Fred Preaus

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Frederick Tidwell "Fred" Preaus​

(Louisiana businessman and gubernatorial candidate in 1956)

Fred Preaus of LA.jpg

Born April 25, 1912​
Farmerville, Union Parish,
Louisiana, USA
Died July 13, 1987 (aged 75)​
Union Parish, Louisiana​
Political Party Democrat
Spouse Mona Gill Preaus (married 1936-1987, his death)

Children:
Frederick Fauntleroy Preaus
​ Eugene R. Preaus​
Parents:
Harry, Sr., and Sallie Tidwell Preaus​

​​

Frederick Tidwell Preaus, known as Fred Preaus (April 25, 1912 – July 13, 1987),[1][2] was a businessman and politician from the U.S. state of Louisiana, a native of Farmerville in Union Parish near the Arkansas state line. He was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate in the Louisiana gubernatorial election of 1956.

Background

​ Descended from a pioneer Union Parish family of French, German, and English origins, Fred Preaus was the older of wo sons of Harry Preaus, Sr. (1887-1951), and the former Sallie Tidwell (1887-1951), the daughter of David C Tidwell, a prominent planter from Sterlington in Ouachita Parish, who died in 1921, and the former Mary Etta Daniel (1859-1956), a native of Mer Rouge in Morehouse Parish.[3][4]

Sallie Preaus was the first woman to register to vote in Union Parish with ratification in 1920 of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.[5] Preaus's maternal uncle was Charles Ruffin Tidwell (1894-1967), a former streets and parks commissioner for Monroe, Louisiana, when that city operated under the city commission form of government.[3]

In 1933, Preaus graduated from Louisiana Tech University in nearby Ruston in Lincoln Parish.[6] In 1953, Preaus was named the president of the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association.

Right out of college, Preaus purchased Mitchell Ford, the company dealership in Farmerville, which also sold Mercury automobiles. In 1946, he opened a new building for the company, and his brother, Harry Preaus, Jr. (1915-1998), joined him as a partner. After their retirements, Joe and John Preaus took over the company.[7]

Preaus was elected to the five-member Farmerville Town Council in 1949[8] and was active in the Chamber of Commerce. In 1952, incoming Governor Robert F. Kennon appointed Preaus as the state highway director.[5] Preaus worked to make Lake D'Arbonne in Farmerville a reality. Popular with fisherman and boaters, the waterway opened in 1963.[9][10] In 1947, Preaus was president of the Union Parish Fair.[11]

Preaus was also engaged in the timber business. Preaus and J. A. Auger (1911–2010), an inductee of the Loggers Hall of Fame,[12] together developed the first chip mill in Farmerville.[13]

Gubernatorial race

With the backing of Governor Kennon, who was ineligible to seek a second consecutive four-year term, Preaus declared his candidacy for governor in 1955.[14] Preaus's platform stressed law enforcement with use of the Louisiana National Guard as needed,[15] industrial development, tidelands oil revenues, long-range highway planning, no state tax increases, greater independence for local governments, expanded facilities for mental and tuberculosis patients, $65 per month welfare payments to the elderly or needy, the dredging of twenty new lakes,[5] and the maintenance of racial segregation, the opposition to which he blamed on "outside agitators."[16] Preaus claimed that the NAACP civil rights organization was upsetting the "goodwill" that existed in Louisiana between the races.[16]

For lieutenant governor, Preaus allied with New Orleans City Council member Andre Brown Moore, a 1934 graduate of the Tulane University Law School who had served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps under General George S. Patton's Third Army during World War II. Prior to the formation of the mayor-council form of government, Moore was from 1950 to 1954 the New Orleans public utilities commissioner. Then from 1954 to 1957, he was a city councilman. DeLesseps Story "Chep" Morrison, Sr., was the mayor throughout the decade and a first-time gubernatorial candidate against Preaus in 1956. Previously, Brown had carried the support of all Democratic political factions and daily newspapers in New Orleans.[5][17]

A media announcer mispronounced his name as PROASE, rather than PROOSE (rhymes with "moose"), a fact recalled by the NBC announcer, William Blanc "Bill" Monroe, Jr. (1920-2011).[18]

Opponent Earl Kemp Long belittled Preaus, who had the reputation as a scrupulously honest, small-town car dealer and church deacon:​ ​

Fred Preaus is an honest man. If I were buying a Ford car, I'd buy it from Fred Preaus. He would give me a good deal. If I had trouble with the car, he'd give me a loaner while he got it fixed — that's just the kind of man he is. But if I was buying two Fords — well, he's just not big enough to handle a deal that size.[19][20]

Long's remarks about Preaus were still being recalled as recently as 2011. Long inadvertently turned Preaus into something of a celebrity.[21]

Late in 1955, Preaus said that if he were elected governor he would want the Democratic presidential nominee in 1956 to run under the rooster emblem, unlike in 1948 when President Harry Truman was placed under the national donkey emblem and lost Louisiana's electoral votes to Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who was named the official Democratic nominee in Louisiana. Preaus said that he had ruled out supporting at least one potential Democratic candidate, Governor G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams (1911-1988) of Michigan, who announced that he favored stripping all federal aid to those states that maintained racial segregation.[22]

In a January 1956 speech carried by radio and television, Kennon minimized the chances of any of the "other anti-Long candidates" to defeat former Governor Earl Long in a potential runoff election]. "The only man who can beat Earl Long in the runoff [which was not required, as it developed] is Fred Preaus, and the only man Earl is afraid of in this race is Fred Preaus," Kennon quipped.[23] Kennon gave a running prediction of how he expected to vote to divide throughout the state, but he badly misjudged the forthcoming election results in which Long won without need for a second primary.[23]

Considered a dark horse candidate from the start,[24] Preaus was unable to make much headway in the race against Long but carried one parish — not his own Union Parish, but Plaquemines Parish, then dominated by the segregationist political boss Leander H. Perez, a Dixiecrat in 1948 and one of Preaus' most determined backers.[25]

Preaus finished in third place in the race with 95,955 votes (11.7 percent), trailing Mayor Morrison, who made the first of his three unsuccessful gubernatorial races, and Earl Long, who won the second of his three non-consecutive terms as Louisiana governor. Lagging behind Preaus were former state police superintendent Francis Grevemberg, and James M. McLemore, an Alexandria landowner and cattleman who made a second bid for governor, once again as a particularly avowed segregationist candidate.[26][27] Meanwhile, A. Brown Moore lost to Long's choice for lieutenant governor, Lether Frazar, a prominent educator from Lake Charles.​

Personal life

​ In 1936, Preaus married the former Mona Gill (1912–1996) at the First Presbyterian Church in Ruston, Louisiana.[28] Mona Preaus subsequently died in Baton Rouge at the age of eighty-three. Preause, his parents, wife, and brother are interred at the Farmerville Cemetery.[29] The Preauses' older son, attorney Frederick Fauntleroy Preaus (1937–2006), died in San Diego, California, at the age of sixty-nine. Prior to moving to San Diego, F. F. Preaus resided in New Orleans. The younger son, attorney Eugene R. Preaus (born 1941) and wife, Ann K. Preaus, were residing in New Orleans as of 2006.[30]

Preaus's grandfather or great-uncle, District Attorney[31] Frederick F. Preaus (1853-1911) of Lincoln and Union parishes,[29] was a native of Indiana. About 1905, he built the Preaus House on Academy Street in Farmerville. With elaborately constructed with balustrades and columns, the house has been well-maintained.[32][33] Along with the Selig-Neely House, the Preaus House is on the annual tour of the Historical District Association of Farmerville. ​ The automobile dealership is still known as Preaus Motor Company.[34]

References

  1. Frederick T. Preaus. search.ancestry.com. Retrieved on January 29, 2015.
  2. Frederick Tidwell Preaus. findagrave.com. Retrieved on February 14, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Obituary of Mary Etta Daniel Tidwell (grandmother of Fred Preaus). findagrave.com (October 10, 1956). Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  4. Harry Preaus, Sr.. findagrave.com. Retrieved on February 14, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Minden Herald and Webster Review, December 8, 1955, p. 9.
  6. Louisiana Tech, 1933. usgwarchives.net. Retrieved on September 5, 2010.
  7. W. Gene Barron (2012). Union Parish. Arcadia Publishing Company. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  8. Candidates file in Farmerville. The Monroe Morning World (March 13, 1949). Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  9. In the Beginning. Lake D'Arbonne Life (January 18, 2013). Retrieved on February 14, 2015.
  10. Kinny Haddox (November 7, 2013). Lake D'Arbonne Celebrating 50th Year. The Bernice Banner. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  11. (May 31, 1947) Billboard. Nelson Business Media. Retrieved on February 15, 2015. 
  12. Tom Kelly. Loggers Hall of Fame Sept. 14: Dodson museum underway for Hall, and regional history. The Piney Woods Journal. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  13. Mary Nash-Wood, "Augers Leave Behind Rich Legacy". Farmerville Gazette, February 3, 2010. Retrieved on September 5, 2010.
  14. Michael S. Mayer (2010). The Eisenhower Years. ISBN 978-0-8160-5387-2. Retrieved on February 17, 2015. 
  15. Pre3aus will use Guard to enforce law. Lake Charles American-Press (January 5, 1956). Retrieved on February 18, 2015.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Preaus Takes Strong Stand on Segregation," Minden Herald, December 8, 1955, p. 1.
  17. Andre Brown Moore papers. Tulane University. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  18. Edward Bliss and James L. Hoyt (1994). Writing News for Broadcast. New York City: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-07972-9. Retrieved on February 14, 2015. 
  19. Free Thoughts. prorev.com. Retrieved on September 5, 2010.
  20. Michael L. Kurtz and Morgan D. Peoples (1990). The Saga of Uncle Earl and Louisiana Politics. Baton Rouge, Louisiana]]: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-1577-0. Retrieved on January 29, 2015. 
  21. The Ghost of Fred Preaus. revolution21.org. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  22. Biloxi Daily Herald (December 24, 1955). Retrieved on February 18, 2015.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Kennon says it'll be Long or Preaus. Lake Charles American-Press (January 12, 1956). Retrieved on February 17, 2015.
  24. Landslide Vote for Earl Long: Louisiana Supports Former Governor. Southeast Missourianin Cape Girardeau, Missouri (January 18, 1956). Retrieved on February 18, 2015.
  25. Glen Jeansonne (1995). Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta, 2, Lafayette, Louisiana: University of Louisiana at Lafayette. ISBN 157806-917-3. Retrieved on February 15, 2015. 
  26. Louisiana Secretary of State, Gubernatorial first primary returns, January 17, 1956
  27. Milburn E. Calhoun (2006). Louisiana Almanac. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 9781589803060. Retrieved on February 15, 2015. 
  28. Marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick T. Preaus. Ruston Daily Leader (May 29, 1936). Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Farmerville Cemetery. usgwarchives.net. Retrieved on February 14, 2015.
  30. Obituaries from The Monroe News Star. googleusercontent.com (December 2006). Retrieved on February 14, 2015.
  31. Attorney General of Louisiana Walter Guion (July 22, 1904). Report of the Attorney General to the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana Department of Justice. Retrieved on February 14, 2015. 
  32. T. T. Fields, Jr. (January 3, 2015). Farmerville Steeped in History with Remnants Remaining. Retrieved on February 14, 2015.
  33. F. F. Preaus and his wife, the former Annie Buce (1866-1933), a Union Parish native, had two daughters, Annie Booth (1889-1968) and Minnie Jordan (1892-1980).
  34. Preaus Motor Co., Inc.. preausford.com. Retrieved on February 14, 2015.

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