Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Open House

The Historical Center’s Holiday Open House will be Friday, Dec. 14th at 1:00-3:00 pm. It will feature Allen Smith of the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Dept. performing songs from the past, refreshments, and Holiday exhibits and decorations throughout the History Center, which is adjacent to Bossier Central Library. Call 746-7717 for more information. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bossier Parish Railroads

We have a new exhibit at the History Center. The Shreveport-Bossier Toy Train Operators helped to create an exhibit on trains and the railroad industry in Bossier Parish. They loaned us many wonderful model trains and framed art. The exhibit is a lot of fun with something for all ages. Please stop by and enjoy the new display, which will be up through March.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Hope you're enjoying the day with fun costumes and parties, just like these members of the Bossier Mothers' Club did in the 1970s. Our "Haunted Bossier" exhibit will be up until mid-November, so stop by the History Center to learn some of the scary stories about the parish!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Festival

The Bossier Parish Central Library and the Historical Center will be celebrating the season with our Fall Festival next Tuesday, the 30th. The library will have pumpkin painting, games, candy tours, face painting, and giveaways. Be sure to stop in the History Center to see our Haunted Bossier exhibit, go on our scavenger hunt, and make spooky ghost treat bags. Fall Festival events are from 9 am through 6 pm.

Monday, October 1, 2012

RELIC Books: One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End

This week on Thurs. Oct. 4 (note the change in schedule) for the RELIC book discussion series on the Civil War in Louisiana we will be discussing Dr. Gary Joiner’s book One Damn Blunder from Beginning to End: The Red River Campaign of 1864 - with a special visit from Dr. Joiner himself!

The title of the book is a quote from General William Tecumseh Sherman as he summed up the Union’s massive failure that was the Red River Campaign. The campaign was the Union's attempt to capture Shreveport and take Louisiana and Texas out of Confederate hands (and while they were at it, free up some cotton to get the New England textile mills running again). Dr. Joiner’s intimate knowledge of the geography of the Red River Valley shines through in his descriptions of Confederate strategy to keep at bay 40,000 Union troops and sixty naval vessels that voyaged up the Red River toward the Confederate capitol of Louisiana, Shreveport.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Archaeology Month - Kids' Program

Bring kids to the Bossier Central Library's Children's Dept. between 2:30 -4:30 on Tues 10/2 or 10/16 and they can weigh, sketch, measure and identify artifacts as if they were archaeologists in a lab. It is the same activity either day, so you can pick which day you want to come. Or kids can be dedicated scientists and come both times and work with different artifacts!

Louisiana Archaeology Month - Adult Program

October is Louisiana Archaeology Month. The History Center sponsors Archaeology Month programs every year. This year for the adult program we chose the theme of Civil War archaeology in honor of the ongoing nationwide observance of the Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary of the war, as well as our current RELIC program on the Civil War in Louisiana. If you attend, I think you will be in for a treat. The presenter, Scott Dearman, as site manager of a state park, is an incredibly busy man so we are extremely fortunate he has found time in his schedule to come up to Bossier.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pick Your Program

Did you know that the Historical Center has a “menu” of programs that we can present to your group or class room? We can bring the program to you and present it wherever your group is meeting in the Shreveport-Bossier area. Or you can meet in our spacious and modern meeting room that is available to the public at the Historical Center. Most of the other Bossier Parish Library branches have public meeting rooms, too. Coming to the Historical Center has the added benefit that I can also give your group a tour. It is possible to combine programs from this “menu” (shown above) or even design a new program with sufficient notice if it is within the scope of the Historical Center’s mission and expertise. I think you will find we are very flexible and easy to work with! Call Pam Carlisle at 318-746-7717 if you would like to set up a program.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

RELIC books: The Louisiana Native Guards

The first RELIC program discussion is fast approaching! We're excited to see all of the participants next Thursday, September 13th to begin Battleground Louisiana: Civil War Events & Experiences. Here's another book we'll be consulting - The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience during the Civil War. Author James Hollandsworth recounts the tale of black Union soldiers and the roles that they played in the political struggles of post-war Louisiana.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

RELIC books: When the Devil Came Down to Dixie

Another book included in our upcoming RELIC program is Chester Hearn's When the Devil Came Down to Dixie. Hearn's biography of Major General Benjamin Butler describes the Union capture of New Orleans. Learn about the significance of the fall of the Crescent City during our discussion of the war in Louisiana.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

RELIC books: Brokenburn

One of the books we will be reading during our upcoming RELIC program is Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1868.
The session will look at Louisianans on the home front and how they adjusted to the war's almost insurmountable challenges.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New RELIC program!

Since our previous RELIC (Readings in Literature and Culture) programs were so successful, the Historical Center is bringing another program to Bossier Parish. From September 13 - October 18, join us at the Historical Center from 6-8PM for Battleground Louisiana: Civil War Events and Experiences. We will be reading five books, with discussions led by Dr. Stephen Webre, Chair of the Department of History at Louisiana Tech University.
To reserve a seat, call 318-746-7717. The program is free, but space is limited.
Come back to our blog to learn more about the books we'll be reading for this program!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer newsletter

Our summer newsletter is here! Click here to read it or click in the menu to the right.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1940 Louisiana census news

The 1940 Louisiana census is indexed, thanks to the volunteers at! To search for your LA relatives, head over to and enter a name to find out where he or she was living in 1940! Several states are indexed already and more will be finished soon, so keep checking Familysearch. If you need help getting started with your genealogy, remember that you can access the library edition of on computers at all Bossier Parish Library branches. We also have a subscription to Fold3, which focuses on military collections. A service called HeritageQuest is available on your home computer - you just need to enter your library card number. To get further assistance, stop by the Historical Center to chat with our staff members. We'll help you start your genealogy search and point you to some helpful resources.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ealy Chapel CME Church

This past Sunday afternoon I attended the 97th church anniversary service of the Ealy Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Princeton, La. near Haughton. We have accounts of the church's history in our archives.

Ealy Chapel had its beginning in 1915 as a brush arbor on Lizzie Ealy’s land, which she provided to other members of Fillmore C.M.E (now Wesley Chapel C.M.E) who found it difficult to travel by wagon or foot to Fillmore for night services. The subsequent Ealy Chapel moved to a location more accessible to automobiles in the 1940’s and remained on the “Fillmore Circuit” with Wesley C.M.E. until 1970, when it became a separate church. Two years later the congregation dedicated its present-day Princeton Road building.

I was invited to the service by the 91-year-old granddaughter of Lizzie Ealy, Ms. Meverlean Moore, who holds the church’s memory and with whom I have conducted oral history interviews. If your church in Bossier Parish has a written history to pass along, we would love to place it in our archives. Or, if you know a long-term member who holds the church’s institutional memory, we may interview them for our oral history collection.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

War-Savings Stamp campaigns

During World War I, three $50.00 (cash) state prizes were available to the schools of Bossier Parish in the Thrift and War-Savings Stamp campaign. Schools would be divided into three classes—Class A constituted all provisional high schools; Class B constituted schools below high school or provisional high school, three or more teachers. Class C constituted schools of one or two teachers. Each school principal was to fill out a monthly report of the sales of his/her school and submit it to T.H. Harris. Reports of sales for December and January had not been good and Harris wrote a letter to the teachers of Louisiana in which he took them to task for doing “little or nothing in the Thrift Stamp campaign” during [those months]. Further, he promised to have harsh words for “the parish or school that lies down on the job in this second contest” (the February/March campaign). “Let every school organize its forces and work hard and consistently in this second contest.” In addition to the three $50.00 prizes, local Bossier students had the opportunity to win prizes of $10.00, $5.00, $2.00 and $1.00. The prizes would be awarded only if an aggregate sum of $2000.00 was raised and it had to be in the hands of the hands of the Parish Superintendent of Schools by the evening of April 1st. Benton High School students were reported in the February 14, 1918 issue of the paper to be showing their patriotism by purchasing and selling War-Savings Stamps. The March 14, 1918 issue of The Bossier Banner reported that the pupils of Plain Dealing High School were determined to “lick” some of Uncle Sam’s War Stamps and claim all of the prizes being offered. The article’s author advised: “By all means buy War-Savings Stamps. What are you going to do, Bossier Parish? Are you going to respond liberally to our country’s call and make a decent showing, or are you going to be content with a like paltry showing as was made in the first drive?” Be sure to read next week’s article to find out which schools and which students received the prizes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Graves in North Bossier Parish

In his column for the April 22, 1954 issue of The Bossier Banner-Progress Ardis Manry wrote about 3 early burials in Bossier Parish. An earlier issue of the newspaper had stated that Elizabeth Felps’ grave may have been the oldest marked grave in northwest Bossier Parish. Comments from readers then began to dispute that statement. A Mrs. Hamiter pointed out that Patience Hodges Hamiter died June 1, 1848, and was buried in the family burial plot on what was then the John Hamiter plantation, but known in 1954 as the Hardy place. The 1848 death date was three years before Elizabeth Felps died.
A student from Plain Dealing High School then brought in an affidavit to the effect that out in Ward 4 near his home there was a tombstone that bore the inscription: “Sacred to the memory of John B. Hutchinson, born 20th of February, 1763; died 1st September, 1816, aged 54 years, six months and 11 days.” According to this, Hutchinson died 32 years before Hamiter. However, Clif Cardin’s Bossier Parish Headstones records that the John B. Hutchinson headstone actually says that Hutchinson was born February 20th 1792 and that he died on September 1st, 1846. In his book, Mr. Cardin gives a very interesting description based on courthouse records of Hutchinson and his family and how the lone grave came to be located where it is. Grandparents of the Plain Dealing student recalled visiting an old home 200 feet from the Hutchinson grave and describing the house as “two stories in height, plaster finish inside, front porch on both first and second floors, and facing due south. It had a staircase arising from the center of the bottom story and winding up to the side of the second story. There was a 25 foot square dance hall. A copper pond or pool was on top of the house. Excess water drained off into a cement cistern on the ground.” A Rocky Mount resident remembered the house, long since torn down in 1954, as having been called the White house. As a child he had seen it hauled past his home in wagons. Manry also noted that another source reported that at one time a person had died in the home and that the body was kept upstairs for a long time before it was finally buried. No one that Manry contacted remembered anyone living in the house, which Manry speculated must have been one of the nicer homes in Bossier Parish in its time. According to Clif Cardin, Manry was able to contact a descendant of John Hutchinson who had their family Bible, stating that Hutchinson did, indeed, die in 1846, not 1816. In addition, Mr. Cardin tells us that William Joseph Hutchinson, the younger child of John B. Hutchinson, moved to Caddo Parish and established the Caspiana Plantation.

Monday, April 23, 2012

1929 Letter to the Planters' Press

A letter addressed to “Commercial Club, Bossier City, La.” was directed to The Planters’ Press for answering. The May 18, 1929 issue of that paper printed the inquiry from Hamburg, Arkansas, as well as The Planters’ Press answer. The letter’s message was: “Will you please send me descriptive literature of your city, population, water, rents, health, etc., etc. I will appreciate your information very much. P. S. How far are you from Shreveport?” The response was: “Dear Madam: Your card addressed to the Commercial Club of this City was turned over to us for answering. We haven’t at this time a Commercial Club neither a Chamber of Commerce to take care of correspondence of this nature, however, it gives us much pleasure to give you all the available information we have in our records at this time. We do have one of the best Lions Clubs in Northwest Louisiana meeting twice a month, the luncheons at these meetings are prepared by the different churches in the city.” “Bossier City is situated on the banks of the Red River just across from Shreveport. The river is the dividing line between Bossier City and Shreveport, also the two parishes, Bossier and Caddo. The population of Bossier City is 4,000.” “Our chief interests is [sic] oil refining, Fertilizer Manufacturers and Agricultural Commodities.” “This Red River land is known throughout the Southwest for its vast production of good cotton, especially long staple. This land will grow any kind of vegetation known to the farmer today, and can be successfully cultivated at small expense.” “The Louisiana Oil Refining Corporation maintains and operates one of the largest refineries in Louisiana right in our city and employes [sic] nearly 1500 men. We have a new $100,000 ice plant just completed, a $300,000 Acid Plant practically ready to start operation. One large Fertilizer mill and two large cotton oil companies. A brand new $100,000 Municipal Hall and one of the largest and best equipped high schools in the state. Will have, within the next six months, the beginning of the Third Air Attack Wing of the United States Army, which will require 22,000 acres. This along will mean prestige and buying power for our city and parish within the next few years. Bossier City has several miles of street paving, a fire system with a call box on each corner, street lighting system, which includes white way lights in the business district, excellent drainage and sewerage system, cheap rents and water rates.” “The Planters’ Press and its directors extends an invitation to you, to visit our city and assure you of a welcome visit.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letter from Bossier Parish

A letter from Bellevue appeared in the July 27, 1881 issue of the Galveston Daily News and mentions the quality of Shed Road.

"This is a happily located town on the main road from Shreveport to Monroe. It is thought that the anticipated railroad from Monroe westward will leave it several miles. It is among the hills, at a considerable distance from the rich river bottom that is so abundant in the parish. The river front is about 150 miles, with an average width of 5 or 6 miles. Both the corn and cotton crops are excellent in this extensive bottom. In the hills the recent rains have helped cotton considerably.

The road through this bottom, once almost impassable, is now covered with a substantial shed, which protects it from the heavy winter rains, keeping it constantly hard and dry. The posts are cypress, obtained principally from the bottom. The cover is made of broad pine planks, 12 to 15 feet in length, sawed at the extensive steam sawmill at Bellevue."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

1892 - The Situation in Bossier

In 1892, Bossier Parish experienced heavy flooding from the Red River. The May 29 issue of The Shreveport Times tells of the rising water, which threatened the railroad tracks in Bossier.

The Cotton Belt Railway ran a relief train between Shreveport and the flooded areas of Bossier Parish to get residents out of harm's way. As of the May 29th newspaper article, the relief train had brought about 200 people to Shreveport. On the train's last trip to Bossier, it encountered water a half mile north of Vanceville (which is along the Red River between Benton and Bossier City). "The water was over the track for about three miles and was from three to four feet deep. It was running so swift that the work trains could not accomplish anything...Owing to the condition of affairs, all trains on the Cotton Belt have been abandoned and will be compelled to remain so until the waters recede."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

1940 Census

Just 19 days until the 1940 census is released! Are you looking forward to finding your relatives in the census? Remember that upon its release, the 1940 census will not be indexed immediately. This makes it a little more challenging to find your relatives, so visit us at the Historical Center to prepare. We can help you collect addresses for the people you’d like to locate in the census. Sources for 1940 addresses include the 1930 Census, WWII draft records, naturalization petitions, and city directories. We have Shreveport-Bossier city directories in our collection that will help in locating your ancestors.

You will also need to know the census enumeration district in which a 1940s address was located. The National Archives has online tools available to assist you in finding enumeration districts.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Closing scheduled

The Historical Center and the Central Library will be closed from Sunday, March 4 through Friday, March 9 for system updates. We will reopen on Saturday, March 10.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spring newsletter

Our Spring newsletter is available! Click here or click on the link in the menu to the right to find out what's been happening at the Historical Center!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Earl Long

In 1948 Louisiana’s gubernatorial race was in full swing. Roger E. Wheless, Bossier Parish Chairman for the Sam Jones Campaign Committee, took out a large ad in The Bossier Banner to express his concerns about Earl Long who was running against Sam Jones in the race. His concerns are reprinted in part below from the February 19, 1948 issue of The Banner.

“This letter is primarily directed to the people of Bossier Parish, but it is hoped that it will be read by all who are interested in good government. Bossier Parish is my homeland—I was reared there. Now I am serving as Parish Chairman there for Sam Jones’ campaign. I think Jones is a real statesman—not a politician— and that he made an excellent governor. But it isn’t just that which makes me want to help him win; but because I think his defeat by the man he is running against would hurt everything in the state, including our own little parish.

It’s every man’s job to do what he can when he thinks there is danger threatening, and I surely think there’s danger now. I tell you and the wide world that I AM afraid of Earl Long. That doesn’t mean that I am afraid of what he would do to me or that I wouldn’t fight him on any ground. I AM AFRAID that he will, if elected, bring back all the hates and prejudices; all the political trading and intimidations; all the extravagances, graft and dishonesty; and all the personal favoring of friends and persecution of enemies that went on in Dick Leche’s and his own administration.

That would be mighty bad, but it could be worse that it was then. Earl Long is getting a lot of money (maybe most of it) for his campaign from outside of the state—and he is spending an awful lot of it. It is said to be coming from a bad source. When people outside OUR state put up money to elect OUR governor, they are sure to be gambling for something—and that something is just what I don’t want them to have, even if we wouldn’t have to suffer from all the ills I have just mentioned.

Many of you already know, just as I do, what the money-givers are gambling on. You and I don’t know just what agreements have been made but it is likely that the money-givers are to have control of the Conservation Department or the Highway Department. They wouldn’t be likely to gamble four or five hundred thousand dollars unless they were after some such big prize. Millions of dollars can be taken in graft in either of these departments. And it is certain that they will insist upon control of the Public Safety Department for only by this means can they assure themselves of the protection they MUST have.

Louisiana is rich in oil, timber, sulphur and furs, and the man who controls the Conservation Department controls them. The Highway Department is just about to enter upon the biggest road building campaign the state has ever had, and the graft that can be taken there will be enormous, There is now in the state treasury two hundred million dollars, saved up since the war stopped all road building. If the money-givers could take ten percent of that in graft, that would be twenty million dollars. That’s a big prize and that’s probably what they are playing for.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February 1899's Sub-Zero Weather

In the February 19, 1948 issue of The Bossier Banner, the paper’s editor reflected on what the weather report was for Benton in February of 1899.

“For almost two weeks we have experienced freezing weather. Thursday of last week we were treated to the most genuine surprise of this remarkable winter — a snow storm of unusual proportions for February. The fall was about five inches and a portion of the snow was still on the ground today at noon. During the week the thermometers in Benton have registered several degrees below zero.”

The “Weather Notes” column of the February 16, 1899 indicated that many other states were experiencing severe cold. Eastern cities of the United States, still digging out of the snow, had reported much damage and many deaths. It was predicted that the cold spell would go down in history as the longest in duration, most widespread and worst ever experienced in the United States.

The poor in New Orleans were suffering terribly because of their inability to secure coal and deaths were being reported there, as well.

Deaths were also reported in Houston, Texas, Arkansas, Colin County, Texas, and Montgomery, Alabama. New York was without railroad communication as a result of the snow storm. Grain, cattle and produce industries in Missouri were injured by the cold weather. The coldest weather in 56 years was reported in Natchez, Mississippi. The Mississippi River was frozen over at St. Louis last Friday for the first time since 1895.

The March 2, 1899 issue of The Bossier Banner reported more news about the severe cold from around the state of Louisiana: “Many thousands of shiners were frozen up in the ice in Lake Providence during the blizzard; during the big snow about 250 rabbits ere caught near Indian Village, Ouachita Parish; several colored families in East Carrol [sic] Parish who were out of wood during the late blizzard burned their fences; rabbits were frozen to death by the hundreds during the cold spell in the neighborhood of Holmesville, Union Parish.

Another newspaper, The Baton Rouge Democrat, reported that cattle were dying all over Morehouse Parish because they were unsheltered and half-starved as a result of the cold.

Bossier Parish residents can be grateful for our own current very mild winter. After 2011’s extreme heat and drought, it is gratifying to experience mild weather. While you are enjoying the mild temperatures, take some time to visit the very comfortable Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to learn more about the history of Bossier Parish.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Historic spots in Bossier

An unsigned article titled “Let’s Know Our Historic Shrines” appeared in the February 1, 1951 issue of the Plain Dealing Progress, shortly before the first annual Dogwood Drive pilgrimage was to begin.

The author of the article wrote that “It seems altogether apropos that special attention should be focused on several historic points comprehended in or closely adjacent to the proposed touring site.”

The Dogwood Drive brochures then being prepared centered mainly on the twenty-mile dogwood scenic route, but a real opportunity to tie in several very historic points presented itself.

The first historic destination pointed out by the writer was just three or four miles from the Arkansas-Louisiana state line and seven miles north of the terminus of the Dogwood Drive route. The last resting place of Arkansas’ first governor, James Conway, the spot is one of the truly historic shrines of Arkansas. Conway is buried in the Walnut Hill Cemetery. The grave had special local interest because a number of Conway’s direct descendants were living in Bossier Parish—the Dooleys, Dismukes and several other prominent families. The route from this Arkansas point could branch out from Bradley and via Walnut Hill tap the Dogwood Drive. It was the most direct route from Arkansas and it contained significant scenic beauty.

The next point of historic interest is the George Oglethorpe Gilmer mausoleum in the Plain Dealing Cemetery. George Oglethorpe Gilmer was the founder of the vast Gilmer Plain Dealing plantation from which the present town received its name. The article points out that Hammond, Louisiana recently honored its founder by placing an historic marker in the middle of Hammond, and questions why Plain Dealing could not erect such a marker to honor Gilmer.

Perhaps the most interesting Bossier historic shrine on the list is a frequently overlooked one — the Cottage Grove Academy site.

“The academy day, the immediate period before the present high school years, has a very important place in Louisiana’s educational history and so far as we know, Cottage Grove has the last physical remnant or relic of the era, now extant. The very rooms that some of North Louisiana’s most esteemed matrons occupied and some of these still live, are still a part of the present Millen home hard by a spot where stood the Cottage Grove seminary or academy. This history of that famous seat of learning dips back to the Civil War and reconstruction period, almost a hundred-year span. Just a fortnight or so ago fire came near consuming this last academy day physical vestige. Is there any one or group that would like to take measures to perpetuate this sacred shrine?...Surely a secondary route marker, Plain Dealing Dogwood Drive, via Cottage Grove and Collinsburg pointing left and the same pointing right, via Rocky Mount, should find a place on the maps or charts being prepared by the Dogwood Drive committee. Let’s know and appreciate our historic shrines. Let’s not miss this opportunity of perpetuating them.”

The Dogwood Drive Festival ended in 2004.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Winham Family

Henderson Winham, foreground, and his brother Ben are shown in their Plain Dealing dry goods store in 1946.

In July of 1987, Mr. Henderson Winham, a 75 year old native and life-long resident of Plain Dealing compiled a history of the Winham Family. Derived from aged newspaper clippings, family Bible records, conversations with other family members and stories that were related to him by his grandmother, Elmina Smith Winham, the history begins with the departure in the fall of 1845 of 236 souls from Houston County, Georgia. After a long and arduous journey, the party arrived in Minden on Christmas Day where they were met by a leading merchant of Minden, John Chafee. A sumptuous Christmas dinner was enjoyed before the families proceeded on to Bellevue, then Sugar Hill the next day.

Each family left the party to settle in different parts of North Bossier Parish, with Reverend Allen Winham and his family settling near Rocky Mount. A year later he founded the Caney Creek Baptist Church, believed to be the first Baptist church in North Louisiana. Reverend Winham was also instrumental in the founding of Salem Baptist Church and Red River Baptist Church.

Recalling his grandmother Elmina with great fondness, Winham related how he prepared black gum toothbrushes for her to enjoy her dips of snuff. “… to enjoy a dip of snuff, one needs a black gum toothbrush. The way to fashion such a toothbrush is to cut a twig from a black gum tree about 3 inches long and the thickness of a kitchen match, peel the bark back 1 inch from the larger end, and then chew the end until it becomes a soft mop. Then thoroughly moisten that mop, dip it deep into that can of exotic powder, and bring it out laden with the same. Place it in the mouth, run it all around the gums; then anchor it in the back of the jaw and sit back and rock – That is pure pleasure.” As his grandmother was toothless, Winham prided himself on preparing the toothbrushes for her.

In his childhood Winham first attended the New Brushy School, and then later attended the Alden Bridge School. The original Brushy School and Church were located west of the present Sunflower Church on Highway 3 in Bossier Parish. Brother Holliday, minister of the Plain Dealing Methodist Church, was often invited to preach at the Brushy Church. He was known to readily pack his Bible and his nightshirt and spend Saturday nights with the Winhams so that he could preach at Brushy on Sunday.

Both of Winham’s parents were hard-working and God-fearing. His father was recognized as a mediator in the community to whom people frequently went for advice and help in resolving problems. A.B. and Lilla Mae Winham had 12 children, 10 of whom grew to adulthood. In this memoir Henderson Winham relates particular memories of all of them.

Winham devotes the final pages of his memoir to his own recollections of growing up in North Bossier Parish. By age 12 he had become the family chauffeur, even attempting to teach his mother to drive the 1924 T Model Ford Touring Car that his father purchased. “My mother had an earnest desire to learn to drive – she never accomplished it. I would drive out into the open pasture and turn the wheel over to her. She went about it in a very determined way, but while she was looking down trying to decide the pedal on which to place her foot, the car invariably got out of control. Some candid camera shots of her facial expressions at such times would be quite entertaining. Though Mamma could do many things, and do them well, she never mastered the Model T, and sorrowfully abandoned the attempt.”

This is a poignant memoir that reflects the lives of a North Bossier family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. To read more about them and other Bossier families, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Plain Dealing history

An article titled "Plain Dealing — Yesterday — To-Day" appeared in the June 9, 1932 issue of The Plain Dealing Progress. The article is unsigned, but was possibly written by Rupert Peyton.

In 1888 the Cotton Belt Railroad was laid in Plain Dealing and a depot was erected. The sign for the depot bore the name “Guernshein.” Shortly after, the name was changed to Plain Dealing to perpetuate the name of the 5,000 acre plantation which covered the area where Plain Dealing was located. In the same year, lots for the town site were sold, bringing a total of $12,000. B.W. Boggs was elected Plain Dealing’s first mayor when the town was incorporated in 1890. Fire destroyed the town twice, once in 1903 and again in 1906.

Early Plain Dealing merchants and some of their businesses includedthe following: S.J. Zeigler, a general merchandise store; John J. Swindle, a drug firm; mercantile firms of Nattin & Campbell and Cavett & Doles (where the post office was located); S.J. Cochran; E.F. Kirtley and Kelly Brothers. Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Smith operated the first hotel, and the wife of Mr. Grisdale, the first railroad section foreman, operated a section rooming house.

Along with the railroad, the first school was established in 1888. The Plain Dealing Academy had an enrollment of 56 students. Classes were held in a frame building that, by 1932, had been replaced by two brick buildings with an enrollment of 700 pupils.

Plain Dealing’s first bank was founded in 1906. P.B. Holt was the editor of the first newspaper, The Plain Dealer. The first church was a Methodist church founded in 1888, with a Baptist church following closely. By 1932, a Presbyterian Church was cooperating in the spiritual development of Plain Dealing.

The 1200 residents of Plain Dealing in 1932 numbered among their businesses: the mercantile firms of W.W. Oglesby and W.H. Martin; three drug companies; The Jewell Café and The Home Bakery and Café; A.W. Heifner Hardware Company; S.J. Caldwell Motor Company; three filling stations; offices of Southern Cities Distributing Company; Southwestern Gas and Electric Company; Bell Hotel; one recreational parlor; two tailor shops; one newspaper plant; one ice plant; two gins; one wholesale house and telephone exchange. Typical village roads had been transformed into model streets including gravel and paving.

Early doctors of Plain Dealing included Dr. Davis, Dr. W.J. Baird, Dr. Blackman, Dr. W.F. Bell and Dr. T.N. Keoun.

In 1932, the oldest citizens of Plain Dealing in terms of continuous residence were Mrs. Roy Bolinger who moved to Plain Dealing with her parents when she was three years old, and W.E. Swindle who moved to Plain Dealing when he was a small boy. Next in line for the honor of oldest resident was Mrs. Mollie Banks Gray who moved to Plain Dealing in 1897.

For histories of other Bossier Parish towns and villages, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cypress Masonic Lodge

In the late 1950s, C.K. Wright dedicated a short publication to past brethren of Cypress Lodge No. 89. A copy of the publication tells the history of the lodge that was organized in 1849 in Benton, Louisiana.

Cypress Lodge No. 89 was the first Masonic Lodge established in Bossier Parish. When the charter for the lodge was issued in 1850, twenty-three men were members.

On June 3, 1850 James Blair Gilmer donated a one-acre lot in Collinsburg to Cypress Lodge of A.Y. Masons and the Sons of Temperance. Lodge minutes do not record that a building was ever erected on this property, so the title reverted to Gilmer, a pioneer settler of Bossier Parish.

Some of the events that are recorded in the minutes of the early lodge were the death of worthy brother Henry Clay, for whom a motion was carried appropriating ten dollars to erect a suitable monument over his remains; the annual return to the Grand Lodge on January 31, 1863 could not be forwarded by the secretary because the Grand Lodge Hall was in the hands of Union soldiers; and on February 20, 1864 the minutes noted that the Grand Lodge was still in the hands of the enemy and no communication could be established.

Minutes for September 7, 1867 noted that a motion was carried to change the meeting place of the lodge to Quality Hill in the upper story of Doles and Lambright’s store, and on October 1, 1867 a committee was appointed to make arrangements with Brother Lambright to rent that room. Even though a subsequent communication from the Grand Lodge authorized the removal of the lodge to Quality Hill, no action was ever taken. On April 4, 1868 permission was granted to move the lodge to Benton and on July 4, 1868 the Deputy District Grand Master was contacted for permission to move. Permission was given and the first meeting was held in Benton on August 29, 1868.

A site for the construction of a lodge building was acquired on April 12, 1876, and the new hall, the first home owned by the lodge itself, was completed on June 23, 1877. The lodge prospered between 1877 and 1884 but, because of a sharp decline in attendance from 1884 to 1887, the charter was forfeited on February 16, 1887. When a new charter was granted on February 12, 1890 meetings were held in a building used jointly by the Woodmen of the World, the public school, and the lodge. That building was ultimately replaced by the former location of the Benton Branch of the Bossier Parish Library. Sometime between 1890 and 1901 the lodge occupied a building located adjacent to the 1958 site. When a fire destroyed that building, communication was held in the lodge of the Knights of Pythias in Alden Bridge while a new building was being constructed. The 1958 site was acquired in 1901. From 1902 through 1952 the new building was used until a windstorm damaged it so badly that it was demolished.

The cornerstone to a new building was laid on April 11, 1953. The dedication was held on August 23, 1953. Five years later, in 1958, the funds for the final payment on the mortgage were paid. Besides being the oldest lodge in Bossier Parish, Cypress Lodge is presently the 22nd oldest active lodge in the state of Louisiana.

For more about Cypress Lodge #89 and other Bossier Parish history, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.