History: Press that printed Bossier’s first newspaper

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The June 15, 1955 issue of The Bossier Banner-Progress was a special edition featuring many congratulations on the opening of the (then) new Miller’s Bluff Bridge.  The Banner-Progress had something new to announce, as well.

“The Banner-Progress is happy to announce that it has added four correspondents who will represent north Caddo communities in submitting news to this paper.”

“With the opening of the Miller’s Bluff Bridge and the addition of these correspondents The Banner-Progress will have much closer connection with its many friends in Caddo Parish.”

“The bridge means that the travel distance and time between north Bossier and north Caddo points will be cut down considerably and The Banner-Progress is happy that it will be able to provide the news from the important communities of Ida, Belcher, Gilliam and Hosston.”

Something old was featured in this issue too.

“That peculiar looking steel frame that stands with base imbedded in concrete in front of the Banner-Progress office was used to print the first newspaper published in Bossier Parish, according to an item which appears in the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana.”

“The first Bossier Parish newspaper was the Bossier Times, first issued September 17, 1857, by W. C. Mitchell and Ed Lowery.  The first editorial office was in the police jury room of the Bellevue courthouse.  In April, 1858, Mitchell sold his interest to R. J. Looney, and on September 3, the same year, Mitchell became sole owner.  The paper was suspended on  June 17, 1859 and A. A. Abney, T. M. and B. F. Fort became owners of the equipment which they held until the Bossier Banner was founded by W. H. Scanland July 1, 1859.  Mr. Scanland had worked for the Banner nine months prior to its collapse.” [It is likely that the article’s author meant that Scanland had worked for the Bossier Times prior to its collapse.]

The Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana continued that:

“The Washington hand press used in printing The[Bossier]Times belonged originally to the Columbian of Mansfield, and is now in the Banner office.”

“The late Abney Scanland took the frame of this old press and had it placed on a concrete base as a sort of monument.”

The Washington hand press was one of the oldest printing presses of this design and one of the earliest manufactured in America.  Prior to that time most presses came from England.”

Much more can be learned about newspaper history in Bossier Parish by visiting 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