Today in New Orleans History

February 20

Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

Two New Subdivisions
February 20, 1955

Ralph J. Bunche (August 7, 1903  – December 9, 1971) was an American political scientist, academic, and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Palestine. He was the first African American and person of color to be so honored in the history of the prize. He was involved in the formation and administration of the United Nations. In 1963, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President John F. Kennedy. Bunche Village and Ralph Bunche school in Metairie are named for him.  Bunche Village is adjacent to Little Farms Avenue, between the railroad tracks and Airline Highway in Metairie.  It was "New Orleans Finest Colored Subdivision" and one of the first designed and exclusively built for African Americans.
On the other side of "town" Sigmund Pines purchased a large piece of the land closest to the Industrial Canal and proceeded to develop it with residences.  In the 1950s and early 1960s, substantial numbers of dwellings -- both doubles and single-family detached -- were built in the Pines Village Subdivision.  It was one of the first subdivisions in what we now call New Orleans East.

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Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

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Clarence Ray Nagin, Jr. (born June 11, 1956), also known as C. Ray Nagin, is an American consultant, entrepreneur, author, and public speaker who from 2002 to 2010 was the 60th mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. He became internationally known in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the New Orleans area. Nagin was first elected in March 2002 and received significant crossover vote from just about every segment of the population. He was re-elected in 2006 even though the election was held with at least two-thirds of New Orleans citizens still displaced after Katrina struck. He was term limited by law and left office on May 3, 2010. After leaving office, Nagin founded CRN Initiatives LLC, a firm that focuses on emergency preparedness, green energy product development, publishing and public speaking. He wrote and self-published his first book, Katrina Secrets: Storms after the Storms which gives a first-hand account of how New Orleans overcame the effects of Hurricane Katrina. On January 18, 2013, Nagin was indicted on 21 corruption charges, including wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering related to his alleged dealings with two troubled city vendors following Hurricane Katrina disaster. On February 20, 2013, Nagin pleaded not guilty in federal court to all charges

FEMA Press Release -- Release date: February 20, 2013: FEMA Archaeologists Discover One of the Oldest Native American Artifacts South of Lake Pontchartrain. Release Number: DR-1603/07-989, NEW ORLEANS – Pottery sherds, animal bones and pieces of clay tobacco pipes are among the items recently discovered by a team of archaeologists under contract to the Federal Emergency Management Agency surveying land near Bayou St. John in New Orleans.  “It was a bit of a surprise to find this,” said FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office Deputy Director of Programs Andre Cadogan, referencing a small, broken pottery fragment. “We clearly discovered pottery from the late Marksville period, which dates to 300-400 A.D. The pottery was nice, easily dateable, and much earlier than we expected.  This is exciting news for historians and Tribal communities as it represents some of the only intact prehistoric remains of its kind south of Lake Pontchartrain.”  The Bayou St. John spot holds a prominence in New Orleans’ history, throughout the years serving as the location of a Native American occupation, a French fort, a Spanish fort, an American fort, a resort hotel and then an amusement park. Through a series of shovel tests and methodological excavation, the archaeologists discovered evidence of the early Native Americans, the colonial period and the hotel.  “The historical record tells us that the shell midden (or mound) created by the Native American occupation was destroyed by the French when they built their fort here,” said Cadogan. “However, we’ve discovered, through archaeology, that rather than destroy the midden, the French cut off the top of it and used it as a foundation for their fort.”  FEMA’s work near Bayou St. John is part of an agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office, Indian Tribes and the state to perform archaeological surveys of parks and public land in the city of New Orleans. It falls under FEMA’s Environmental and Historic Preservation program, which evaluates historical and environmental concerns that may arise from projects funded by federal dollars. FEMA hazard mitigation funding was used for thousands of home elevations and reconstructions throughout Louisiana. Rather than evaluate every property for archaeological remains—a nearly impossible task—FEMA, the State Historic Preservation Office and various consulting parties signed an agreement, which allowed FEMA to conduct alternate studies such as the archaeological surveys. “The surveys not only offset potential destruction of archaeological resources on private property from the home mitigations but also give us a leg up on any future storms. We are helping the state of Louisiana learn about its history as well as provide information that leads to preparedness for the next event,” said Cadogan. FEMA, in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office and Indian Tribes, identified the areas to be surveyed. Once the field studies are completed and all of the artifacts are analyzed and recorded, the State Historic Preservation Office will become stewards of the information. The Louisiana State-Specific Programmatic Agreement can be found at Editors: For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, visit  Follow FEMA online at,,, and The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications. FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Last Updated: February 20, 2013 - 15:05

On February 20, 1995, Director Gilbert Adler was preparing to film Tales From The Crypt (Bordello of Blood) (formerly DEAD EASY) in New Orleans. Starring Dennis Miller, Chris Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, and Corey Feldman (among other lesser known names) the trailer says "The bloodsucking beauties who ply their trade in this "gorehouse" offer their clients the night of their lives..." .

Born on March 18, 1880, Mrs. Gertrude Pocte Geddes-Willis was one of the first American female funeral directors in New Orleans. In 1940, Mrs. Willis was the founder and president of two corporations, Gertrude Geddes Willis Life Insurance Company and Gertrude Geddes Willis Funeral Home. Mrs. Geddes-Willis was a lifetime member of the NAACP and the YWCA and a member of several benevolent societies and professional organizations. She was also active in the Ladies Auxillary Council of the Knights of Peter Claver.  One of her special interests was youth development. Throughout her career her entrepreneurship gained the respect of both local and national business leaders. Mrs. Willis died on February 20, 1970. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.(NOPL)

Canrival Day was celebrated on February 20, 1917.

Mardi Gras auto races were held on February 10 through 22, 1909.

Doctor Edgar Hull, Jr. (February 20, 1904 – October 24, 1984), was a founding faculty member of the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans in 1931. He was among those called upon to treat Huey P. Long after he was shot in 1935.  In 1983, after nearly a half-century, Hull published his memoirs, This I Remember: An Informal History of the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. Unlike LSU historian T. Harry Williams, who suggested Long might have survived with better medical care, Hull said that Long could not have survived the shooting. He denied that Long had died from medical or surgical incompetence. Hull also criticized his own conduct; though he had called for an autopsy, Hull had not been persistent enough and allowed himself to be overruled in the swarm of events.  He also wrote Essentials Of Electrocardiography - For The Student And Practitioner Of Medicine and Descendants of Cornelius Hull and Thankful (Root) Hull his wife, of Great Barrington, Mass.

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, Confederate general and influential figure in postwar Louisiana. Born, Contreras Plantation, St. Bernard Parish, La., May 28, 1818; son of Jacques Toutant-Beauregard and Hélène Judith de Reggio. Education: local schools; "French School" in New York City; U. S. Military Academy, 1834-1838; commissioned second lieutenant in Corps of Engineers. Married (1), September 1841, Marie Laure Villeré (d. 1850), daughter of Jules Villeré, Plaquemines Parish sugar planter, granddaughter of Jacques Villeré (q.v.), second governor of Louisiana. Children: René, Henry, and Laure. Mexican War service: engineer on staff of Gen. Winfield Scott; received brevet, August 1847, for gallantry at Battle of Contreras; wounded twice in Battle of Mexico City; again breveted, September 1847. After war, returned to Louisiana in service of Corps of Engineers; promoted to rank of captain, March 1853; chief engineer for New Orleans during remainder of decade. Unsuccessful candidate in 1858 New Orleans' mayoral race. Married (2), 1860, Caroline Deslonde, daughter of André Deslonde, St. James Parish sugar planter, sister of Mrs. John Slidell. Became superintendent of West Point, January 23, 1861; resigned, January 28, 1861. Civil War service: appointed brigadier general (Confederacy's first), February 1861; assumed command at Charleston, S. C., ordering bombardment of Ft. Sumter on April 12; commanded army under Gen. J. E. Johnston at Battle of Manassas (First Bull Run), June 1861; second in command to Gen. A. S. Johnston (succeeded to command upon Johnston's death), at Battle of Shiloh, April 1862; after retreat to Corinth, Mississippi., turned command of army over to Gen. Braxton Bragg (q.v.), June 1862; given command of coastal defenses in Georgia and South Carolina, September 1862-April 1864; defeated Gen. Benjamin Butler (q.v.) at Drewry's Bluff, Va., May 1864; directed defense of Petersburg, Va., June 1864, where his command was merged with Gen. R. E. Lee's; given command of Military Division of the West (extending from Georgia to Mississippi River), October 1864; served as second in command to Gen. J. E. Johnston in Carolinas during last months of war. After war, declined commands in Rumanian and Egyptian armies; active in political effort to end Republican control in Louisiana; president of New Orleans, Jackson and Mississippi Railroad, 1866-1870; president of New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad, 1866-1876; supervisor of Louisiana Lottery, 1877-1893; appointed adjutant general of Louisiana 1879; contributed article, "The Battle of Bull Run," to Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, November 1884; elected commissioner of public works of New Orleans, 1888. Beauregard Parish and Camp Beauregard (near Pineville) named for subject. Died, New Orleans, February 20, 1893; interred Metairie Cemetery, tomb of the Army of Tennessee. W.S. Sources: New Orleans Daily Picayune, obituary, February 21, 1893; Dictionary of American Biography; Official Records of the War of the Rebellion; Jon L. Wakelyn, Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy (1977); Goodspeed, Memoirs of Louisiana, Vol. I; Alcée Fortier, Louisiana, Vol. I (1909); T. Harry Williams, P. G. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray (1955); Hamilton Basso, Beauregard: The Great Creole (1933); Alfred Roman, The Military Operations of General Beauregard . . . (1884).  From

On February 20, 1811. President Madison signed the bill providing for Louisiana's statehood.

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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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