Of Business Men to Consider the Proposition Made by Mr. T. H. Leslie.
Almost an Assured Fact that a Railroad Will Be Built from Lafayette to Abbeville This Year.
A BUSINESS MEN'S ASSOCIATION PROPOSED.
Mr. T. H. Leslie, President and General Manager of the Stuttgart and Arkansas River Railroad, from whom we published a letter in last week's ADVERTISER, arrived in Lafayette Thursday afternoon, and called at this office. We soon discovered that Mr. Leslie meant business, and was a man who talked "straight from the shoulder."
He stated that he could remain only a short time in our city, and as he had several propositions to make to the people, requested us to call a meeting of some of our representative citizens to meet him at 11 o'clock Friday morning, which we agreed to do. Our own time was fully occupied, but we saw as many as was possible, and as possible, and as a result a number of business men congregated to the director's room of the People's State Bank, who kindly granted the use of the room for a meeting. Mr. Leslie submitted the following written proposition which was read to the meeting.
Lafayette, La., Feb. 3, 1893:
A. C. Ordway, Esq.,
DEAR SIR: - I would be pleased to submit through you, confidentially to some of your representative citizens, the following co-operative proposition.
In the event of your people being induced to vote the aid requested by me, I will at my own expense have issued a satisfactory pamphlet setting forth your advantages and resources ; and will offer a bonus of $20,000 to anyone who will establish a cotton factory, employing not less than 150 people, and $10,000 bonus for a good No. 1 sugar refinery, which I will pay upon the erection of one or both of the above-named plants. I will agree to bring about a reduction of an average of at least 10 per cent on all freight rates to and from this town, and also these representative men to select the Treasurer and two Directors of the road, thus ensuring many direct benefits to your city.
T. H. Leslie.
It may be well to explain here that the aid requested by Mr. Leslie and referred to in the above proposition is a 5 mill tax for ten years from the town and an 8 mill tax for the same period from the parish.
After the reading of the above proposition Mr. Leslie was introduced and spoke as follows:
"GENTLEMEN: In the event of your advocating and securing the aid requested by me, I will obligate myself to meet your city and parish in a co-operative spirit for the development of your country, by inducing the investment of capital in various enterprises calculated to promote the rapid development of your dormant resources. Among the number that I should aid and encourage would be the following:
A Sugar Refinery, An Electric light plant, A System of Water Works, A Cotton Factory and
A Street Railway,
As an incentive to establish the two most important industries named, viz: a Sugar Refinery and a Cotton Factory. I will give a bonus of $10,000 to the first named and $20,000 to the second, and with this encouragement and the general stimulation given by the building of a railroad to the coast. I do not question or doubt the future prosperity of your city. I have never seen greater average advantages than here, and they only need to be known to the outside world to be most wonderfully developed in the next few years. If by a liberal policy you can double your population in the next five years and increase the value of all property 100 per cent., at a nominal cost to yourselves, you are certainly the gainers by the transaction. My proposition contemplates mutual benefits and is all one-sided as is the case frequently in railroad matters. My theory is, and my experience has demonstrated the fact that a large tonnage and low rates are better for both the railroad and the people, as low rates encourages the people to handle many articles that otherwise would be impossible."
After his remarks were finished a general discussion of the matter took place, and Mr. Leslie convinced everyone present that he was thoroughly in earnest in the matter and was in a position to carry out every proposition made by him to the people. Arrangements were made for further correspondence with Mr. Leslie regarding the matter, and after receiving assurances from all present that they would support the matter earnestly and heartily, Mr. Leslie took his departure.
At the close of the railroad discussion advantages was taken of the opportunity afforded by the presence of the business men to take preliminary steps for the organization of a Business Men's Association, which in the future could take charge of any movement started that would benefit our town, and the following named gentlemen were enrolled as members:
Chas. O. Mouton, N. P. Moss, I. A. Broussard, Judge O. C. Mouton, T. M. Biossat, John O. Mouton, Julian J. Mouton, Julian J. Mouton, Alfred Hebert, J. Higginbotham, B. Falk, Wm. Campbell, Capt. J. C. Buchanan, A. J. Moss, A. M. Martin, A. C. Ordway, A. C. Guilbeau and Crow Girard.
On motion Messrs. O. C. Mouton, Alfred Hebert and A. C. Ordway were appointed a committee to draft a constitution and by-laws to be submitted to a meeting Monday evening, the Chairman to act as a member of ex-officio of the committee.
A motion was made and carried that a meeting be held at the Court House, next Monday evening, at 7:30 o'clock, and that all business men and citizens of Lafayette be urgently requested to attend with a view of affecting a permanent organization, after which the meeting broke up, and everyone present seemed to realize that if Lafayette was ever to advance in wealth and prosperity, the time had arrived for earnest work.
Let there be a large attendance on next Monday night. Everybody owes it as a duty to the community to attend.
Lafayette Advertiser 2/4/1893.
Improvements the year 1893 will give Lafayette:
A New Railroad,
A Sugar Refinery,
A Cotton Factory,
A Street Car Line,
A Graded School,
A Rice Mill,
A Cotton Seed Oil Mill,
An Ice Factory,
and a dozen minor industries.
Lafayette Advertiser 2/25/1893.
THE ELECTRIC RAILWAY PROJECT.
Some time since the Council granted a franchise to Mr. Jno. A. McIlhenny to contract an electric railway over various streets of Lafayette, this road to be a part of an electric railway connecting a number of neighboring towns; but it seems from the best information obtainable, that the project has fallen through. This is unfortunate, as beyond a doubt such a road would have been of inestimable benefit to Lafayette. An electric railway from Abbeville by way of Royville (now Youngsville) to Lafayette then to Breaux Bridge, Arnaudville and Opelousas would be of the greatest advantage to all the places mentioned and especially to this place. It would bring us more residents, increasing the population, and a largely augmented business/ And it would pay the investors. The country along which the road would pass is thickly settled and would furnish an immense passenger travel, and the item of freights would be a big one. The investment would pay, and it would be a good move on the part of our business men to take hold of the matter and push the road's construction. The road bed is level, scarcely any grading would be necessary, and the right of way secured free. It would not require such a large sum to build it, and we believe that with the assistance of the towns mentioned and people along the proposed line, it could be done. Once in the operation there would be no question of its paying, perhaps not large dividends at first, but it would pay.
This is one of Lafayette's opportunities. Is she wideawake enough to see it?
Lafayette Advertiser 3/16/1904.