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Keeping History Alive

by Minden Press-Herald

Editor’s note: Originally published April 26, 2006.

Recently Thad Andress, who is the current President of the Dorcheat Museum, held a meeting in his home to show the plans that he and Larry Milford have designed for developing the Dorcheat Museum for the Minden area. As I read about the plans and saw the beautiful pictures, I thought of all the people who have contributed to the interested in securing a museum for the Minden area. And now all those dreams are becoming a reality.
This will sound like a requiem for those who went before, who tried to see a museum come to fruition, and who never lost hope that someday we would have a museum that we could be proud of and one that would show the future generations how it was “way back then.” And now it is to be.

Dr. Luther Longino

One of the first in my memory would be Dr. Luthur Longino. His vision for such an edifice was demonstrated by the acquisition of property on the corner of Summit and Park Highway. Here is the location of the Fuller-Murrell Cemetery that is the resting place of one of Minden’s founding families, the Murrells. Dr. Longino’s writings list so much of the local history. Instead of his papers and letters, along with all of his writings, being housed in a local museum, they are in the archives at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. We had no museum to receive them.

Mrs. Paul Campbell

Later, the one who comes to my mind would be the late Mrs. Paul Campbell (Thomas Lorraine Campbell) who not only adopted Minden but also she was adopted by Minden as one of our own. Her tireless efforts have chronicled much of Minden’s local history, along the names on the gravestones in the cemeteries. Her files contain so much history that would have been lost had it not been for her efforts. We owe her such a debt of gratitude for her loving research and documentation of the facts. My son and I still miss her since we would call on her from time to time to help us in some research we were attempting.

Sadie Reynolds

In the public school system we would remember Miss Sadie Reynolds. She had a vast amount of knowledge of local history, folklore and legends that have been passed down. She knew where the local “Hanging tree” was located, and other things that her history classes were privileged to hear.

Dr. Christine Hunt

Dr. Christine Hunt was another teacher/historian/educator that contributed so much to developing research and recording local history. She was such an encourager for my son in his endeavors to write the local history, and to research the hidden facts that are known to some but not written down. She was my encourager, too, since she loved to remember along with me about the “good ole days,” even though she was not as old as I. So many times I have wanted to call her and tell her some story that we had discovered. This week we received an E-Mail rom a man who taught here in Minden before going to Mexico City and eventually teaching English in the University of Mexico. He wrote to say how pleased he was that I was sending in my old memories once again. He referred to Miss Reynolds and Dr. Hunt as he said he was sure they were looking down with their approval, once again. And so these two ladies live on in the memories of those whose lives they touched.

Richard Carey

Richard Carey, whose mother was a Drew, is interested and has tried to help preserve the site of Overton, a small community near Minden, where his forbearers established Drew’s Mill early in the nineteenth century. He is vitally interested in preserving the history of this area.

Frank Griffith

There are others who have a vast amount of knowledge about long ago events because of their families. One who comes to mind is Frank Griffith. His father, B.F. Griffith, was sheriff of Webster Parish when some of the most notorious of criminals roved here. He was part of the search for Linc Waggoner. Frank has shared many stories with us along with pictures of those we wrote about. He is helpful to correct errors in stories that have been handed down, sometimes incorrectly. Griffith Stadium is named in honor of Frank’s father.

Joan Wiley Luck

Joan Wiley Luck has been so helpful with stories of her ancestors, and with pictures. She is such an encourager to both my son and me.
Many people have stories that their parents told them of local history. Perhaps they may have letters from soldiers, or written records that need to be preserved. In my own family I listened as I heard my mother talk to her siblings about events that occurred just after the Civil War. The other grandchildren did not listen. Now they wish that they had listened. So I have repeated the stories they told to those of my generation.

Telling the tale

Please preserve any old documents, letters, pictures of whatever you have that tells of life in Minden in the past one hundred an fifty to two hundred years. When the museum is completed, please make these items to be preserved so that our descendants will know how life was way back then.
We owe a debt of gratitude for those who went before, for those who encouraged others to write our history, and to those who contributed to the written word. Personally, my son and I are so grateful for those who went before; those who were our friends and helped form the word pictures of life back then. While my son was writing the three books that he has published, many people share pictures and stories and I am grateful for all these folks. Many whose names I have not included on this list. Thanks to you!
Just keep watching the Museum, and keep on supporting it any way that you can. You will be proud to be a part of this endeavor. Someday future generations will appreciation the efforts so many who have helped bring this museum to a reality.

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.

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