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.