Before there was “Glee,” there was Donald Glattly and the NSU College Singers

From The Shreveport Times, April 1954, written by John Merrill and entitled, “Sing from the heart.”

Photos by Guillet Studios in Natchitoches, Louisiana, from The Shreveport Times, 1954
Photos by Guillet Studios in Natchitoches, Louisiana, from The Shreveport Times, 1954

“The inside of you has got to sing.”

That is what Donald Glattly, nof Northwestern State College at Natchitoches has to say. Glattly is one of the South’s most colorful and talented teachers and conductors of choral music.

Glattly believes that singers must enjoy their singing and the conductor has the power to create or destroy this enjoyment. As for Glattly, he creates enjoyment. Bearing this out is a group of songsters called The College Singers, a Glattly-directed choral group that bubbles over with enthusiasm for their music.

As a conductor. GIattly literally puts “everything” into leading his chorus, which has the distinction of being the official musical voice of Louisiana Elks. He says that a conductor must be able to express the spirit of the song through his motions. And he does just that.

He uses his whole body in intricate maneuvers as he extracts harmonious notes from his singers. His techniques are often unorthodox, sometimes startling, but he gets results. The songs “get across” and every singer likes to sing under the dynamic director.

The Northwestern State music teacher believes that the ideal chorus member is one with less formal vocal training. which, as he puts it “often limits his musical expression to the learned techniques of the soloist.”

A bunch of mediocre voices can sound good if they are meaningful and if the music “comes from deep inside” of the singer, says Glattly. “What we need in choral work is raw emotion. Practiced emotion is no good.”

Glattly has a definite philosophy concerning choral directing and has good reasons for his sometimes unorthodox actions in front of his singers. He says that in one sense the chorus al-ways sings for its conductor and that the group is oblivious to the opinion of the audience for the moment. According to Glattly, the group is guided by the desire to satisfy the intentions of the conductor.

“Singers can always detect sham on the part of the conductor.” declares Glattly. “The conductor’s motions must be varied and must be meaningful and real. No formal technique in conducting exists that has any validity except the natural means of expression which the conductor would use to express the same thoughts in other media.”

For Glattly, the object of choral singing is “to create through new types of music new thoughts.” He says the singers should get “some sort of emotional release through singing different kinds of music.”

The colorful conductor believes foremost in the self expression of the singer.

Glattly’s choral experience includes seven years as soloist with the Chicago a cappella choir under the direction of Noble Caine. He was assistant conductor for three years with the Sympony Choir conducted by Dr. Walter Ashenbrener in Chicago.

He received the degrees of Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from Northwestern Uni-versity and is working on his doctorate at Columbia. He is a native of Hot Springs. S.D., in the midst of the beautiful Black Hills country. Coming to Natchitoches and Northwestern State in 1945, he has since been in charge of choral activities at the college. When not getting harmonies from his singers, he ran generally be found indulging in one of his two hobbies—farming and chess playing.

His well-known singing group, The College Singers, first received state-wide recognition in appearing before the sessions of the Louisiana Education Assn. convention in 1947. This was one year after Glattly had created the organization. The Singers made such a hit at the LEA meet that it was invited to New Orleans in 1948 to be used as a demonstration chorus before parish teachers and supervisors.

Since that time the group has appeared before varied audiences throughout Louisiana and has extended its tours to neighboring states and has even given a week’s performance in Chicago in 1951 and in St. Louis in 1953.

The versatile singers have provided music for the Louisiana Elks convention for the past six years, and in competition with the top-ranking amateur organizations of its kind, have been chosen as the official chorus for the National Elks convention for the past three years. This year, they again won this honor and there is a possibility they will be able to sing at the convention in Los Angeles the first week in July.

No preference is shown music majors at the college each year when students throng into the choral room seeking a place in the distinctive singing group. Glattly selects his songsters cam-pus-wide and the only qualifications are a “feel” for music, an enthusiasm for singing, and av-erage ability.

Glattly knows that many of his mannerisms in directing the Singers are strange. He knows that his techniques are often criticized by those in and out of the musical world. But he also knows that he gets good results with his methods. He knows that he has gone a long, long way in instilling a deep love for music and a desire to sing within the hundreds of students that have passed his way during his nine years at the college.

He knows also—and he has no doubts—that as he stands before his singers and looks into their eyes and hears their vigor finding words, that they are singing as God made folks to sing. They’re “singing on the inside.”

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In 1950s Natchitoches Parish: “They hunted for buried treasure”

I found this treasure of an article published in The Shreveport Times, in January 1956, and detailing hunts for long lost treasure in Natchitoches Parish.  The article was written by John Merrill, which sounds neatly similar to the bandit whose hidden gold treasure hunters sought… John Murrell.

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“Thar’s gold in them thar hills!”

Words of like nature have been brazenly stated and stealthily whispered around Natchitoches since the tawdry days of the Reconstruction era.

The “gold” folks have been seeking consists of buried outlaw loot and pots of Civil War gold hidden beneath the ground.

“Them thar hills” is a large area of rolling pine land southwest of the Red River at Grand Ecore and five or six miles northeast of Natchitoches.

Treasure-seekers (and the woods are full of ’em) have been digging for years in this area where old Camp Salubrity stood back in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. Solitary figures with picks and shovels, groups of intent diggers with definite convictions that millions of dollars in hidden treasure await them, and even large-scale “digs” with machinery: All these have marked the treasure-seeking days of old Camp Salubrity.

And these days are far from over.

Photo by Guillet Studio, Natchitoches. Treasure hunting expedition.
Photo by Guillet Studio, Natchitoches. Treasure hunting expedition.

People still dig in the old cave where the famed Natchez Trace-San Antonio Trail outlaw John A. Murrell is said to have hidden out. Holes in a deep ravine —dug only this month—show that the treasure-fever has not subsided.

The “treasure area” lies in thick woods where only an occasional timberman or hunter passes; but even they keep to the dirt and sandy roads and seldom wander into the steep gullies and thickets where once the “bushwackers” hid to rest and count their money.

——-

Back before the Mexican War, Ulysses S. Grant (then a lieutenant), wrote of the area in 1844: “I found my regiment camping out in small linen tents on the top of a high sandy ridge and in the midst of a pine forest. The great elevation of our situation and the fact that one of the best springs of water in the state puts out here are the only recom-mendations the place has.”

(The young lieutenant’s regiment had been stationed here at Camp Salubrity to prevent overcrowding at Fort Jesup, 20 miles to the southwest.)

Stories and legends that abound in the area have it that after the Civil War the cunning Murrell, who could preach as well as he could waylay travelers, came to the area often and dug the cave to shelter his gang while they were “holed up.”

Not only Murrell and his bushwackers frequented the hideaway, say the stories, but also other well-known outlaws—including Frank and Jesse James. Reputedly, Murrell and his gang buried most of their loot in the area and never had a chance to return for it.

——-

Hopeful diggers have come to the area after having been given or sold “secret” maps, old waybills. or letters written during the Reconstruction period by persons “in the know” about the disposition of the outlaws’ treasure. Some of the treasure-seekers claim they can “read” the old carvings in the bark of trees of the vicinity.

Especially during the past 30 years has the area received a thorough going over by diggers, although there is no real evidence that any money has been found.  There are individuals in Natchitoches Parish, however, who claim that a “pot” of gold was found some years ago, and several “small caches” of money have been unearthed.

Milo Burke, a colorful character in his sixties who lives with his wife in a small house in the woods not far from Camp Salubrity’s old site, has led many treasure hunters through the maze of ravines and thickets during the past three decades.

As to whether he has ever seen anyone find treasure, Burke gives a toothless grin and says: “I wouldn’t say that I have and I wouldn’t say that I haven’t. I guess I’ve seen hundreds of folks hunting for gold like crazy around here. I know just about every foot of this country, and I guide ’em, but I don’t try to tell ’em much. Folks don’t believe me nohow—so I generally don’t say nothing.”

Burke. who spends most of his time hunting (he’s on relief) in the surrounding woods, does admit that he believes gold is buried in the area. He is certain. he says, that there is another cave somewhere around. Asked why he believes this, he smiles.  “I got my reasons but keep ’em to myself.”

The old fellow obviously loves these hills and woods and is generally ready to guide a visitor through the area. He will show Murrell’s cave, the torn-up watch house of stone, the graves of Yankee soldiers who died here of disease during the Civil War, and numerous holes scattered all about where money-seekers have dug.

Then he takes you down into the deepest ravine where ice-cold water trickles from the side of a hill and points out the biggest hole of them all.

Straight down for 75 feet.
Straight down for 75 feet.

“This one was dug in 1950.” he says. “Boy, was that some diggin’. Went straight down 75 feet. Had to dig for weeks. About four of ’em diggin’ Folks came from all over to watch. You’d be surprised if you knew some of them big shots, bankers and all from Shreveport and other places that came to take a look.”

—–

What Burke was pointing to was a hole about six feet in diameter and now filled with water. It was here in the spring and summer of 1950 that a group, led by a man who claimed a “building” containing from 9 to 30 million dollars was located about 75 feet beneath this spot, undertook the mammoth “dig.”

He had his information from old waybills dating hack to 1853 and from his Bible.  More he would not tell for fear someone would “get smart.”

It took the group several months but they dug 75 feel down through cement-hard soil and did hit a solid substance, which the group’s leader said was the top of the “building.” Needing heavy machinery to tunnel to a ‘door” supposedly at one side of whatever had been hit, he tried in vain to get the financial backers. Bankers and contractors did look at the hole and listen to the story, but nobody put up the money.

After weeks of digging and pumping water from the hole, the group gave up the venture. However, it was quite obvious at the time that they were still convinced the treasure was there.

—–

There have been no more large-scale diggings since 1950, but numerous persons hoping to find something of value in this scenic area still pock with holes the hill-sides and ravines.

If outlaw Murrell and others did hide their loot near old Camp Salubrity, they hid it well. Treasure hunters, however, are a persistent lot and the digging is likely to continue for at least another 100 years.

the_times_sun__jan_22__1956_

 

 

 

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The wedding cake from Hell: A 19th century Shelby County murder episode still filled with mystery

NOTE:  As with many of the items we post here, I must graciously thank a reader of All Things Sabine for directing me to check this story out… the case of the “Poisoned Wedding Supper” was completely unknown to me before I was told about it yesterday evening.

On the Texas side of Sabine River, there lives on a murder mystery so intriguing, it could have well been subject matter for Dame Agatha Christie.

And no matter how you slice it up, the dessert cake served to 60 East Texans at a wedding party in May 1847, was the wedding cake from Hell.

Back in those days, it was common to honor a young couple after they were joined in marriage with a wedding supper.  Cake, of course, played a starring role in these suppers.

In 1847, as the weary and draining Regulator-Moderator War was coming to an end in Shelby County, the good people of East Hamilton (which lies on the Sabine River’s west bank, now near Patroon but covered by Toledo Bend Lake), were ready for a joyous celebration of any kind.

The bride was an orphan girl, raised by a Mr. Wilkinson, resident of the East Hamilton community.

Read an article in The Niles Register, “All up and down the Sabine River, news was:  ‘Old man Wilkinson’s daughter was finally getting married!’

“The groom, Morris, was not much of a catch, and everyone thought he would fit right in with his new in-laws, or rather outlaws. Old man Wilkinson was a bad character himself, and a notorious hog thief.

“All around the community, the ladies were trying on dancing shoes and pulling out dresses they had not worn for years. Excitement was in the air.

“The date was April 22, 1847. The groom wanted to wait for a June wedding, but Wilkinson insisted on an early marriage – something could happen, you know, and Morris could get away.”

As the story goes, Wilkinson had hired a Mrs. Edens to bake the cakes… which she did, and then left them in the smokehouse for safekeeping.  The next morning, she noticed that the icing had been removed on all but one of the cakes and that one was covered with custard.  The others were dark and discolored, but she didn’t have time to bake some more so she grated some loafsugar over them for appearance’s sake.

Further as the story goes, and where it gets a bit hairy, is that a sort of rival family to the Wilkinsons– the family of Spottswood Sanders– was invited to attend the party.  Because there had been trouble between the families, the Sanders did not want to go.  Wilkinson had been accused of stealing Sanders’ hogs and moreover, Wilkinson was a Moderator and Sanders was a rival Regulator.  As timing had it, the Moderator-Regulator War was supposed to be over… Texas President Sam Houston himself came to Shelby County to see to this war’s end.  And so, in part, the Sanders’ felt obligated to go to the party, lest people think their absence was related to the Moderator-Regulator fued, which was supposed to be good and over.

The account of this complicated story was further detailed in The Niles Register:

“At the last moment, the Sanders family decided not to attend the wedding.

“When Wilkinson heard that the Sanders family was not coming, he packed up some of the wedding supper that had been prepared and sent it to them. Among the assortment was a half of a shoat, one turkey, three chickens, chicken pie, and butter pound cakes – enough to feed all, even their Negro folks, for a week. What a feast!

“They thought, “Old Wilkinson ain’t all bad!”

“They all sat down and ate.

“(Problem was that) all of the food was poisoned, even the butter which was elegantly molded.

“The meal resulted in the death of Mrs. Susan Eliza Sanders, wife of Spottswood Henry Sanders, and two of her sons, Robert Henry, age 5, and Edward Hamilton, age 3.

“As Mrs. Sanders was dying, she asked that her children be reared in the nurture of the Lord. She did not know they were already dead or dying. She also asked that her Negro servants come and bid her farewell; but they couldn’t, they were poisoned too.

“Spottswood and his son Francis survived after they crawled to a slop bucket, drank from it and vomited.”

The account continues:

“Meanwhile, back at the party, everyone was eating finger foods.

“That is, everyone but the Wilkinsons.

“The food was laced with arsenic. It did not take long for the poison to start killing. Some dropped dead on the spot, others took longer.

“Allen Haley and his mother were apparently the only persons at the wedding who were not poisoned. The Haleys arrived late, after the other guests had been served, and ate some of the same food, but not the cake. Wilkinson supposedly cut a fresh cake for them, but they declined to eat, saving their lives.

“The Haley’s lost a Negro slave, whose wife was one of the servants attending the wedding. She carried him a piece of the pound cake. He ate two mouthfuls and not liking the taste, ate no more. Yet, that killed him. 

“Mrs. Edens, who made the cakes, was poisoned along with her son and a Negro girl. The girl died and her son was not expected to recover.

“The poisoned butter left at the wedding was thrown out. Birds supposedly ate the butter and died within a few minutes.

“Elder William Brittain, who may have officiated at the wedding, entered the names of several members of his own family on the death pages of his family Bible. There are five Brittain graves in the East Hamilton Cemetery with names but no death dates. They are: Thomas, R. J., Mary, Martha, and Bobbie. The Brittain family Bible has been lost, and we may never know if these children died at the supper.

“Two Castleberrys, one of the Daughters and his wife, died. One of the bridesmaids died, and yet strange to tell, neither the bride or any of the Wilkinson family were injured.

“Whatever happened, guests at the supper are said to have screamed, blown horns and induced their hounds to howl. In those days a sound created by blowing a cow’s horn was a universal distress signal.

Dr. James H. Starr of Nacogdoches writes that 17 of the 54 who were poisoned have died, and 15 others are considered dangerously ill. His statement was printed in the Niles Register on June 5, 1847.”

On July 19, 1847, an article in the Telegraph and Register states: “Wilkinson, at whose house the wedding was held, has confessed that he had the arsenic purposely mixed in the cakes….” The article also confirmed that the bride was an orphan girl raised by Wilkinson.

On May 23, 1847, a letter written in Bayou Sara, Louisiana to a friend contained the particulars of the incident. The letter said that “Old Wilkinson and his wife, as well as Morris’ wife, were arrested and examined before Squire Sanders, who committed them to prison.”

Wilkinson was brought before a magistrate and released. He was afraid to leave the house during the day, as there were persons determined to kill him.

During the night, Wilkinson supposedly escaped on a horse brought to him by Morris. Eight men rode off in pursuit of him with intentions to kill him on sight.

In an account printed in the Telegraph and Register in 1847, it is stated that Wilkinson was captured and hung. It is said that he confessed he had given the arsenic to the cook to be mixed in the cake, and that he cautioned the bride and other members of the family not to eat the cake.

More than 150 years later, the “Poisoned Wedding Supper” has evolved into quite a folk tale.  Multiple accounts along with different retellings of the story have confused what exactly happened and we do not know with certainty the number of people who actually died as a result of the “Poisoned Wedding Supper.”

So while the details that have been handed down through the years seem to leave little doubt that the Wilkinsons were somehow responsible for the poison cakes, the real mystery (or mysteries as the case is) lies in the specifics of what happened that night, down to the number of souls lost at that tragic event.

Photo from Tracey Chelette Strong
Photo from Tracey Chelette Strong

In the East Hamilton Cemetery, a series of old, unmarked gravestones – deceased’s names erased by the ravages of time – lend some credibility to the tragic, unthinkable incident.

 

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Where there were bandits, perhaps there is gold

the_times_sun__jun_20__1965_

In June 1965, The Shreveport Times featured an articled titled, “Where the gold is… maybe.”

Among the geographic regions mentioned in the article was Western Louisiana, where it has been long believed that nineteenth century bandit John Murrell and his gang of thieves buried their loot… possibly in today Sabine and/ or Vernon parishes. Also mentioned was the “lost mine of Wyndham Creek” in Beauregard Parish, which also hugs the Louisiana/Texas border along the Sabine River.

The article, written by Times reporter Norman Richardson (a superb journalist and feature writer of his day), follows.

If Jean Lafitte had dug as many holes and buried as much gold as legend says he did, the soil of the Bayou State would contain little else.

Pirates like Lafitte and Pierre Rameau and land bandit John Murrell once called Louisiana home and, carrying on an age-old tradition, no doubt hid much loot that lies undiscovered to this day.

All through the state’s history fabulous fortunes vanished almost overnight, never to be heard from again. Even the wealthy Spanish who ruled the state for almost a century were well known for their habit of concealing silver and jewelry and gold and almost everything else of value.

When the Civil War came, the planters latched on to the idea and began burying their valuables so the Yankees wouldn’t get anything. A lot of these people apparently died in the war and others left their homes and simply never returned, so who can say what lies under the spots where these homes once stood and how much it is worth.

the_times_sun__jun_20__1965_1

Even the ordinary people were forced into the act of burying things since banks catered only to the wealthy as little as 150 years ago. Take all this, plus the occasional finding of an old map allegedly pointing out treasure spots or parts of trinkets and treasures, and you have proof enough—at least for the treasure hunters—that Louisiana is a paradise for fortune seekers.

Take the men, for example, who excavated a dry bed of the Calcasieu River back in 1929 and came up with the richest strike in Louisiana history… 175,000 in gold coins buried just a few yards from the shoreline possibly by some of Lafitte’s cronies or maybe the man himself.

Then, there is the Baton Rouge find many years back. 21 Spanish gold doubloons that workers found in a load of gravel that came from Grand Isle.  Or the more recent discovery, $1,000 in gold coins found when a Ruston man, John Skinner, shattered the blade of his plow on on old iron chest.

And if that’s not enough to keep treasure hunters awake all night, try this: Where did Col. Norman Frisby, the famed baron of Tensas Parish, bury his wagonload of gold that everyone knew he had. The violent-tempered Frisby had his dreams of an empire along a 52-mile front of the Tensas River interrupted by the Civil War and when he heard the roar of approaching Yankee cannons he one day loaded his valuables onto a wagon. Accompanied by two husky slaves, so the tale goes, he drove into the forest near his home. He returned to the home later without the valuables and legend says he shot the two slaves so they couldn’t tell. He later died is a knife fight with nephews and carried his secret to the grave.

None of his gold has ever been found, but the violent colonel’s relatives and descendants haven’t given up hope nor have the treasure hunters. For years. the Texas branch of the family has been trying to locate Norman Frisby’s Bible, which is said to contain many records and may hold the key to Frisby’s buried treasure.

The pirate Jean Lafitte, last of the great buccaneers, is suspected of having buried far greater treasures than Frisby’s. Lafitte’s corsairs patroled the waters of the Gulf of Mexico looting mer-chant ships and smuggling their loot into New Orleans.

Here Jean and his brother, Pierre, sold it freely to store owners, many of whom were their friends. He made his headquarters at Grand Isle off the Gulf Coast and maintained dozens of other hiding places on other islands and along the Mississippi bluffs as far north as Baton Rouge. The buccaneer lived a life apart from his men.

On Grand Isle Lafitte constructed a large house of brick coated on the outside with a mixture of pulverized oyster shells and plaster.

In keeping with his noble attitude, Caine dressed in rich costumes and enjoyed the finest of wines and liquors in his expensive surroundings. Although Lafitte always maintained that he never ceased to be a good citizen, the threat of federal raids was always near during Lafitte’s latter years at Barataria and so the pirates hid much of their loot.

That’s why Lafitte’s islands and hiding spots and former headquarters are believed to be the best localities for treasure hunters. In addition to Grand Isle, Lafitte sometimes landed at Coca Island and is said to have hidden $1 million in gold on Kelso’s Island and on the Mississippi bluff.

No one knows for sure how much of Lafitte’s loot is left for treasure hunters but there are cases on record to prove that the story of Jean Lafitte’s fabulous gold is a little bit more than legend.

For instance there is the story of John Patorno. Disregarding the methods of most treasure hunters, Patorno in 1935 invented a radio device which responded to nonmagnetic metals. Then he hired out for his services and the makeshift semblance of a Geiger counter for $25 a day.

A few days later accompanied by a Mississippi ferry boat captain Patorno was on his way to Coca Island to look for Lafitte’s loot. He carried with him a map that supposedly pinpointed the pirate hoard.

For three days the men searched the island and just when they were giving up hope his radio device suddenly began to buzz. The men got out their shovels and began to dig but had to stop their search because of seeping water and sandy soil.

His treasure hunt, however, paid off later in an unexpected locale. He found $1,300 in two caskets just across the river from New Orleans.

Other men even today are searching North Louisiana for the treasure of John Murrell, the famed bandit of the Natchez Trace who made his debut in the wide open country of the Free State of Sabine, the strip of land separating the Spanish and United States territories along the Sabine River.

It was a buffer zone with no law and no government and no punishment and drew some of the worst outlaws in American history.

Murrell ranged far and wide, brazenly robbing travelers while at the same time urging people to repent their sins and “return to God.”

He left behind him hidden wealth that still excites the imaginations of treasure hunters.

In 1930, for example, Forest Normand. an Avoyelles Parish farmer, plowed up a pot of coins containing 3,000 pieces of Spanish silver with dates ranging from 1763 to 1805.

In 1939, perhaps the largest all-out method was to get Murrell’s loot by a farmer named Reber Dove who had discovered what he believed to be the treasure chest with steel probes, only to feel it sink deeper and deeper into the treacherous quicksand.

Special equipment was purchased but whether the treasure was found only Dove and a few other men know, for after that reports of further progress mysteriously stopped. Treasure hunters do not like to publicize their findings, and are a close-mouthed lot.

But there are exceptions to this rule, like George C. Maher Jr. of South Louisiana. who freely admits to having found $200,000 worth of gold, silver and jewelry over a period of 30 years. Maher and his father accomplished this with aid of an invention they called a ground radio, a device which operates via the variable induction of a magnetic field.

Near Abbeville in 1925, a Negro boy who was said to have been hypnotized by a man, pointed out a cache of silver.  Two years earlier another $800 in silver was found on Jefferson Island.

The second largest cache in Louisiana history, if the claims are true, included $65,000 on the outskirts of the little promising town of Gretna.

There are many other promising treasure sites in Louisiana. Even metropolitan New Orleans boasts its strikes. A charcoal peddler who lived there 50 years ago found a box of 1,500 doubloons dating back to Lafitte’s time.

And then there’s the fabulous “lost mine of Wyndham Creek” lying in Beauregard Parish which has not yet been found.

At Linceum lies gold, allegedly buried by a group of men who were surprised by the Indians and to hasten their flight they hid the gold. Before the end of their journey they fought among them-selves and killed each other, leaving no survivors to return for their riches.

Several years ago a man cutting down trees near Opelousas turned up 1,485 Spanish gold pieces.

A planter living near Breaux Bridge was murdered by his slaves who escaped with his gold just before the Civil War. After they were captured and shot, it was discovered that one sack of gold was missing. It has never been recovered.

What may yet turn out to be the most valuable find, however, is the treasure hastily buried by plantation owners during the Civil War. There is the fabulous Charles Duralde and his undiscov-ered wealth.  And the plantation of the Marquis Vincent de Ternant with all of its secrets and the wealthy Hubbardvilie planter who hid his money in silver plates outside of town.

Duralde’s fortune was as fantastic as his showmanship. Shortly before the Civil War, two of his daughters became brides in a double ceremony. Adding a fairy tale touch to the festivities Duralde startled the society of his day. From China he imported a cargo of spiders and freed them in his plantation near St. Martinsville in order that they might spin webs among the branches. Then the weird patterns were sprayed with silver and gold dust by slaves to serve as the wedding aisle.

Later as he lay dying during the war, he hinted that his fortune was buried nearby, but death cut short his revelations and the treasure to this day lies undiscovered.

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Longview News Journal documents Toledo Bend Dam and power plant construction

I have found no newspaper which documented the construction projects involved in the making of Toledo Bend better than the Longview News Journal.  Here are some photos and pages of one of many features that The News Journal published on the making of the Toledo Bend Project.longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_1-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_2-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_3-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_4-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_5-copy   longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_8-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_9-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_10-copy longview_news_journal_mon__jan_1__1968_11-copydam dam2 longview_news_journal_fri__oct_10__1969_1 longview_news_journal_fri__oct_10__1969_2 longview_news_journal_fri__oct_10__1969_3 longview_news_journal_fri__oct_10__1969_4 longview_news_journal_fri__oct_10__1969_5

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Vernon Parish opal mine once eyed as “tourism bonanza”

 

I like to think of myself as a treasure hunter.  In my dreams.

In reality… unfortunately for me… I am about as far from a treasure hunter as one could be.

I did not find this on my search for opal. :(
I did not find this on my search for opal. :(

Back in the 1990s, I had heard people were finding opal in Vernon Parish, south of Toro and a bit northwest of Anacoco.  Intrigued and tempted, I searched a bit in the area… a bit being about an hour or less.  And with only limited knowledge of exactly where to search, I covered, say, 200 yards in my very cursory search.  I thought it would be easy.  Not hot, boring, tedious and extremely vague.  Well, actually, it was not tedious, for I looked about the way I look for a lost this or that at my house… just glancing around.

My arrowheads did not look so much like this. I was told they looked like "plain, pointy rocks." (No names mentioned, Ranay!) What a buzz kill.
My arrowheads did not look so much like this. I was told they looked like “plain, pointy rocks.” (No names mentioned, Ranay!) What a buzz kill.

And so, like my earlier quests for arrowheads and later for prehistoric shark teeth along the southeastern banks of Toledo Bend, I came up empty handed in my search for precious opal.  Also, by the way, I never was able to find any gold bars believed to have been buried or hidden in our area by bandits in the 1800s.  In all, I figure I’ve spent a good five hours of my life (seven or so if you add the drive time) searching for treasures of any sort whatsoever in our treasure-rich geographic area.

I found this photo on Pinterest... And I realized I was way off on my idea of the size of a prehistoric Megalodon shark tooth... I think my eyes were on the quest for something about, oh, one-ten-thousandth the size of this.
I found this photo on Pinterest… And I realized I was way off on my idea of the size of a prehistoric Megalodon shark tooth… I think my eyes were on the quest for something about, oh, one-ten-thousandth the size of this.

I concluded I probably would not know an opal if I found one.  Nor would I know an arrowhead (I must have retrieved 30 or more things that looked like they could be arrowheads, but I was told by people supposedly more knowledgeable than me… who shall remain nameless due to their cruel buzz-kill thrills’ nature…  that I was pretty far off from having actually found an arrowhead and had only collected a few “basic, pointy rocks”).

Furthermore, I’m pretty sure now that I would not have found a shark’s tooth if it was staring me straight in the eye (those things blend in perfectly with the sand, or so I thought).

I would, however, recognize gold bars if I saw them. I’m pretty sure.  I think.

I would have settled happily for finding just one of these bars. it could even have been filthy dirty and scratched up a bit. Or even broken... yes, I would have accepted broken.
I would have settled happily for finding just one of these bars. it could even have been filthy dirty and scratched up a bit. Or even broken… yes, I would have accepted broken.

Basically, I am impatient and I become bored way too easily… and because of that, I have no opals, no sharks’ teeth, no arrow heads, and no gold bars to call my own.  Nothing.  Na da.

I’ve digressed a bit before getting to the juicy stuff… The following article was published in The Alexandria Town Talk newspaper in November 1990, written by Town Talk staff reporter Richard Ryman.

Oh, and by the way, just as a buzz kill in case any one wants to set out to go hunt for opal, I have heard that that would be a losing quest… that the land where the opal was discovered is private land (that cool theme park they speak of in this article never materialized, I guess) and is well guarded.  I’m just clarifying this so that hopes don’t get unnecessarily elevated only to be cruelly dashed.  As mine did once before… and twice and more.

Vernon opal mine could be tourism bonanza

ANACOCO — Deep in the hills of northwest Vernon Parish, at a place called Monks Hammock, four men and a puppy are mining what they say is this country’s best opal supply.

They are digging in a hillside along a creek bottom about a quarter of a mile from the end of a sandy road. Except for the barking of the puppy, the place is peaceful and pleasant, but it is also an economic and tourism bonanza in the making, says Keith Griffin.

Griffin, who leases about 50 acres from Boise Cascade Corp., named it the Hidden Fire Opal Mine. He plans on surrounding it with campgrounds and gem washes, turning it into a mecca for lapidary hobbyists, known to one another as rockhounds.

the_town_talk_sun__nov_18__1990_

“There is no opal mine in the United States that can claim they dig up 100 percent cutable material. We can claim that,” he said, showing the site to state Rep. John Smith, D-Leesville, and a delegation from the Vernon Parish Tourism and Recreation Commission.

Griffin held up a penny-sized polished black opal which he said was appraised at $1,000 a carat. He said it weighed about three carats.

Australia is the only other known source of such quality material, he said. In addition to the black opal, Griffin has uncovered myriad other combinations, which he has been naming at his discre-tion.

“No one else has ever found anything like this,” he said, holding up a “Christmas” opal, “so we can call it what we want,”

Tales of mining in the area go back to early French explorations, said Martha Palmer, chairman of the Vernon Parish Tourism and Recreation Commission. She said French Catholic explorers reportedly found silver and lead in the area, and in the early part of the 20th century one man was sending “rainbow rock,” possibly opals, to New York jewelers, receiving $5 gold pieces in return.

Gary Moore mined some opal in the area in the late 1970s and 1980s before his source played out.

Griffin, who has operated emerald and other mines in North Carolina, said he was vacationing in the area, hunting fossils, when an acquaintance showed him the site. Griffin said he immediately knew he was on to something.

“The biggest question about this formation was how was it formed?” Griffin said. “If I don’t know how it was formed, I don’t know where to dig.”

He said some speculated the area was a prehistoric lake bed, but evidence indicates it is instead laced with prehistoric creek beds. It is in those former creek bottoms that he is finding his opal.

Much of his find is quartzite sandstone laced with flecks of blue, green, yellow and red fire opal.  The most common is brown opal with green fire.

He said quartzite and opal is the hardest mixture of quality opal in the world. That is good, but he expects better.

“As we follow this back, we will get to the area where the water came out of the ground to form the creek. Then we will get into clay soil and should find the real precious opal,” he said.

Griffin said black rock laced with red fire is called black opal, and is the most valuable. He said rock laced with blue or green fire is called blue opal.

Four pockets have been found so far, each yielding “about a double-handful,” Griffin said.

He said he plans to open a full-service campsite with gem-wash in the spring.

“Arizona is known for its petrified wood, Arkansas for its diamonds and North Carolina for its emeralds. This will put Vernon Parish on the map,” he said.

Lapidary, the cutting, polishing and engraving of precious stones, is one of the largest hobbies in the world. Griffin said lapidary magazines are among the few that have more wanted-to-buy than for sale ads.

He said that by having control over most of the opal supply in the area, he will be able to make the project financially feasible.

“People have tried to market this material for years, but the problem was they had no control over supply,” he said.

Griffin, who lives in Lafayette, said he has been “into rocks and tourism my whole life.”

“The old adage of ‘Son, walk with your head up,’ is not for rockhounds,” he said.

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Quinton Brandon: Walking Tall in Zwolle

 

In October 1981, The Shreveport Times published a two-page spread featuring newly retired Zwolle Police Chief Quinton Brandon, aptly titled “Walking Tall in Zwolle.”  The article was written by Calvin Gilbert. It follows:

ZWOLLE — If a legend ever existed in Sabine Parish, it’s Quinton Brandon. Often compared to Walking Tall Sheriff Buford Pusser, Brandon is credited with bringing law and order to Zwolle.

Brandon retired in late August, ending his 35-year reign as police chief in Zwolle, which, like it or not, has a reputation as a place where many a friendly disagreement in a barroom has resulted in a violent brawl.

Quinton Brandon, from The Shreveport TImes, 1981
Quinton Brandon, from The Shreveport TImes, 1981

But Brandon says most of the stories about Zwolle are based upon incidents outside the town’s incorporated limits.

“These are good people here,” Brandon said. “We just don’t have that much trouble in Zwolle any more. “Everything that happens 15 miles away they seem to blame on Zwolle.”

Wayne Ebarb, Brandon’s successor as police chief, is the first to admit that Brandon is responsible for making Zwolle a respectable place.

“A lot of the old tales on Zwolle are still alive,” Ebarb said. “It’s just not true. Zwolle is a good place.” Ebarb paused and looked at his mentor.
“Thanks to him, we don’t have such a problem these days,” he said.

The son of a Sabine Parish lawman, Brandon received his first concepts about law enforcement from his father, “He believed in it just like I did,” Brandon said. “Anybody that violated the law violated the law.”the_times_sun__oct_18__1981_3

“There’s not many men around here — old or young — that I didn’t put in jail at one time or another,” Brandon said.  “I’d arrest them when they broke the law. But I always saw that they were treated fairly.”

In a community with an oilfield heritage and a more-than-average population of poor blacks and Chicanos, Brandon’s early days as police chief were long and demanding.

“I was the only lawman.” Brandon said. The days were rough. My biggest problem was the boys carousing around. getting rough and fighting.”

The creation of Toledo Bend Reservoir in 1968 resulted in more problems for the police department.

“I don’t think liquor would have been legalized here if it hadn’t been for Toledo Bend.” Brandon said. “Of course. we always had problems with bootleggers. But this was just a bad place to legalize it.”

Most of the illegal alcohol came from Natchitoches Parish, Brandon said.

“They had a man over there that would sell them a load on credit,” Brandon said. “When they’d come back, they’d bring him the money.”

Brandon, who turns 64 in November, doesn’t move as fast as he once did. A serious stroke two years ago left him partially paralyzed. But standing more than 6 feet tall, he has a look about him that shows he still has the kind of determination which gained him the respect of law enforcement officers and outlaws alike.

Even so, Brandon is modest when it comes to talking about his reputation.

“A lot of it I didn’t want. I had no idea that would happen. I guess I was just a born lawman. They have to be born,” he said, “or they won’t stay with it. You just don’t have the lawmen you used to. Most of them I knew back in my early years are dead.  It’s hard to get hold of a man to work in law enforcement these days. Now we have young ones who don’t know what it’s all about. All they want is their time up and a check. I
may sound hard on them. But that’s the facts.”

Brandon has been a friend to Zwolle.  But Zwolle’s been a friend to him, too.

A walk with Brandon near the railroad tracks in downtown Zwolle makes you realize that you’re with a local celebrity. Stopping to wave to motorists and speak to the towns-people, Brandon is obviously enjoying his retirement.

“I’ve got a bunch of grandkids who like to visit me,” he said. “I want to spend more time with them. And I want to spend more time with my wife. Not once did she ever complain about me leaving in the middle of the night and staying gone all weekend.”

the_times_sun__oct_18__1981_4While he enjoys relaxing in the big reclining chair in his living room, Brandon’s not going to sit still for long.

“I can still hop in my truck and go any place I need to go,” he said. One place he’ll probably be found is the police department next to city hall. There’s a pot of rich coffee brewing there. And although Brandon has been out of office for two months. his coffee cup remains on the wall. Just like Quinton Brandon, it’s gathering no dust.

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“One tough hombre:” Sheriff who tamed Tombstone, Arizona and beyond had roots in Sabine Parish and Sabine County

John Horton Slaughter
John Horton Slaughter

His name was Slaughter… John H. Slaughter, and he was also known as Texas John Slaughter.  He is credited with taming a notorious part of the Wild Wild West… in particular a large part of the Arizona Territory… geograpically specifically bringing lawfulness back to Tombstone, Arizona after the infamous 1881 Gunfight at the OK Corral.

Furthermore, he was the inspiration for a popular Walt Disney TV series in the 1950s, aptly titled, “Texas John Slaughter.”

Although I do not know specifically where (if anyone does, please respond), I do know that this old West gunfighter was born in 1841 in today’s Sabine Parish (back then, Natchitoches Parish), on what is described as a “Southern plantation near Many, Louisiana.”  His parents were Benjamin Slaughter and the former Minerva Mabry.

John Horton Slaughter was educated in Sabine County, near current Hemphill, Texas, and later in Caldwell County, Texas.

John Horton Slaughter
John Horton Slaughter

In the 1870s, he and his brother became cattle drivers near San Antonio, Texas, and the two formed a cattle-transporting company, the San Antonio Ranch Company, which drove cattle to Kansas via the Chisholm Trail.

In the late 1870s, Slaughter left Texas for New Mexico, where he traded cattle for a brief period.  Soonafter, he established a ranch in the Arizona Territory, having acquired the San Bernardino Ranch near today’s Douglas, Arizona (Cochise County).

Slaughter, with his rifle
Slaughter, with his rifle

In 1886, he was elected sheriff of Cochise County and served two terms as the county’s top law officer.  As sheriff, he helped track down Geronimo, the Apache chief, and Geronimo ultimately surrendered at San Bernardino. Slaughter fought for law and order with his six-shooter, a repeating shotgun, and with his Henry rifle.  He arrested hundreds of desperadoes, including members of the Jack Taylor Gang, and brought them to justice.

The Tombstone Jail was even once known as the “Hotel de Slaughter” for all the men who were put away there by Slaughter.

A legend of all sorts, Slaughter was known to return from searching from outlaws with only the horses and equipment of the outlaws he sought.

Slaughter was married twice, the first marriage from which two children were produced and though he and his second wife, Viola Howell Slaughter, never had any biological children, they adopted several.  Most noteworthy of the children they adopted was Apache May Slaughter, an Apache toddler adopted after she was abandoned by her parents while Slaughter was tracking her band who were responsible for killing white men in Arizona.

Apache May
Apache May

From Wikipedia:  “Apache May Slaughter became a young celebrity across Arizona, because many newspapers and publications speculated about the girl’s natural parents, her relation to the Apaches and whether those factors would affect her personality in the future and turn her into a violent person without morals.  Photographers were no strangers to the small girl; she was constantly pictured and appeared in most Arizona publications of the era.

“Apache May died at the Slaughters’ San Bernardino Ranch when one of her dresses caught fire as she was playing near a pot with boiling water. There were rumors at the time that were more likely true that the ranch hands, who were prejudiced against the little girl for being Indian, had actually set on fire the ranch.

————-

“As a type of the true Westerner, John Slaughter was perhaps the most outstanding of any of the pioneers of Arizona from the dangers of the hostile Apache and for protection of early settlers from outlawry and depredation,” stated an article written in The Copper Era and Morenci Leader at the time of his death, in February 1922.

In its Feb. 19, 1922 edition reporting Slaughter’s death, The Tombstone Epitath wrote, “During his 10 years of office, (Slaughter) brought to justice many desperadoes who had been operating through the country and many attempts  were made to entrap him and take his life.  But Slaughter was too quick and too wise for them to cope with and in every case, he outgeneraled his foes.”

The newspaper article continued, “In passing of the venerable old pioneer, it can truly be said that Tombstone and Cochise County have lost one of the most constructive citizens they have had, and when news of his death at a ripe old age reaches the ears of the old timers of this county who fought with him, worked with and honored John Slaughter, it will be with a pang of regret which can only be fully realized by those who have met him and known him in his lie in the Southwest.”

—————

In August 2015, The Arizona Republic featured a section entitled “Arizona’s True Tales” in which Arizona historian Marshall Trimble shared a brief look at some of the characters highlighted in his recently published book, “Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen.”  Included was Slaughter, described simply as “Peacekeeper.”  The article reads:

“John Horton Slaughter was one of the many drought-stricken Texas cattlemen who drove their herds to the virgin ranges of Arizona in the 1870s. He settled in Cochise County and eventually bought the historic San Bernardino ranch that straddled the Mexican border in south-eastern Arizona. He also brought law and order to a county that had been ravaged by outlaws and rustlers since its creation in 1881.

“Slaughter personified the 19th-century rawhide-tough breed that settled the wild Southwest border country. Slaughter was a no-nonsense man with dark, penetrating eyes. He always believed he was protected by a guardian angel and couldn’t be killed. The many times he stared death in the eye seemed to bear that out. “I’ll die in bed,” he declared and he did eventually, at a ripe old age.

“He was a product of frontier life, a lawless and violent post-Civil War era. He had no problem killing a man if he believed the man needed killing. He packed a pearl-handled .44 and a shot-gun. Some called him a good man and others said he was bad but they all agreed, John Slaughter was one tough hombre.

“Slaughter might have killed 20 men or more but he never said. One of his deputies described him as ‘a man of few words and he used them damn seldom.’

“After Slaughter became sheriff of Cochise County in 1887, he issued a stern warning to the rustler gangs, ‘get out or get shot.’ Most took his advice and left the country.

“In running outlaws to the ground, he sometimes acted as judge, jury and executioner. Nobody asked questions but law-abiding citizens were glad the undesirables were gone and wouldn’t return.

“He retired after two terms and returned to his beloved San Bernardino ranch. Years later, during the Mexican Revolution, Slaughter discovered Pancho Villa’s hungry solderos were butchering his cattle. Slaughter grabbed his gun, mounted his horse and rode boldly into Villa’s camp with fire in his eyes. He returned home later with his saddlebags full of shiny new $20 gold pieces.

“Not even Pancho Villa was willing to tangle with the old man Geronimo referred to as ‘that wicked little gringo.’ \

“His last gunfight occurred on May 4, 1921, when he was 81. A gang of border bandits, bent on robbery, attacked the ranch. Armed with his trusty pearl-handled .44, he drove off the bandits.

Standing only 5-foot-6, John Slaughter was small in size, but great in frontier stature. He’d been a lawman, cattleman, gun-fighter, businessman, pioneer, legislator, empire builder and even participated in the final campaign against Geronimo.

“Sometimes he was a bit careless about the legal niceties of the law but it was a hard country and it took men with bark on to tame it.”

 

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Singer Jim Croce, who died in plane crash in Natchitoches, “gave something to remember”

From The Shreveport Times, Natchitoches News Bureau, Sept. 22, 1973
From The Shreveport Times, Natchitoches News Bureau, Sept. 22, 1973

On Sept. 21, 1973, singer Jim Croce, along with an entourage of five people, were killed after their chartered twin-engine Beechcraft plane crashed near the Natchitoches Municipal Airport.

Croce, who was just 30, had just one hour and 10 minutes earlier finished a concert at Northwestern State University and was headed out to perform next in Dallas.

According to Natkchitoches officials, the plane never gained much altitude.  One wing reported scraped the edge of a pecan tree near the then-new Hwy. 1 bypass.  The plane erolled over and burst apart upon impact with hte ground before coming to rest about 200 yards from the end of hte runway.  All passengers were killed instantly.

Croce’s body was found in the copilot’s seat.

Croce had been scheduled to stay overnight in Natchitoches and fly to Dallas the following day, but last minute changes in plans caused him to leave after the concert instead of the following day.

I came across the following article, from UPI (United Press International) News Services on Sept. 22, 1973.

NATCHITOCHES, La. —Jim Croce sat in a folding chair, relaxed and comfortable in his faded blue work shirt and jeans. softly strumming his guitar.

“I’ve flown about 700,000 or 800,000 miles just this past year.  I’m starting to feel it now, too.  You know, jet lag.”

Then he gave his last concert before 2,000 laughing and cheering students at Northwestern University’s Prather Coliseum.   An hour later, alter closing with “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” he was dead in the wreckage of an airplane

Rough-hewn, mustachioed, cigar-smoking, weather-beaten Jim Croce gave the students something to remember: music that was honest, sincere, old fashioned, but not slick and spoiled by success.

“I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing now,” was what he said in that last interview before going on one more time

He said he liked performing before college kids in the South, because, “East and West Coast audiences tend to have a ‘show me’ attitude.  He was in the middle of a fiv-week tour of one-night concerts in the Southwest.

“Operator,” one of his early hits, and his current big single, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” were the show stoppers.  When Croce finished with “Leroy Brown,” he just walked off the stage, leaving many students wondering if that was the end of the concert.  It was.

In his 35 minute performance, his new releases, “I Have Name’ and “I Fell in Love with a Roller Derby Queen,” were pleasers, too.  He mode the audience laugh when he told them he wrote “Derby Queen” after meeting a fat lady in a bar.

Croce died with his five-man troupe at Natchitoches Airport in the crash of the twin-engine airplane that was taking them to Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

Croce sang with his guitar in a spotlight standing at a microphone at center stage.  A few feet away, Comedian George Stevens proceeded Croce’s appearance, which began at 9 p.m. And ended at 9:35 p.m.

“In an industry filled with freak acts, Croce was a welcome and much needed change,” one student said.

 

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“Bitter Waters Round the Bend”… Tales from 1966, pre-Toledo Bend Lake

Following is an article from The Shreveport Times, dated Sun, Jul 3, 1966, and written by Norman Richardson.

Bitter Waters    the_times_sun__jul_3__1966_1
Moses Speights Morris is a proud man whose family tree roots reach deep into the red clay of Sabine County.

His father, who is buried just up the road, worked the land, fought in the Confederacy, and built a big farmhouse that still stands today.

His grandfather received a land grant from the Mexican Republic around Sabinetown, fought for it in the Texas Revolution and he, too, is buried in it

But as much as he loves the land, as linked to it as he is, Morris must leave his 222 acres.

He has known no other home in his 81 years and vows he will stay until the waters come.

And they will come.

mosesSometime before 1968, the muddy waters of the Sabine River will slip from their banks to create the mammoth Toledo Bend Reservoir which will swallow tip Morris’ land and be two feet ever his porch.

“I’m not liking it at all, not a doggone bit,” Morris says bitterly of the Toledo Rend project.

He is the last holdout among the landowners in the Milam, Texas area.

On the Louisiana side of the twisting Sabine, an almost forgotten historic site near Many is on its death bed. It will die slowly as it gives way to progress and surrenders to the turbid waters.

The Sabine Breastworks, most extensive and best preserved military breastworks on the river, will simply cease to exist this year.

It is a project marked with mixed emotions ranging from tears and heartbreak to joy, excitement and downright stubbornness by the people living here.

All have stories to tell, all have reasons for wanting to go or stay.

The same story holds true a few miles deeper into East Texas and the Sam Rayburn Reservoir project.

“I think it’s one of the most outrageous things ever was.” Morris says, slapping his leg in disgust. “Penalizes all of us upstream to satisfy the thirst of those downstream.  I’m gonna stay here til the waters come. They think i ain’t . . but I am, I don’t pay ’em no mind.”

lanetownThe sometimes hard blows of this thing called progress have already been felt in the little community of Concord. As little as six years ago, over 100 citizens here went about their own way of life, working their rich fields, hauling pulp-wood and ritually placing fresh flowers on the graves in a little cemetery established even before Texas won its independence from Mexico.

Life in Concord was built around the old Missionary Baptist Church, fondly called “God’s Home in the Wilderness.”  Now, there is no life here. no townsite, and it is somewhat of an eerie feel-ing to look out over the waters of Rayburn Reservoir and realize that somewhere underneath tons of water lies the historic old community.

Near Pineland, a finger of the reservoir reaches inward to almost surround a new state park where a few old homes once stood.  Less than 300 yards offshore at the bottom of the water lies the old community of I.anetown.  A little further an, the site of the Gum Flat community is also lost forever.

The old communities are gone, but in their places will spring hundreds of new homes around both lakes. new boat camps, new stores and lodges and fishing camps, and there are even a few ghost towns, and a retirement mecca for the elderly.

mcgownThe lakes have enhanced land values over a wide radius and it has been estimated by the Corps of Engineers that annual benefits of over $4.5 million will result from the Rayburn Reservoir be-cause of flood control, the conservation of water for various municipal and industrial purposes and the generation of hydroelectric power.

Those who have moved away from the gso projects were a proud, rural, hard working people for the most part, and many still hold only bitterness even if they reluctantly admit the benefits to be derived from both.

And some. like one elderly woman, were glad to move in order to be closer to a doctor and hospitals. An old farmer near the Toledo Bend area said the “only way I’ll get out is to float out.”

A 66-year-old man said, “I ain’t wanting to move.  This is my home.”

W. W. Cavendar, Sabine County and district clerk. moved out of the home he and his wife had occupied singe 1945 and which has been in his wife’s family for 75 years. They built a newer home 12 miles away.

“It’s okay to build a dam.  It’s good for the area and the county … but they shouldn’t pin all the hardships on the landowner.” Cavendar said.

From Mrs, Cavendar: ‘It’s pretty hard to leave the old family home.  I.was born aind raised here.  It is pretty bard.”

Situations are different and opinions vary all along the Sabine and Rayburn projects.

“The lake builders want lo take all of my land,” Morris said. “That includes the old house and that’s the worst part of all.”  The house ie 94 years old and the land “is the very best. I can make a crop off it anytime.”

Morris says he has been offered $180 per acre, but is holding out for $300, but then counters with, “They can’t pay me enough money to satisfy me… I can’t be satisfied anywhere else.”

He said he has been served condemnation papers on his land, which means, according to a spokesman in the Hemphill, Texas headquarters of the Toledo Rend project, that the case has now reached the court stage.

“Of cuurse.” he added, “the case can be settled out of court anytime.”

The normal process or land acquisition involves an appraisal by an independent contract fee appraiser. On the basis of this an attempt is made to acquire the property. If this eventually fails, the case is presented to a court to decide the outcome.

The areas to be flooded by the two lakes are sparsely settled and wooded. There are no major improvements on land to go under water, but there are a lot of old homes. small churches and stores, roads… and a lot of memories.

But the majority feeling is probably best summed up by 80-year-old Lee Felts whose farm home where be has lived since 1911 is less than 15 feet from the planned shoreline of Toledo Bend:

“You know… sometimes a fellow does things he does not like to do.”.

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