There was a man by the name of Palmer Elkins, a free slave, a business man, an entrepreneur and a minister of the gospel as he was noted. Born around 1832, he developed the enthusiasm to ensure his people of color to be educated and to make certain that they acquired some form of religious basis. Palmer Elkin, or Elkins’, origin is from the northern part of [the] U.S., but he traveled down to the south shortly after the Civil War to establish black religious organizations and to educate the freed men of color.
He began his crusade to New Orleans and established the first black Preachers Union which is still active today but under a different name. Making his way along the German Coast, he spotted a vast portion of land measuring 3 arpents x 12,074 feet (160.7 acres) in St. Rose, which was owned by Union Insurance Co. of New Orleans. he inquired about the property and later purchased it by auction for $943.50 on April 21, 1873.
The following year, 1874, he established the Mt. Zion Baptist Church three for four miles west of the newly purchased property (later years, the church moved its location to Elkinsville Subdivision). The property sat dormant for nearly six years. P. Elkins then asked nineteen freed (the 19th Company) to help him develop this property where their families can be reared and trained for a living. All nineteen agreed to purchase a lot. On March 27, 1880, construction began on the 1st Street side (Tracks 8, 9 & 10) and for their aptness; he gave each of the nineteen a free lot. That year, the name FREE TOWN was given. One year later (1881), Palmer Elkins, this time, asked fifteen men to pool their monies together and develop the 3rd and 4th street side (Tracks 1, 2, 3 & 4) portion of the property. With this movement, they gave the name, ELKINSVILLE SUBDIVISION.
Approximately 40 years later, 2nd street side (Tracks 5, 6 & 7) was developed, and the name Elkinsville Subdivision was undeniably shifted to the ST. ROSE name due to the St. Rose Post Office being located along the levee side across from First Street.
This location was no doubt in the Elkinsville boundaries but at that time, the whites would prefer not to give reverence to the location of the Post Office, therefore, the name St. Rose became regularly used and eventually, the Elkinsville Subdivision name became lost in translation. Now, some 87 years later, a newly formed group, Elkinsville Historic Revitalization Association and Palmer Elkins’ descendants are restoring the name and plan to bring the character of this family-oriented community back to its perspective.
References: St. Charles Parish Court House – recorded files
From the October 26, 2008 Living Pioneers Celebration sponsored by the Elkinsville Historic Revitalization Association at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, St. Rose, Louisiana.