This is a history of an American family. The story begins in Upper Wallop, Hampshire, England, continues to New England in the early 1600’s, and finally to the frontier just after the Louisiana Purchase, a region that had once been Spanish West Florida, and which to this day is referred to as the Florida Parishes of Louisiana.
Interestingly, in the 370 plus years over which this migration occurred, they lived in only four places: Newbury, Massachusetts; Chester, New Hampshire; Kentwood, Louisiana; and Fluker, Louisiana.
The members of the Kent family that eventually settled in Fluker were pioneers, instrumental in founding towns, creating businesses and jobs, and were dominant participants in the development of the social and economic fabric of the local society.
These Fluker Kents were a big family, and lived life to the fullest, and deserve to be remembered. This book exists so that their descendants might know who these people were, and how they lived.
James Fluker Kent was born January 17, 1843, the second of twelve children and the oldest son of Amos and Susan Fluker Kent of Kentwood, Louisiana. He died August 18, 1886.
His father, Amos Kent, was the son of a New Hampshire lawyer of the same name, who studied at Harvard and read law in the office of William Gordon, Attorney General of the state of New Hampshire. That Amos Kent, of Chester, New Hampshire, who was Amos’ father, and James Fluker Kent’s grandfather, died in New Hampshire when Amos was eighteen, leaving him unable to support his large family. He left New Hampshire, and arrived in New Orleans in 1828, and found work in Baton Rouge initially as a teacher, then opened a small mercantile business with his brother, Frederick. The business failed in the depression of 1836, and using his political connections with the Franklin Pierce administration through his mother’s family, he obtained a position in the Land Office at Greensburg, Louisiana, where he met and married Susan Fluker, the daughter of Col. Robert Fluker, a veteran of the Battle of New Orleans. Later Amos moved to an area Northeast of Greensburg after purchasing the John Tate headright, which included most of what later became the town of Kentwood. He settled there on Cool’s creek, and built a sawmill and brick factory in an area which became known as Kent’s Mill. Later, when the town was developed, it was named Kentwood, in honor of old Amos Kent.
James Fluker Kent married, on the 26th of December, 1839, Delilah Flanagan Amacker of Kentwood, the daughter of Nathaniel and Mosilla Pearson Amacker, of Kentwood, Louisiana. Her brother, Obadiah Pearson Amacker later married James Fluker Kent’s sister, Abigail Means Kent, in 1864.
James Fluker Kent grew up in Kentwood, and worked in his father’s brick factory. In 1860, his father sent him to Alexandria, Louisiana, to attend the Louisiana Seminary for Learning, a military-style college founded in 1860, which later became Louisiana State University. Fluker Kent was in the first class. The Superintendent was an ex-army Major named William Tecumseh Sherman.
Fluker left the school, like most of the other students there, when the war broke out, and joined the Confederate Army on September 28, 1861, at Camp Moore, Louisiana, where he became Fourth Sergeant of Company F, the St. Helena Rebels. By 1862, he was the Second Lieutenant of the Company, but missed part of the year due to illness. He returned to duty in time to be captured at Missionary Ridge in November of 1863.
Fluker was forwarded to Louisville for exchange, but no exchange took place, and he spent the remainder of the war at Johnson Island, Ohio, as a POW.
He signed, in October 1864, along with two other officers, a request in the form of a petition to Col. Charles W. Hill, commandant of the prison camp, asking for an increase of rations for the prisoners. The response to that petition, if any, has not been found.
After the war, Fluker Kent returned to Kentwood, resuming operation of the brick factory for his father, among other interests, including agriculture.
Fluker and Lilah Kent built a home near his father’s home on Cool Creek, north of Kentwood, and had twelve children.
The following biography, along with a full-page portrait, may be found in Henry E. Chambers; A History of Louisiana:
Richard Amacker Kent. There are few names in the business world in Southern Louisiana better known or more respected than Richard Amacker Kent, for his interests are so numerous, diversified and important that wherever capital is found substantially invested Mr. Kent is almost sure to have been interested within the past thirty years. Banking, merchandising, lumbering, manufacturing and farming all have felt the invigorating influence of his energy, his business acumen and his spirit of progress.
Richard Amacker Kent was born at Kentwood, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, June 28, 1871, a son of James Fluker Kent and Delilah Amacker Kent, and a grandson of Amos Kent. He comes of fine old Colonial American stock, originally from Scotland (sic) and the founder of the family in Louisiana was his grandfather, many generations later. Amos Kent was born in Massachusetts (sic), probably about 1811, and engaged in lumbering and brick manufacturing in New England until about 1840 (sic), when he came to Louisiana and married Susan Fluker, who was born at Clinton, Louisiana, in Feliciana Parish. In 1850 he came to Tangipahoa Parish, and recognizing great business opportunities here, founded the town of Kentwood, where he engaged in lumber and brick manufacturing and lived to be ninety-four years old.
James Fluker Kent was born in August (sic) 1841, in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana, and died at Kentwood in 1886. He was reared in what was then a part of St. Helena Parish, now Tangipahoa Parish. He was attending college when the War Between the States broke out, and enlisted in 1861. He was serving with the rank of lieutenant in a Louisiana regiment when he was made prisoner by the Federal forces and was incarcerated in the fort on Johnson's Island until the close of the war. He came then to Kent's Mill, now Kentwood, and, like his father, was engaged in manufacturing brick and lumber, and additionally at one time had agricultural interests. He was a man of strong convictions and of sterling character; was a democrat in politics; a member of the Masonic fraternity; and belonged to the Baptist Church.
James Fluker Kent married Delilah Amacker, born in 1846, in Tangipahoa Parish, and who died at Hammond, Louisiana, in 1910. There children were: Amos, who was his brother's assistant at Fluker, Louisiana, at the time of his death, when aged thirty-one years; John Ellis, who was a student in the Virginia Military Institute at Charlottesville at the time of his death, when eighteen years old; Obie Amacker, who in boyhood was accidentally killed in a cotton gin at Kentwood; Richard Amacker; S. Grace, who is the wife of John Evans, superintendent of the boiler house of the Standard Oil company of Louisiana, at Baton Rouge; Alma, who is the wife of Henry Habig, of Amite, who is bookkeeper of the Strawberry Growers' Association, and was a candidate in 1924 for clerk of the court of Tangipahoa Parish; Maggie, who is the wife of Albert L. Stossell, lumberman, of Hammond, Louisiana; Catherine, who is a trained nurse and resides at Jackson, Mississippi; Eva, who is the wife of Edgar Bassett, an automobile dealer near Hollywood, California; James F., who is with the Standard Oil Company at Baton Rouge; W. Irwin, who is a resident of Hammond, a buyer of logs and lumber; and Jennie Dean, who is the wife of James D. Stewart, a veteran of the Spanish-American war, and connected with the Standard Export Lumber Company at New Orleans.
When Richard Amacker Kent was 15 years old, he lost his father. He had been attending a private school at Kentwood, but his father's death brought about many family changes, and at the age of seventeen he found himself with practically no capital and with the maintenance and comfort of his mother and his younger brothers and sisters dependent upon his efforts. Under such circumstances he began, in a small way, brick and lumber manufacture at Fluker, in 1888, the site of the present flourishing town being then but a wilderness, and named the place in honor of his father. From this beginning, Mr. Kent has built up one of the most important industrial enterprises in his lime in Southeastern Louisiana. He is sole owner of the R. A. Kent interests at Fluker, specified as follows: R. A. Kent Company, incorporated, for investments; R. A. Kent Mercantile Company; R. A. Kent Farms; and R. A. Kent, Individual. The R. A. Kent Mercantile company, Incorporated, owns and operates the only general store at Fluker. The R. A. Kent Farms Company owns 3500 acres of land, 600 being devoted to agriculture at present, while the rest is cut over land or yet in timber. Until 1917, Mr. Kent operated a lumber mill at Fluker, but removal was then made to Roseland, Louisiana, where it is now operated by the Roseland Veneer and Package Company, Limited, of which company Mr. Kent is President. This company manufactures lumber and all kinds of fruit and vegetable packages and containers, the Roseland plant being the largest of its kind in the entire South, employing 400 people and annually manufacturing 12,000,000 feet of lumber. In the banking business, Mr. Kent has been equally prominent for many years. He is president of the Kentwood Bank at Kentwood, Louisiana, and has filled that office for a long period. In 1912, he established the Roseland Bank at Roseland, Louisiana, which he removed later to Amite and in 1920 changed the name to the Security Bank of Amite, and continued president of this institution until 1922, when he resigned that office on account of ill health, but in November 1924, resumed the presidency. Although realizing the necessity of easing some of his heavy responsibilities, Mr. Kent continues one of the most active of the bank's officials. Another important concern with which he is officially identified in the La Salle Fire Insurance Company of New Orleans, in which he is chairman of the finance committee. In November, 1924, this company was merged with the Union Indemnity Company, which constituted considerably over one million dollars. He aided in the reorganization of the Louisiana-Mississippi Cooperative Creamery, of which he was made president.
Mr. Kent married at Greensburg, Louisiana, January 15, 1896, Miss Susie Freiler, daughter of Capt. John and Belle Carter Freiler, both deceased. Captain Freiler was formerly an extensive farmer and lumber manufacturer. Mrs. Kent was educated at the Norvilla Collegiate Institute, Greensburg, Louisiana, and Silliman College, Clinton, Louisiana. Mr. and Mrs. Kent have six children: Louise, who is the wife of Thomas Preston Field, private secretary to Mr. Kent, also manager of the R. A. Kent Mercantile Company at Fluker, and a veteran of the World War. Mr. and Mrs. Field have two children, Thornwell and Sue; Thomas W., who is manager of the R. A. Kent Farms, is a veteran of the World War. He married Camille Weishaar, and they have two children, Thomas and Marie Louise; Earl, who is assistant postmaster of Fluker, resides at home and is a director of the R. A. Kent Mercantile Company. Warren Douglas is a student at Tulane University, at New Orleans; Evelyn is a student in the Amite High School; and Isabelle and R. A. Kent, Jr., are both attending school at Amite. The family home at Fluker is a handsome, commodious residence that is often the scene of pleasant social functions. Mr. Kent and his family are members of the Presbyterian Church at Arcola, Louisiana, in which he is an elder. In matters political, Mr. Kent Has always been loyal to the democratic party, but has seldom felt free enough from business responsibilities to accept political ones, but for one term served as police juror of Tangipahoa Parish. During the World War, he not only contributed sons to the cause but his own services in every possible way, generously assisting in every drive and setting an example of patriotism and public spirit that is not forgotten. He is a thirty-second degree Mason and a Shriner, a member of Kentwood Lodge No 248, Free and Accepted Masons, Kentwood, Louisiana; St. Helena Chapter No. 43, Royal Arch Masons, Amite Louisiana; Kenneth Commandery No. 9, Knights Templar, Hammond, Louisiana; Grand Consistory of Louisiana, thirty-second degree, New Orleans; and Jerusalem Temple, Mystic Shrine, New Orleans.
Abigail Means Kent Amacker; Abby Kent Amacker Bible; (Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society: Be It Known and Remembered, Vol II, Bible Records, 1961)
Amos Kent Family Papers, Mss 199, 724, 1101, Louisiana and Mississippi Valley Collection, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. [located in the LSU Special Collections at the Hill Memorial Library at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge]
Arnett, Leslie Maud Amacker; The Amackers of the Deep South
Arnett, Leslie Maud Amacker; The Kents of Kentwood; [State Library]
Booth, Andrew B. Records of Confederate Soldiers, Vol. III Book I; New Orleans, Louisiana, 1920.
Brookside: A Young Man’s Dream Now Ashes; The Kentwood Ledger, Thursday, November 10, 1977
Beresford, Dorothy; Nether Wallop in Hampshire; Published privately by R. N. K. Beresford, BAS Printers Limited, Over Wallop, Hampshire, 1989
Casey, Powell; Louisiana in the War of 1812; 2nd Div, 12th & 13th Regiments Consolidated of Louisiana Militia
Chambers, Henry E; A History of Louisiana, Volume II Wilderness-Colony-Province-Territory-State-People; The American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago and New York; 1925 (Richard Amacker Kent, pp 160-166)
Chase, Benjamin; Chester History
Chase, John Carroll; Chester History
Citizens National Bank; Tangipahoa Crossings; Moran Publishing Company, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; 1979 (Tangipahoa History, limited first edition)
Dietz, Richard; Research notes.
Dow, George Francis; The Pirates of the New England Coast, 1630-1730; Marine Research Society, Salem, Massachusetts;1923, p.59.
Ellis, Mary M. Kent; letter to Esther Kent dated September 9, 1965
Gordon, William; letter dated February 26, 1808 to his mother, Mrs. West
History of Merrimack County, Chapter II, Bench and Bar.
History of Newbury, Massachusetts (1635-1902);Currier; pp 643-646
Kent, Abigail; letter dated March 17, 1800, to her mother in Amherst, NH
Kent, Esther; letter dated July 17, 1975 to Col. And Mrs Paul Traver
Kents of New England;[Newbury Public Library]
L. Vernon Griggs; Genealogies of the Different Families Bearing the Name of Kent in the U.S. Together with Their Possible English Ancestry, A.D. 1925-1898; Rockwell and Churchill Press, Boston; 1898
Martin, James K., et.al.;America and Its People;Volume One to 1877; Scott, Foresman and Company, Glenview, Illnois; 1989 (American History through 1877)
Means, Ann M; Amherst and Our Family Tree; Boston, 1921
Menn, Joseph Karl; The Large Slaveholders of Louisiana 1860; Pelican Publishing Company, New Orleans, Louisiana;1964; p.35
Moore, Alison; Sixty 60’s; Ortlieb Press, Inc., Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1984. [Clayton Genealogy Library, Houston, Texas]
Morris, Irene R; Be It Known and Remembered; Kentwood Ledger, Thursday, September 1978.
Newbury Vital Records, Vol I & II to 1850;[Newbury Public Library]
Obituary for Amos Kent; St. Louis Lumberman, Vol 31, Jan-June #12, p.42f; 1903
Obituary for Amos Kent; New Orleans Times Democrat, January 31, 1906
Obituary for Amos Kent; Kentwood Commercial; January 31, 1906
Obituary for Amos Kent; St. Helena Echo; February 1906
Obituary of Richard A. Kent, Sr.; Tangipahoa Parish News, Amite City, Louisiana; Thursday, November 18, 1926
Puls, E. E.; Little Railroads which Helped Build Communities; Center for Regional Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University; 1988 (Railroads, Rural in Louisiana, Chapter 1: Kentwood, Greensburg, and Southwest Railroad) [R. A. Kent, Jr. Fluker, Louisiana]
Schilling, Ed.; Echoes from the Past; (article by Richard Kent, Jr.)
St. Helena War Veterans; St. Helena Historical Association, 1989.
Town of Newbury Map; Massachusetts Department of Commerce Planning Division [Newbury Public Library]
Tepper, Michael; Passengers to America; Baltimore, 1977; p.75 [Newbury Public Library]
Oak Hill. K Kentwood home of Amos Kent, originally from Chester, NH, and the founder of Kentwood.