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History: A tree grows in Bossier

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The September 12, 1935 issue of The Bossier Banner told the following story of a giant oak tree that grew in the yard of a Bossier resident.

“A fit title for this narrative would be ‘Large Trees from Little Acorns Grow,’ for the giant oak tree of Bossier Parish grows in the front yard of our esteemed and venerable citizen, Mr. Marion Britt.”

“The background to this tree is: Mr. Britt, with other members of his family, left their home in Georgia during 1871 for Bossier Parish.  Though this makes strange reading for the present, they went to New Orleans, took the John T. Moore up navigable waters to the mouth of Loggy Bayou which is just above East Point, transferred to the Hesper, which took them to the Nowles Landing, five or six miles south of Minden, which was during January.  They located near the center of activity in these parts—Filmore—during September of the same year.”

“Mr. Britt engaged in wagon-building and other shop work, with a Mr. McClanahan, father of the late James McClanahan, of Haughton.  He later married Miss McClanahan.  At that time, according to Mr. Britt, Filmore boasted of three churches, a Masonic lodge and the Griswold Academy.  The churches were: Methodist, whose building is still in a good state of preservation, at the cemetery; Baptist and a Christian Church, which was then called Campbellite.  There were several large mercantile establishments, a large horse barn (that also housed the stage coach teams), and considerable population.”

“During 1884 the V.S. and P. was building through this parish and, with his brother George, Mr. Britt opened the shop of Britt and Brother, near the right of way.  He takes pride in the fact that this building has weathered all storms and is on the job today.”

“Mr. Britt recalls many of the settlers of the Filmore-Haughton community of those bygone days, who came here to open up the new country just before the War Between the States.  He thinks the earliest planters arrived between 1836 up to the period of the war.  [Some of] the names most familiar during the 70’s were: Arthur J. Newman, Dr. Lawrence, Skannal, Abney, Haughton, Prince, McDade, Dortch, Barnacastle, Carraway and Ferguson—in fact, the country was settled by folk whom the writer knows to be the ‘salt of the earth.’”

“But back to the tree: To be on the railroad, Mr. Britt erected his present home during 1886 and had his young son, Robert, go and transplant a small live oak 50 feet due west, in front of the house, to provide an afternoon shade.  The limbs of this tree now rest on the housetop, giving it a 100 feet spread from tip to tip.  Four feet from the ground the trunk measures 14 feet, and where roots form shoulders and then disappear in the ground, it is 26 feet around.”

According to the article E. E. Walker of Haughton submitted the information to The Banner on September 2, 1935.

Whether it is a tree, a house or a person, the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center can help you with your research about Bossier Parish.  Visit us soon.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or amiddlet@state.lib.la.us