Southwest Louisiana
Home ] Up ] Isaac Ryan ] Rev. John August Tubbe ] David Choate, Jr. ] James B. Likens ] Lewis S. Owings ] Thomas Deye Owings ] Samuel P. Henry ] Dr. Arrel Pye ] Pradelles ] Brothers ] Sailboats ] Jaguar ] Skull Island ] Black Cat ] Bear Hunters ] Boundary ] Immigrants ] Shooting ] Big Cat ] Confederate flag ] Slave Trade ] Whale ] Texas Germanic Heritage ] Creative Writing ] William A. Fletcher ] Wild Family ] Early Newspapers ] Bolivar Peninsula ] A Killer's Trail of Thread ] Slave Lucy ] Opelousas Trail ] [ Southwest Louisiana ] Stuart ] Black Panthers ] German Pilgrims ]

 

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA HISTORY FOUND IN BEAUMONT ENTERPRISE

By W. T. Block

In conjunction with the microfilm of the American Press, the Southwest Louisiana historian may wish to consider microfilm of Beaumont Enterprise as an additional source. For many years a Lake Charles column appeared in it daily. Beginning about 1904, the latter kept two reporters in Louisiana, one in Lake Charles, and "Prof. Hallock," its roving reporter, on the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The following record comes from sources that were published on the dates which appear:

"Oakdale, July 13, 1905--In 1890 the first building was erected on the site of Oakdale, then known as Dunnville, by Mr. W. T. Dunn, who owned the site as a homestead. In 1893 the Watkins (St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern) came in and the name was changed to Oakdale. Its growth began in 1896 and it now numbers 500 inhabitants. The main factors in its growth are the sawmills of Industrial Lumber Co. These mills are each a mile distant, and many of the employees reside here.... Geographically, it is located in Calcasieu Parish (later Allen), 59 miles from Lake Charles.

"In 1893 a building was erected to be used as a college. The college was never a realization, but it was used as a private school for two years, and since then for a public school. The school has two departments, which were taught last year by Prof. T. J. Hargrove and Miss Nona Bryan. The enrollment is 150, and the term of school was nine months. There are three church organizations - the Catholic, with Fr. Cramer from Lake Charles; the Baptist, Rev. H. F. Killon, pastor; and Methodist, Rev. King, missionary from Lake Charles. The Baptists have a flourishing Sunday School of 50 pupils, with W. R. Hargrove, superintendent....

"This place has ten stores , a livery stable, and two hotels, and is the trading point of a wide scope of country... This year one car load of Irish potatoes was shipped, and next year there will be a large acreage of this tuber planted. Considerable cotton was marketed, and the clip of wool reached 8,000 pounds this year. Considerable cattle are raised and sold to drovers. Land in this vicinity sells at from $10 to $25 an acre. There are several fraternal orders, namely, Yellow Pine Masonic Lodge #282, Henry Leggett, W. M.; Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Industrial Lodge #97, Clint Rigsby, N. G.; Woodmen of The World, O. J. Miller, C. C.; and the Women's Circle, Mrs. O. J. Miller, guardian... Saturday night was the installation of officers of Industrial Lodge #97, which was organized in 1900 and has 42 members....

"Mr. W. A. Stovall is one of the few survivors of the Mexican War... At age 16 he enlisted in the 2nd Mississippi Volunteers and served under Gen. Taylor... At the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted in Co. C, 7th Mississippi... He settled in Calcasieu Parish in 1892, engaging in the sawmill business. At present he is proprietor of the Stovall Hotel in Oakdale... Dr. J. F. Love, DDS, attended New Orleans Dental College. He has a large practice in Oakdale. Dr. J. D. Stalsby was born and reared in Calcasieu Parish... He attended Mobile Medical College... Dr. E. L. Clough, physician of Industrial Lumber Co., has a fine fruit farm of 30 acres....

"There is considerable sickness from malaria at present... A long distance phone line has been installed, which will prove a great convenience. The storm of Saturday night put the telegraph out of commission... Oakdale is a dry town. "Nothin' doing in the booze line, but the boys will draw in a long breath when the wind blows north from Oberlin.....

"DeRidder, Nov. 19, 1904--This is a comparatively new town and a creation of the Kansas City Southern Railroad. It is about 8 years old, and has reached 2,500 population. It is the center of an excellent farming country, and one of the largest wool centers in Louisiana, over 125,000 pounds being shipped out this year. As yet the boll weevil has not been particularly troublesome. So far this year, 100 bales of cotton have beeen marketed, and there are at least 300 bales yet to come in. DeRidder will be the market for nearly 50,000 head of sheep. A large amount of ribbon cane has been raised and hundreds of barrels of molasses will be made....

"The Hudson River Lumber Co. has a sawmill with a capacity of 150,000 feet daily, and it has a large acreage of standing timber... There are 625 square miles tributary to DeRidder in the way of trade. Seven large general stores bear witness to that... The fire of March 18 was not an unmitigated evil since fire brick buildings are now taking the places of the shacks that were. An elegant $10,000 school house with a corps of six teachers furnishes every opportunity in the educational line. The Masons and Odd Fellows each have fine halls and a large membership. Religious services are held each Sunday by the Methodists and Baptists....

"The Sante Fe is on the eve of building through here, the terminal being Kirbyville, Texas, and Alexandria, with a tap running to Leesville and south to Carson... An ice plant of large capacity is one of the industries. Electric light has been put in use in part of the town, and in the near future will be in general use. There is a bank here, which is a solid institution....

"The future of this town is assured, and that fact is appreciated by outsiders who are coming in daily with a view to investment... During the month of October (1904), 280 cars of lumber were shipped out. Considerable cotton came in today. The prices range from 9 to 10 cents a pound... The Nelson hotel is deservedly popular with the traveling public....

"There is an iron foundry which is prepared to turn out castings of all kinds... The DeRidder Foundry and Repair Co. Ltd. is incorporated for $20,000. The present plant represents $8,000 (investment), and is well-equipped for any work required here. When running full-time, it employs ten men. J. W. Terry is president; D. L. Peyton, manager; L. Sessions, secretary; they will complete the plant soon.....

"Merryville, Nov. 2, 1907; May 1, 1908--For a year past, Merryville has been on a boom. Hundreds rushed here, and the town was filled with scores of transients who came without any object in mind. These, as a matter of course, 'faded away,' but their places are taken by a 'go-ahead' class of citizens...

"Notwithstanding, many new buildings have been erected, and the end is not yet in sight. As in the case of all Western Louisiana towns, the sawmill industry supports it... Fifty years ago, there were settlements in this vicinity, and much of the adjacent territory has been farmed for years...

"A $12,000, two-story school building, size 64'x76 feet, has just been completed. Seven school rooms, auditorium, office and library are located on both floors. Prof. L. L. Squires of Lake Charles has been selected for school principal...

"A fine new Baptist church, size 236'x66 feet, has just been completed, capacity 300 persons. A private telephone system has just been added, and Clara McCall has just opened a millinery store in the Windham building. First National Bank of Merryville opened on Oct. 1, 1907, with $30,000 subscribed capital, in a new building at the intersection of the town's main streets.....

(In 1907, there were four principal sawmills at Merryville, namely, C. L. Smith mill, capacity 50,000 feet daily; Baxter mill, 15,000 feet; J. E. M. Hennigan combination mill, 15,000 feet; and Sabine River mill, 30,000 feet daily.)

"Fisher, Mar. 5, Aug. 5, 1905; Jan. 12, 1908--This company has at this place one of the finest lumber propositions in Louisiana... This is one of two mills owned by 4-L (Louisiana Long Leaf), the other being at Victoria, Louisiana...

"No expense has been spared in the equipment... The office is a model as to arrangement and contains a fine vault. One is struck with the quiet that pervades as he realizes the enormous business that is being transacted... The commissary is conveniently arranged and carries a well-selected stock of goods...

"The Fisher Hotel, belonging to the company and managed by -- Stervant, leaves nothing to be desired as a caravansary (inn). It is known to all the traveling public as he best between Beaumont and Shreveport. A handsome church and school house along modern lines are a part of the plant. The whole place is brilliantly lighted by electricity...

"With its new hardwood mill, oak and ash flooring are one of the company's products. This company has recently erected at Fisher, La. a hardwood mill known as No. 2. The other mill, known as No. 1, is used for sawing long leaf yellow pine. This new mill is undoubtedly the finest hardwood mill in the state. It is located 1 1/2 miles west of the old mill, and its dimensions are 46 by 176 feet, two stories high. It has a daily capacity of 65,000 feet....."

"Ludington (1 1/2 mi. N. DeRidder), Nov. 19, 1904; Feb. 13, May 7, June 25, Nov. 19, 1905--The Ludington sawmill is the only mill in West Louisiana that has two double-cutting bandsaws. A 48" Goldings and Lewis gang saw will be installed at once... Friday is what the boys call "good Friday" (payday), which comes every other Friday...This will throw in into circulation $30,000 {Note: Ludington paid its employees twice monthly in currency, not mill checks.}...

"The Ludington mills are models in every particular... In an incredibly short time, they have transformed a very large area of pine forest into a perfectly laid-out and well-built village. Sewers and water extend to every house and the grounds are beautifully laid out. Arrangements have been perfected for the erection of a handsome school building and a church...

"A magnificent road is being built to DeRidder, 1 1/4 miles distant, where the three fine autos of the city of Ludington can be used... The fact that Bon Ami, DeRidder, and Ludington being only 4 miles apart, and DeRidder its central point, with its fine Ford's Opera House, makes it especially pleasant...

"The town is beautifully laid out, every provision having been made for water and sewerage. Arc and incandescent lights render the streets brilliant at night, and good sidewalks make all parts of town easy of access in all kinds of weather. A post office has been installed... A park has been laid out for shade and ornamental trees... Ludington boast a first class baseball team....

"Pickering, Jan. 1, 1905--Pickering, a town of 2,000 inhabitants, is situated in Vernon Parish... All the interests of the town center around W. R. Pickering Lumber Co., for it was that company that created it...

"Its sawing capacity if 200,000 feet. It has two single-cutting band saws, and one Curtis-Dixie circular saw, 15 planers, and 2 edgers. It has just completed four fine brick dry kilns, capacity 150,000 feet...

"It has 8 miles of tram track, four locomotives, and 29 log cars. There are 285 men on the payroll, and to house them requires 162 buildings. The company has a well-appointed dispensary under Dr. J. S. Branch, and a substantial school building. There is a large commissary attached... and a complete system of electric lights and water works are established....

Mansfield, May 30, June 1, 2, Oct. 19, 1908--Mansfield had no sooner been incorporated, which was in 1845, than she had a newspaper... The first paper was the Mansfield Advertiser, Roland Cole, editor. This was followed by the DeSoto Columbian, and it in turn by the Mansfield Eagle, W. F. Bennett, editor. These papers were published before the Civil War...

"The Mansfield Times was then launched by Messrs. Duke and Clarkson, and later the Manfield Reporter by J. T. McClanahan. J. E. Hewitt started the DeSoto Democrat, which will be 18 years old on July 8, 1908. In 1890 McClanahan began the Mansfield Journal, which is the oldest paper in town. In 1894, the Mansfield Progress was first published, which is still in existence. In 1906 Hewitt started the DeSoto Enterprise, which is still being published (1908)...

"The DeSoto Lumber Co. and Central Lumber Co. have large plants and put a large sum of money into circulation The DeSoto Foundry and Machine Shop does a very large business... Mansfield permits no liquors to be sold in its borders....

"Socially Mansfield has the advantage over every town between Beaumont and Shreveport. It is a very old town and has been noted for its culture, refinement, and educational advantages. The Mansfield Female College has been a great factor in promoting educational advancement in all this section. The public schools are the best... and two banks of known stability are in evidence.....

"Fullerton, Apr. 14, Aug. 19, Sept. 22, Nov. 17, 1907; Feb. 27, June 26, 1927; American Lumberman, Nov. 1, 1907, Mar. 17, 1923; Gulf Coast Lumberman, May 15, 1927--This magnificent plant of Gulf Lumber Company is located in Vernon Parish on Sects. 32, 33 of Township 6... The plant has been laid out with the greatest care by a most competent engineer, and when completed... a town of 3,500 people will spring up as if by magic. There will be two immense sawmills, 250 feet apart...

"Seven hundred men will be required to man this plant when both mills are in operation. This will insure for Fullerton a population of 3,500...The stumpage (uncut logs) of this plant is 146,000 acres. This is equivalent to two billion feet and will make its life for thirty years (actually 20 years)....

"Two miles south of Fullerton (at Rustville) is the company's turpentine plant... There are 25 men employed at present, and in a short time, that number will be augmented to 150... A. Badin is superintendent here and John Ginn is assistant superintendent....

"(20 years later) A memorable event took place at Fullerton, La. this morning, May 6, 1927. At that time they ran onto the carriage and turned into lumber the last log of their once great stand of over two billion feet of long leaf trees... The last tree was cut two weeks before the mill closed, then the log pond was drained to obtain the sinker logs... The residents of this town have already begun to scatter over the timber sections of the United States... This town when at its height had a population of 4,000, three churches, a fine high school, one of the largest hotels, an up-to-date hospital, theater, swimming pool, a half dozen stores, and a recreation park..... {The Fullerton sawmill, capacity 450,000 feet, was the largest sawmill west of the Mississippi River, and second only to that at Bogalusa, La. In some instances, the sources mentioned above cover an entire page in Beaumont Enterprise and are much too long to quote at length here. All quotes come from the author's Early Sawmill Towns of The Louisiana-Texas Borderlands, 18 of 20 chapters being devoted solely to Louisiana.}

Copyright 1998-2016 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Block.
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WTBlock