“The Beale Family Settles on Clear Lake” as told by Mr. Ernest Cook, ca., 1965

“The Beale Family Settles on Clear Lake” as told by Mr. Ernest Cook, ca., 1965 in “By the Boeuf with Beth”

….Mr. Ernest Cook and his wife of Baton Rouge came back home to Rayville recently to attend a family reunion. During his visit I had the happy experience of meeting Mr. Cook and talking about his childhood days spent on Boeuf River.

The son of Andrew Jackson Cook and Francis Beale, Mr. Cook was born on a farm on the Mitchell Ridge Road. The farm now belongs to the Morris family and the road is now Greer road. Other children of the couple are Mr. Allen Cook of Rayville, and Mr. Slige Cook, of Alva, Okla. Three children are deceased. Andrew Jackson Cook came from Mississippi.

“My grandfather William Thomas Beale came from Alabama in 1861,” Mr. Cook related.

“When he got to the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, there was no bridge then, so being mechanically minded, he built a raft large enough to carry the entire cargo across, an ox wagon and all his supplies.”

“He came and settled on Boeuf River just across the river from the Alex McCaskill place.”

By the time Mr. Cook was four years old both his mother and father had died and he went to live with an uncle, Henry Beale, whose house sat at the present Cox place on Clear Lake. While living there he attended school at the little schoolhouse beyond Rhymes Store.

“Our teacher was the Baptist minister, Preacher Hill. I’d walk to school with two of my cousins, and other children joined us as we walked down the road. One evening I got in a fight with one of the boys. The next morning Professor Hill heard about it. He sent boys out to get a switch, and I believe they went the limit and got the keenest one they could find.”

“I got one of the best thrashings of my life. What would happen now if a kid got a flogging at school? Don’t answer he said.

For a more pleasant subject, Mr. Cook changed to days in the fall, when he and his school mates stopped to watch the steamboat loading cotton and cottonseed at Rhymes Landing.

“The Parlor City is one of the boats I remember. With sacks of seed on their backs, the roustabouts would got in a trot. At the riverbank, they’d flip the sacks of seed over their heads and into a chute where they’d go sliding to the boat below.”

Then Mr. Cook went on to relate, “We’d go to Girard for groceries. That waw an event. Took all day, so we’d take a lunch.”

“Clear Lake was clear back then,” he said. “That’s how it got its name. You could see the schools of fish swimming around. I remember the white perch, The blue cats came up with squashing mouths.”

With delightful enthusiasm and a twinkle in his eye, Mr. Cook told me about the day he had spent on this visit riding around with his brother Allen. “We went up the old Girard and Oak Ridge Road, on through Oak Ridge and back by way of Holly Ridge. Then we went on to Clear Lake. I took some pictures of the lake at the boat landing in front of Cox’s store.

On down the road at the Rhymes place on Boeuf River, I took a picture of Rhymes’ old store. Then we went on to Moore’s Ridge, “where my wife was born.

While I listened to Mr. Cook, these words from Samuel Woodworth’s poem ran through my mind: “How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood.…”

The Richland Beacon-News
Rayville, Louisiana
06 Nov 1965, Sat  •  Page 2

“The Parlor City” – (Right)

More about the Parlor City
Also a product of the Howard Shipyard, the Parlor City was built in 1892 for a contract cost of $10,000. Constructed on a wooden hull that measured 125 feet in length by 26 feet in width, the vessel was equipped with one boiler that supplied steam to engines having 9-inch cylinders with a 4-foot stroke.

The riverboat was built by Capt. L. Brunner expressly for the Monroe, D’Arbonne and Bartholomew trade, connecting at Monroe with Ouachita River packets bound for New Orleans. Capt. L.V. Cooley purchased the Parlor City in 1895 and operated it between New Orleans and the Ouachita River during the summer and autumn seasons. By 1900, the vessel was again owned by Capt. Brunner.

There is no record of any major accidents involving the boat, except one. On October 22, 1902, while lying at New Orleans, the sternwheeler Natchez (No. 8) was making a landing when the packet crashed into the Parlor City, sinking it.

Steamboat Inspection Service records list the boat as being raised and taken to a drydock for repairs, but the decision was made to scrap the vessel.

The engines were salvaged and placed on the packet Frank B. Hayne, built by the Howard yard in 1904.

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