The Bossier Parish Library Historical Center will host a very special program Sunday, November 15 at 3:00 pm. Dr. Gary Joiner and Dr. Cheryl White of the LSU-Shreveport Department of History and the Oakland Cemetery Preservation Society’s Board of Directors will present and sign their new book Shreveport’s Historic Oakland Cemetery.
Believed to contain about 5,000 burials, Oakland cemetery, located near downtown Shreveport by the Municipal Auditorium, has a fascinating history. Interred there are people who created or witnessed the earliest development of the settlements that became Shreveport, Bossier City, and environs.
Several people with Bossier Parish connections are interred in Oakland. Jacob Bodenheimer, who settled in the area before the entities of Shreveport or Bossier City existed, became a successful Bossier Parish businessman. He died in 1859 and was buried in Hebrew Rest, the Jewish section within Oakland, followed by his family. Mary Bennett Cane, often referred to as the “Mother of Shreveport” and the “Grandmother of Bossier,” rests in Oakland in a grave marked by a monument erected by the Shreveport City Council upon her death in 1902. John Gray Foster was a young man of 23 from a prosperous Bossier family when he was murdered and then buried in Oakland Cemetery. Nathan Goldkind has a Bossier connection by way of his early work at Scopena Plantation in Bossier Parish. Also a murder victim, Nathan Goldkind is buried in Oakland Cemetery where his grave marker clearly names his killer.
Bossier Parish cemeteries and headstones also have stories to tell about Bossier pioneers and developers and can be goldmines of family history information, such as kinship and dates of birth and death. The book Bossier Parish Headstones by Clif Cardin, official Bossier Parish Historian, inventories all known cemeteries, family plots and lone burials through 1997. Copies of his book can be researched at the Historical Center. In addition, the Historical Center has almost 400 photographs of Bossier Parish headstones. The photographs can be seen at the Historical Center and are also accessible online in our Collections Database at www.bossierlibrary.org.
“Sacred to the Memory: Gravestone Symbols Found in Bossier Parish Cemeteries” is an exhibit that is on display in the front entrance of the Historical Center and will be up through the Oakland program. The following symbols are a few that appear on gravestones in Bossier: LAMBS are usually, but not always, seen on children’s graves. The lamb represents purity and children are thought of as “lambs of the flock.” Lambs may be depicted either awake or “sleeping” and reached their height of popularity around 1900. DOVES also indicate purity. The flying dove represents the ascent of the soul into heaven. The compass and square with a ‘G’ in the center is a MASONIC SYMBOL that indicates a member of the Masonic order. TREE TRUNKS represent a life cut short. Most tree-like monuments in this area are Woodmen of the World gravestones.
The program and book signing for Shreveport’s Historic Oakland Cemetery is free and no registration is required. Books will be available for purchase or you may bring your own to be signed by the authors. Make plans now to attend and learn about many of Northwest Louisiana’s gone but not forgotten people.
The Historical Center is located at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, adjacent to Bossier Central Library.
Learn more about Bossier Parish history by visiting the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.