleans and president of the Southern States Art League. Died in 1939. F.L. Source: Author’s research.
WOODWARD, William, artist, academic. Born, Seekonk, Mass., May 1, 1859; son of E. M. Woodward and Maria Carpenter. Education: Rhode Island School of Design; Massachusetts Normal Art School; studied in Paris with academics Lefebvre and Boulanger. Professor of Drawing and Painting, Tulane University, 1884-1922, and Newcomb College, 1886-1922; pioneered training of women artists. Co-founder and faculty member, Tulane University School of Architecture. Married, June 1, 1886, Louisa Amelia Giesen. Children: Elmer L. (b. 1887); Eleanor (b. 1889); William Giesen (b. 1892); and Carl Ellsworth (b. 1894). President: Decorative Art League for Women; Artists’ Association of New Orleans; Louisiana Art Teachers Association. Vice-president, Art Association of New Orleans. Secretary, Louisiana Architectural Association. Founder and officer of New Orleans Art Pottery. Member: Episcopal Church; American Institute of Architects (honorary); American Official Committee to the Third International Congress for the Advancement of Drawing and Art Teaching (London, 1908); board of directors, American Federation of the Arts; charter member, College Art Association of America; Bi-centenary committee for the selection of an official flag for New Orleans, 1918. Exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893, and the Panama-Pacific Exposition, 1915-1916. Works represented in New Orleans Museum of Art, Newcomb College and Tulane University art galleries, and the Louisiana State Museum. Author, Art in College. Retired 1924. Removed to Biloxi, Miss. Died, New Orleans, November 17, 1939; interred Southern Memorial Park, Biloxi. Selected works are reproduced in Early Views of the Vieux Carré (1964) and French Quarter Etchings of Old by William Woodward (1938). W.E. Sources: New Orleans Times-Picayune, obituary, November 18, 1937; Suzanne Ormond and Mary E. Irvine, Louisiana’s Art Nouveau (1976); John P. Dyer, Tulane, the Biography of a University (1966); Isaac M. Cline, Contemporary Art and Artists in New Orleans (1924).
WOOTEN, Ellen, tavener. Born, 1777. Sold as slave by Henry Stirling to flatboat grogshopman John Ruso, 1809; after his death came under protection of Antonio and James Nolasco, Mississippi River bargemen, 1811-1818; under their wills she was emancipated and left property at mouth of Bayou Sara on which she built tavern ca. 1820. During antebellum years Nelly’s Hotel popular and respectable steamboat stopover; Bennett Barrow (q.v.) of Highland recorded in his diary a family meal at “Old Nelly’s”, May 19, 1838; entered fully into business life of Bayou Sara; sold hotel, 1853; retired to small planting operation near St. Francisville. Died, December 1853. Daughter Gertrude Nolasco kept school for black children on outskirts of town, 1865-1867. E.K.D. Sources: West Feliciana Parish Records.
WOOTON, Chester A., sheriff of Plaquemines Parish. Education: Holy Cross College, New Orleans. Married Thelma Durham. Children: Joann, Ernest, John. Political career: registrar of voters, Plaquemines Parish, 1937-1940; state representative, 1940-1948; sheriff, Plaquemines Parish, 1948-1968; commissioner of public improvements, 1969. Organizational: member, advisory committee, Plaquemines Parish Fair and Orange Festival, 1957-1958; king of Orange Festival, president of festival association, one term; chairman, finance committee, Parish General Hospital, Port Sulphur, 1960; chairman, finance committee for the establishment of Delta Bank and Trust Co.; finance chairman, Plaquemines District Boy Scouts of America, served ten years; president, four terms, Port Sulphur Volunteer Fire Department; president, two terms, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association; chairman, twelve years, legislative committee, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association; president, one term, Louisiana Peace Officers Association; long-time member, Plaquemines Parish Lions Club. Died, Port Sulphur, July 6, 1975; interred Nairn Cemetery, Port Sulphur. C.A.B. Sources: Obituary from Plaqueines Parish Public Library vertical files; Joseph P. Sendken and Mrs. Joseph P. Sendken, eds., 1958 Review and Pictorial of Plaquemines Parish . . . (1958).
WORKMAN, James, administrator, civic leader. Born, Cavan, Ireland. Studied law in England at the Middle Temple, 1789. Reviewed political books for the Monthly Review, 1797-1798. Removed to the U. S., 1799. In Charleston, 1802, as merchant and associated with Federalist newspaper, Courier. An hispanophobe, he authored Political Essays (1801), in which he proposed the British liberation of Spanish America. Urged Jefferson, 1801, to seize Louisiana and the Floridas from Spain before France did so. Read extensively on Spanish administration in Louisiana; particularly critical of judiciary. Authored Liberty in Louisiana, probably while in Charleston, a play critical of Spanish administration; play premiered in Charleston in April 1804. Later played in New York and Philadelphia. Became a citizen of U. S., 1804. Removed to New Orleans, 1804. Named regent of University of Orleans, 1805; appointed judge, Orleans County Court, 1805; secretary for the Legislative Council, Territory of Orleans; trustee New Orleans Library Society, 1806. Became involved in the alleged Burr Conspiracy after helping organize the Mexican Association, a goal of which was liberation of Mexico. Arrested by Gen. James Wilkinson (q.v.) for issuing writs of habeas corpus for individuals accused of links with Burr. Resigned judgship, February 1807, claiming Gov. W. C. C. Claiborne (q.v.) had failed to support him in bringing Wilkinson to justice. Brought to trial on charges of initiating an invasion of Mexico; acquitted, but reputation temporarily damaged. Expelled from bar, and left New Orleans. Returned, 1817, again active in Library Society, named president, 1822. Helped organize Touro Free Library Society, 1824. Vice president, Louisiana Colonization Society; sought to moderate excesses of the slave regime. As a liberal interpreter of Scripture, played an instrumental role in altering the conservative Presbyterianism of Parson Theodore Clapp (q.v.) With a group of prominent Louisianians, denounced Nullification in June 1832. Died shortly thereafter as a result of a boating accident. T.F.R. & G.R.C. Sources: Charles S. Watson, “A Denunciation on the State of Spanish Rule: James Workman’s Liberty in Louisiana,” Louisiana History, XI; Joseph G. Tregle, Jr., “Louisiana and the Tariff, 1816-1846,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXV (1942); Roger Philip McCutcheon, “Libraries in Louisiana, 1771-1833,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XX (1937); François Xavier Martin, The History of Louisiana from the Earliest Period (1882); Ralph R. Gurley to James G. Bierney, February 20, 1833, cited in James G. Birney, Letters of James Gillespie Birney, 1831-1857, ed. by Dwight L. Dumond, 2 vols. (1938); Theodore Clapp, Autobiographical Sketches and Recollections during a Thirty-Five Years’ Residence in New Orleans (1857).
WORMLEY, Sukey, litigant. Born a mulatto slave in Virginia, ca. 1800. Became slave and concubine of Moses C. Hardesty of St. Tammany Parish, La. A laundress for the hotels in the resort of Covington, she bought her freedom from Hardesty in 1834. Child: Adeline (b. 1823). Working “day and night,” she bought freedom for her daughter and her seven grandchildren. Owned real estate worth $1,000 in 1850. Hardesty was “addicted to drinking and gambling”; Sukey often paid his gambling debts. Hardesty died 1853; his brothers and sisters (residents of Kentucky) took legal action to reduce Sukey, her daughter, and grandchildren to slavery, claiming that their sales were fraudulent. She won in the St. Tammany court and on appeal to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which stated that the suit was a “cruel experiment upon the liberty and hard earnings of an humble and deserving woman.” She is missing from the 1860 census. J.K.S. Sources: Hardesty, v. Wormley, 10 La. Ann. 239 #3956, New Orleans, April 1855; U. S. Census, 1850, 1860.
WRIGHT, Ernest John, labor leader, community activist. Born, New Orleans, July 25, 1909, son of John Wright and Selena Thomas. Religion: Catholic. Education: public schools of New Orleans; Xavier University, B. A.; University of Michigan, M. Public Administration. Founding president, People’s Defense League; vice-president, Southern Negro Youth Congress; founding president, Local 101 of the Insurance Guild of New Orleans; organizer for Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO); member Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club; Phi Beta Sigma, Frontiers and Boy Scouts of America; three lettered athlete at Xavier known as “Whirlwind.” Married, 1946, Edna Marie Pascal, daughter of Henry Pascal and Edna Jenkins. Children: son and daughter. Wright was first black social worker hired by the city of New Orleans; helped organize a citywide strike by local agents against black-owned insurance companies; lectured extensively locally and throughout the South; NAACP membership recruiter and syndicated columnist of “I Dare Say,” appearing in the Louisiana Weekly and more than a dozen other black newspapers. Along with Daniel E. Byrd and others organized voter registration and selective buying campaigns during the forties and fifties; active in state and local politics as an ally of the “Old Regulars,” candidate for office of lieutenant governor. Later became the first full-time black banking officer in New Orleans for a white-owned bank. His activism netted him arrests, including a 60-day jail sentence, physical and verbal abuse, but also the respect and affection of many who referred to him as the “people’s champion.” Died, New Orleans, October 25, 1979; interred St. Roch Cemetery. R.C. Sources: Keith W. Medley, “Ernest Wright: ‘People’s Champion’, A New Orleans Black Leader and the People’s Defense League,” Southern Exposure, XII, No. 3 (May/June, 1984); Norman Smith, Etches of Ebony Louisiana (1986).
WRIGHT, Franklin Randolph, farmer, school board member. Born, Petit Mamou Prairie, La., March 25, 1899; son of George Washington Wright and Amie Lorena North. Married Ella Frugé, daughter of Joseph Henry Frugé and Adeline Thibodeaux, near Arnaudville, La., November 2, 1921; children: Laura Randolph (b. 1924), Alvin Joseph (b. 1926), Majorie Mae (b. 1928), and Mary Ellen (b. 1931). Graduated from Iota, La., High School, in Acadia Parish, 1917. After serving in the United States military during World War II, Wright was elected a member of the St. Landry Parish school board in 1947 and served until 1965. He helped organized the St. Landry-St. Martin Drainage District No. 1, 1924; became a member of the St. Landry National Farm Loan Association board of directors, 1929; was raised to the rank of master mason in the Humble Cottage Lodge No. 19, 1929; became a member of the board of Farmers State Exchange-Arnaudville Service Coop, 1942; served as a member of the board of directors, St. Landry Soybean Coop, 1943; was a member of the board of supervisors, Avoyelles-St. Landry Soil Conservation District, 1946; served a chairperson of the local Red Cross for several years. Died, Arnaudville, La., August 11, 1970; interred, St Francis Regis Cemetery, Arnaudville, La. L.W.M. Sources: Lafayette Daily Advertiser, August 11, 1970; unpublished Wright family genealogy; St. Landry Parish school board office.
WRIGHT, James Skelly, judge. Born in New Orleans, La., January 14, 1911; son of James E. Wright and Margaret Skelly Wright. Married Helen Patton Wright; child: James S. Wright, Jr. Educated in New Orleans public schools and Loyola University (B.A., LL.B.). Taught high school and briefly practiced law before being appointed assistant United States attorney (1936). Served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II. Appointed as United States attorney (1948). Served as a federal judge for the eastern district of Louisiana (1949-1961) and on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1961-1986). Issued several landmark court decisions including the orders that successfully desegregated the graduate and professional schools of Louisiana State University (1950), New Orleans public schools (1956), New Orleans City Park (1958), and all the colleges of Tulane University (1962). Died in Washington D. C., August 6, 1988. J.D.W. Sources: Liva Baker, The Second Battle of New Orleans: The Hundred-Year Struggle to Integrate the Schools (1996); Adam Fairclough, Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972 (1995); The New Orleans Time-Picayune, August 7, 9, 1988.
WRIGHT, Salmon Lusk, rice farmer, scientist. Born, Rockville, Ind., April 26, 1852; son of Prior Wright and Julia Ann Beard. Education: Rockville school. Spent ten years farming wheat at Albany, Ore. Came to Acadia Parish, La., 1890, bought 320-acre rice farm, was successful from first year. Married, ca. 1901, Laura Lillian Cook, daughter of John Cook and (?) Jones of Newman, Ill. Children: Lillian, S. L., Jr., Edith, Rose Mary. Within the decade after coming to Louisiana was recognized as an authority on rice farming, especially fine seed rice. At a time when the industry was badly crippled by unsatisfactory yields of inferior quality he succeeded in developing the first native American variety of rice: “Blue Rose”, also produced variety known as “Edith”. Hailed as the savior of the industry, was called the “Burbank of rice” and the “wizard of rice”. Died near Crowley, La., February 9, 1929; interred Crowley Protestant Cemetery. M.A.F. Sources: Country Gentleman, July 24, 1920; Crowley Signal, February 23, 1901; Mary Alice Fontenot, Acadia Parish, a History to 1920, 2 vols. (1979); interview with S. L. Wright, Jr., 1982.
WRIGHT, Sophie Bell, educator. Born, New Orleans, June 5, 1866; daughter of William Haliday Wright and Mary Bell. Permanently crippled due to a fall at age 3. Educated at home and at local schools, Franklin, La. Opened day school for girls in mother’s home, 1881. Taught mathematics at Peabody Normal Seminary, New Orleans, in exchange for enrollment in foreign language courses. Began her own school at home for children and young ladies, chartered as Home Institute in 1883; expanded in 1885 with boarders and free classes for male students at night, thus reviving project originated in 1885 by Dr. J. P. Picton, local school board member. Free night school was supported by profits from the home institute and volunteer teachers. Took particular interest in the physically disabled. Unmarried. Lecturer and supporter of many organizations and social issues of the day such as Sophie Newcomb College for women, Louisiana Nurses Association. Member: Presbyterian church, numerous organizations including: Louisiana Women’s Club (president, 1897-1898), National Congress of Mothers (honorary vice-president), Home for Incurables (president, 1908-1912), Local Council of Women, International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons, National Federation of Women’s Clubs (executive board), United Daughters of the Confederacy, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Prison Reform Association. Awarded Times-Picayune Loving Cup, 1903 (third award, first woman). Died, June 10, 1912; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. Memorialized by Sophie B. Wright Girls High School, now known as Sophie B. Wright Middle School and a New Orleans street, Sophie Wright Place. R.M.J. Sources: Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (1980); Robert Meyer, Jr., Names Over New Orleans Public Schools (1975); New Orleans Times-Picayune, obituary, June 11, 1912.
WYCHE, John Fletcher, farmer. Born, Madison County, Ala., 1837; son of Maj. John Fletcher Wyche and Lucinda Wright of Huntsville, Ala.; grandson of Nathaniel Wyche and Middleton Fletcher. Educated in New Orleans where his father was in business. Removed to St. Martin Parish, 1858. Married Mary Robinson Peebles, daughter of Henry Wyche Peebles (q.v.) and Ann Wilkins Cocke. Became a sugar planter at Belmont Plantation on Bayou Teche. One child, James Wright Wyche; member of Church of the Epiphany, New Iberia. Died, Iberia Parish, 1901. G.C.T.† Source: Author’s research.
WYNHOVEN, Peter M. H., clergyman, journalist, social worker. Born, Venray, Holland, December 30, 1884. Education: college of the Franciscan Fathers in his native village and, after emigrating to the United States in 1904 under the sponsorship of Father Arthur Jerome Drossaerts, studied philosophy in New Orleans and theology in Kenrick Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.; ordained June 11, 1909, St. Louis. Appointments: 1911, assistant priest, St. Mary’s New Orleans; 1912-1914, assistant priest, St. Louis Cathedral; 1915-1917, vice-chancellor of archdiocese of New Orleans; 1917-1935, pastor, St. Joseph’s, Gretna, La.; 1935-1944, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, New Orleans. Manager, archdiocesan paper The Morning Star, 1912-1917; 1932, founder of the Catholic Action of the South and until 1944 its editor-in-chief. Established a printing press at Hope Haven, an industrial home for boys. Wrote several popular books which addressed current moral problems. Committed to the social apostolate, provided housing and nourishment for the downtrodden drifters in New Orleans. Called his boarding house St. Vincent Hotel. Established Hope Haven, Marrero, La., for boys; Madonna Manor for girls, 1932. Organized, 1924, Associated Catholic Charities. Organizational skills recognized with appointment as active general chairman of the Eighth National Eucharistic Congress, 1938. Named domestic prelate, 1934. Died, September 14, 1944, and interred on the grounds of Hope Haven. Nearby, Wynhoven Apartments, a residence for senior citizens, Marrero, La., named in his honor. E.F.N. Sources: Archives of the Archdiocese of New Orleans; Catholic Directories, 1911-1917; Roger Baudier, “Msgr. Peter Wynhoven’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Ordination.”