History: Miss Smith tells of old landmarks

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The Bossier Banner for November 25, 1926 carried the following reminiscences of Miss Mary Smith, a long-time resident of Bossier Parish.

“’The Old Shed Road was built by J. D. Watkins of Minden and [by] the late John Watkins, who was congressman from the fourth Congressional District for some years.  J. D. Watkins, who was a well-known man in this part of the country, died several years ago,’ said Miss Mary Smith who has been a resident of Bossier Parish for many years, is blind, and has a remarkable and accurate memory for dates and details.  ‘It was decided that the ground was of such a nature that the moisture would not be absorbed if it was kept from falling directly on the road.  Before the Shed Road was built, during the season of heavy rains and frequent floods, it was necessary to cross the whole eight miles in a flat-boat.  So the Old Shed Road was built.  It was eight miles long.  The Illinois Central Railroad between Monroe and Shreveport now crosses the site of the Old Shed Road which ran from Shreveport to the hills at Red Chute.  It was a toll road; tolls were collected to defray the expenses of construction.  It was a success and was used for some years to reduce the slowness of travel over the bottom land.’”

“’The Old Shed Road passed out of existence when the railroad was built through that section.’”

“”As another aid to travelers, the Bodcau Bridge was built between here and the old site of Bellevue.  This bridge was half a mile long and replaced the old ferry that had been used across there and which was a tedious and slow method of transportation at times of overflow.  A man named Prather first constructed the bridge as an enterprise.  It has since been twice rebuilt.’”

“’Duren’s Ferry, two miles north of the Bodcau Bridge was there for the accommodation of the neighborhood who would otherwise have had to go around so far to Bodcau Bridge.  Later, active operation of the ferry was discontinued.  It was merely anchored there and those who wished might ferry themselves across. The vicinity of the old ferry is now famous chiefly as a fine fishing ground.’”

“’Our family lived at Bellevue for some years,” said Miss Smith reminiscently, no doubt in her mind reconstructing what is now little more than a widening expanse in the road where there still remains a dilapidated old store and a family or two—into the thriving parish seat of former years.’

“’Soon after the parish was formed, a nice brick courthouse was built there.’”

“’The change came in 1890.  The courthouse was then demolished and the brick used for other things when the parish seat was moved to Benton.  The old jail was burned several years ago.”’

“’A few years after the change our family moved the 16 miles from Bellevue to Benton” she concluded.”

“Since that long ago day, the Smith estate, a quaint, old-fashioned and delightful home, reminding one strangely of an old French chateau, buried in trees, shrubs and vines, has been located on the outskirts of Benton.  Here Miss Mary and Miss Rosa Smith have lived alone for a number of years, and are well-known and respected residents of the parish.”

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