Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Saint Tammany Parish
“The place where I am is one of the prettiest I have seen, fine level ground bare of canes. The land north of the lakes is a country of pine trees mixed with hard woods. The soil is sandy and many tracks of buffalo and deer can be seen.”
—Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, first known European explorer of St. Tammany Parish describing the area in 1699
”We can drink and not get drunk. We can fight and not be slain. We can go to hell, and be welcomed back again.”
—Militia marching song of the defunct Republic of West Florida of 1801
“It’s thousands of square miles of sweltering, gator-infested bayous; malarial canals; treacherous sand-spits; willow-islands with Loup-Garoux; huge inland bays poisoned by oil-spills, and flooded woods where mosquito swarms hover around your head like a helmet and you slap your arms until they’re slick with a black-red paste. Travel an hour north from the Quarter and take one wrong turn off the interstate, and it’s like you’ve punched through a dimensional hole and dropped back down into the redneck, coon-ass, inbred peckerwood south that you thought had been eaten up by the developers of sunbelt suburbs and forever banished by the moral sanity of the modern century. It’s a shrinkin’ place, sure, but the locals cling to every inch with a spittin’ mad tenacity. Yep, St. Tammany Parish is the place to go if you don’t fit anywhere else—provided you’re white, speak English with a Dixie dialect, and love guns, football, and the ignorant bigotry of the Lost Cause.”
—Buford T. Boggs, former inhabitant of St. Tammany describing his homeland after a rare Mardi Gras appearance in 1998
”Sooiee! Dem ribs be red as bleedin’ Rebs and tender as Ol’ Scratch to his virgin brides.”
—Roxxy-Belle Boggs, Camilla Debutante and Miss St. Tammany judging a BBQ cook off at a parish fair in 2016
ST. TAMMANY PARISH
Located along the northeastern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Paroisse de Saint-Tammany is Louisiana’s fifth most populous parish. Over a quarter million kine call it home, and it remains one of the state’s fastest growing parishes, alongside Livingston and Ascension, due to St. Tammany’s close proximity to New Orleans. It also vies for the questionable crown of being the most politically conservative parish in the state–which is undoubtedly related to its status as Louisiana’ most affluent parish. Yet, what few outside St. Tammany’s clannish boundaries know is that the parish is also one of the most depraved and corrupt regions in all of Louisiana.
Originally home to numerous indigenous tribes such as the Colapissas, Goulas, Chickasaw, Biloxi, Choctaw, and Pensacola, St. Tammany Parish was first discovered by French explorers at the turn of the seventeeth century. During the next century and the founding and development of New Orleans, French settlers began to enter the region, where they harvested the forests’ lucrative pitch, tar, turpentine, and resin. Following France’s defeat in 1763 in the French and Indian War, St. Tammany–along with the other future Florida Parishes–became part of British West Florida. During this period, and particularly in the years leading up to and during the American Revolutionary War, the area comprising modern-day St. Tammany attracted British loyalists escaping persecution from the Thirteen Colonies. Yet, following Great Britain’s surrender in 1783, both East and West Florida fell into the hands of the Spanish Crown. Seventeen years later, the region’s colonial period ended with revolt and the short-lived Republic of West Florida, before St. Tammany and its ‘Northshore’ neighbors were annexed by the United States.
As part of that 1810 annexation, President James Madison’s proxy, one William C. C. Clairborne, established the boundaries of the Florida Parishes. Additionally, Clairborne gave St. Tammany Parish its name, replacing the older Spanish colonial name of St. Ferdinand Distrct with the more “American” sounding name of the Delaware Indian Chief Tamanend, who had become a popular American patron saint in the post-Revolutionary period (though one never recognized by Roman Catholics unlike the rest of Louisiana’s parish saints).
In the early 1830s, there were only two towns in St. Tammany: Covington, a retreat with summer homes and hotels; and Madisonville, a shipbuilding and sawmill town. In comparison, the region known as the Covington Lowlands, which stretched south of Covington to Lake Pontchartrain’s northern shore and eastwards to the Pearl River’s border with Mississippi, remained a rural frontier. However, reports of salutary miasmas and springs and regular ferry service across Lake Pontchartrain spurred Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville to found the eponymous Mandeville in 1834 as a health resort for wealthy New Orleanians who fraudulently believed the local ‘Ozone Belt’ could cure all manners of infirmaries. Shortly thereafter, Abita Springs was similarly founded as a resort community.
Then came the railroad. In the late 1880s, the almost nonexistent community of Slidell emerged in tandem with the construction of the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad. Nearly two hundred miles in length, the railroad not only connected Slidell and the other parish communities such as Covington, Abita Springs, and Mandeville, but it connected the Crescent City to the next closest railway in Meridian, Mississippi and the rest of the eastern Unites States.
The twentieth century further connected the otherwise rural parish with the nearby metropolis and subsequently spurred additional economic and residential development. Namely, two high-speed roads were built between St. Tammany and New Orleans and its older suburbs. In 1965, the original I-10 Twin Span Bridge connected Slidell and New Orleans. Four years later, the still longest continuous bridge over water was completed and bridged Mandeville and Metairie: the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. As a result, the 1960s were characterized by rapid growth initially in and around Slidell and later in western St. Tammany towns like Mandeville, Covington, and Madisonville. As a result, the previously sparsely populated and almost wholly rural parish experienced a population boom, with over two hundred thousand citizens at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Hurricane Katrina soon followed. It made its final landfall in the eastern portion of St. Tammany Parish as a Category 3 hurricane. The storm surge, which ranged from 7 to 16 feet, impacted all 57 miles of the parish’s coastline and extended over 6 miles inland. Much of I-10 was drowned, and its twin span bridges between Slidell and New Orleans East were virtually destroyed. The parish Sheriff and deputes evacuated over three thousand residents and rescued another three hundred from imminent danger. Utilities were knocked out throughout the parish, and the 911 services were down for ten days. Hurricane-toppled trees and telephone poles blocked all transportation routes. Land and waterway debris clean up took two and five years respectively. Nearly 50,000 homes were damaged from floodwaters, winds, or both.
Notwithstanding the widespread destruction, St. Tammany parish not only recovered–it rebounded like a cancer coming out of remission. Its population climbed. Its communities rebuilt. Its infrastructure replaced. And its wealth grew–at least for its economic elites, which now include the corporate masters of multiple billion-dollar enterprises, including Textron, Chevron, and Gaylord Chemical. Yet, despite all its recent development and veneer of civilization, St. Tammany Parish ultimately remains a half-feral frontier where man and modernity are but guests at a wild masquerade.
Much like its mortal history, St. Tammany Parish remained largely abandoned or overlooked by the Kindred of New Orleans for much of its existence. If indigenous vampires haunted the region prior to the European settlers, their presence was transient, minor, or simply ancient and long-gone by the turn of the eighteenth century. Indeed, the sole and speculative legend of note dates back to the sixteenth century, where an initially placid tribe of Chickasaw in the region violently attacked Hernando de Soto’s last expedition due to allegedly harboring a mummy-like, blood-drinking monster, which according to most tales was an Incan mummy or torpid vampire taken during de Soto’s earlier conquest of Peru. The veracity of this legend or the even more specious tales of Gangrel battles with native tribes, bayou witches, and forest-dwelling Loup-Garoux remain dubious at best–or at least seemingly inconsequent to present-day Kindred politics in the region.
Instead, reputable or least reliable Kindred history in St. Tammany Parish begins in 1865 when the then-Archon Roger Halliburton was dispatched from New Orleans to the rural frontier. The Gangrel arrived in response to a growing insurgency against occupying Union soldiers in the region. More saliently, these attacks were allegedly so savage if not inhumanly vicious that both Halliburton and Baylor presumed they were being carried out by a spiteful Southern Lord or one of their proxies. Much to the archons’ surprise, the insurgents proved to be ‘mere’ kine, and it did not take long for the Camarilla-supported Federalists to crush the rebels.
Following Baylor’s defeat of the Southern Lords and subsequent departure from New Orleans, Halliburton remained behind, and if the rumors are true, he regularly visited the parish during Reconstruction, likely as part of his plan to challenge Vidal’s rule. During Reconstruction and its associated end of slavery, influx of northerners, and displacement of influential pawns by federal occupation, the Prince and the Sanctified were vulnerable–and these weaknesses were exploited by the former archon. The Gangrel not only retained substantial influence over the remaining Union soldiers and Republican patsy government, but he belonged to the Invictus, and thus had the nominal support of several local elders, including the then-popular Chastain and still ‘living’ Toutain and Dumont. In short, Vidal and the Sanctified lacked the political capital to challenge Halliburton’s claim to St. Tammany Parish–especially since they had relatively little interest in a backwoods, comparatively far-flung region that as of then lacked any railways or major roads bridging the two territories.
By the time Reconstruction collapsed in the late 1870s, the resurgent Sanctified might have taken action against Halliburton’s claim along the Northshore. However, the Prince demurred, given his covenant’s nominal alliance with the now decade-long entrenched Invictus, and likely also due to the fact that Halliburton’s threat had subsided. Whether the Invictus would have further cemented their claim to region or eventually been forced to cede it to Vidal’s praxis is hard to predict, especially as none had predicted the awakening of Alegraza Giovannini, a half-millennia-old Giovannini elder, in the midst of St. Tammany Parish.
How Alegraza reached an accord with Roger Halliburton–and at what cost–is unknown, but the results of that agreement irrevocably altered the parish’s fate, as the Gangrel surrendered both his and his covenant’s claim on the land as well as a Slidell native and Dunsirn-descended ghoul: Cletus Lee Boggs. Following the ex-archon’s final death in 1894, St. Tammany Parish–and its northern and even more rural neighbor, Washington Parish–became the uncontested domain of the Giovannini. More specifically, the parish and particularly its greatest urban center of Slidell were claimed as the province of Cletus Lee Boggs, who was Embraced by the single-blooded anziani and Padrona after he finished overseeing the completion of the NO&NE railroad in 1883. Cletus and his century-plus praxis have been effectively, if begrudgingly, tolerated by the vastly older and more powerful Prince across Lake Pontchartrain largely due to the insular Boggs’ commitment to stick to his own affairs. At the same time, the generally despised Necromancers of New Orleans have appointed the Boggs patriarch as their official inviato, or envoy, to the Camarilla, as the surprisingly charismatic Cajun redneck has gained a level of esteem amongst New Orleans’ Kindred both as a charmingly capable host to invited guests and as a mercilessly implacable foe to parish trespassers.
Known Kindred Residents
When circumstances require formality, Cletus uses his clan’s unique honorifics, including his title as sindaco. Yet, amongst his own childer and mortal kin (which often overlap), the Boggs’ patriarch adopts the far more informal but no less puissant title of “paw”.
• Cletus Lee Boggs (Giovannini ancilla)
St. Tammany Parish is home to two of the Sindaco’s childer. Few outside the local Giovannini, however, know that it used to be home for a third: Buford, T. Boggs. Even fewer have any inkling why Buford seemingly abandoned his sire and native soil in the latter half of the past century.
• Isabelica “Sugarbelle” Calero-Pisanob (Giovannini neonate)
• Bobbi Jo “Mad-Dog Cherry” Boggs (Giovannini neonate)
St. Tammany is not known to harbor any additional Kindred. This is largely due to the limited number and size of urban centers in the historically and still primarily rural parish. Additionally, the insular, familial nature of both the Giovannini and Boggs continues to restrict other Kindred from settling permanently in the parish. Rumors occasionally speak of Caitiff or other itinerant or desperate Kindred who unknowingly or discretely trespassed the Sindaco’s domain. The grisly fates of those who misjudged the reach or firmness of Cletus’ grip over the parish provide ample fodder for New Orleans’ gossip-hungry Elysia.
In totality, St. Tammany Parish comprises 1,124 square miles. Three-fourth of its territory is land while the remainder is water. Its borders extend north to Washington Parish (which until 1819 belonged to St. Tammany), east to the Mississippi-Louisiana state line (and specifically to Pearl River and Hancock Counties), west to Tangipahoa Parish, and south to Lake Pontchartrain and the greater New Orleans metropolitan centers of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard Parishes.
Although Covington has always been the de jure capital of St. Tammany Parish, its de facto ruler is unquestionably Slidell, which comprises nearly forty percent of the parish’s population when one includes its satellite communities. The rest of the parish’s population is spread out across its two other cities, three towns, and its three dozen villages and unincorporated communities.
• Albita Springs (pop. 2,499; 25 miles NW of Slidell, 43 miles N from NOLA)
• Bush (pop. 5,265; 25 miles N of Slidell, 56 miles N from NOLA)
• Covington (pop. 9,352; 28 miles NW of Slidell, 41 miles N from NOLA)
• Eden Isle (pop. 7,697; 5 miles S of Slidell, 29 miles NE from NOLA)
• Folsom (pop. 741; 39 miles NW of Slidell; 53 miles N from NOLA)
• Lacombe (pop. 9,272; 11 miles W of Slidell, 43 miles N from NOLA)
• Madisonville (pop. 789; 31 miles W of Slidell; 38 miles N from NOLA)
• Mandeville (pop. 12,892; 20 miles W of Slidell; 35 miles N from NOLA)
• Pearl River (pop. 2,530; 8 miles N of Slidell, 40 miles NE from NOLA)
• Slidell (pop. 27,942, urban pop. 96,774; 32 miles NE from NOLA)
• Sun (pop. 473; 32 miles N of Slidell; 58 miles N from NOLA)
• Talisheek (pop. 718; 23 miles N of Slidell; 54 miles N from NOLA)
Parks & Refuges
Despite the urban development of Slidell and its surrounding communities, most of St. Tammany Parish remains not just rural, but wild. The untamed beauty of the region is represented by the notable size and number of parish parks and nationally and state protected wildlife regions.
• Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
• Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge
• Fairview-Riverside State Park
• Fontainebleau State Park
• Honey Island Swamp
• Lake Ramsey Savannah Wildlife Management Area
• Pearl River Wildlife Management Area
Even before the last spike was driven into the NO&NE railroad, St. Tammany was a vital route to and from the Crescent City. Today, the presence of multiple major highways have made St. Tammany Parish an essential artery of regional commerce and transportation.
• Interstate 10
• Interstate 12
• Interstate 59
• US Highway 11
• US Highway 90
• US Highway 190
• Louisiana Highway 21
• Louisiana Highway 22
• Louisiana Highway 25
• Louisiana Highway 36
• Louisiana Highway 40
• Louisiana Highway 41
Like many of Louisiana’s parishes, St. Tammany is traversed and bordered by numerous waterways. Its rivers, bayous, and lakes have been used for equally manifold purposes, from colonial shipbuilding to antebellum log-ridders to prohibition smugglers. Today, riparian traffic continues to serve both legitimate and illicit ends, and its lakes and bayous are treasured by local residents and foreign tourists alike.
• Bayou Bonfouca
• Bayou Chinchuba
• Bogue Chitto River
• Bogue Falaya River
• Lacombe Bayou
• Lake Borgne
• Lake Pontchartrain
• Lake Saint Catherine
• Little Lake
• Old Pearl River
• Pearl River
• The Rigolets
• Tchefuncte River