BOSSIER PARISH, LOUISIANA 1843-1871

I have been researching my Louisiana line for sometime now, although my ancestors were born in GA, they migrated to LA for some reason. My next thought was to study the area. My ancestors by 1880 was living in Webster Parish, but in 1871 there were a split from Bossier Parish, but my ancestors when on arrival to LA were at some point living in Bossier Parish. Here is what I found out about the Parish:

Bossier Parish was formed February 24, 1843 when Act 33 of the Louisiana Legislature was signed into law by Governor Alexandre Mouton. Bossier was apparently named by the Louisiana House of Represenatives after their friend of ten years, the much revered Creole General Pierre Evariste Jean Baptiste Bossier(1797-1844).

During the fall of 1845 there might have been seen a little village called Haynesville, in Houston County Georgia, a large crowd of movers-old Georgians who gathered at that place to bid farewell to loved ones, old homes, dear friends, and relatives to make a start for Louisiana. Yes it was a last farewell for they never expected to see them again.

The whites of the party were David Hamiter, John Hamiter, James Engraham, Allen Winham and their families and a young man John Kemp. Thirty six in all. Besides these, there were a large crowd of Negros, perhaps 200 or more. I must believe that if my ancestores were not in this group, then they were soon to follow.

The settlers left in November and travled all the way by land. They crossed the Chattaoochcee River at Coffeyville and the Mississippi River at Natchez. They were then in Louisiana.

They Reached Minden on Christmas day to the surprise of the older members of the party. Mr John Chaffee the leading merchant of Minden at that time and who married a Georgia girl, came out and gave the settlers an invitation to his home for dinner.

They camped a few miles west of Minden that night and the next day came on to Bossier Parish and camped on a large hill near the Hanks old dwelling place, known as Sugar Hill. That was the settlers stopping place and there they disbanded. Everyone going to his own place, not home for they had not been built.

Bossier Parish was one of the first communities in the south to declare war on the North. At a meeting held at the W.J. Hughes home in Rocky Mount war was declared November 26, 1860.

The main argument found other than those already well known was given by the owners of the Slaves in Bossier Parish. It didn’t anger these men so much that the North was going to force the South to give up their Slaves, but that these very Slaves had been purchased from the North. When the North outlawed Slavery, they had released all the Slaves they owned, they brought some of them to the South and sold them to Plantation owners here. Now they were telling these plantation owners they had to release these Slaves. Bossier Parish also felt it didn’t have representation in Washington. Not one vote had been cast for Lincoln in the Parish elections.

It is evident that the situation was also one of economy. In Bossier Parish all the lands censused in 1860 were valued at just over one million dollars, but the Slaves were valued at four million. Slaves were worth four times as much as land. A full 80% of a farm cost was about to be taken away from these plantations owners, not to mention the tax revenue that would be lost by their release, so on January 26, 1861 T.J. Caldwell and H McFarland signed the secession agreement declaring Louisiana no longer part of the United States of America.

On November 22, 1862 Bossier with Bienville, Caddo, Winn and Harrison County Tex committee representation to Shreveport after the fall of New Orleans. The committee decided action had to be taken to stop the Union. Fortifications and Obstructions to block the Red River $80,000.00 was raised. The committee Delegates appealed to planters to hire their Slaves to build defenese works. Owners would provide workers, clothing, bedding, and tools for $25.00 a month per man. Thus Slaves were forced to perform the very work that would delay their release and could have caused them to remain Slaves. On March 3, 1863, the Bossier Guards were organized.

In 1859 Slaves owned by Bossier Parish farmers were valued at $3,940,100.00 which generated $6,566. 78 in tax dollars.

In 1869 there were 195,364 acres of uncultivated; 20,363 cultivated in cotten; 17,915 in corn. From that acreage 7,162 bushels of corn were made, 19,902 bushels of potatos(my weakness), 7,162 bales of cotton. There were 799 farms with a total acreage of 235,308 acres of this number 70,503 acres were improved and 164,805 unimproved. The valueof all farm products that year were estimated at $1,409,147.00. Part of the acreage was reduced when Webster Parish was formed in 1871 and took the eastern 1/3 of Bossier Parish.

In 1920 census gave Bossier Parish 4,227 farms, 944 operated by whites, 3,283 colored. 3,148 were operated by tenats. It is not known to me at this point if my ancestor Ben Robertson is a part of these numbers considering that the family was in Webster Parish.

Buried Treasure stories are in every community and Bossier Parish is no exception.

Happening in the early war years, Mr Nicholas Marks one of the wealthiest planters of the area getting word of a Yankee invasion reportedly buried gold somewhere on the Dutch John Plantation, possibly on the banks of Dutch Bayou. Acciording to the memory of Dan “Buddy” Logan who was born and raised in the area, the old man Marks died with out revealing the site of his buried treasure chest.

The single clue was provided by two of Mr. Marks Ex-Slaves, who swore that they helped the “old massa” hide the gold. Seems like they knew where it was, but didn’t and “claiming that their owner had awakened them in the middle of the night for some choreing”, they soon found themselves blindfolded and carrying a heavy chest into the night. Stopping and changing directions a dozen times, Marks led the two sweating Slaves on what the later reports to be a two hour trek before he found the spot he had previously chosen. Removing their blindfolds, he held the latern and told them to dig.

Questioning their master as to the necessity for the two additional holes, the Slaves were told they’re your graves. I don’t want anyone to know where the gold is buried.  Pleading the Slaves promised that nothing short of death would wrest the hiding place from them and besides they had been blindfolded and actually didn’t know where they were-wether still were on the Master’s and or perhaps even on the adjoining Egypt Plantation of the Graves Family?

With the two on their knees swearing their silence, afraid to be put in the additional holes and Mr Marks knowing he had made his point had them lower the chest into the ground. Keeping their word the two Slaves never uttered a word about their midnight trip until many years after the masters death. They like the rest of the Slaves recieved a house and 80 acres upon Mr. Marks death leaving little doubt that he had never meant to bury them with the gold.

What Happened to the Gold?
Well a popular conception is held by most of the Natives is one that Cal Strayham, whose descendents still live in the area, found the buried gold. How else could anyone account for the sudden wealth of the Strayam Family shortly after Cal had made one of his numerous trips into the Bayou. Hmm!!

One of the more interesting stories that I read was:
On October 1, 1871 Nancy Robertson a freed slave was found dead at her home in South Bossier Point. Mysteriously the house was locked from the inside. Neighbors could see her lying dead on the bed through the window and called the Bossier Coroner. Earlier another freed slave had collasped while plowing a field. From what whites Drs diagnosed as fluid on the brain, brought on by the heat of the summer, but fellow freedmen were not covinced by the Drs diagnoses and remembered the summer before this, Nancy had fell out with the man and had made vague threats against his life. The freedmen decided Nancy had bewitched the man with a curse. The man lingered for a few days and died.

The local freedmen quickly arrested Nancy Robertson and sent for Charlie Steele, a freedman and celebrated witch Dr. They wanted Charlie to have her tested for being a witch. Charlie Steele gained fame earlier for invoing a “miracl cure” upon another colored women. While on their way to get the infamous witch Dr they came across a fellow white neighbor who warned them that they might face consequences for taking the law into their own hands. The white man told the freedmen to have a post mortem examination to see if the man was poisoned. When physicians examined the man, they announced that the poison had nothing to do with the death(they believed it had been caused by fluid on the brain). Apparently the freedmen were not happy, with this explanation and still presumed the death to have been caused by Nancy Robertson and her bewitching.

When the coroner arrived with his jury and physicians, the mystery of the locked house murder was solved. They broke into the house and quickly deduced that the women had been shot through a crack in the wall with a sotgun. Indeed several of her neighbors had heard the shot, but failed to investigate. Three of the pellets penetrated he heart and killed her instantly. An arrest warrant was soon issued for Anthony Williams for the murder of Nancy Robertson.

Could Nancy be one of my ancestors? Hmm!! Glad I read this book. Have some very useful information and If I didn’t know now, I know why Ben and Mandy were bought to LA. Now by who and when leads to more investigation. Thanks for listening!!
Felicia

DISCLOSURE: The information gathered in this post came from Bossier Parish History, The First 150 Years 1843-1993. I mostly concentrated on information before 1871. This book was written by:
CLIFTON D CARDIN

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: NaNa ODESSA AND FRIEND

This is a picture of my grandmother Odessa Amos and her friend Rue or Ruthie(this is what name mom remembers). Not sure of what year this picture was taken,  but they do look like they are having a good time. Actually they look like they are up to something. See if NaNa Odessa would have stayed around a little longer I am so sure that my noisey self would have asked all those questions that I am asking now. I am so sure that she would have answered all my questions or just told me that I talk to much for my age. How I wish to hear those words now.
Felicia

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: JAMES AND RUBY AMOS

James was the oldest son of my great grandmother Amanda. Born abt 1901 in Cotton Valley, LA. I never met my great uncle, but if you let my mom tell it, I did. I found this photo going through old photos and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It shows what a loving African American couple looks like.

When Amanda fell ill, rumor has it that James took her from state to state trying to get her help. On her death bed, Amanda made James promise to look after his sister Odessa, and that he did. Once Amanda passed away, James moved to New York where he met and married his wife Ruby. I was able to find out through census records that Ruby was from Virginia.

He lived the rest of his life there and passed away in 1975, Ruby later followed him in 1981. Although they never had any children, I can tell that they had a happy life together and really loved each other. Thats what this research leads us to believe. We find old photos that shows much happier times and no matter what our ancestors were, this is the way we always want to remember them, HAPPY!!
Felicia

MADNESS MONDAY: AMANDA ROBERTSON 1881-1926

Amanda is my great grandmother on my maternal side of the family. I have been trying to find out whatever information on her and her famiy that I can.

I have made serveral descendant contacts of one of the ROBERTSON sisters, but they do not have much information, because Amanda died before they were born and even Amanda’s sister had passed away also. Cousin E had gotten a hold of an aunt that knew all the ROBERTSON girls. I have tried to call and she has not returned any of my calls. Even offered to send a letter if she doesn’t want to talk to me, but I don’t see her not talking to me as a possibility because she gave me her phone number and now cousin E have not returned my calls.

All I am trying to do is get to know all my great aunts and my great grandmother and hopefully get some information on my great great grandmother and grandfather.

I know your spirit is with me Amanda, because of the stories that I have heard about you , we do have somethings in common. All I am asking is for your spirit to guide me to that one person or that one thing that will give me the information that I am looking for. I am so close, but sometime spirits have to guide us to answering that email, letter, or phone message. So close, I feel you Amanda.
Felicia

COULD EDMUND WILLIAM HODGES HAVE BEEN MY ANCESTORS SLAVEOWNER?

As everyone know I have been on the track of finding out who owned my ancestors Ben and Mandy ROBERTSON. I believe I have found him:  E W HODGES may have been the owner.

E W HODGES was born abt 1809 in Randolf, GA Twiggs County and died around 1867 in Webster Parish, LA. According to slave schedule of 1850 and 1860 LA the HODGES dominated the area of Bossier Parish, LA as slave owners. In 1860 E W owned 4 male slaves age 16 years old and Ben was born abt 1844. Then there was a John E HODGES owned one Mulatto female slave which was 10 years old and Mandy BRYANT was born abt 1850. John lived in Pine Woods Catahoula, LA. Not sure if Pine Woods was a Plantation or area in LA. One of my biggest questions was how did Ben and Mandy if born in GA end up in LA and  http://www.lcafricana.com/ gave me the answer.

There was land lottery in LA and the Hodges bided on land in LA. Obviously they won the lottery and moved to LA with their slaves and harvested on that land.

Although E W died in 1867 his son E W Jr and wife Gussey was living a couple houses away from the ROBERTSONS in the 1870 census. Even in the 1880 census the HODGES and the ROBERTSONS were still neighbors.

Once I viewed E W census record of 1860 on http://www.ancestry.com/,  there were 3 descendents that have attached his name to their tree. Two descendents I figured out his name was added because of marriage, but one really caught my eye: Hodges VA/NC/GA/AL… saved by thunder88.

This really interested me because E W’s father Matthew Hodges was born abt 1788 in Pitt County, N.C. Once I viewed the tree(we all know the detective kicked in at this point), I noticed that there were some ROBERTSONS from VA listed. Now this could explain why Ben was owned by HODGES and his surname was ROBERTSON. Hmm!!

Now I have a few areas of interest and still trying to put all the pieces together, but to me when you get to this point, this is what the research is really about. Really learning who you are and where you come from. Who owned your ancestors and how they lived? What kind of life they lived and what kind of owner did they have? Now I know some of those questions might not never be answered, but just the notion of possibly finding out makes everything worth while.
Felicia

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: EARL CARRIE BANKS

Earl Carrie Banks was NaNa Odessa’s oldest child born in 1926. Son of her first husband Augustus Banks. Earl and my mom were at least 21yrs apart, but he was crazy about his sister Beverly.

NaNa Odessa was real big on education and she stressed to all her children to go to college. Not really sure what school Earl went to, but do know he earned a college degree. He also played football and went on to become the Head Football Coach of Morgan State University in Baltimore. After his death the college named Morgan State’s Stadium after him.
I remember at his funeral meeting Mayor Schmoke and the Govenor of the state of Maryland at that time. See I never knew of all of his accomplishments until after his death. My mom never bragged on her brother. Although she was proudof him, he was just her older brother and she did not see him in no other way so she did not introduce him to us in that way. I believe in his heart he appreciated her for that!!
Felicia

MY PROGRESS!

As we all know some progress can turn out to be no progress. I was excited to see a link that could answer some question as to how my family got to LA from GA. It turned out that I had really more questions than answers and really may have jumped the gun a little as to this link having information on my ancestors.

I sat scratching my head to the responses to my blog, I understood what my Genealogy family was telling me to do, but actually putting it together had me confused. Now I think of myself to be a pretty smart person(no genius) but I can read my way out of almost anything. I knew I had a task ahead of me and I was up for the challenge and what a challenge?!

I had a conversation with http://www.lcafricana.com/ and she gave me something to do that I never thought of. Things were in front of my face the whole time. Gosh!! Was I that blind. So I want to share what I have accomplished and where I am. http://www.lcafricana.com/ told me to view the whole 1870 census and check for any white families from GA living around the Robertsons and this is what I found:

I went through the 47 pages of the 1870 census Ward 6 Bossier Parish.. I mostly concentrated on the first white family before my ancestors no# came up and after their no#. I was able to find a E A Fulgan and wife Elizabeth both from GA counted as family 71. Then you have E M Hodges and wife Gussy both from GA counted as 75. The ROBERTSONS were counted as 82 and there were a few black families before and after the ROBERTSONS. The next white family was E A Smith born abt 1810 from GA and he was counted as 93.

As I was going through the names and writing them down 2 names stood out to me which were Hodges and Denman. The Hodges surname stood out because there were so many from GA scattered throughout the Ward and Denman because this was one of the names listed on the RedRiver website that owned 27 slaves and his property was worth 10,000.00. Hmm!! Although there were other slave owners living in Ward 6, William S Denman was the only one from GA.

At this point I went a little further, my heart could not let me stop there. I checked the 1880 census and found five families from GA living around the ROBERTSONS and some are on my orginial list. The Hodges are still on the same page as the ROBERTSONS. Only one family still remained in 1900 and that is the Robys and they were from GA.

Now out of all that information I have three names to focus on, Denman, Hodges, and Roby. Googled Denman and it brung up some will information from Bibb County, GA. Looks like I have a new area to research. Macon, GA and Oglethrope, GA came up for some other possible areas for the other two names.

Wow what a project and with such a good result. I have not done much further, but I have a brand new direction and a new focus. Oh yeah in 1870 on the same page as Ben and Mandy ROBERTSON, there was another ROBERTSON family from GA with a Jas, Eliza, Andrew, and Bennie born abt 1835. Could this be Ben’s brother and father. My heart tells me yes and once further research is done they to will be identified. With many thanks to all that took me in this direction. I am discovering my ancestors and a whole new family that I have and the true meaning of family. Thanks Again!
Felicia

COULD THIS BE MY ANCESTORS?

AS I sit here today I just knew I was at a dead end with my research of my LA line, but as we all know there are no dead ends, because when a door closes GOD always opens a window.

Maybe about a month ago I was trying to locate Ben and Mandy in the 1870 Census in Webster Parish. No luck, but then I remembered that I read somewhere that Bossier, Bienville, and Clairbourne Parishes merged around 1876 and thus formed Cotton Valley in Webster Parish. So looked up Ben in Bossier Parish and there he was. He was listed as ROBERSON instead of ROBERTSON but I knew it was him. Mandy was listed as Eliza and Henry and Minerva the oldest of Ben and Mandy were listed also. I Attached record to my tree and concentrated on trying to find out where they were from in GA.

Until today!! Luckie Daniels of OurGeorgiaRoots tweeted me a link: http://www.redriversankofa.org/redriverchurch.html that lead me to Plantation in Bossier Parish. I was reading about GoldPoint Plantation and came upon Church and Plantation records. Even had names listed.

The names that caught my eye on Church records list were, Ben, Eliza(Mandy), Henry, and Minerva. Could this be? Could this be my family and how did they get from GA to LA? Were they sold? So many questions and few answers.

I am more determined than ever now! This is a true mystery to me and there is no one left to put the pieces to this puzzle together but if it takes the rest of my life I will do this.

My Genealogy Family tell me what you think? View records and voice your opinions. Thanks for Listening!
Felicia

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: ROBERT LEE SMITH JR 02/21/1948-01/21/1997

Although my mom had three brothers, Uncle Bobby was my favorite. I learned so much from him. He had such a good spirit. He was smart, funny, and humble. He was well educated(masters degree in math) and such a good athlete. He almost went pro, but like so many he had those demons that he could not shake.

Athough Uncle Bobby had so much going for him, in college he developed a liking for alchohol and became addicted. He was able to overcome this addiction and settledown and marry. He had one child(a daughter) and never took another drink. I remember one year when he came to live with us, mom poured beer on her ham to take some of the salt away. He would not touch that ham. He said he was recovering and wanted nothing to do with that ham. Although he overcame alchohol, he was also addicted to drugs and never overcame that.

Uncle bobby passed away tragically and it broke my moms heart. She just could not help him and she always wished she could have done more. We all did. He had so much potential and I know for sure that he would have loved to help me in my pursuit of our family history. I miss him so much, he even taught me how to play chess. We spent so much time talking and laughing. Wow!! I just wonder what would he be doing now? What would he have become if not for drugs and alchohol? No matter what he did he was my Uncle Bobby who was crazy about his niece Bird. See thats the name he gave me growing up since I was so skinny and had bird legs. I tattooed that name on my arm and whenever someone ask me about it, I just say “MY UNCLE GAVE ME THAT NAME!!
Felicia

MADNESS MONDAY: CAROL JEAN COLLINS 11/1944-05/2006

Now I know madness mondays are for those ancestors that drive you mad. Although Aunt Carol did not drive me mad, but she did a number on my mom and the family.

Although my NaNa Odessa only had one girl(which is my mom), her and NaNa Dora were real good friends so mom and Aunt Carol grew up together. Once my NaNa Odessa passed away NaNa Dora stepped in a mother figure for my mom and our families grew from there. Aunt Carol was like a sister to my mom and thats the way she treated her just like a sister.

All sisters and brothers argue but Aunt Carol was a totally different breed. She gave mom and Aunt Che Che(Angela) HELL!! She would cuss you out with a smile on her face. I used to laugh so hard because mom and Aunt Che Che would talk about her in a whisper, but Aunt Carol would say whatever she had to say about them in front of their faces. She would always tell me don’t let them take advantage of you. See while at family gatherings everyone would be full so I would be left to put things away. Although Aunt Carol would be full too, she would always say make them help, but didn’t offer any help herself. It was ok though i alwasy knew what she was trying to say. See once we moved to MD, she would call my mom everyday and leave these hour long messages on the anwsering machine and when you called her back, she would just say “where is your mama that piece of sh..”. God I miss her.

On one visit home Aunt Che Che entertained us with a story about how my Aunt Carol lost NaNa Dora’s medication and blamed it on everyone she could. She had Aunt Che Che so frustrated, she put Aunt Carol out of her house and Aunt CeChe was her ride home. Che Che said “she had me thinking that I lost the medicine”.

See those are the things Aunt Carol did. She passed away suddenly from complications of COPD. She would not stop drinking or smoking. You would think that someone with the diease would change their bad
habits, but not Aunt Carol. She was her own person and everyone knew that. I miss her so much that I have not returned to Chicago since her funeral which was 3 years ago. See whenever we flew home, that was where we stayed. One year she picked us up in a car that had flowers for an antienna. I laughed about it until she pulled over and told me to find my way. Although I have other family and freinds back home, that was always our first stop and where I stayed. She always made room for me and my boys and even when my mom traveled with the boys(without me) she would make my mom leave them with her so they didn.t have to get caught up in my mom’s madness of trying to visit everyone.

I miss you Aunt Carol. I think she would be so proud of what I have done with the family genealolgy and her memory probably would have been much better than moms. I know it. RIP Aunt Carol
Felicia

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