Ever Heard of Fred, Louisiana?

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By Vicki Carney, Central/Greenwell Springs Society of History
    A short distance from Central, at the intersection of the Zachary-Deerford Road (Hwy 64) and Plank Road, was the community of Fred. Fred may be just a place on a map today, but in the early 1900’s, the crossroads had a saloon establishment which also provided groceries and housed the post office. It was believed to have about 100 people serviced by the post office. The mail route went from Pride to Zachary two times a week.
    Fred Post Office was established on December 7, 1894. Fred Weiss was the first postmaster. He served until 1895 and was replaced by John G. Carpenter. Theodore Schutzman became postmaster in 1900, and served until 1904, when he was succeeded by John W. Brown. Loudon Black became postmaster in 1905 and served until 1908, when mail was directed at this time to Baker. Mrs. Elfreda Upton of Baton, Rouge, the daughter of Mr. Schutzman, said her father moved from East Feliciana Parish in 1893 and bought a store located at the intersection of Plank Road and the Zachary-Deerford Road. He later built a cotton gin nearby and operated it until he moved to Baton Rouge. The cotton gin was fired by wood which produced steam to operate the presses. In about 1903, a gin operating in Deerford burned completely and Schutzman operated his gin night and day. When Schutzman sold his business, cotton was the number one crop, and all of the land around Fred was used for the production of cotton. In 1905 the boll weevil hit the area and wiped out cotton crops.
    The Fred post office was on the northwest corner of Plank Road and Zachary-Deerford Road, according to Mrs. Bessie Reames of Tucker Road. The post office was evidently named for the first postmaster, Fred Weiss. The last Fred postmaster, Loudon Black, left many descendants in the area. He is buried near Deerford.
    There is an interesting Livingston Parish twist to this story. Weiss established another now-extinct post office which existed in Livingston Parish for 44 years, from 1899 to 1943. The post office was located in the extreme north-west corner of the parish. The Livingston-St. Helena Parish boundary line is just to the north. The Amite River, the boundary which separates Livingston as well as St. Helena from East Baton Rouge Parish, is just to the west. The Weiss post office was established on September 5, 1899. The first postmaster was Henry A. Nesom. The office  was discontinued on May 14, 1910. It was reestablished on April 1, 1911. It was moved to St. Helena Parish, February 13, 1943 and discontinued on April 30, 1949. The mail was then directed to Denham Springs.
    According to Mr. Frank A. Nesom (born 1894), son of the first postmaster, Weiss acquired its name when his father, Henry A. Nesom, wanted to establish a post office. However, he was not familiar with government “red tape” so he sought the assistance of his friend Fred Weiss who, being a past resident of the area, readily agreed to help him. In gratitude for Mr. Fred Weiss’ assistance, Mr. Henry A. Nesom gave his proposed office Fred’s surname, Weiss. The application for the proposed office having the name Weiss was accepted by the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C. Thus Mr. Fred Weiss became one of only a few people to have two different post offices in the same state named for him.

References: Zachary Faces and Places, Land and Land Printers, Baton Rouge, La., 1975
Essay: Weiss, Livingston Parish, Louisiana by Clark Forrest, Jr. February, 1974

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