Beauregard History

Full Context --- from the beginning, very interesting information, early info about DeRidder and Sugartown..

Also in our Main Library - Beauregard Parish History Resources

Historical Overview and Families - Submitted by Cindi Prince

The information below used with permission from Judson Shook
Condensed from History of Beauregard Book
Highlights --- by year after the Parish was formed.

1898 - a cyclone or hurricane provided the site for DeRidder

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

About 1900 - Eva Frazar's memories of early DeRidder

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

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

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

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

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

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

About 1901 - Start of a school in Merryville

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

1902 - 1927 - Era of the sawmills

Some of the sawmills and their dates of startup are: Bon Ami in 1902, DeRidder in 1903, Merryville in 1904, Carson in 1904/05, Longville (the largest of all) in 1906/07, Ragley in 1907, Ludington in 1911 - plus smaller mills. Some of the company names: King-Rider Lumber Co, Hudson River Lumber Co., The American Lumber Co., Delta Land and Timber Co., Long-Bell Lumber Co., Longville Lumber Co., Ragley Lumber Co., Ludington, Wells and Van Schack Lumber Co. (later purchased by R. A. Long), Lutcher and Moore Lumber Co., J. A. Bell Lumber Co, Lock Moore Lumber Co., Peavy Moore Lumber Co., Sabine Tram Co., Sabine River Company, W. G. Strange Lumber Co., and the Anacoco Lumber Co. whose location was at the southeast corner of today's airport - the scene of the Grabow riot. (Beauregard Parish History)

1903 - DeRidder is incorporated In 1903

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

April 1904 - The burning of DeRidder"

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

1904 - Company towns

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

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

1906 - DeRidder's third railroad - and new banks

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

1908 - A move to establish Beauregard Parish

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

1909 - A newspaper assessment of Merryville (selected portions)

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

1909-1913 - Utilities for early DeRidder

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

1912 - The first Beauregard Parish fair - The first parish fair was held in Merryville in 1912

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

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

1914 - The Beauregard Parish Jail

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

1925 - 1940 - a stagnated economy for DeRidder

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

July 1937 - the Mennonites

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

January 7, 1938 - Acquisition of Beauregard Cemetery

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

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

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

November 9, 1946 - another major turning point for DeRidder

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