A series of events, beginning in the year 1718, that involved the Badon and Collins families, led to the establishment of the town of Wharton on July 4,1813. These two families were instrumental in the founding of Wharton, which had its name changed four years later to Covington, and it is important in understanding the history of Covington that their stories be correctly told. I have created a time-line which will help the reader to follow these important events, not only these families, but also the history of The Tchefuncte River Corridor.
Our story begins in the year 1718 in which two important events occurred. The establishment of New Orleans on the bank of the Mississippi River in the French Colony and the birth of Pierre Gabriel Montilemar de Monberaut back in France. Pierre Gabriel was the third son of Joseph-Hector de Montaut, Marquis de Monberaud and was born May 7,1718, at Palermny, a small village overlooking tne Garome River about a mile west of the town of Cazeres.
Following the custom of his class and the calling of younger sons, Monberaut sought his fortune in the French Army. On September 1,1738, he was appointed lieutenant reforme' and at the age of twenty he began what proved to be a quarter of a century of service as an officer in the Colony of Louisiana. He was first stationed at Mobile and later at Fort Toulouse as deputy commander. Later, he established and developed a large plantation on the Fowl River known as Lisloy.
He married Marie Lemaire (Lamay) and had several children, one was a daughter named Catherine, who married Joseph Badon in 1764 and was an important participant in how and why Wharton was established. Joseph Badon was from France and worked as an assistant surgeon at the hospital in New Orleans. Their children, Henry, Robert and Felicite played important roles in the settlement of the land on the upper Tchefuncte River and enticing John Wharton Collins to buy the Drieux tract.
From the Badon family we now turn our attention to the Collins family. The Collins family was originally from England. John Hinton, a native of England, immigrated to Baltimore and married a Sarah Sharewood of Philadelphia in April of 1747. They had a daughter Mary, who married Thomas Wharton Collins.
Thomas and Mary would have seven children, four of which will play an important role in the founding of the Town of Wharton in 1813. They were: William, Mary, Lydia and John Wharton Collins. William Collins, born in 1778 followed the life of a sailor. He became Mate and later Captain of a ship plying the waters between New Orleans and Liverpool, England. In 1802 he married in Liverpool Anne Corran and by 1810 had settled at New Orleans. In 1812 he acqured the U.S. Mail contract between Bayou St. John and Madisonville to which he made his home. He was Captain of a swift sailing packet on Lake Pontchartrain.
In 1755 Great Britain and France became embroiled in a war known as The Seven Years War or The French and Indian War which lasted until 1762. Great Britain was the victor and acquired France's vast holdings on the North American Continent. One prize for Britain was the land on the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico which King Geoge III named West Florida in 1763. Great Britain would maintain control of West Florida until the American Revolution and then lose it to Spain.
The Tchefuncte River had been completely abandoned by British settlers when the fighting began in August of 1779 and remained so until April of 1783 when Juan Baptiste Baham dit Gentil and his five sons occupied their Spanish land grant issued by Spanish Governor Estevan Miro. Spanish surveyor Carlos Trudeau stated that he saw them living on their 1,000 arpent (800 acres) land grant as early as April 24,1783.
It was during the British Colonial period that the first record of a European had actually explored and traversed the land that would one day become the city of Covington. In 1768, a British surveyor and cartographer by the name of George Gauld and six sailors, working for the Royal Navy, ascended the Tchefuncte River as far as and beyond the forks of the Big Bogue Falaya River and sounded the river and explored the land.
A few years later, the first English settler by the name Thomas Berwick and family settled on the old tar factory site, two miles up from the mouth of the Tchefuncte River on the left bank, and would be there the next eight years. Several of his children would be born there, including Thomas Jr. Later, in January, 1779 they would leave and settle at Bayou Tech with the Canary Islanders. Berwick Bay and the town of Berwick were named after them.
In 1778, back in Philadelphia, William Wharton Collins, the future sea Captain and older brother of John Wharton Collins is born. According to St. Tammany historian Adrian Schwartz, John Wharton Collins, William's younger brother, the founder of Wharton, was born in 1788.
Meanwhile, back in Mobile, Joseph Badon, husband of Catherine Montilemar and father of Henry, Robert, Felicite, and Francesca died in Mobile in 1784. Widow Catherine and the children move back to New Orleans and Catherine petitions Spanish Governor Estevan Miro for a land grant on the Tchefuncte River. There were several French families from Mobile that had already settled on the Tchefuncte River Corridor when she applied.
Her petition was granted and she and her family moved over to her grant in 1785. It was located on the West bank of the Tchefuncte River opposite the Big Bogue Falaya fork. Catherine daughter Felicite married Antoine Foucher in 1787 and they obtained the land on the west side of Catherine. The Great Migration, a term given to the movement by historians, of settlers from the East Coast and the Natchez area begin to move south.
A few of these settlers moved into the Bogue Chitto River area and some even to the Tchefuncte. It wasn't too long that roving bands of hostile Choctaws drove off these settlers along the Bogue Chitto River, five miles below the Mississippi line of demarcation. The Native Americans had been hostile ever since the British settlers were driven off the Amite River by Captain James Willing raiders of the Continental Colonies in 1778. The Indians deeply resented the white man taking their important ancestral hunting grounds.
1801 was an important year for both the Badon and Collins families. On January 4,1801, Catherine Montilemar, widow Badon died. She was 55 years old. Catherine did not get to see her son Robert marry Maria Collins, older sister of John Wharton Collins on April 17,1801. The two families, the Badon and Collins were now united in marriage.
In 1803, Jacques Drieux, grandson of Mathurin Drieux, an early settler at New Orleans, received a Spanish land grant on December 6, 1803 in the forks of the Tchefuncte and Big Bogue Falaya Rivers. Jacques Mother, was a sister of the Spanish Surveyor General Carlos Trudeau. The grant was confirmed by the Spanish Intendent Juan Ventura Morales.
In 1803 and 1804 two children are born on the Tchefuncte River to Robert and Marie Badon. They are Marie Elizabeth and Robert Badon Jr.
There were two events that occurred on the Tchefuncte River Corridor in 1804 that would a great impact to the area. David Bannister Morgan makes his first appearance on the Tchefuncte River. He and his surveying partner Thomas Fenton, who have been working up in the Natchez District, were hired by Spanish Surveying General Carlos Trudeau, to come south and do surveying work on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
Due to the Louisiana Purchase there was a backlog of surveying work and a lot of people were going "land crazy". This is the first meeting of David Morgan and the Baham family. The other important event was the death of the Commandant. Charles Parent, Commandant of the Tchefuncte River dies in September of 1804. Robert Badon, his neighbor to the north, stays with the Commandant the last weeks of his illness.
U.S. Gunboats Patrol River
In 1806, there was an amazing event on the Tchefuncte River that would change the lives of the people that lived there for years to come. Two United States Gun Vessels, Nos. 11 and 12 had just arrived from the East Coast and Captain John Shaw, at his New Orleans headquarters ordered the vessels to cruise Lake Pontchartrain and Maurepas.
They were to "show the flag" and find suitable watering and provision docking areas. Lieutenant Joseph Bainbridge and Sailing Master John Rush, commanders of the two vessels, ascended the Tchefuncte River and dropped anchors opposite Baham Village. Old Juan Baptiste Baham dit Gentil, the first settler on the river after the British abandoned their plantations in August of 1779 was alive to see the United States Gunboats.
There was another person of significance to see the Gunboats in the river. His name was Ira C. Kneeland and he was a deputy surveyor for land grants in Spanish West Florida. He told his boss, Vincente Pintado, Spanish Surveyor for West Florida that he would also like a grant on the lower Tchefuncte River. Pintado told Kneeland that all the land was already taken on the lower river.
Kneeland then went and surveyed for himself 2,000 arpents on the Big Bogue Falaya River adjacent to Massey West Baker's grant on the northeast side. Kneeland did not keep possession of his grant very long for in 1810 he fled the West Florida Rebellion to Pensacola taking all his survey papers with him and there he shortly died.
John Baptiste Baham dit Gentil, died at his cabin on the bank of the Tchefuncte River in 1807. He was buried on his son Pierre's property below the Village. His gravesite was on the bank of the river. A pact was made by the five sons to be buried alongside their father when they would die. This was carried out and the Baham graveyard lasted at that site until 1917 when the Jancke Shipyard was built.
Frank Bernard dit "Dunkirk" died in 1808. He was one of the early settlers on the upper Tchefuncte River. He was a bachelor of 46 years old who applied for a Spanish land grant shortly after Charles Parent was appointed Commandant... In 1784 he applied for and was granted land on the west bank of the Tchefuncte opposite the Big Bogue Falaya Fork.
What Frank did, was bring a free woman of color named Mary to live with him as his common-law wife. It was illegal under Louisiana law for a European (white) to marry a person of Indian or the Colored race. Frank Bernard was the first recorded person to practice the system of "Placage" on the Tchefuncte River Corridor. Many others will follow his example in future years.
Henry Badon, the older brother of Robert, marries Lydia Collins, the sister of William, Maria, and John Wharton Collins in 1809. Now there are two Badon brothers married and living with two Collins sisters on the upper Tchefuncte River. In 1811 they have two children, Henry Badon Jr., and Catherine Montilemar. In addition William Collins is living near Baham Village and is captain of a fast sailing packet between the Tchefuncte River and Bayou St. John.
1811 was the year that a military cantonment was established with the cooperation of Governor Claiborne of Louisiana and Governor David Holmes of Mississippi Territory. Lt. Colonel Leonard Covington of the U. S Army assigns the 3rd Regt. Stationed in the Mississippi Territory for the job. Barracks for the troops and housing for Officers are built five miles from the Bogue Falaya Fork on the road to the settlements northeast on the Bogue Chitto River.
It didn't take the "locals" to refer to the road as "The Military Road". Jesse Reubel Jones, a budding young lawyer moves from Natchez to St. Jacques on the Drieux tract in 1811. It would be the beginning of a long career of Jones in St. Tammany Parish. John Wharton Collins, future founder of Wharton and brother of William, Maria and Lydia Collins marries in New Orleans Marie E. Tabateau a young refugee from the slave uprising in Santo Domingo.
In 1812 James Tate arrives in New Orleans after coming down the Mississippi River from Ohio. He was appointed Judge of St. Tammany Parish by Governor Claiborne. He first settled in Madisonville and later at Wharton. He was joined by his brother Thomas in 1814 and together they were involved in selling land along the Bogue Falaya River.
From 1812 until 1819 when replaced by Jesse R. Jones Judge James and his brother Thomas was involved in many events of St. Tammany Parish. A declaration of War with Great Britain was received in July, 1812 and the Military Cantonment on the road between the Bogue Falaya and Bogue Chitto Rivers was closed.
John Wharton Collins, merchant of New Orleans, decides to buy the Jacques Drieux tract between the Tchefuncte and Big Bogue Falaya Rivers in 1813. His sisters and their families which are living in St. Tammany Parish may have been the deciding factor for the purchase. He uses the money his wife brought into their marriage. He has plans of developing a town on his tract and hires Gilbert Joseph Pilie, an engineer, a land scape architect and surveyor from Santo Domingo. Pilie finishes laying out the town in June and on July 4,1813 the Town of Wharton is dedicated.
Captain John Shaw, commandant of the New Orleans station decides to build a large flat bottom frigate on the Tchefuncte River above Madisonville and leases 20 acres from Jacques Lorreins. He begins to clear the land and build the ship in January, 1813. He hires 150 men from New Orleans and St. Tammany Parish to construct the ship.
Continuing in 1813, Governor Claiborne writes to Governor David Holmes in Mississippi. Claiborne tells Holmes that since the closing of the Military Cantonment on the Little Bogue Falaya, renegade bands of Choctaws have been increasingly hostile in the area and he expects trouble. In late August, the "Red Sticks" Creeks attacked Fort Mims, which is 30 miles north of Mobile.
Over 300 men, women, and children are massacred. Settlers on the north shore of the lakes are in a state of panic. They appeal to Governor Claiborne in New Orleans for protection. In early September, Governor Claiborne and Captain John Shaw travel to Madisonville with a plan. The plan is to build a Stockade Fort, (Fort Oak) in a clearing opposite Madisonville, for the protection of the settlers in the Tchefuncte River area, including Wharton.
This Fort, along with Ford's Fort on the Pearl River, the Fort at Springfield, and the Fort at Baton Rouge will offer settlers on the north shore. A string of Forts will be available in case the Indians attack. Claiborne also brought rifles, powder and lead to be available in the Fort. Captain Shaw said that he will assign a detachment of U.S. Marines with heavy cannon in the Fort and had no doubt that if the Indians attacked they will be defeated.
In March, 1814, General Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee volunteer Army defeat the "Red Sticks" Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in central Alabama. This puts an end to the Indian menace in North St. Tammany Parish. In July of that year, Thomas Tate, joins his brother the Judge James Tate in Wharton. Together, they sell land along the Bogue Falaya River.
They are known as "James Tate and Brother". On November 30,1814, General Andrew Jackson with his five aides, including Major Howell Tatum, traveling overland from Mobile to New Orleans, come down the Military Road from the Bogue Chitto River and pass through Wharton. Major Howell Tatum in his Journal describes the town. They pass through Wharton and continue on to Madisonville where they spend the night.
In the morning they take Captain William Collins packet to Bayou St. John. The voyage took ten hours. They arrived at the bridge of Bayou St. John at 10:00 that night. Later, after the Battle of New Orleans, Captain Sam Dale took Captain William Collins packet, across the lake, carrying the message of General Jackson's great victory to stations to the East.
In December of 1816, luck ran out for Captain William Collins. Moses Moore, stated as a witness in a trial in St. Tammany Parish in 1830, that he knew Collins and that he drowned in an accident off shore from where the lighthouse was (1830). There was a wooden lighthouse at the mouth of the river, western side, as early as 1827 as stated in a Coast Guard report.
In 1817, the name of the town of Wharton was changed to Covington by the Louisiana legislature in honor of General Leonard Covington for his heroism in the War of 1812.
In 1818, Haden Edwards' son-in-law Joshua Aydolette and his wife E.T.D. Edwards, buys lots, builds home on river at Madisonville and opens store. A year later the small infant daughter of Joshua and Elizabeth Aydolette dies and is buried in the cemetery.
In 1819, Joseph H. Hawkins, noted Kentucky lawyer, moves down to New Orleans to practice. He builds a home on the river in Madisonville.
In 1819, Jesse R. Jones is appointed Judge of St. Tammany Parish by Jacques Villere, replacing James Tate.
In 1820, Stephen F. Austin becomes an apprentice of Joseph H. Hawkins.
In 1821, the Louisiana Legislature grants permission to Richard Chappel on the Bogue Chitto River at Strawberry Bluff permission to operate a ferry boat where the Military Road crosses the river. Anne Corran, widow of William Collins and wife of James Tate, dies in Augustine, Texas.
Also in 1821, First steamboat crosses Lake Pontchartrain. In Texas related event, Hawkins and Austin sign a contract to start a colony.
In 1822, Haden Edwards joins Nashville Committee going to Mexico City to request Texas land concessions to introduce Anglo-American settlers into the area. He will be gone on this trip for three years.
In 1822, John Baptiste Baham, son of the old Juan Baham, states that he wants to be buried with his father in the Madisonville Cemetery.
In 1823 the U.S. Navy Yard closes on the Tchefuncte River. The last official act of the Navy Yard is to find two masts for the Schooner Erumpas, which was fighting pirates in the Caribbean. S.M. Jonathan Farris appeals to local residents to find two suitable trees.
In 1825, Court Cases in the 8th Judicial District at new courthouse at Claiborne Hill gives evidence of settlers in the area. Cases involve trespassing and the cutting of timber. Haden Edwards returns from Mexico with land grant.
In 1827, John Baptiste Baham, son of Juan B. Baham, dies.
In 1828, David Rice Morgan, nephew of the General, settles in Madisonville. Steamboat St. John arrives at Madisonville.
In 1829 Bernard de Marigny begins buying up property on lakefront which will become Mandevile in 1834.
In 1831 Charles Parent purchases Rosalie "Rogo" Krebs from Widow Felicite Krebs for $1000, along with her three children.
In 1833, Samuel H. Harper, federal judge, and his wife Sarah Ann Lea purchase land in Madisonville .
In 1834, Bernard deMarigny sells lots in Town of Mandeville.
In 1837, Tchefuncte Lighthouse built. The first owner of the land the lighthouse is located on was Basil Krebs.
In 1842, Renee Baham dies and Felicite Marchand, widow Krebs, makes out her will. Madame Elizabeth Spell and Martha Richardson die.
In 1844, Madisonville Presbyterian Church built.
In 1847, Twenty-nine subscriptions purchased in new section of Madisonville cemetery.
In 1848, Felicite Marchand dies, leave cemetery to Charles Parent. General David Bannister Morgan dies.
In 1868, Charles Parent Jr. dies.