Beauregard Parish History
At The Millennium

Compiled by Judson Shook
Edited by Elaine Shook
January 2002

Before 1492 - The American Indians

Some claim there were 90 million Indians in the Western Hemisphere before white men came here. Ten million of them lived north of the Mexican border. Early scholars learned very little about them before depravation and disease decimated their numbers. Consequently, much of what we know about the American Indians has had to come from archaeological studies. The Louisiana Department of Archaeology (LDA) is involved in such studies. Their pamphlet ANo. 6" makes this statement as to duration of mans presence in the New World: AAlthough the earliest immigrants may have reached North America over 40,000 years ago, most of the present evidence dates from 23,000 and 8,000 years. A series of LDA posters cover the past 12,000 years or so. The paragraphs that follow are based on information on these posters.



"Early Paleo-Indian Period" (about 10,000 - 8,000 BC)

This period covers the last two millennia of the Ice Age. Early Paleo-Indians moved more and the weather was colder and wetter than in the "late" paleo period. Also, the forests covered more land. The Louisiana gulf coast was 100 miles farther south than it is today - and ancient Indian sites are believed to exist today beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. An LDA educational poster shows that there are eight "important" Paleo-Indian exploration sites in Louisiana, but it does not indicate which sites were "early Paleo" and which were "late Paleo". The earliest of Louisiana Indians either traveled here from Texas or traded with the people of Texas. Many of their tools were made of Texas stone. Stone points used in hunting during this period varied in size from medium to large. They sometimes sharpened spear points many times - and sometimes reshaped them to other types of tools - such as knives, drills and scrapers. Mastodon and large bison were sometimes the prey to these earliest humans to America. Mastodons and large bison vanished with the end of the Ice Age, perhaps killed off by humans. As for longevity of humans, most did not live past their early 20s.



"Late Paleo-Indian Period" (about 8,000 - 6,000 BC)

Indian sites of this period were widespread. Whatever the time period, certain aspects of Indian life remained the same. Their campsites were located in the proximity of water. They ate whatever was available. They wore animal skin clothing, and they made implements of stone, wood, and bone. The late Paleo-Indians did not range as far as their predecessors - probably because of the milder, less demanding weather. Nuts, fruits and berries were more plentiful in this warmer clime and consequently became more than just an occasional part of their diet. They began to use darts and throwing sticks called atlatls. More of their stones were made from local sources than before and the points made from them were smaller. Stone axes and adzes came into use. Both early and late Paleos made their shelters from animal skins and woven mats. They probably lived in groups of 2 or more families. There was increased security and efficiency in numbers.



"Meso-Indian Period" (about 6,000-2,000 BC)

The LDA poster shows 11 "important" Meso-Indian sites in Louisiana. Except for

one fairly close to Shreveport they were all located in the eastern half of the state - roughly east of the longitude that passes through Ruston. As early as 5,000 BC they were building earthen mounds throughout eastern Louisiana. They made a greater variety of stone points. They left "ground stone" axes - and grinding stones. They heated stones to cook their food. They ate a greater variety of both plant and animals food - food with which we would be familiar - with the exception of acorns, snakes, some types of rodents and snails. Evidence of rectangular structures have been found in the soil of their ancient campsites, some as large as 35 feet by 35 feet - the sides and roofs of which were covered by thatch and tree branches. They made beads, some shaped like frogs and locusts. They also made clay bricks. Several households probably lived together in the larger buildings. They moved less frequently than the Paleo-Indians. Clay pottery was not yet in use.



"Poverty Point Indians Period" (about 1,800 - 1,400 BC)

At Poverty Point, Louisiana, not too far from Monroe, there are enormous earthen mounds carbon-dated to the time of King Tut. Five thousand people inhabited this ancient city while most other Indians of their day were living in small semi-sedentary groups along streams of water. These mounds are said to be "older than any other earthworks of this size in the western hemisphere". The largest mound is 70 feet high with a base 710 ft by 640 ft. (The Great Pyramid is 486 ft high with a base of 756 ft by 756 ft). It is shaped as a huge semicircle with six ridges - 37 acres in size. Poverty Point is reminiscent of the Mayan sites in Mexico, places where large numbers of people assembled for ceremonial purposes. Interestingly, Poverty Point came into existence just as the Mayan civilization entered its formative stage. The Poverty Point people made few clay pots. (Poverty Point La. publication + Encarta97)



Note: Another mound site in the Monroe area may have been discovered since the LDA Poverty Point pamphlet was printed. There is a September 19, 1997 AP article telling about mounds that are the Aoldest known human-built structures in North America ..... containing 11 mounds in a rough circle 280 yard across .. one 20 feet high .. the rest (being) 3 to 14 feet high .. (with construction) started about 5,400 years ago .. older than mounds found in Florida and elsewhere in Louisiana". The article states the mounds are at a place called AWatson Brake, about 20 miles southwest of Monroe@. I have not found AWatson Brake@ on a one-inch-equals-2.5-miles map, but from the topographical description given in the news article, the site might be a couple of miles west of the McLain community - in the flats on the west side of the Ouachita River. That is the location of Watson Creek - and nearby is the ALapine Brake@.

"Early Neo-Indian Period" (about 700 BC - 700 AD)

The LDA poster shows 13 "important" Louisiana sites of Indian activity dating back to this period. Important changes occurred: the making of clay pots, the farming of plants, religious practices, the construction of conical burial mounds (a few with flat tops), the wearing of jewelry to show high rank, the making of ceramic pipes, and the construction of shelters that looked like grass igloos. Their stone points looked a lot like those of the Meso-Indians. The Early Neo-Indians traded with the Hopewell Indian culture of Ohio, showing that they were not so isolated as we might be inclined to believe.





"Late Neo-Indian Period" (about 1,000 - 1,600 AD)

There are 11 "important" late-paleo exploration sites shown on the LDA poster - mostly in the eastern portion of the state. Indian villages were much larger than in earlier times with settlements scattered for a mile or more along major rivers. Bows and arrows became more important than before. Clay objects showed greater variety. Ceramic effigies were made - as were tobacco pipes, copper ear ornaments and figurines. Corn, squash and beans were being cultivated. Priests and rulers may have led ceremonies from atop earthen mounds. Shelters were circular structures with straight sides topped with a domed roof made of thatch.



Pre-Columbian Indians (based on La. Division of Archaeology posters)



Period



Early paleo



Late paleo



Meso



Poverty Point



Early neo



Late neo



Years ago



11,500-9,500



9,500-8,000



8,000-4,000



4,000-2,000



4,000-1,200



1,200-400



No. of La sites considered important



Eight paleo sites shown on poster - early paleo coastline was 100 miles further south - some sites now submerged



11 shown on poster



Poverty Point plus 10 related sites



16 sites on poster



11 sites on poster



Weather



Was end of Ice Age - colder, wetter



Ice age over - now warmer and drier



Weather more like it is now



Weather more like it is now



Weather more like it is now



Weather more like it is now



Clothes



animal skins



animal skins



animal skins



animal skins



animal skins



animal skins



Shelter



lean-to made of hide and woven mats



lean-to made of hide and woven mats



presume lean-to still in use



drawing shows pole and thatch shelters



igloo shaped pole and thatch shelters



round - upright walls - mud or thatch round roof



Structures



none mentioned



none mentioned



thatch upright pole about 11 ft. square



none mentioned



none mentioned



none mentioned



People in a settlement



Atwo or more families@



Aseveral families@



Asmall nomadic groups@



one source says 5,000 at Poverty Pt.



presume no longer nomadic



sometimes dwellings along a mile of river



Moved to new site



when food was scarce



not so often as Early Paleo



not so often as Late Paleo



presume sedentary



did not move if had food



stayed in one place all year



Food available



deer-rabbits-birds-fish- sometimes mastodon & giant bison



nuts+seeds +berries +deer

+small animals+fish



same thing we would eat today +snakes +rodents



poster does not say



experiments with planting to add to hunt and gathering



fish, deer, shellfish, wild grapes+ cultivated corn-squash-beans



Hunting implements



spears & atlatls



spears & atlatls



spears & atlatls



spears & atlatls



spears & atlatls



1000 yrs ago most used bow&arrow



Artifacts of this era



knives+drills+scrapers



axes+adzes +smaller points+nut crackers + nut grinders



carved stone beads + fired clay objects



chiseled soap stone bowls+hoes+chopping tools



pottery that was thick and fragile - then thin and strong



celts+grind-stones+ear ornaments + ceremonial knives



Mound construction



no



no



yes



mound 70' high w/ base 710'by 640'



yes



yes



Indian tribes of this general area

From a Sam Jones article in the late 1960s: "Most of the Indians of the area were of the Atakapa family, which included the Atakapa, Akokisa, Opelousa, Assinais, and perhaps the Bidai Tribes - and perhaps never numbering more than 2,500. There is speculation that they migrated into this area from Mexico and have a common origin with the more highly civilized Aztecs". The "Old Military Road", some think, may have followed the ancient Indian trails from the Sabine River to Alexandria.



1800 - the Caddo and Atakapa Indians

There were few, if any, Caddo or Atakapa Indians in Beauregard Parish by1800. The dividing line between these tribes was roughly located at the Vernon-Beauregard Parish line. It would have fluctuated from time to time. The Caddoes were on the north side of the line. In 1700 there were about 8,000 Caddo Indians living in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. By 1805 there were only 800. The Atakapa Indians lived in both southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. In the 1700s there were about a thousand Atakapas. By 1900 they are said to have been extinct. Regardless, there are reports of mixed-blood people living the vicinity of Metarie and Houma who claim to be Atakapa descendants. Early settlers reported four Indian villages in Beauregard Parish: near Sugartown - along Bundicks Creek - along the Anacoco - and at Merryville. These were probably the Coushatta Indians who relocated here from Alabama. A map printed in 1837 shows Coushatta Indians living in the Merryville area. It is said that they lived across the road from the high school on land later belonging to Moses Cook Frazar.



Oct 12, 1492 - Christopher Columbus in the New World

On October 12, 1492, land was sighted. Early that morning Christopher Columbus went ashore on Guanahan, an island in the Bahamas. He claimed the island for Spain - named it San Salvador.



1519 - The first European to see Louisiana

The first European to see any part of Louisiana may have been Alvarez de Pineda - and then only the mouth of the Mississippi River. (La. Almanac)



1528 - Perhaps the first Europeans to see present day Beauregard Parish

Spain sent Panfila de Narvez and Cabeza de Vaca with 300 men to conquer Florida. They initially landed at Tampa Bay and then marched westward in an effort to get to Mexico. Along the way they may have crossed the Sabine River at our present day parish line with Calcasieu Parish. De Vaca wrote of his experiences in the New World when he returned to Spain. It was impressive an widely read. (Encarta 97 and the writings of Sam Jones)



1541-1543 - Another possible entry into present day Beauregard Parish

De Soto lead an expeditionary group of 600 Spaniards through the Southeast United States in the early 1540s. On May 21, 1542 De Soto died in southeast Arkansas after having crossed the Mississippi River. Leadership then passed to Luis de Moscoso who "wandered around what is now western Louisiana and eastern Texas for nearly a year". With Anearly a year@ to wander around, it would seem that some members of the De Soto party would have traveled the Sabine by canoe. A major landmark along the Sabine is at its confluence with the Anacoco Bayou. It is a known site for an Indian village in the 1800s. There is a good probability that Indians lived there in De Soto=s time. The Spaniards had ample motive to go ashore anywhere there were Indians. The Spaniards were seeking gold. Not from the ground, but from Indians. It is only conjecture, but De Soto=s men might have done just that. And if they did, they may have been the first whites to set foot in Beauregard Parish.



1604 - The "Cajuns"

Less than 100 air miles southwest of DeRidder is an area of Louisiana settled by the "Cajuns", that is, descendants of people who came here from "Acadia". "Acadia" is the French name for "Nova Scotia". The manner in which the Cajuns settled south Louisiana is very different from the "Scotch-Irish" settlement of Beauregard Parish. The Scotch-Irish arrived here on foot after decades of crossing the continent from the Atlantic coast. The Cajun's ancestral journey to Louisiana started with the founding of a French settlement at Port Royal, Acadia - in 1605. In 1713 the French ceded Acadia to the English. Thereafter, the Acadians resolutely refused to swear allegiance to the British crown. This eventually led to 6,000 Acadians being deported from Acadia. In 1755 some were sent back to Europe. Others were deported to the American colonies. In both France and the Colonies the Acadians were considered an economic burden to the local people who had to provide and make room for them. The Acadians were unhappy in these surroundings and yearned to go back to Acadia. Some did. Most of those who did were simply deported again, some as many as A5 or 6 times@. While all this was going on, France ceded Louisiana to Spain in 1769. Louisiana was sparsely settled then. The Spaniards had plenty of Louisiana land to give away. They offered land to the Acadians in 1785. That same year nearly 1,600 Acadians accepted the offer and set sail for what would become their permanent home. By 1790 more than 4,000 had been relocated to south Louisiana. By 1816 the migration from Acadia had ended. Today descendants of these Acadians can be found in five major locations: Quebec, the Maritime provinces of Canada, New England, France and, of course, the 300,000 ACajuns@ who live in Louisiana. (Source: the Canadian publication "The Deportation of Acadians" and the La. Almanac)



1682 - La Salle names and claims ALouisiane@ for France

Robert Cavalier de La Salle, a Frenchman living in Canada, descended the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. While doing so, he laid claim to the entire tributary system of this great river. He called it "Louisiane", Louis' Land. De Soto=s prior claim in behalf of Spain was ignored. (La. Almanac)



Note: The Neutral Strip does not lie in the tributary system of the Mississippi. Consequently, Beauregard Parish and the Neutral Strip were never part of ALouisiane@.



March 5, 1699 - Baton Rouge

Iberville arrived at the site of modern day New Orleans and then continued with his brother and a few men to a site where they found a red pole set in the ground. All who have studied Louisiana history know that "baton rouge" is the French term for "red pole". The red pole that gave its name to city of Baton Rouge was, in 1699, a boundary marker for the Bayougoula and Houma Indians. (La Almanac)



1714 - the Frenchman, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, founds Natchitoches

Natchitoches was established as the first permanent European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. The Spanish road, El Camino Real, connected Natchitoches to Mexico City. (The Louisiana pamphlet "Los Adaes" - and the Louisiana Almanac.)



1716 - San Miguel Mission

Mission San Miguel de Linares de Los Adaes was established for the Adaes Indians. The site of the old mission is near Robeline, Louisiana. (Comment: this site and the site of Fort Jesup are well worth visiting).



1718 - "King Cotton's" first appearance in Louisiana

In 1718 cotton was being grown at Natchitoches (La Almanac)



1719 - French attack the mission at Los Adaes

France and Spain were at war in Europe. The Spanish mission at Los Adaes was raided and closed in 1719 by French soldiers from the French fort at Natchitoches. This act motivated the Spaniards to then build a fort at Los Adaes. At this location "soldiers doubled as farmers and herdsmen." (Los Adaes publication)



1719-1773 - Flourishing trade between antagonists

Trade between the presidio (fort) at Adaes and Fort St. Jean Baptiste and the Indians flourished - despite the raid by the French on the mission at Los Adaes in 1719. (Los Adaes publication)



1762 - France gives Spain lands west of the Mississippi

France gave Spain the "Island of New Orleans" and all of the territory west of the Mississippi River. It was home to 5,000 whites and 5,000 blacks. France made this gift to Spain as compensation for Spanish support of the French against the British. In coming to the aid of France the Spanish lost its claim to land east of the Mississippi River to the British.



1762 -1803 - Louisiana was under Spanish rule

Louisiana prospered under Spanish rule. During the time the Spaniards were in control the population grew from about 10,000 to about 50,000. The Spaniards gave generous land grants - about 350 to 475 feet of frontage along rivers and bayous that extended about one and a half miles deep - this is, about a section (640 acres or one square mile).



about 1770 - an early settler to Calcasieu Parish

In 1770 Martin LeBleu came to what is now Calcasieu Parish and settled along the English Bayou. As one goes south from DeRidder, English Bayou is the stream beneath second bridge after passing Moss Bluff. LeBleu built his first home on the eastside of the Calcasieu River - a 20' by 20' structure of Aunhewed@ logs. LeBleu came to the Lake Charles area from Bordeaux France.

Note - the name "Calcasieu": Although the Atakapas called the stream "deep river" the earlier settlers in the Lake Charles area wanted to name it for an Atakapa Indian chief. The chief was called himself "Kathosh-yok". It means "flying eagle" in the Atakapa language. There was no standardized spelling of "kathosh-yok", so when the parish for Lake Charles was established the law-makers of that day decided to spell it C-a-l-c-a-s-i-e-u.



Note - the name "Rio Hondo": In researching this time line it was found that different sources used the term ARio Hondo@ with different meanings at different times. Some sources used it to mean Alittle ditch@ - the Aditch@ being a couple of miles long - serving as a boundary line at the time of the Neutral Strip - in the vicinity of Natchitoches. Other times it is used to mean ACalcasieu River@ or simply as a substitute for ANeutral Strip@. It may have also been a substitute for the term AArroyo Hondo@.



July 4, 1776 - our Declaration of Independence is signed

On this date, America formally begins it's fight for independence from Great Britain. On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris recognized the independence of the United States.



1797 - First Spanish grant in the Neutral Zone

Spain issued its first land grant in the Neutral Zone to Jiciento de Mora - in the amount of 207,364 acres, thirty percent the size of Beauregard Parish. . It is referred to as the ALas Ormigas Grant". A computer map shows the grant as being about 4.5 miles northeast of Converse, Louisiana. The Spaniards had already issued grants in other parts of present-day Louisiana, as mentioned above



The early 1800s - Jean Laffite

Jean Laffite (c1780 - 1826) was a gulf coast pirate and smuggler - and he is one of the legendary figures of Louisiana. He established a colony of followers on Galveston Island after the War of 1812. The colony lasted until 1820. During that period Laffite sometimes traveled the Sabine River mostly doing business in the Neutral Strip evidently with some of the nefarious types who lived there. There is no mention of him setting foot in Beauregard Parish, but it is conceivable that he might have. He is said to have had close connections to Lake Charles history. For a long time there were rumors that Laffite left buried booty in this general area. In 1930 a pot containing in excess of 3,000 silver coins was found near Bunkie, LA. Some of the coins were made as late as 1805. Bunkie is about 70 miles east of DeRidder.



Early 1800's - The Coushatta's at Merryville

Along US-190 in Merryville is this historical marker:



A Site of the Coushatta Indian Village

In the early 1800's members of the Coushatta Indians led by Red Shoes settled in and around the town of Merryville where Indian mounds, shards, and arrowheads have been found. Being near Spanish Territory provided greater protection and this location enabled them to maintain a livelihood through hunting and fishing. (As stated earlier, a map printed in 1837 shows the Coushatta village in the Merryville area).

March 21, 1801 - Spain returns Louisiana to France

Napoleon wanted to reestablish French presence in North America. He duped the king of Spain into returning "Louisiane" to France. This was done by a treaty was signed on March 21, 1801 but the French did not take control of Louisiana until November 1, 1803.



December 20, 1803 - The Louisiana Purchase.

Before taking control of Louisiana, Napoleon became entangled in war with England. He needed money. Understanding Napoleon's financial situation, the United States made an offer to buy "the island of New Orleans". To everyone's surprise, France made a counter offer to sell all lands of Louisiana for the price of about $15 million. The United States accepted. On December 20, 1803, the United States took possession of Louisiana - just twenty days after the French took over from Spain. There was immediate disagreement between the Spaniards and the Americans over the western boundary of the purchase.



1804 - Dividing the Louisiana Purchase into territories

By an Act of Congress, the Louisiana Purchase was divided into two territories. Everything north of the 33rd latitude was designated the "Territory of Louisiana." Everything south of the 33rd latitude was called the "Territory of Orleans", then later it became the "State of Louisiana." Twelve counties were created while Louisiana was still known as the Territory of Orleans. The names of these counties were Opelousas, Acadia, Attakapas, Concordia, German Coast, Iberville, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Pointe Coupee and Rapides.

1805 - St. Landry County - formed before the State of Louisiana

St Landry County was established in 1805. Opelousas was the parish seat. Louisiana was not established until 1812. Beauregard Parish was part of St. Landry until 1840.



1806 - The beginning of "The Neutral Strip"

The United States publicly claimed that the Louisiana Purchase not only included land in southwest Louisiana, but also some in east Texas. Privately Thomas Jefferson and other officials may have had designs on land-grabbing everything from the Louisiana Purchase to the Rio Grande. By this time the Spanish were militarily weak - and had never shown much interest in colonizing Texas anyway. Possibly as an early step to test Spanish resolve - and possibly as a move to position an invasion force - American troops were placed on the east bank of the Sabine River in 1806. The Spaniards occupied the west bank. The troops on both sides of the Sabine were commanded by junior officers. On their own, they agreed to make the land between the Sabine River and the Calcasieu River a neutral strip - an agreement that was not overridden by senior officers. The strip measured about 50 miles east-and-west. It included present-day Beauregard Parish. Some settlers claimed squatters rights in this no-mans-land, but Spain and the United States, sometimes acting jointly, made periodic efforts to expel those who did not have documents proving their ownership. The area had no ongoing law and order. The San Antonio Trace and the Nolan Trace through the Neutral Strip connected Texas to points east. These roads are said to have carried "immense traffic". Few people dared go through the Strip without being in the company of armed companions.



1807 - Sugartown surveyed for a township

"The Sugartown township was first surveyed in 1807". About 1817 several families arrived in the Sugartown area making it the first permanent white settlement in southwest Louisiana. Its location was a mid-point for travelers between Alexandria and Lake Charles. It had an easy fording point along Sugar Creek. As such, the village became "a way-station and overnight camping stop". In later years "large cattle drives were made along this way from near the present DeRidder airport to the rail shipping point at Lecompte". By 1861 "there were about 150 families living within 10 miles of the Sugartown crossroads."

1808 - the U.S. prohibits further importation of slaves

In 1808, importation of slaves was prohibited, but ownership was not.



1810 - Mexico attempts to gain independence

On Sept. 16, 1810, two Mexican priests named Hidalgo and Morelos led an abortive uprising against Spanish rule. This demonstrated that Spain was losing its grip on Mexico, making Spain less able to enforce its claim to the Neutral Strip.



1812 - Louisiana became the 18th state of the USA

By 1812 Louisiana had over 75,000 people. This was apparently enough for the Territory of Orleans to become a state. Louisiana adopted the Napoleonic Code instead of a code of common law. Louisiana is the only state that does not use the code of common law. (The Napoleonic Code was "a uniform national code of law arranged in logical order and expressed in clear, precise terminology. It was drawn up by a commission appointed by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800". Common law is a code of law where judicial decisions are based on custom and precedence, as in England).



1812 - the first steamboat in Louisiana

On January 12, 1812 the first Mississippi River steamboat, the New Orleans, began operating. Seventy-eight years later the steamboat Neches Bell would operate on the Sabine River.



about 1815 - Earliest settlers

It is said that Beauregard Parish was first populated by way of the Calcasieu River, not by the Sabine River. Some say that "Saddler" Johnson was the first settler to Beauregard Parish. He arrived there about 1815. According to tradition the next to arrive were Edward Escobas, Demsey Iles, John L. Lyons, Joseph W. Moore, E. Shirley, James Simmons, William B. Welborn, Ezra Young and G. W. Corkran - sometime around 1825.





Early homes of Beauregard Parish

Homes were built of "puncheons" (split logs or heavy slabs with a smooth face). They had "almost flat roofs" covered with 3' to 4' boards - held in place by the weight of logs. Nails were not commonly available during the early days of settlement. Homes had spinning wheels and looms - and fireplaces for cooking.



1819 - Neutral Strip, no longer in contention

In the Florida Purchase Treaty of 1819, Spain granted that the west boundary of Louisiana would be the Sabine River. In so doing, they simply acknowledged a situation that was a matter of fact. (Fort Jesup public document)



about 1820 to 1840 - Getting mail in Beauregard Parish

"From about 1820 to 1840, mail had to be picked up at Belgrade, Tex. at the Sabine River Boat Landing below Merryville."



1821 - Mexico gains independence from Spain

In 1821, under the leadership of Agustin de Iturbide, Mexico gained its independence. From then on the United States had to deal with the Mexicans at its west boundary.



1822 - Establishing law and order in the Neutral Strip

In 1822 Fort Jesup was established to enforce law and order in what had been the Neutral Strip.



1823 - Stephen F. Austin starts bringing families to Texas

Austin's colonists began settling along the Colorado River. Colonists to the Newton County area began arriving sometime before 1836. Newton County is just across the Sabine River from Beauregard Parish.



1825 - Campground Cemeteries - "oldest in southwest Louisiana"

The Old Campground Cemetery, near Sugartown, is the oldest "documentable" cemetery in southwest Louisiana.



between 1830 - 1835 - names of early settlers

Four Mims brothers came from South Carolina and settled near DeWitt's Eddy at the "old Mims farm site". They were Dr. L. M. Mims, P. D. Mims, Sumpter Mims and Hiram Mims. Another group came from S. C., including William Sanders, Pink Cain and Tyce Roberts - all settling at "Sandersville".



late 1830's - Dry Creek

Dry Creek was founded by Thomas W. Williams. Other settlers arriving about the same time were William Iles, George Smith, and William Thompson. Then came Bill Bundick, and Joe Beckwith, for whom Bundicks Creek and Beckwith Creek were named. (Note: There was purportedly a man named Bundick settling in the Dry Creek area before 1800". There may be a discrepancy here.)



1840 - First Calcasieu Courthouse (when Beauregard Parish was part of Calcasieu Parish)

"Few people know that the first Calcasieu Parish Courthouse, built in 1840, was set on a bluff overlooking the mouth of Old Town Bay, six miles north of Lake Charles, on the Calcasieu River. It was a forlorn little log cabin courthouse with a jail underground. A resident named Albert Martin described it as a small square building with double log walls and a trap door in the floor. The trap door opened to the dungeon (jail) below. It was through this trap door that prisoners were lowered into the dungeon. The storekeeper next door would bring the prisoners food and let it down by ropes through the trap door, into the dungeon full of rats and other critters. The jail and its surrounding village was called Marion. The site of Marion was located where Central Crude Company is today. In 1851 the courthouse was moved to Lake Charles." (Source: Lake Charles American Press-Dec. 28, 1997)



1840 - census data regarding Calcasieu Parish

Calcasieu Parish in 1840 had 11,594 horses and mules - 13,577 cattle - 552 sheep - 5,564 swine - 534 agricultural workers - 16,670 bushels of indian corn - 6,387 bushels of potatoes, 200 pounds of rice (164,464,840 pounds in 1910) - 45,600 pounds of cotton and 6,000 pounds of sugar.



1841 - Post office at Sugartown

" ... a post office was established at Sugartown with weekly deliveries by horseback from Lake Charles to Petersburg (6 miles south of Leesville)."



1843 - Early churches

Knowing where and when churches appeared give some clue as to how Beauregard Parish developed. Chapters in History provides this list: 1843 at Hamburg (Sugartown), 1854 south of Singer, 1855 near Merryville, 1860 in a school near Dry Creek, 1863 west of Sugartown, 1865 at Kipling-Dry Creek Road, 1872 west side of Bundicks Creek, 1874 at Hwy 389 east of the Sabine River, 1874 near Ragley, 1875 at Hwy 171 south of DeRidder, 1878 at Sugartown, 1881 at or near Mystic, 1884 at Brushy Creek, 1887 west of Sugartown, 1890 at Ikes Community, and in 1895 at Fields.. (Two of these churches were Primitive Baptist, one was Methodist and the remainder were Baptist).



1845-1850 - Settlers at Bancroft

Settlers came to the Bancroft area from Hancock County, Mississippi in late 1840s. In Mississippi they had cut logs and floated them down the Pearl River to the marketplace - and they came to Bancroft to cut and float logs down the Sabine River to Port Arthur. These were their surnames: Wingate, Frazar, Spike, Pharr, Mitchell, Slaydon, Burge, Whiddon, Burk, and many others - according to a news article by Virginia Little, an AP correspondent. She also mentioned that Huey P. Long was of a descendant of Robert Potter Wingate, the progenitor of the Wingates at Bancroft. Actually, Robert was the brother of Edward Wingate. Long was a direct descendant of Edward. Edward passed through Beauregard Parish in the 1840s - then wrote back to his family about the magnificent pine forests here. This letter was one of the factors that motivated settlers to come to the Sabine River area. The other factor was that the forests along the Pearl River were nearly depleted. (Comment: Edward Wingate was a soldier of the Texas Revolution and was captured by Santa Anna at Goliad. He was one of the few of Fannin's army who escaped execution.)

1848 - Roads and bridge classification

No mid-1800 road administration law has been found for Calcasieu Parish, but this one from Texas might give us some notion as to what roads were like 150 years ago: Roads of First Class - Thirty feet wide with stumps cut down to six inches high .... (bridges) to be fifteen feet wide. Roads of Second Class Twenty feet wide with stumps cut down to six inches high and bridges twelve feet wide. ....All males of the County, Indians excepted, 17 to 45 years of age were required to work up to ten days a year on public roads. Exempt from such work were ordained ministers, postmasters, ferrymen and millers.



The roads of Calcasieu Parish and Beauregard Parish came into being by one of two methods: they either "evolved" by usage or they were planned and "engineered". Those that evolved started with the first travelers following the line of least resistance. Sometimes this meant following animal trails that went in the direction the traveler wanted to go. Those who wanted to return by the same route would often "blaze" the trail - that is they would delineate the trail by chipping bark from trees. As more and more people used the roads, shortcuts were found - making travel quicker and easier. During these early days, in many places, the spacing of pine trees was sufficiently far apart to allow passage of wagons, but so called "roads" until the late 1800s were hardly more than blazed trails. The first public road "engineered" in Calcasieu Parish connected Welsh to Lake Charles. That was in 1887. Shortly after that C. H. Sweetser, a senior engineer for the office of public roads, received a leave of absence in order to work "for over a year" in Calcasieu Parish. He was paid $4,000 Interestingly, many of the routes selected by engineers coincided with the ones blazed by the earlier settlers. By 1911 there were 117 miles of "improved road" in Calcasieu Parish. As in Texas, citizens had a duty to help in the construction and maintenance of public roads: "Every free white male citizen and able negro who has been a resident of the parish for 10 days, between the ages of 16 to 45 shall be subject to road duty." The fine to do so was one to two dollars a day. (Source: 1935 paper "Economic & Social Development of Calcasieu Parish" by Grace Ulmer.)



about 1860 - Louisiana was once the richest state

Around 1968 Sam Houston Jones, ex-governor of Louisiana, wrote: "A little more than a century ago (Louisiana) was the richest state in both per capita income and per capita wealth".



early 1860's - The first Dry Creek school

The first Dry Creek schools were built so that each segment of the community had a one room school within walking distance of the homes.



1861 - John McNeese

It is said that education "really started" in southwest Louisiana in 1861 with the arrival of John McNeese.



1861 - 1865 - Civil War in west Louisiana

The only large Civil War battle in west Louisiana occurred at Mansfield when General Dick Taylor's Confederate troops defeated a Union army in a bloody fight there on April 8, 1864. Southwest Louisiana had these three confrontations:

* In October1862 the Union navy captured a Lake Charles trading vessel named Dan - and then converted it to a gunboat.

* In January 1863 the Dan was burned in the Sabine River by elements of Spaight's Texas Volunteers - under the cover of a heavy fog. A couple of years ago this gunboat was located by Bruce Lockett of Vidor. He found it in two feet of water under an oyster reef, which roughly follows the outline of the sunken vessel. It would cost about $8 million to recover it for display.

* In May 1863 Texas troops captured two other Union gunboats at Monkey Island - about 50 miles south of Lake Charles. The fighting lasted about an hour and a half before the boats were surrendered. About15 men were lost on each side. The dead were buried on the northwest part of Monkey Island. (Source: Oct. 4,1999 Lake Charles American Press)



Calcasieu Parish ethnicity before Beauregard Parish was formed.





Total pop.



White



Freed colored



Slaves



Born out of state



Foreign born



Native born



Indians



Asian



1840



2,057



738



226



483













1850



3,914



2,718



239



957



233



33









1860



5,928



4,452



305



1,171



323



100



4,657







1870



6,733



5,171



1,457





859



125



6,608



105





1880



12,484



9,919



2,407







314



12,170



158





1890



20,176



16,934



3,194







844



19,332



148





1900



30,428



24,267



5,966







1,114



29,314



191





1910



62,767



45,884



16,562







3,268







321

This data is from a thesis written by Grace Ulmer in 1935

It is assumed that the 321 Asians in 1910 were the Japanese workers at the Longville sawmill



1863 - The old Military Road

General Taylor ordered the construction of the "old military road" built from Niblett Bluff to Alexandria. It crossed present-day Beauregard Parish diagonally starting near the southwest corner and exiting the parish less than a mile south of its northeast corner. There is a historical marker on the east side of US-171 (near mile marker 35) where it crosses the path of the Old Military Road. The Old Spanish Trail also crossed the Sabine River at Niblett's Bluff. The significance of Niblett's Bluff is that it is as far south as one can go along the Sabine River without encountering marshes.



1867 - a railroad for Lake Charles

The first mention of a railroad goes back to 1867, but was shortly shelved. It was not until 1880 that the laying of the Louisiana Western railroad began. It became operational in 1893 as a link of the Southern Pacific.



c1869 - the Bundicks Creek settlement

These notes were made by Samuel Lockett as he passed through Beauregard Parish about 130 years ago: "In addition to mere creature comforts in abundance, the Bundicks' Creek settlement has a flourishing school, a well-built church and an active Masonic Lodge of some two or three dozen members .... the farmer made everything he wanted - his sugar, his flour, his meat, his corn, cotton, wool, and clothes and (still) had a handsome surplus for sale which gave him a pocketful of ready cash ... cotton crops (went) to market at Alexandria or Lake Charles ... (twenty families living there were) hospitable, independent .and well-to-do. Lockett also spoke well of the people at "Piney Woods". He said he was struck by the open Pine Flats with but one road through them which we followed for twenty miles without passing a human habitation".



1870 - communications into Lake Charles

Lake Charles got telegraph service in 1870 - in 1884 there was discussion of telephone service but a franchise was not granted until November of 1891 - that being given to the Great Southern Telephone Company.



about 1870 - Sugartown

Sugartown had one or more general stores. "Although Sugartown was never incorporated it was the center of organized community life, the recognized trade, business and economic center of the area. Sugartown population began to dwindle when the railroad was built to serve DeRidder, Bon Ami, and Ludington.



1877 - Observations of surveyors regarding Sugartown

Surveyors recorded this in 1877 about Sugartown: "a small village in Section 31 is a thriving little place with two cotton gins, a sawmill and a grist mill worked by steam."



1879 - Sugartown Male and Female Academy was established

The Sugartown Male and Female Academy was established in 1879. Some regard this as the start of the educational system in all of Southwest Louisiana. It is said that the level of education of the academy was roughly the equivalent of today's high school. Students came from "9 or 10" parishes and several counties in east Texas. W. H. Baldwin, a graduate of Columbia University, was its first professor. It is said that: "The role of and their accomplishments is amazing. They became leaders in medicine, ministry, education, government and business". Sixty-four "scholars" enrolled in 1879.



1880 - Kicke's Opera House

Probably the closest opera house to Beauregard Parish in 1880 was the one in Lake Charles known as the Kicke's Opera House. Some of the productions were Rip Van Winkle, East Lynn, Only a Farmer's Daughter, The Daughter of the Regiment, and Macbeth.



about 1880 - The pony express serves Sugartown and Dry Creek

Dry Creek and Sugartown were receiving mail by pony express from Lake Charles.



about 1880 - Merchandise found in stores

Ready made clothing was beginning to appear in the general stores, as did early farm tools such as the harrow, plow, spade, rake, saw, hoe, axe and mallet. The washing of clothes at the creek was still a method in wide use.



1882 - Nathan B. Bradley

In 1882 Nathan B. Bradley bought 1,000s of acres of land in Calcasieu Parish - at $1.25/acre



1890 - 1910 - The Neches Belle

The Neches Belle, a paddle wheeler, operated on the Sabine River from 1890 to 1910.



The 1890s - The early post offices

Prior to 1896 local mail was delivered to the post office 2 miles west of DeRidder - at a place called Miersburg. It was named for the postmaster there, J. F. Miers. In 1896 it was moved to the site of the old Johnson's Bakery on Washington Street - and then to the southwest corner of Washington and First - and then to 119 South Washington. Free city delivery did not start until February 1, 1924, using two carriers. Two carriers were also provided for rural delivery.



October 1, 1893 - Hurricane

On this date a hurricane (evidently unnamed in those days) passed over the Lafourche area of south Louisiana killing "about 800" people.



1894 - first production of sulphur

The first Calcasieu sulphur was produced in 1894 - five tons of it. In 1909 it produced 300,000 tons. In its day no other sulphur mine was its equal. It has been said that no gold mine has yielded so much profit on such a small bit of land. Sulphur was extracted by a process that injected super heated steam into the sulphur deposit. Within just a few years the center of world sulphur shifted from Sicily to southwest Louisiana. Many trainloads of the yellow substance passed through downtown DeRidder before the mine at Sulphur was shutdown.



about 1895 - cypress and pine

In 1895 over five million board feet of cypress was floated down the Calcasieu River and converted into over sixty four million shingles. "Calcasieu yellow pine" is said to have been "famous the world over" for its quality - that "Calcasieu was to pine what sterling is to silver".



1897 - The Kansas City Southern arrives

Perhaps the most important thing to ever happen in Beauregard Parish was the arrival of the railroad in 1897. The first train line to serve DeRidder was the Pittsburgh & Gulf Railroad - later called the Kansas City Southern. A Dutch railroad financier, to honor his beautiful sister-in-law, Ella DeRidder, named the depot for her. Prior to that the little town was known as Schovall and DeKidder.



1898 - a cyclone or hurricane provided the site for DeRidder

The July 26, 1924 DeRidder Enterprise stated: "The first house in DeRidder was made of logs and covered with board shingles, split by hand from the logs of the forest. It was constructed in 1893 and was the old homestead house of Calvin Shirley, who was the original owner of the land upon which the first business house and residence of DeRidder were built. Mr. Shirley homesteaded the 160 acres which was later platted and became the Original Townsite of DeRidder. At the time of this entry there was very little of the land in this section not privately owned. From 1880 to 1885 thousands of thousands of acres of the timbered lands were taken up by large timber corporations leaving tracts not so heavily timbered. About 10 years prior to this a cyclone or hurricane had blown down a great quantity of timber on the DeRidder tract. The timber scouts coming through passed up the 160 acres located here because of the scarcity of timber". (Note1: It seems certain that it was it was a tornado and not a hurricane that blew down the DeRidder trees 1888. Note 2: Today, large companies still own about 2 out of every 3 acres in Beauregard Parish).



about 1900 - Eva Frazar's memories of early DeRidder

Eva Stewart Frazar and her Stewart family came to the DeRidder area just before the turn of the century. In later years she was asked to speak to young people about her impressions of DeRidder in its early days. These are the last notes she wrote on that subject, just two weeks before her death in 1964. She was 85:



"I would like for you to forget for awhile what you know about DeRidder and picture this section of Beauregard Parish - without the town - without the railroad. Picture in your minds this as a dense forest of pine trees. The largest pine in the world grew where DeRidder now stands - or so it is claimed by timber men who knew."



"The community was very thinly populated. Farms were scattered miles apart in some sections. There would be a group of farms - then it would be miles to the next group. Farming, stock and logging provided the livelihood. Timber companies owned large tracts of land thus contributing to these distances between tiny communities. Some were nice large farms. Others were small with dirt fireplaces for heat - and sometimes the fireplaces were used for cooking as late as the 1890's. The better homes had brick fireplaces for heating.".



"This section was 50 years behind the rest of the world. It was not the fault of the people who lived here. It was the fact that they had such poor contact with the outside world - because there were no roads. Freight was brought in by ox cart or by boat down the Sabine River. This took days. Mail was delivered by horseback - with delivery sometimes weeks or months apart. There were very few schools. Therefore grown men and women did not know how to read. Merryville had a school. Sugartown had the best school - and a small college. These communities had stores and a post-office."

"Then a great change took place in this community - the Kansas City railroad was built from Kansas City to Port Arthur - and came right through here about 1896. By 1898 the trains were running. The post-office was named Miersburg for the postmaster whose name was Miers. The railroad workers had used this spot for a camping place for the workmen - and people wanted to get near the railroad - so 160 acres of land was bought for the town site."



"Immediately following the purchase of the town site, a ramble of rough houses were hurriedly built our of rough lumber. There was only one frame house before this, built by Mr. Dempsey on Jefferson Street. By 1898 the town consisted of nearly 300 people and a number of shack homes and a sawmill. C. Landry and Mr. George Heard had a hotel. There were about 5 small stores, besides. West Brothers had a Rous Racket store on the east side of the track." (A picture of the Rous Racket store is shown in the Beauregard Parish History).



about 1900 - The sheltered graves at the Pine Grove Cemetery

The Pine Grove Cemetery, c 1900, has sheltered graves to protect them from weather and the depredations of wild animals. (Beauregard Parish History)



About 1901 - Start of a school in Merryville

Nowadays, we hear a lot about trouble with some of the students. Bringing education to the parts of this area had also its rough edges. There is a story handed down about the early days of schools in Merryville. Three men who helped found one of the schools were perplexed about the unruly conduct of the older boys. Some were bigger than the teachers. One day some of the boys ran off a new teacher by roughing him up and then tossing him out of the schoolhouse. The teacher quit. When this happened the three man committee took decisive and unusual action - they appointed one of their own sons to bring about order. But before letting him take on this task, the committee first visited each of the errant boy's fathers. They explained that in the future the fathers would be held accountable for their son's misbehavior - and that any father interfering with the way that discipline was meted out would also have deal with the committee members. This system of accountability worked wonders.



1901 - oil well near Jennings

Oil was drilled in 1901 near Jennings, but it was not a very productive well. In 1910, wells near Vinton were producing 12,000 barrels a day.



1902 - 1927 - Era of the sawmills

Some of the sawmills and their dates of startup are: Bon Ami in 1902, DeRidder in 1903, Merryville in 1904, Carson in 1904/05, Longville (the largest of all) in 1906/07, Ragley in 1907, Ludington in 1911 - plus smaller mills.



Some of the company names: King-Rider Lumber Co, Hudson River Lumber Co., The American Lumber Co., Delta Land and Timber Co., Long-Bell Lumber Co., Longville Lumber Co., Ragley Lumber Co., Ludington, Wells and Van Schack Lumber Co. (later purchased by R. A. Long), Lutcher and Moore Lumber Co., J. A. Bell Lumber Co, Lock Moore Lumber Co., Peavy Moore Lumber Co., Sabine Tram Co., Sabine River Company, W. G. Strange Lumber Co., and the Anacoco Lumber Co. whose location was at the southeast corner of today's airport - the scene of the Grabow riot. (Beauregard Parish History)



1903 - DeRidder is incorporated

In 1903 DeRidder was incorporated as a town. Merryville is still the only other incorporated town in Beauregard Parish.



April 1904 - The burning of DeRidder

"Early one morning of April 1904, a large portion of the business section of DeRidder was destroyed by fire. Every building from the corner of Washington and West First St. north of Washington Ave. to the corner of N. Washington and Shirley St. was destroyed. It appeared to be a case of arson. Sufficient evidence was gathered to cause the Grand Jury to indict one George Smith, a gambler, with setting the fire. He left town ... " (Beauregard Parish History)



1904 - Company towns

"Company towns", as they existed then, might be resented by some of today's independent-minded citizens. The company owned all the land, built the houses, the churches, the stores, and the schools. Workers were paid by the company, bought their clothes, food, and necessities at the company store, and paid their rent to the company. One such town was DeRidder, which had been just a station on the Kansas City Southern Railroad before the coming of the mill. The company built a new school, 125 houses, a store, a butcher shop, post office, hotel, and office building. The lumber from this project was milled at Bon Ami. Population was 3,600 in 1904." (Beauregard Parish History)



Confederate veterans of Ward 6

These are some of the Civil War veterans from Ward 6: S. Y. Allen, J. C. Bilbo, Henry Bond, W. A. Cochran, Jerry Mick Dunn, A. W. Cooley, Moses Cook Frazar, Alexander Frazar, W. M. Holliday, J. M. Hanchey, H. F. Hennigan, John Miers, J. J. W. Miller, M. M. Moses, V. G. Nelson, Isaac Nicholls, Z. S. Patterson, W. P. Simpson, J. A. Whitman and Jefferson Young. (From an old news clipping.)



1906 - DeRidder's third railroad - and new banks

The Jasper and Eastern Railroad was constructed through town in 1906 and at this same time work started on the construction of the Lake Charles and Northern Railroad. This gave DeRidder three train lines. The same year saw the opening of the first bank in DeRidder. It was the DeRidder State Bank - with A. B. Pye as a cashier. In 1910 it was reorganized as the Lumberman State Bank. (Beauregard Parish History)



1907 - description of virgin pine forest

In 1907 a Yale professor by the name of Herman Haupt Chapman came to East Texas to study and describe the longleaf pine forests before they were all cut. He selected 9 forty-acre plots for study - all of them from the more mature stands. " The remarkable thing about the stands was not their yield but the size and age ranges of the trees. About 20% of them were less than a foot through - too small for saw-logs. About twenty-five percent were 'young merchantable' 12 to 18 inches in diameter. Slightly over 30% were mature saw logs, with trunks 18 to 26 inches thick, and nearly 20% were over 26 inches through - for longleaf pines, true veterans. The trees ranged in age from seedlings to over 350 years The old trees took up a lot more space than the younger ones. Nine trees at age 350 took the space of sixty 100-year old trees. When one of these veterans went down there was enough sunlight on the forest floor for a few hundred square feet of seedlings. The oldest trees were the scourge of the lumberman, they took space for two centuries without producing new trees .... most beyond a hundred years old had red heart disease, an affliction that rotted the heartwood."



For anyone wanting to see what a 100-plus year old forest looks like, there is a small example of one at the "Longleaf Scenic Area" . This abuts Fort Polk about 15 miles northeast of the DeRidder airport. The U. S. Forest Service office at Gardener can provide additional directions for getting there (318-793-9427). It can also be found with a hand-held GPS instrument at coordinates 31 00' North - 93 08.4' West.



1908 - A move to establish Beauregard Parish

In 1908 these men met above the Ideal Drug Store as an early step towards the establishment of Beauregard Parish: Herman McMahon, T. J. Carroll, Frank E. Powell, Gilbert F. Hennigan, Moses Cook Frazar, Harold Iles and A. I. Shaw. (Beauregard Parish History)



1909 - A newspaper assessment of Merryville (selected portions)

Especially on Saturday, a number of people would gather at the old grist mill and have a good social time. The town was named Merryville by Messrs. M. C. Frazier and Sam Fowler - because the people of that section were of such merry disposition. M. C. Frazier (Moses Cook Frazar) and his brother, Aleck opened up the first store in that neighborhood thirty-five years ago. Isaac Nicholls, familiarly called "Uncle Ike," is another of the citizens who can recall its early history with pleasure. M. C. Frazier was the first postmaster in 1881, then followed J. E. McMahon, and today A. P. Windham fills that office and performs his task with pleasure to the patrons. Sixteen years ago a Union Co-Operative store was established, and then J. E. McMahon conducted a store, which was purchased by J. E. M. Hennigan. A steam mill was erected twenty years ago to replace the old water mill, which was burned down a few months ago. Well, Merryville today is quite a different place, and as the years rolled on the place began to grow, until today it has a population of about 1200 people. With the coming of the Railroad, the Jasper and Eastern, it gave that community an impetus. The C. L. Smith Lumber company is the leading business industry of the town. The company now cuts 70,000 feet of lumber per day - a million and a half per month. The mill commenced business January 1, 1907, and now employs 150 men, with a monthly pay roll of $7,500. Everything is serene, and the best feeling prevails among the employers and employees. W. A. Sanders & Co., successors to the C. L. Smith Lumbers company, are proprietors of the commissary store, taking possession Jan. 1, 1909. This store is well supplied. The company carries a stock of $18,000 which can readily convince the reader that they are prepared to supply your wants. J. E. M. Hennigan carries a full line of general merchandise, and when it comes to prices, quality considered, he is ready to meet all competitors. Mr. Hennigan has certainly grown up with the country, for he has resided here since 1866(?), coming to Merryville when he was only three years old. (The) State Bank of Merryville has won for itself the confidence of the people. Organized and opened for business, Oct. 1, 1907, and during the panicky times of 1908 had plenty of cash on hand, and none of its customers were compelled to wait for money, when it was demanded. Frank Wilson is proprietor of the "The Bargain House". The traveling public can find ample accommodations at the hotel - Strickland, Lewis and W. L. Strickland, proprietors. The meals are first class, both regular and short order, and the rooms are pleasant and comfortable. The hotel has a billiard hall in connection, and carries a full line of soft drinks. The schoolhouse of Merryville consists of ten room - a 46 by 46 addition was added. The auditorium will seat 450. The enrollment is 570, with an average attendance of 250. There are three wagonettes which convey pupils to and from the school morning and evening. Principal L. L. Squires, with eight able assistants. The school was declared a high school on December 1, 1908. The present school building cost $16,000 and when the stranger visits Merryville this elegant structure commands his attention, and he or she cannot help from noticing that Merryville is certainly not behind on the question of education The campus is an exceptionally large one 300 by 600, which gives the pupils ample room for play grounds during the recess periods. The school is well supported from the financial standpoint as a thirteen mill tax is devoted for that purpose. There are three churches, Baptist, Christian and Methodist Episcopal, south. The Baptist people have a church building 36 by 72, new; seats 550, costing present $1,500. The pastor, Rev. R. Brown. Services are held on the second and fourth Sundays of every month. The Christian church has Rev. C. P. Tate,. Services are held every Sunday. The size of the present church building is 32 by 60. The members of the Methodist Episcopal, south, church have no building at present - they have an able pastor in Rev. G. S. Roberts. Services are held twice a month. There are two fraternal organizations: Merryville lodge A. F. & M. No. 329; meets over the bank on the first and third Fridays. The Odd Fellows meet every week over the Myer-Strickland store. Hon. J. B. Eaves of Merryville, is the police juror for the sixth ward Merryville today has: Jasper and Eastern railroad., one State bank, one racket store, six general merchandise stores, two drug stores, three physicians, one livery stable, two barber shops, one restaurant, four hotels, one blacksmith shop, one grist mill and cotton gin, one high school, three churches, one justice of the peace and two sawmills. (The Lake Charles Weekly Press - April 9, 1909)



1910 - Anacoco gold

Bayou Anacoco is the same area where "gold" gold was discovered in 1910 of which no trace of the ore exists today possibly due to a change in course of the river'." (From the Visitor's Guide, Fall and Winter 97-98, an article entitled "The Black Gold Rush is on!") Notation regarding the occurrence of gold: much of the world's gold is in small, often microscopic particles.



about 1910 - origin of the term Imperial Calcasieu

Between the 1900 census and the 1910 census the population of Calcasieu Parish climbed from 30,482 to 62,767. The parish seat at Lake Charles was 65 miles away from the most distant parts of the parish. People in these outlying areas felt that was too far to away. The principle purpose of county and parish government had always been to empower people at the local level. Whether they really believed it or not, proponents for dividing Calcasieu Parish contended that parish government had become too "imperialistic" in attitude. Hence the term Imperial Calcasieu was coined. Interestingly, Calcasieu Parish did not suffer much from being trimmed to one quarter its original land size. Since 1920 it has grown in population by a factor of 5 while the State of Louisiana and the United States have grown by a factor of only 2.3.



Foreign born

The Calcasieu Parish 1850 census reported only 33 foreign born. The 1910 census showed 3,268. Just how many these foreign-born lived in Beauregard Parish is unknown. It has been said that there were about "500" Japanese working in the sawmill at Longville at one point in time. They all left when the large mills closed. Not so with the Italian immigrants from Sicily. Some left and some stayed and prospered. Many today will fondly remember a DeRidder physician, Dr. Luke Marcello, who was born of immigrant parents.





1912 - Beauregard Parish is born

Beauregard Parish was created out of Calcasieu Parish on January 12, 1912. (La. Almanac)

1909-1913 - Utilities for early DeRidder

In 1909 an ordinance authorized the use of street right-of-way to install lines for water, sewage, steam and electric lights. In 1912 an ordnance authorized telephone lines to be placed in the right-of-way for streets. In 1913 an ordinance authorized pavement, curbs and sidewalks of some streets. In 1913, T. J. Teagarden was permitted to supply electricity. Electricity rates varied from 15 cents per kilowatt-hour to as low as 6 cents. (Source: Pages 36-37, Beauregard Parish History)



1912 - The first Beauregard Parish fair

The first parish fair was held in Merryville in 1912



Note - infamous moments Undoubtedly, the three most talked about, and the most written about, happenings in Beauregard Parish history have been The Grabow Riot, The Killing of Leather Britches and The Jailhouse Hangings. The riot and ambushing have all the suspense and quick-draw drama associated with the shootout at the OK corral - but there were a lot more casualties here. In all three cases, the details vary some from teller to teller, so it is hard to find out precisely what occurred. The reader should take this into account when reading the versions given below.



July 7, 1912 - The Grabow Riot

It was on a Sunday morning that A. L Emerson, the president of the Timber Workers, tried to recruit sawmill employees into his union. He spoke first at the Bon Ami mill and then the one at Carson. When Emerson left Carson he had with him an agitated crowd of 200 or 300". Some had been drinking. It was about 3:30 PM when they arrived at the Galloway Lumber Company sawmill at Grabow. Word of their coming preceded them. Waiting for them was a group of non-union replacement workers and company guards. As Emerson stood up on a wagon to speak a shot was fired. For the next ten minutes "all hell broke loose". According to one report, Roy Martin, Cate Hall, A. T. Vincent and Phillip Fazeral died in the exchange of bullets. Forty-eight others were wounded. The next morning ten men were arrested. The trial was held in Lake Charles. Three hundred witnesses were questioned. The trial lasted from October 7 to November the 2 of 1912. In the end, the defendants were acquitted.



September 25,1912 - The legend of Leather Britches Smith

There is no more legendary man in the history of Beauregard Parish than Leather Britches Smith. Most think his real name was Ben Myatt. Some doubt it. There was a Ben Myatt who lived in Robertson County, Texas. One day he brutally murdered his wife. For this he was brought to trial in 1910 - found guilty - and sentenced to hang. With the help of his brother, he escaped - and it was after this that Leather Britches appeared in Newton County and Beauregard Parish. Esther Terry remembers him from her early childhood. Her family considered him to be a kindly man - until he started drinking. In 1912 he carried two 45 Colt pistols and a 30-30 Winchester rifle and sometimes demonstrated his shooting skills for the amusement and amazement of his friends. However innocent this may have seemed to some, others were intimidated by his marksmanship, drinking and bad temper. There is no doubt that he was at times a threat to public safety. There is a story of him shooting off the head of a chicken, then demanding the owner to cook it for him. People were inclined to do what he said. The law had done nothing to mitigate Leather Britches' bad behavior, so the Good Citizens League decided to take matters in their own hands - and to do it with minimal risk. At daybreak on September 25, 1912, a group of 6 men ambushed him at a pump house where the train stopped to drop off supplies - four or five miles outside of Merryville. Some say Leather Britches went down without firing a shot. Others say that he fired two wild shots after falling to the ground. Afterwards his body was iced down and put on public display in Merryville. Hundred came to see him. He lies buried near Mrs. Terry's father in the Merryville Cemetery, adjacent to the old brick schoolhouse.



1912 - DeRidder houses from the sawmill days

The house at 411 South Washington St. was once the quarters of the general manager of the Hudson River Lumber Company sawmill. The original staircase, window and door frames are made of "hand picked curly pine", a much appreciated wood of that day. The house at 405 Washington St. was once the quarters of a worker. It should also be noted that a goodly number of Bon Ami houses were moved to DeRidder. There is at least one on the east side of the 600 block of Royal Street.



October 15, 1912 - Voters approve DeRidder as location of the parish seat

On October 15, 1912, DeRidder received 663 votes for becoming the parish seat. Singer received 434. A group of local women were the advocates for naming the parish in honor of P. G. T. Beauregard, a Confederate general from Louisiana.



1914 - The Beauregard Parish jail

There are few jail structures more distinctive that than one in DeRidder. It was built to house 50 or so prisoners. The walls are 13" to 21" thick . The first floor has quarters for the jailer and his family. This unique jail was forced by court action to close in 1982.



1917 - U. S. enters World War I

World War I started in 1914. The U. S. entered the war in 1917. Twenty men from Beauregard Parish died during the war of which at least two were killed in action - Murphy J. Cole and Frank Miers. Most of the others are known to have died of influenza and pneumonia.



August 6, 1918 - Hurricane

According to an LCAP news report: " .... about every building in (Lake Charles) was damaged that day, and hundreds of trees were blown down - causing damage in the millions of dollars and taking between 25 and 30 lives."



July 16, 1921 - a different world

This excerpt from the DeRidder Enterprise enumerates some of the principal vices in Beauregard Parish about 80 years ago. The sermon alluded to was given during a revival at the Methodist Church: "Evangelist Kelly's preaching is a straight forward arraignment of sin in all its phases. He pays his respects to the gambler, from the crapshooter to the bridge player, he romps on dancing, joy riding and all the other worldly pleasures that are corrupting the morals of the young men and women of today."



1925 - 1940 - a stagnated economy for DeRidder

"DeRidder was a thriving city through which four railroads operated ten passenger trains daily. The city boasted an electrical and water plant, cotton gin, two wholesale bakeries, steam laundry, bottling works and many other industries". Also, during this period the Long Bell Lumber Co. kept a creosote plant and a planer mill in operation. After 1925, DeRidder's economy changed little until the Louisiana Maneuvers



August 28, 1926 - a widely publicized murder

J. J. Brevelle was a taxi driver who was murdered by his "fares" while taking them to a rural destination. Brevelle is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The two men who were found guilty of his murder were hanged in the old parish jail on March 9, 1928. Deputy Sheriff Gill was the hangman. Joe Genna, age 25, was pronounced dead at 1:06 PM and Molton Brasseaux at 1:29 PM. Neither man was buried in Beauregard Parish.



August 10, 1928 - mention of a trip to the Moon

From a local news article: "Numerous ideas hitherto considered utterly fantastic have been advanced concerning the possibility of a trip to the moon or to Mars ....."



1930 - DeRidder in darkness

The city of DeRidder was in darkness because it could not pay its light bill.



1936 - Post Office fresco completed

One of the tourist attractions in DeRidder is a 1936 fresco painted by the highly respected Louisiana artist, Conrad Albrizio. It is on the walls of the old First Street post office, across the street from the parish courthouse.



July 1937 - the Mennonites

The first Mennonites to come to the DeRidder area were Noah Schmidt and his family. They arrived here in July of 1937 and were shortly followed by Mennonites from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. Today about 225 members and about 95 children attend their church. In their early years here they were farmers, but today most have jobs or businesses not connected to agricultural pursuits. They are well-respected for their integrity and work ethic. (Source: Clifford Schmidt)



July 16 1937 - The national Boy Scout Jamboree

On this date, local Boy Scouts returned from the nation-wide Boy Scout Jamboree held in Washington, D. C.



January 7, 1938 - Acquisition of Beauregard Cemetery

Nine thousand dollars of federal money were allocated to buy and prepare Beauregard Cemetery for use.



Feb 11 1938 - Bonnie and Clyde's car comes to town

"The death car in which Clyde Barrow, once public enemy No.1 and his sweetheart Bonnie Parker, met their death, which ended the ghastly bloody career of two of the county's most notorious members of the gangster world, will be on display at the Acme Chevrolet Co. Showroom Saturday, from 1 to 9 pm." (Source: an old news clipping.)



June 1938 - The Uptown Theater opens

Uptown Theater opened on the 15th. The seating capacity was 428 on lower floor - the upper floor had 100 seats for blacks.



Aug 21, 1938 - The Realart Theater opens

The reconstruction of the Realart Theater was nearing completion. The seating capacity downstairs was 550 - and the "gallery" had 330. Although DeRidder is now about three times

more populated than in 1938, there are no movie theaters in either the town or the parish.



1940 - 1944 - Sam Houston Jones, Governor of Louisiana

Sam Houston Jones was the first gubernatorial candidate to beat the Long regime. He made good on his campaign promise to do away with the political spoils system being practiced at the time - by implementing a civil service system. Huey P. Long and his close relatives had reigned over Louisiana politics for the previous twelve years. Sam was born in Merryville in 1897 - and he was the prosecutor at the Genna-Brasseaux trial. His parents are buried in DeRidder's Woodlawn Cemetery. There is a park of over a thousand acres at Moss Bluff named in his honor.



1941-1942 - The Louisiana Maneuvers

The Louisiana maneuvers came to much of the old Neutral Strip - involving about 500,000 men. It was the largest maneuvers in American history. It put an endless stream of convoys on our roads, horse cavalry in our streets, brawling on a few occasions in the downtown area of DeRidder and bivouacs on our farms. But it helped the economy. Except for the brawling, local people put up with the inconveniences with very little grumbling. The maneuvers were an essential part of war readiness.



January 1941 - Construction of Camp Polk begins

Initial construction program costs was $22 million - and employed 20,000 construction workers, according to the Jan. 3, 1998 American Press. Now known as Fort Polk, this Army base was the station for Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton and Mark Clark. During World War II the units that trained at "Polk" were the 3rd, 7th, 8th 9th, and 11th Armored Divisions as well as the 11th Airborne and the 95th Infantry. Polk remains a vital military base for world security. It is also vital to the local economy.



1955 Camp Polk becomes Fort Polk

1961 Several times in the first two decades Polk was closed and then reopened. It has remained opened since 1961.

1962 Polk became an infantry training center.

1965 Polk was selected to conduct Vietnam-oriented advanced combat training.

1973 Polk became the sole training center for qualifying basic infantry soldiers.

1974 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) became the major tenant.

1976 More than one million soldiers qualified by end of Vietnam War.

1993 The 5th Inf. Div. became the 2nd Armored Division.

1993 The Army's Joint Readiness Training Center moved to Polk from the Little Rock Air Force Base and Fort Chaffee, Ark. The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regt and XVIII Airborne Corps also moved to Polk. Units from Polk have participated in Operation, Just Cause (Panama), Operations Desert Shield (Persian Gulf War), Somalia's, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti and Bosnia. (Source: LCAP)



1941 - Beauregard Parish becomes a "dry" parish

The mix of saloons and soldiers during the maneuvers brought about the prohibition of the sale of alcohol in the parish - and it remains dry to this day.





Nov 28, 1941 - The first USO was in DeRidder (now the Civic Center)

More than 500 USO's were built for our service men during World War II - some in foreign lands. The one in DeRidder was the first to open - and the one in Galveston opened 24 hours later. It is said that 89,000 soldiers visited the DeRidder USO - 15,000 had showers there and 27,000 saw movies there.



December 7, 1941 - The United States abruptly enters World War II

For years Americans recognized that we might some day go to war with Japan, but no one was ready for what happened on December 7, 1941. No other event of this century changed our lives so suddenly and so completely.



Population of Beauregard Paris and its parent parishes. Question marks denote guesses.



Census Year



St. Landry Parish



Calcasieu Parish



Beauregard Parish



DeRidder



Merryville



1800













1810







25?







1820



10,085





50?







1830



12,591





100?







1840



15,238



2,069



200?







1850



22,253



3,914



400?







1860





5,928



600?







1870





6.733



700?







1880





9,919



1,000?







1890





20,176



2,200?







1900





30,482



3,500?







1910





62,767



12,000?







1920





32,870



20,767



3,535



2,963



1930





41,963



23,789



3,747



2,626



1940





56,506



14,847



3,750



1,216



1950





89,635



17,766



5,799



1,383



1960





145,475



19,191



7,188



1,232



1970





145,415



22,888



8,030



1,286



1980





167,223



29,692



11,057



1,286 again



1990





168,134



30,083



9,868



1,235



2000













May 13, 1942 - John Paul McMillian Jr. of Merryville

In 1942 most of us did not realize how close the war had come to Beauregard Parish. The war was being fought just off the coastline of Louisiana. On May 13, 1942 the SS Gulfpenn, a tanker carrying oil from Port Arthur to Philadelphia, was torpedoed by the German submarine 501, about 30 miles south of the entrance to the Mississippi River, or more precisely, at coordinates 28-29N, 89-12W. Aboard the Gulfpenn was John Paul McMillian of Merryville, a member of the U. S. Coast Guard. John's duties were in the engine room, the area of the ship that took the torpedo at 2:50 PM. The Gulfpenn sank by the stern at 2:55 PM. Some of the crew survived, but John Paul McMillian did not. His name is not on the war memorial monument at the courthouse, but a monument to his memory can be found in the Cooper Cemetery. (Source: from documents provided by his brother, Ray McMillian)



1941 - 1945 - Beauregard Parish men who died during World War II

There are at least fifteen Beauregard Parish servicemen who were killed in action during World War II: Norris Bennett, Hulen D. Buchanann, Leland Charles Butler, Charles C. Chellette, Alvin Carl Deason, Lethan Franks, Loice James McPherson, William Hollis. McPherson, Johnnie R. Marze, Jr., Glenn E. Morris, Edgar J. Pruitt, Anson F. Rideout, Jr., Luther West, W. D. West, Jr., Franklin A. Willis, Jake Young, and Donald V. Zimmerman.



August 1944 - The three McPherson brothers of Merryville

Loice and Hollis McPherson were brothers killed in France on August 4, 1944 and August 10, 1944, respectively. A third brother, Louis McPherson was badly wounded in France a few days before. As in the movie Saving Private Ryan, the surviving brother was taken out of the war zone and sent back to the States. Louis was the sole surviving son of William M. and Dovie McPherson. William H. McPherson was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. The reason he got the Silver Star was given in this news account: "His rifle squad was with a company engaged in capturing a French village, when Sergeant McPherson and another enlisted man rounded a turn in the road and came upon seven German soldiers. After firing one shot, McPherson's gun jammed and he charged the group with the useless rifle although he had no bayonet fixed. The enemy was so disconcerted they broke and ran, enabling the entire platoon to go into their appointed position.



November 9, 1946 - another major turning point for DeRidder

Crosby Naval Stores (later, Crosby Chemical) came to Beauregard Parish for the purpose of extracting rosin from the countless stumps left from the sawmill day. The first drum of resin was produced on November 9, 1946. The plant was designed to process 1,000 tons of stumps per day. On November 17, 1977 Crosby sold their plant to the Westvaco Corporation. Crosby Chemicals maintained an office in DeRidder until 1979. (Note: There is a narrow difference between "rosin" and "resin", but one might think of "rosin" as being extracted from the dead wood of pine trees - and "resin" as being formed either from excretions of living pine trees or from being derived from the chemical processing of rosin.)



Nov 14, 1947 - Tornado hits DeRidder

In less than 5 minutes sixty-five homes were "demolished" by a tornado. There were no deaths, but one serious injury was sustained. It "quickly healed".



January 30, 1948 - Lowest temperature on record

The lowest temperature recorded in DeRidder was 4.5 degrees - the official snowfall gauge registered 2 inches - and snow drifted to 12 inches!



late 1940s - The first TV program seen in DeRidder

Clyde Cooley succeeded in receiving the first TV program in DeRidder. He used a 50' wooden pole topped with a 12 ft antenna to receive signals from Houston. The TV set was placed in his business window at Cooley's Radio and TV Shop where people gathered to marvel at programs - such as wrestling matches.



June 1949 - Beauregard Parish statistics

The parish once had 667,756 acres of virgin forest, but by 1949 "practically all" of the timber then being cut was second growth from a forest of 360,000 acres. Eighty percent was Long Leaf Yellow Pine, 11% was hardwood and 9% were mixed stands of Loblolly Pine and hardwood. Lumber production in 1949 was 10 million bf of hardwood, 17.7 million bf of pine and 7 thousand cords of pulp wood. (Source: The "Beauregard Parish Resources and Facilities Survey" of June 1949, page 29)



1950 - 1953 - the Korean War

Five men from Beauregard Parish died in action during the Korean War: James David Lee Kell, R. V. Bailey, Loyd Jefferson, Robert R. Kirklin and James W. McCraw.



1956 - 1960 - Lether E. Frazar, Lt. Governor of Louisiana

Like his first cousin, Sam Jones, Lether was born in Merryville. Some believe they both acquired a taste for politics from their grandfather, Moses Cook Frazar. Moses served eight years on the Calcasieu Parish police jury, Ward 6 - and served 18 years as postmaster of Merryville prior to that. Lether was Lt. Governor of the state while Earl Long was governor. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.



June 27, 1959 - Hurricane Aubrey

According to an LCAP news article: The loss of life in Hurricane Aubrey was mainly confined to Cameron Parish - and the damage in Lake Charles, Westlake and Sulphur, although heavy, was probably less than in the 1918 disaster. It also stated that over 500" people died. A different report stated that 380 died.



July 24 1958 - Direct long distance dialing

A news article states that South Central Bell would spend $13 million to provide direct dialing for long distance telephone calls.



1964 - 1976 - Vietnam

These servicemen from Beauregard Parish died in the Vietnam War: Sergeant Benjamin I. Warren (killed by an enemy anti-tank mine), Irvin D. Barrow (killed by mortar fire), Albert F. Calp (no details), James V. Hamilton (no details), Roger Haywood (died in a vehicle accident in Vietnam), Qullard F. Lyons (killed by an enemy mine in Vietnam) and Richard A. Rathburn (killed in a rocket accident in Vietnam).



October 1966 - The filling of Toledo Bend

The filling of the 185,000 acre Toledo Bend impoundment was started in October of 1966. The purpose of the project was water conservation, recreation and hydroelectric power generation. It was a project of the Sabine River Authority of Texas and the Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana - the only project of this kind in America that had been undertaken without Federal funds.



June 27, 1968 - The DeRidder's visit to DeRidder

Mr. and Mrs. Albert DeRidder of Ypsilanti Michigan were made honorary citizens of DeRidder, Louisiana. Mr. DeRidder, a pilot, was born in Holland and might be kin to the person for whom the city was named. The surname "DeRidder" appeared 228 times in a fairly recent nation-wide residential telephone listing.



1969 - Beauregard Parish statistics

Live stock sold this year was $2 million, 18 million pounds of diary milk, and 50,000 lbs of wool. Rice was also an important source of revenue.



Oct 4, 1981 - Forty-two DeRidder buildings put on National Register

The old jail was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. At end of the month, the commercial district of DeRidder was placed on the National Register 42 buildings in all.



1990 - U. S. Census Beauregard Parish data

White - 25,274, Black - 4,391, American Indian - 252, Asian - 115, Other - 51, Total - 30,083. The median family income was $26,851.



1890s - 1999 - forestry in Beauregard Parish

In the 1890s it became evident that forests in the northern Lake States were nearly depleted and that new sources of timber would be needed by the large timber companies. Beauregard Parish, with its virgin stands of long leaf pine, was one such place . Trains would be needed to efficiently harvest it. The first train in the parish arrived 1897. Shortly after that came the sawmills and droves of workers to log the trees and operate the mills. It is said there were so many sawmills that the KCS trains going through Beauregard Parish were in almost constant hearing distance of them. Then it ended. About 1927 the last large mill closed and many of the workers departed. Left behind was a sea of pine stumps - but settlements were also left where none had existed before the sawmill days. In hopes of oil being found, the large companies kept their land - hundreds of thousands of acres of it. The land then was Aopen range, allowing a sheep and cattle industry to develop. In the Spring, incendiary and accidental fires occurred, preventing the pine forests to reestablish naturally. It took almost twenty years to do it, but local leadership finally decided that land in the parish needed to be managed more effectively. The first step was taken in 1944 when the State of Louisiana allowed taxation on standing timber to be in the form of a severance - to be paid when the timber was harvested. The second step occurred in 1948 when Beauregard Parish and Vernon Parish opted for parish-wide fire protection. Fire protection was carried out by the Louisiana Forestry Commission. The Commission also had related duties - to help private owners with forest management - to implement a continuing education program - to grow and sell tree seedlings at cost to both large and small landowners. The 1950s were the most tenuous years, but through great determination, diligence and effort the forests were restored. With the replanted forests came industries such as Boise Cascade, Westvaco, Ampacet and smaller operations that now provide a lot of people with good jobs. We are greatly indebted to the1948 Police Jury for their courage and wisdom in putting the parish under fire protection - and to the men and women of the Louisiana Forestry Commission for the detection and handling of all types of forest fires - for their devotion to duty - and for their enviable professionalism. Well done! (Primary source: Don McFatter, a long time employee of the Louisiana Forestry Commission.)



1996 - Banking deposits

The deposits in City Savings, First National Bank of DeRidder and the First National Bank of Lake Charles totaled $187,457,000 in 1996.



1998 - Employers with 90 or more employees

Organization Product or service Number of employees
Beau. Parish School Board Education 1,350
Boise Cascade Manufacturing 760 not counting contractors
Wal-Mart Retail 500
Beau. Memorial Hospital Medical services 425
Amerisafe Insurance 316
Westvaco Chemicals 170
Beau. Parish Police Jury Government 150
Ryan Restaurant Restaurant 150
BE&K Contractor 140
Ampacet Plastic coloring 137
Beau. Nursing Center Nursing home 110
Beau. Electric Utilitiy 108
City of DeRidder Government 90




1999 - oil and gas production

Over the years, 2,137 permits have been issued for the drilling of oil wells. Today there are 143 wells still producing oil or gas. See the attached map showing the location of drilling sites. (Source: the Louisiana Dept. of Natural Resources)



1906 - present Mayors of DeRidder

William Sailor 1906 to 1908 - Robert Jones 1908 to 1910 - J. M. Nichols 1910 to 1912

E. F. Pressley 1912 to 1914 - C. C. Davis 1916 to1918 - N. A. Jones 1918 to 1922

Nye Patterson 1922 to 1926 - W. R. Middleton 1926 to 1934 - Mrs. W. R. Middleton 1934

Arsene Stewart 1946 to 1954 - Cecil Middleton 1940 to 1946 - F. Mitch Roberts 1934 to 1940 and from 1958 to 1962 - John Wooten 1954 to 1958 - Bob Blankenship 1962 to 1970

Frank Delia Jr. 1970 to 1978 - Creighton Pugh 1978 to 1986 - Gerald Johnson since 1986.



FY 1999 - Annual Economic Impact projected for Fort Polk

Item Funds
Military pay $208 million
Military and civilian retired pay $243 million
Civilian pay $101 million
Contracts $11 million
Utilities $102 million
Supplies and equipment $61 million
Major construction $4 million
Aid for local schools $3 million
Total $733 million

Source: Lake Charles American Press



1999 - Beauregard Parish Airport

The Beauregard Parish Airport has over 6.2 square miles of land - much more than most airports. Many hope that this will give DeRidder a competitive edge in the 21st century for attracting desirable development. In 1937 it was just a grass landing strip without runway lights, with only 640 acres. In early 1941 it was approved as an airport for an Army observation squadron in connection with the armored division at Camp Polk. During World War II it was known as the DeRidder Army Air Base with enough infrastructure to accommodate four thousand personnel.



At the end of 1948 the federal government gave the base to the Beauregard Parish Police Jury under the conditions that it would remain a public airport - and that all proceeds generated there would be used for purposes that would benefit the airport. This self-sustaining concept has worked. No local taxes are used to supplement the funds received from forestry, agriculture, fuel sales, hanger rentals and leases. The current tenants are the FAA Automated Flight Service Station, the Beauregard Country Club, The Bennett Timber Company, the Beauregard Parish Police Jury, the Department of Transportation and Development, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Louisiana National Guard, Smith Farms (575 acres), Beauregard Ranch and Tractor Sales, the Beauregard Parish Sportsman's Association, and Emergency Response.



The primary runway runs north and south and is 5,495 feet long. Instrument approaches can be made with a 300 ft. ceiling and visibility of one mile. An alternate runway (RW 14/32) is 4,295 ft. in length. The concrete parking ramp is 1,600' by 400'. The main hangar has 33,000 sq. ft. which includes 8,000 s.f. of space for administrative and terminal uses. "Essentially the airport can accommodate most corporate jets, turbine, and piston aircraft up to 60,000 lbs. single wheel, as well as other general aviation aircraft@. Funding for a parallel NS runway has been requested from state and federal sources. The estimated cost is $1,700,000. The elevation of the airport is 204 feet and is located at Latitude 30-49.89 N, Longitude 93-20.38W. The FAA Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) on the airport serves all of Louisiana. (Source: Johnny Jones, airport manager)



Some of the commonly seen birds in the immediate vicinity of DeRidder

In the right habitat and season these birds may be commonly seen: Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Bluebird, Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, American Crow, Mourning Dove, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, American Goldfinch, Common Grackle, various Hawk species, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Blue Jay, Belted Kingfisher, Purple Martin, Mockingbird, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Barred Owl, domestic Pigeon, American Robin. various Sparrow species, European Starling, Chimney Swift, Summer Tanager, Brown Thatcher, Tufted Titmouse, Pileated Woodpecker and the Red-bellied Woodpecker (provided by Charlie Stout)



Some of the occasionally seen birds in the immediate vicinity of DeRidder

These birds may be occasionally seen: Bobwhite quail, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Gray Catbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Inca Dove, House Finch, Purple Finch, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Slate-colored Junco, Killdeer, Eastern Kingbird, Swallow-tailed Kite, Common Nighthawk, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Baltimore Oriole, Great Horned Owl, Screech Owl, Greater Roadrunner, Loggerhead Shrike, Barn Swallow, Rufous-sided Towhee, various Warbler species, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and the Red-headed Woodpecker. (provided by Charlie Stout)



In the future

It is hoped that the Beauregard Parish Tourist Bureau will periodically update this time line account of our history. It is also hoped that local history will be added to the curriculum of the parish school system, if such is not now the case. A basic understanding can be imparted in as little as three one-hour class room sessions.



The printing and use of this material

This material was compiled for public use, not for profit. The sole purpose was to provide the public with an easy to read version of local history. To that end, the Beauregard Daily News was given permission to use this material without charge. The newspaper, we are pleased to say, has already printed 8,000 copies many of which were delivered with subscribers on January 2, 2000. Unfortunately, it was printed on ordinary newsprint. As everyone knows, newsprint is noted for its tendency to "yellow" and fall apart rather quickly. For that reason about 40 copies have been printed on quality paper and then placed with bound covers for protection. These copies will be given to libraries at no cost.



For permission to use this material

As stated above, the purpose of Beauregard Parish History at the Millennium is to promote the understanding of parish and regional history. Anyone wishing to reprint this material are

requested to contact the compiler: Judson Shook, 2125 Crestlake Drive, Rockwall, Texas 75087 - telephone 972-771-6816 - fax 972-722-5665.



Date of this printing was February 3, 2000.















































Reference sources

Chapters of History - Beauregard Parish Historical Society - 1968

History of Beauregard Parish

A History of the Long-Bell Lumber Co. and The Family at Longville by Joe V. Warren Jr.

Early Sawmills of the Louisiana-Texas Borderlands by W. T. Block

The Louisiana Almanac

The Neutral Zone by Don C. Marler

Encarta97 and other computer encyclopedias

Lone Star by Fehrenbach

Beauregard Parish - In the Highlands of Southwest Louisiana - 1939

A History and Progress Report of Beauregard Parish (about 1949)

As the Days Pass

The VF0000266 vertical files of the Beauregard Parish Library

The Best of Yesterday, .... by Velmer B. Smith

Louisiana History by Joe Gray Taylor

Speech notes of Eva Stewart Frazar

Various news clippings at the Lake Charles library

Various publications of the Louisiana department of archeology.

History files of Esther Terry and Joy Hudson

Material from personal genealogical files

Articles from the Beauregard Daily News, The American Press and Dallas Morning News

Visitors Guide of Beauregard Parish

The DeRidder Location Guide



... and for the help, encouragement, advice and input thanks to the following: James Burton and John Parlier of the U. S. Forest Service at Gardner, the Beauregard Parish Library, the Carnegie Library in Lake Charles, the Beauregard Tourist Commission, Don McFatter, Gwen Houston, Normand Terry, Esther Terry, Jon Tellifero, Wayne Jones, Billy Kilman, Ciro Lampo, Paul Harlow and others.