Rupert Peyton published his recollections of bygone times at the old Wyche home in the March 29, 1956 issue of the Bossier Banner-Progress. It appears that he had very fond memories of the “play parties” held at gatherings of young people as he wrote about them at least twice in the Banner-Progress. Peyton also tended to write long articles, so these remembrances will be published in several segments.
“The rafters of the old ante-bellum Wyche homestead shook that night as the beaux and belles of the countryside gathered for an evening of merriment. The old house, long deserted by its earlier occupants, had seen more formal and elaborate social events, but that was in a by-gone era when the late Major R. E. Wyche was its master.”
“The old house was weather beaten and the elements were claiming it for inevitable doom, but the logs of those virgin pines, hewn by slaves ‘back in the forties’ and put together by pegs and notches, the hand riven shingles and boards were defying time and weather. Just a few years before the old house had been a ‘goat castle’ for in the community such deserted buildings became the favorite habitat of herds of sheep and goats that wandered and grazed about. But now had come a great boom to the area. This was the ‘tie makers’ era, and to this thickly wooded land that had once been cleared for the plowshares of the old Wyche domain, came men to hew the ties that were in such demand by the expanding railroads.”
“Tie-makers moved hither and yon, and finding places of abode was a problem. They could not afford building a new house, for in a few months or a year or so they would have to move on to greener fields. So the old deserted homes of the bygone plantation days were a Godsend to these people, and the Wyche place was a prize.”
“Just how the Parker family cleared away the rubbish in the house was a miracle. Anyhow the floor was scrubbed clean, the broken panes replaced and the holes were patched in the roof. The old chimneys were as sound as the day they were made. The well was cleaned out and began providing water again. The jonquils that bespoke of the love for flowers of the former mistress of this household bloomed each Spring despite years of neglect. And so did the crepe myrtles. And in the cedars and oaks that stood as rugged and beautiful sentinels birds gathered to sing and make their nests. The house wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t ugly, either. It was more like a weather-beaten giant standing in a beautiful grove, the personification of durable strength and courage. Now with the rubble cleared away and the goats chased out the old homestead took on a bit of its former dignity.”
Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at email@example.com