September 16, 1964
New Orleans reveled in the grip of Beatlemania today in 1964. At their only concert in
New Orleans, the Fab Four played before a capacity crowd of 12,000 at the City Park
Stadium. During the show, a group of teenagers, estimated to be around 700 and
mostly girls, broke through police barricades and rushed toward the stage. 225 city
policemen spent twenty minutes reestablishing control, often tackling the teenagers
and hustling them off to a roped-off area away from the stage. Police Sergeant Ray
Aldrich said he and Patrolman Roger Leon Cabella administered spirits of ammonia to
approximately two hundred young girls who had collapsed from the excitement.
September 17, 2015
This week in 2015, scientists at LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave
Observatory) Livingston facility near Denham Springs made the first observation of
gravitational waves originating from a pair of merging black holes using the Advanced
LIGO detectors. The observation was announced to the public in February 2016, and
at that time, the researchers confirmed two more detections of gravitational wave
events. Albert Einstein had predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in
his general theory of relativity. In 1992, the National Science Foundation selected
sites in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, for sites of national
laboratories for detecting waves and the LIGO Livingston facility opened in 1999.
September 18, 1901
The University of Louisiana-Lafayette opened its doors to eight faculty members and
one hundred students today in 1901. In 1898, the legislature created the
Southwestern Louisiana Industrial Institute, and the Girard family would donate twenty-
five acres on the west side of Lafayette for the campus. Construction got underway in
1900, and Dr. Edwin Stephens was named President. In 1960, the school would
become the University of Southwestern Louisiana. In 1984, the university would
attempt to change the name to the University of Louisiana, but the state legislature
forced a reversal. Finally, the university would become the University of Louisiana at
Lafayette in 1999.
September 19, 2008
Fort Proctor near Shell Beach in St. Bernard Parish was added to the National
Register of Historic Places this week in 2008. Also known as Fort Beauregard or
Beauregard's Castle, the fort stands on the shore of Lake Borgne just north of the
mouth of Bayou Yscloskey. When it was built in the 1850s, it was intended to be part
of the fortifications protecting water routes towards New Orleans. Due to delays
caused by hurricane damage and then the outbreak of the Civil War, the fort was
never garrisoned. By the end of war, improvements in artillery had made the design of
the fort obsolete.
September 20, 1973
Singer Jim Croce and five others perished in an airplane crash in Natchitoches today
in 1973. In the middle of his Life and Times tour and the day before his single "I Got a
Name" would be released, Croce and pilot Robert N. Elliott, musician Maury
Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D.
Cortose, and road manager Dennis Rast died when their chartered Beechcraft E18S
crashed into a tree, while taking off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport. Croce had
just completed a concert at Northwestern State University's Prather Coliseum in
Natchitoches and was flying to Sherman, Texas, for a concert at Austin College.
September 21, 1901
Today in 1901, nine months after the historic discovery of oil at Spindletop Hill in
Texas, Louisiana’s first successful commercial oil well was drilled ninety miles to the
east near Jennings. The first Jennings well, drilled by W. Scott Heywood who’d struck
black gold at Spindletop, would produce 7,000 barrels per day on the Jules Clements
farm near Jennings. Local investors had formed the Jennings Oil Company and hired
Heywood, who recognized that natural gas seeps found nearby were similar to the
conditions at Spindletop. The investors wanted to abandon the project after Heywood
had drilled to 1000 feet without success, but Heywood persuaded them to keep drilling.
September 22, 1915
Xavier University, first black Catholic college in United States, opened to students
today in 1915. Aware of the serious lack of Catholic-oriented education available to
young African Ameicans in the South, Sister Katharine Drexel came to New Orleans
and established a high school on the site previously occupied by Southern University.
The high school would become a two-year normal school in 1917, and a four-year
college in 1925. Recognizing the University's need for a separate identity and room to
expand, St. Katharine bought a tract of undeveloped land for a campus on the corner
of Palmetto and Pine Streets in 1929.
September 23, 1895
Today in 1895, the Industrial Institute and College of Louisiana that would later
become Louisiana Tech held its first classes with six faculty members and 212
students from 22 parishes. After fire destroyed Ruston College in 1894, the legislature
passed legislation to establish the Industrial Institute and College of Louisiana. The
original skills to be taught at the industrial institute included telegraphy, stenography,
drawing, industrial applications of designing and engraving, needlework, and
bookkeeping. As it would be the only state college north of Natchitoches, admission
standards were lenient. Students needed only to be fourteen years of age and to be
able to read, write, speak and spell with "tolerable correctness."
September 24, 2005
Hurricane Rita, the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most
intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico, came ashore today in
2005. Rita made landfall between Sabine Pass, Texas and Holly Beach, Louisiana with
winds of 120 mph, and its storm surge inundated low-lying communities along the
entire coast, worsening effects caused by Hurricane Katrina less than a month prior,
such as topping the hurriedly-repaired Katrina-damaged levees at New Orleans.
Parishes in Southwest Louisiana suffered from catastrophic-to-severe flooding and
wind damage. Rita’s damage totaled about $12 billion, and as many as 120 deaths in
four U.S. states were directly related to the storm.
September 25, 1862
Today in 1862, the Union Commander in New Orleans, Benjamin Butler required all
white Louisiana residents over the age of eighteen to swear allegiance to the
government of the United States or face a fine or imprisonment at hard labor. It was
only one of the several indignities that “Beast” Butler would inflict on the recalcitrant
Rebels of New Orleans. He shut down the Times-Picayune when it displeased him;
Episcopal churches were closed when priests refused to pray for Abraham Lincoln;
and he ordered that any “lady” found to be disrespecting Union soldiers was to be
treated as “as a woman of the town plying her avocation.”
September 26, 1986
The Marsalis Mansion on River Road in the Shrewsbury community of Jefferson
Parish closed its doors today in 1986. It was a victim of its own success. In 1943, Ellis
Marsalis, Sr., already a successful businessman, purchased a chicken barn in the
Shrewsbury community of Jefferson Parish and converted it into a forty-room motel
with swimming pool, restaurant, and lounge, and was one of the only motels open to
African Americans traveling to New Orleans at the time of Jim Crow segregation laws.
Over the years, guests would include Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.,Thurgood
Marshall, Ray Charles, and others. After the motel closed in 1986, it was demolished
September 27, 1917
Impressionist Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas died in Paris today in 1917. After
establishing himself as a painter of classical subjects, race-track scenes and dancers
in the 1860s, he traveled to New Orleans to visit his mother’s family and arrived in
October 1872. He would stay in the city for five months and lived at 2306 Esplanade
with his brothers, René and Achille, and their uncle and cousins. The most famous of
his New Orleans paintings was New Orleans Cotton Office, which he painted at his
uncle’s office. He drew many studies of his relatives while he was in New Orleans, and
many would be completed after his return to Paris.
September 28, 1868
The Opelousas Massacre, which would ultimately result in the murder of more than
200 African American and twenty-five whites, began today in 1868. Emerson Bentley,
18, a white school teacher had come to Louisiana after the Civil War. After publishing
an article urging blacks to remain loyal to the Republican Party, he was severely
beaten by three white men. After the assault, he fled back to Ohio, and reports
circulated that he had been killed. When African Americans marched in protest,
twenty-nine black prisoners were captured. On September 29, 27 of the captured
prisoners were taken from the prison and executed, sparking anti-black violence that
continued for weeks.
September 29, 1935
“The Killer” was born in Ferriday today in 1935. Jerry Lee Lewis, iconic singer-
songwriter, musician, and pianist, made his first recordings in 1956 at Sun Records in
Memphis. Crazy Arms sold 300,000 copies in the South, but it was his 1957 hit "Whole
Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" that shot him to fame worldwide. He followed with Great Balls
of Fire, Breathless and High School Confidential. Throughout his life, he has been
famous for his relationships with his first cousins, nightclub-owner Mickey Gilley and
evangelist Jimmy Swaggert. One cousin who might not have helped his career was his
13-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown, who he married in 1957.
September 30, 1962
First episode of The Beverly Hillbillies aired this week in 1962, featuring Baton
Rouge's Donna Douglas as the exuberant Ellie Mae Clampett. Douglas was born
Doris Ione Smith in Pride and attended St. Gerard Catholic High School. She won both
the "Miss Baton Rouge" and "Miss New Orleans" contests in 1957 and moved to New
York City to pursue a show business career. She was featured as the "Billboard Girl"
on NBC's The Steve Allen Show in 1959, and parlayed the appearance into television
jobs that led New York photographers and newspaper reporters to award her the
"Miss By-line" crown, which she wore on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show.