The Rosinbelly




In 1941, Mr. Murphy Tannehill took over the management of the Urania Lumber Company Commissary and also became the Urania Postmaster. This was after the death of his half-brother, George M. Tannehill, who had previously held these positions. Dora Tannehill, widow of George, began working for Murphy and actually handled all the business of that office while Murphy looked after the commissary.

Murphy and George were the sons of Richard Tannehill. George's mother was Richard's first wife, Maria Elizabeth Sellinger. Murphy's mother was the second wife, Lula Dee Long, niece of Governor Huey P. Long.

The following information comes from the files of my father, the late E. Forrest Cook. 

During WWII, Murphy Tannehill and his secretary, Miss Ruth Proctor did a wonderful thing for the men and women away in the service.  Each week, they printed a legal sized page full of news of the people in the service, the home folks, who was born or died, who was sick and who got married.  There was also a bit of non-malicious gossip and some humor.  Some of the local artists would usually draw some humorous scene of the local folks.

Murphy edited this page and Ruth typed it.  They reproduced it on a mimeograph machine.  The Urania Lumber Company furnished the materials and the townspeople took care of the postage.  These missives were certainly looked for and welcomed by the service people.  The name of this publication was "The Rosinbelly" and no doubt you will wonder why such a name. In handling green pine lumber at the mill, men wore a hard leather apron, which in time would build up with pine resin, hence he would become a rosin-belly.

From time to time they would list the addresses of all the people in service and that helped quite a number of men and women to find friends who happened to be stationed nearby.  At one time there were about 180 addresses of service men and women listed, which was quite a number from a small town of about 1000 souls. Murphy and Ruth also requested from each person in the service a photograph, which was displayed in the store display window.  After the war, Murphy took a copy of the original photos and had them bound into a very nice book. Murphy so zealously guarded that book that he would never let it out of his house, except for once when he did let my dad take it home to read. Upon Murphy’s death, the book passed to one of his twin sons, Charles.

Some years ago, Charles and my dad took the book to the state library where it was copied and made into several books. One reason that the library was agreeable to do that was that during the later years of Murphy's life, he was chairman of the State of Louisiana Library Board and was well thought of in those circles. To the best of my knowledge, there are two copies in the archives in Baton Rouge, one copy in the LaSalle Parish Library, one in the Hardtner Collection at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, and Charles has the original. Dad made a digital copy, which I am posting.  There are some 170 pages of the newsletter, starting with the first issue on April 21, 1942 and ending with the August 21, 1945 issue. Also included are pictures of Urania's service men and women, as well as their addresses during the war.