The Bossier Banner, in its July 22, 1937 issue, responded to a letter from a Washington D. C. research group inquiring about how Plain Dealing got its name.

“Plain Dealing, the North Bossier metropolis, has a name which attracts attention wherever it is mentioned for the first time.  The two following letters, which have been sent in by Hon. J. T. Manry, while self-explanatory, give a fair indication of the attention this Bossier Parish town’s name demands in places as far away as the nation’s capital city.”

The Washington, D. C. letter was addressed to Postmaster, Plain Dealing, La. is as follows:  “Dear Sir: A committee has chosen ‘Plain Dealing’ as one of the most romantically named towns in the United States.  We are anxious to know the origin of the name and the highlights of its history to date.  Any information that you or any other better informed person may forward us in the enclosed envelope will be sincerely appreciated.”  The letter was signed by E. W. Gaffield, Secretary District of Columbia Research Club.

The letter of response was written by G. E. Gilmer and is as follows:”Dear Mr. Gaffield: Your communication of July 8th to the Postmaster of Plain Dealing has been forwarded to me for reply.  This town took its name from the antebellum plantation of the same name.  The Plain Dealing Plantation was settled during the thirties of the past century by George Oglethorpe Gilmer—the name Plain Dealing is typical of the character of the founder.  It is said of him that he never traded or bartered, but he sold the products of his farms and bought his needs in the regular channel of trade.  The Plain Dealing Plantation originally contained five thousand acres.  George O. Gilmer also bought and put into a high state of cultivation five thousand acres of Red River land which he divided into three large plantations, stocked them with slave labor, teams, etc., and gave them to his children during his lifetime.  He had two married daughters.  To each he gave, in addition to a river farm, 1000 acres of the Plain Dealing tract and built each a fine residence.”

“George O. Gilmer was of the Gilmer family of Virginia.  He was a grandson of Dr. George Gilmer, of Williamsburg, Va., who settled there during 1731, and his wife Harrison Blair.  George O. Gilmer was an uncle of the writer’s father.  If you have access to the papers of the Virginia Historical Society you can get much information on this family.”

“While not germand [sic] to the subject matter, the name ‘Plain Dealing,’ I am enclosing you a short write-up of James Blair Gilmer, a son of George O. Gilmer, by Mr. J. T. Manry.  Mr. Manry is now deep in his eighties, but still going strong.  He is an old printer and, during his early life, worked in the office with Joel Chandler Harris.  Mr. Manry has a love and genius for digging up old family lore.  He also wrote the lie and activities of George O. Gilmer but the writer has no extra copy.  Mr. Manry is a resident of Plain Dealing.”

“If there be any further information desired, you may call on me at any time.  Yours truly, G. E. Gilmer.”

The Bossier Parish Library Historical Center offers an extensive collection of information about the Gilmer Family.  Pay us a visit and learn more.

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.

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