Hammond in Gaston's Context
We know a lot about the early years of Hammond as well as the development of the Northshore region in general. Our task now is to be more inclusive for that outline of history.
Historian C. Howard Nichols frames our starting point as we begin this project below:
A Hammond Historian's Words on Gaston's Era
"This region, formerly the western-most section of Spanish West Florida, was annexed by the United States in 1810. Two years later the United States fought against Britain in the "Second War for American Independence," which we studied as the War of 1812. Eight years later Peter Hammond arrived in New Orleans and made his way to Wadesboro and thence to Ponchatoula.
Over time he earned enough money to acquire some of the vast stands of timber that characterized much of this area. It is interesting to note that others had crossed the lakes (Maurepas and Pontchartrain) during and after the War of 1812.
Madisonvilled on the Tchefuncte River developed in 1811. The Town of Covington, originally named Wharton, began in 1813. Not far from this spot, Hammond built a log house and out-buildings - near Ponchatoula Creek. The massive oaks of the neighborhood indicated that this was high ground.
In each of these northshore settlements, blacks and whites labored together to establish themselves in these pine-scented forests. They harvested some of this timber to make ship masts, tar, pitch, and charcoal for which great demand existed in the markets of New Orleans on the south side of the lakes.
Hammond's settlement marked the frontier of his time. When a favored enslaved young man died of yellow-fever, Peter Hammond placed him under the sheltering branches of this magnificent oak. As members of Hammond's family died from then on, they too were placed under the oak. The grave markers tell us who they were. It is fitting that now we also know the name of this first person to be interred in the Hammond Family Cemetery."
- C. Howard Nichols, Emeritus Professor of History
(Written November 1, 2017 for the All Saints' Day wreath-laying ceremony at Gaston's grave marker)