A Timeline of Central City, Louisiana

1541 Hernando De Soto of Spain discovers the Mississippi River and explores parts of what are now Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. De Soto died of fever and was buried in the Mississippi River.

1682 De La Salle claims the Louisiana Territory for France, naming it for Louis XIV, King of France.

1763 As part of the Peace of Paris, France compensates Spain by giving up the Louisiana country west of the Mississippi. New Orleans is given by Louis XV to Charles III of Spain in a secret treaty.

1800 Napoleon Bonaparte persuades Spain to cede Louisiana back to France in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso.

1803 The United States raises its flag over the City of New Orleans and begins taking control of the entire Louisiana territory, which it had recently purchased from France for less than 3 cents per acre. This bold expansionist move sets the newly independent U.S. on a course to becoming a major nation and a world superpower.

1812 Louisiana is admited into the United States as a slave state. Louisiana state law allows freedmen of color to serve in the state militia. The Louisiana Territory is renamed the Missouri Territory by U.S. Congress.

Early pioneers and settlers

1850's Robert W. Greenwell purchases the land on which Greenwell Springs is now located and soon begins developing it into a rural resort built around 10 medicinal springs on the property. Even though the springs were in close proximity, each was said to have quite different mineral properties, indicating the various springs came from different levels beneath the earth.

1861 February South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, which have all declared their withdrawal (secession) from the United States, organize a separate and independent government called the Confederate States of America (CSA). Jefferson Davis of Mississippi is elected president and Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, vice president.

1862 Confederate general John Breckinridge, a former vice president of the United States, uses the Greenwell Springs Hotel and grounds as a military staging area prior to the Battle of Baton Rouge in August 1862. After the battle, wounded troops were brought to the hotel, which was converted into a hospital. Both Confederate and Union troops were buried on the grounds in unmarked graves.

1863 July 9 Port Hudson, Louisiana, the last Confederate fort on the Mississippi Rivers, surrenders to Union forces. During the Civil War, Captain Robert W. Greenwell served as commander of the East Baton Rouge Guards, Company F, 3rd Louisiana Cavalry C.S.A. (also known as the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment, Partisan Rangers; 9th Louisiana Cavalry Battalion, Partisan Rangers or Wingfield's Cavalry). See: Roster History

Captain Greenwell's grave is located today in a small cemetery just west of the intersection of Greenwell Springs Road and Denham Road. His son, private P.B. Greenwell, participated in the Battle of Port Hudson and was buried shortly after the battle at a cemetery on Greenwell Springs Road near its intersection with Stoney Point Burch Road.

1865 After the Civil War, the Greenwell Springs Hotel and most of the houses at the resort village of Greenwell Springs are torn down. During the war, most of Baton Rouge was destroyed by Union shelling and the residents reportedly used the lumber from their homes in Greenwell Springs to help rebuild their homes in Baton Rouge.

1868 June 25 The States of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are readmitted to the United States.

The 20th Century

1910 A new Greenwell Springs Hotel is built on the site of the former resort village at Greenwell Springs. A new, utilitarian springhouse was constructed at the same time. Not long afterward, the springs stopped flowing. It seems the mouths of the springs were opened too widely, causing the water pressure to drop. The hotel quickly lost its appeal and soon closed.

1920 After years sitting idle for almost a decade, the Greenwell Springs Hotel burns down. Later the property was acquired by the State of Louisiana to serve as a tuberculosis hospital and then as a mental institution. Untended during the ensuing years, the springs once again began to flow.

1938-39 J.A. Smith is brought in to serve as principal of Central High School. Housing was so scarce that the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board operated a building called the "teachery," which was a sort of dormitory for teachers who had no other place to live. It was located where the Masonic Hall is today: across Sullivan Road for Central Middle School. The Smith family lived in the teachery for several years. Smith was principal of Central High well into the 1960s.

The 21st Century

2001 Legislation is passed granting BREC the use of the entire grounds where Greenwell Springs Hospital is located for use as a public park. While there are no plans to close the hospital, the grounds outside the existing fence of the hospital include the historic sites where the springs and old hotel were once located. BREC later drafted a plan for building a park on the site, but that plan has sat dormant for several years.

Founding of the City of Central

2005 April Despite opposition from the East Baton Rouge Parish government and a number of the community's own residents, supporters of Central's incorporation win an April 2005 vote establishing the City of Central. Former Central High School principal Shelton 'Mac' Watts becomes temporary mayor until formal elections are held in 2006.

2006 April Mac Watts is elected the first mayor of the City of Central with 86% of the vote.

2006 November The voters of Louisiana pass a new constitutional amendment authorizing the creation of the Central Community School District, which allows the people of Central to govern their own public school system.

2007 January 9 Governor of Louisiana Kathleen Blanco appointes interim members of the new Central Community School Board. Members are Morris L. Anderson, Sharon Watts Browning, Willard M. Easley, Ruby W. Foil, James W. "Jim" Gardner, Wilfred M. "Marty" Guilbeau Jr. and Russell M. Starns.

2007 July 1 The new Central school system begins operation under the leadership of superintendent Mike Faulk. Dilapidated school buildings and an increase in student registrations are major concerns.

2008 May 5 The Central Community School Board votes unanimously to call for a school tax and bond election on Saturday July 19 to build a new $98 million educational compex designed to replace all of the city's current aging schools. This move upsets some local residents who had been assured that no new taxes would be necessary to finance the new school system.

2008 July 19 Voters in Central vote no to two new taxes that would have been used to build a new 120-acre school complex. Both the sales tax and bond propositions were defeated by wide margins. Central school officials are forced to deal with the continuing problems of overcrowded schools and rapid population growth.

Members, please feel free to add additional dates and information.

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