THE BUSY TOWN ACROSS THE RIVER
The following article comes from the Aug.31st, 1899, edition of the ‘Daily States’ and gives brief biographies of some of the more prominent businessmen of the day at the end of the 19th century in Algiers. I will add a more up to date version of Algiers’ history in due course but for now, enjoy this version:
“Algiers, originally plantation field, but now a thriving section of the great city, is steadily moving forward along the pathway of progress, and it has numerous improvements during the year to report in this annual review of the States. It has likewise an interesting history and it has grown into a miniature city under varying turns of the wheel of fortune.
There have been numerous explanations of how Algiers came to obtain the name which it bears, but it is probably only a guess as to which of the many is the correct one. A plausible theory has been handed down from generation to generation. According to this yarn, over half a century ago there was in the employ of Capt. Peter MARCY, then a power in the community and a controlling factor in the shipyards and docks, a young carpenter. He had come originally from New York and he was known to everyone in the community as a convivial, good-natured roysterer, who believed in the old adage that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. On one of his occasional sprees, after returning to the city in a particularly jolly mood, according to the story, he began to roast the village and the people, until, finally, as the very acme for his contempt of it, he declared them a pack of Algerines, intimating that they were no better than the piratical inhabitants of the African Algiers. The name has stuck to Algiers ever since.
The DUVERJE sugar plantation originally occupied most of the present site of Algiers, and the settlement was then known as Duverjeville. The land was first granted in 1770, under the regime of the Irish Spaniard, Alexander O’REILLY, to Louis BOREPO. It afterwards passed through different hands until it came into the possession of the DUVERJEs. The entire site of present Algiers ultimately became the possession of the DUVERJE estate until deaths caused its division into smaller tracts. He tracts were gradually cut up into building lots as the population increased and the scattered settlements, constantly improved, finally became the handsome little city of the present day.
The shipyards and dry docks have always been a prominent factor in its prosperity and they still give employment to a large proportion of its population. The first shipyard with ways was established in 1819, by Andre SEGUIN, a native of France, on the bend of the river, nearly opposite the French Market. The SEGUIN shipyard finally passed into the possession of Francois VALLETTE, and was for many years operated by him as a ship and spar-yard. After passing out of his hands the property was for a long time occupied by James BASS as a sawmill. This was far back in the 30’s and 40’s. When the war between the North and South closed Messrs. VAIL and VALLETTE operated the yard and erected in it steam marine ways, but these have long since passed into a state of innocuous desuetude. The marine way passed out of the hands of VAIL & VALLETTE into those of COTHRELL, BRADY and McLELLAN. Nearly all of these names are familiar to present day Algiers. There was until recently a VALLETTE dock and the McLELLANs are also still extensively interested in the same industry.
In the course of a few years Algiers is to have a great floating steel naval dock and in time a navy yard. The site for a yard in Algiers was located nearly half a century ago by the government. As far back as 1856 a resolution had been presented to Congress for the establishment of dry docks and a yard near where they are soon to be established.
The first dock in Algiers is said to have been the Paducah dock. It was built in Paducah, Ky., in 1838, and floated down the river. A company owned the structure, which was small in comparison with the larger docks that replaced it, and which was used for the repair of small steamboats. In 1839 Messrs. BAILEY & MARCY constructed a much larger dock at Pearlington and had it brought to Algiers. It was the first of its kind that was capable of accommodating both steamships and steamboats. It took the name of the Suffolk dock because that was the name of the first ship that was lifted in it. In 1842 Capt. MARCY built and launched, on the batture of the point, the first dock that was constructed in Algiers, and it proved to be larger than either the Suffolk or Paducah.
In 1846 the Louisiana Dry Dock Company was formed and constructed the Louisiana dock. It was the largest dock built prior to the war, but it was not long in operation. In 1849 it was accidentally sunk, and remains of the wreck still lie close inshore near the spot where the dock went down. In 1848 and 1852 the company built two more docks, smaller than the first. When FARRAGUT’s fleet came up the river both were sunk to prevent their falling into the hands of the Federals. In one of the docks was the frame of a 1100-ton ship in course of construction. The Crescent dock, another large dock, was built in 1855 and was also sunk during the war. It was in this dock that the famous Confederate cruiser Sumter was constructed for Admiral SEMMES. Just before that at Algiers there had been built the famous Confederate ram Manassas, which proved such a terror to the Federals, and subsequently thereto the famous gunboat McRae. The Gulf line dock was built in 1857 and during the war she was bought by the Confederate government and converted into a floating battery. In 1858 just above Algiers, Mr. John F. FOLLETTE built the largest dock ever constructed in Louisiana, for a company in Havana. It was 300 feet long, 90 feet wide in the clear, 18 feet draught and cost $450,000. It was towed to Havana and was till doing fine service there a few years ago. The large sectional dock, the Pelican, was sunk at Algiers during the war.
From an old New Orleans guide the following interesting description of the sinking of the Algiers docks on the approach of the Federal fleet is taken:
“The approach of the Federal fleet, in the latter part of April, 1862, caused intense excitement among all classes of people throughout the city and the suburbs. About the very first thing suggested by overzealous patriots was the destruction of the drydocks of Algiers, so that the Federal fleet should be deprived of the advantages offered by them. The sequel, however, showed that this line of policy was suicidal in the extreme, superinducing widespread misery among the large number of poor people directly interested in the maintenance of the industry. At the time there were in operation four large docks, the Louisiana No.3, the Crescent, the Pelican and the New Orleans. At about 9 o’clock on the night of April 23, 1862, the approach of the Federal fleet having been announced during the day, a committee of citizens, composed of Messrs. James MARTIN, James T. ANDERSON and T. G. MACKEY, owners and managers of the dry docks; John MAHONEY, the well known yacht builder, all residents of Algiers, and the secretary of the Confederate naval commander at this port, acting under order of Gen. LOVELL, commanding the department, notified the managers of the docks that they had been ordered to sink the docks at once. In spite of the vigorous protests of the managers of the Louisiana docks and other parties the committee, beginning with Louisiana dock No.3, lying furthest down the river, sank them in succession as they proceeded up the stream. On the day after the arrival of the Federal fleet, the managers of the Louisiana and Crescent docks made an effort to raise them, and the Crescent dock had very nearly been raised, when the managers were quietly informed that if they valued their lives they had better desist – and they did. Several attempt have since been made to remove the wrecks, which still lie beneath the water along the shore, all the way from below the Third district ferry landing to the vicinity of the Planter’s Oil Works. An attempt was made to blow them up, but the concussions on the shore was so great that it had to be given up.”
About he end of the war an upriver dock was towed to Algiers and anchored but in a couple of years thereafter it was accidentally sunk. After the war Mr. William KEIKE constructed the Star dock out of an old steamboat, but it was too small to remain long in service. The next dock built was the Ocean dry dock and after that the Good Intent, the VALLETTE, the Marine and the Louisiana. The Marine was sunk in 1881. The history of the docks is subsequently well known to the general reader.
At the present time there are four docks in operation in Algiers. They are the Good Intent, owned by the Good Intent Dry Dock Company; the Marine and Ocean docks, owned by the McLELLAN Dry Dock Company, and WOOD’s Sectional dock. The latter craft is utilized in docking tugboats and other small craft generally, that ply the river in this vicinity. This dock and the Good Intent dock are situated – the one above and the other below the bend about opposite Canal street. The McLELLAN docks recently removed from the upper portion of the district, where they were situated between Verret and Olivier streets, are located in Tunisburg, or what is more frequently called McLellanville, several miles down the coast.
These docks are sources of benefit to the skilled laboring classes, as a great many carpenters, sheet-iron workers and other such employees are provided with work thereat. For the greater part of the past year there has been brisk business at all these docks.
The Marine dock is the largest of the quartette and has a lifting capacity of 1350 tons, is 350 feet in length and has a breadth of 67 feet and draft of 14 feet. The Ocean dock is next in size, having a lifting capacity of 1,000 tons. It is 204 feet long, 61 feet in breadth and 12 feet draft. The Good Intent dock is slightly smaller, while WOOD’s dock is the smallest.
Hon. L. A. HYMEL is the superintendent at the docks and yards of McLELLAN Company. He is a genial gentleman and popular with the many employees of the company. Mr. HYMEL is the representative of the Fifth District on the board of police commissioners.
The foremanship of the dock and yards of the Good Intent Company is held by Mr. Preston LILLY, and no more affable gentleman is to be found. Attached to this company’s dock are such steam appliances as enable the management rapidity and efficiency.
Two very large docks are proposed to be erected. Both of them will be located in Tunisburg, the one the Government naval dock and the other the McLELLAN Company’s large sectional dock, which latter has been under construction for some time, the delicate machinery and works to be placed making it difficult to complete the job hurriedly. With these two great enterprises assured, with the large naval store yards, etc., that the government proposes to erect at a point just below the town proper, with the extensive improvements of the public thoroughfares by paving and with water, drainage and sewerage in sight, Algiers never looked forward to a brighter future.
The Property-holders’ Union is a local association, the purpose of which can be fully understood by reference to the following preamble. The experience of the past has demonstrated that in local affairs in union there is strength. In view of the fact of the early establishment of the United States Dry Dock, and other docks and iron works in this district; that the contemplated improvements of drainage, sewerage and paving require local assistance by those whose homes will be benefited, and to further the interest of public improvement, encourage the investment of capital, better sanitation, lighting, ferries, police and to protect the interest of property-holders in general, the undersigned have formed an organization to be known and designated as The Property-holders Union, Fifth District, New Orleans.
The names attached thereto are those of the leading citizens of the district, prominent in every walk of life, and property-holders having the community’s interests at heart. The officers who were elected at the first meeting of the organization, held only a few months since and who are serving during the current year, are: Mr. Peter FINK, President; Mr. Frank HENNING, first vice president; Hon. Frank A. DANIELS, second vice president; Mr. J. P. VEZIEN, treasurer; Hon. J. W. GAHN, secretary.
The regular meeting night of the Union is the first Monday of each month.
Any property holder of respectability and standing is eligible to become a member of the Union, after election thereto, upon the payment of a fee of twenty-five cents. The monthly dues are ten cents. When a member becomes six months in arrears for dues his name is dropped from the roll, if notification of his arrears has been served upon him by one of the officers.
The following committees were recently appointed:
Committee on Streets and Ferries – George KOPPEL, chairman; J. E. BABIN, C. W. WEIGAND, F. HENNING, J. C. MATHEWES.
Committee on Police, Lights and Sanitation – Frank A. DANIELS, chairman; Felix J. BORNE, A. E. HOTARD, R. WALLS, J. W. LENNOX.
Committee on Municipal Affairs – W. H. SEYMOUR, chairman; Martin BEHRMAN, Manuel ABASCAL, J. P. VEZIEN, George W. FOSTER.
Committee on Membership – George HERBERT, Jr., chairman; Louis J. PETERSON, A. C. BRILL, Gustav PETERSON, Thomas J. KENNEDY.
The Algiers Herald is the official journal of the Union.
Hon. W. L. SIRJACQUES represents the Second and Fifteenth wards in the State Senate, Mr. SIRJACQUES is a successful lumber merchant, and has held a number of political and other positions of trust and worth. He is a popular gentleman with his acquaintances and a member of several associations and clubs. He has, since occupying a seat in the Senate, fulfilled his duties faithfully, being ever awake and watchful that his constituents may secure their just dues.
The Algiers Waterworks and Electric Company, an enterprise of the district that is several years old, continue to enjoy a large patronage, both in the electric and ice business. The superintendency of Mr. Foster OLROYD, a well known young gentleman, has proved, since his connection with the plant, in 1896, to be entirely satisfactory. Mr. Leigh CARROLI, secretary treasurer of the company, is widely known and is a popular gentleman. He handles the affairs of his office with great care and in a business-like manner.
The Workingmen’s Co-operative Drug Store, is one of the largely patronized drug business over here. Mr. E. M. DELTRY, a skilled young pharmacist, is the manager of that branch of the concern, while Mr. Thomas FINEGAN is general business manager.
A well known business man of Algiers is Captain A. E. HOTARD, the proprietor and manager of the large plant of the Algiers Saw Mill, bounded by Patterson street, Lavergne and Verret streets, and the river. Captain HOTARD, being a native Algerine, takes a deep interest in matters pertaining to the welfare of his native burg. He is widely known and enjoys a lucrative patronage, his specialties being among other things, boat and ship material of every kind and oak and long leaf yellow pine.
Hon. Martin BEHRMAN, state assessor from the Fifth district, and a leader of the regular Democratic forces in Algiers, needs no introduction to the public. He has been a prominent politician for years, and that he is one of the shrewdest ward leaders in the city, none can deny. At present his faction, the leaders of the regular Democracy in the Fifteenth ward, are gathering their forces for the coming election fights, and his friends, who are legion, venture the prediction that their “Martin” cannot lose.
Judge Thomas J. MOONEY, the ex-Fourth Recorder and present president of the Mother Club of the Regular Democracy of the Fifteenth ward, is the running mate of Mr. BEHRMAN. His popularity is unbounded, and his continued presidency of the Mother Club is evidence of that fact. He has no fight on hand in the coming primaries, but there will most probably be a large complimentary vote polled in favor of his faction. He is the chief clerk of the Fifth district in the assessor’s office.
Hon. Orris J. McLELLAN, the president of the McLELLAN Dock Company, is a native Orleanian, and for many years has been connected with the dry dock business, in which he has been very successful. He is a member of the State Legislature, representing the Fifth district and a prominent politician. He is also a member of a number of social and secret organizations, the most of which he holds ______ offices.
Recorder Peter CLEMENT _____ magistrate of the Fourth Recorder’s court, is too well known for _____ orate mention. During the ______ occupancy of the bench of the _______of justice over which he ______ has acquitted himself in a ______ table manner generally. Judge _____ ent was recently urged by his _____ to head the opposition in the _____ man-MOONEY combine in the _____ primary election, and had ______ organization of his forces for _____
When the Jacksonian Association sprang into existence. He promptly withdrew from the regular fight, formed an alliance with School Director FOSTER, and joined hands with the Jacksonian forces, of which he is at present a recognized leader, as well as the president of the Fifteenth ward club of that party.
Lawyer Thos. F. MAHER is one of the prominent citizens of Algiers. His gentlemanly behavior toward his fellowmen has won for him a legion of friends and ardent admirers. “Tom,” as he is usually styled, is an old newspaper man and some twelve years ago was one of the best stenographers in this section of the country. As a lawyer he has gained for himself a wide reputation, having handled some important cases, civil and criminal, in the highest courts. Mr. MAHER has never neglected the interests of his clients; he is an honest and fair practitioner and well known throughout the State as a plucky and aggressive lawyer of ability.
Among the young business men of Algiers none is better known than Mr. Mark A. MORSE, Jr., the genial proprietor of one of the best equipped machine shops in the city. Mr. MORSE was born in 1869, and is the son of Mr. M. A. MORSE, the well known superintendent of the Southern Pacific Company at this point. His first employment was in the Southern Pacific machine shops, as an apprentice, and for the past thirteen years he has followed the same trade. Mr. MORSE is married and is the father of an interesting family. He resides in Algiers.
Jno. KRAMME is the jovial young proprietor of the Elmira Pleasure Grounds and manager of the retail grocery store of the estate of Peter KRAMME, one of the landmarks of Algiers. Mr. KRAMME was born on the 21st of February, 1877, and has been in charge of his father’s business since the latter’s death, in 1895. He is a very prominent member of the Woodmen and one of the most progressive merchants of Algiers. His friends are legion.
Mr. Olliver PEIRCE is manager of the Algiers branch of the BEAUREGARD Furniture Company, which id located at No.429 Patterson street. Mr. PEIRCE was born in New Orleans, in the year 1873, and received his education in the public schools. After leaving he entered the employ of the Southern Installment Company, and, as a mark of the good business tact he displayed, was chosen to be the manager of the Algiers branch of the BEAUREGARD Furniture Company, when this place was established. Their business on this side is extensive.
Among the drug stores of Algiers none is better known than the one presided over by Mr. Leon BARTHET, which is situated at the corner of Pelican avenue and Seguin street, and which enjoys a good trade.
One of the oldest citizens of Algiers is Mr. Luke GILLIN, who has been a resident of this burg for forty-five years. He conducts a store at the corner of Seguin and Eliza streets, and is considered a very popular citizen of the town.
Mr. Jno. P. VEZIEN was born in the parish of St. Tammany, in 1854, and came to Algiers in 1872. He was first employed by M. ABASCAL & Bro., as a clerk, and after working there for eighteen months, entered the employ of Henry CARSTENS. In 1887 Mr. VEZIEN formed a copartnership with Mr. CARSTENS, under the firm name of the CARSTENS & VEZIEN Company, Limited, for the purpose of conducting a general grocery and ship chandlery business.
Mr. CARSTENS died last year, and the company’s large business has since been conducted with continued success by Mr. VEZIEN. The establishment is one of the largest in Algiers.
Among the retail cigar dealers in Algiers, perhaps none is better n\known than Mr. H. N. UMBACH, whose place of business is in Patterson street, between Lavergne and Verret. Mr. UMBACH’s store is always filled with a fresh stock of smoker’s articles, and he enjoys a large retail trade. Mr. UMBACH is also the tax collector for the Fifth district and has a great many friends.
Mr. A. T. WAINWRIGHT, a druggist of prominence and a worthy citizen of the Fifth District, is considered one of the leaders in his line of business. He has been connected with the drug business for many years, and his present location as proven a most successful one. He is the manufacturer of the celebrated “Coal Roller” pills which have met with a great demand since being placed on the market. Mr. WAINWRIGHT’s place of business is located at the corner of Pelican avenue and Belleville street.
Little need be said of Hon. Thomas J. KENNEDY, proprietor of the grocery and barroom, corner of Pelican and Atlantic avenues, probably one of the largest concerns of the kind in the district. Mr. KENNEDY is well known as being one of the foremost citizens of Algiers, and one who is always ready to join hands in any work of public benefit.
There is probably no better known citizen of Algiers than Levee Commissioner ABASCAL. Kind, open-hearted, generous and whole-souled, Mr. ABASCAL is known in every part of the burg. He is the senior member of the grocery firm of Manuel ABASCAL & Bro., of Verret street and Pelican avenue, and a large property holder of Algiers. He takes a deep interest in public occurrences and is well posted on important events of every day life.
In Hon. George W. FOSTER, the saloon business has a leading representative. He is the owner of two large barrooms in the vicinity of the Southern Pacific Railroad yards and shops, and has the sole agency for the E. TOSSETTI Brewing Company, of Chicago, Ill. He is a member of the School Board, and took a conspicuous part in the recent campaign in the interest of the sewerage, waterworks and drainage for New Orleans. Mr. FOSTER in the current municipal and State campaign is allied with the Jacksonian party.
Among the undertakers and embalmers doing business in Algiers is Mr. John A. BARRETT, of Patterson street, between Vallette and Belleville. He has been engaged in that business for several years and has gained a wide reputation in his line. He is a member of many secret orders, associations and is the official undertaker for most of them. He is very popular and his friends are numerous.
The grocery establishment of H. KILLEEN & Son, situated on Vallette street and Alix, is a largely patronized business stand and the gentlemen interested in it control a profitable trade. Mr. KILLEEN has not been a resident of Algiers very many years, but in the time that he has resided here he has made numerous friends. He is a genial gentleman of the real Irish type, and being possessed of many excellent traits of character quickly attracts to himself lasting friendship.
Mr. Emile J. MOTHE is a well known undertaker of Algiers, and a recent graduate from the school of embalming. In that line Mr. MOTHE, who is yet quite a young man, has prepared himself thoroughly and is skilled in the work. Mr. MOTHE’s establishment is located at the head of Seguin street. Mr. MOTHE makes specialty of carriage hire at all hours for balls, parties, pleasure rides, etc.
Judge William H. SEYMOUR formerly occupied the bench of the Third City Court, where he served with ability and with credit to himself and the Democratic party. Judge SEYMOUR has always been a staunch Democrat and supporter of JEFFERSON’s theories and policies. He is well known as a historian, and has presented many interesting and entertaining addresses, with “Algiers in Early Days” as his subject. Judge SEYMOUR is a prominent member of the Property-Holders’ Union, being chairman of one of the committees.
A large private enterprise is the JOHNSON Iron Works and ship building yards in Algiers. They are situated on Patterson street, between Verret and Olivier, and were put into operation during the early part of may last. Since then the company have had a large force of machinists and other skilled laborers at work filling a contract for the construction of five stern-wheel steamers and twenty lighters, the majority of which have been completed, and some of them shipped to Mexico, where they will be used to operate in the low inland waters there. They have been constructed by contract with SCHMIDT & ZIEGLER, for a Mexican Navigating Company.
The president of the firm, Mr. Lewis JOHNSON, the recent appointee to the sewerage and water board from the First ward, has great faith in the future of the shipbuilding trade in this locality. He is satisfied with the work so far done on the first contract of the company, and has several more under consideration, which he hopes to complete as successfully.
The grounds are those formerly occupied by the McLELLAN Dock Company. The works cover an area of ground, directly on the river, of 75 by 400 feet, every inch of which is utilized. The main building is 84 by 58 feet, the double shed is 60 by 90 feet, the single shed is 20 by 75 feet. The two-story office and storeroom is amply large for present purposes, and it is thought that the entire upper floor will soon be used as the place to prepare all plans and specifications, which work is now done at the firm’s large establishment in the city proper.”