Hall of Fame will recognize Edwards family of sheriffs

By James Ronald Skains
Journal Correspondent

The Edwards family of Tangipahoa Parish will receive the 2014 Political Family Award at the annual Political Hall of Fame induction in Winnfield on Saturday, February 1, along with a group of seven other Louisiana political notables.

The political legacy of elected sheriffs in Tangipahoa Parish goes back over a century to the time when Frank Edwards Jr's, great grandfather became the first of four generations of the Edwards family to become Sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish.

"My great grandfather did not like being sheriff, as there was a lot of turmoil going on in the parish at the time," Frank Edwards, Jr. told the Piney Woods Journal. "There were a lot of family feuds going on at that time in Tangipahoa. However, my great grandfather did continue to stay in law enforcement for a number of years after serving as sheriff."

"My father, Frank Edwards, Sr. was the sheriff for several terms and enjoyed the job. I enjoyed my time as sheriff and now my son, Daniel, has been sheriff since 2004."

It was almost 50 years ago that then Sheriff Edwards conducted the raid that eliminated moonshining in Tangipahoa Parish. This raid, near the little community of Arcola in the northern part of the parish, is part of an Emmy-nominated history series, "The Florida Parishes" developed by Southeast Louisiana University in Hammond.

The Edwards family's history of service to Louisiana predates the first Edwards to become sheriff of Tangipahoa by nearly 80 years, to 1814 when Daniel Edwards fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. The first Daniel Edwards in the family legacy also served in the Legislature of the Republic of West Florida.

The public service legacy of the Edwards family has continued into the 21st Century with the current Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff, Daniel Edwards. Daniel's brother, Frank Edwards is Police Chief in Independence, also located in Tangipahoa Parish. Two other members of the Edwards family also hold elected office, John Bel Edwards is a State Representative and Blair Edwards is 21st Judicial District Judge.

The Louisiana Political Hall of Fame is also inducting seven other Louisiana political figures on Saturday February 1, 2014. Those seven include:
- J. Marshall Brown was an insurance agent in 1952 in New Orleans when he was elected as a State Representative in District 12 where he served two terms. He also served two terms on the State Board of Education. However, Brown was perhaps best known for his political skills as a Democratic National Committeeman, and as a brilliant political operator, strategist and fundraiser.
- Judge John Baptiste Fournet had a long and illustrious elected official career like perhaps no other Louisiana politician in history. First elected as a state representative from Jefferson Davis Parish in 1928, Fournet became Speaker of the House by orders of Huey P. Long. Then he was elected Lt. Governor during the term of Governor O.K. Allen in 1932. In 1935, he was elected as an Associate of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1935. Fourteen years later, Judge Fournet was elevated to the position of Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, a position he held until he reached mandatory retirement age of 75 in 1970. Judge Fournet lived until 1984 with all his memories of the turbulent political times in the Louisiana House in 1929 when the House of Representative tried to impeach Governor Huey P. Long while he was Speaker of the House.
- Richard P. Guidry was known as Dick Guidry in political circles. At age 21, in 1950, Gudiry was elected the House of Representative by a landslide victory margin of 17 votes in Lafourche Parish. After one term, Guidry left politics but returned to the House of Representative in 1964 where he served until 1976.
- John Smoker Hunt II was the nephew of Huey P. and Earl K. Long. He was also the first cousin of former long term US Senator Russell Long. Hunt was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Louisiana Public Service Commission. He was later elected to a full six year term. Hunt graduated from Ruston High School, attended the Citadel in South Carolina and later entered Tulane University where he obtained a law degree. After law school, he served in the military as both an enlisted man and later as an officer. Hunt served during the time of the Korean War.
- Rose McConnell Long is one of only two women to serve as First Lady of Louisiana and as a US Senator. Rose McConnell Long was born in Greensburg, Indiana but moved with her parents to Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1913, she was married to Huey P. Long. After the untimely death of her husband in 1935, Rose was appointed to fill his unexpired term as US Senator. She actually won a special election in April of 1936 to serve out the last six months of Huey P. Long's Senate term. She declined to seek re-election."
- Edward "Bubby" Lyons is the only politician in Louisiana history to serve as Mayor of two different cities, Houma and Mandeville. Lyons also served on the Terrebonne Parish Police Jury, and as Parish President. Lyons was active in both the Louisiana Police Jury Association and the Louisiana Municipal Association and served in elected leadership roles in both organizations. After retiring from politics and business enterprises in Houma, notably Duplantis Truck Lines, Quality Shipyards, and Benton Casing (all of which he was a part-owner), Lyons moved to Mandeville. He was first appointed to an un-expired term on the City Council and then appointed as Mayor. Lyons is also known for his entertaining dancing, singing and storytelling.
- Robert "Bob" Mann spent 20 years of his career working for US Senators Russell Long and John Breaux. Later in his career, Mann was Communications Director for Governor Kathleen Blanco. Currently, Mann is a journalist, author, and historian who holds the Manship Chair in Mass Communications at the LSU Manship School.\par }{\plain Mann also writes a popular internet blog called "Something Like the Truth on Politics, Louisiana and Life." Mann, who attended Northeast Louisiana State University (now ULM) is married to the former Cynthia Ann "Cindy" Horaist who is the executive director of the Louisiana Prison Chapel Foundation. Horaist's foundation sponsored the drama, "The Life of Jesus Christ" which was performed in 2012 and 2013 by inmates at Angola prison.
-Harvey Peltier, Jr. represented District 21 in the Louisiana State Senate from 1964-1972. This was the same senate seat that his dad had held earlier for two decades. At the age of 25 Peltier, who lived in Thibodaux, was a delegate to the 1948 Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia when President Harry Truman was nominated as the party's candidate for President. In 1975, Peltier was appointed by Governor Edwin Edwards as a Trustee of the University of Louisiana where he served until his untimely death at age 57 in 1980. Peltier's father was a member of the Louisiana State Representatives in 1929 during the time that an effort was made to impeach Huey Long. Peltier, Sr. was a member of the famed "Round Robin" group of Representatives. He also was a confidante of and a campaign manager for Huey P. Long.

This should be a humdinger of a Political Hall of Fame event with two members of the famed Long family (Rose Long and John Hunt) being inducted along with Huey Long's political friends (Fournet) and the son (Peltier, Jr.) of his campaign manager, an entertainer (Lyons), a mass communicator (Mann), the youngest man ever elected as a state representative (Guidry), a New Orleans insurance agent turned politician (Brown) and the John Bel Edwards family.

The Edwards Family will receive the 2014 Political Family Award. The family's history of service to Louisiana dates back to 1814 when Daniel Edwards fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans. Daniel served in the West Florida Republic Legislature and started a family legacy in politics and public service. A branch of this legacy continues with state Representative John Bel Edwards, former Sheriff Frank Edwards, Jr. the son and grandson of Tangipahoa Parish sheriffs before him, Independence Police Chief Frank Edwards, current Sheriff Daniel Edwards, and 21st Judicial District Judge Blair Edwards.