The site where Jena stands today began to attract settlers in 1802 when the HEMPHILL family entered a considerable lock of land and settled about two miles below the present town of Jena. Hemps Creek and post office were named after this family. This beautiful ever-running creek had fertile bottom and hammock lands for cultivation and was an excellent range for both cattle and hogs, with wild game and fish being very abundant.
Later, in the middle 1850s, Benjamin BAKER, assisted by his father, a native of Pennsylvania, built a watermill on Hemps Creek, about three miles below the present town of Jena. The mill was equipped to make corn meal and to gin cotton. Harmon BROWNING opened a general store at the intersection of the Harrisonburg-Alexandria and Summerville-Gelvin Creek roads, at a point now known as WADE Place. Hemps Creek was quickly became a favorite trading stop for the area farmers, and was the site of two general stores and a post office.
The Hemps Creek post office was established in the late 1850s with Isaac L. BAKER as the first postmaster. The mail rider boarded with Mr. BAKER and made alternate weekly trips to Harrisonburg and Alexandria on horseback. In 1869, the first school house was built, and in 1892, the Jena Seminary opened, marking the beginning of secondary education in what is now LaSalle Parish. Mr. James FORSYTHE who came to Hemps Creek in 1861 having subsequently served with distinction in the Confederate Army returned in 1865 and established his home here. He entered the mercantile business with Dr. Jeff EZELL. Being an educated man and having fine qualities of leadership, FORSYTHE was chosen as teacher of Hemps Creek School in 1865, a position he held until 1871.
In 1869, the men of Hemp's Creek built a school house of logs from the nearby forest. The building was a crude structure. Half logs with holes drilled for legs to go into served as benches where the children sat. A description by an unknown author reads,
"The building consisted on one room 24x36 feet. Its log walls battened with handriven laths, its clapboard roof and sandstone chimney, its springy 'puncheon' floor, all of these blended perfectly with its primeval surroundings. Giant beech trees stretched a protecting canopy overhead, majestic longleaf pines, symbols of solemnity and grace, stood as sentinels on the nearby hills; and the cool, crystal waters of Hemps Creek, rippling over white sand and vari-colored pebbles, was the source of drinking water and served as a 'refrigerator' for keeping the students bottles of milk fresh until lunch time. Inside, the 20 to 30 scholars sat on half-logs which were fashioned into benches by inserting legs at an angle in augur holes at their ends. the teacher's homemade desk, and tables with one side fastened to the wall where advanced scholars wrestled with pen and ink aping the flowery shading of Spencerian handwriting from copies set by the teacher, were constructed of hand-planed boards.
After several terms, the citizens built the Jena Seminary, Catahoula High School, almost directly across from Dr. B. L. THOMPSON's place in Old Jena.
In the year of 1871, it was requested from the post office department that “Creek” and “Bayou” be removed from the names of all post offices. Mr. Andrew FORSYTHE from Jena, Illinois, visiting his brother, James FORSYTHE, suggested “Jena, his hometown, which was named for Jena, Germany. Mr. James FORSYTHE submitted this name to the post office department and it was accepted. Thus, the name Jena came from Germany by way of Illinois.
The Louisiana & Arkansas Railroad operated its first train into Jena on December 31, 1893, and on May 1, 1904, the first passenger train arrived. At this time, most of the shops were located in Old or east Jena near where the school stands now. A small hotel was operated nearby, and in 1905, the “Jena Times” newspaper was founded. Around this time, R. B. HODGES was postmaster and the most important shopes were operated by Mr. HODGES, S. B. HANES, and J. H. BRADFORD. John KING operated a small hotel and W. R. COLEMAN ran another hotel called the Star Hotel.
In 1906, W. E. BENTON was appointed Jena's first mayor and Bill FLOYD as Marshall. Mrs. Chris HARPER
(the source says Mrs.) was the Town Clerk. Court records show the young
town had a problem with public drunks. The first ordinance passed by
the town of Jena was for drunk in public. The misdemeanor demands a
penalty of no less than $2.50 and no more than $10. If the defendant
does not pay the fine they would be subject to no less than 3 days and
no more 10 days in jail. Many early ordinances pertained to drunkenness,
gambling, and carrying weapons in a drunken state. Ordinance number 37
outlaws skinny-dipping. Clues to early life also appear in the laws
these citizens passed, such as one that gives a penalty for getting
small-pox and not showing a certificate of good health. Later,
ordinances were passed mandating pay for officials. In 1928, the mayor
was paid $25 while the marshall was paid $125.
On October 2, 1918, Mrs. Lula V. COLEMAN was made a Deputy Sheriff by T. J. DREWETT. It was her opinion that she was the first female sheriff in the United States. On March 28, 1920, she was appointed to head the town administration as mayor, by Governor John M. PARKER. Mrs. COLEMAN has the distinction of being the only woman ever to serve as mayor of Jena, and was the first female to hold the office of mayor in Louisiana and possibly even the United States. [Sources: Town of Jena website; submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
Appointed and Elected Officials of Jena
1906 - 1913/14: Wood E. BENTON
1906 - ?: Mrs. Chris HARPER
1904-?: R. B. HODGES.
Olla is located in the Northeastern corner of LaSalle Parish. Prior to the Civil War, Olla was known as Castor Sulfer Springs and was located on Bayou Castor. The steamboat port at this site brought tourists and visitors from across the country. The area had a post office, general store, hotel, spa, and a dry goods and cotton storage facility.
Castor Sulfer Springs was nationally known and advertised as naturally occurring sulfer muds and springs, known as "Balance Sulfer", with curative powers. Sufferers of gout, arthritis, rheumatism, and other muscle pain or trouble were common visitors. Mr. Perry KEES, charter member of Pine Hill Baptist Church, ran one of the early Inns of Castor Sulpher Springs, where he boasted of the benefits of the curative waters. Board was $1 per day, $16 per month, or rent a cottage room for the day and sleep somewhere else for $0.50. Accomadations were first class in every way. Strict attention was always given to quality and comfort. Which is why Mr. KEES also ran the general store next door.
In 1890, Riley Joe WILSON, established the Olla Military Institute. Among the first faculty members were: Mr. WILSON, Olla MILLS, John Paul JONES, Missy ROBERTSON, Rev. Elijah BRYANT, and Bell MURPHY. The school did well until it was destroyed by fire in 1899. Instead of rebuilding the Military Institute, Olla High School was erected in it's place. In 1950, students began attending the new LaSalle High School. The Olla-Standard Elementary School now sits at the former site of the Olla Military Institute and Olla High School.
In 1891, the Houston, Central Arkansas, and Northern Railroad came through the then Parish of Catahoula, and bought a 200 foot right away for railroad tracks to be run more than a mile from Castor Springs. To keep their town alive, the communittee decided they must build a train station along the new rail tracks for passenger and commercial services. Dr. Frank MILLS, with assistance of Mr. J. D. ADAMS, set aside 40 acres of land for a station and town-site. This transaction was recorded on February 9, 1891.
The new town was to be named "New Castor Sulpher Springs", but this name was declined due to the legislature no longer accepting towns with names including "river, bayou, or creek". Several names were considered, but after much debate, the town was named after Miss Olla MILLS. Miss. MILLS was a very popular community member and english teacher at the Military Institute. She was accomplished and attractive, "dramatically inclined and took part in all constructive community activities." Olla MILLS was the daughter of Dr. Frank MILLS and the sister of Judge W. H. MILLS, who had been residents of Castor Springs for many years
The town of Olla was officially incorporated on August 1, 1899, with Dr. William V. TAYLOR III serving as the first mayor. In 1906, the ZEAGLER family established and erected the Olla State Bank as the cornerstone of the downtown, which was robbed by both the Ernest Gray Gang and the Jimmy Yarrell Gang, on seperate occassions, in the 1930's
Olla is the site of Louisiana's only train hold-up in history. In August of 1910, unknown bandits built a fire on the tracks ahead of a train alledged to hold a large money shipment from St. Louis to New Orleans. When the conductor was forced to stop for the fire, the group ordered him to disconnect the mail and express cars. The express safe was cracked but the money was not on board! The unknown men got away with less than $50.
During the early 1900's, the town enjoyed an economy boost with the building of two large Sawmills. Urania Lumber Company was located just south of Olla and Louisiana Central Lumber Company to the north in Standard. Mr. G. W. MCCARTNEY arranged to bring electric lights and pipes with natural gas to Olla. Later, Mr. Sam Shamblin open a silent movie House. During the 1920's and 30's, the Olla Bottling Works made and distributed numerous flavored carbonated beverages including NuGrape Soda. The bottling company was eventually bought out by Coca-Cola, in Monroe, and since closed down.
In the late 1930's, the sawmills had begun to slow production, the economy was beginning to go downhill. Then in 1938, oil was discovered just outside of town. The Olla Oil Field brought an influx of residents and money into the town.
On November 23, 2004, a tornado that reached F4 strength tore through parts of the town, destroying or damaging a large portion of the buildings, including LaSalle High School. Classes were held in an abandoned sportswear factory, known as Holloway Sportswear, until a new high school was constructed. In 2005, the town played host to many evacuees from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. [submitted by Rachael Hudnall; Sources: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005; Town of Olla Website]
Appointed and Elected Officials of Olla
1899 - ?: William V. TAYLOR III
Tullos, was established in 1893 at a point where a railroad company was operating.
In the late 1890's, Henry E. HARDTNER became interested in the sawmill business which led him to purchase a tract of land and a sawmill just south of present day Urania. The area was not good for workers to live so Mr. HARDTNER selected a space about a mile north of the mill to use for living quarters.
Founded in 1898, this new homesite, because of it's heavenly beauty, was called Urania, after the goddess muse of astronomy. Urania soon evolved from a small sawmill to one of the nation's largest sawmill operations, sending it's products around the world.
Mr. HARDTNER's passion for his business and preserving the environment led him to experiment with improved logging methods, cutting practices, and reforestation. HARDTNER's was the first lumbermill to begin reforestation of cut areas which is now standard practice across the country.
The first school in Urania was The Missionary Ridge School formed around 1870 in conjunction with a church at the current site of the Urania Cemetery. The second school in Urania was built about 1906 at Maxwell Springs about 300 yards behind the current Junior High School. Another school in Urania was built about 1906 as well and was located across the street from where the Junior High now is. This school was used until 1925 and later converted into 4 apartments until it was demolished about 1940. The next school was built in 1925 and taught grades 1-12 until 1950, when LaSalle High School was built for 9th-12th grade students. This school was still used for grades 1-8 until about 1958.
According to the Jena Times, no records of early Antioch are available. However, 2 unnamed former pupils at Antioch School recall that Mr. A. L. PLUMMER taught during the 1882 school year in the back of the Antioch Baptist Church. The Church, at best recollection of the former students, was a small frame building that appeared to be an old house. Antioch is now a free Methodist Church.
Prominent names in early Antioch: CHAPMAN, AINSWORTH, COWART, REEVES, WILBANKS, FRANCIS, WESTBROOKS, POOLE, KIRKLAND, MASTERS, COCKERHAM
[submitted by Rachael Hudnall; Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005]
Belah - Fellowship
Before the area of Belah was Belah, it was known as Piney Woods. Piney Woods was home to many of the local Choctaw. The name Belah, comes from a Choctaw word, "bila", meaning "greasy". The earliest homesteaded settlers came from the east. Many from Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. This was a farming community. The early residents cut down nearly all the trees to replace with crops. So many in fact, that neighbors could see each other across their fields. What food the family grew but didn't need was fed to livestock. Blackberries grew wild along the road sides and creeks, helping to suppliment whatever food needs may arise. When families needed money, it was easy enough to find work cutting the local timber and hauling it to one of the many mills nearby. Women worked hard at home. Milking cows, tending chickens, cooking, cleaning, and raising many children. The Belah-Fellowship community got its beginnings in the 1840's when the Methodists and Baptist joined together in building the first church known as Masters Chapel. The log building was used by both groups until the Baptists built the Fellowship Baptist Church in 1849, near where it currently stands. Both churches were used as school houses with A. L. PLUMMER teaching at both.
Early pastors at Belah Church include: Jesse J. MASTERS, J. J. ARNOLD, H. C. CANTLEY, W. T. METHVIN, and John M. STROZIER.
Prominent names of early Belah-Fellowship: WINDHAM, GRAY,
TAYLOR, STROZIER, ROSIER, GANEY, PARKER, CURTIS, MORGAN, MASTERS,
METHVIN, BECK, HUMBLE, STANLEY, MITCHELL, WEAKER, HARRIS, BROWN,
THOMPSON [Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005; -submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
In the early 1850's, brothers, Phineas Q. and Samuel WHATLEY settled, as neighbors, on Trout Creek. After some time as successful farmers, they each, seperately, owned a general store. After Phineas had died, his sons, James M. and Phineas W. WHATLEY, also opened stores in Eden. James M. WHATLEY also served as the first postmaster.
Samuel's sons also became merchant-farmers. The brothers: Joseph, Samuel Jr., and William WHATLEY, owned and operated the first steam mill in this part of the parish. By the 1880's, Eden was an important trading post.
Eden Methodist Church: GELVIN, WHATLEY, WIGGINS
Prominent names of early Eden: WHATLEY, WIGGINS, GELVIN, GRAY, VOLENTINE, TOVERY, GREER, DAYTON, TURNLEY, RILEY, THOMAS [Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005; submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
Good Pine is an unincorporated area of Jena, just west of town. There are two building on the National Register of Historic Places: Good Pine Lumber Company & Good Pine Middle School. In the early twentieth century, LaSalle Parish's lumbering was important to the area's economy. There were 3 lumber companies operating in the parish during this time period: Trout Creek Lumber Company in Trout est. 1905, Good Pine Lumber Company in Good Pine est. 1906, and the Tall Timber Lumber Company of Good Pine est. 1913. All three of these mills were owned by William BUCHANAN. In 1906, when the Good Pine Lumber Company was established, BUCHANAN had the offices built in the heart of the industrial area. Once Tall Timbers was created, the two companies began to share office space at the Good Pine Lumber Company Building. They continued to share the space until 1935 when the Good Pine sawmill burned down and operations ceased. Tall Timbers used the space for offices until 1941 when the mill was towrn down. The Good Pine Lumber Company Building is presently owned by the LaSalle Museum Association, whose members are currently transforming it into a parish museum.
As the early settlers on Catahoula Lake and those on Hemp's Creek, began to spread out, a mid point between the two villages began to develop. Nebo began as a settlement on and around Deville's Creek as a logical meeting place. The residents here formed the first church on August 18, 1855, when the following individuals were baptised by Elder William J. LACEY, an ordained minister and missionary of the Ouachita Baptist Association:
John W. ADAMS, John W. POUNDS, Willia A. J. ODOM, Lucinda SALYERS, Elvira SCOTHORN, Nancy MATTHEWS, Matilda SCOTHORN
The following day, the church held it's first meeting where Bro. Willia A. J. ODOM was elected clerk and W. J. LACY suggested the name of Mt. Nebo. As for Sunday School, Moses WALKER was Superintendent with Dempsey ODOM as assistant.
Mt. Nebo Church; names other than those listed above: WIGGINS, THOMPSON, WATSON, CORLEY, BROOKS, YULE, FERRILL, NETHERLAND, GRAHMAN, YOUNG, MITCHELL, WILSON, ALLEN, RAY
As with most other churches at the time, school was also held in the same building. The first Nebo school was taught by "professor" Lias WILLIAMS, with no record of his immediate successor. Between WILLIAMS and 1900, other teachers for the school were: Solomon GOODWIN, T. W. ROBERTSON, Mosie BROWNING, and A. L. PLUMMER. Nebo school was the first school district in Louisiana to vote taxes for maintenance and support.
Prominent names in early Nebo not listed above: HUDNALL, COON, BIGNAR, SANDERS, HAILEY, PAUL, HUDSPETH, ADAMS, WISHUM, WEBB, TAYLOR
* NOTE: Willia A. J. ODOM is spelled this way twice in the same article. To the best of my knowledge the spelling is not in error.
* NOTE: Surname LACEY/LACY is spelled both ways in the article.
Elder William J. LACEY could be the same as W. J. LACY who suggest the
[submitted by Rachael Hudnall; Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005]
Catahoula Prairie's first general store was opened in 1807 by Oliver MORGAN and John HENRY at Rhinehardt's (the "d" later dropped) Steamboat Landing on the northern bank of Old River. People traveled 20 miles or more to visit MORGAN & HENRY's place, seeing as it was the only one between Harrisonburg and Alexandria. A bill of sale listing a yearly supply for Mr. James WHITE is written about in The Jena Times, March 23, 2005 100th year anniversary edition:
"The following bill of goods was bought from this store on March 6, 1807, by James WHITE, a farmer and trapper who at that time was considered "well fixed"" 52 1/2 lbs. coffee, $32.06 1/2; 102 lbs. sugar, $20.37 1/2; 1 demi john gin, $10.00; 21 lbs. shot, $7.87 1/2; 13 lbs. lead, $3.25; 6 lbs chocolate, $3.75; 3 yds. blue guinea, $2.11; 1 bu. Salt, $2.50; 1 caret tobacco, $1.00; 2 bottles wine."
The Rhinehart Post Office now sits unused near the corner of Hwy. 84 and 8. [Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005; submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
Summerville got it's humble beginnings as a trading post. An abundunce of shade trees, fresh water, fish, and natural food sources made this area a convienent stop for both pioneers traveling west from Georgia and the Carolinias as well as Choctaw indians making their way from Mississippi to the territories of the west. As of a few years ago, the L. M. DAVIS and I. R. ADAMS homes still stood as a reminder to those by-gone days. For a time period during the Great Migration, Summerville boasted the largest trading post between Harrisonburg and Natchitoches. The beech trees around Mill and Chickasaw Creeks offered a shady retreat for weary travelers crossing the country with ox pulled wagons.
Summerville was a favorite camp site for the Choctaw Indians who were making the way, by foot, from Mississippi to Oklahoma. Often, they would camp for the entire winter. Chickasaw and Funny Louis Creeks offered a plethora of wildlife and game to hunt. The braves were skilled hunters and would often trade meats they had dried into jerky and their high quality hides at the Summerville post. The Choctaw's skill at dressing hides for leather and basket weaving was unmatched by the local residents.
For people in the Jena area, Summerville was the only trading post that could be reached in a single day. Seeing as the immediate surrounding is all farm lands, one would only go to town for the things that couldn't be made on the home farm. The average merchant stocked items such as: flour, sugar, coffee, ammunition, domestics, shoes, salt, cooking utensils, and farm tools. Merchants stocked their stores with goods from Harrisonburg, hauled on wagons and pulled by oxen.
According to lore, General Robert E. LEE once stayed the weekend with Rev. John Allen DAVIS and his family in Summerville. There's no available evidence to support the famillys' claim but the story is so much part of their history that it is not questioned.
The Summerville Church started out as The Summerville Wesleyan Society. The Society met in members' houses for congregation. Once their number reached a minumum amount and they established a building, the first pastor of what was then Funny Louis Church, was Rev. Lorenzo DOW, an enthusiastic Methodist and prominent Church figure in central and north Louisiana.
DOW, NOLLEY, TAYLOR, YANCEY
Mrs. Martha Anne DAVIS, formerly MORRIS, was Summerville's first public school teacher. Mrs. DAVIS was educated in a girls finishing school in Virginia and was considered very well educated. Mrs. DAVIS had been previously running a private school in her shop free of charge. Her reasoning, in her words, were, "I couldn't stand to see worthy children growing up in ignorance." Mrs. Davis was thought of very highly. As the story goes: While home alone, with Mr. DAVIS away serving in the Confederate Army, a troupe of jayhawkers rode to her house to demand goods. Her answer was a resounding musket shot which took off the leader's hat.
Today, Summerville is little more than a fond memory. The Summerville Post Office gave way to rural mail service. The school house consolidated to Jena, the shops closed and relocated downtown. Summerville still remains a religious center and is home to the Free Methodist Conference where ministers are appointed to churches across Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia. [submitted by Rachael Hudnall; Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005]
Around 1895, William BUCHANAN, of Stamps, Arkansas, rode into what was then Catahoula Parish, by horseback. The lumber tycoon was in search virgin yellow pine he remembered from a previous trip to the area. Trout was abound with creeks, which was absolutely necessary for a lumber mill to function and BUCHANAN stationed his mill in the center of miles of longleaf pine timber. The mill was named as Trout Creek Lumber Company after Trout Creek which was probably named by J. P. WARD when he developed the White Sulpher Springs area around 1830. Construction of the new mill began in 1903. The orignal plan was that it would take 70 years to cut out the forests.
The milling process had to be established first. Without it, lumber would not be available to build houses and businesses for laborers. Mr. Herbert N. TANNEHILL initiated the mill construction with a loan from the L & A Railroad, which was also owned by William BUCHANAN.
Daily train transportation for incoming equipment and outgoing goods was a must for town to be profitable. The train depot was the first building erected in Trout and some days it sent 3 trains south, to Paxton, where it met the Southern Pacific line running from Kansas City to New Orleans.
The mill itself was completed in 1904 with the following principle owners being: William BUCHANAN; his brother, J. A. BUCHANAN; brother-in-law, W. T. FERGUSON; Thomas BROWN and his brother William BROWN. William's brother, J. A. BUCHANAN was named the mill manager and Sam FINLEY and Jim KITCHENS were brought on to operate the mill. Soon after, in the spring of 1905, two men named MASTERS and WARNER started logging opertations with the first tree falling on March 1st.
When the Trout Creek Lumber Company opened the company store, Ned KISER, was the store manager; Charley NORTH was the office manager, Mr. BABSTUBNER, a Swede from Wisconsin, was the mill foreman; Ben EZELL was deputy sheriff. The Trout Post Office was established in the back of the store and Miss. TUCKER was the Post Mistress; Dr. I. N. ADAMS, the first company doctor, and Mr. W. S. ELLARD, from Stamps, Arkansas, as the log scaler. 15 short months later, the entire operation caught fire and burned to the ground. About 4 months later, the mill was back in production.
60 houses were built for white residents whose only condition was that "the breadwinner" was to work at the mill. A company house with electricity cost $5.00 per month. Houses ranged from standard for $3.00 to the most expensive at $10.00. Eventually the village grew to 108 homes, a company store, a Masonic lodge, a Methodist church, and a combination Doctor's office and barbershop, a U. S. Post Office and a hotel. John CASEY constructed a Methodist Church in 1906 with W. F. ROBERTS as first pastor. Colored quarters where located opposite the mill and included 108 homes along with a hotel. All homes were based on the same floor plan; 1 story, 12 ft. walls, and shotgun style with a single hallway down the center from front door out the back. All houses faced the road and backed against an alley with an outhouse in the back. The colored quarters dwellings were painted a dull red.
In 1907, the first school house was built on a hill. The Superintendent is named as J. P. A. WHATLEY. The first teacher was Commodore WALTERS. Trout also got a 2nd company doctor this year, Dr. T. M. BUTLER, of Centerville (Summerville). Mr. LYNN was the office manager of the Lumber Company from 1907-1908, when Charley NORTH returned. When Mr. NORTH again left the mill, he was replaced by O. F. WYMAN.
In 1909 and about a mile north of where town would soon appear, a turpentine distillery was built. BUCHANAN interests operated the distillery until it was no longer economically feasible to do so. J. A. BUCHANAN retired in 1910 and W. J. BUCHANAN took over as manager. In 1912, the masonic lodge began showing movies for a brief time. Abot 1923, William BUCHANAN died. Less than 1 month before the Stock Market Crash, on Saturday, October 5, 1929, the Trout Creek Lumber Company closed ceased operations. [Source: The Jena Times; Jack Morgan Willis; submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
Part 1 of 3
White Sulphur Springs, LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, is a quiet spot on a map that is only known by name as a landmark to the passerby. There are many stories that have been told about this “Woodsy Nest” located on La. Hwy 8 near Trout Creek and Little River, about 10 miles southwest of Jena. The 100-year-old gazebo that now stands is the last reminder of a historical site once full of life’s activities, “good and bad”. Volumes could and have been written, most without documentation.
Early writers wrote scores of “hearsays” about the origin and the life surrounding the almost forgotten legacy of time. I have been fascinated in the true facts concerning this remarkable spring for years. So to get it all in one writing is impossible. What was the first known name given to this area?
Fact #1: Buffalo Springs is listed on some early 1830-40 Catahoula Parish maps for this area of Trout Creek where White Sulphur Springs abides. According to “A Grant Parish History” written by Louis R. Nardin, Sr., the buffalo each fall of the year made their annual fall migration, out of the Great Plains area of the present United States through Oklahoma they passed, and in Texas at the Trinity River, they turned eastward. The buffalo being a large and heavy beast left a well-marked trail, past the present day areas of Nacogdoches, San Augustine, and Milam in Texas. They crossed the Sabine River into Louisiana and then past the area of Many, Natchitoches, fording the Red River there, then near Montgomery. They crossed the stream of water, later to be called Rigolet de Bon Diev, past Verda, Dry Prong, Bentley and Pollock, in Grant Parish. Then they crossed Little River headed past Jena, Jonesville, to the Ferriday-Vidalia area near the Mississippi River. Many parts of the herds of buffalo spread out to graze on the prairies and lakes, which grew lush grass, especially around the Catahoula Lake area in Louisiana.
The Old Buffalo Trail that was formed near the Trinity River in Texas to Natchitoches, became known as the “El Camino Real” and from Natchitoches to Vidalia, that portion of the Buffalo Trail became known as the Natchitoches to Natchez Trace.
Indians were very dependent on the buffalo migration and were able to use the buffalo for sources of meat and utilize the hides for shelter from the cold. Also, bones could be constructed into tools. The virgin timber along the trails made it easier to kill the buffalo, which also made it a necessity to live near the trails and streams that were plentiful for fish and game.
Fact #2: The family records of Luman PHELPS list his birth as 1804 at Union Town, Jefferson, Mississippi. His death is listed Oct. 21, 1849 at Buffalo Springs, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.
Fact #3: Joseph P. WARD was not listed on the Catahoula Parish, La. census for 1830 or 1840.
Fact #4: Joseph P. Ward made his first purchase from Archibald and Julia WHATLEY, 1848, #00029, Bk 1, Page 108, LaSalle Parish Clerk of Court. Description of land purchased ¼ of S ½ NW Sec. 9-7N-2E.
Fact #5: Joseph P. WARD was listed on the 1850 Catahoula Parish, La. census, dated Aug. 19, 1850. This is the household as listed on the 1850 census: 178-182: Joseph P. WARD, 33, M, Merchant, N.C.; Mary A, 32, F, S.C.; William WORTH, 13, M, FLA; Goma WEBB, 25, M, N.C.; and Lemon ELSUS, 17, M, Germany. Several of WARD’s neighbors were also merchants as well as other occupations, such as planters, teachers, a blacksmith, mechanic, woodchopper, and a steamboat captain.
Fact #6: by the late 1840’s-1850’s, the new name of White Sulphur Springs had been adopted and placed on the Catahoula map. WARD and others had a vision for White Sulphur Springs Resort and a trading post sprung up.
Part 2 of 3
Part two of our series of Buffalo/White Sulphur Springs, LaSalle Parish, Louisiana, turns our attention to the many named springs that were flowing freely during the 1800’s and unto the remnant we see today. As already stated, Joseph P. WARD purchased land in 1848 (Sec9-7N-2E). Others who came early were Captain Michael WELCH, Rapides Parish native, H.L.C. SUTTON, EVANS brothers, Thomas and Henry.
Joshua KORN, a blacksmith in the 1850 Catahoula census, purchased in a sheriff’s sale, “Trout Creek Saw and Grist Mill” on April 5, 1851. This purchase came with all improvements, 80 acres of land and even some personal items of Andrew W. BASS deceased. No price was stated. This record can be found in the LaSalle Parish Clerk of Court’s office, Bk 1, Page 122.
Captain Michael WELCH owned hundreds of acres near Trout Creek as did Joseph P. WARD. It looked like those times were very good between the mid 1850’s and 1860 Catahoula census. This time zone shown WARD worth $10,000 in real estate and $10,000 personal estate. But in the mid-1860’s and after the Civil War, nearly everything fell apart. The Geographical Survey of Captain Samuel H. LOCKETT, gives a very poor description of Mrs. WARD, who was a widow by July 6, 1869, when LOCKETT wrote about his experience of trying to buy provisions from her run down store.
Also, Dan SHAW, who had the saloon at the time, was full of stories but his saloon that had 1 barrel of whiskey and only a dozen bottles of Ale, told the “real truth” about his so-called enterprise. He might average one customer a day. Most of his time was consumed with sitting in the rickety chair and playing with a greasy deck of “Buffalo Springs” (Where the past is alive) cards.
Joseph P. WARD was listed as Post Master of White Sulphur Springs – June 12, 1856. The 1850 Catahoula census showed his occupation as a merchant and the 1860 census named him as a hotel keeper. Also along with Mary (his wife), and adopted 13-year-old girl named Virginia (MASHBURN), was a 25-year-old Mississippian who sported the name Lewis PEARCE. His line of work was bar keep. Another 25-year-old listed as a laborer was Robert ? from England.
The Alexander SCHLENKER family from Germany were merchants near Wards Spring and Hotel. They are in the photo that has Wards family shown on the porch of his large storehouse in the 1850’s. A check of the records does not show SCHLENKER having ownership to land at White Sulphur Springs. After looking up the land records around the Springs, it was found that most of the business owners were either renting their buildings or were squatters. They did not own land that was recorded in the deeds.
Ownership around the Springs changed hands several times over a 60-year span. Dr. LOVELACE as well as the SUTTONS, EVANS, FORSYTHE, HOLDEN, BETHARDS, MOFFETTS, YOUNG sisters, and many others including some to be mentioned later.
On August 13, 1860, an Alexandria newspaper named “The Constitutional” ran the ad below for Joseph P. WARD. This ad has been shortened for the need of space and time:
EVANS HOUSE WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS Catahoula, LA.
This ad serves notice to the public, friends and visitors of this area that Joseph P. WARD has purchased the EVANS House. He announces that the large rooms have been entirely renovated and been furnished with neat, new furnishings. Travelers and the public will find the accommodations suitable for amusement and recreation. Wards Bar will always be supplied with the choicest wine, liquors, cigars, and a new splendid billiards table. The hotels were always supplied with fishing gear for those who wanted to fish in Trout Creek or Little River.
The 1860 presidential election was brought to White
Sulphur Springs, according to an article published in the September 1,
1860 issue of “The Constitutional”.
CATAHOULA WIDE AWAKE!
Great Out-pouring of the Union Men at White Sulphur Springs. TREMENDOUS ENTHUSIASM!! THE WHOLE PARISH IS A BLAZE!!!
This rally was for BELL and EVERETT. This was the election which Abraham LINCOLN won the presidency. The article also stated that the ladies turned out for this rally (although they were not allowed to vote at this time).
Thomas D. EVANS donated nearly one acre for the purpose of having a building built for a Baptist church. It is to be known as Trout Creek Church at White Sulphur Springs. The land donated is to be used only for the church and a school. No other uses could be held on this ground. Three trustees received the land on behalf of the church. Their names were: Joshua HOLDEN, J. T. NEWTON, and Alfred WIGGINS. The donation was done July 2, 1858. Witnesses present for this historical day were W. H. H. ELLIOTT and the bar keep, Lewis N. Pearce. Found in the Clerk of Court records, LaSalle Parish, was the description of the donated property.
PLEASE READ: Beginning at Bounding “Black Jack Oak” and running SW in a direction to an Oak close to the corner of said donors said potato patch, and thence running NW direction about 70 yards, thence NE direction about 65 yards, thence on a line to the place of starting, containing in all nearly one acre of land, unto them, the said trustees and the church and the successors forever. [Written and compiled by Larry Chapman, local historian and Brian Allison, railroad historian; Published: The Jena Times, August 20, 2014; submitted by Larry Chapman]
Part 3 of 3
“The Bethards Are Here!” The George Washington BETHARDS family helped mold the era after the Joseph P. WARD’s “Glory Days” of Buffalo/White Sulphur Springs. There were lots of remnants of hotels, saloons, businesses of merchants and many other occupations. These short-lived dreams left their deteriorating remains as a reminder of the horrific Civil War and its destruction of a strong economy.
We will be quoting from a detailed story that can be found in its entirety in “LaSalle Parish History – Families Past and Present”. – Pages 39 and 40. A daughter of G. W. BETHARDS named Henrietta (BETHARDS) MCGEE (1874-1966) left to us a well-written letter that captures the colorful days of her childhood around the Springs area. My hat is off to the BETHARD family for preserving such a wonderful record of true history!
Henrietta wrote that in the fall of 1875 her family moved near the Jena area. After a few months, the BETHARDS moved to “Welch’s Springs” to take charge of Capt. Michael WELCH’s farm and wooded land. WELCH, a native of Rapides Parish, owned the “Red River Plantation” in Rapides Parish. The house of Capt. WELCH that was located near Welch’s Springs was close to Trout Creek. The BETHARDS family resided at this place for several years. Trout Creek was still considered one of the best fishing streams in the world. Mr. and Mrs. BETHARDS started keeping a few boarders. People came from Alexandria, Columbia, and other towns less than a hundred miles away. The mode of travel was buggies, hacks or wagons.
In the winter of 1877, the family moved across the creek to White Sulphur springs. The reason for the move was a larger house and they could keep more boarders. The distance between the old place to the new home was about a mile. This was a summer resort. It was on the public highway and the post office was there. Henrietta’s parents leased the 8 bedroom house. The kitchen and servants room was about 30 to 40 feet from the dining room. The house had 8 rooms downstairs. Mrs. BETHARDS never used the 4 rooms upstairs, but let Mr. and Mrs. James FORSYTHE live up there for some time. They had a store outside the yard. G. W. BETHARDS was appointed postmaster on April 6, 1880. He sold tobacco, cigars and medicine. The meds included Calomel, Castor Oil, Turpentine, and patent medicines. They lived in this house five years, which was on the west side of the spring.
In 1883, G. W. BETHARDS bought a tract of land on the east side. The house had 12 rooms all in a long row and one large hall. The corner of the land was in the spring, so that everyone would have the rights to use the water. This house was up on a hill. The house was about 140 feet long with a gallery on the front. The trees in the yard were crepe myrtle, cherry, chinaberry, oak, pine, persimmon, plum, sweet bay and catalpa.
In 1885, the Catahoula Parish School Board appointed G. W. BETHARDS and James FORSYTHE as directors of White Sulphur Springs School. S. C. THOMPSON, President, and Lewis B. KER, Secretary approved this act Feb. 7, 1885. In 1898, G. W. bought 10 acres of land with a large house. This place was about a quarter mile from the spring near J. E. (Ed) and Brazzie WHATLEY's.
The BETHARDS family never boasted of curative powers of the sulphur water, but found no hurt in bathing or drinking it. Different samples of stationary (as is shown in this writing) illustrate the following: THE BETHARDS HOUSE – THE RAILROAD HOTEL – THE ALASKA HOTEL – PINE TOP HOTEL – all of the letterheads bear the legend “G. W. BETHARDS, Proprietor, Fine Sulphur Water, The Best Fishing.” One of the letterheads adds this info, “Good Livery In Connection. 2 hours drive from Trout or Jena”.
When the Iron Mountain Railroad came through Pollock, the hotel began sending a hack to meet the trains and pick up guests, hence the name “Railroad Hotel” was used for a time. During the 1880’s, the hotel employed a Chinese cook named “Lu Ti”. He was very well thought of and remembered by the BETHARDS family.
G. W. BETHARDS was a native of Kentucky and served in the Confederate Army. He enlisted on June 5, 1861. He was placed in Co. A, 4th Texas Artillery. In February 1864, G. W. transferred to the Navy. He served on the crew of the CSS William H. Webb when she sailed through the Union blockade at N.O. before she was trapped, run aground by the U.S. Navy and destroyed by her crew in April 1865. (History of CSS William H. Webb: Wikipedia)
It was on June 18, 1902 that G. W. BETHARDS died at the age of almost 66. He was buried in the WHATLEY/LACROIX Cemetery near White Sulphur Springs. Mary (CLARK) without George Washington BETHARDS served the guests of the hotels and was very well liked by the boarders and visitors of the springs. She served as postmistress for White Sulphur Springs. Her term started Nov. 12, 1887, and was active until she turned the job over to Brazzie WHATLEY on May 2, 1902.
The Moffett Hotel, The Brazzie and Ed Whatley Hotel as well as the White Sulphur Springs School and the White Sulphur Springs Grange Lodge need more research to do them justice. Also there are numerous mills that are found in the Clerk of Court records referring to Trout Creek. Two churches are recorded in pages of the history of Buffalo/White Sulphur Springs area.
Maybe we can explore the facts and record the real,
true history and set the record straight for future generations. Wrong
history is worse than none at all. We will try and wrap up the closing
of the springs by the Board of Health and discuss the records that deal
with the various gazebos that have been photographed through the years,
as well as the doctors that practiced in the area. Brian and I wish to
thank you for your support in reading this documented work. [written and compiled by Larry
Chapman, local historian and Brian Allison, railroad historian;
published: The Jena Times, August 27, 2014; submitted by Larry Chapman]
Description of White Sulpher Springs from the State Historic Preservation Society found at the Office of the Lieut Governor:
Describe the present and original (if known) physical appearance:
The White Sulpher Springs Historic Site is a small clearing with a spring font encased in a c. 1916 concrete flange and set beneath a c. 1916 gazebo. The spring was the center as well as the raison d'etre of a nineteenth century health resort whose once numerous buildings are now all gone. It is located in the rolling piney hills near the town of Jena. The site still retains its integrity of settings as well as its identity as a natural spring.
The spring was once surrounded by a health resort community which was dependent upon its supposed curative powers. This community was founded in 1833 and was closed in 1911. It consisted of numerous buildings, including hotels, a saloon, a dance hall, livery stables, a store, etc. According to one source, it even had a post office and a school. Nothing remains of the community today except for the spring, which is encased in a concrete flange and covered by a wooden gazebo, both of which date from c. 1916. The flange replaced a similar older feature which contained the spring font. The gazebo was built to commemorate the sot where the community once stood. It was re-roofed and repainted c. 1975.
Assessment of Integrity: Under the recently published draft guildlines for interpreting the National Register criteria, there are two standards used for assessing the integrity of a historic site. One is whether or not the site retains its original natural setting, which White Sulpher Springs does. The other is whether or not the site possesses authenticity, which again White Sulphur Springs does.
Gazebo as a Contributing Element: The present gazebo was built c. 1916 by Mr. W. G. "BUCK" WALKER, a local resident, to commemorate the the historic role of White Sulphur Springs in LaSalle Parish. Since that time the gazebo has become a well known local landmark because of its close association with the former resort community. The State Historic Preservation Office has two local newspaper articles dating from 1962 which praise the gazebo and cite its important commemorative role. Consequently the gazebo is being nominated to the Register as a contributing element to the White Sulphur Springs Historic Site.
Specific dates: 1833-1911 Building/Architect N/A
Statement of Significance: (in one paragraph) Criterion A
The White Sulphur Springs Historic Site is locally significant in the area of science because it was the center as well as the raison d'etre of the white Sulphur Springs community, a nineteenth century health resort which achieved at least regional fame wihtin Louisiana.* The spring site is exemplary of a then popular philosophy of American health care called hydropathy.
Hydropathy can be defined as the therapeutic use of mineral water as a cure for infirmities of all sorts. It was based upon the theory that the treatment of disease involved the treatment of the whole person rather than the specific symptoms, as well as the theory that water was the natural sustainer of life. People came to resorts such as White Sulphur Springs and often stayed for months. Frequently people made annual or seasonal visits. In a very rel sense medical treatments such as those dispensed at White Sulphur Springs was "discovered" in 1833 by Joseph P. WARD, who was traveling through the area on his way to Texas. He named the springs after his hometown of White Sulphur Springs, Georgia, and founded a health resort community. As noted above, the curative power the water was the main attraction; however, the "treatment" also included such "therapeutic" activities as fishing, walking in the woods, and breathing the fresh, clean air. White Sulphur Springs was in its heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, but began to slowly decline thereafter. A newspaper account of a visit made ther ein 1894 refers to various guests and mentions two structures, a hotel and a dancing hall. A secondary source indicates that there was only one building left (a boarding house) when White Sul[hur Springs was closed down by the Louisiana Board of Health in 1911. After analyzing the water, this body reported that it had no curative value, but instead was a menace to health because it contained harmful bacteria.
*The designation of significance at the local level requires some explanation. The scholarly research does not exist (nor may it ever) to determine with any certainty the exact geographical limits of White Sulphur Springs' appeal. The State Historic Preservation Office can only make an educated guess and assume that it was at least regionally popular within the state (i.e., central and northern Louisiana).
Major Bibliographical References
- Louisiana Democrat, August 15, 1894 (A weekly newspaper published in Alexandria, LA)
- Plummer, E. W. "White Sulphur Springs Resort Days Fade." A typescript of this short history of White Sulphur Springs is located in the National Register file at the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office.
- PLUMMER, E. W. "Lest We Forget" Typescript of this short article on White Sulphur Springs located in National Register file in Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office.
- Louisiana Comprehensive Statewide Survey LaSalle Parish. White Sulphur Springs Site Form (#30-003).
[submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
Truman A. BREITHAUPT, a native of Milah, Germany,
came to what was then known as Catahoula Prairie in the 1820's. At some
point, he acquired thousands of acres of fertile land along the Old
River and French Fork valleys. On a hill, overlooking his fields, Mr. BREITHAUPT
built a large impressive home and named it "White Hall". The German
immigrant paid a high price for a negro skilled in carpentry to do all
the finishing wood work, mantles, cabinets, tables, and shelvings. Mr. BREITHAUPT was
a mason skilled in ceramics and built a kiln to burn the brick for
basement story, flues, and chimneys from local clay. Everything that
went into the house, except for glass windows, nails and hardware, was a
product of the immediate surroundings. Every joint and piece of wood in
the house was hand cut, planed and smoothed. The entire building was
painted white and was left in original condition and well preserved
until the late 1900's when it was replaced with a modern home.
Prominent names of early Whitehall: HAMES, MOSLEYS, JERNIGAN, EDWARDS, MILES, DOUGHTY, KENDRICK, SCARBOROUGH, HOWARD, ROCK [submitted by Rachael Hudnall; Source: The Jena Times, March 23, 2005]
Whitehall during World War 2
During World War II, from January 1945 to May 1945, German prisoners, captured in North Africa, lived in a POW camp in Whitehall. The camp’s water tank can still be seen at the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 and La. Highway 460. The Whitehall camp was designed as a "branch camp". These branch camps sprung up across the country to house POWs. The difference from a normal POW camp was vast. The branch camps were treated more like work camps. Prisoners were shipped from other camps and came to work in whatever industry was in the area. Usually agriculture or logging. Branch Camps were different in that they were not funded by the government, but instead, by private citizens who needed the additional workers. Camps were staffed, in large part, by skilled workers among the prisoners who did everything from kitchen work to denistry. Prisoners were treated, in every way outside of being able to leave the camp, the same as the GIs.
Nearby Camp Claiborne, where the prisoners at Whitehall Camp likely came from, was known for their reformation practices. German prisoners learned about democracy and the freedoms we have here and many enjoyed their stay, as much as could be expected. With only five 8 hour work days a week there was a lot of free time. It was decided that if the prisoners stayed occupied there would be less trouble inside the camps. And they were correct! Branch camps made special care that there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy free time. Sports equipment was provided, tables for cards, and especially chapel services, all by the government. Prisoners were allowed to build anything they wanted but did not have, such as a theater, as was done at several of these camps. Many camps paid workers for their day's labor in a currency that could be used at the camp store. Most leisure activities were provided by the government, some, such as play scripts and hymnals in the prisoners' own language, would be donated by locals and charity groups. Movies were showns at nearly all of these camps weekly. The Whitehall stories recall gaurds using the legs of the watertower, that still stands, to hold the movie screen and the area children lining the outside of the fence on weekend evenings to watch the free show.
In Whitehall, the story goes: Nearing the end of the 8 hour shift, having spent the day in the
woods with the rest of the prisoners on his logging crew, a young german
prisoner stepped away, unseen, to relieve himself. When he returned the
the group, they had gone. There he was, a German prisoner, lost in the
woods of LaSalle parish. He young man made his way through the woods and
found a road. After some walking, he was able to flag down a car, and
in his broken english, hitchhiked back to the branch camp at Whitehall. [source: Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program; submitted by Rachael Hudnall]
[- * The Whitehall Prison Camp's existance as a branch camp is sourced by the above document. Details of prisoners race, location of capture, and personal experiences are not sourced.]
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