Tallulah municipal building
Location of Tallulah in Madison Parish, Louisiana.
|• Mayor||Gloria Hayden (interim for Paxton J. Branch, who died on September 1, 2018)|
|• City Council|
|• Total||2.78 sq mi (7.21 km2)|
|• Land||2.78 sq mi (7.21 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)|
|Elevation||85 ft (26 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,522.46/sq mi (973.92/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
Tallulah is a small city in and the parish seat of Madison Parish in northeastern Louisiana, United States. The 2010 population was 7,335, a decrease of 1,854, or 20.2 percent, from the 9,189 tabulation at the 2000 census. In the 21st century, the small city is nearly 77 percent African American; the surrounding parish is 60 percent black. This reflects the area's history of an agricultural economy based on cotton plantations, which employed numerous African Americans, first as slaves and, after emancipation, as paid laborers or sharecroppers.
Tallulah is the principal city of the Tallulah Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Madison Parish. The Madison Parish Sheriff's office operates the Steve Hoyle Rehabilitation Center in Tallulah.
This area was developed in the antebellum years for cotton plantations, worked by thousands of enslaved African Americans. Major planters grew wealthy from their labor at a time when the market for cotton was strong.
During the American Civil War, Union gunboats in Lake Providence headed south to Tallulah, where they burned the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Texas Railroad's depot and captured Confederate supplies awaiting shipment to Indian Territory. The Confederates in Tallulah offered no resistance. Numerous potential Confederate troops in the area were turned down for enlistment because of a lack of weapons.
After the war, many freedmen stayed in the parish, often working as sharecroppers. In the late 19th century, Italian immigrants settled in Louisiana, most in New Orleans but some in outlying parishes such as Madison. Some served as migrant workers on cotton or sugar cane plantations, in the north or south of the state, respectively. The immigrants were primarily from Sicily. Starting as farm workers, some banded together to establish small stores, such as groceries in county seats and other trading towns.
On July 20, 1899, a mob of white residents of Tallulah lynched five Sicilians from Cefalù; two other Italians who lived in nearby Milliken's Bend fled the area for their safety. Whites attacked the Sicilians because of economic competition  and, more seriously, because they did not observe Jim Crow rules: they made white customers wait their turn behind black customers already waiting, rather than giving them preference. The five Sicilians were doing a good business in fruit, vegetables and poultry, having four small stores in the town, and all save one were relatives. As was typical in this period of frequent lynchings of black US citizens, none of the lynch mob was prosecuted. The Italians were still citizens of Italy, and their government protested strongly to the United States government about each lynching murder, but it responded that the states had to prosecute such killings.
In the early decades of the 20th century, Tallulah was the first U.S. city to offer shoppers an enclosed shopping mall. A businessman built Bloom's Arcade in 1925, in the style of European arcades. It had a hall opening to stores on either side, much like the ones today. The hall opened into the street on both ends. This landmark is still in Tallulah on U.S. Route 80 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). As of late 2013, it has been restored to its original character and was adapted as an apartment complex.
On April 24, 2010, an EF4 tornado touched down just outside of Tallulah, causing numerous injuries. The tornado also damaged a tanker in a chemical plant, causing a small nitrogen leak. The tornado continued on the ground across the Mississippi River. As the tornado gained strength, it struck Yazoo, Holmes, and Choctaw counties in Mississippi, causing 10 fatalities and extensive destruction. Significant damage to an industrial plant with injuries, trapped people, and destroyed homes were reported in Madison Parish near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. Fifty-four tornadoes were reported that day.
Seviers of Tallulah
Tallulah and Madison Parish have been the center of politics for numerous members of the prominent Sevier family. They are descended from John Sevier, a soldier in the American Revolution, and his wife. Later serving as first Governor of Tennessee, he was the namesake for the city of Sevierville, Tennessee.
George Washington Sevier, Sr. (1858–1925), the father of Andrew L. Sevier, was elected as a member of the Madison Parish Police Jury. He served as the parish tax assessor from 1891–1916. Except for the years 1887–90, there has been at least one member of the Sevier family in public office for the 122 years preceding 2005. The family's power was maintained primarily in a decades-long period when only whites could vote and Louisiana was a one-party state, dominated by Democrats. From the turn of the 20th century until the late 1960s, African Americans in the parish and the state were disenfranchised and totally excluded from the political system.
Andrew Leonard Sevier, Sr. was repeatedly re-elected as a Democratic member of the Louisiana State Senate, serving from 1932 until his death in 1962. His widow, the former Irene Newman Jordan, served the rest of his term. Andrew Jackson Sevier, Jr., served as sheriff of Madison Parish from 1904 until his death in office in 1941. He was succeeded for the rest of his term by his widow, Mary Louise Day Sevier. A cousin of the Seviers, Henry Clay Sevier, was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1936–52.
James D. Sevier, Sr., and his son, also named James, held the office of tax assessor for more than four decades. Mason Spencer, husband of Rosa Sevier Spencer, represented Madison Parish in the Louisiana House from 1924–36 and planned to run for governor of Louisiana in 1935 but withdrew his candidacy. Richard Leche of New Orleans won the office.
Among the political leaders from this family were William Putnam "Buck" Sevier, Jr., a banker. He served as an elected town alderman, before being elected as mayor of Tallulah, serving for nearly 30 years, from 1946-74. Sevier at the time of his death held the record at more than forty-four years as the longest-serving publicly elected official in Louisiana.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2), all land.
|Climate data for Tallulah, Louisiana|
|Record high °F (°C)||84
|Average high °F (°C)||56.8
|Daily mean °F (°C)||46.4
|Average low °F (°C)||35.9
|Record low °F (°C)||−8
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||5.2
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,189 people, 3,016 households, and 2,078 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,396.0 people per square mile (1,309.2/km²). There were 3,226 housing units at an average density of 1,192.2 per square mile (459.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.79% African American, 23.22% White, 0.16% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.13% from other races, and 1.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.
There were 3,016 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.4% were married couples living together, 30.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.1% were non-families. 27.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.49.
In the city, the population was spread out with 37.6% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $17,142, and the median income for a family was $20,100. Males had a median income of $22,346 versus $14,679 for females. The per capita income for the city was $8,324. About 35.7% of families and 43.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 59.2% of those under age 18 and 25.2% of those age 65 or over.
- Clifford Cleveland Brooks, planter in St. Joseph, represented Madison Parish in the Louisiana State Senate from 1924-32.
- Buddy Caldwell, former Attorney General of Louisiana since 2008; former Madison, East Carroll, and Tensas parish district attorney
- James Haynes, NFL player
- Jimmy "Cooch Eye" Jones, former National Basketball Association (NBA) player with the Baltimore Bullets
- Paul Jorgensen, professional boxer
- Edgar H. Lancaster Jr., state representative from 1952 to 1968 and interim judge, 1992-1993
- John Little (American football)\John Little, professional football player
- Joe Osborn, musician
- James E. Paxton, district attorney for Madison, East Carroll, and Tensas parishes; native of Madison Parish; resides in St. Joseph in Tensas Parish
- Andrew Jackson Sevier, Sheriff of Madison Parish from 1904–41.
- James Silas, professional basketball player.
- Jefferson B. Snyder, district attorney of Madison Parish from 1904–48.
- Madam C. J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, near Delta, Louisiana. She was a self-made millionaire from health care products for African-Americans.
- Felicia Toney Williams, became the first woman elected to the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal in 1992. She was sworn in on October 4, 2018 as the north Louisiana appellate court's first female chief judge.
- Zelma Wyche, police chief, alderman and Tallulah mayor, sometimes called "Mr. Civil Rights of Louisiana".
Representation in other media
- Donna Jo Napoli, Alligator Bayou (2009), young adult historical novel about the 1899 lynchings of Italians in Tallulah, published by Wendy Lamb Books.
- “Tallulah’s Shame", Harper’s Magazine, July 1899
- Patrizia Salvetti, Corda e Sapone (in Italian) (2012); Rope and Soap: Lynchings of Italians in the United States, English translation, New York, NY : Bordighera Press, 
- Bonne Bolden (September 1, 2018). "UPDATE: Tallulah mayor dead after medical procedure". The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
- "City Council". City of Tallulah. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
- "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 2, 2017.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Tallulah, Louisiana". quickfacts.census.gov. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963; ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. 155
- Ken Scambray, " 'Corda e Sapone' (Rope and Soap): how the Italians were lynched in the USA", L'Italo-Americano, 13 December 2012; accessed 14 May 2018
- Bloom's Arcade profile, historical-places.findthedata.org; accessed June 30, 2014.
- "Delta Airlines Beginnings". Louisiana Delta 65. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
- "Sevier Family of Madison Parish, Louisiana". rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
- "Monthly Averages for Tallulah, LA". weatherbase.com. Retrieved 2017-11-29.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Henry E. Chambers, History of Louisiana, Vol. 2 (Chicago and New York City: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1925, p. 71)
- "Edgar H. Lancaster obituary". The Monroe News-Star. October 15, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
- "James E. Paxton". sixthda.com. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
- "Chief Judge Felicia Toney Williams". la2nd.org. Retrieved 2018-10-09.
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