THE TOWN OF KENTWOOD

ESTABLISHED IN 1893

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Kentwood is a rural and northernmost town in Tangipahoa Parish that sits in-between HWY 51 and Interstate 51. It was named after Amos Kent, who owned a mill here in the late 1800's. 

Known in the past as the "Dairy Capitol of the South" our town is now most known for "Kentwood Springs Water" a large bottling complex on the west side of town. 

Due to its relatively high elevation compared to the rest of Tangipahoa Parish, Kentwood is at a lower risk of widespread flooding and according to usa.com Kentwood's tornado risk is 5% below the Louisiana average.

The town takes up approximately seven square miles and according to 2014 data, the town has a population of 2,310. 

 

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Amos Kent Jr
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Susan K. Kent

In 1828 a 17 year old man from Chester, New Hampshire by the name of Amos Kent Jr arrived in New Orleans Louisiana.  After struggling to find work, he moved to Baton Rouge where he found work as a teacher and later started a mercantile business with his brother Frederick. 

Unfortunately, their mercantile business failed during the Panic of 1837. Amos would then move to the country and build a farm in St. Helena Parish. In 1839 he married Susan Kendrick Fluker, the daughter of Colonel Robert Fluker a veteran in the War of 1812.

 

The Kentrick and Fluker families were very wealthy. Susan's brother, Benjamin, built Asphodel Plantation of which James Audubon frequently used as a muse for his wildlife paintings.

Some family stories show that the 1837 Depression hit Amos hard, to the point that the wedding minister was paid with ears of corn.

In the years to follow, Amos Kent would resolve all of his debts and become the St. Helena Postmaster and head of the Land Office in Greensburg. 

Amos heard about a railroad line being worked on near the Tangipahoa River and moved east in 1853. He would then purchase the John Tate Headright (or legal grant of land) near Cool Creek on Oak Hill around modern day Kentwood. It was here where Amos and Susan would raise 13 children.

He would also build a Saw Mill and Brick plant there, and in 1855 he was given a contract to build a courthouse in Greensburg that stood for 78 years.

Interestingly, Kent's Brick Plant would go on to become the largest one in the South, unchallenged for decades.

Kent's saw mill, lumber mill and brick plant were so prevalent that before the official establishment of the town, the area was marked on maps as "Kent's Mill"

Amos Kent Jr's Home on Oak Hill

According to family legend Amos was asked to move one of his woodlots for the construction of the railroad. It's said that he agreed under one condition: That a town would be surveyed. So, the powers that be (or were) agreed and surveyed the area that would later become Kentwood.

Paraphrased from

"Those Fluker Kents"

by Gerry Carley and Gwynette Kent Dixon

Those Fluker Kents

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The Illinois Central Railroad

In 1911 Professor Oliver Wendell Dillon established the Tangipahoa Parish Training School. This facility was the first African American vocational school in the South.

 

O.W. Dillon was an Alumni of Alcorn A.&M. and completed his post grad studies at the Hampton Institute in Virginia. 

His school still exists to this day as an elementary school bearing his name, but was moved to a new location at 1459 Service Road. 

 

You can find out more about Professor Dillon at www.owdillonpreservation.org

In the US, Kentwood was known as the Dairy Capitol of the south, despite being built up by the lumber industry. However, this title would fade over time due to the federal government placing more stringent regulations on dairy farmers that made the industry more expensive. 

 

Kentwood is also known across the world as the birthplace of Global 90's Pop-Star Brittney Spears. Born December 2, 1981, she was the second child of Lynne Bridges and Jamie Parnell Spears. Her older brother Bryan Spears would later become a producer and her younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears would become famous for her leading role in Zoey 101.

 

Brittney gained local prominence when she sang "What Child Is This" at an annual recital.

Brittney would go on to star in 1992's The Mickey Mouse Club. She recorded her first record label pitch in 1997 and traveled to New York and back to Kentwood on the same day to submit them. She was rejected by three labels until Jive Records gave her a callback. After singing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" she was signed to their label. She would go on to release "Baby One more Time" in 1999 which went platinum and ranked #1 on the US Billboard 200.

For more about Brittney, click here  

CLICK HERE FOR THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB'S 

EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT BRITTNEY'S LIFE IN THE EARLY 1990'S

Kentwood is also home to numerous other prominent people, some of whom are listed below. You can find more info about Kentwood's notables here on Wikipedia.

Jamie Lynn Spears

Actress & Country Music Singer

Lynne Spears

Mother of Bryan, Brittney & Jamie Lynn

Michael "Mike" Jackson

Former NFL Wide Receiver

Collis Temple Jr

The First African American LSU Athlete

Jackie Smith

NFL Hall of Fame Player

William H. Carter

Politician, Farmer & Businessman

Stacy Head

New Orleans Politician

Roger Ballard

Country Music Songwriter

Little Brother Montgomery

Jazz and Blues Artist

Clay Shaw

Businessman and only person prosecuted in connection with the JFK assassination

Ann A. Smith

Louisiana Educator

William M. Rainach

Former Louisiana Legislative Member

Bambi Monroe (Ashley Horn)

Former Actress & Singer