When William Purvis Haughton moved his family to Bossier Parish, he had no idea that the land he pioneered along with the Lawrence family would one day be named after him and would continue to grow as it has. Haughton's beginning goes back roughly forty years before it was officially designated as such on Sept. 1, 1884, when the VS&P railroad changed the community known as Lawrenceville to Haughton.
The name change was because when the railroad came through Lawrenceville, the train station was named Lawrence Station, but there was already a Lawrence Station in Mississippi. Dr. Paul Andrew Lawrence, the son of pioneer David Lawrence and son-in-law of William Haughton, chose to change Lawrence Station of Lawrenceville to Haughton Station. And the community from that point forward has been known as Haughton.
Being chosen as a location for a railroad station set into motion a significant growth spurt for Haughton. During the summer of 1884, the railroad was built through the community. The Bossier Banner reported on July 10, 1884, "Lawrenceville, situated ten miles south of Bellevue, on the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad, is having quite a boom in business and improvements. There is life and bustle everywhere, and our new railroad town evidently has a bright future before it, in which well directed industry and liberal investments will surely be well rewarded. Success to the new town and its progressive citizens."
A few days later, the first U.S. Post Office opened with Luther E. McDade as postmaster. Of course, the post office name changed from Lawrenceville to Haughton a little over a month after the community's name was changed. The second postmaster was Milus W. Haughton, son of William.
The community continued to grow, and when talks of moving the Parish seat from Bellevue started, the citizens of Haughton wrote a letter to the editor of the Bossier Banner with their bid to be chosen for the new location. The letter was dated May 7, 1885, and was published a week later. It reads as follows:
"As there is a great deal of talk about the Parish site removal, and some little bidding for the Court House, the citizens of Haughton and vicinity desire to be heard. We will give ($3,000) three thousand dollars and one lot of ground for the parish site. Our land ranges in value from $125 to $1000 per lot; and we will give a suitable lot worth at least $500. If parties do not believe that we are in earnest, let us be awarded the parish site and the cash will be forthcoming. In the early days of Rome the crown was put up to the highest bidder, and the money this derived was given to the people. — In this, we propose to assist the people of Bossier in building a new Court House and jail. If any other community offers this amount we may raise our bid, but think that those who get the advantage of the parish site, should pay for that advantage. We are willing to do so."
The letter continues with boastings of the fruitfulness of the land, its commercial advantages, and schools. The amount of cotton they shipped out in 1884 was 3,000 bales, and the fact that they paid more for cotton than any other place. Pointing out that "everything argues in favor of Haughton. We have six business houses, boarding houses, livery stables, saw mills, and everything that constitutes a first-class village, with the ambition of a town — Within the present year Dr. Lawrence, Messrs. McClanahan, Davis, Grounds, Bullock and Odom, have built residences, and Messrs. Bryan, Radcliff, Bodenheimer, McKinney and J.F. Edwards are constructing residences. If any town, or neighborhood in the parish can beat this showing of a town less than a year old, we would like to hear from them, especially if they will offer more for the Court House."
That same year a Baptist church house and Methodist church house were erected. P.B. Holt became the editor and proprietor of the first newspaper, the “Haughton Democrat.” The village held its first election that fall, where the people elected Henry Bodenheimer as their first Mayor and for Trustees, Dr. Paul Lawrence, J.F. Edwards, J.W. Elston, D.H. Cale, D.E. Griffin, and J.G. Grounds. Come Christmas time; the people put up a community Christmas tree in the schoolhouse where they gathered on Christmas Eve. The first telephone was installed in June of 1889.
The village of Haughton continued to grow. With a population of over 1,000 inhabitants, Governor Edwin Edwards, through proclamation, reclassified the Village of Haughton to the Town of Haughton in Sept. 1975. Currently the largest town in Bossier Parish, and once it reaches a population of 5,000, it will be eligible for reclassification as a city.
To learn more about Haughton, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Be sure to follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on FB, @bplhistorycenter on Tiktok, and check out our blog, http://bpl-hc.blogspot.com/.
By: Amy Robertson