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Document of the Month Pages

Begun in April of 2012, Document of the Month highlights interesting documents, photographs, and other images from the holdings of the Louisiana State Archives. This page features documents for the current year. To see documents for prior years, click on the links below.

2022 Documents

William Sadler's Penitentiary Record

(9/1/22) William Sadler, aka Fred Jaynes, was a Louisiana State Penitentiary prisoner who wrote a series of articles, "Hell on Angola," for The Item in New Orleans recounting the 1930s horridly brutal prison conditions while he was serving his first term at Angola from 1935 to 1942. Sadler was a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, and had been convicted in Calcasieu Parish in 1935 of the crime of confidence game and being a third felony offender. He nicknamed himself "Wooden Ear" after he lost his hearing in one ear from a blow received on his head while on corn-planting detail outside the levee at the penitentiary. In 1940, he founded The Argus, a weekly tabloid "by and for the inmates" printed at Angola. The Argus came to an end shortly after Sadler was released. Upon his return to Angola for writing a bad check, he petitioned the administration to start up a regular publication similar to The Argus in 1953. The Angolite was published weekly and Sadler was its editor until 1955. He was released in 1956 and spent the remainder of his life in and out of state and federal prisons and jails. He died in Los Angeles in 1989. The record can be found on file at the Louisiana State Archives in Convict Records, State Penitentiary Records: 1866-1960 (Accession P1980-353). The collection is also accessible on FamilySearch. For more details on Sadler's life, see two articles published in 2019 in The Angolite, issues two years and older of which are now available online through open JSTOR at American Prison Newspapers, 1800-2020: Voices from the Inside.

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John Bell Hood (1831-1879)

(8/1/22) John Bell Hood was a U.S. military officer who served as a Confederate general during the Civil War. A native of Kentucky and graduate of West Point, he joined the Confederacy in 1861 and served as commander in numerous campaigns and battles. He unsuccessfully defended Atlanta against the Union Army and subsequently suffered a series of bitter defeats. He spent the years after the war in New Orleans where he died of yellow fever on the 30th of August 1879 at the age of 48. His death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Deaths, 1879, vol. 75, p. 399)

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Elenora Alcorn Peete (1882-1962)

(7/1/22) Born on July 16, 1882, Elenora Alcorn Peete was the founder and leader of the Domestic Workers Union, an African-American and female-led New Orleans union. This union advocated for greater workplace rights for domestic workers and provided an outlet for advocacy and means for assembly among Black women. Just a few months after its founding in 1918, Peete had recruited more than 1,000 members. In 2020, the New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission proposed renaming Behrman Highway the Elenora Peete Highway. Peete died 21 April 1962 at the age of 79. She was the daughter of Seymour Alcorn and Emma Fletcher and was married to Sylvester Peete, who preceded her in death, as did their son, Sylvester T. Peete. She was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in New Orleans. Her death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Deaths, 1962, vol. 0, #2907).

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Newton Crain Blanchard (1849-1922)

(6/1/22) Newton Crain Blanchard served as one of Louisiana's representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives (1880-1893), an associate justice in the Louisiana State Supreme Court (1897-1904), and governor of the state (1904-1908). As chief executive, Blanchard worked to improve a dismal public education system. During his term, he increased appropriations for education and signed legislation establishing the certification of teachers. Blanchard also supported laws lowering property taxes and creating a board to assess property. He created a State Board of Forestry, encouraged the construction of a state reform school, and approved a law making state primaries mandatory, eliminating gubernatorial nomination by convention. He was a native of Rapides Parish, the son of C.H. Blanchard and Francis Crain. He died in Shreveport on the 22nd of June 1922 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery. His death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Statewide Deaths, 1922, vol. 12, #5662).

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David French Boyd (1834-1899)

(5/1/22) Students and faculty of Louisiana State University will recognize the name of David French Boyd as being the name of one of the original buildings on the LSU campus. He and his brother, Thomas Duckett Boyd both served as presidents of LSU and have buildings named after them. A native of Virginia, David was president in 1877 when the school officially became Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. He had previously served in the Confederate Army, rising from the rank of private to major. He was married to Ester Gertrude Wright, by whom he had eight children. This month's document is a page from the Baton Rouge Birth and Death Register, Part 1, 1874-1907, listing Col. D.F. Boyd who died at the age of 64 on the 27th of May 1899. This register and a microfilm copy are housed at the Louisiana State Archives (Accession No. P2001-10). A transcription with index published by Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane in 2001.

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Edmund Pendleton Gaines (1777-1849)

(4/1/22) Edmund Pendleton Gaines was a career U.S. Army officer who reached the rank of major general by brevet. A native of Virginia, he joined the army in 1799 and advanced through the ranks, serving in the War of 1812, Seminole Wars, Black Hawk War, and Mexican-American War. He is known for having detained Aaron Burr in 1807 while in command of Fort Stoddert in present-day Alabama. At the start of the Mexican-American War in April of 1846, Gaines was stationed in Louisiana in command of the Southwest Military District. As soon as the volunteers he recruited for his army arrived in Mexico, General Zachary Taylor sent them home because they were considered poor soldiers. As a result, the phrase "Just like Gaines's army" came to refer to something useless. Gaines's third wife was Myra Clark Gaines (see her death certificate in the Document of the Month for January 2016). General Gaines died of cholera on the 6th of June 1849 at the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. He was buried in Mobile. His death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Deaths, 1849, vol. 11, p. 1553).

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Act to Dyke Bayou Plaquemine, 1822

(3/1/22) Prior to 1822, Bayou Plaquemine formed two branches at its mouth. Citing inconveniences in navigation, the Louisiana Legislature passed an act in March of 1822 granting Giovanni Questi a ferry privilege in return for constructing a dyke or levee at the mouth of the upper branch to prevent the Mississippi River waters from flowing into the branch. Questi completed the dyke in November of that year. The upper branch is today known as Bayou Jacob. The act can be found in the 1822 Acts of the Legislature found at the Louisiana State Archives.

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Algiers Guards Formation February 1862

(2/1/22) The Rebel Archives consists of a broad array of records that document the activities of Louisiana's state government and military prior to and during the Civil War. This month's document is an order issued by Adjutant General Maurice Grivot dated 22 February 1862 instructing Major General John L. Lewis to detail the Algiers Guards under Captain Norbert Trepagnier for active duty. When the war began, the Algiers Guards went to Fort Moore where it joined the 30th Louisiana regiment under Colonel Gustavus A. Breaux. Trepagnier was severely wounded in the Battle of Baton Rouge, having been shot in the face and having his lower jaw fractured. He died in New Orleans in 1891 at the age of 67. This document is found at the Louisiana State Archives in the Rebel Archives Collection (Accession P2003-25), Box 11, Folder 30. A detailed finding aid for this collection is available on the Members' Page of the website.

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Key to 1722 New Orleans Map

(1/1/22) "Plan de la Nouvelle Orleans" is an early French manuscript dating to approximately 1722. It shows the location of existing buildings and assigned lots. A digital image can be found on the Library of Congress website (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4014n.lh000960/?r=-0.038,0.233,0.971,0.398,0). While translating and abstracting another manuscript collection at the Library of Congress, Judy Riffel discovered what is undoubtedly the key to this map. It is entitled "List of persons, marked by letters of the alphabet and numbers, for plots of ground in order to build, according to the plan of the City of New Orleans." The letters and numbers on this manuscript coincide perfectly to the letters and numbers on this map. The key provides the names of the original owners and contains notations about subsequent owners. This month's document is the first page of the key. The entire document can be found in the Louisiana Miscellany Collection, on microfilm (Reel 1) at the Louisiana State Archives. An abstract of the key is presented in Appendix A of Le Comité's Guide to the Louisiana Miscellany Collection, 1724-1837 (2006). A name index is available on the website (http://www.lecomite.org/indexes/lm_index.txt).

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