Coushatta has undergone many changes since the town was organized 147 years ago. The Red River, the coming of the railroad, and the great fire of 1918 played major roles in shaping our town.
Historian Joe Taylor has gathered the story of a map constructed from memory by those who were there. Here is the fascinating story:
As most of you know the old town was first located on the riverfront. All of the business section burned during a great fire in 1918. Ever wonder what businesses those where and were they were located? Who would know? I would. Years ago when I was running Sunbeam. I had a draftsman sit down with Albert Stephens and Jim McLemore. They were two gentlemen that remembered old town and watched it burn. We created a map based upon their recollection.
The town of Coushatta was founded in 1871 as Red River Parish was organized by Marshall H. Twitchell. No town existed before. It was selected as the parish seat and construction began.
The original town was subdivided from a farm owned by Mrs. E. A. Carroll. This part of old town was known as Coushatta Point or Coushatta Chute. It consisted primarily of a steamboat landing before the parish was formed.
The majority of the business portion of the 1871 town with the exception of two buildings was destroyed by fire in 1918. The buildings that survived were the two-story brick Bank of Coushatta and the Stanfill House, known also as Planter’s Hotel, immediately adjacent to it. (Note: That original bank building is the only structure remaining. See arrow on map. The Stanfill House finally fell down from neglect a few years ago.)
The river at that time extended further to the west than it does now. The west bank was about where River Road is now. Front Street, the main business street was located where the river is now.
After the fire of 1918, the business district started to move to a location adjacent to the railroad. With the construction of the Bank of Coushatta (Note: Now Advantage Home Health), L. P. Stephens Store and Wilson’s Drug Store in 1923, that section of Front Street looked as you see it today.
Joe Taylor told The Journal there are only a few surviving copies of the reconstructed map of Old Coushatta. Taylor has one and another hangs in the offices of Bethard and Bethard.
Look carefully at the map below. The Red River has crept eastward over the years. Coushatta Bayou and old Front Street have now been gobbled up by the river. Portions of Abney and Church Streets also caved into the river as well.
The Journal thanks Joe Taylor for sharing his historic research into of our town.
Look forward to more installments in the future.