Much has happened in St. Charles Parish in the more than thirteen decades. We have gone from a sparsely populated agricultural community to being one of the largest ports in the world. And during that time, one business has witnessed this evolution first hand.The oldest business still in operation in the river parishes celebrated its 133rd birthday this week. You guessed it; the St. Charles Herald-Guide has turned one year older.
It was 133 years ago on February 15, when Michael Hahn kicked off this weekly newspaper out of a small office in the newly built community of Hahnville. It was a progressive little town carved out of two plantations in what was known as Flaggville. It boasted a stagecoach that transported to and from the train stations, a dance hall, post office, stationary store and much more.
Hahn, a former governor of Louisiana, personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln and eventual US Congressman, envisioned a community newspaper that would keep the residents of St. Charles Parish better informed of local events as well as news from the city and abroad.
It is not very likely Hahn ever expected his small newspaper printed on a letter press which required each and every letter to be painstakingly assembled by hand in lead type, would be among one of the oldest continually circulated newspapers in the south. His efforts started a local tradition that has withstood the test of time.
Since that date, the St. Charles Herald has rolled off the presses and into local residents’ homes without interruption. Besides being one of the oldest newspapers, the Herald holds the record of being many of St. Charles Parishes’ “firsts.”
It was the first newspaper located exclusively in the parish. The first source of information for local residents regarding issues that affected them. It boasted the first pay telephone and many, many others.
Over the years, it has chronicled life along the lower Mississippi River Valley as it described a century long journey from river travel abroad paddle wheelers and stately cane producing plantations to one of the nation’s industrial leaders and one of the world’s busiest ports.
Weekly, the St. Charles Herald’s note-taking has documented this process, our accomplishment and shortcomings as well.
If you would like take a journey back in time, set aside a few hours to visit the westbank library in Luling and stroll through the volumes of microfilm on hand of some of the early issues of the Herald.
Witness for yourself the interesting journey that has brought us here today and the role the Herald-Guide has had in this process.