Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Fallen Heroes

The Civil War was the deadliest conflict in U.S. history and necessitated the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance to take place on May 30, 1868. Logan called this day of remembrance Decoration Day where citizens were asked to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers. Decoration Day eventually became known as Memorial Day and, while it originally honored only those lost during the Civil War, after World War I the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May which went into effect in 1971.

Henry Homer Dalrymple in his WWI uniform
Johnette Parham collection: 2002.004.025.
With Memorial Day coming up this Monday, I want to tell you about one of Bossier Parish’s fallen heroes. Pvt. Henry Homer Dalrymple was born July 21, 1892, in Bossier Parish and was from the Midway community which is approximately 9 miles east of Benton. Pvt. Dalrymple lost his life serving in the first World War and is among the countless fallen remembered on Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, the first indication his family received about his death was when letters to Homer were returned to sender with the notation “return to writer: deceased.” The Dalrymple family quickly reached out to the War Department to confirm if it were true…had their beloved son and brother died? The War Department did not have any news of his death and informed the Dalrymple’s that an inquiry would be cabled to the commander abroad and they would advise the family as soon as possible.

Later they received a telegram from the War Department stating, “Deeply regret to inform you that Private Henry Homer Dalrymple, infantry, is officially reported as killed in action; date undetermined” (appearing in the October 24, 1918, publication of the Bossier Banner).

Then, the following letter was sent to the Bossier Banner and published on February 6, 1919:

"Germany, 12 December, 1918.
Mr. G. W. Dalrymple, Shreveport, La.
Dear Sir: I regret to inform you, in response to your inquiry of October 12th, that Henry H. Dalrymple was killed in action. He was always one of the best soldiers I had in the platoon, and was an acting sergeant when the accident occurred. He was killed by a direct hit with a high explosive, and his badly mutilated body was buried about a half kilometer from a village named Vaux, near Chateua [sic] Thiery [sic]. The date of the incident was July 1, 1918. Please accept my most sincere sympathy. Yours, Earl H. Brockman,Captain Infantry, U.S.A."

Pvt. Henry Homer Dalrymple was laid to rest in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Belleau, Department de l’Aisne, Picardie, France.

During World War I, mothers would display a gold star on service flags in their homes and on armbands to represent the loss of a son or daughter killed in war service. These women were known as Gold Star Mothers and became a federally chartered organization in 1928. The Gold Star Mothers lobbied Congress for a federally sponsored pilgrimage to Europe for mothers with sons buried overseas. President Calvin Coolidge signed the legislation, in March 1929, authorizing Gold Star Mothers and widows with next of kin buried overseas to travel to Europe with all expenses paid by Uncle Sam.

The Office of the Quartermaster General determined that 17,389 women were eligible to make the pilgrimage. Among these women was Homer’s mother Lydia Harriett Smith Dalrymple who made the pilgrimage sometime in the early 1930s.
Lydia Harriett Smith Dalrymple (left) on her Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage
Also Harry Gray and Della Gray Sorrells. Johnette Parham Collection: 2002.004.055.
It is with a grateful and heavy heart that we remember all of the fallen heroes who, in service to our great country and with ardent patriotism, have valiantly paid the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of freedom, may they never be forgotten.

To learn more about Bossier Parish history, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City, La.

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Donkey Baseball: Sports Fad of the 1930s

Donkey Baseball game between Plain Dealing Lions Club and Sparcolene, May 11, 1934.
Bryce Turnley Collection: 1997.062.119
The 1930s were a dark time for our nation as we suffered through the depression. The great thing about humans is we always find a way to enjoy life, even in tough times. In 1934 an alternate method of playing baseball was founded by the self-proclaimed “father of donkey baseball,” Ray L. Doan of Muscatine, Ia. This form of baseball was so popular, and amusing John Waters directed a short written and narrated by Pete Smith in 1935. (If you're interested in watching this short simply Google “Donkey Baseball 1935.”)
The game was played on a standard softball field. Every player was on a donkey except for the pitcher, the catcher, and the batter. Once the batter hit the ball, he mounted a donkey and attempted to run the bases. The outfielders can dismount their donkey to grab the ball, but they must always hold the reins, and they must mount the donkey before throwing the ball. Should a player forget to hold the reins or to remount the donkey before throwing the ball, the opposing team would be given a base.

On May 10, 1934, the following article, “LIONS WILL HAVE GALA DAY FRIDAY AT PLAIN DEALING: Donkey Ball Game To Be on Varied Program of Day in Plain Dealing” appeared in The Bossier Banner.

“The Plain Dealing Lions Club will sponsor a ‘gala celebration,’ entitled, ‘Whoa Da, Mule!’ tomorrow (Friday), which should be of much interest to people throughout the parish, because of its varied entertainment features.”

“There will be baseball games, a parade, music, dancing and other amusements, all under the supervision of the Lions Club. The program is scheduled to get under way at two o’clock in the afternoon with a ‘Donkey Parade.’ Following this event, a donkey baseball game, played form the backs of these stubborn animals, will be staged by members of the Club.”

“Then, at 3.30 o’clock, the Plain Dealing baseball team will engage the fast-stepping Sparcoline [sic] club, of Shreveport, in a regulation nine-inning game.”

“During the parade and at the ball games music will be furnished by the Plain Dealing Boys Band, a musical organization in which the town takes much pride.”

“To close the day’s festivities a dance, beginning at nine o’clock, at the Bell Hotel, and lasting until the early hours of the morning, will be held. Music for this event will be furnished by a well known colored band, it has been announced.”

"Above are members of the team in the donkey baseball game played recently at Plain Dealing, virtually all of them being members of the Plain Dealing Lions Club. Left to right are Cecil Kelly, President of the Club; Dr. W. F. Bell, Lions Club "Tail-Twister;" Ben Keeth, local Southern Cities agent; F. G. Phillips, Plain Dealing school principal; O.C. Coleman, Town Marshal-Elect; W. T. "Preacher" Carruth, a prime mover in the interesting donkey day festivities; Mayor F. D. McKellar; J. M. Graham, one of the Club's most enthusiastic members; John J. Doles, local bank cashier; Dr. George Acton, local dentist; T. B. Barron, Southwestern Gas and Electric Company's local manager and Secretary of the Lions Club; Mack Philiips, publisher of this newspaper; Bill DeMoss, local merchant. The young lady shown in the center is Miss Almeta Coyle, popular Lioness and Lions Club 'sweetheart' who rode a donkey in the parade staged in connection with the ball game. Kneeling in front of the group are (left) Crawford Womack, captain of the Sparcolene baseball team of Shreveport who played here on that day; and Glenn Crawford (right) captain of the Lions Club baseball team."
 Bryce Turnley Collection: 1997.062.118 

If you follow the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center on Facebook you have probably seen the pictures that have been posted of donkey baseball being played in Plain Dealing. If not, you can follow us on Facebook at This is a great way to see pictures and read about local history, as well as keep up with our upcoming events.

To learn more about this and other local sports visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

Monday, May 13, 2019

June's Second Saturday Screening

Every Second Saturday of each month is Movie Time at the Bossier Parish Libraries 
History Center.

FREE  movie & popcorn
May 11, 2019 at 1:30 pm

2206 Beckett St.
Bossier City, La.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Waller Elementary and a Lady Named Pearl

Pearl Taylor Waller (1874-1960)
Have you ever wondered how the names of streets and schools are chosen? Some are obvious, like Martin Luther King Drive, while others are not so obvious unless you dig into the history of the area. This week, I want to tell you about Pearl Taylor Waller, who Waller Elementary is named in honor of.

Pearl Taylor (Waller) was born on October 9, 1874, in Haynesville, La. On December 24, 1896, she married Judge Tarpley Waller of Haynesville where they lived until they moved to Bossier City in 1923. (By the way, Judge is his first name, not his role or title.) One year later Judge passed away. Judge had been a good businessman and he owned a lot of land, some of which he earned oil and gas royalties from.

After being approached about selling the land that Waller Elementary School is located, Pearl decided to donate a large section of land for the purpose of building schools and other such needs for the community. Her copious donation provided not only the land in which Waller Elementary sits on, but also that of Rusheon Middle, Kerr Elementary, Waller Baptist Church, and other Bossier City landmarks. According to her granddaughter, Barbara Gray, “she was interested in education and wanted to do what was right for the community.”

Waller Elementary School opened to 600 students spanning grades 1-6, on March 13, 1950. The school had 18 classrooms, an auditorium, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria and was under the administration of Principal Donald E. Shipp. Over half of the students were dependents from Barksdale Air Force Base.

By September of 1951, Waller Elementary became overpopulated due to a growth spurt in Bossier City; particularly around Waller Elementary, as that section of Bossier City became more developed attracting people to relocate to this part of town, and the number of children from Barksdale was higher than expected. The superintendent R. V. Kerr and the school board found it necessary to move  261 students to other schools to bring the average classroom size down to less than 40 per classroom. Thanks to a Federal School Aide Grant the Bossier Parish School Board was able to complete a 16 room addition by 1952.

In 1954, Waller Elementary began providing education to children in the 7th grade as well and had an enrollment of 1285 students. Then, in 1955, the Bossier Parish School Board ordered enough library books to make Waller Elementary School eligible to become accredited. Waller reported having the highest enrollment of any elementary school in the state with approximately 1400 students enrolled. According to state law, a school must have a minimum of five books per enrolled student to qualify for accreditation. This meant that Waller would require 7,000 library books to meet this qualification.

W. M. Waller, the nephew of Pearl and Judge Waller, served on the Bossier Parish School Board and was the one who made the motion to buy the required number of books and for the board to take the necessary action of transferring a few teachers in a move to acquire the school’s accreditation.

Don’t you know Pearl must have enjoyed watching the constant growth and improvement of not only the school named in her honor but also the growth of the community that she loved and generously gave to.

There are also streets that bear the names of the Wallers’ descendants in the area where they owned land, including Patricia Drive, the street that Waller Elementary is on. Yjean Street is also named after a Waller descendant, and Bobbie Street is named after Pearl and Judge Wallers’ granddaughter Barbara Gray who was lovingly called “Bob” by her family.

On Jan. 6, 1960, Pearl Taylor Waller died in a local hospital after a long illness, but she left an indelible mark on Bossier City with her thoughtful donations which helped the city to flourish.

To learn more about the history of Bossier Parish schools visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, LA.

By: Amy Robertson

Sunday, May 5, 2019

June Book

Pages Past:
An American History
Book Club

At the Bossier Parish Libraries

History Center

2206 Beckett Street
Bossier City, LA

6:00 - 7:30 pm

June 6, 2019

Stop by the History Center today to sign-up and to borrow a copy of the book chosen for May's discussion.