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Early Settlers of Caddo Prairie Community

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March 23, 2014 by elhseven

The author of the excerpt below has written a thorough glimpse into the life of their early ancestors, the Hale family, which may appear helpful for anyone interested in the historical relevance of Caddo Prairie/Hosston, LA. It is not unusual to note the early Hale family of Caddo parish were farmers and also owned a handful of slaves according to the Caddo Parish court records and the U.S. Slave Schedules.  There were also African Americans who shared the same surname Hale, counted on the Caddo parish 1870 census and every census thereafter.  I am not suggesting the African American Hale’s listed on the 1870 Caddo parish census were formerly owned by the Hale’s as we now know freed men and women after Emancipation Proclamation often did not take the surname of the previous slaveowner debunking this widely accepted assumption of earlier scholars. What I am suggesting is to use this information as a source to verify. It is also worth mentioning the author covers 120 years of history without any acknowledgment of anyone of color contributing anything to the history of the Caddo Prairie community. The Hale’s owned slaves and George W. Hale, the author’s  great-grandfather, also worked as a slave overseer so I will assume the author made an oversight about the non-paid labor her family and other families in the area financially benefited from in addition to any share-cropping arrangements that worked in their favor. Additionally, I’ve listed the names of slaves that were bought by the early Hale family and published in No Land, Only Slaves, Caddo Parish volume. This listing is located at the end of the excerpt.

E. Hubbard

start of excerpt taken from Early Settlers of Caddo Prairie Community written by Geraldine Stanberry Hitchcock:

“Today we look back 120 years to the beginning of Caddo Prairie Missionary Baptist Church. However, the history for us really begins in 1850 when the Community was begun with great visions, dreams, and hard work. It seemed an impossible task, but with the help of the Lord and His chosen nothing is impossible. These early settlements were very similar to the New Testament Churches. The church, school, and families were all coordinated into an everyday life of Christian values. There was no welfare system. The families helped one another when troubles arose. Tornadoes, floods, fires, sicknesses, and deaths were met with help. Handshakes were as binding as legal documents. The doors of the houses were seldom locked for there was no fear of thieves. The vandalism of churches was unheard of and unthinkable. The families lived with love for their fellowman, but above all in their complete faith and trust in God and His goodness. Let’s go back in time and look at the people and land when the settlement of Hale, LA began.

From 1840 – 1880, with the large families and scarcity of productive land, there was a large westward shift of population from the Southeastern states. The first families in the area were from Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and South Louisiana. They were mostly Irish, English, Scotch, and French. They brought into this area a blending of nationalities and cultures which became a group called “North Louisianians”. Most of them were related by blood or marriages. For a stranger in this area, it was not a good idea to tell gossip or make an uncomplimentary mark about any of the settlers. Even though there might be friction among family members, they were always loyal to each other and against “outsiders”. This is true today, in most cases.

The history of North Louisiana has been sadly neglected. This is regrettable because the section beginning in Greenwood, Blanchard area and extending through “Frog Level II (Rodessa); Hale, La. (Hosston) into the edge of Arkansas was the oldest and most permanently settled area in Caddo Parish. Shreveport, during 1840 -1880, was a brawling Red River port. It was a trading post and cross roads for travelers going ‘to Texas. Steamboat tickets show that there was some trading by boat, but most of the cotton, farm products, and personal needs were sold and bought in Atlanta and Jefferson, Texas.

In early 1840, George Washington Hale came from Tennessee into the Blanchard – Greenwood area where he had an aunt, two sisters, two brothers, and several cousins. His cousin, A.J. Hoss was establishing a plantation in Greenwood where he became overseer until the death of A.J. Hoss in 1847. At this time, he came to this area as overseer for Robert Hamilton. Agnes Hale Hawkins said that at that time there was only one other family besides the Hamilton’s between Caddo prairie area and Shreveport an Indian family, Haggarity.

In 1836, The U.S. Government sent surveyors into this area to sectionalize the parish. In the original notes, they recorded there as an impassable mosquito infested cane brake between North Caddo and Shreveport. They also wrote that there was a cypress break on Black Bayou that was impassable. To survey this area, they had to meander the bank instead of crossing. These lines established at that time have caused many headaches for present day surveyors. This situation isolated the settlement. It took two days to go to Shreveport. Later when it was necessary to go and pay taxes and transact business, they camped overnight on Caddo Lake and ferried across the lake to Mooringsport the next day. It took four days for a round trip to Shreveport.

The conditions existing in this wilderness would have, discouraged most people, but G.W. Hale came from a family who established towns, set up farms and saw great opportunities. In this area, he saw good land, fine timber, plentiful game, good fishing areas, river transportation and great growth potential. He had the vision and the know – how to accomplish his goal.

George Washington Hale (1816 – 1887) was born Oct. 25, 1816, in Jonesboro, Tenn. The Hale family came into the Baltimore, Maryland area prior to the Revolutionary War and spread into, Virginia, East and Middle Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. In these areas they followed the same pattern, surveyed the land, established post offices, built churches and had many ministers in their families and built schools and boasted of having many teachers. Cemetery and church records in Jonesboro, Tennessee tell of how many Hales and Stanserry’s and other families settled here as neighbors, intermarried and most of them… were members of “Old Buffalo Ridge Baptist Church”.

G.W. Hale was educated in Tennessee. My Grandmother, Agnes Hale Hawkins said he went to college. He was a surveyor and taught his son, James, who made surveying his occupation. G.W.’s family was very proud of his musical ability – always said, “Pa played by note”. The James Hale family was given his violin. His son, Jacob, played the violin, too.

In 1850, a section of land was entered with the “government for $1.25 an acre. At that time, it appears that he, his brother, Richard Allen Hale and possibly other family members were the only ones in the Caddo prairie area. At any rate, they began building. The old home, crude to our modern eyes, was sturdily built from the heart of pine timber so plentiful on the property. Square nails were used and have been found close to the old homeplace. Every room had a large fireplace. The chimney and hearths had hand made bricks. The ceilings and walls were sealed with small strips of wood called called beading.

As in Tennessee and Virginia houses, the kitchen was in a separate building. Everything was made on the farm. Pottery churns, hand forged iron tools, lye soap, syrup, cotton ginned and spun for cloth, a shoe form was found for half-soling shoes. A smoke house was built for smoking and curing meat. There were other houses and, of course, a barn and chicken house. They had orchards, gardens, bee hives, and bee trees for beels wax.

The house became a home after the marriage of George Washington to Elizabeth Carter Golihar (1828 – 1913). (It’s a coincidence that this anniversary is in a leap year because Elizabeth Carter was born on February 29th.) She was born in Bayou Bocuf, La. (Alexandria). In 1845, she married William Golihar and moved to Polk County, Arkansas. After William Golihar’s death, she and her four children were going back to Rapides Parish. She met G.W. Hale and they were married in 1857.

+Elizabeth Carter Golihar and George Washington Hale had four children:
-James Madison Hale – married Ella Stanberry
-Florence Virginia Hale – married Calvin Allen
-Agnes Finley Ann Hale – married James Madison Hawkins
-Jacob Robert Hale – never married

The only third generation member left is Agnes Hawkins Hemperley who lives in the community, today.

From 1857 until the Civil War, there were very few families living there. The Hales, G.W., Richard A. and Jacob, brothers of G.W., William, Josh, Dee and Sarah Golihar and the Jeremiah B. Hawkins family were the only ones in our records. This was a time of building and preparing for the families who would settle there later. With its location between Washington, Ark., where there was an inn, and the Texas territory, we’re told that the home was a haven for many travelers. Many names were mentioned but one was repeated several times – Dr. Cannaday, from Mississippi. He probably was a kind of medicine man for there is a brochure for the treatment of eczema.

After the Civil War, the influx of families began. About 1869, Elizabeth’s niece and nephew, Susan Carter (Wynn) and David Carter and their half-sister Betsy Peck (Peak) moved into the territory. Susan Carter Wynn was married to William Woodson Wynn. His father, Richard Wynn, came with them. They homesteaded land about one and a half miles west of Caddo Prairie Church. David Carter homesteaded land adjoining the Wynn property. The C.C. (Chris) Stanberry family moved here after the Civil War. The Church register records and family material lists lineages that make up a large majority of the population of Northwest Caddo Parish.

There were five Williams families – Walter, Riley,”~ink”, Lou, a half brother and Tom. They settled land and lived in the area near the Mira – Rodessa road. Elizabeth Williams, who signed the Church Covenant; has not been identified by any of the present Williams families. Tom Williams married Elizabeth Peak and is buried in Steven’s Cemetery. The other Williams families have many descendants in the Community today.

When Hale, La was established with its Post Office, rural mail route, cotton gin, syrup mill and a ferry across Black Bayou. The Hale farm became a busy place. It continued to be a stopping place for travelers, but now it was a meeting place for neighbors. The itinerant ministers and later the pastors stayed there. We think that the reason the school was established before the church was because they had two resident teachers. It was harder to get a pastor in these early days. The teachers were Annie Johnson (Stephens) and C.C. (LuITV Whisenhunt. There was a Johnson family living in the community after the War. They had two daughters, Annie and Sally. Annie taught the Hale children in their home. Mr. Whisenhunt stayed in the home and taught before the school was established.

My Grandmother, Agnes Hale Hawkins, said church services were held at home before the church was founded. The church minutes tell of meetings in the Hale home, later. The people fought diseases and weather. Summers were..dry and extremely hot. Wells sometimes were dry and the crops were, burned. There was evidences that some of the visitors accepted Christ. Two names mentioned, the Gipson’s were Elizabeth Hale’s niece and her husband from Crete, Texas.

We theorize that most of the families moved into settlements because they had relatives, others came because they had known some of the people in other places. Our family doesn’t know who Mrs. Greenhaw was. She signed the Church Covenant while staying with the Hales. It seemed she came and spent th~ winter with them. That seems unusual to us, but seemed to be normal at that time. We have letters that say, “we’re coming to go hunting when the crops are in. We’ll stay a few months”, or “when we all get well, we want to come and visit for a few weeks – we’d like to go fishing.” The long tiresome trips
necessitated a longer visit.

In addition to the names already mentioned, we’ve made a list of some of the earliest settlers, Some of these we knew, others were mentioned in family papers or heard about from the older generation. They are: Mr. and Mrs. Courtney, who signed the Church Covenant, Peck, Peak, McMahan, (Hardy Hale’s great grandparents), Boyd, Stevens, Logue, Dick, Crocker, Wheeler, McGuire, Rutledge, Adair, Coleman, and Nichols (Mr. Nichols played the organ for Church Services) and Graves. The little community began functioning as a town. ‘Life was still hard. So many deaths are recorded in family bibles, particularly infant and small children. Medical help was almost nonexistent. Mosquitoes were terrible – every house had mosquito nets to be drawn around the bed when needed. They seemed to have escaped the Yellow Fever epidemic that killed so many in Shreveport but they had a disease called Swamp Fever, which I have read is Typhoid. Everybody had malaria. Later our generation had doctors who gave us the Epsom Salts, Calomel, Quinine treatment.

We thought it was as bad as Malaria.The people fought disease and weather. Summers were dry and extremely hot. Wells sometimes were dry and the crops were burned. Water was scarce for the farm animals. People sat in the halls of their Dog Trot Houses and fanned! There were many wonderful thing watermelons and delicious fruits. Cold lemonade and picnics..Letters tell of ice cream parties, boat rides, and most important going to the little church.

Fall was wonderful. All God’s creation was dazzling. The oaks, walnuts, gums, hickory, and native pecans were so colorful, but best of all, it was time to pick up the nuts and save them for delicious cakes. They were also roasted and became a wonderful snack around the fireplace at night. It was a time of harvest, a thanksgiving time for God’s bounty. With the first cold day, the hogs were killed – sausage made, lard rendered and bacon and hams prepared for smoking and curing in the smoke house. The squirrels were getting old enough to be killed for food and wild turkey and deer were plentiful, ducks and geese began their flight south. The bayou was black with the flight of migratory water fowls. Everything was used on farms – the game made delicious meals and the down and feathers went into feather beds and pillows for the approaching cold weather.

Winters were usually very uncomfortable times for the people. The houses, as well insulated as they could make they, still could not cut out all the cold. The windows rattled and the families tried to cover every open space – every fireplace was burned day and night and it was still uncomfortable. In the late 1800s there was a heavy freeze that broke all the canned fruit and vegetables. The bayou was frozen and the ice was so heavy on the trees until it sounded like gun shots when they broke. However, at bed time they snuggled down in a feather bed with all those quilts and sometimes a warn flat iron wrapped in a small blanket, instead of a heating pad. However, the houses were full of all those visitor: there were great times around the hearth and Christmas would soon come with all the family home and presents, too!

Spring came in all its glory to Hale, La. After the long hare winter, life began anew. Trees were in bud, violets covered the ground, the air was full of the fragrance of apple, plum, pear,and peach blossoms. There were new colts, calves, and baby chicks. The men were busy clearing another forty acres for cultivations. Gardens were planted. The women got out their material for new dresses and cloth scraps and patterns for quilts. All God’s creation was full of new life, energy and love. Greatest of all, it was time for the preacher to come for the “meeting of days”. He would have a busy time. There were new babies to visit, bereaved families to comfort, couples who had waited patiently for him to come for their weddings. Most wonderful of all, in the springtime of new beginnings, there would be new souls saved and new lives in Christ for many people.

For ten years after the forming of Caddo Prairie Church, the community grew. The children were grown and many married to form a second generation of family units. When G.W. Hale died, June 3, 1887, of hernia complications, he had realized most
of his dreams. The church and school were growing. His family unit was around him in homes carved from the original land he had entered with the government.

Hale, La. operated effectively until the railroad was built at the turn of the century. At that time, the town’s name was changed to Hosston, the post office moved to Allen Mercantile, the store of G.W. Hale’s grandson, Dee R. Allen. The school was eventually moved to Hosston. Even though a new church was built in Hosston, Caddo prairie Church continued to function, but at times, the services were held only on special occasions. Out of all the accomplishments of our ancestors, there were three areas that remained stable, the church, the family, and love of the land – God’s Creation.

How precious are the stories and memories we have of life during the early days! My Grandmother Hawkins lived ninety-five full years. Her memory was perfect. She told us about school at home, where they mastered the three R’s. Both she and Uncle Jake liked poetry. Poems were found in their trunks. She told of spelling Bees and “Exhibitions” (programs) for her children. She remembered when she was small and Captain Peck, (a ship Captain), came home with bunches of bananas and other “rare” fruit to be given to his friends and neighbors. The ties to the “Old Church”as called by Grandma, were still strong. In later years when Elizabeth Hale and her son Jacob, moved into the Hawkins household, they still expected to extend the same hospitality that they were accustomed to offer in the “Old Hale Home.” One Sunday they brought home twenty-two unexpected, invited guests for Sunday dinner with the other family members. Grandma Hawkins said she baked hams, biscuits, and gravy, opened all her prized canned vegetables and fruits, to supplement the family dinner she had prepared and prayed they would be adequately fed. Elizabeth Carter Golihar Hale died with pnuemonia May 8, 1913.

My earliest memory of the Caddo prairie Church was getting the heavily woven picnic basket and helping Grandma Hawkins fill it with all the delicious food for “preaching service and dinner on the grounds.” I can still see the wonderful food – of course I probably only remember my favorite foods. There were jars of Pickled Indian peaches, so juicy, spicy and pretty, fried fruit pies fried chicken, home cured ham, delicious home made pickles, crusty brown fresh-baked loaves of sour dough bread with real butter, and always a “stack cake.” This cake had very thin layers filled with jelly and iced on top, similar to a French torte. On top of the basket she put a snowy white table clot and white damask napkins – you took your best to church. A quilt was brought for us to sit on.

Another cherished memory of the little chapel is when I was .earning to drive. My favorite turning around place was in front of the church. I would stop and go in and play the pump organ. The feeling of peace and holiness filled the church. You felt you must almost tip toe. What a wonderful feeling!

How amazing in this day of changes and customs that this church in the Wildwood,” has new life and is growing with new vision for the future. The “Covenant” in the “Original Church Minutes” is still honored. The Church is active in the Mission Programs, so dear to the firs~ members. Like the Apostles in the New Testament, we can look back on our Christian heritage and give thanks to God for all these Christian Families of God who shared the greatest of all gifts – the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

SOURCES:

-Geraldine Stanberry Hitchock, Great Grand-daughter of George Washington and Elizabeth Carter Golihar Hale
-Jeremiah B. and Martha Adams Hawkins
-Christopher Columbus and Susan Holliman Williams Stanberry

REFERENCES:

-Agnes Hawkins Hemperley – Granddaughter of George Washington and Elizabeth Hale
-Agnes Hale Hawkins
-Jacob Hale
-Hale papers in Centenary Archives.
-Letters from Elizabeth Carter’s mother and Jeremiah Hawkins sister written in 1853.
-Caddo Prairie Minute Book
-Census Records
-Tax Records and Property
-Transfers and other Caddo Parish Records
-Elizabeth Carter Golihar’s Bible Published 1857.
-Hawkins Family Bible.
-Original Survey in 1836 by U.S. Government Land Dept. – Headquarters in Donaldsonville, La.
-Jonesboro, Tenn. Family papers on Hale Family.
-Court House Records for Hawkins Family – Aberdeen, Miss.

end of excerpt.

Below are slaves bought and sold by the Hale’s according to Caddo Parish courthouse records.

  • Robert Hamilton’s auction, March 6, 1854, Book H, page 636
    George W. Hale bought a female slave, Airy, 16 yrs old for $800
  • Jan 28, 1852, Book G, page 454
    George W. Hale bought the following slave from Mary C. Anderson Berry
    Tenchy, male, 21 yrs old for $650
  • Joshua S. Hale sold the following slave to William H. Lindsey
    Jan. 3, 1857 Book K, page 405
    Hubbard, male, age 11 $800
  • Sarah Hale sold the following slave to William H. Lindsey
    Dec. 18, 1856, Book K, page 314
    Shadrick, male age 10 $600
  • William H. Lindsey sold the following slave to Sarah Hale
    April 9, 1857, Book K, page 671
    Shadrick, male, age 10 $600

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