Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

20 Questions about Minden

This week’s Echo of Our Past is one of the periodic quizzes that have appeared in this column. The quiz is a mixture of significant information, meaningless miscellany, obscure facts and pure trivia.

Unlike some other quizzes that appeared here, the answers to these questions follow in the same article. So, here are 20 questions about Minden.

Who was the first man elected Mayor of Minden and how long did he serve in that office?

Clinton Henry Ardis was the first official Mayor of Minden. Although the town had been founded in 1836 and granted recognition by the state government in 1850, formal incorporation did not take place until the spring of 1854.

Ardis’ term as mayor lasted for only two weeks, from May 8 to May 22, 1854. He was elected to preside over the meeting where the town government was organized on May 8 and designated as mayor to serve until the permanent officials could be selected and installed.

W. C. Hardee was chosen Minden’s mayor-elect at that first meeting. Hardee was sworn in at the next meeting of the town government, two weeks later on May 22, 1854.

Three different men who eventually served as justices of the Louisiana Court of Appeals began their careers as teachers at the Minden Male Academy. Who were these men?

John D. Watkins, who served as head of the Male Academy for several years served on the Appeals court from this district during the mid-19th century.

A. B. George, a classmate of Watkins at Cumberland College in Kentucky, followed Watkins to Louisiana and taught briefly at the Minden school before beginning his legal career.

George would eventually serve on the Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Henry M. Spofford came to Louisiana after graduation from Amherst College in Massachusetts during the 1840s to teach when Minden Male Academy was actually still the coeducational Minden Academy.

Spofford served briefly on the Court of Appeals in North Louisiana before joining the Louisiana State Supreme Court in 1854. He became best known for his election to the United States Senate during Reconstruction; however, he was denied a seat when he arrived in Washington and never served.

State Representative Jean Doerge won election to a full-term in the Louisiana House of Representatives after first finishing the unexpired term of her late husband, Dr. Everett Doerge.

Two other ladies from Webster Parish finished the terms in the Louisiana Legislature of their husbands who had died in office. Who were these ladies?

Mrs. Lizzie Price Thompson finished the term of her late husband, Representative Clyde W. Thompson in the early 1950s and in 1959,

Mrs. Mary Smith Gleason finished the term of her late husband E. D. Gleason. Upon Mrs. Gleason’s taking her seat, Webster Parish became the first parish to have been represented by two different ladies in the Louisiana Legislature.

When the stock market crashed in October 1929, there were three commercial banks operating in Minden. Name those three banks and their locations.

The three local banks in the fall of 1929 were the Bank of Webster, the Bank of Minden, and the First National Bank of Minden.

The old building of the Bank of Webster is now the downtown office of Citizen’s Bank. The green tile facade building that was home to the Bank of Minden is now Holland Crawford Insurance

While First National Bank was located in the building on the corner of Main and Pearl Streets that has been home to many different sorts of businesses over the years and is today a beauty shop.

Who was the first NFL football player from Minden and for what team did he play?

Pat Coffee, who had followed his stardom for the Minden Greenbacks with a standout career at LSU, played quarterback for the Chicago Cardinals in 1937 and 1938 before becoming a Baton Rouge dentist.

Who was the only person from Minden to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana and how did he become Lt. Governor?

State Senator Coleman Lindsey of Minden became Lt. Governor when Earl Long took over as Governor after the resignation of Richard Leche during the Louisiana Scandals.

Lindsey had been serving as President of the State Senate and assumed the office under provisions of the Louisiana Constitution.

How many state football championships have been won by Minden High School and how many state football championship games have they lost?

Minden High School has won five state championship in football, coming in 1938, over Opelousas; 1954, over Martin Behrman High of New Orleans; 1956, again over Opelousas; 1963, over LaRose-Cut Off High; and in 1980 over Washington High School of Lake Charles.

The sole championship game loss was in 1921 to Warren Easton High School of New Orleans in a contest that was actually an unofficial championship game..

Where did the Minden American Legion Post get its name and where was its first meeting place?

The Wiley-Pevy American Legion post was named for William Wiley and Lewis Pevy, two of the first Webster Parish casualties during World War I. When it was organized after World War I, the post met on the third floor of the Crichton Hardware building

Who is the only product of local schools to play basketball in the NBA and for which NBA team did he play?

Following an All-American career at Minden High School and recognition as a Little All-American at Louisiana Tech, Jackie Moreland played for Detroit Pistons.

He later came out of retirement to play for the New Orleans Bucs of the old ABA. Moreland died while still in his 30s from cancer.

On two occasions, athletic teams from Minden High School have won three consecutive state championships in the same sport.

When were these streaks and in what sports? As a follow-up, each of the streaks began in the spring following a significant athletic achievement the preceding fall, what event preceded the start of each of these streaks?

Under coaches Steve Jordan and Bill Huth, the MHS track and field teams of 1964, 65, and 66 each won state championships. Coach Marvin Jones led the Tide baseball team to championships in 1981, 82, and 83.

The fall before both of these streaks, 1963 and 1980, saw state football championships for MHS.

Several Minden streets have the same name as a President of the United States. One of these streets was definitely not named for the President whose name it shares. What is that street?

Buchanan Street was named for William Buchanan, founder and President of the L& A Railroad and owner of the Bodcau Lumber Company.

The street was populated by many families associated with the railroad and was close to the home of Joseph G. Ferguson, Buchanan’s brother-in-law. That home later became the home of the Webster Parish Library in 1964 and is today the Library Annex.

For many years the largest movie theater in Minden was the Rex, located on the site of what is today the parking lot of the Minden Medical Center.

What was the original name of the Rex Theater?

The Rex Theater was originally named the Brownie when it was opened in the remodeled former home of the First Baptist Church in 1927. The same company that operated the Brownie also opened a theater called the Rex on Pearl Street a few years later.

During the 1930s, the Pearl Street theater was sold and the Brownie became the Rex. The old Rex on Pearl became known as the Joy.

An earlier question mentioned the 1921 MHS football team.

What was unique about that team’s regular season record?

The 1921 Minden Greenies were undefeated and unscored upon until the 7-0 loss to Warren Easton in the championship game. Interestingly, they were not the first MHS football team to achieve a similar feat.

The 1916 team completed its year undefeated and unscored upon and included among its victims the team from Louisiana Normal; however, this was before the days of state championship games.

Who sold the land for the old Minden Cemetery to the town in the late 1840s and what was unique about the way she had acquired the land?

Mrs. Martha Lewis, wife of John L. Lewis, prominent local political leader sold a portion of the property to the town and donated the rest.

She had paid $1750 and two slaves for the large piece of land of which the cemetery land was a part a few years earlier.

Minden’s American Legion team sponsored by Larry Hunter and bearing the name Redbirds entered the State Legion Championship Series with a 42-2 record. In compiling that record the team made a tour of Florida in which they beat a Jacksonville team that had been the previous year’s National Runner-up in Legion Baseball.

What year did this team achieve these accomplishments?

The year was 1949, and the team was composed of talent from a very good Minden High team and an excellent Heflin team which had lost only 1 game, to MHS, but defeated MHS 3 times during the high school season.

A team based from New Orleans’ Fortier High School defeated the local squad in two straight games to take the state championship, sending the local squad home with an impressive 42-4 final record.

Which building in downtown Minden is the oldest commercial building in the downtown district?

The old KP Lodge building, part of which was built in 1871. Drury Murrell, whose son-in-law was Congressman John T. Watkins and whose family home became well known as the old Green-Kleinegger Funeral Home, opened his store in that building the year Webster Parish was created.

Which father and son both served four full terms as Webster Parish Sheriff? What other father and son held the same parish-wide office?

O. H. Haynes, Sr. served as Webster Parish Sheriff from 1933-1952. His son, O. H. Haynes, Jr. filled the post from 1964-1980.

Tax Assessor W. R. Garrison served from 1936 to 1946, when upon his death the office was filled by his son Richard B. Garrison, who served 34 years from 1946 to 1980 in the office.

At least five different mayors of Minden were at one time editors of local newspapers.

Can you name these men?

W. Jasper Blackburn, J. Walter Scott, J. P. Kent, David Thomas, and Tom Colten had dual careers in journalism and politics.

Two of these, Blackburn and Ken,t continued to edit the paper while serving as mayor. It can be assumed both received largely favorable coverage by the local media, although Kent was given a difficult time by the competing paper operating in Minden during his term.

One Minden family has had at least seven family members serving as Judges locally beginning in the 1840s. Two members of this family have served as Minden City Judge.

Which family has this distinction?

The Drew family, today represented by Judge Harmon Drew, Jr. of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has had judges on local benches for more than 150 years.

A. S. “Skeet” Drew, who was Minden’s first City Judge in 1926 and his nephew, R. Harmon Drew, Sr., father of today’s Judge Drew were both Minden City Judges.

Again, I want to encourage all of you who are interested in local history to make it a point to attend the Night for the Museum program this coming Monday, April 11.

The program will be held at Christopher’s on Main at 6:30 and will feature three members of this family, Judge Harmon Drew, Jr., Richard Carey and Drew White telling the history of their family.

If you do attend I would suggest you get there early as we are expecting a full house.

Name the notorious outlaw, closely related to two United States Congressmen, that was executed by a group of vigilantes in the Minden Jail in September 1894.

Abraham Lincoln “Linc” Waggoner was a 2nd cousin of Congressman Joe D. Waggoner while the earlier mentioned W. Jasper Blackburn who served as a Republican Congressman from Arkansas during Reconstruction was married to two of Linc Waggoner’s aunts.

How did you do on today’s quiz about some of the Echoes of Our Past?

John Agan is a local historian, an instructor at Bossier Parish Community College and a published author. His column appears Fridays in the Minden Press-Herald.






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