Today in New Orleans History

October 21

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Jim Garrison Dies
October 21, 1992
On March 1, 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison arrested Clay Shaw on the charge of conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. Precisely two years later, on March 1, 1969, Shaw was acquitted by the jury in less than an hour of deliberation.
Earling Carothers "Jim" Garrison, a native of Denison, Iowa, was born on November 20, 1921.   He was the District Attorney of Orleans Parish from 1962 to 1973.  Garrison believed, at various points, that the John F. Kennedy assassination had been the work of Central Intelligence Agency personnel, anti-Castro Cuban exiles, "a homosexual thrill killing," and ultra right-wing activists. "My staff and I solved the case weeks ago," Garrison announced in February 1967. "I wouldn't say this if we didn't have evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt." Garrison died in New Orleans on October 21, 1992.
Born in Kentwood on March 17, 1913, Clay Laverne Shaw was a decorated World War II enlistee, successful businessman, playwright, pioneer of restoration in New Orleans' French Quarter, and director of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans. He died in New Orleans on August 15, 1974.  Shaw is the only individual ever prosecuted for conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.
For testimony from the historic Shaw trial, along with other resources see
Text and photo by Plaideau from the New Orleans Public Library.

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Mitchell Joseph "Mitch" Landrieu was re-elected State Representative for the 89th Representative District on October 21, 1995.

Archaeologist and ethnographer Doris Zemurray Stone was born on November 19, 1909.  She passed away on October 21, 1994.

The Marks Isaacs--Williams Mansion at 5120 St. Charles Avenue, then the Latter Memorial Library was included on the register of National Historic Places on October 21, 1976.

The SS John W. Draper WWII Liberty ship was lauched by Delta Shipbuilding Company in New Orleans on October 21, 1944.

Plans for an educational building for Parker Memorial Methodist Church on Nashville Avenue were submitted by W. G. Bergman on October 21, 1955.

Plans for the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills at 1100 South Peters street were submitted by Stone Brother on October 21, 1909.

Electrified Streetcars
Editorial cartoon printed in the New Orleans newspaper, The Mascot on October 21, 1893
Photographed by Infrogmation 
Implying that the city would be much improved by the addition of electric streetcars, this 1893 illustration in The Mascot depicted a proverbial "before and after" Utopian view. The before displays a mostly empty mule-driven "Slow Gait" car being pushed by men on a swampy street with dilapidated buildings.  The after depicts "Rapid Transit" -- a streetcar filled with well-dressed riders on a cobblestone street with new buildings under construction.
The city's first electric streetcars were introduced from December 16, 1884 to June 2, 1885 for the World Cotton Centennial at what would become Audubon Park. It featured displays of electric light illumination, an observation tower with electric elevators, and several prototype designs of electric streetcars as well as a streetcar line to transport visitors to and from the city to the "fair". These cars were deemed experimental and then discontinued.  Electric streetcars were not considered sufficiently developed for widespread use until the following decade.  
When the City Railroad came under the control of the New Orleans Traction Company in 1892 the system was prepared for electrification. A large order for new electric streetcars was placed with the Brill Company of Philadelphia. The Canal Line began electric service on July 28, 1894. It was followed very quickly by the Esplanade line and the rest of the company's horse/mule car lines. The line was extended slightly in the central business district to terminate at the foot of Canal Street near the river.  Thereafter, all New Orleans streetcars ran on electricity.

Volume VI of the Ship Registers and Enrollments of New Orleans, Louisiana (1861-1879) includes a reference to the Steam tug Julia, owned jointly in 1867 by Varnum Sheldon and Williamson Smith. Sheldon was also the tug's master. The volume reveals that the tug was built at Mobile, Alabama, in 1865. It weighed 74.95 tons and was 109.8 feet long. Sheldon apparently sold his half ownership to Smith the next year and the enrollment was surrendered at New Orleans on October 21, 1868, and the vessel was broken up. This card appears to be one of the oldest in the New Orleans Public Library collection.

Dr. Jean Alexandre Francois LeMat (1824–1883), is best known for the percussion cap revolver that bears his name (the LeMat revolver).  LeMat, then a New Orleans physician, secured US 15925 for his design on October 21, 1856. British patents for the same design were issued in 1859, and he later designed a revolver rifle of similar concept as the handgun.

In 1847, the Louisiana Legislature established the Insane Asylum of the State of Louisiana at Jackson, La. to provide state care for the mentally ill. Within a few years, however, conditions had become so overcrowded at the Jackson facility that patients refused admittance, particularly the indigent insane, were again being housed in local jails and workhouses, as they had been before the State asylum opened. As an alternative to such care, on October 21, 1854, the New Orleans City Council passed Ordinance 1794 establishing a "temporary asylum for the indigent insane" in the building on Levee Street, previously the site of the Third Municipality Workhouse. The ordinance gave Recorders of the various districts the power to commit patients to this facility "until provision can be made for their admission into the State asylum at Jackson," and authorized the mayor to appoint a superintendent, one male assistant, and two female assistants who were to board in the institution. Although apparently intended as a stop-gap measure, the New Orleans Insane Asylum continued to admit patients until 1883, when it was closed and the remaining patients transferred to Jackson.

On October 21, 1791, City Commissioners, considering that it is against the law of the Revised Code of the Indies to hold their sessions in the house of the Governor, (which by necessity has been done since the fire), agreed to rent a house for this purpose. The Commissioners contracted for a house on Royal Street which they cancelled in favor of some rooms offered at the home of Almonaster which they found more suitable. 

A letter from His Majesty, regarding the transfer of the Ursuline Nuns to Havana, was read at a meeting of the Cabildo on October 21, 1777, and it was agreed to comply with the agreement of August 22, 1777.

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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).

Shushan Airport
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