The first residents of record in this charming 3 bedroom, 3 bath craftsman style home were John T. Valentine and his wife Grace Treadwell Valentine. We see them mentioned at this address in the 1926 Alexandria, Louisiana City Directory just after the land was purchased along with the property next door at 2236 Jackson (history coming soon) by Dr. Stonewall Jackson Phillips. The Phillips family had purchased this land on the outskirts of town to make their family home and also built the house at 2220 Jackson Street next door to them as an income property. The histories of these two addresses have been entwined ever since.
In 1930, the federal census shows the Valentines renting the home for $50 a month which would be roughly equivalent to $750 dollars a month in 2019. They are also noted to have owned a radio set which had become an increasingly popular luxury over the 20’s.
The 1930 census reflected the emerging values of early twentieth-century America, in particular the growing influence of consumerism and mass culture. The 1930 census included for the first time a question regarding a consumer item. Respondents were asked whether they owned a “radio set,” a luxury that had become increasingly common in the 1920s. Business and political leaders decided to include this question on the census because of interest in the possibilities of mass communication and marketing.
John T. Valentine was born on February 9, 1881 in Koberice, Czechoslovakia. Like many people from that area at the turn of the century, he emigrated from his homeland to the United States at the age of 23 in 1904. With the area on the path towards World War I, the political and ethnic tensions were escalating between the Czechs and the new German Empire and their allies Austria-Hungary.
In 1921 at the age of 40, John married Grace Treadwell in Alexandria, Louisiana who was an independent woman of 35 years. Grace worked as a stenographer in an abstract office. Over the years several of Grace’s brothers worked as brakemen for railroad companies in Arkansas, perhaps this is how she met John who also worked in the railroad industry as a bridge builder.
Five years later in 1926, they are living at 2220 Jackson Street with their 3 year old son Joseph Packer Valentine. John is working as the construction foreman for T & P Railroad and later he worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.
Joe Packer seems to have played well with his next door neighbors Branch Phillips (2233 Jackson Street), Sam Haas (2316 Jackson Street) and Lee Adler (2314 Jackson). In 1935, they are mentioned in the local Town Talk newspaper as having presented a spider from we now know as the Central Louisiana State Hospital grounds to the Town Talk office.
In 1941, Joe Packer began attending college in Lafayette at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (today known as University of Louisiana at Lafayette). It was an exciting time at SLI who at the time were known as the Bulldogs. McNaspy Stadium had just been recently opened and the school’s programs were growing.
After two years of college, Joe Packer enlisted as a private in the United States Army on January 27, 1943 in the city of Lafayette. He served throughout the end of the war and lived to the age of 81.