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  • January 10, 2018: An 1883 Buggy Ride with J. J. Alford - Leaves & Branches
    Jeptha Josephus Alford  MD
    1830 MS - 1914 LA
    son of Edwin Barksdale Alford

    Recently, I found a newspaper account of a reporter traveling by buggy with my 2x great grand uncle. Jeptha J. Alford, MD. I like the descriptions of the pine forest where he lived. Their usual routes were deluged by recent rain but they traveled the area to visit a neighbor and fellow Grange member.
    This is not the complete article. I focused my transcription sections concerning my uncle and the area where he lived.

    On the 11th inst. Dr. Alford took me from his house, eight miles east of Osyka, as far as the Tangipohoa bridge, two miles from Osyka. Here we came to a halt, water-bound – no travel in buggies between the bridge and the town. The late rains deluged the low lands and connected all of the ravines into water courses, all sending their waters toward the Tangipohoa.

    As we could not “go West” we concluded to go East, about four miles, and call on the first Master of the State Grange of Louisiana, H. W. L. Lewis. We found him at home busy on his farm, as usual, for he is now Secretary of the State Grange, and Dr. Alford is Lecturer. SO we had some Grange talk and laid out some Grange work.

    … [Notes on Mr. Lewis' farm] …

    In going from Mr. Lewis’ farm to Dr. Alford’s we traveled on three sides of a triangle near twenty miles in a pine forest. In nearly all of these forests back from the railroad a few miles, and back from the navigable stream, the pines are numerous, tall, straight and many of them large. Few of these trees have been cut, only here and there, for rails, three foot boards, shingles and garden pickets.

    … [Notes on trees] ...

    These magnificent pine forests, that extend from Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, to the Atlantic shore, hundreds of miles, in places 150 miles in width, most of them stand as they stood here a hundred years ago when Indians and wild game roved through them almost entirely undisturbed by the white man. These forests, we hope, before many decades pass, may be in part converted into beautiful farm cottages, barns and other farm buildings and fences, into factories, mills, school houses and other improvements which thrift and industry and an increase in population will bring about.

    Source: Dennett, D., Among the Farmers. (New Orleans, LA: The Times Picayune, 19 April 1883) 9; digital images, accessed Sept. 2017. 

    I like the picture this article paints of the area where J. J. Alford lived. We have pine forests in the northeast but I did not know there were also pine forests in the MS, LA area. The reporter, from his viewpoint in 1883, was hoping for more of those pines to be cleared. From my viewpoint, many years later, I hope many of those pines still stand.

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