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History: Early Bossier Parish Schools

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In his “Looking Back” column for the September 8, 1960 issue of The Bossier Banner-Progress, John A. Manry described the conditions of some of Bossier Parish’s early schools.

“Below is the report of the directors of one school district, which indicates this district was not dependent upon the state for any help, even though meager it might have been:”

“We, the school directors of School District No. 11 make this our report, and [the] state (during the year for which we were chosen school directors) made no appropriation of public funds for tuition.  We have not taxed the people for the purpose of building school houses, or for other purposes, as the people have built school houses and made all necessary preparations for schools, in their respective districts…we find it difficult to employ a teacher of public schools, under the present system, on account of the great difficulty and expense of getting their pay from Baton Rouge, the therefore wish the directors individually responsible.  Though there has been in progress two schools in the district, the other by private subscription, we have not ascertained the number of scholars taught in the public school, neither have we drawn any draft in favor of the teacher.  All of which we submit this December 6, 1852—Shadrach Dixon, Allen Winham, R. P. Chisholm, clerk.”

“The location of this school is believed to be near old Caney Cemetery, a few miles east of Hughes Spur, for it is known that Allen Winham lived in that area and was first minister of the Ca[n]ey Baptist Church that formerly stood nearby.  Doubtless the church also housed the school.”

“Elder Winham was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, Dec. 1, 1800.  His father moved to Lawrence County, Georgia, when he was a small boy.  There he was married to Miss Parthenia Bush on November24, 1824.  In 1826 he moved to Houston County, Georgia, and at 27 was converted and united with the Dry Creek Baptist Church; was soon ordained as a deacon, and licensed to preach.  He left Georgia in a wagon train for this area in 1845, and after a month’s time reached Minden, La., on Christmas Day, and the next day drove on toward Benton where the train disbanded after camping at Sugar Hill, a few miles east of Benton.  With them were the families of David Hamiter, John Hamiter, James Ingram and John Kemp.”

“It was in instances like this that our forefathers settled our parish before the Civil War, and from it has emerged our present day school system.”

To learn more about the people, places and events that formed Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.

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