For those that don’t know me, I let peoples requests control what I study since it makes sense that at least two of us want the answers.
I was recently contacted by a gentleman from Texas wanting confirmation that his g-g-grandfather served as Sheriff of Bossier Parish and he asked for any more information I might have about Isaac Martin Hooper. I informed him that I. M. Hooper as he was known, served from 1848-1850 as Sheriff of Bossier Parish and that we knew very little about him. I also asked if he wanted any “dark details” and he said he did, so I told him that I. M. Hooper left rather quickly in 1850 and Bossier Parish District Courts ordered the new Sheriff Lewis Field Steele to “take over the property” of former Sheriff I. M. Hooper, who “absconded”.
The requestee was surprised but he knew other details about I. M. Hooper that made him feel like he might have been a bit of a rascal. He deferred to the fact uncovered that when Hooper married his wife Jane Amanda Platt April 6, 1848 in Bossier, Hooper was about 33 years of age, and his bride to be Ms. Jane Amanda Platt was 13-14 years old. Some people will argue that young brides were common “in those days,” but my research has not uncovered that many in Bossier Parish.
I began a search into what records might reveal about this previous sheriff.
Census records show Isaac Martin Hooper was born about 1814 in Arkansas. He came to Bossier Parish as early as Sept 1844 when he began witnessing conveyances at the original wooden Bellevue courthouse. Hooper witnesses three conveyances in the next two years could be seen as a suggestion he probably lived in Bellevue and was a convenient witness.
By Jan 1847, he was serving as Deputy Sheriff and performing auctions for then Sheriff Thomas Lewis Arick. By late Jan 1847, Hooper and Arick purchased Lot 8 in Bellevue as a split partnership. In late 1847, Hooper ran for and won election as Bossier Parish’s third sheriff and had to post bond to financially cover his actions as sheriff and ex-officio tax collector. Records show that Elijah Hudson, L. P. Murray, and B. B. Holland posted $1,280 dollars bond each, Thomas Dixon Connel posted $2,060 and John J. Alexander put up $500 bond.
I. M. Hooper was sworn into office Feb 23, 1848. He appointed Philo Alden as his deputy. He married on April 6, 1848, to Jane Amanda Platt, daughter of John G. Platt, one of his sheriff election supporters.
On June 6, 1848 he purchased Arick’s half of lot 8 and became sole owner. By December 9, 1848, Lewis F. Steele, sold Lot 5 of Bellevue to Hooper. This may have been a hotel as a 1850 inventory notated to contain nine bedsteds, seven mattresses, one feather bed, twenty four chairs, and all the other items needed for a hotel. By 1860, it was sold to Michael Smith and became the infamous Smith Hotel of Bellevue.
During his tenure as sheriff, Hooper oversaw several auctions concerning estates belonging to various residents of Bossier. This would come back to haunt him and his supporters later. He was also sheriff while Claiborne Parish courthouse burned in 1849 and prompted Bossier to have an election to build a new brick courthouse in Bellevue. That courthouse wasn’t finished until 1853.
By January, 1850, Lewis F. Steele won the election of Sheriff and took over office. Jan 17, 1850, I. M. Hooper signed paperwork in Bellevue stating he was a resident of Upshur County, Texas.
Meanwhile, several people sued I. M. Hooper claiming they were never paid for estate auctions he held and legal services. One of the lawsuits trying to recover monies recorded that Lot 5 of Bellevue included, “one small desk containing pens and official papers”, thus I believe is why Distric Court of Bossier ordered then Sheriff Lewis F. Steele to seize the papers of former Sheriff I. M. Hooper who lately absconded.
For those interested in the rest of the story, I. M. and Jane Amanda Platt Hooper remained in Upshur County from 1850, when Hooper is censused as a farmer, and during 1860, when he is a “miller”, other state census records showed he owned a sawmill. He and his young bride had numerous children, the last of which was born c1867. By 1870, Amanda Hooper is censused by herself and the children, thus indicating her husband may have died between 1866 and 1870. By 1880, she is living in Hays County, Texas.
Clifton Cardin is a Bossier Parish historian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org