The Four-Sided Pentagon


Pentagon Barracks in Baton Rouge, LA –  Image by Spatms (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the first questions asked by any visitor to the Pentagon Barracks in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is, “Where is the fifth building?” There is a space for it, but there are only four, hefty-columned brick buildings in a pentagon arrangement with the fifth side open to the river.


This architectural anomaly, originally designed in 1818-1819 by Capt. James Gadsden for U.S. Army fortifications and barracks, called for four of the sides of the pentagon to be barracks that would house one thousand soldiers and the fifth building would actually be two buildings constructed end to end to make the fifth side. The southern of the two fifth-side buildings would be a commissary-quartermaster warehouse and the northern building would be an ordnance warehouse. These buildings were located nearest the river so that supplies could be loaded into them more easily. (See image below.)

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Design plan by U S Army Captain James Gadsden 1819  (Source: Map Collection, Louisiana State Library, Baton Rouge)

But designs, materials, and environments do not often mesh well together.

In the case of the ordnance warehouse, poor workmanship and sub-standard building materials, caused it to be condemned and demolished shortly after its construction.

In the case of the design of the fortification barracks, the oppressive heat and humidity of south Louisiana were not taken into adequate consideration.

An inspection of the progress of the barracks’ construction was made in May 1820 by the U.S. Inspector General’s office of the Baton Rouge Barracks and a portion of the final report follows:

The building is intended both for Barracks and Fortification: the lower story is
pierced in the rear with loop holes: these apertures are not sufficiently large to admit such a passage of air as to render it comfortable as lodgings, it is even now
scarcely habitable and in mid summer, must be abandoned. This work is calculated 
to use at musketry, it would appear then better that there should be larger openings in the rear, so as to render it more fit for Quarters, which in case of attack might be closed with shutters musket proof.

The Arsenal or Storehouse now building under the direction of the Ordnance Department and which forms a part of this work will be found every way inadequate to contain a moiety of the stores & which this defense will require,
the whole of the lower story of the Barracks is not more than will be wanted
for that purpose.

That part of the work which has been superintended by the Quartermaster appears
to be executed in an artist like manner. The Arsenal or Storehouse built under the direction of the Ordnance Dept. is wretchedly executed. The brick of the basement of the first story are laid in what resembled Mississippi mud more than mortar, this substitute for cement will never become hard, and may now he removed from between the Bricks by the finger alone; the wall towards the river is five or 6 inches out of plumb. It is impossible that this building will stand if charged with the weight of one half the stores it is designed to put in it.

[Records of Inspector General’s Office, 18 H-1824, National Archives, Record Group 1591.]

As the buildings stand today, windows with heavy shutters replaced the musket loop holes in the barracks.

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In addition to the design and building problems disease among the soldiers and workers constructing the buildings plagued the work.

Diseases common to living in encampments as well as mosquito-borne illnesses like yellow fever, dogged the soldiers and the other workers who had been brought in from other states to assist in the construction. In 1819, 30 workers and 20 soldiers died of yellow fever.  In 1821, 91 soldiers died.

My 3x great-grandfather, U. S. Army Lt. Jasper Strong, was stationed at the building site during the barracks’ construction, but he was only on-site a portion of the time. Unfortunately in June of 1821 he was listed as “present sick” at the barracks site. It is probable that he was sick due to the oppressive heat, being that he was a native of Vermont, but the hot and humid conditions so common in south Louisiana were no surprise to him since this was his second assignment in the South. He had already spent the previous year building a new fort near New Orleans at the Rigolets (RIG-uh-leez) Pass, the strait connecting Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico.  He could have suffered from one of the many maladies associated with camp life, but if he had been sick with yellow fever, it is not likely that he would have survived.


President Zachary Taylor (1848) – By Joseph Henry Bush (1794-1865) (The White House Historical Association) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Interestingly when Jasper Strong was present for duty at the Baton Rouge barracks from December 1822 through January of 1823, his Commander was future U.S. President Zachary Taylor who was 38 years old at the time.

US Army SERVICE RECORD for Jasper Strong as 2nd Lieutenant:

  • 1819 – Graduated from West Point
  • 1819-1821 – Stationed at Fort Petite Cocquille at the Rigolets near New Orleans for the construction of Fort Pike
  • Jun 1821 – Baton Rouge Barracks – Present sick – Commander Richard Whartenby
  • Oct 1821 – Fort Belle Fontaine (St. Louis, MO) Absent on furlough – Commander Thomas Hamilton
  • January – November 1822 – Baton Rouge Barracks – Absent on furlough – Commander Talbot Chambers  (In October of 1822 Jasper Strong is listed as Justin Strong – was he gone so much that they forgot his name?)
  • December 1822 – January 1823 – Baton Rouge Barracks – Present for duty – Commander Zachary Taylor

As Lieutenant Jasper Strong:

  • Mar 1823 – Baton Rouge Barracks – Present for duty – Commander Talbot Chambers
  • May 1823 – Baton Rouge Barracks – Absent on Recruiting service at New Orleans – Commander Talbot Chambers

The US Army soldiers who were constructing the new barracks were housed in the old fortifications to the south of the construction site formerly known as Fuerte San Carlos (~ Fort St. Charles).

Baton Rouge map 1805

A Spanish map of Baton Rouge showing the earthen fortifications of Fuerte San Carolos in 1805.   Pintado, Vicente Sebastián. Florida Occidental, Distrito de Baton Rouge, año de 1805. 1805. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <;

This earthen fortification was built by the British after they gained control of the area in 1763 due to the Treaty of Paris. The fort was named Fort New Richmond and it remained in British hands until the Revolutionary War when Bernardo de Galvez, commandant of Spanish-controlled New Orleans,  happily sided with the colonial patriots in order to move the British out of the Mississippi River region.  The Spanish marched from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in September 1779 and were successful in their attack on the British in the only battle of the Revolutionary War fought in Louisiana.  The Spanish renamed the fortification, Fuerte San Carlos and it remained under Spanish control until 1810 when some disgruntled English citizens living in the Spanish controlled area were unhappy with Spanish rule. They seized the fort in September of 1810 and declared themselves the independent Republic of West Florida.  That independent country lasted three months until the United States annexed the fledgling Republic. To replace the rundown fortification, the US Army made plans to build a new arsenal and barracks in Baton Rouge.

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But Jasper Strong was not my only ancestor to walk the grounds of this plot of land on the Mississippi River.  Another of my third great-grandfathers, Jacob Guice, joined Col. Claiborne’s 1st Mississippi Militia and marched to Baton Rouge from Natchez in the Mississippi Territory during September 1812 to defend it against the British in the War of 1812.  Jacob was stationed at the fortification of Fuerte San Carlos until March of 1813.

Grave of Jacob Guice - Guice/Armstrong Cemetery - McNair, MS

Grave of Jacob Guice with star emblem denoting service in the War of 1812

More recently my grandfather, C.L. Guice, was a student cadet at the Pentagon Barracks in the 1920’s when the buildings were part of Louisiana State University.  He never knew his great-grandfather Jacob Guice had been stationed almost on the same grounds one hundred years before.


I was born in Baton Rouge in 1962 not far from the Barracks at the old Lady of the Lake Hospital that used to be across Capitol Lake from the State Capitol building. I have walked the grounds of the Pentagon Barracks many times through the years, never realizing how many of my forebears preceded me. Needless to say, these historic buildings are now an endearing connection to my past.


A Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words (Pt. 2)

I am blowing the dust off of these old images of the Broome family and allied family members to reveal the identities and likenesses of those individuals who may never have been seen by their descendants.  I hope that by posting these images and names that some of their descendents will have the joy of discovering more about their ancestors. (The John Thomas Broome family images are seen in the previous post.)

It is also fascinating to see how people lived and what was important to them, so these images are interesting in their own right to be viewed by everyone.  I hope you enjoy them!

Mr. and Mr. Walter Hurt

Mr. and Mr. Walter Hurt (taken in Memphis, TN)

Walter Hurt was appointed the Postmaster in Winona, Mississippi in 1893 and was the City Editor of the Meridian Dispatch in Meridian, Mississippi according to the 1913 Meridian City Directory.

Mrs. Addie Harvey Hurt - wife of Walter Hurt

Mrs. Addie Harvey Hurt – wife of Walter Hurt

Harvey Hurt - son of Addie and Walter Hurt

Harvey Hurt – son of Addie and Walter Hurt

Harvey and Eldridge Hurt - children of Addie and Walter Hurt

W. Harvey and Eldridge Hurt – children of Addie and Walter Hurt

W. Harvey Hurt would grow up to run a newspaper in Waynesboro, Mississippi (like father, like son).  He was also instrumental in bringing a hospital to the Waynesboro area.

Samuel Harvey - possible brother of Addie Harvey Hurt

Sam Harvey – brother of Addie Harvey Hurt (also pictured with his grandparents John and Aletris Broome in the previous post)

Mercy Broome Harvey

Mercy Broome Harvey

Mercy Broome Harvey

Mercy Broome Harvey

Mercy Broome Harvey was the mother of Addie Harvey and Sam Harvey.  She was the sister of John Thomas Broome (from the previous post).

A party at the mouth of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky

A party at the mouth of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky – 1882

Catherine B. Morgan - sister of Aletris (from the previous post)

Catherine B. Morgan – sister of Aletris (from the previous post)

Kate B. Morgan Clary Walsh

Kate B. Morgan Clary Walsh

Kate B. Morgan Clary

Kate B. Morgan Clary

A tribute to a lost loved one.  I with I knew who he was...

A tribute to a lost loved one. I wish I knew who he was. The letters on the back look like MB.  It could possibly be a tribute to Willie who died when he was seven.

A Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

SONY DSCImages of our ancestors are the golden nuggets of family history.  Often we are not able to find an image of an ancestor, but when we do, even when the image is small and faded, it gives life to their name and dates.  When you look into the eyes of people who lived so long ago, who are your own flesh and blood, it is an ethereal experience that connects you to your past.

SONY DSCOne set of pictures I have in my collection of family images is in an old, red, velvet-covered album of the Broom(e) family.  Besides my loved ones, this album is one thing I would grab in case of a fire.  Most of the photos in this album are from 1880-1900, but some daguerreotypes are from before the Civil War. All except a few are labeled, which is invaluable!  Also in my family history collection I have the Broome Family Bible listing many of  their important dates and events.

John Thomas Broom

John Thomas Broom

Aletris Ellen Morgan Broome

Aletris Ellen Morgan Broom

The patriarch of this family is John Thomas Broom who was a farmer from Utica, Mississippi.  (The “e” was added to the family name around the turn of the century according to Bible records.)   The year before the Civil War began he married his young sweetheart Aletris Ellen Morgan on October 7, 1860.  He was 24 and she was 13.  They married in Richmond, Louisiana (near Tallulah, LA) which was burned completely by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant before the siege of Vicksburg, MS in 1863.

Born in 1836 John Thomas was the prime age of 26 for military service in the Civil War. John served for more than one year in the Confederate Army as part of the 36th Mississippi Infantry.  He enlisted in March 1862 for 12 months of service, but in April 1862 a Confederate conscription act, or draft order, went into effect that forced men ages 18-35 to serve for at least three years.  In September of 1862 the conscription age was increased to 45.  But a year and two months after his enlistment date, when the 36th Mississippi was ordered to leave Snyder’s Bluff north of Vicksburg and take up defenses in Vicksburg, John deserted and went home.  Maybe he sensed the inevitable defeat by the Union Army because of the advances they were making around Mississippi.  But there were other reasons why many Confederate soldiers deserted their army around this time in the war.

One was the enactment of  the conscription acts which they felt infringed on their rights by their government — which was why they were fighting this war against the Union in the first place.  In addition to this was the 20 slave exemption added to the conscription acts in October of 1862.  This exemption meant that those who owned 20 slaves could go home to help prevent possible slave uprisings.  The slave-owner could then hire someone to fight in his stead. Any man who could afford the $300 price could hire a substitute to fight for them. Therefore the war in the Confederacy by this time had become known as “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

John Thomas and Aletris had their first child on August 30, 1861, a few months after the start of the war.  They named him Thomas Sanders Broom after Aletris’ father Thomas Sanders Morgan.  After John Thomas returned home from the war he and Aletris had 9 more children, six of whom lived to adulthood.

Thomas Sanders Broome

Thomas Sanders Broom

Thomas Sanders Broom, Ella Anderson Broom and their children

Thomas Sanders Broom and his wife Ella Anderson Broom with their children

When Thomas grew up, he converted from his family’s Protestant faith to Mormonism.  His father then disowned him.

Eva May Broom

Eva May Broom

John Thomas Broom returned home by August of 1863 and the following spring on May 30, 1864, Eva May Broom was born. She grew up and married Craven P. Fairchild on the 10th of December 1884.

The Broom’s second daughter Louisa Broom, died the day she was born on September 11, 1866.

Catherine Octavia Broom was born in Jan of 1869 and died at the age of three.

Their next child was a son, Willy.

John William "Willy" Brooome

John William “Willy” Broome

John William “Willy” Broom was born in December of 1870.  Sadly at the age of 7, he was killed when he was hit by a wagon.

The Broom’s third son Andrew Jackson Broom, born May 3, 1872, was named after Alestris’ brother Andrew Jackson Morgan (who was killed in the Battle of Seven Pines at the age of 16).  He moved to Llano, Texas where he was a border patrol agent.

Andrew Jackson Broom

Andrew Jackson Broom

Andrew Jackson Broome

Andrew Jackson Broom

Andrew Jackson Broome's family

Andrew Jackson Broom and his wife Lily Mayo Broom and their children

Annie Theodosia Broom was born January 27, 1876.  She married Andrew J. Harvey on the 4th of July 1899.

Annie Theodosia Broom

Annie Theodosia Broom

Luther Dudley “Dutchy” Broom was their eighth child and fourth son who was born on June 16, 1877.  He was my great grandfather.

Luther Dudley Broom

Luther Dudley Broom

Luther Dudley Broom

Luther Dudley Broome


Anna Daisy Jacob Broome

He married Anna Daisy Jacob from Reserve on the German Coast in south Louisiana.  They were married in Baton Rouge on 28 Dec 1904.  He was Baptist and she was Catholic, so they were married by a Methodist minister.  He worked for Standard Oil Company (now Exxon) in Baton Rouge.

Clarence Franklin Broom

Clarence Franklin Broom

Clarence Franklin Broome

Clarence Franklin Broome

Albia Jones Broome

Albia Jones Broome

Clarence Franklin Broom was born April 25, 1879.  He married Albia Jones December 23, 1903.

Mary Jane Broome

Mary Jane Broom

Aletris Broom had their last child when she was 42 years old.  She had a girl born September 13, 1881 whom they named Mary Jane Broom. Something happened to Mary Jane causing her to pass away at the age of 7.  All that is written in the family Bible is the date she died and the time of day: “quarter to four P.M. Sunday eve”.

The old Broom family album contains many more interesting photos of members of Aletris’ family and John Thomas’ families.  But those photos will appear in a future post.

John Thomas and Aletris lived a rich life full of joy, hardship, happiness, and sadness.  Most of the handwriting in the family Bible appears to be hers.  But on the day she died, at age 58, in a shaky handwriting typical of old age, John inscribes her death information in the old Bible: “Aletris E. Broome the wife of J. T. Broome.  Died on the 19 of April 1905 about 8 in the eaving was born 11 of March 1847”.  All other dates after her death were written by him until he died.

john_thomas_broome Aletris Ellen Morgan Broome

John Thomas Broome Aletris Morgan Broome025

John Thomas and Aletris with a grandchild

John Thomas and Aletris with grandchild Sammy Harvey

John Thomas Broome with Luther Dudley's children (L to R) Marcia (my grandmother), John Denis, and Katie (taken about 1913)

John Thomas Broome with Luther Dudley Broome’s children (L to R) Marcia (my grandmother), John Denis, and Katie (taken about 1913)

“House Calls, Hogs, and Heartbreak” – Life and Times of a Country Doctor (Episode 3)

The following entries from the  Alanson Wood Moore Diary  and Dr. Cicero Guice’s ledger contain facts and figures of my great-grandfather’s life as a doctor in the rural north Louisiana community of Winnsboro at the turn of the century.  As you will see, a country doctor’s life was physically and emotionally demanding, and often his work underpaid.  Many aspects of practicing medicine were quite different than today and yet, some things like the reality of life and death, and the necessity of receiving and paying for basic care stay the same.

In the following ledger entries of Dr. Guice, listing the “services rendered” and “payments received,” the disparity between the two can be seen:

— Mrs. Branson who already had a balance of $34 from the “old book,” added to her account twelve visits by Dr.Guice between January of 1904 to July 14, 1906 totaling $46 at $3 or $4 per visit.  Her total debt would be valued at ~ $1800 today.  Her only payment in 1904 was of 10 bu. of corn valued at $7.  In January of 1906, she paid the good doctor with 1 hog, valued at $10.  Her total payment back to the doctor in today’s terms was ~$400.

— Mike Jennings and his family required the services of Dr. Guice over ten times between 1904 and 1911– several visits being valued at $10 — for a total of  $78 ($1800 today).  Over the course of that time he paid the doctor:

1 hog – $ 7

30 lbs lard – $3

Stove wood, 3 loads – $5

Wood, 1 load -$1

Potatoes, 1 bu. – $1

Wood, 1 load – $1

Cash – $10

Cash – $10

Turkey – $2

(unreadable) – $5

Total – $45 ($1041 today)


In these AWM diary entries the precariousness of life is evident:

9th May, 1898, Monday

To E.M. King’s: John Brownell and I drove up some cattle. I banded one black and white heifer and banded and castrated one red yearling.

Came home by Bob’s, his wife, Rachel, [who was pregnant] was sick.

10th May 1898, Tuesday

Plowed out my corn patch, four furrows to the row, throwing the dirt to the middle and hoed ten rows. I bought a new plow of Tom Lowery, price $2.50. Tom Turner carried it home for me.

Rachel confined last night: the child was removed by force. The doctors C. Guice and Thompson, said it was jammed and could not be delivered. By forcing it, killed it. Lucy went down there this eve. The child was buried.

Cloudy all day. No sunshine.


6th November, 1898, Sunday

At 2 o’clock P.M., Alonzo and myself started to T.J. Matthews, getting there between sunset and dark: found Drs. L.M. Griffin and C.L. Guice there: he had been sick abed about three weeks, was first attacked with erysipelas in feet
and now to his body. Has constant fever and now has symptoms of swamp fever. Remained there all night.

7th November, 1898, Monday

He is nearly clear of fever this morning and say he feels better, feels like he could eat a little beef.

We left about 9 o’clock A.M., went down to the “John Buie place”, up by W.B. Grayson’s store, there saw G.B. Frazier and J.C. Humble and on home by train time 4:15. Dr. Griffin went home this A.M. to return tomorrow eve.

The cotton fields are white to the harvest. Roads are very dry and dusty.

I learned for the first time today, that Miss Mary Buie had cancer on the breast and it would perhaps prove fatal before long. In Matthew’s case, the doctors are fearful that either blood poison or swamp fever will develop itself and in either case, they dread the consequences.


16th March, 1901, Saturday

Nothing out of the ordinary transpired today. Some people about and in town from the country.

Mr. Thompson of Collinston, whose dwelling, with its contents, recently burned there. And he and his family came down here, and today moved into one of Mr. R.M. Steches(?) houses-formerly owned and occupied by Isaac Fife, but more familiarly known as “Bud Fife”.

Nolan had a light chill and fever today.

Dr. Cicero Guice came by and called in and reported that Mr. Joe Bryan [Cicero’s uncle-in-law] was at his house-quite sick. He is about 67 or 68 years of age, born in Harrisonburg, but spent the greater part of his life in Franklin Parish.

17th March, 1901, Sunday

Pleasant day-very spring like.

Rev. J.A. Snyder filled his regular monthly appointment here. I did not attend.

Called to see Bro. Riggs who is at Mrs. Buie’s who is suffering from a boil on his right knee cap.

In the afternoon, went to Dr. Cicero Guice’s to see Mr. Joe Bryan whom I found very feeble and apparently suffering a great deal. The immediate trouble with him is “indigestion”. For ten days or two weeks has been “malted milk” and “beef tea”. He vomits occasionally and emits a black something which has a very unpleasant stench. He has no fever but constant pain in stomach and bowels and gradually wasting away.


24th March, 1901, Sunday

Rev. J.M. Henry, P.E., on this Monroe circuit M.E. church South preached here today and administered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Reasonably good sized congregation was in attendance.

In the afternoon, Lonzo and I went to Dr. C.L. Guice‘s to see Joe Bryan who is quite low and is not expected to recover. He is getting old and the chances to recover are against him. He can eat nothing or very little and what he eats does not digest and after some days is vomited up in the same state it was taken into his stomach. Dr. W.W. Lee of Gilbert came up this morning to see him.

Dr. C.L. Guice and myself, or rather I accompanied him to Mr. Nolan’s-on Billy Robinson’s place-to his daughter Addie who was suffering with sore throat. The Dr. lanced her tonsils which bled freely and seemed to give her some relief.

Mr. Christmas of Rosedale, Miss. came in this eve to see me in reference to some land owned by Mrs. M.A. Flower known as the Dorsey place.

10th April, 1901, Wednesday

Still cold. Hitched Jewel to the buggy to take the children to school but she acted so badly and broke one of the shafts and the children had to walk to school.

Miss Bessie Banner came to my house this eve to go before the school examiners tomorrow.

Joseph Bryan, a citizen of this Parish for the past 50 years or more, died this morning about 10 o’clock at Dr. C.L. Guice’s where he had been confined to his bed for a month or more. He was born in Harrisonburg, La. in 1833 and had spent his life there and here, except about three years in Ark. and four in the army 1861-1865. Was a prisoner of war
18 months.

Dr. Guice asked me to go with the cortege to the grave at the Matthews place in Boeuf prairie tomorrow, which I promised him to do so far as I now know. Circumstances are such that I cannot go to the grave and so informed him early this morning.

The day is cloudy and raining and cold. Fire in my office. The corpse and cortege started to the grave about 8:30 o’clock a distance of 20 miles.

The community of examiners for the examination of “white” applicants for certificates to teach the public schools, or to get the public school funds, are in session today. Quite a number of applicants are and will be before the committee; it will be in session tomorrow also.

16th September, 1901, Monday

J.H. Knight started two wagons loaded with his household plunder to Florence where he will make his home in the future.

Heavy rain fell about 3 o’clock P.M. E.M. King and three of his children and two of Mr. Steele’s children at my house during the rain.

The high school opened this morning.

For a week or more, I’ve had an itching on both feet. They had turned very red, but were not sore. This eve, I consulted Dr. Guice about it, after he examined my foot, gave a prescription, which I had filled at the drugstore and applied as he directed.

Mamie Brashear’s youngest child is quite sick of fever.

Dr. Guice’s baby has the erysipelas on the left side of its face, covering the eye.


L to R – Dr. Cicero Louis Guice, C.L. Guice, and Clara Bryan Guice

My great-grandfather, Dr. Cicero Guice, continued to serve the Winnsboro, Louisiana community until his death at age 57 in December of 1919.

Alanson Wood Moore, the author of the previous diary entries, was an attorney, a member of the Louisiana State Legislature for many years and was instrumental in rewriting the  State Constitution of 1898.  He was also a Methodist Preacher on the Winnsboro Circuit and was helpful in defeating the Louisiana Lottery. His diaries contain his concerns and reactions to events in his home area and only rarely record events of national importance.

“Murder and the Stolen Horse” – Life and Times of a Country Doctor (Episode 2)

As an historian I attempt to read and understand primary sources in the context of their culture and times without passing judgement on the words and actions of the people involved so that I can better understand why people did what they did.  Here is such a case.  Many things said and described in the excerpts from the Alanson Moore diary below would be considered out of place and even offensive in our culture and times today, but because his writings occasionally mention my great-grandfather I wanted to share some of Mr. Moore’s accounts in this episode of the “Life and Times of a Country Doctor.”

Winnsboro, Louisiana – excerpts from the Alanson Wood Moore Diary

19th March, 1898, Saturday

Dr. Cicero L. Guice and his horse

Still cloudy and warm. Spaded a little in garden: ground just dry enough from last Monday’s rain, to work and pulverize well.

It is reported here this morning that Gus Grimble, a negro living at Jno. V. Munn’s, some time last night, inflicted on the person of his wife which will likely produce her death. It seems that during the early part of the night, they were quarreling and fussing to such an extent that John V. Munn went out and ordered quiet. He heard no more from them; but this morning early she was found lying on the gallery of their cabin in an unconscious condition, though breathing. Upon examination, her skull was found fractured by some blunt instrument and her throat cut, to what depth my informer did not know.

Gus Grimble could not be found and Munn’s buggy animal, a nice large mare he had recently bought, was also gone. The man was tracked down the road a short distance, then through the woods to Turkey Creek above town. The supposition is, Gus rode the mare and swam the creek. It seems he left his house with his clothes, but failed to bundle them securely and several articles were found along the road and from the appearance of the mare’s tracks along the road, she was going at rapid speed.

News came in that Gus Grimble did not ride Munn’s mare, as was first thought, but he rode Dr. Cicero Guice‘s horse and that the negro woman is dead.

The report came in town from Ogden’s place, the former home of Gus Grimble this P.M. that he had suicided by cutting his own throat.

H. Block came in town today from New Orleans to look after his ownership interest in the Mills property. A very pretty warm eve. A good many people in town today.

News afterwards came in that Gus Grimble had not suicided, but attempted to do so and was prevented. He was arrested by Isaac M. King, Constable, of the 8th Ward and lodged in jail.

The stolen horse part of the story happened not long after Dr. Cicero had come to Winnsboro after graduating medical school.  His letter to Clara in the previous post on this blog was written only a month after his horse had been stolen.  I’m assuming the horse was returned to him after the arrest of Gus Grimble.

What happened to Gus Grimble

24th October, 1898, Monday

Civil term district court opened this morning with the smallest docket the district court ever had in this Parish. The day is warm and pleasant; no frost this morning.

W.H. Burn commenced work on the scaffold or gallows on which Gus Grimble is to hang next Friday the 28th Inst.

W.H. Brown went with a two horse carriage to meet Billy Earle, who had been in the U.S. army over a year and was in the cavalry at the engagement at Santiago de Cuba and was wounded in the hip, sent then to New York and it is reported that his wound is incurable, but it has got well enough for him to come home, tho he will be a cripple. He is at home.

28th October, 1898, Friday

On the 4 March last, John Grayham was hanged, by the Sheriff in the front of the jail; see an account of it in my diary of that date. On the 19th of said month, Gus Grimble, murdered his wife, see an account thereof in my diary of that date. Today is the time fixed by the governor for him to pay the penalty on the gallows for the dead of 19th March. But the hanging will be within the four walls of the jail unlike that of the 4 March.

There are very few people coming to town. No one seems to think or care much about the transactions of today. By 11 o’clock there was quite a gathering of negroes in town. The day is bright and clear, tho a little cool. I estimate 200 negroes in the court house square at 1:30 o’clock P.M. But all quiet and orderly. The hanging took place about 2 o’clock P.M. The convict died hard, tho he had frequently said he was ready and anxious for the day of execution to come. This can be accounted for from the consideration that the event was inevitable, the last spark of hope for deliverance had been blown out. Under such circumstances, the mind can be wrought up to that degree of frenzy as to assume the attitude of perfect indifference and quiet resignation to the pending fate.

I will be posting other stories from this diary that mention my great-grandfather.  If you would like to read this diary in its entirety click this link –  Alanson Wood Moore Diary – 1898 – 1909 Winnsboro, Franklin Parish, LAEach diary year is linked separately at the bottom of that page.

“Love and War” – Life and Times of a Country Doctor (Episode 1)

Winnsboro, Louisiana

April 28, 1898

Dear Clara,

     How do you feel since the entertainment.  I am a little sick but not much.  It rained some here yesterday.  I happened to be at the train and soon all of the school folks came in.   They all looked happy and gay.  I went down town yesterday eve and a young man proposed that he would treat to a milk shake if I would resign my claim down your way & I took him up in great shape as I came to the conclusion that I didn’t stand much show any way when it came to reality.  Rumors have begun to spread considerably.  Some folks have found out that I really like you a great deal & I have heard lately that you try to flirt with every boy who comes your way & lay plans to meet them at different places.  Now this doesn’t seem to me the thing to do.  Though I have confidence enough in you to allow you anything that you wish to do.

Cicero Louis Guice graduated from the University of Louisville Medical School in 1888 and he had recently arrived in town as the “new” Dr. Guice.  Coincidentally, the old doctor that he would practice alongside was also Dr. Guice, but there was no relation between them — at least not any of which they knew.

In the letter I don’t think he was serious when he accused Clara of being a flirt, but he really did want to make sure she knew that he liked her.  He was thirty-six and had not yet been married.   She was twenty-three.

On the same day that he wrote the  letter above,  he wrote another letter to her about a more serious matter:

Dear Girl,

         I am very sad to day on one account.  I have enlisted in the 4th Louisiana Regiment to go out and serve my and your country, which act I know you will applaud, and have no idea when I shall return.  I believe you love me some, but I hardly think I have your whole heart in my keeping.   Which is a very sad thought to me.   The sound of war is ringing through our beautiful land, and when the Bugle calls to arms, I am ready to take my part of the National honor and hold up for free men free institutions and liberty in general to all mankind.

I shall await your sweet reply, and march through the sunny land of the far south with your last farewell folded next my heart.  I feel that you will soon forget me.  I am as ever yours hoping and waiting for your immediate reply.     Cicero

The Spanish-American War had interrupted this budding romance, at least for the foreseeable future.   Tensions had been building between the two countries for quite some time and finally war was declared on April 25, 1898.  The declaration was pronounced after the sinking of the Battleship Maine off the coast of Cuba in February of that year. The war ended within the year with the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898.

I have not found official records showing that Cicero actually served in the war, but he was gone for a while as noted in this letter:

Winnsboro, La.

July 1898

Dear Clara,

      I suppose you know that I have been gone for near a month, hence no reply to your highly appreciated letter.

      Dr. Guice got my letter of the 12th and put it away and to day Kate accidentally found it where her father had put it away.  He also went away while I was gone and has not returned yet.   Yes I am sick and have been for a long time went to Natchez, Monroe, and Ruston was sick the whole time and feeling better now.  My Clara, I am not mad with you and it has only been accidental I did not answer you last and get this and Now that I’m at home & probably can travel will come to see my pet soon.  Go on to school & be a sweet girl and let me hear from you soon.  I will tell you all about my trip when I see you again.  I am so nervous & weak I can scarcely write so you see I presumed and will wait to hear more reports & find out what the people want or some of them any way.  Now I shall talk like you did to me.  You must be very certain about liking me & don’t make any mistake.  I thought if we loved each other the thing to do would be to marry sometime soon, but you do act funny to me some way.  I will come down some time in the near future.  We have been having a nice time bike riding these moon light nights.  I see Willie Frazier has new wheels, seems to be a very nice one.  I think Katie, Effie, Landis and myself will go to Ruston to the Chautauqua* in July.

                  Regards to family,                      C.L. Guice

Clockwise from top left: Lucy Prickett, Lil Guice, Clara Bryan Guice, C.L. Guice, and Cicero Louis Guice.

In the following year, Cicero and Clara would marry and he would continue as the doctor in Winnsboro for many years.  Anecdotes of his life as the local doctor are recorded in the diary of Alanson Wood Moore – a local politician and recorder of town history.  Some of these stories will be related in future posts on this blog.

Cicero Louis Guice and Clara Bryan are my great-grandparents.   He is the son of Elbert Hampton Guice and Angeline Jones whose story is told in the post, “A Pile of Cotton and a Lighted Pine Knot.” Seated between his parents in the photo to the right is my grandfather C.L. Guice, who is written about in the post, “Poor boy, he had just got ready to live…“.  Clara’s brother is “Joe,” in the posts entitled, “1941.”

*Chautauqua Assemblies


Blonde Hair and Bootleggers

“Veronica! VERONICA!” shouted the coarse, angry voice.  “What are you still doing asleep?  Don’t you know it’s time to get out on the porch? Now get out there and drum us up some business!”

Twelve-year-old Veronica Strong, or Sis as she was called by her younger siblings, got up quickly and rushed to the bathroom, splashed water on her face, put on her wispy dress, quickly brushed her bleached-blonde hair and ran outside.

She hated her hair. It was really jet black just like her mother’s, but her grandmother Agnes made her bleach it. Agnes said black hair didn’t lure men in to buy moonshine whiskey.  To act as a “come on” Veronica’s hair had to be blonde.

It was 1926 and prohibition was in full swing in Bay St. Louis with secret stills operating for profit all around Mississippi — especially on the coast. Mississippians consumed large amounts of alcohol and they had plenty of suppliers.

This state had been dry since 1906 and the bootleggers liked it that way.  It kept competition at bay.  Each time a vote came up in Mississippi, the “dry” people would vote to stay “dry” and the “wet” people would vote to stay “dry” as well. It was good for business.  Even many of the local law officers were looking the other way and taking bribes from bootleggers to stay quiet. Mississippi stayed dry until 1966.

When Tennessee voted to repeal prohibition in 1933 with blue laws still intact for the prohibition of selling liquor on Sunday, it was said that after that vote Mississippi and Tennessee were no different except that Mississippians could still buy liquor on Sunday!

Willie Strong

Veronica’s father Willie Strong, and her grandparents Agnes and Oscar Luc, ran competing bootleg operations in Bay St. Louis, MS.  There was also an operation on Cat Island off the coast of Long Beach, MS and one in Kiln, MS. In addition to these and other stills, ships carrying whiskey would anchor just outside U.S. waters off the coast and smaller boats would load up with liquor.  They would make the twelve-mile haul to the coast to distribute it.  These smaller boats were called “rum runners” and many of the fishermen in the area could run whiskey more profitably than hauling fish.

Cora Agnes Luc

Cora Agnes Luc

Earlier in 1926 Veronica’s mother, Cora Agnes Luc Strong, died suddenly at the age of 32. Cora had been a good mother to her children — even while living in a tumultuous marriage with Willie Strong.  Before she died, she was taken away on a train to a hospital in New Orleans. Cora’s last words to her husband were to keep their eight kids together.  But that didn’t happen.

Some of the children’s aunts took them in for a while, but Willie eventually put the girls in St. Mary’s orphanage up in Natchez, MS and the boys in another orphanage near Natchez — except Veronica and her older brother Harold. He was put to work on the boats and Veronica was sent to live with her grandparents, the bootleggers. Her other more upstanding grandparents had died years earlier.

The children had terrible memories of their life in the orphanage.  For punishment they would have to kneel on wood chips, or the nuns would beat their palms with a long ruler until the children’s hands bled. If they wet their bed, the Sisters would make them hold their sheets out the window until they dried.  In stark contrast to Cora’s wishes, the younger sisters were only able to see their brothers one Sunday each month.

Agnes Rhodes Luc

Agnes Luc, Veronica’s grandmother, is remembered by her grandchildren as a hateful and selfish woman.  She seemed to live up to her reputation with an act like sacrificing the innocence of her grandchild to sell her own whiskey.  It seems that when the other children were not in the orphanage, Agnes used them for her benefit as well.

Recollections of one grandchild, Pearl, was that her grandparents stored their moonshine in a spot accessible through a trap door hidden by a rug on the floor. When they needed a bottle they would send her down to get one. One time she had to haul a jug of whiskey down a ditch that led to the beach for her grandfather to drink.  Another time during the depression when the kids were nearly starving, Oscar gave Sis a bag of red beans and a bag of rice for her and her siblings, but Agnes saw her with them and poured them back into her larger sacks.  “I’m not feeding Willie Strong’s kids,” she said.

Another tale was told of Willie Strong.  Because of an altercation with another bootlegging operation on Cat Island, Willie reported them to the “revenuers.” At one point in the events that followed, shots rang out and Willie was caught in the crossfire.  It is said that he went to his grave in 1969 with buckshot still in his neck.

Rufus Hinson

Veronica Strong

But by 1931, at age 17, Veronica was rescued from her miserable life.  She met a gentle man, Rufus Hinson, from the piney woods of southeast Louisiana who had come to the Mississippi Coast to find work during the depression.   They soon married and he took her back to his family’s home place near Holden, LA where they set up housekeeping in a cabin he built.  The next year Veronica gave birth to their first child, Marion Ray Hinson.

They would eventually move back to the Mississippi Coast. Twelve years after their son was born, they had another child, Sandra Gail Hinson. Rufus and Veronica would live in coastal Mississippi for the rest of their 50 year marriage.

Whatever may have happened to Veronica as a child, she did not let it make her bitter later in life. She was a gentle woman, a wonderful cook, and a devoted Christian.

Veronica was my grandmother.  Her son, Marion Ray Hinson, is my father.

© 2011 Melinda Holloway All Rights Reserved