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The Cavanaugh Family: A Vernon Parish pioneer family

Billy Crawford | Guest Contributor

This fond memory surfaced last week when I learned that Connie Cavanaugh had passed away in Baton Rouge. I wanted to share it with you.

In the fall of 1964, a small number of Leesville High School graduates enrolled at LSU in Baton Rouge. One day on campus I happened to run into one of my fellow LHS classmates, Connie Cavanaugh. She asked if I planned to go home for the Thanksgiving break. I said yes. She then invited me to join her to ride the train from Baton Rouge to Alexandria. Her Dad, Ariel Bliss Cavanaugh, would pick us up at the train station in Alex and drive us to Leesville. As promised, he was waiting as the passenger train pulled into the Alexandria station. 

Riding the train was a blast, but the drive from Alexandria to Leesville was even more enjoyable. After 56 years I still have a vivid memory of the ride. 

As soon as we crossed from Rapides Parish into Vernon Parish, A.B. started pointing to every house on both sides of the Highway 28, sharing the names of members of the each family, including the children. It was amazing! His unique ability came from working in the Vernon Parish Tax Assessor’s office since 1937, when he was appointed Deputy Tax Assessor. 

For the next 70 years, the Cavanaugh name served as Vernon Parish Tax Assessor.

A.B. was born on May 10, 1911 near Leesville. He was one of 13 children. He attended Castor Grammar School and later Leesville High, a graduate of the class of 1929. Beginning in 1937, he served eight years as Deputy Tax Assessor for his father, Michael A. Cavanaugh. When his father retired, A. B. was elected Tax Assessor in 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968.

In October 1971 A. B. died. After his death his wife Lucille, who had had served as Chief Deputy, was appointed Tax Assessor. She won the following elections. She was the first woman ever elected to a parish wide election in Vernon Parish. She served until 1979, when her son Eugene was elected. Eugene, a 1961 graduate of LHS, served as Vernon Parish Tax Assessor for the next 24 years.

Following his retirement from Tax Assessor and the National Guard Reserves, Eugene engaged in multiple activities that aided the community. He passed away on September 27, 2017.

Quite a legacy.