|East of the Sabine: A History of Beauregard Parish|
The History of Beauregard Parish written by Robert Jones, father of former Governor Sam Jones, was originally delivered as a dedication speech at the Beauregard Parish Fair Grounds on October 22, 1931.
In reciting incidents that happened in what is now Beauregard Parish, it will be necessary to mention individuals and incidents that happened in adjoining parishes.
When the first permanent Anglo-Saxon settlement made west of the Calcasieu River, what is now the Seventh Congressional District was Saint Landry Parish, Opelousas being the Parish Seat, the territory between the Atchafalia (Atchafalaya) and the Sabine Rivers was either open prairies or a wilderness, in many places a jungle of cane and underbrush that could not be penetrated by man.
There were many Indians, but they gave the settlers very little trouble, there were four Indian villages in what is now Beauregard Parish, possibly more. One some six or seven miles south of Sugartown on Indian Branch, near the home of J. J. Young, another just north of the old W. B. Welborn home on Bundick Creek, another near the mouth of Anacoco Creek and another at Merryville on the Frazar farm, just across the street where the Merryville High School now stands.
At the time the first white man came here there was not a road, bridge, ford, or ferry to afford means of travel. Wild game such as deer, turkey and bear were to be found by the thousands and such wild animals as bob-cats, wolves, and panthers roamed the woods at will to menace the settlers and keep them constantly on guard for the lives of their stock as well as their own lives.
Previous to the coming of permanent settlers in about 1816 to1818 and while the territory between the Sabine River and the Reo (Rio) Hondo, (being either the Calcasieu or the Mermentau rivers), was known as, “No Man’s Land,” it being claimed by the United States, as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and Mexico laying claim to it as part of Texas, claiming that the Reo (Rio) Hondo was the boundary line instead of the Sabine River; therefore neither held jurisdiction over it, the only laws being vigilant committees. Naturally the territory become infested with all kinds of law-breakers, thieves, robbers, murderers and desperadoes of all kinds, that were trying to escape the laws of both the United States and Mexico. After the United States was recognized as the owner, most of these people moved on, however some of them remained and reformed making some of the best settlers and citizens that settled here.
During the period from about 1820 to 1836 the Murrell Clan operated in this territory and had some members in what is now Beauregard Parish and adjoining parishes. This clan was the most cruel and bloodthirsty that ever operated in the United States. They had a secret code by which they could communicate with one another and no one could find out their plans or get any information about them without deciphering their code which was difficult. Their hideout was a cave on an island in the Mississippi River just below Vicksburg, Mississippi, later this island became the home of Joe Davis, brother of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy. The operation of this famous clan covered some ten or twelve states of the union, but like all such clans of this kind it finally was broken up when five of the leaders were captured, confessed their numerous crimes and were hanged in the state of Mississippi. Their leader Murrell escaped by posing as a minister of the gospel, he died in the state of Tennessee after serving a long term in the penitentiary.
One of those who came here to make this their home and who now have descendents in this and other parishes, tradition says that Saddler Johnson was the first, about the same time one Thomas M. Williams of whom I will speak later, came and settled in what is now the Dry Creek community, near the home of W. B. Hanchey.
Johnson’s name was not Saddler, he was a saddle maker by trade, hence the name Saddler Johnson. He built a shack on a bluff bank of Whiskey-Chitto creek where the Palistine Baptist Church now stands, in Allen Parish. He later moved to Sugartown in Beauregard Parish and most of his work was done here. It was supposed that he came from South Carolina and was considered a very skilled mechanic at that time. Many descendants of his still live in this and adjoining parishes, among them are the Nelsons of the Singer community.
Among the next to arrive on the scene were Dempsey and William Iles, George Smith and William Thompson. Smith and Thompson were brothers-in-law to the Iles brothers. They arrived here about the year 1816. William Iles and George Smith later moved to Rapides Parish, where many of their descendants now live. Later came Joe Beckwith, for whom Beckwith Creek is named, and also about this time came William Bundick for whom Bundick Creek is named.
There are hundreds of descendants of Dempsey Iles now living in Beauregard and adjoining parishes, probably more than any other of the earlier settlers. There are quite a few descendants from the Thompson family. Tradition informs us that William Thompson Jr., son of the original William Thompson, father of Dempsey Thompson and grandfather of D. A. Thompson and W. F. Thompson, was the first white child born in what is now Beauregard Parish.
I have already stated that the community, now known as Sugartown, was the first white settlement in Beauregard Parish, having been settled by Saddler Johnson, Dempsey Iles, Bob Martin, Huey Wisby and others. The second community to be settled was that of Dry Creek by Thomas M. Williams. The third settlement was established at what is known as Big Woods, by the Smarts, Cowards, Perkins and later the Praters, the first settlers arriving about 1830 to 1832. The Smart family later moved into what was then Rapides Parish, now part of Vernon Parish at a place known as Anacoco Prairie, some five or six miles north of the present town of Leesville.
Between the years 1830 and 1835 there came from Sumpter, South Carolina four Mims brothers, namely Dr. L. M. Mims, P. D. Mims and Sumpter Mims, the given name or initials of the other I do not remember. Two of the brothers settled in what is now Beauregard Parish and other two in Calcasieu Parish. The old Mims’ farm site can be located today near DeWitts Eddy, the old field is covered with a large growth of pine timber. The mother of these boys came with them and as stated before they came from near Fort Sumpter of Civil War fame, and if you will notice one of them was named after this famous fort.
If you will examine your map closely you will find that near Fort Sumpter there is a fort named Fort Mims, named in honor of the ancestors of these four brothers. The Mims family was distantly related to the Frazar family, one of the pioneer families of Beauregard Parish. Our own Miss Mary Mims that we love so well is probably a descendant of this same family, as I understand she traces her ancestors back to near Fort Sumpter, her people however settled in North Louisiana, but the fact that the name of Fort Sumpter belongs also to her ancestors shows that they were originally of the same stock. There are a few of the descendants of this pioneer family in this and adjoining parishes, however many have migrated into the state of Texas, two of the brothers emigrated to British Honduras many years ago, one of them returned to this country and the other died in British Honduras and his mother went to this country and brought his body back for burial here. He was buried near old Backdad (Bagdad) in Calcasieu Parish.
In the late 30’s or early 40’s a settlement was made about six or seven miles this side of the present town of Leesville. I mentioned this because of its connection and association with incidents relative to this Parish. The settlement was named Petersburg, takings its name from Pete Eddleman, one of the earlier settlers. Some of the other earlier settlers in this community were the Words, Lovetts, Knights, McCranies and others that I do not recall now. These people came principally from South Carolina and Florida. Many of the descendants of these families still reside in this and adjoining parishes. Only a few of the old timers can locate the exact spot where this village stood. Many stirring incidents that took place here in the early days are more easily remembered.
A little later there come from the state of South Carolina three men, namely, William Sanders, Pink Cain and Tyce Roberts and from these families came the descendants of some of the men foremost in the public work of today. J. W. Sanders, Principal of the DeRidder High School is a great grandson of this William Sanders, Sheriff J. H Cain is a great grandson of Pink Cain and the Roberts families of the city of DeRidder are descendants of Tyce Roberts.
Mr. Sanders settled not far from the town of Petersburg and his home was know as Sandersville for many years, the old place is on or near the paved Highway, some seven miles from Leesville, but the town of Petersburg was probably a half mile off the road.
About 1840 a settlement was made on the lower Anacoco Creek, (at that time it was known as Bayou Lan Acoco), the older maps give it by that name, this settlement was made in part by the following families; Welborns, McGees, Crafts, Eaves, Hennigans, Geres, Hickmans, and others. There are many of the descendants of these families now residing in this parish, about the same time there came to the Sabine country came fifteen to twenty miles south of Merryville the Colemans and McCorquodales and others that I do not call to mind at the present time.
In 1852 one Joseph Nichols came to this country first settling in Vernon Parish, but later moving to the present parish of Beauregard. There are many descendants of this pioneer settler in this and adjoining parishes. Among the more outstanding ones might be name Mr. Lee Nichols, president of the Fair Association of Beauregard Parish, and Mr. Clyde Nichols, cashier of the First National Bank of DeRidder, great grandsons of this Joseph Nichols.
Between the years 1845 and 1850 there came quite a colony of people from Hancock County, Mississippi, and settled on the Sabine River, about fifteen miles below the present town of Merryville, most of them settling on the Louisiana side of the river, but a few settled on the Texas side. Included in this group were the Wingates, Frazars, Spikes, Pharrs, Mitchells, Slaydons, Burges, Whiddons, Burks, and many others too numerous to mention. The leader of the colony was Robert Wingate with his three sons and three daughters. His remains are buried at Newton, Texas, and his descendants residing in Louisiana and Texas today number more than a thousand people. Some of the ones best known to us are: Dr. J. D Frazar, W. H Frazar, Mrs. Robert Jones, L. W. Cooper, and the children and grandchildren of J. E. McMahon. One of the Frazar family had previously come to the Calcasieu country, I do not know just where, before the year 1821. He and four companions (names not known to me) built a large skiff about forty feet long on the Calcasieu River and floated it down the river to the Gulf of Mexico and down the coast to the mouth of the Brazos River at Old Velasco and in 1821 joined the first immigrants of the Stephen F. Austin colony at that place. He evidently was in the Texas-Mexican war in 1836 and was very likely killed in battle. His widow, Susan Frazar, and son, Joe, crossed the Sabine River at Nixes ferry in 1836 to get away from a Mexican army invasion of East Texas and just a few days before the battle San Jacinto. This information is from John Hoozier who operated a ferry at that place and who only died a few years ago. He was more than a hundred years of age at the time of his death. Susan Frazar is said to have died in the vicinity of Sugartown and was buried at some old graveyard there, location of her grave is unknown. The boy, Joe, has been lost sight of. He was reported to have gone to the state of Michigan from here. Several thousand dollars have been spent trying to locate him or his heirs, as his parents had large grants of land from the Texas Government and a part of it became very valuable due to the discovery of oil on it.
There was also one of the Wingate family, Edward, who came to this parish prior to 1836, when the Texas-Mexican war began to brew. He went to Texas and joined the Texas army. He was with General Fannin at Goliad and with the other 131 was massacred by the Mexican army after having surrendered and turned over their arms to the Mexican soldiers. This was just a few days after the fall of the Alamo at San Antonio. This patriot owned large land grants from the Texas Government, among which was the battle field of Jacinto and a large part of the present city of Houston, Texas, and the Barber Hill oil field. His heirs never received a penny for this land; however, I have been told that one branch of the Texas legislature voted at one time to restore this property to his heirs. Judge D. R. Wingate built the first saw mill in Texas at Sabine Pass in 1850. He had previous to this built one of the first saw mills in the state of Mississippi at Logtown in Hancock County. There are several thousand descendants from this Hancock colony in Louisiana and Texas as well as Beauregard parish. Probably the most notable of all the Wingates descendants is Huey P. Long, ex-governor of Louisiana and United States Senator. He is the descendant of the oldest son of Robert Wingate.
Sometime in the early settlement of this section (exact time unknown) there came to this section six brothers by the name Cole. All of the Coles in Southwest Louisiana are descendants of these brothers.
In 1849 David Lyles settled a few miles south of Dry Creek and Hiram Lyles, our parish assessor, is a grandson of this pioneer. There are others in this vicinity who trace their ancestors back to this David Lyles.
William Hanchey settled in the Dry Creek community in 1860 and practically all the Hancheys of this section are from this family. K. R. Hanchey, Supt. of Beauregard Parish schools is a great grandson.
Other early settlers that settled in the Dry Creek community about this time were: the Millers, Heards, Lindseys, Bilbos, Kents, Greens, Bradfords, Cagle, Louis Corkran of Clear Creek, just south of Dry Creek, and many others that I do not call to mind at present.
About 1850 there came to what is now Beauregard Parish a man by the name of Alston, Jack Alston I believe his name was, with a wife and seven children. They settled in the southern part of the parish on Beckwith Creek. I was well acquainted with one of the sons, having lived for a time in his home. His name was P. M Alston, familiarly know as Cooley Alston. He died only a few years ago at the ripe old age of eighty-five years.
Or more than one occasion he told me that when his father came here that all the creek and branch swamps were covered with switch cane and in some cases it projected out on high pine ridges, making an excellent range for stock of all kinds. The descendants of this man are very largely in Beauregard but a few are found in adjoining parishes and some few out of state.
All or practically all of the parties in this narrative have been of Anglo-Saxon origin, but there were a few French settlers, who should be mentioned; Julian LaJure, (English Young) who came here near Opelousas, at a very early date, being one among the first settlers in the Sugartown settlement. He had six sons and one daughter. There left many of his descendants now living in this and adjoining parishes. A little later there came from the same part of Saint Landry Parish one John Fruge now know as Frusha who settled near where the village of Longville now stands. One of his sons now lives on the old home place; many of his descendants are some of best known citizens of this community.
During the late thirties or early forties there came to this section one Arson Leblue and Sulonge LaCaze. Both of these families settled in what is now Vernon Parish a large number of their descendants reside in Beauregard Parish.
Old Imperial Calcasieu Parish was severed from Saint Landry in 1840, and after that time what is now Beauregard Parish settled much more rapidly than before, up until 1861 when the civil war broke out, at which time there was must have been three to four thousand of people in the present parish of Beauregard and within the radius of ten miles of Sugartown there must have been at least one hundred and fifty families. After the breaking out of the Civil War there were very few settlers until after 1868 when they came in very rapidly for several years.
As stated above, Calcasieu Parish was carved out of Saint Landry Parish in 1840; the part severed now comprises the 14th Judicial District including parishes of Allen, Cameron, Calcasieu, Beauregard, and Jeff Davis. There were four candidates for the parish seat, namely, Marion, Lake Charles, Backdad (Bagdad), and Shell Bank, now West Lake. Marion received the largest number of votes and was declared the parish seat of Calcasieu Parish. Immediately a log courthouse was erected. It became necessary to have lumber for the doors, ceiling, floors, and facings. Thomas M. Williams, who was the first Police Juror of Ward 7 (Dry Creek and Sugartown) and who I have previously mentioned as the first settler of the Dry Creek community, agreed to build a saw mill and cut and float lumber down the river. The mill was erected near the mouth of Dry Creek, less than a mile from the present Dry Creek High School, and I am told that the location of the mill can now be seen. A cross cut saw that Mr. Williams used to cut the logs for the lumber is now in the possession of members of the family of whom, there are very many descendants in this community. (Some of these are) Dr. J. A. Crawford, a baby specialist now residing in Lake Charles, a great grandson, Mitchell Wood, former deputy sheriff of Beauregard Parish, now at San Antonio, Texas, and Jeff Wood of Fields are two others that we are well acquainted with. Some others we might mention are Ocie Young and Miss Cleo Young, grandson and granddaughter now living in the state of Oklahoma; Harrison Williams of near Oberlin, Louisiana. The remains of this pioneer are resting in a private graveyard near the home of W. B. Hanchey at Dry Creek.
The court house remained at Marion for three or four years, then it was moved to Lake Charles. George Ryan, a slave owned by Jacob Ryan, one of the first settlers in Lake Charles, and for whom Ryan Street of that city was named, to superintend the moving of the parish seat. This old Negro died a few years ago at the age of some years over 100. Very few people know the location of Marion and for many years it was known as Old Town. I am told that there is only one house standing on the bank of the river at that place.
As stated above there were no roads, bridges, ferries, or even fords, for practically twenty years after the first settler came to what is now Beauregard Parish. It was at least a week’s journey from the Sabine River to Opelousas and return, beset with many dangers, hence there was very little travel to the parish seat and as settlers came in the young people grew up and as even today they wanted to get married. In many cases it was practically impossible to secure the necessary marriage license and in many communities a preacher or magistrate for the ceremony was not available. This situation was overcome in this way, when the young people became engaged the young man would talk to the parents of the young lady an in case he secured the consent of the parents of the young lady he immediately selected a nice homesite, erected his log cabin, cleared a few acres of land, and at an appointed time the neighbors and friends of the two families were invited to the home of the bride to a supper and usually a dance and when the dance was over and the guests had retired, the young couple considered themselves legally married and retired to their new home, which was usually close by, as a man and wife. For fear that some of my hearers may hold up their hands in holy horror at such a proceeding, I want to say that they young people in those days lived together as a man and wife, raised families, and were much truer to their marriage obligations than the average couple of today. Years later the state legislature realizing this situation, because it had become a state practice, passed an act under which the children of these couples could be made legal heirs.
Soon after the creation of Calcasieu Parish in 1840, a few temporary roads and bridges having been provided, the people began to clamor for some mail facilities. The mail facilities for the past twenty years up to that time were very inadequate. The people in the western part of the parish got their mail at Belgrade, Texas, (Old Belgrade was a steamboat landing on the Texas side of the Sabine River about fifteen miles below Merryville), the people living in the eastern part of the Parish received their mail either at Opelousas or Alexandria, however, there was very little mail at that time. There is likely more mail coming to DeRidder in one day now than came to all the citizens of what is now Beauregard Parish at that time in one year.
Tradition says that a star mail route was granted from Lake Charles to Petersburg by way of Sugartown during the year 1841, the mail was weekly, three days to Petersburg and three days return. Alexandria Varnel was the first postmaster at Sugartown and the post office was about one and one half miles from the present post office. Its location is on the C. B. Caraway place, that being the old Varnel home.
I will vary from my discourse on the parish to inform you of how tradition says that the town of Sugartown got its name. Bob Martin, (now the Bob Martin of the Civil War fame), one of the old settlers, had obtained a few stalks of sugar cane from Saint Mary Parish which he had planted, saved what it produced and repeated for about three years when had about one-eighth of an acre of nice sugar cane, he remarked to his neighbor, Saddler Johnson, that if I had some way of getting the juice out of that cane I would make some nice cane syrup. Mr. Johnson being the skilled mechanic said, “Bob, let’s make a mill by taking two short sections of a big gum tree and turning them with a turning lathe until they are uniform, then fitting cogs into them so that they can be turned with a lever and thus squeeze the juice out of the cane.” This was done; also a small furnace built using wash kettles instead of sugar kettles. Neither of them being familiar with making syrup permitted it to boil too long and when the mass cooled they had two or three nice kettles of sugar. When getting up the petition for a post office it became necessary to name the office and someone present, having Bob Martin’s sugar in mind, said “Let’s call it Sugartown.” So it was named and has been ever since and is today of the best country communities in Beauregard Parish or Southwest Louisiana. Bob Marin moved to Live Oak County in Southwest Texas long before the Civil War and became wealthy but his brother has many has many descendants in this section of the state.
About this time a question of planting cotton was discussed, (cotton at that time brought a good price), they agreed to plant if a cotton gin could be erected. Dempsey Iles, the first settler and a wealthy stock man for that time, agreed to furnish the finance and Saddler Johnson built the gin. This was the first cotton gin west of the Calcasieu River or Southwest Louisiana. It was located about one hundred yards north and a little west of the cemetery at Sugartown community. This cotton gin served the cotton growers for more than forty years.
A large majority of the people of what is now Beauregard Parish, and I might say all of southwest Louisiana, were opposed to the secession of Louisiana from the Federal Union, but when the act was passed in the convention, as loyal citizens, a large majority enlisted in the services and served until the close of the war, and quite a few lost their lives in that struggle and many more were wounded and carried their battle scars to their graves.
During the war, about 1863, when the Federal troops captured New Orleans and blockaded the mouth of the Mississippi River, Taylor’s army being in Central Louisiana at the time retreated from Baknes (Banks) army, it became necessary to furnish Taylor’s army with provisions and ammunition. For this purpose a Military Road was hastily cut out from Nibletts Bluff, (known as the head of deep water navigation at that time), to Alexandria. The confederate Government assigned the following men to build it; Reverend William Perkins of Big Woods, Alexander Frazar of Merryville, (father of Dr. J. D Frazar of this city) and W. J Slaydon of near Singer. They were to complete the road from Nibletts Bluff to Sugartown and that; another crew would take charge from there on. Among this crew was Irion Davis, an uncle of C. C. Davis, ex-mayor of the city of DeRidder. This crew constructed the road to near Hinston in Rapides Parish where still another crew took charge and finished the road to Alexandria. This work was done mostly by soldiers, what few slave owners lived near the road furnished their male slaves to help in the work. All of the parties mentioned in the construction of this road had descendants and relatives in Beauregard and adjoining parishes.
For many years after the war this military road was the only road in Beauregard Parish. It entered the parish near the Southwest corner and run diagonally through the parish, entering what is now Allen Parish less than a mile from the Northeast corner of the Beauregard Parish line. The old Spanish Trail being to the South, the Nolen Trail North and crossing at Burr’s Ferry and the Natchez Trail still further North crossing the Sabine River at Pendleton’s. These old traces with the exception of the military road through our parish are now either paved or graveled highways. This old military road would be an important road if opened up and I think it a patriotic duty of the citizens of this section to see that this road is opened up for two reasons, first, it is badly needed and, second, from the sentimental standpoint.
From the first settlement in this country until after the close of the Civil War, say forty-five years, every thing that was used for food, clothing, and farm and other implements were manufactured entirely at home. I have mentioned the cotton gin and syrup mill. We also had grist mills, rope works and a hide tanning yard. This tanning yard was located about two miles Southeast of Sugartown on the bank of Sugar Creek, its location is visible even today. It was operated by two Pollard brothers, both of whom have descendants in this parish. Every farm house had a spinning wheel and a loom for weaving cloth. The ladies had a system they call single slaying which they used when manufacturing goods for Sunday wear. All cooking was done on an open fireplace with skillets, pots, and ovens, there being no cook stoves in that day, nor were there sewing machines other conveniences that we have today. About the year 1870 merchants began to keep manufactured cloth for ladies and a rough jeans for men’s pants. Between 1875 and 1880 ready-made clothing appeared on the market for the first time. How times have changed during the last 110 years. I would like to return in about 100 years now to note the changes due to take place during that time.
Until about the year 1880 very little had been done in the way of education. About that time people were beginning to think about education. People had had thoughts in regard to education previous to this time but the Civil War had caused them to discontinue their plans and together with all sections of the South practically everything had been destroyed, and the impoverishment of the people had caused them to forget everything except to try and obtain the bare necessities of life, therefore, the education of the youth of the South had been delayed about 20 years. In December 1879 there came this way one W. H. Baldwin, formerly of Columbia University, who established what was known as the Sugartown Male and Female Academy, which he taught for two years. The length of the school term was 10 months. This school was the beginning of the present educational system of Southwest Louisiana. In this school were enrolled many pupils from adjoining parishes and many from East Texas. Some of the students came from Lake Charles, Alexandria, Sulphur, and even as far north as Mansfield. From Texas they came as far as Liberty and Angeline counties.
During the two years that this school operated more young people were turned out that have made good, than from any other one-room school in this or any other state (in my opinion), but for this man’s weakness for strong drink, there is no telling what Baldwin could and would have accomplished in the way of education. I will mention here a few who went out from this school that have made good, most of them with no education other than what they got in this one-room school.
Dr. S. M. Lyons of Sulphur, who served in Calcasieu Parish as Assessor one term, and was representing his parish in the State Legislature at the time of his death, only a few years ago. B. H. Lyons of Leesville, who served one term in the State Senate, from Rapides Parish, and one term as Sheriff of Vernon Parish. J. J. Hicks, deceased, of Leesville, served two terms as Clerk of Court in Vernon Parish. Dr. D. S. Perkins of Calcasieu Parish, and for many years was president of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, at present a prominent physicial (physician) of Sulphur, Louisiana. Mayo Moore, present Registrar of Voters of Beauregard Parish. P. E. Moore, deceased, twice Clerk of Court of Allen Parish. Dan Moore, deceased prominent physician. Joseph Moore, deceased, served two terms as District Attorney, Fourteenth Judicial District of Louisiana, and one term as United States District Attorney, from the Western District of Louisiana, with headquarters in Shreveport. E. J. Iles, Chief of Police two terms, Alexandria, Louisiana. Rev. Jeptha Hamilton, deceased, Missionary to Brazil, where he died with yellow fever. Rev. D. L. Hamilton, brother of Jeptha, and who succeeded his brother in Brazil, who has been in that country for more than thirty-five years. Dr. George Lyons, prominent physician of DeQuincy. Dr. Hardy Phillips, deceased, of Glenmore, Louisiana. Dr. Ed. Arrington of Lufkin, Texas.
In addition to the above office holders and professional men, I will mention a few successful business men, farmers and stockmen, viz: J. L Lyons, retired lumberman of Beaumont, Texas; E. J. Fairchild of Vinton, Louisiana; Ed Pringle of Chaneyville, Burrell Cooley of Singer, Louisiana; Jeff Cagle of Merryville, Louisiana; J. M. McDonald, Capitalist of DeRidder, Louisiana.; Henderson Perkins, deceased, for many years with Union Sulphur Company, Sulphur, Louisiana; and many others.
In my opinion, this is a record that few, if any, one-room schools can equal in the space of two years. In addition to the men mentioned above, there were a number of lady teachers turned out by this school. I might add that previous to this, no lady had ever taught school in this vicinity. Mrs. Mollie Iles nee Richardson, and myself were pupils in this school and in addition to being pupils were also assistant teachers.
In the pioneer days there was no artificial method of lighting other than a pine knot fire or the tallow candle. There was no such thing as matches. Fire was kept burning all the time, and if by chance you lost your fire, it was rekindled by striking a large flint with a piece of steel, the sparks falling on the scorched cotton and gun powder, which was kept in all homes. There were other methods, but this one was used most. Fire arms were exploded by flint and steel instead of percussion caps or cartridges, as now.
Alexandria, Louisiana, was the trade center of all this territory and of several of the east Texas Counties.
From the Sugartown country, it took about 8 days to make the trip further west. Today, we make the round trip in about 6 hours.
I have already stated that Sugartown was the first Anglo-Saxon settlement west of the Calcasieu River, but I only mentioned a few names. I will mention a few more here, and no one has been mentioned, or will be mentioned who came to this community after the outbreak of the Civil War.
Among the early settlers not already mentioned in the Sugartown Community were the following:
Singletons, Pughs, House, Tylers, Siglers, Farris, Baggett, Hamiltons, Farquhar, Watson, Talbert, Akins, Garlingtons, Houston, Foster, Butler, Andrews, Stovall, Burrough, Johnson, Askew, Ellis, Williamson, Sneed, May, Colvin, Simons, Perkins, Trull, Nolen, Barrington, Wells, Blocker, Cain, Atkinson, Moses, Reed, Jordan, Sprouse, Hill, McCullough, Layton, Massie, Jetter, Beeson, Stracener, Morros, Spencer, Armstrong, McDonald, Moore, Lanier, Deason, Gill, Alverson, DeRamus, Clifton, Turner, Horton, Dowes, O’Quin, Davis, Wiliford, Welch, Maddox, Hughes, Stalsby, Rush, Skinner, Dickens, Smith, Brazile, Ward, Cooley, Bowlin, Willis, Lewis, Brownlee, Glasgow, Mask, Sears, Hall, William Jones.
William Jones came to Sugartown in May 1859. There were many others who I do not now recall.
The first Masonic Lodge in all the territory west of the Calcasieu River was organized at Shilo, where Shilo Baptist church now stands, in about 1868 to 1870. It was later removed to Sugartown. All of the charter members are now dead.
I might mention that every effort possible is being made by a few people to have the War Department place a suitable marker at the two sites of Historic points near here, Niblett’s Bluff in Calcasieu Parish and Burr’s Ferry in Vernon Parish. I understand that both have been approved by the war department, and they probably will be erected soon.
If there is anything else you wish to know about the old times and old timers in this vicinity, see me privately and I will tell you if I know, and if I do not know, you might see my good colored friend John Towner, sometimes known as John Isriel, an ex-slave who is the best informed person now living as to the pioneers of this country. If neither I nor John can tell you, you will not likely ever secure the information.
Now from this short history that I have given you of this Parish and sections of adjoining parishes and noting the progress that has been made though slow, since the days of the log cabin and its accomplishments, let us take courage and go forward to greater achievements. But let us not forget to honor the memory of the heroic band of pioneers who wrought so well, and by their achievements made it possible for us to have the comforts we now have; and for the sacrifices that they made to make Beauregard Parish one of the best communities of the United States in which to live and rear a family.
PEACE TO THEIR ASHES, AND HONOR TO THEIR MEMORY.
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