In 1768, when the French and Indian war came to an end and peace was made between France and England, France gave up all her territory, part of which was given to Spain. Spain afterwards gave it secretly back to France - thus for a time the little village of, "Chou-cou-pou-lou" was governed by the Spanish.
About that time, to encourage immigration, the government gave grants of land to whomsoever would cultivate the ground and make their home here in the district of Bay. St. Louis.
Many men of French and Spanish extraction availed themselves of the Government's offer and became the owners of extensive tracts of land.
After Spain had returned France her territory it was necessary for all these Spanish grants to be confirmed by the French Government.
In the early part of the year 1794 the Baron de Carondelet, then governor of these provinces, had the Spanish grant of one Louis Alexis Lassassier made good by the French Government, which he represented.
Later in the same year, 1794, upon a return trip from France, this Louis Alexis Lassassier suffered shipwreck and lost his papers, among them his grant to lands at Choucoupoulou Point in the District of Bay St. Louis.
In the year 1798 Louis Alexis Lassassier applied to Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, Brigadier of the Royal Army and Governor General of those provinces, and at the request of his excellency the Baron de Carondelet, General Manuel Gayoso de Lemos directed his secretary, Don Andrew Lopez Armesto, to search for a record of the Lassassier Claim. Copies were found and Louis Alexis Lassassier again gained possession of his lands, and later, in 1823, a grant was made to his widow, Melite Lassassier. (Book A, pp.298-303, Hancock County Land Deed Records)
In the early 1800's Jesse cowand migrated from Virginia to New Orleans. When the War of 1812 came along he participated in the Battle of New Orleans as a Corporal in Captain Thomas Beal's Company of Orleans Riflemen. On the night of the 23rd of December, 1814, General Jackson surprised the British forces when they marched up from the swamp and encamped on the river bank under cover of their fleet. Facing them on the extreme right were Lafitte's command and the Orleans Riflemen. Captain Beale's Company of Orleans Riflemen during this night attack was overwhelmed by a superior force of British regulars and a large number taken prisoners. Among those captured and confined aboard the fleet was Jesse Cowand. Following the war he operated a cooperage business, in the French Quarter at #30 Chartres Street, corner of Bienville. I have in my possession an old ledger used in this business, the last entry being dated January 15, 1825. One of his customers was Judah Touro for whom Touro Infirmary in New Orleans was named.
The land on which Elmwood stands and surrounding lands was purchased by Jesse Cowand in 1826 - 1829 from Melite Lassassier. It is believed that construction of Elmwood was begun in the early 1800s and prior to the War of 1812 and completed by Jesse Cowand about 1830. This is a two story brick building put together with wooden pegs and situated on the west shore of the Bay of St. Louis, facing east. The bricks of which it is built came to this country as ballast in ships from Spain and Portugal and unloaded in New Orleans in the early 1800s. Clam shells left on the shore of the Bay by Indians were crushed and used in the mortar. The property comprised 553 acres where Sea Island cotton was grown as the principal crop on this plantation.
In 1852 Jesse Cowand died and Elmwood Manor passed by dower rights to his widow, Elizabeth Cowand, and remained in her possession until her death in 1862.
On October 26, 1856 "J.V. Toulme, Alexander Bookter, and J.A. Ulman, Commissioners appointed by the Honorable Benjamin Sones, Judge of the Probate Court of Hancock County, to make partition of and divide a certain tract of land situate, lying and being in said county and described as follows: Bounded on the North by Jourdan River, East by the Bay of St. Louis, South by the Dower of Mrs. Elizabeth Cowand, and West by lands claimed by Hopkins and Miller, into ten equal shares or parts, and to allot the same to the ten heirs of Jesse Cowand, deceased (they being joint tenants of said tract of land) according to the provisions of an act concerning the partition of lands had by coparcaners, joint tenants, and tenants in common, having at a previous day caused, as directed by said Act, said tract of land to be surveyed and divided into ten shares and parts of two lots each, and a map and Field Book of said survey to be made, specifying the bounds and numbers of each Lot. And having given notice of the time and place in the manner directed by said Act, they then would on this day meet at the office of V.B. Pierce in the City of Shieldsborough in said County and make an allotment by ballot of the several parts or shares aforesaid of said tract of land to said joint tenants, do now hereby certify that pursuant to said notice, we this day assembled at the place aforesaid appointed when and where we proceeded in a public manner to number on said Map and put the same in a box, also to put the names of said joint tenants written on separate tickets into another box; and that James Johnston apointed for that purpose by the undersigned, proceeded to draw said names and numbers as directed by said Act, and did draw the same as follows, that is to say:
To Arthelia Keene was drawn Share No. 1 --Lots 1 front & 10 rear To Jane Aiken 2 2 & 9 rear To Mary E. Leibooke 3 3 & 8 rear To Heirs of Lucinda Bryan 4 4 & 7 rear To Julia Cowand 5 5 & 6 rear To Alfred Cowand 6 6 & 5 rear To Charles Cowand 7 7 & 4 rear To Cora A. Moore 8 8 & 3 rear To Amanda Ames 9 9 & 2 rear To Jesse Cowand 10 10 & 1 rearAnd that said Shares Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were thereupon declared allotted to said joint tenants according to said ballotting. Certified under our hands and seals this 26th day of December, A. D. 1857."
On the grounds was the family burial ground, Jesse Cowand, his wife, and descendants are buried there. Upon a division of the property to the various heirs at the August Term of Chancery Court in 1875 (Deed Book G, pages 342-3, Hancock County Deed Records) it was specifically stated "Your Commissioners further respectfully report to your Honor that they find on a portion of the land to be divided, about half a mile back of the beach and near the line dividing the Estate of Joseph Field, deceased from the lands of Melite Lessassier, a cemetery, which has been used for many years back as a place of interment for all the different families descended from the late Jesse Cowand. They find that the late Jesse Cowand himself and his deceased widow are buried there besides many others belonging to the family, and a general desire exists among the different heirs that this Cemetery should continue in the joint occupancy and possession of all, so that it can be used hereafter as well as heretofore for the interment of any member of the different families interested in the Estate. To secure this laudable object, the Commissioners have laid off, surveyed and staked out a lot of land containing one acre, in the shape of a square with sides 208 feet long for a Common Graveyard, as will appear from the map (Exhibit B) and ask your Honorable court that this action in the premises be approved, and said Cemetery be forever set apart as a Common Grave Yard for the families of all parties interested in the Estate of Jesse Cowand, deceased." Also, a street to the beach front was provided at this time which is presently known as Leopold Street. "Your Commissioners further report to your Honor that they find a street, called Second Street, running in a direction nearly north and south, through the Estate of Jesse Cowand, deceased and of Joseph Field, deceased, which street gives the only access to the different divisions of the rear land for the respective owners of the same. They find that this street, as a means of access and communication will not afford the full benefit contemplated unless it be connected with the Front Street or Road running along the beach of the Bay and for the purpose of affording this access from and to the front, and connecting not only Second Street, but also the Common Cemetery with said Front Street. Your Commissioners have - by the advice and with the consent of all parties interested - laid off a street or road 21 feet wide running from the beach along the line of the Melite Lessassier Claim past the Cemetery to Second Street; as will more fully appear by reference to the map (Exhibit B)." This street was part of the Cowand estate.
It is believed that Jesse Cowand and his family occupied what was called "The Cottage" (now the property of Mr. and Mrs. Hunter Kimbrough) while Elmwood Manor was being completed, and where they later moved. This Is the property bought by Jesse Cowand from Melite Lessassier on September 28, 1826, containing 88 acres (in what was then known as Choucoupoulou, Shieldsboro, and now Bay St. Louis), which deed is recorded In Book A at pages 307-310 and states among other things and in particular the following *** "the said land sold with the buildings and improvements thereon". It is believed that The Cottage was built by Lessassier and was on this property at the time of its purchase by Jesse Cowand. My grandfather's older brother (the second Jesse Cowand), in later years when the property was divided among the heirs, became the owner of the present Kimbrough property. This second Jesse Cowand was the father of Gertrude Cowand Penney. In those days there was another small building to the rear of, the main house and connected by a covered gallery or porch which comprised a kitchen, store room and one other room. This small building was moved In the 1920s by the then owner, C. Greer Moore, a real estate dealer from New Orleans, to the south of the main dwelling near the ravine and used as rental property and was destroyed in the hurricane of 1947. This second Jesse Cowand was an Ordnance Sergeant with the 7th Louisiana Infantry during the Civil War, having enlised in 1861 and paroled in 1865. He died in 1890 and was buried In the Cowand Cemetery.
It might be added here that my grandfather, Charles T. Cowand, who was the youngest child of Jesse Cowand, was born in the southwest bedroom of Elmwood In 1846. He told me when I was a small child that during the War of 1812 the British fired a cannon ball at Elmwood which was lodged in a wall. At that time only the four walls were standing as the building had not been completed. I can recall seeing this cannon ball on the grounds of Elmwood where It was set on a small pedestal of some sort, but it disappeared In later years. Charles Cowand fought with the Washington Artillery of Louisiana during the Civil War and died December 31, 1917 and was buried In the Cowand Cemetery.
Following the Civil War in 1865 my grandfather and his brothers came home to ruin and desolation. The slaves were all gone and there was none of the family living in Bay St. Louis. Weeds, trees and undergrowth had taken over the grounds In and around Elmwood. Disheartened, my grandfather and his brother Alfred pooled their resources and established a place of business in New Orleans at what was then the corner of Franklin and Julia Streets where they dealt in groceries and plantation supplies, ship stores, wines and liquors (according to a copy of a bill head in my possession) This place of business was destroyed by fire and the Insurance had expired only the day before. It was then that my grandfather decided to move to Bay St. Louis where he owned a tract of land, being his division of the old plantation, and established a home.
In April of 1889 Helena Dorhauer Cowand, wife of Charles T. Cowand, and Julia Cowand Herrick, wife of Dr. S. S. Herrick, "conveyed to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Bay St. Louis a strip of land to be used as a public street, to-wit: On the part of Helena D. Cowand, wife of Charles T. Cowand, a strip of land on the south side of land known as front lot No. 7 in the division of the Estate of Jesse Cowand, deceased, said strip of land being 16-2/3 feet wide and running between parallel lines from what is known as Front Street to Cowand Avenue; and on the part of Julia Cowand, wife of Dr. S. S. Herrick now residing in San Francisco, Calif., a strip of land on the north side of what Is known as front lot No. 6 in the division of the Estate of Jesse Cowand, deceased, said strip of land being 23-1/3 feet wide and running between parallel lines from what is known as Front Street to Cowand Avenue. These two strips of land to make one street forty feet wide to be known as Julia Street; said Julia Street being in the corporate limits of the City of Bay St. Louis, County of Hancock, State of Mississippi. Said Julia Street is bounded on the East by Front Street, on the North by land of Helena Dorhauer, wife of Charles T. Cowand, on the West by Cowand Avenue, and on the South by land of Julia Cowand, wife of Dr. S. S. Herrick." (Book M. page 512, Hancock County Deed Records.)
As of the present time (January 1980) there is yet a small portion of this old plantation or property of the original Estate of Jesse Cowand, deceased, still in the Cowand Family besides the family cemetery, and that is Lots 61, 62, and 63, First Ward, Bay St. Louis and located on Julia Street. These lots are owned by my three brothers, Jesse R. Cowand, Glen L. Cowand and Malcolm A. Cowand.
This the 15th day of January, 1980.
Helene Cowand Price
Cowand, Alfred S.: Pvt. 4th Co. Battn., Washington Arty., Louisiana. Enlisted March 2, 1863, Mobile, Ala. Present on all roles to October 1863, Roll for Nov. and Dec. 1863 absent. On furlough from Dec. 16, 1863. Rolls Jan. 1864 to April 1864 AWOL since Jan. 3, 1864. Rolls from May 1864 to Feb. 1865 present. Parolled at Farmville, Va. April 11-21, 1865. Born - Miss. Occupation, Planter. Resident of Thibodaux, La. Age when enlisted, 23 years. Married. Present in following engagements: Chancellorsville, May 23, 1863; Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863; Williamsport, July 6, 1863; Chickahominy, June 6, 1864; Petersburg, June 19, 1864.
Cowand, Charles: Pvt., 4th Co. Battn., Washington Artillery, Louisiana. Enlisted May 26, 1861, N. O., La. Present on all rolls to April 1865. Born, Miss. Occupation, Planter. Resident, Shieldsboro, Miss. Age when enlisted, 17, single. (Actually was 15 years old.)
Cowand, Jesse: Ordnance Sgt., Co.G.F.&S., 7th La. Infantry. Enlisted June 7, 1861, Camp Moore, La. Present on roll to July 4, 1861. Roll for Sept. and Oct. 1861 Appointed 4th Sgt. from 5th Sgt. October 4, 1861. Detailed Oct. 22, to duty with Lt. Killmartin on bridges. Roll Jan. and Feb. 1862, Absent. Detailed Feb. 19 with recruiting office at N. 0. La. Present on all rolls from Jan. 1863 to Feb. 1864. On roll of P.O.W. captured at Winchester, Va., Sept. 19, 1864, parolled at Point Lookout, Md., and transferred for exchange. Received at Cox's Landing, James River, Va. Feb. 14 & 15, 1865 and on roll of P.O.W. parolled at Meridian, Miss., may 10, 1865, Resident, N. O., La.