Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Over Thirty Years of Bootlegging in Bossier Parish

The Prohibition Act went into effect on Jan. 16, 1920 making “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.” However, Bossier Parish became a “dry” parish 21 years before the 18th Amendment took effect.

Just as with any law, those that disagree with the laws of the land find ways to circumvent them. With Prohibition came the nefarious business of bootlegging, where alcohol was manufactured illegally. Prohibition also gave rise to speakeasies, also known as blind pigs and blind tigers, which were illicit establishments that served alcohol illegally.

Bootlegging started in Bossier Parish after it became a dry parish in 1899 and continued until the 18th Amendment was repealed through the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933. Those caught engaging in the illegal manufacture of alcohol were arrested during the dry period before the Prohibition Era began. However, once it became a federal crime, federal agents were dispatched throughout the country to work with local law enforcement in a war against bootleggers. Local and federal agents worked together to locate and destroy such operations.

Bootlegging raids, arrests, and deaths became a part of the daily news throughout the nation, and Bossier Parish was no exception. The following article, which appeared in The Bossier Banner on Sept. 9, 1920, is a prime example of news reports during that period.
Moonshine still recently confiscated by the Internal Revenue Bureau photographed at the Treasury Department. [Between 1921 and 1932] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.
“Saturday afternoon of last week Deputy Sheriff Job Wilson, accompanied by Marshall George Huckabay, of Bossier City, and two government men engaged in the enforcement of the present prohibition regulations, made a raid that netted 22 quarts of moonshine whiskey, and the following day returned to the scene of operation and located and destroyed about 80 gallons of mash. The place raided was a brothel, or, perhaps, more of a road house for the dispensing of intoxicating liquors, conducted by a white woman by the name of Alice Mitchell. Its location is in Ward Six, to be seen to the left of the road soon after crossing the Red Chute bridge when driving east on the Bossier City and Haughton road. The woman is said to have been a resident of Shreveport, prior to the time of the wiping out of the restricted district in the city. She acquired a small acreage at the location mentioed [sic], and, in a secluded spot, had a house erected for the purposes above named. She was arrested and lodged in the Shreveport Jail and is being held as a federal prisoner. Also, there will likely be charges filed against her in Bossier Parish, and other arrests are expected to follow as a result of the operations in which she was perhaps the leader.

“Monday afternoon the officers here named destroyed about 150 gallons of mash some five miles southwest of Bellevue. The location of this still was in a field, but secluded on a timbered branch. No arrests were made, as the operators were not located. However, the two men are said to be known, and are thought to have been absent at another still they operate.

“Tuesday afternoon Mose Davis, a negro whose home is near Bodcau Station, on the V.S. and P. Railroad, was arrested for operating a still, and was also jailed in Shreveport. At his place about 30 gallons of corn mash was destroyed.

“Thus ends the story for the present, but we have learned that we may well expect material for like stories almost any day. Greed is a trait that is well cultivated in many—and so is the appetite for booze.”

To learn more about Bossier Parish during the Prohibition Era, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Mary Bixler Bryce and the 19th Amendment

This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

The fight for women’s suffrage began on a national level in July of 1848. In the 1870s, enough pressure was applied to Congress to vote on an amendment that would recognize the suffrage rights of women. This amendment is sometimes called the Susan B, Anthony Amendment. Congress finally voted to pass the amendment on June 4, 1919. On Aug. 18, 1920, the amendment was ratified by the requisite number of States. Unfortunately, Louisiana voted against approving the 19th Amendment on July 1, 1920, and did not ratify it until 50-years later, on July 11, 1970.

In Bossier Parish, the first woman to register to vote was 20-year-old Mary Bixler Bryce, a native and life-long resident of Plain Dealing. Bryce registered to vote at the parish courthouse in Benton on Friday, Sep. 17, 1920, allowing her to vote in the upcoming November election.

(L to R) Charles Mitchell, Caddo registrar of voters; Mrs. Mary K. Bryce, Bossier registrar of
voters and Sidney Platt, DeSoto registrar of voters. Source: The Shreveport Journal, June 6, 1962.
According to The Bossier Banner on Oct. 7, 1920, Bossier Parish had a total of 161 women registered to vote. “Of the eighteen precincts in the parish five have no women voters. They are: Curtis, Alden Bridge, Lakeport, Mot and Koran. Bossier City leads as to the greater number, having 57 registered women voters. The number of voters at each of the remaining twelve precincts is: Atkins, 1; Taylortown, 8; Benton, 21; Vanceville, 5; Plain Dealing, 24; Carterville, 2; Rocky Mount, 2; Linton, 3; Ivan, 4; Bellevue, 3; Haughton, 24, and Adner, 7.” The article ends with a full list of all 161 Bossier Parish women that registered to vote at that time. (Call or visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center to see if your relative is listed.)

Not only was Bryce the first woman to register to vote in Bossier Parish, but she was also the first woman in Louisiana to be elected to serve as a Registrar of Voters. She was elected to serve as Registrar of Voters for Bossier Parish during a regular meeting of the Police Jury on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 1921. After receiving a majority of the votes, her election was then made unanimous. She was reappointed each year, serving a total of 44 years beginning in 1921 until her death in 1965 at age 66.

Bryce was so dedicated to voting that even sickness could not keep her from the polls, as is revealed in the following article in The Shreveport Times “Stroller” section on Nov. 6, 1964.

“Setting a fine example Tuesday was a determined voter in Bossier Parish. Parish Registrar of Voters MARY K. BRYCE, who has been hospitalized since last week because of illness, told her doctor that she just had to vote for her candidate. With the physician’s approval, Mrs. BRYCE was helped to an auto by her nurse and an ambulance attendant drove her to the polls at Plain Dealing. Having cast her ballot, with a fever, Mrs. BRYCE returned to the hospital.”

Be sure to join us at the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center for our 19th Amendment Centennial Equali-Tea Party on Jan. 27, 2020, from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. There will be refreshments and tea, crafts, and a photo booth. As always, visit the History Center at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City, for your research about women’s suffrage in Bossier Parish.

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

This Month In Bossier Parish History

January: Through the years

Jan. 1:  Happy New!
              *January happenings through the month of January in Bossier Parish.  Please enjoy the photos from around our community. 

David Arthur Matlock and Zeffie Kirklin Matlock, 
on their wedding day, 20 January 1926.
2011.067.002 Mitchell Collection 

 "Military Misses" dated January 15, 1944.
2013.036.086 Barksdale Officer’s Wives Club Collection


Jan. 6, 1971: Photograph of swearing in ceremonies
 in 26th Judicial District Court in Benton, LA.
                              (From left to right) 
Graydon Kitchens, Jr., 3rd Assist. District Attorney, 
Arthur M. Wallace, 2nd Assistant D.A., 
and Rogers M. Prestridge, First Assistant
Jones Collection
Novie Willis of Plain Dealing, taken 
from the Shreveport Times, January 1980.

Jan. 6, 1916: Brick and mortar buildings were taking the place of wood framed establishments. 
*Photos show the brick buildings of the Kidd Building and other stores along Palmetto Avenue in Plain Dealing.
Jan. 6, 1916: Bossier Banner
C.1920’s:  Kidd Building, housed a jewelry store
 at that time,with a dentist office upstairs.
 The post office and a restaurant
 were also located in the building at one time. 
 2003.026.041A Corley Collection

C.1920’s:  Kidd Building
2003.026.041B Corley Collection

Kidd Building in Plain Dealing. Green and 
white sign on top corner "Kelly's Pharmacy 
and Gifts". Mural on side of building, is that 
of cotton, fields, logging truck, and buildings.


Jan. 16, 1952: The announcement was made of the Nu-Enamel store opening on Barksdale Boulevard, Bossier City was made.  The Bossier City store was a branch of the Shreveport store, a dealer for Westinghouse Appliances. 
* Photos shown are of the article, advertisements, and a photo. 

The Shreveport Journal:
Jan. 16, 1952
The Shreveport Journal:
Jan. 16, 1952

Jan. 16, 1952:
The Shreveport Journal
Easy Spin Washing Machine  
Cochran Collection


Jan. 24, 1999: The dedication and grand opening of the Bossier Pariah Libraries History Center took place. 
* Please enjoy the article and photos of the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center. 

Jan. 21, 1999: Bossier Banner

Bossier Parish Libraries History Center


Bossier Parish Libraries History Center
Opening invitation

Display at the History Center: replica of a
1850's log cabin/house. 


Temperance and Prohibition in Bossier Parish

The temperance movement in the early 1800s served as a foundation for the “dry” crusade, which led to the prohibition era. During the time before the prohibition era, some municipalities and states elected to become dry, refusing to license the sale or manufacturing of alcohol. Bossier Parish exercised its local option on Sep. 26, 1899, making the entire parish dry.

The announcement appeared in The Shreveport Times on Sep. 27, 1899, stating, “The Second Ward of Bossier Parish Goes Dry.”

The Shreveport Times, Sept. 27, 1899. 
“The election for or against whiskey license in the Second ward of Bossier parish took place yesterday and from all accounts it went dry by a large majority. Mr. Henry Carlton and several other gentlemen who went to Benton by private conveyance to cast their votes were in the city yesterday and report the vote against license as almost unanimous. When they were there but two votes were known to have been cast in favor of license. The result of this election makes Bossier a dry parish throughout. The last place to surrender was the parish seat [Benton]. The victory for temperance is due to the work of the ladies of Bossier who have earnestly engaged in a crusade against whiskey license for some time. One by one the strongholds fell.”

On Dec. 18, 1917, the National Prohibition Act, commonly referred to as the Volstead Act, was proposed by congress. On Jan. 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment was ratified by the requisite number of states. The Prohibition Act took effect on a federal level on Jan. 16, 1920. Louisiana, Gov. Ruffin G. Pleasant ratified the 18th Amendment on Aug. 9, 1918, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol for beverage purposes.

The following is an article from The Bossier Banner on Dec. 25, 1919, “Business and Prohibition,” which describes a dry Christmas in Plain Dealing.

“Mr. W.A. Bounds and Mr. J.S. Rodgers each of whom has known Plain Dealing ever since the town was established some thirty-odd years ago, were remarking Tuesday that it was the first really and truly ‘dry’ Christmas in its history. Heretofore whiskey has been shipped into Plain Dealing by the express medium and bootlegging has been at times rather common.

“This Christmas there has been no whiskey, and Mr. Rodgers estimated the saving in cash at some thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the saving in broken heads and disrupted family relations.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.
National Photo Company Collection. LOT 12351-5 <item> [P&P]
“The reporter suggested that the saving in the way of prohibited liquor would go far toward making up the shortage in the cotton crop, and Mr. Bounds agreed that $5000 or $6000 was not too high a figure to claim as a saving from old John Barleycorn in this community this Christmas – remembering that a single quart of whiskey now costs a giant sum all by itself.

“The Christmas trade was good – all the merchants were busy. Collections have been better on account of prohibition, it was agreed, and probably no business man in Plain Dealing would like to go back to the ‘wet’ Christmas.”

This year is the 100th anniversary of prohibition in the United States. To learn more about prohibition in Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

Thursday, December 26, 2019