Thursday, July 25, 2013

Horseshoe Drive House (NOW)

Morgan Wailes Walker House. This house is on what is known as Evergreen Plantation, on Horseshoe Drive. The Walkers raised all of their children here. The house is now on the National Register of Historic Places (1987). The house and property are now owned by some friends of the Walkers, who bought it from them when Mr. Walker died in the 1980s. The house was built in 1927.


We are guessing that when the house was built, several of these large trees were planted. Morgan had this plaque placed in one of the trees, and it has since grown to enclose the plaque. It reads "Genevieve 1927," which is when the house was built.

Unfortunately, there is a lot we don't know about the house and property, as there are not any people left that were involved in its beginning and operation. Jeff Horn, Sr. was our source, and was able to answer a lot of our questions, but there are still some things we don't know. We assumed this house belonged to some of the men who worked in the house or on the land. George Davis is one of those men, and perhaps this is where he stayed. Either way, this old dilapidated house near the big house was beautiful in its own way.

The large house is just completely beautiful. The family that owns it has added quite a bit onto it, but the front facade remains unchanged, except for the fact that it is hard to see from all of the foliage! It's lovely. Here is what it looked like long ago and here is a blog post I wrote about it, mostly photos from the 30s-50s.:

The "sleeping porch" off to the side of the house.

If you are interested in seeing pictures of the inside of the house, you can leave a comment here with your email address and I will contact you. Thank you!

Morgan Wailes Walker Wikipedia Article

I'm not sure who wrote this article, but if any of you have corrections, you might want to make them!

Morgan Wailes Walker, Sr. (August 20, 1893 – February 20, 1983) was a businessman from AlexandriaLouisiana, who was involved indairying, farming, bus transportation, hotels, banking, and education. He was a director of the Trans-Continental Bus system, which operated in time in more than forty states. Walker introduced Guernsey cattle into Louisiana and founded Cloverland Dairies. He was a past president and founder of Roemer Dairy Processing. He was chairman of the former Guaranty Bank and Trust Company of Alexandria. Walker served on the State Mineral Board during the administration of Governor Jimmie Davis.


Walker was born in Dodson in Winn Parish to Ezriah Walker and the former Frances Marian Stovall. When he was nine years of age, young Morgan stepped on a thorn, which resulted in persistent pain in a lower leg. At the age of eighteen, he had the leg amputated at Mayo Clinic inRochesterMinnesota, but the problem persisted as "phantom pain", later believed to have been caused by a pinched nerve. Walker swore not let his disability hold him back from success in life.[1] He graduated from both Dodson High School and Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, where he procured a degree in business. He was a classmate of future Governor Earl Kemp Long of Winnfield[2] though he was part of the anti-Long faction in Louisiana's then all-encompassing Democratic politics.
In 1916, Walker moved to McNary in Rapides Parish to work at a large lumber company. Thereafter, he moved to Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish and the largest city in Central Louisiana, where during World War I, he organized a taxi service to transport soldiers from Camp Beauregard in Pineville to Alexandria. He later obtained a bus and founded the Interurban Transportation Company. Walker hired Joe D. Smith, Sr., a native of East Texas who had moved to Grant Parish as his bookkeeper. Smith's son, Joe D. Smith, Jr., later married into the family which owned the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, and through his role as publisher and chief executive officer of the newspaper, Smith, Jr., worked to promote the development of downtown Alexandria.[3]
Walker met his wife, the former Genevieve James (September 19, 1900—March 8, 1960), when she was a passenger on one of his bus routes. Genevieve was the youngest of twelve children born to William Calvit James and the former Ella Elizabeth Robinson (died 1922). The Jameses lived in the house called "Eagle's Nest" in Boyce in northern Rapides Parish.[4]
Thereafter, Walker merged a group of bus companies into Southern Bus Lines. He became a director of the renamed Trans-Continental Bus system, which operated in time in more than forty states. It was a forerunner of Continental Trailways, later absorbed by Greyhound Lines.[1] In the 1930s, Walker and his wife launched a dairy with one cow. They first sold milk in their neighborhood. Walker introduced Guernseys into Louisiana and founded Cloverland Dairies. He was a past president and founder of Roemer Dairy Processing. Walker Farms were dissolved in 1978, but the family retained an interest in Walker-Roemer Dairies in New Orleans.[2] Genevieve Walker, meanwhile, like son Morgan W. Walker, Jr., became an expert at horsemanship. The Walkers lived in a plantation house off Horseshoe Drive near the South Traffic Circle in Alexandria.[1]
Walker was also the director of TCO Industries, a subsidiary of Holiday Inn. He was chairman of the board from 1970 to 1978 of the former Guaranty Bank and Trust Company of Alexandria, which was located on Third Street across from City Hall in the tallest building in Alexandria. Guaranty eventually became part of Capital One.[2]

Community interests[edit]

Walker's main community interests were in public education and the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member and for a time the president of the elected Rapides Parish School Board. He was called "the father of Scouting in Louisiana" because of his work during the 1930s in reorganizing the group. His older son, Morgan, Jr., was an Eagle Scout. Walker was a past president of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, and he held membership in the American Dairy Science Association, the Masonic lodge, and the Shriners.[2]
Walker died in Rapides General Hospital. Services were held on February 22 at St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Interment was at Greenwood Memorial Park in Pineville. Walker was survived by a second son, Edgar Walker, two daughters, twenty-six grandchildren, and twenty-two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife and two other daughters. He was also survived by a nephew, Dr. J. Paul Peters of Winnfield. Among his cousins was the retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel William Stewart Walker, also of Winnfield,[2] who was a pioneer in the development of the Republican Party in Louisiana. Stewart Walker made a strong but losing race in 1964 for the former Eighth Congressional District seat in the United States House of Representatives. He was defeated by the Democratic nominee, former State Senator Speedy O. Long of La Salle Parish. Still another cousin, George T. Walker, was from 1958 to 1976 the president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Walker is commemorated through the naming of the Morgan W. Walker Scholarship in the field of dairy science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[1]

Grandmother's Lullaby

Martha Annis Walker Horn used to sing a little lullaby to all of her babies when they were little. She learned the song from her mother, Genevieve James Walker, who made it up one day while hushing little Annis to sleep. Annis had many many ear infections as a child, and ended up losing most of the hearing capability in one of her ears. Needless to say, she needed a lot of soothing and singing to. She was the youngest of Genevieve's children, too, so Grandmother must have enjoyed the cuddle time just as much as her baby girl did.
Charlotte and Georgia had the beautiful idea to have some of the talented progeny of Genevieve and Annis record a version of the lullaby for posterity. And it turned out beautifully. JJ, son of Martha Horn, played his guitar and Sydney, daughter of John Horn, sang the lyrics. You can listen below.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Horseshoe Drive House (THEN)

Uncle Antony and Big Boy in front of the stables

Annis on her wedding day in front the large mirrors

Annis and Jeff on the Horseshoe Drive stairway, leaving for their honeymoon

Genevieve Walker in front of the stables

Genevieve Walker riding in front of the barn. The dairy was just to the left of the barn.

Horseshoe Drive house from the air

Below are pictures of Martha Annis Walker's childhood home on Horseshoe Drive in Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, now placed on the National Register of Historical Places, known as the "Morgan Walker House."

Memories recorded from Neal Horn, Annis' youngest son: "I remember that we loved to slide down the banister on the stairs and Mama would always tell us about somebody who fell over the banister on the second floor and landed on that couch that was right under it. The other story she would tell is how Uncle Edgar told her to stick her head between the bars of the stair rail and she got her head stuck. They had to get one of the big black men that worked for PawPaw to cut the banister in one place, then pull the space open so she could get out.
The house had a very distinctive smell--especially the kitchen and the butler's pantry. I also remember the maroon carpet that was all in the downstairs and those curtains with the horse scenes on them in the room where the TV was. I remember that sometimes we would go up into the attic and look around. There was that fake horse tail up there and a lot of Christmas decorations including that white church that lit up on the inside.
There was a rose garden in the middle of the circle drive that was shaped like a heart that Mama said PawPaw had planted for Grandmother. There was a goldfish pond that was in the yard that was mostly algae and no goldfish anymore and we used to catch the minnows with strainers from the kitchen in it. There were also all of those orange trees and a pomegranate tree in the yard. I thought is was so fun to eat those pomegranates. There was also the house behind the big house where the Hickmans lived. I could never understand a word Mr. Hickman said--probably because he always had that huge chew in his mouth. We would sometimes go play in the stables back there or the old abandoned dairy, but there were always wasp nests in the stables. We also used to go play in that huge red barn. The upper floor was full of pigeons. I remember going to the office back there too. By then only Daddy's office was there, and Lois was the secretary. I remember there was a fake orange tree in the front room and a gumball machine that took pennies. Once when Mama went out of town before I was in school and I had to go there every day with Daddy. It was not fun and I'm sure Lois got sick of me. We also loved to go play in that bamboo patch that was past the oak trees. The bayou that was in front of the house was usually dry, except when it would rain really hard, and then we would go catch crawfish out there."

Cedar Grove and other Alexandria Area Plantations as they relate to the Horn/Walker Family.

Jeff Horn, Sr., July 2013: "The Cedar Grove on Bayou Robert must have been what I knew as "the Mc Adams Place. Under the picture it says it was demolished to build 'Land Mark" subdivision. I'm sure this is the case. The house was lived in by Sam Holcomb. The house and the porch is exactly how that house looked. Mr. Walker and Mr. Ed bought that plantation at foreclosure auction on the Rapides Parish Court House steps during the depression. Mr. Ed was head football coach at Old Miss and Mr. Walker told him that he could raise $10,000 and that if Mr. Ed could do the same they could buy something that would be worth a lot of money someday.There was 300 acres of that fine bayou front land and 200 acres of swamp land involved. There was a 50 acre pecan orchard on the front northwest corner. When Mr Ed died there was no estate exemption and Miss Georgia owed $75,000 inheritance tax since Mr ED's share was bought before they married and was his separate property. One night I came home on Mohon Drive and Miss Georgia was there in tears. She had just found out that the property was appraised at $175,000 and she must pay $ 75,000 tax in the next 6 months. She was shocked and of course Mr. Walker told her not to worry that they could "step" down to the Guaranty Bank and that Mr. Beasley would be glad to lend her the money. He said that it was not a good time to sell that it would be worth a lot some day. She was about 70 years old at the time and didn't have a lot of savings. The next day I went to the office with her and she begged Mr Walker to Buy her 1/2 interest. Mr  Walker sent her in to have coffee with Mrs Russell and shut his door. I knew he was serious when he shut his door! He told me the story about buying it at sheriff's sale with Mr Ed. He then said he didn't want to buy it. I was managing Ballina Farms at the time so he proposed that I  should "step down to the Bank" borrow $75,000 for Ballina and pay her that and give her a $100,000 note for the rest payable $10,000 + 6% interest yearly. She was overjoyed to say the least. She lived 9 years after that  in Baton Rouge near a neice in an assisted living home until her death. Paying the note off at the Bank along with operating loans and her yearly payment was not always easy to say the least but we had a good banker! It turned out very well years later. My last act as manager of Ballina Farms was to sell the 50 acre pecan orchard for $1,000,000."

Response from Georgia Louise Horn Simmons: "Oh my goodness, you are exactly right, Daddy!  This was the Mc Adams Place!!  How amazing is that?  What an investment that was (in addition to helping Aunt Georgia)!  They think this house could have been as old or older than Kent House.  (Kent House construction began in 1796.)  It was one of the very few that survived burning during the Civil War.

I also found out that PawPaw's house is on the original site of Evergreen Plantation, so I guess that is not a made-up name.  (On the National Historic Register, Paw Paw is listed as the builder of the current house, with period of significance as 1925-1949.  I can't tell if any part of that home was original.  It would make sense to me that the alley of oak trees now on the side of the house could have been the original "oak alley" entryway that was typical for so many plantations, but that is just me talking and nothing that I have read.)  

The original house on Evergreen was one of the few plantations not burned during the Civil War, but no pictures of it are in the book.  It was said that Francis Sprigg (who was a relative of the owners of Flowerton, Evergreen and Inglewood Plantations) assisted with the convalescence of a Union Colonel Jones who had major battle injuries that occurred near Alexandria.  He left a written message that the properties of the Flower family were not to be burned by Union troops.

And finally, the old home where the Owens lived was originally Juliett Plantation, so that isn't made up either!!  Now that I think about it, I'm sure that when they add these names to the National Historic Register, someone does the research to make sure the original name is restored."   

There were two Cedar Groves in the Alexandria area (Cedar Grove Bayou Rapides and Cedar Grove Bayou Robert.

The thing that is so confusing is that several different sources have the picture of the Bayou Robert Cedar Grove and list Mrs. Grundy (Asa) Cooper as the owner.  Apparently those are wrong, or maybe the Cooper family owned both of them at one time.  They weren't that far apart and all of this gets very convoluted and confusing!!

Regarding Cedar Grove Bayou Robert, this book says that "In the 20th century, Cedar Grove was farmed by Morgan Walker..." so it sounds like we do have a connection to that Cedar Grove as well.

I knew that Mama (Martha Annis Walker Horn) had a picture of the Bayou Rapides Cedar Grove home that pre-dated our house.  It looked a lot more similar to the house we lived in and it had an outside staircase and a balcony.  I've been unable to locate that picture anywhere until tonight and I finally found it in a book called:  "From This Valley:  A History of Alexandria, Pineville, and Rapides, Louisiana Vol. 1."  Here is the website: