Edwards, Long families recognized

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

The Frank Edwards Jr, Daniel Edwards, and John Bel Edwards family was presented with the Louisiana Political Family of the Year Award at the 22nd Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet at the Winnfield Civic Center on Saturday evening, February 1.

In a first of its kind using modern technology application for the banquet, State Representative John Bel Edwards' acceptance of the award on behalf of his family was "Skyped" live to the hospital room of Frank Edwards, Jr. at Oschner Hospital in New Orleans. Frank, Jr. is the patriarch of the 21st Century Edwards family that began its legacy of public service in 1810 with the original Daniel Edwards.

However, at the last minute, Frank, Jr. was unable to attend the Winnfield event due to complications in his battle with cancer. In fact, most of the Edwards family was en-route to Winnfield for the event, when Frank, Jr's medical condition worsened. Some of the family turned around and returned to the New Orleans hospital.

"My daddy was very excited about our family receiving this award and was looking forward to accepting it on behalf of the family," John Bel Edwards told the Piney Woods Journal. "For my father, the live 'Skype' will be the next best thing to actually being here in person."

"My dad served multiple terms as Sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish. Being sheriff of any parish is difficult, but being Sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish was extremely difficult. It is a long narrow parish with I-55 running the length of the parish north and south, while I-12 crosses it east and west. The northern area of the parish that borders Mississippi is mostly rural. The southern border of the parish is Lake Ponchartrain."

"This makes for a diverse culture; forestry and agriculture to the north, fishing and recreation to south, plus a university and two interstates certainly keeps a sheriff busy in Tangipahoa Parish," John Bel acknowledged. "This was the environment that my brothers and I grew up in, and this was the legacy of the Edwards family. My dad was always trying to serve the public in the parish and help solve their problems."

The current Daniel Edwards, an attorney by profession, is the fourth direct descendant member of the Edwards family to be elected to the office of Sheriff in Tangipahoa Parish within the last 120 years. Daniel was elected in 2003 after serving as Assistant District Attorney.

Jack B. McGuire, noted political historian and author, served as Master of Ceremonies for the annual political event. In his presentation of the Edwards family as the Political Family of 2014, McGuire outlined the history of the Edwards family from 1810 to the present: "The first Edwards elected to office was Daniel as a representative to the Republic of West Florida. In 1813, his brother Jack Edwards was elected as sheriff of St. Tammany parish. Daniel Edwards later served in the Louisiana Legislator for several terms."

"Daniel's son, Nicholas also served several terms in the Legislature and served as a delegate for two Louisiana Constitutional Conventions. Nicholas' son, Frank Millard Edwards was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1916 and 1920. In 1928 he was elected sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish where he served until 1948. In 1956 Frank, Sr. was elected to the Louisiana Senate."\par }{\plain "Continuing the tradition of the Edwards family, Frank, Jr. was elected sheriff in 1968 where he served until 1980," McGuire said in recalling the history of the Edwards family. "In 1984, Frank, Jr. was appointed by another Edwards as Assistant Commissioner of Administration for the State of Louisiana."

After the Edwards family from Tangipahoa Parish left center stage at the 2014 Louisiana Political Hall of Fame event, it was mostly a "Long" night. Four members of the Long political family were inducted into the Hall of Fame in the February event.

Rose McConnell Long would have to be considered one of the original Long political family members, being the wife of the patriarch of the family, former Governor and US Senator Huey P. Long. Rose was born in Indiana on April 28, 1892. In 1918, she helped launch the career of Huey P. Long by serving as his campaign manager in his first run for public office as Railroad Commissioner, later changed to Public Service Commissioner. Rose holds the distinction of not only being elected to the US Senate, but also having been the wife of a US Senator and later the mother of a US Senator.

Other members of the Long political dynasty to be inducted in the La Political Hall of Fame at the February event was Rose and Huey's nephew, John S. Hunt, Robert "Bob" Mann, former Press Secretary to US Senator Russell B. Long, and Huey P. Long's most trusted lieutenant during his years as governor, John Fournet.

John S. Hunt, a true Long family member was a campaigner for his Uncle Earl Long during the 1950s. Later he was appointed as Public Service Commissioner and was subsequently elected to that post where he served a full six year term.

John Fournet, who later added "Judge" to his name for 35 years, as the longest serving Louisiana Supreme Court Justice in history, began his career as a state representative the same year Huey P. Long was elected Governor, 1928. Governor Long selected Fournet to become Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, even though he was a first term state representative.

Speaker Fournet was credited with blocking impeachment of Governor Long in 1929 through some deft parliamentary maneuvering. In 1932, Fournet was elected to serve as Lt. Governor of Louisiana with Governor O. K. Allen.

Robert "Bobo" Mann, former press secretary for US Senator Russell B. Long, completed the list of members of the Long Political Family inducted into the Hall of Fame, Class of 2014. Mann, a noted journalist, historian, and lecturer, currently holds the Manship Chair in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. Mann stays up to date with politics with his internet blog, "Something Like the Truth."

Another inductee, J. Marshall Brown of New Orleans was a Long political prot\'e9g\'e9 being in the state legislature during the last term of Governor Earl K. Long. Brown, known both statewide and nationally as a shrewd political operator and super successful campaign fundraiser, was close to another Long ally, former Governor John J. McKeithen.

The other three 2014 inductees were never directly connected to the Long Political Family. Richard "Dick" Guidry was the youngest person ever elected to the Louisiana legislature at age 21 in 1950. He served one term and then was out of politics for 10 years before returning to the House in 1964 for 12 years.

Harvey Peltier, Jr. began his political career in 1964 when he was elected to the State Senate. He served two terms during which time he donated his Senate salary for scholarships to agriculture students at Nichols State. However, Peltier, Jr.'s father was a State Senator during the heydays of the Long Political family.

Edward "Bubby" Lyons, was the eighth inductee into the Hall in the class of 2014. Although never running for higher office than Mayor, his political DNA was unique serving as Mayor of two different cities in Louisiana, Houma and Mandeville. He also served on the Terrebonne Parish Police Jury, its successor, the Houma-Terrebonne Parish government as its first president. Later, after moving to the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain to the city of Mandeville, he was elected to the City Council. Lyons, a renowned story teller accepted his Hall of Fame award with a song and dance.

Congratulations to Carolyn Phillips, Director for the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame, for the incredible job that she does. Although funding is minimal, Ms. Phillips maintains a showcase of a museum with her tireless enthusiasm, and the help of dedicated volunteers. I strongly encourage everyone to visit this treasure of Louisiana Political History and mark your calendar for next year's Louisiana Political Hall of Fame.

The family of Rose McConnel Long and Huey P. Long in
attendance at the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame induction
ceremony included left to right: great grandson Russell Mosely
and wife Erin, state arhivist Dr. Florentine Hardy, granddaughter
Kay Long great granddaughters Terry Fluke and Marsha Butz,
State Senator Gary Smith and wife Katherine, great-granddaughter.