Today in New Orleans History

February 15

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Higgins Patents Landing Craft
February 15, 1944
Patent #2,341,866 was awarded to Andrew J. Higgins on February 15, 1944. The patent application read, in part:

This invention relates to landing boats of particular military signicance for transporting trucks, tanks, field pieces, and other equipment to a beach, and landing them on the beach without the benefit of wharves or docks.

The general object of the invention is to provide a landing boat having, insofar as they can be retained, the hull-shape'characteristics of my Eureka hull covered by my Patent No. 2,144,111,- granted January 17, 1939, which provides a stable, shallow draft speedy boat with wide transverse bow capable of being driven far up on a shelving beach and retracted from the beach under its own power.

Another object of the invention is to provide a landing boat sized to transport a single piece of heavy mechanized equipment together with its manning crew, enabling thc equipment to be unloaded in the shortest possible time upon the beach, and permitting the men to land dry-shod on the shore.

A further object of the invention is to provide a landing boat with wide transverse bow, wherein the bow is hinged transversely substantially at the plane of the floor, and which may be let down on the shore forming a ramp down which the equipment may roll under its own power or otherwise, and serving as agang-plank for the landing of the men.

Higgin's boats, built by New Orleanians and used during World War II, and particularly in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, prompted Dwight D. Eisenhower to say, "Andrew the man who won the war for us...If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different." Hitler called Higgins "the "New Noah". 

The inventor and holder of some 30 patents pertinent to amphibious landing craft and vehicles, Andrew J. Higgins died in New Orleans on August 1, 1952, and was buried in Metairie Cemetery. 

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On February 15, 1979, strike negotiations were broken off by the city and the New Orleans Police Department. Mardi Gras parades were cancelled and the city intended to to fire striking police. Mayor Dutch Morial stated the city's negotiation position. In a second 2nd press conference this day, Morial stated city's amended negotiation position to continue bargaining in good faith.

Carnival Day was celebrated on February 15, 1972, 1983, and 1994.

At the Municipal Auditorium on February 15, 1969, the Krewe of Moslem presented its tableau ball based on the theme: The Treasures of Gilbert and Sullivan. The royal court of Moslem that year was led by Queen Judy Louise Agular.

The World Colored Welterweight Championship was won in New Orleans by Gorilla Jones ("The Fighting Gorilla") on February 15, 1915.

Attorney and congressman Thomas Hale Boggs was born, Long Beach, Miss., February 15, 1914.  He married, on January 22, 1938, Corinne Morrison (Lindy) Claiborne, of Brunswick Plantation.  They had three children -- Barbara Rowena (Mrs. P. Sigmund, Jr.), Thomas Hale, Jr., and Corinne M. (Mrs. S. V. Roberts). Hale was active in the Democratic party as the U. S. Representative, Second District of Louisiana (1941-1943 and 1947-1972) and served on the House Ways and Means Committee and Joint Economic Committee and chairman, Sub-committee on Foreign Economic Policy; assistant majority leader (1962-1970), majority leader, (1971-1972). During the Second World War, he entered the Navy as an ensign in 1943 and was, released as a lieutenant commander in 1946.  He practiced general civil law from 1943 to 1946.  He was a member of:  Roman Catholic church; Phi Beta Kappa; Omicron Delta Kappa; Beta Theta Pi; American, Louisiana, and New Orleans bar associations; American Judicature Society; International Association of Ports and Harbors; New Orleans Chamber of Commerce; American Legion; Amvets, Knights of Columbus, general manager of Tulane University Alumni Association, 1939-1940; Family Service Society of New Orleans; Congressional Club.  On October 16, 1972 A plane carrying U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs and 3 other men vanished in Alaska. The wreckage has never been found, despite a massive search at the time.  He was declared dead by an Alaskan court and honored in a memorial Mass at St. Louis Cathedral on, January 4, 1973.  He was succeeded in Congress in 1973 by his wife Lindy.  (From

Several photos of St. Louis Cemetery #1 by Cornelius Durkee, Friday, February 15, 1901.

Eliza Jane Poitevent Holbrook Nicholson, poet, newspaper proprietor. Born, near Pearlington, Miss., March 11, 1849; daughter of lumberman William James Poitevent and Mary Amelia Russ. Fifth of eight children, but lived with an uncle and aunt, the Leonard Kimballs, as a result of mother's ill health. Grew up on their farm near the Pearl River where her love of nature was reflected in poetry writing by age fourteen. Education: at home; Amite Female Seminary. Using the name "Pearl Rivers," sent work to John W. Overall, editor of The South. His encouragement led to the submission of poems to such publications as the Home Journal in New York and the Daily Picayune and the Times in New Orleans. Poems appeared in an anthology by 1869. In 1870 accepted the post of literary editor of the Daily Picayune. On May 18, 1872, married the owner of the Picayune, Alva Morris Holbrook (q.v.), forty-one years older than Eliza. After his death in January, 1876, took over the joint position of editor-publisher and brought the paper from bankruptcy to financial success within the next twenty years. Married the business manager of the paper, George Nicholson (q.v.), a native of England, thirty-one years her senior, on June 27, 1878. Children: Leonard Kimball (b. 1881) and Yorke Poitevent (b. 1883). As editor-publisher of the Daily Picayune, turned the paper into a family publication featuring the society page, a young people's section, comics, household and medical columns, advice to the lovelorn, and a literary section. Also championed such civic causes as free night schools and humane treatment of animals. Served as president of the Women's National Press Association in 1884. Publication: Lyrics, a selection of poems (1873). Died, February 15, 1896, from influenza, ten days after the death of second husband; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, La. J.J.J. Sources: Thomas E. Dabney, One Hundred Great Years (1944); James H. Harrison, Pearl Rivers, Publisher of the Picayune (1932); Notable American Women, 1607-1950, 3 vols. (1971); and New Orleans Daily Picayune, February 16, 1896. From

On February 15, 1895, nine inches of snow fell on on New Orleans.

During the Civil War (1861) a 30 foot two-man submarine was built on Bayou St. John to be used in the lake in an attempt to destroy the Union steamers New London and Calhoun on Lake Pontchartrain. One man propelled the submarine by turning the manual crank. It was armed with clock-work torpedo, carried on top which was to be screwed into the bottom of the enemy's ships. Named "Pioneer", the sub made several descents in Lake Pontchartrain and succeeded in destroying a small schooner and several rafts during experiments. Before doing harm to enemy ships, Admiral Farragut captured the city and the sub was sunk to prevent it from falling into Federal hands.  The February 15, 1868 New Orleans Picayune, morning edition, reported “A torpedo boat, which was built in this to be sold at public auction today” It “…was sunk in the [Bayou St. John] canal…in 1862” and that the sub was "to be sold at public auction today....It was built as an experiment and was never fully perfected, and is only valuable now for the machinery and iron which is in and about it.' The Picayune afternoon edition reported that it had been sold as scrap for $43. It was later located to the Spanish Fort resort (above). From 1942 to 1953 the submarine was on display in Jackson Square.  It now resides in the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge.

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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