RRPJ-Summer of 1910-17Sep20
Introduction by Joe Taylor

In the early 1970’s the Citizen editor Gordon Nelson persuaded Judge Paul Stephens to write several articles about early Coushatta and his memories of growing up there. This is one of the Judge’s stories.

Paul Stephens was born in 1900 and lived in Coushatta his entire life. He was a local historian of renown, a writer of poetry, and he served as the district judge for Red River and Natchitoches parishes for 24 years. His father was Laurie Paul Stephens the founder of L. P. Stephens & Co. For many years it was the largest store in the Parish. (Ed note: Today the store is vacant and owned by the Town of Coushatta. It is the largest building on Front Street.)

These articles he wrote almost 50 years ago are invaluable to those wanting to learn about early Coushatta history. I find them interesting and John Brewer will be publishing several of them in his Red River Parish Journal. In this story Judge Stephens writes about the little village located on the Red River.

So, why is the town not still on the river where it started in 1870? Because there was a great fire in 1918 that virtually burned down the entire town. Paul Stephens was a witness to it and in his article next month describes the cataclysmic event.

Here is Judge Stephens’ story.

If you could go back to the year 1910 in Coushatta, you would find a quiet town, with older people going about their daily task of making a living and the children going to school. Quiet too, because with a south bound and north bound passenger train each day as the only means of coming or going to or from the town, the population remained constant, with little or no excitement.

The steamboat had vanished from the river, driven out by the railroad, except for an occasional visit from the old snag boat, C. W. Howell, and this visit, rare as it was, always engendered some excitement, especially among the young people.

The days were very much like the days we have today, weatherwise, but otherwise you would see a great difference. There was no gas or gasoline, no electricity, no automobiles or radios or paved or graveled roads or side walks. The houses had coal oil lamps for lighting and only wood as a fuel for heating and cooking.

There were no supermarkets or markets, except Sam Law had a meat market and on certain days he would bring his wares to his customers on a large square board, covered with oilcloth, held up on one hand high above his head. His market burned in the great fire of 1918 along with many other homes and businesses on the riverfront.

There were no brick schoolhouses, no school buses, no school lunches, no Welfare or income taxes. Can you imagine such a community without all of these? With all of this, my recollection was that the people were independent and very happy. They took care of their own infirm and the Lord blessed them for it.

Editor’s note: The photo of the C. W. Howell was taken by photographer Ernie Deane in 1907 on Spirit Lake, Arkansas. It came from the Arkansas History Commission website.

Last Monday Men’s Breakfast

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All men of the community are invited to the Men’s Breakfast next Monday morning at First United Methodist Church in Coushatta. Planning is underway for service projects men can do to benefit our community.

Pastor Curtis Carroll said, “The purpose of United Methodist Men is to help men grow in Christ so they may help others know and grow in Christ. This is done by being an extension of the church in all areas of Ministry from lay preaching, teaching, mentoring, and doing acts of justice and mercy in the larger community.

“United Methodist Men have been on the forefront of being early responders to flood, tornado, and hurricane disasters. Men may take on tasks like building handicapped ramps, sponsoring a scout group or feeding the homeless as a regular part of their group.

“We are just in the formative stage of opening our hearts ears and eyes to being more effective witnesses. Therefore come join us for breakfast and fellowship to explore our calling to serve.”

Breakfast will be served beginning at 6:30 am on Monday, September 25th in McLemore Hall at First Methodist Church on Front Street. The menu is “Build-It-Yourself” breakfast burritos with many different ingredients so there will be something everyone likes.

Accolades for a Job Well Done

Doing the job, plus a whole lot more, gets recognition for two employees of the Red River Parish School Board’s Central Office. At the board meeting this month Superintendent Alison Hughes congratulated Deborah Webb and Karen Moseley for outstanding performance.

Hughes said, “These two ladies in this office do more things than I can congratulate them for. I don’t know what we would do without either of them. I am so thankful for both Karen and Deborah.” Hughes added, “We have highlighted many folks over the months, but I want to tell these two ladies that I really appreciate all they do, that they go above and beyond what is required in their jobs every day.”

Also at the board meeting on September 11th, Sherry Pickett was recognized as employee of the month. Pickett teaches 4th and 5th grade science at Red River Elementary. Her principal Shenell Deville nominated Pickett.

The nomination statement said, “With no doubt, she is dedicated to her students, the school and leadership team. Visiting her classroom is never a dull moment; her students are always actively engaged and she challenges them to think out of the box.”

Early Voting is Approaching

RRPJ-Early Voting-17Sep20

The fall election cycle is October and November. The first election is the October 14th primary election. Local Registrar of Voters Mary Jones said there are several things on our local ballot.

Jones said the statewide issues include electing a new State Treasurer. You will recall that Treasurer John Kennedy successfully ran for and won a U.S. Senate seat. We’ll vote on a successor next month.

Also Jones said, “There are three proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. The local issues include four tax propositions put up by the Red River Parish Police Jury and the Red River Parish School Board.”

The dates for voting early in the October primary are Saturday September 30th through Saturday October 7th. Early voting will take place in the Registrar of Voters office on the first floor of the courthouse. Be sure to bring your ID.

If you don’t vote early, election day will be October 14th.


New NSU President Installed

RRPJ-New NSU President Installed-17Sep20


Dr. Joseph Christopher Maggio was installed as the 19th president of Northwestern State University Sept. 15 in a formal Investiture ceremony attended by students, faculty, alumni, friends, family, dignitaries and honored guests from throughout the state. The installation of Maggio as president capstones a life and career dedicated to service and student success at the university where he has served on faculty and/or staff in numerous leadership and instructional capacities since 1988.

“I am honored to be surrounded and supported today by so many members of my families. The word families is plural because I am referring to my parents, wife, children, siblings and other relatives and to our Northwestern State family of students,” Maggio said. Dr. Maggio and his wife, the former Jennifer Zeagler, were joined by their children, Melanie, Scott and Emily.

Pulitzer Prize winning veteran journalist and NSU alumnus Gary Fields (Class of 1982 and 1984) was guest speaker, who said Maggio has a way of connecting with people and bringing them together. “Chris was headed for this job from the moment he was born,” Fields said, noting that each position Maggio held at NSU throughout his years built upon the previous one.

The Investiture program concluded with the university’s alma mater and a benediction by Dr. Hayward “Sonny” Hargrove Jr. (Class of 1964), a member of the NSU Alumni Association Board.

Following the Investiture, the Maggio family received visitors at the Arnold R. Kilpatrick President’s Residence. The community event featured the talents of students from NSU’s Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts. Artwork by students, faculty and alumni selected especially for the occasion was on display in the home and refreshments included Italian delicacies made from recipes passed down through the Maggio family.

ETC… for September 20th

The Journal was asked to include this announcement: The Red River Fire Auxiliary is hosting a $2.00 donation ticket sale… the winner will receive a Mossberg Maverick 12 gauge all purpose pump. Must be 18 to purchase a ticket. The drawing date was extended to be drawn at the fair October 7, 2017

Also, The Red River Fire Auxiliary will host an “All You Can Eat” pancake breakfast. It will be held October 7 at central fire station from 6:00 am until 10:00 am. Breakfast plates are 5.00 each.

Red River Parish 4-H is selling t-shirts. Price is $12. The latest edition of Red River Clover Talk says this year there is a new design for the shirts. 4-H is for children in 3rd grade through high school who is willing to follow the 4-H ideals and standards.

The Red River Waterway Commission is meeting today (Sept 20th) at 10:00 am in Natchitoches. The address is 5941 Highway 1 Bypass. If you are interested in workings of the commission, it’s a public meeting.

Lets remind you that the 4-H sweet potato sale is going on. Look back at the September 15th issue of The Journal for details and ordering information.

If you have an announcement of activities of your church or group to pass along to everyone, tell The Journal about it. The Red River Parish Journal serves more readers each week than any other local news source. So let us know so the Journal can extend the coverage we give to local events.

The Times They Are a Changing

RRPJ-Times Changing TOP-17Sep15


Back in 1964 when Bob Dylan recorded that song, todays educators were probably still in school themselves. Certainly no one from ’64 could have dreamed what would be happening in the classroom today.

Zoom forward to last Monday night at the school board meeting. Superintendent Alison Hughes remarked, “There are a lot of changes to academics and to how we do things in the classroom.” Hughes was introducing staff member Karen Squires, who is working with teachers to keep things up to date.

Squired reported on how local schools are implementing ever more strict requirements coming down from the state education department. “We are doing academic updates,” she stated “from the end of last year our staff began publicizing the focus on ELA (English Language Arts) and Math. We are making sure that our teaching is rooted in the curriculum and making sure that students are getting what they need by the end of the school year.”

“The curriculum for Red River schools is aligned in Math from Kindergarten through twelfth grade,” Squired said, “We are using the Tier 1 curriculum that the state has asked us to use. Now we are working with our teachers to make sure we are teaching everything in the curriculum.”

Squires said the state is in the process of formalizing final guidelines on social studies. Therefore, Squires said, “We will purchase new textbooks that fit those guidelines when they are available. There is no need in purchasing books now that may be outdated when the new guidelines are formalized.”

The same applies to the teaching of science. Squires noted that several Red River teachers are involved at the state level with developing the new science curriculum. Squires said when that is completed, we (Red River) will adopt it for our students.

Squires concluded her report to the board with the note that Red River now is working with several teacher mentors “to help them be better equipped to coach teachers in the classroom. Mentors are teaching the teachers and then following up to make sure they are teaching the lessons as they are supposed to do.”

Back to Bod Dylan…he sang in ’64 “If your time to you is worth saving…then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone! The times they are a changing.” Last Monday night Superintendent Hughes followed Squires’ report with the statement, “We are asking and expecting more from everyone. We have to do better. And we are doing better.”

RRPJ-Times Changing BOTTOM-17Sep15

Town Names New Park Director

RRPJ-New Park Dir-17Sep15


Coushatta Mayor Johnny Cox announced at Town Council meeting Tuesday night that Councilman Peter Drake would be the new park director. The local LSU Agriculture Extension Service representative is Terry Foster. She attended the meeting to update the council on 4-H activities this year.

Foster told Councilman Drake that she wanted to meet with him to discuss plans for improving recreation facilities. Foster revealed that her office “still have $6,000 earmarked for a city park.” Foster added, “$5,000 was donated by International Paper and $1,000 was donated by United Healthcare. It is for recreational improvements and we need to do something with that money.”

The city has made plans for improving the park. Some work on clearing city-owned land near the industrial park has been done. Foster said, “We still have the money and we are anxious to do something in conjunction with the city to make the park better for kids.”

Are You a Writer Hoping to Get Published?

RRPJ-Getting Published-17Sep15


That headline sounds like an ad for a publishing company you might see late at night. But it’s not. That is the gist of a seminar held at the Red River Parish Library on Tuesday night.

Author, musician and educator Danny Von Kanel conducted a seminar on “Get Published.” Kanel is from this area and teaches music at L.P. Vaughn Elementary in Natchitoches. The very interesting presentation covered his journey to getting his articles and books in print. Nine participants took notes, asked good questions, and absorbed Kanel’s story.

Kanel explained that a terrific first impression is needed when contacting a publisher. He said a quality query letter is required to get you in the door. And it is not the whole letter, but the first paragraph that will get you noticed.

He said the good news is, “There are more ways than ever to publish. The Internet has opened up many new ways and there are more tools to aid the writer than every before.” Kanel went on to say the bad news is “with the explosion of the Internet there are fewer hard copy publications and many publishers have gone out of business.”

Quality is needed today more than ever. Kanel explained, “There is too much out there that tears people down. You need to build up people with your writing. I think God will bless you with your writing that uplifts people.” He encouraged the participants to continue writing, saying doors would open up.

Perseverance is key. Kanel admitted, “I’m not the greatest writer but I am hard working. Anyone can get published if you want to bad enough!”

It’s Sweet Potato Time!

RRPJ-4-H Sweet Potatoes-17Sep15


Red River Parish 4-H Clubs will be Pre-Selling Sweet Potatoes for the upcoming holidays. The potatoes will be sold as a “Bakers Box” of 40 pounds. The cost is $26.00 per box.

4-H Agent Terry Foster said, “A limited amount of boxes are available, so act now to buy your sweet potatoes. If you would like to order, our 4-H members at the local schools are promoting sales this year and will have referral information sheets.”

Foster noted, “The 4-H club member will get Clover Bucks for every purchase made from one of their referral sheets. Please make sure to give a 4-Her’s name at the time of your purchase. “

This year, no money should be given to the 4-Her. All payments must be made at the 4-H office. Foster said, “You are welcome to come by the LSU AgCenter at 2015 Red Oak Rd (above the Health Unit) to place your order. Or you may mail a check made out to “Red River 4-H Foundation” to the LSU AgCenter, P.O. Box 1364 Coushatta, LA 71019 with a note of how many boxes you would like, your contact information, and 4-Her name who referred you.”

“The Sweet Potato pickup date (tentative to weather permitting)” said Foster, “will be on November 17th from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm at the Red River Parish Fair Grounds. All boxes must be pickup by 4:30 pm on November 17th.”

Foster said, “For more information contact the LSU AgCenter at 318-932-4342 or 318-932-4242. We thank the community for your past years of supporting Red River 4-H!”