January 16, 1817
Over the years, Baton Rougeans have accepted January 16, 1817, as the day that Baton Rouge was
incorporated by the State of Louisiana. The truth is that the act passed by the Louisiana Legislature on this
day in 1817 did not instruct Governor Jacques Villere or the secretary of state to issue a charter to the town.
Instead, it described the method by which Baton Rouge would become an incorporated town—which happened
the following year in 1818. Over the years, the act was deemed to be as good as a charter, and the rest was
just paperwork. So Happy Birthday, Baton Rouge!
January 17, 1945
What happened to the ducks? Today in 1945, Major James Brown of the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission
called in the Navy and Coast Guard to help look for 35 million missing ducks that had left Canada in October
and November and were expected to stop off in Louisiana, to the delight of shooting enthusiasts. According to
Brown, "Not five percent remained in Louisiana long enough for the hunter to oil is gun, no one knows where
they went. Later, it would be suspected that drought conditions the previous summer and fall had dried up
marshes to the extent that the ducks got to Louisiana and just kept going.
January 18, 1962
On January 17, 1962, about 1,000 Southern University students marched to the residence of President F. G.
Clark to demand an explanation for why seven students had been expelled in the aftermath of a December
protest at the Baton Rouge Courthouse. At the time, he had promised that no expulsions would be forthcoming.
At a special convocation the following day, he announced dismissal of the seven student leaders whom he
characterized as "vandals and anarchists." He also announced that the university was closing that same day,
that each student would have to apply for re-admission and that none would be allowed to return to class until
accepted by the university.
January 19, 1939
In January, 1939, the East Baton Rouge Parish Library was established with a collection of second-hand
donated books. During its first three years, eight additional branches opened to service the Baton Rouge area.
Today, the library is comprised of a Main Library and 13 community or regional branch libraries, and several
bookmobiles. With a staff of more than 540 employees, the Library is open a cumulative total of 958 hours
weekly. Additional outreach service is provided on a regular basis to area schools, day care centers,
retirement centers, and various community centers. The Library’s collection numbers almost 2 million items.
January 20, 1968
Today in 1968, Judy in Disguise (with Glasses) by John Fred and the Playboy Band began the first of its two-
week stay in the Number 1 slot of the Billboard Top 40 chart. John Fred Gourrier of Baton Rouge formed the
band in 1956 when he was 15. Their first hit single was in March 1959's Shirley. He appeared on Alan Freed's
show, but when Dick Clark asked him to sing on American Bandstand, Fred, who played basketball and
baseball at LSU and Southeastern Louisiana University, had to turn him down. He had a game. Fred died in
January 21, 1964
Today in 1964, two candidates for the Louisiana House of Representatives sued each other and the parish
Democratic Executive Committee over the results of an election held on November 6th 1963. First returns
showed Joe Keogh the winner by 65 votes. Later a 100-vote error gave the victory to I. P. “Pat” Collier by 35
votes. Then it was discovered that one of the four voting machines at Prescott High School failed to show that
any votes had been cast in the race. Collier and Keogh both filed suit demanding to be certified as the winner
of the race. Keogh eventually prevailed as was seated.
January 22, 1935
This week in 1935, Auld Lang Syne was in the air as Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians performed at
the Paramount Theater on Third Street. Lombardo and his orchestra had already popularized the Scottish folk
song, playing it for the first time at on New Year’s Eve 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. The program
for the Paramount Concert was sponsored by Esso and featured Lombardo, who was then at the height of his
popularity, comedians Crosse and Dunne, blues singer Joan Abbott, the Embassy Trio, the Viking Quartette
and the O'Flynn Choristers. One of Lombardo’s biggests hits in the 1930’s had been Lazy Lou’siana Moon.
January 23, 1849
Today in 1849, Baton Rougeans gathered at the home of Baton Rouge Garrison commander Zachary Taylor
to wish him well before he left for Washington the next day to assume his duties as President of the United
States on March 20th. Elected in November, 1848, Taylor had not campaigned for the job and was the first
person to be elected to the office without ever holding another elected office. Born in Virginia, “Old Rough and
Ready” thought of Baton Rouge as his home during most of his adult life. He had come to national prominence
during the Mexican-American War and died in office a year after his inauguration.
January 24, 2004
It was a celebration that could only happen in Baton Rouge. Today in 2004, ecstatic LSU and Southern
football fans rallied downtown to celebrate LSU’s first BCS Championship over Oklahoma and Southern’s
winning the black national championship with a 20-9 victory of Alabama State in the SWAC Championship
Game. Marching bands from both schools performed on the State Capitol steps, coaches and players were
presented to the roaring crowd, and coaches Nick Saban and Pete Richardson showed off their trophies.
Mayor Bobby Simpson said that 70,000 to 100,000 attended the parade and rally at the ally at Capitol, making
it the largest in the city’s history.
January 25, 1834
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Baton Rouge was incorporated by legislative act today in 1834. Methodist
preachers, known as "circuit riders", began ministering in the Baton Rouge area in the 1820's, and one of
them, Reverend Charles K. Marshall, served as the congregation’s first pastor. Later, the name of the church
was changed to First Methodist Chruch and the first church was built near the corner of Laurel and Fourth
Streets. The 1850 census shows that of the 306 churches in Louisiana, 125 of them were Methodist. The
church moved to a new $250,000 home at the corner of North and East Boulevards in 1926.
January 26, 1861
Following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a convention of representatives met in Baton Rouge voted
113 to 17 to adopt the Ordinance of Secession, taking Louisiana out of the union. Judge James G. Taliaferro
of Catahoula Parish was the most outspoken opponent, warning that secession would bring war, ruin, and
decline. Baton Rougeans rushed to the abandoned U. S. Army Garrison on Third Street to run up the Lone
Star Flag and the governor called for homes and businesses to put lights in their windows to show their
support. On February 4, 1861, the State of Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America.
January 27, 1991
Today in 1991, Presidential candidate Bill Clinton visited Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards at the Governor’s
Mansion in Baton Rouge on a campaign trip through the state. Earlier that day, an Arkansas woman named
Gennifer Flowers had told the New York Times that she'd had a torrid 12-year relationship with Clinton.
Edwards later said that Clinton asked him what he should say, and his response was "a man and a woman can
have a torrid 12-day or 12-week relationship, but nobody has a torrid 12-year relationship. Married people will
understand." Clinton replied that he couldn't say that. Edwards' response was, "I didn't think you would."
January 28, 1982
Liggett's Drug Store at the corner of Riverside Mall (once and now Third Street) and Florida Street closed its
doors this week in 1982. Owner Riggs P. Willis estimated that more than 12 million people had passed through
the store since it first opened as Liggett's Rexall Drug Store in November, 1951. Baton Rougeans had never
seen a drug store where they could roam the aisles at their leisure and examine the products. It was also
Louisiana's largest drug store at the time. A neon rooftop Coca-Cola sign, added in 1960 and renovated in
2012, welcomed Third Street customers to the store’s well-patronized soda fountain.
January 29, 1929
The well-intentioned but ill-considered Prohibition Era began today with the ratification of the 18th Amendment
to the Constitution, which banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages within the
United States. Prohibition would become the law of the land the following January 1920. The law led to
interesting consequences in Baton Rouge. In June, 1927, two teenagers were arrested for running a liquor
establishment at the corner of Orange and Fannie Streets. The law was tottering toward its eventually repeal in
1933 when Huey Long responded to a question about what he was doing to enforce the law. Huey replied, “Not
a damn thing!”
January 30, 1946
Tonight in 1946, a banquet with the theme "A Farewell to Arms" was held on the roof of the Heidelberg Hotel
(now the Capital Hilton) as the last eleven members of the Foreign Service Wives Club of Baton Rouge
disbanded the club at the end of World War II. More than one hundred women who had been members of the
club since its founding in July of 1943 were honored. The club was one of dozens of informal organizations
formed during World War II to assemble care packages, roll bandages, write holiday cards and perform other
services for soldiers serving overseas.
January 31, 1964
Tonight in 1964, Fats Domino and his band played at a dance at the Catholic Youth Organization Center at
2245 Florida Street. The first CYO was initiated by prison chaplain and auxiliary bishop Bernard J. Sheil in
Chicago in 1930 during the time of the Great Depression. The first CYO was conceptualized as an athletic
association to offer young males a community and constructive leisure activity in the hope to dissuade them
from taking part in criminal activities. Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel brought the CYO to Louisiana in late