A lost piece of history, found

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Over the years, I have enjoyed exploring the shore of Lake Pontchartrain where the old towns once stood before the storm of 1915. I have written numerous articles for several different publications about these towns and tried to let you get the feel of how hard life was for these families that lived in this time along the lakeshore.

The towns of Ruddock, Wagram, also known as Napton, and Frenier were destroyed by the great hurricane that struck on September 29, 1915, in St. John the Baptist Parish. This storm devastated the lives of the people that lived in these towns and washed the towns off the map.

Most of the information from this period of time was told to me personally by Mrs. Helen Schloesser Burg. Mrs. Burg who was born in the town of Wagram in the 1900s and was a child who survived the hurricane of 1915. Mrs. Burg told me how they lived and about the homes they lived in and how they were constructed. I could only visualize these towns and life by the vivid description she gave. I had never seen a photograph of the homes that existed until a recent discovery by Mrs. Rose Marie Perilloux of LaPlace.

Mrs. Perilloux was a close friend of Mrs. Burg. She is also a member on the German-Acadian Coast Historical and Genealogical Society. Mrs. Perilloux had gotten some pictures from Mrs. Burg, and one of the photographs shows the home and the family on the steps.

Mrs. Burg had said that all the homes were two stories and built on cypress pilings. If you look closely at the photograph, you can see the house is built on pilings, and some of the older pilings are broken off. All the homes had a water cistern and used oil lamps for light. No modern conveniences existed for these families.

This photograph is a “treasure” to the Louisiana Treasures Museum and now will be added to the collection of items that have been recovered while hunting for artifacts along the shore of Lake Pontchartrain and these old home sites and towns.

Thanks to Mrs. Perilloux and her work with the society to preserve the past as we walk into the future. We would not have this photograph to treasure, and it would have been lost forever or never identified as a photograph from the lost towns.

Louisiana Treasures Museum is located on Louisiana Highway 22-West of Ponchatoula and is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Tours are available upon request. For more information call me at 225-294-8352.

Wayne Norwood is a lieutenant with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Department and owner and operator of the Louisiana Treasures Museum.