Wednesday, December 13, 2017

M. LEVY COMPANY CELEBRATES 91ST BIRTHDAY


The November 11, 1948 issue of The Bossier Banner proclaimed the 91st birthday of M. Levy
Company with a brief history of the popular store.

“M. Levy Company, leading Shreveport clothing store located at Texas and Edwards Streets,
today is observing the 91st anniversary of its founding.”

“The store, begun in 1857 by Morris Levy, is now owned jointly by Marx Levy and Nathan
Bernstein. Slogan of the store is ‘Shreveport’s traditional headquarters for fine wearing apparel
since 1857.”

“Ninety-one years ago when the store was established, Shreveport was a thriving river town of
about 2,000 persons. Among the travelers, traders, and planters attracted to the bustling
settlement was Morris Levy, who came from Marshall, Texas, where he had been in the clothing
business.”

“Destined to be one of the leading figures in the building of the city, Levy immediately opened a
general merchandise store in the 200 block of Texas Street.”

“The store rapidly became one of the most popular gathering places in North Louisiana. When
planters, hunters and traders came in from their plantations flung along the rich banks of Red
River and when captains docked their boats here, they all met at Levy’s store.”

“During the lean years of the Civil War, Levy’s store remained open. But in 1865 when the
carpetbaggers invaded the South, Levy moved to New York to give his children the benefit of an
eastern education. In 1869 he returned to Shreveport and opened a new store in the 200 block of
Milam Street. Levy, who had given generously to the cause of the South during the war, devoted
his energy and resources to helping rebuild the land as well as his store.”

“When Levy died in 1898, his sons continued to operate the store.”

“In 1903 the store was moved to 303-305 Texas Street. There it remained until 1916 when it
was moved to its present location in the Levy building at Texas and Edwards streets.”

“In 1920 the Levy brothers retired and the store became the property of Marx Levy and Nathan
Bernstein.”

“Both Marx Levy and Nathan Bernstein have lived in Shreveport all their lives, and both began
their careers in the store while they were in their teens.”

“Since that time the business has grown rapidly. The present store has a floor space of 10,000
square feet. Forty-five employees are kept busy in the store serving the public.”

“From all section of the Ark-La-Tex persons come to the store of M. Levy to buy wearing
apparel for all members of the family. Many of them are from families that have traded there for
generations.”

“The 91st anniversary of the store is being observed by the executives of the company with pride
in the realization that the traditions and service of the founder of the store are being upheld
today.”

The final listing for M. Levy Company was in the 1978 Polk’s City Directory.

To learn more about the history of local businesses visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical
Center.

By: Ann Middleton

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

TRIBUTE TO A FAMOUS JOCKEY INSPIRES MEMORY OF KNIGHTHOOD IN PLAIN DEALING

Plain Dealing racetrack and grandstand, Circa 1910's. Beulah Findley collection, 1997.054.045 

When death claimed Robert Leonard McLeish the Bossier Banner- Progress recalled how he became a famous jockey in its December, 1955 issue.

“When Robert Leonard McLeish answered the call to his last ‘roundup’ on last Monday morning at his Collinsburg home, there passed from the scene of action one of Northwest Louisiana’s most famous jockeys, a daring horseman who won his first spurs when a lad of 12 at the colorful lists or tournaments, held around Plain Dealing in the mid-nineties.”

“While there is no definite evidence at hand to establish the fact, it is probable that at old Collinsburg, Red Land and Plain Dealing, the last days of ‘Knighthood in Flower’ were ushered into final oblivion. Old copies of The Bossier Banner give accounts of some of these tournaments when Mrs. W.E. Swindle, formerly Miss Davis, a relatively near cousin of Jefferson Davis, and daughter of Dr. Davis, Plain Dealing’s first physician, and Mrs. W.F. Bell, formerly Miss Maude Moses of Oxford, Miss., were crowned queens of the royal courts by some gallant knight of that day who, wearing the favor of the ‘fairest’, proved the conquering hero at the lists. At these lists prominently mentioned were Dr. W.F. Bell, Bobbie Doles, N.W. Sintel and Jim Walker, the latter, chairman at various times. Yes, Mrs. Mollie Banks Gray was one of the belles of those famous games.”

“Since our friend, Ardis Manry, is particularly interested in local lore and historic data, it is here suggested that he check on the significance of these games, not of personal combat, but centered about equestrian skill.”

“Reverting to our jockey hero, his role was that of dare devil riding and totally abandoned racing. He, from time to time, would recall the days when riding old ‘Salem’, ‘Lost John’, ‘Superintendent’ and other equally famous mounts, he won innumerable races, first at the lists, later at the parish and state fairs. His last victory was in the mid-thirties when riding ‘Lost John’ he was winner in one of the last parish fairs held in Plain Dealing. He was then over fifty. A winner over a period of forty years is certainly a record seldom, if ever, equaled.”

“Yes, while at the lists or fairs, Leonard McLeish may not have worn ‘my lady’s favor’, nonetheless he thrilled the hearts of thousands of true horsemanship and now, shall we say, figuratively, he has gone to his reunion with ‘Old Salem,’ ‘Lost John’ and ‘Superintendent’.”

“Leonard’s average weight thru life was about 110 pounds.” Robert Leonard McLeish, 69, a Collinsburg community farmer, died Monday, November 28, 1955, at his home.

To find out more and to read Mr. Dale Jennings’ article about the knighthood tournaments in Cottage Grove in the 1880s and 1890s pay a visit to the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

By: Ann Middleton, Director

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Health Train Comes to Bossier


The Health Train toured LA in 1910 (1911 in Bossier) in a two-car train with health exhibits and 10 health inspectors. The inspectors would inspect public buildings and all food production establishments, and then bluntly tell the townspeople the results. The Health Exhibit also showed films on sanitation and health.
See: Rudolph Matas'  History of Medicine in Louisiana, Vol II  pp 483-485 for more information.