East Carroll Parish Charitable Association | June 27, 1896

In previous posts, I have mentioned the wealth of information within the Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers collection held online by the Library of Congress.  It was not until today that I realized that a number of back issues (1892-1909) of the East Carroll Parish Banner Democrat were on the site and were fully searchable.

Source: Charter of the East Carroll Charitable
Association, printed in the Banner Democrat
(Lake Providence, East Carroll, LA),
August 13, 1898, Page 2, supplement.
I was able to uncover a number of mentions of Atlas family members, but one of the things that I found that stood out the most were the articles of incorporation for the East Carroll Parish Charitable Association, which was founded on June 27, 1896.

What was the East Carroll Parish Charitable Association?

The Charter and articles of incorporation first appear in this collection on August 13, 1898 and mention the following:

"Article II:  The domicile of this corporation shall be at the Mount Lebanon Church on Holly Plantation in East Carroll parish, Louisiana..."

"Article III: The purpose...of [this] Charitable Union [is] for mutual aid and assistance among the members and especially for the purposes, 1st: Of nursing sick members and procuring medicine and medical service for them, and such other things as they may require, 2nd: Of burying deceased members and defraying their funeral expenses, 3rd: Of assisting the minor children and aged and decrepit parents of deceased members, if in necessitous circumstances; and 4th: Of doing such other charitable work as may be authorized by a two-thirds vote of all the active members of the corporation or as much thereof as hereinafter provided."

Source:  Charter of the East Carroll Charitable Association, printed in the Banner Democrat (Lake Providence, East Carroll, LA), August 13, 1898, Page 2, supplement.
The articles further detail the organization's intention to establish branches across the state of Louisiana, with an annual convention to be held with representatives from each branch.  To be qualified for membership, one would need to be over 12 years of age, be recommended by two members, and voted in by ballot.  Membership was classified into two categories:  active and honorary. A interesting note is the fact that while honorary members were not required to attend meetings and "all active work," they were required to pay double the dues of the active members.  That's an interesting concept when you consider how membership in organizations is handled now.  I've often seen how honorary members have a decreased amount of dues, usually because of age or number of years in the organization.

US Senator Joseph Eugene Ransdell
October 7, 1858 – July 27, 1954
Source: Wikipedia

The notary who drafted the document was WH Montgomery and witnesses were Joseph E. Ransdell, Casear Roberts, Richard Collins, Charles Williams, Jr., JW Goodwin, James Gwynne, Willie Collins, Tom Atlas, Oscar Powell, Abney Hernes (probably Abner Hearns).

Later, in the August 27, 1898 issue of the paper, officers are named as follows:

"Article VII: Until the first election under this charter on the 1st Monday of July, 1897, as above provided, the following named persons shall serve as directors and officers, to-wit: Richard Collins as President, John Jenkins as Vice President, Charles Williams, Jr. as Treasurer, JW Goodwin as Secretary, and Jas Gwynne, WA Collins, Louis Atlas, Matte Doyais and Julius Burks."

Source:  Charter of the East Carroll Charitable Association, printed in the Banner Democrat (Lake Providence, East Carroll, LA), August 27, 1898, Page 2.

More About Those Mentioned in the Charter

Tom Atlas and Louis Atlas were brothers and were the children of King Atlas, Jr.  Both were members of Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church before family members left that church and founded of Progressive Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in October 1921.  Louis' obituary mentions this.  He is also named on the church cornerstone with his son, Rev. Francis Joseph Atlas, Sr.

Joseph E. Ransdell had a number of dealings with members of the Atlas family through his career as a lawyer and as a US senator.  He was well known throughout the parish for buying and selling land and for various business dealings with African Americans.  One of those such transactions is the December 30, 1899 transaction between Sen. Ransdell and King Atlas, Jr. for 80 acres of land that King, Jr. had purchased from Ransdell in December 1891.  I imagine if Ransdell hadn't taken the stance he took, there were a number of African American families in the area who would not be land owners today or have the resources that they do.

Further Thoughts

East Carroll Parish Baptist Association, 2008
I am sure that this organization no longer exists, but I am unsure as to when it ceased to be.  I imagine it may have been a pre-cursor to the one that was established to send an African American in the parish to school to become an undertaker.  Or, it's possible that this organization was a predecessor to the East Carroll Parish Baptist Association, which is still in operation and was bombed during the historic voting rights campaign in the parish for African Americans. 

Regardless, it's quite interesting to see such ingenuity among those involved with the organization, considering the political and racial climate in the parish at the time.  Some would argue that they had to establish such a thing for their livelihood, and I definitely agree.  Additionally, it causes me to wonder what would have happened if the organization was still around.


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