Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Blind Man Hunts Again

Walter Hill was a Benton resident and avid outdoor sportsman who probably planned to spend his retirement hunting and fishing at the Sailes Hunting Club in Bienville Parish. On May 13, 1975, a valve on a storage tank filled with anhydrous ammonia malfunctioned while working, causing severe damage requiring 27 surgeries and four transplants. In the end, the Doctors were unable to restore Hill’s sight. Now, legally blind, he was forced into early retirement and feared that his disability would prevent the retirement he always imagined.

Walter Hill and "Junior" Williams
Shreveport Times Photo by Reeves Feild
Hill learned that there’s not much one can’t do, where there is passion, will, and good friends. It was not long, maybe about a year or so after the accident, he began fishing again with the help of a friend, part-time fishing guide, Vardaman “Junior” Williams of Williams and Son Plant Farm in Keithville.

Ten years later, he learned that his neighbor, Margaret Stewart, loved to hunt and fish, so he made her a deal, “if you get me there, I will pay all of the expenses.” From that point forward, Hill and Stewart began “hunting” and fishing together. Though he could not hunt, he enjoyed being in the woods and sitting in the deer stand.

Over the years, Hill lost his wife, Dorothy, and eventually, he and Margaret married on Valentine’s Day 2006. As a mother of a legally blind son and an avid hunter herself, she started making phone calls when she heard of a blind person in Texas hunting using a laser sight and partner. Margaret called the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries to learn that, in Louisiana, this would be illegal. Next, she called Louisiana State Representative Henry Burns, a long-time friend, and resident of Haughton. 

Burns went on to sponsor a bill (HB 39) through the Louisiana legislature, which was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal, just in time for hunting season. “The new law authorizes the use of laser scopes by visually impaired hunters while hunting with a sighted individual.” Louisiana is the 17th state to pass such a bill allowing the blind to hunt with the assistance of technology and a sighted partner.

The last time Hill shot a gun for hunting purposes was on New Year’s Day in 1975, just five and a half months before losing his sight. Finally, with the new law in place and family and friends’ help, Hill could do more than sit in the tree stand. It was the winter of 2010 when, once again, Hill experienced the thrill of hunting when he shot his first deer since becoming blind 35-years earlier.

The most important message that Hill would want readers to take from this is “not to be afraid of doing things with people who are handicapped.” He did not take lightly the challenge and effort it took for his friends and family to help him fish and hunt. Hill stated, “You don’t realize how much it meant. When I caught that first bass, I almost cried. Margaret and Junior helped give me my life back.” 

Learn more about the local history by visiting the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, your leading source for local history. We are located adjacent to the Central Library branch at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

Whether you want to learn about local history or research your family history, we are here to help in person or online, Be sure to follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on FB and check out our blog, 318-746-7717,

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

1918 State Fair Canceled

Ferris Wheel at Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport
c 1910s.  Beulah Findley Colelction: 1997.054.064.
Recently the Louisiana State Fair announced that the 114th annual fair for this fall is canceled, but it is has been rescheduled for next spring. This means there will be two fairs in 2021, the 114th in the spring and the 115th in the fall. This year is only the second time in the history of this annual festival to be canceled.

The last cancellation was of the 13th annual fair in 1918 during the Spanish flu (H1N1) pandemic. W.R. Hirsch, regretfully, made the official announcement based on the following telegram from state health officer Dr. Oscar Dowling:

“Supplementing wire. After conference with Corput, public health service, concluded best postpone under existing conditions.” Dr. Corput was the federal health official, stationed at New Orleans, in charge of the influenza fight in this territory.

According to Hirsch, “In my opinion, which is based on the records in our headquarters, the 1918 fair would have been record-breaking, both in attractions, including the mammoth lot of exhibits, and also in attendance. We had promise of exhibits filling every exhibit building and barn, with indications that tents would have been necessary to accommodate a big overflow.”

Advertisement for the 13th annual Louisiana State Fair, 1918.

Before the cancellation, Hirsch had announced, “A dozen aviators, all in the aerial service of Uncle Sam, and most of them home boys, will fly over Shreveport during the seven days of the State Fair.” That year, Oct. 31st was designated as General Pershing Day and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Day. Special arrangements were made to have as many of the aviators fly on that day as possible. All military, including allied nations and confederate veterans, were to receive free entry into the fair.

With WWI going on, there was a lot of focus on the war and the military. Plans included a 9,000 square foot United States government war exhibit, which included a gas mask used at that time to protect American soldiers from German gases. We were one of four southern fairs scheduled to receive this exhibit. The mask was made in a factory on Long Island, where 27,000 masks were manufactured daily.

“The fireworks spectacle, ‘World’s War,’ reproducing scenes from the world war, would have been another great attraction.” There was also promise of a great war exhibit by the Canadian government.

“We are the only State Fair announcing that Herbert C. Hoover, national food administrator, would be present and deliver an address to its visitors. We are also the only State Fair with promise of an address by a member of the congressional party that recently returned from a visit to the battle fronts of western Europe, Congressman J.B. Aswell having accepted our invitation to deliver an address on his experience on that thrilling trip to the war zones.”

All culinary articles were to be hooverized products, the premiums offered were to encourage economy in cooking, and with assigned space for an exhibit of food conservation work. The word hooverize originated in 1917 and, by definition, means “to be sparing in the use of something especially food,” which Herbert C. Hoover promoted. He was the head of the U.S. Food Administration during WWI, and he encouraged citizens to eat less and save food for soldiers. Common slogans were “save the food, win the war,” and “food will win the war.”

Chambers, C. E. (1917) Food will win the war - You came here seeking freedom, now you must help to preserve it -Wheat is needed for the allies - waste nothing / C. E. Chambers. United States, 1917. [New York: Rusling Wood, Litho] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Miss Elizabeth Dombourajian was another special guest scheduled for that year. She was a native Armenian who was to speak on the life of the people of her native land, where the Turks have massacred many thousands of Christians. Other plans included an automobile show, horse races, musical guests, the fancy rifle, revolver, pistol shooting by Tom P. Parker, and many other attractions.

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

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Jobless Find Work at Barksdale Field

Aerial view of construction at Barksdale Field, 1933

On Oct. 5, 1933, the following announcement appeared in the Bossier Banner that the newly established Bossier Parish re-employment office in Bossier City was now open.

“Bossier Parish now has what is in fact a regularly established employment bureau. The office is open in Bossier City and the organization is functioning under the auspices of the National Re-employment Service. The Bossier Parish Committee is comprised of Messrs. R. H. Lee, W. W. Carter and D. E. Burchett, of Benton; Mr. A. J. Dupuy, of Bossier City, and Dr. George Acton, of Plain Dealing. Actively in charge of the office is Mr. O. L. Watkins. His three helpers are: Miss Larry Vance, of Benton; Mr. H. E. Curtis, of Plain Dealing, and Mr. J. R. Hill, of the Adner community.

“All unemployed people who reside in Bossier Parish and who want work may now register at this office. It is stated that there were in excess of 300 registrations at the office yesterday. … Of this number 140 were at once given employment at Barksdale Field, the big government airport near Bossier City. It has been announced that 300 additional laborers can be used at the field by about the 16th to 18th.

“It is understood that the emergency work under way at Barksdale Field is chiefly dirt moving. At present a stretch of the banks of Mack’s Bayou (on the airport grounds) is being given more extended slope, and the continuation of surface drainage work is to be taken up a little later on.

“It is understood the Bossier City office of the National Re-employment Service will be kept open indefinitely.”

The National Re-employment Service mentioned here was the United States Employment Service, established in 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Wagner-Peyser Act into law. This service aimed to improve the quality of service for jobless Americans by developing a coordinated employment assistance system, with federal and state governments working together through state-run employment offices.

The United States Employment Service and local offices, such as the one that opened in Bossier City in 1933, played a vital role during and after the Great Depression, matching the unemployed with available jobs, including many of the government work projects developed by the Work Progress Administration during the 1930s.

In fact, on the same day that the above article ran, another article appeared on the same page announcing that “bids for projects estimated to cost more than $200,000 will be opened at Barksdale Field October 17th and 18th.” One project was for an electrical distribution system and the installation of utilities, and another was for the construction of a bachelor officers’ dormitory and a commanding officers’ residence. There were also plans for community garages for the non commissioned and commissioned officers’ areas and street lights.

The article revealed that “A lump sum of $2,153,075 was alloted [sic] the field recently by the public works administration, including $1,783,461 for new and proposed projects, which will complete the airdrome, in so far as construction is concerned.

“All workmen will be given employment through the Bossier Parish and Caddo Parish re-employment offices, preference being given first to those workmen who register in Bossier City.”

At that time, jobs through the re-employment office only provided workers with 30 hours per week in an effort to provide more jobs to more people.

What do you want to know about Bossier Parish history? Visit, call, or email the Bossier Parish Library History Center for help with your research. We are at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, 318-746-7717,

By: Amy Robertson

Thursday, October 1, 2020

This Month In Bossier Parish History

 October: Through the Years

October 2020: High School Homecoming season begins! 

 Please enjoy the high school Homecoming photos from our parish. 

1990-91: Airline High School
Homecoming Court

1953: Haughton High School 
Homecoming Court

1980: Parkway High School 
Homecoming Queen and King
1945: Bossier High School 
Homecoming Court

Oct. 6, 1920: Since the passing of the 19th Amendment, 161 women for Bossier Parish had register to vote. Mary Bixler from Plain Dealing was the first woman to register in this parish.  Do you have an ancestor that was on the list of the 161 women to register? Contact us via message, email, or phone and we can look on the list for you. 

Bossier Banner: Oct.6, 1920

1900: Vashti Applewhite
0000.003.043 Pattillo Collection
1880's: Lillian Stinson Carter
2000.045.004 Shaver Collection
c.1900's:  "The Lawrence Sisters"
Hattie, Emma, Katie and Eva

Oct. 16. 1920: Weekly news from 100 years ago.

· Allendale store and resident  was destroyed by fire

Bossier Banner
Harvey Arnold 
1999.127.047B Jennings Collection

· Miss Athlene Cornish left to take charge of the Alden Bridge school

Bossier Banner
1936-1937 Bossier School Faculty: 
Athlene Cornish is on the 2nd row, 
6th from the right
2001.052.097 Saucier Collection

· Jim Giles been working on the roads

Bossier Banner
c.1900's: Road Crew Camp
0000.004.076 Scanland Collection

· J.A., Kate and Lucille Edwards returned home from Shreveport.

Bossier Banner
James A. Edwards Sr.,
Kate Carter Edwards,
and James A. Edwards Jr.
2009.044.006 Beekman Collection

Oct. 31, 2020: Happy Halloween! 

Please enjoy the photos relating to Halloween. 

Bossier Press: Oct.27, 1977

The Shreveport Journal: Oct.26, 1944

Bossier City Mothers Club.
Women dressed in costunes
1999.044.038-2 Pace Collection

1983: Preschool Halloween Party at
the Bossier Parish Libraries 
Central Branch


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Bearkat Football: A Brief History

Color drawing of Bossier High School by Louisiana artist Stan Routh
            The Louisiana Department of Education recognized Bossier City High School as an accredited school in 1917. The Bossier City school itself was established in 1900, and in 1915 taxpayers approved a 3.5 mil property tax to raise funds needed to add a wing onto the school to provide high school level classes and meet the requirements for accreditation.

Since the high school began during the first world war, there were only female graduates for the first three years. By 1920 the number of graduates began to increase along with the number of students attending the school. The school continued to grow, and by 1926 it fielded its first football team.

With the school colors, kelly green, and white, already having been selected in 1925, all the team needed was a mascot. Arthur Ray Teague was the team’s first fullback, and he is credited with choosing the bearcat as the mascot. Buzz Wojecki explains in an article published in the Bossier Press-Tribune in 2006, “The spelling changed from ‘Bearcats’ to ‘Bearkats’ about 1938. There is good reason to believe it was to differentiate Bossier High from the Ruston High Bearcats on the sports page.”

In 2006 Bossier High School alumni, school officials, and Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker unveiled
a sign at Bossier Elementary School commemorating 80 years of Bearkat football.

The first Bearkat football players were: Pue L. Wilson, Pat Stevens, Willie Chambers, James Nelson, Charles Hoyer, Harry Bumgardner, Briscoe Marlar, Tap Waller, David Wallace, Arthur Ray Teague, Maurice Birdwell, Pete McCall, Virgil Gleason, Julius Whisenhunt, and Mack O’Quinn. Stuart Storey, a former freshman coach at Louisiana College, was the first coach for the Bearkats, leading them to victory in their first game on the gridiron, defeating Doyline High School by four points; final score 18 to 14.

That first year the team played seven games and tied three, lost three, and won two making a total of seven touchdowns. The first three touchdowns were made by Harry Baumgardner, who also made one more during that season. Arthur Ray Teague made two, and Maurice Birdwell made one. Not bad, considering they were a first-year team.

The Bearkat football team had a perfect season in 1933; they were undefeated and unscored on that year. They won the Louisiana State Class "A" Championship in 1942 and again in 1948.

The Shreveport Times Aug. 4, 1995

Some star players went on to college and then to the pros, such as Eugene “Red” Knight, a fullback who graduated in 1943. He went on to Louisiana State University, and then he played for the Washington Red Skins, the Chicago Cardinals, and the San Francisco 49ers during his professional career.

Then there were the Walker brothers, Wayne, a 1962 graduate, and Randy, a 1969 graduate. Both were kicking stars that went on to Northwestern State University and then to the pros. Wayne played for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Oilers, and the Texas Titans. Randy played for the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Learn more about the local high schools and football teams by visiting the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, your leading source for local history. We are located adjacent to the Central Library branch at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Whether you want to learn about local history or research your family history, we are here to help.

By: Amy Robertson