Excerpts from the Memoirs of C.C. Davenport on the NW Section of Richland Parish (Girard and Crew Lake)

From the memoirs of C.C. Davenport, concerning the areas of Richland Parish formerly part of the Morehouse Section

See Full Memoirs Here

To continue my Memoirs of the early settlement of Morehouse Parish, I will first announce that I have given a history of the first early settlers, which was at Prarie Mer Rouge. The next largest early settlement was at and near to the section called Oak Ridge. One of the first and prominent early settlers was James C. Cooper, whose home was two miles north of the present town of Oak Ridge. He was a resident there as early as the year 1839. He left a family of girls and three of his daughters, the wife of A.B. Conger, the wife of J.S. Rolfe, and the wife of Ben Rolfe, and their husbands are today the owner of their father’s plantation. Mr. Cooper was the first man in Morehouse parish to establish a stock ranch. The ranch is today in existence and owned by Gabe Moss. J.C. Cooper was a native of the parish, a successful planter, and a highly respected citizen. Another one of the early settlers in that section was A. Morehouse Ginn, who left two sons — William and Isaac — and they were natives of the Parish. Abraham Dehart? Was also a native of the parish and a very early settler.

The first merchants at Prarie Jefferson were Ben W. Wright and J.M. Davis. Their stores were on the present townsite of Oak Ridge. For many years the cotton raised in that settlement was, when there was sufficient water in Bayou Bartholomew, faulted to Point Pleasant. Later, and only a few years before the civil war, boats commenced to run in Boeuf River, and a landing was established and a warehouse built at “Point Jefferson and “Ion” landing on Boeuf River, were both large shipping points and, like Point Pleasant on Bayou Bartholomew, the arrival of a steamboat at these landings meant great crowds would assemble to see the boat, get on a drunk and have a big time. At that time the parish of Morehouse extended several miles to the east of Boeuf River and for several miles below Girard on Boeuf River.

There was at that time east of Lake Lafourche, and on the public road leading to Girard, several valuable plantations. Just across Lake Lafourche, east side, there was the Noel Tigner plantation, next to Dr. William Moore, the Chapman, next the William A. Williams plantation that had on it the “Ion” Steamboat landing, a store and a race track. Continuing on the road, there was the home of Col. John Webb who was police juror for many years.

On Crew Lake there lived a family of Aborigines, Joel and Columbus Wynn. On the east side of Boeuf River, still in Morehouse parish, there lived Charles Balfour, Dr. Tom Jordan and his son, Dr. Tom Jordan, Elisha Scott, who for many years was a police juror, and to attend the meetings of that body he traveled horseback and over at times, very badly worked roads thirty long miles and he never missed a meeting. He was a typical frontiersman. He dressed to suit himself, he did mot pride himself on his good looks, but he did pride in always doing his full duty. He kept an open house, was ever true to his friends and he just had more good and warm friends than anybody..

About and before Election Day all men who were candidates for office tried to get close to and in touch with Captain Scott, and, it was generally known that the candidate that he favored was a sure winner in his home box. Of this fact, .no man living or dead ever had better proof of it than the writer. Captain Scott always made my father’s home his stopping place when attending the meetings of the Police Jury. When I, the first time, announced my candidacy for representative in the Louisiana legislature, Captain Scott conveyed me word to come to his home and let him help my father’s son be elected. Of course I went, and when the votes in his home box were taken out and counted, every ballot — 63 votes in the box — had my name printed in every ballot. This chapter in my memoirs about covers the history of the early white settlements inn the Prarie Jefferson and Boeuf River sections of Morehouse parish.

I have many pleasant recollections of the excellent people whose names I have written. Just the writing of their names has carried me back to my boyhood days and causes me to wish that I could live these days over again. Their hospitality, friendship, and many courtesies shown me when in their homes created in my heart and memory a feeling and a place so warm that time cannot remove it. 

The Memoirs of C.C. Davenport
Transcription of Looking Backward, Memoirs of the Early Settlement of Morehouse Parish, Louisiana by C.C. Davenport

Bio of Capt C. C. Davenport

Biographical and Historical Memoires of Louisiana, (vol. 1), pp. 370-371. Published by the Goodspeed Publishing Company, Chicago, 1892.

In 1805 Josiah Davenport, a citizen of Rhode Island, met in the city of New Orleans, Mr. Abraham Morehouse, a citizen of Kentucky. Josiah Davenport was in the merchant marine service and commanded the vessel “Cleopatra,” running between Savannah, Ga., and Liverpool, England. Mr. Morehouse had contracted with Baron de Bastrop, a Spanish baron, to induce immigration of white families into that portion of Louisiana lying east of the Ouachita River, on the lands since known as the Bastrop Grant.

In this undertaking, Mr. Morehouse was retarded from carrying out the plan, for lack of means. On meeting Capt. Josiah Davenport he elicited his interest in the scheme and the Captain readily agreeing to the enterprise, he sold his vessel and loaned Mr. Morehouse sufficient money to carry out his purpose, engaging to go with him in the wilderness.

Their trip by barge from New Orleans to Point Pleasant on Bayou Bartholomew lasted forty-two days. Captain Davenport settled at Prairie Mer Rouge, nine miles east of Point Pleasant, and there engaged in planting. He was a man of great energy and enterprise, well fitted to become a pioneer, and did much to promote the growth and development of his section.

He erected the first gin house in what is now the parish of Morehouse, and soon after settling here was married to Miss Polly Barlow, a lady born and educated in Kentucky.

The eldest son of this marriage was James Barlow Davenport, who was the father of the subject of this memoir. His entire life was passed in the Prairie Mer Rouge neighborhood and like his father Josiah D., he was a successful planter and was always interested in all enterprises for the benefit of the community in which he resided. He was noted for his liberality and open-heartedness even in those days of hospitality and his house was always open to those prospecting for homes and the contents of his corn bins ready to be divided with new settlers.

On the home plantation October 8, 1837, C. C. Davenport was born. Until the age of fourteen years he attended the school of his neighborhood, then commenced clerking in his father’s store, in fact, he shared equally with his father the control of their entire business. At the age of seventeen he entered the Georgetown College of Kentucky, from which he graduated in 1857. From that time until the commencement of hostilities between the states he with his brothers Josiah and John and his sister Eliza S., now the wife of Dr. Robert Cotten, a prominent physician of Birmingham, Ala., resided at the old homestead.

In 1861 Louisiana, seceding from the Union, found these three brothers ready and willing to enter the confederate army. As to how well they discharge their duties they will leave to their comrades to attest. C.C. Davenport went out as lieutenant in the Twelfth Louisiana infantry, in the Army of Tennessee, and served in all the engagements in which his command participated, and by virtue of promotion he was made captain of his company.

Josiah entered the service as a member of the Third Louisiana regiment, Army of Missouri, and held the rank of lieutenant at the time of the surrender. John, who was then but fifteen years of age, went out as a private in a company known as the Davenport Rebels, which was named in honor of Capt. C. C. Davenport. The former was in the Army of Northern Virginia and was in fifty-three active engagements and at the surrender at Appomattox, he was the only commissioned officer of his regiment left to report and sign paroles.

He held the rank of second lieutenant. In 1861 C. C. Davenport was elected to the house of representatives and served two years. In 1872 he was again elected to the Louisiana legislature on the John McEnery ticket, but that government failing to be recognized by the President, the McEnery legislature was disbanded. In 1879 he was elected a delegate from Morehouse parish to the constitutional convention. Throughout his career, he has been actively engaged in planting and merchandising.

In 1882 he, with a few friends, was largely instrumental in inducing the Construction company to locate the Houston, Central Arkansas & Northern railroad at Mer Rouge, La. On November 5, 1863, he was married to Miss Mary Emma Andrews, the daughter of a neighboring planter. Her Christian virtues, training and education had well fitted her to become the wife of a man active in business enterprises, and a mother of whom any child might be fond and proud.

Although Captain Davenport has reached the age of fifty-three years, he is still active in business and labors for the advancement of every enterprise tending to benefit his home and community. Through his efforts, with his own means, the entire town of Mer Rouge has been laid off, streets graded and hundreds of water oaks planted to add beauty and pleasure to the town.

He has manifested his faith in the future prospects of this place by erecting one of the finest business houses in the South, which, in convenience and ornamental finish would add to ,the appearance of any city. He is also the owner of a number of other buildings of substantial structure and ornamental appearance and, in fact, is a live, progressive and pushing business man, well calculated to perform his duties as a citizen, friend, husband and father with faithfulness and credit.

He is the father of six children: A. H., Guy, Joseph A., Ida, Mary Emma and Leon, all of whom still reside with their parents. Mrs. Davenport is a member of the Episcopal church, and she and her husband are leaders in the social circles in which they move.

Leave a Reply