MY HOMETOWN

MY HOMETOWN
PLAIN DEALING, LOUISIANA

Most of the information following is taken from a small booklet put together
in 1990 to celebrate “The First One Hundred Years” of our small town. The Plain Dealing Centennial Committee was composed of Chairperson Beverly Anderson, Gayla Arnold, Thelma Brandao, Mary Corley, Jack Gore, J. A. Manry, Becki Smith and Lorene Thomas. They put in many hours of hard work to gather the information from various citizens.

A Brief History

Plain Dealing was a vast, unsettled wilderness in 1839 when the Gilmers, who were among the first settlers of North Bossier Parish, arrived. George Oglethorpe Gilmer and his oldest son, James Blair Gilmer, bought from the United States Government thousands of acres of land on both sides of the Red River. Also, George O. Gilmer bought 5,000 acres a few miles from the Red River where he found beautiful rolling hills and pure springs.

He moved his family there and established Plain Dealing Plantation which was named for the family plantation in Virginia. The Gilmers’ plantation, established in North Louisiana, includes the present site of the town of Plain Dealing. Tradition states Plain Dealing was named for the Virginia plantation with the golden rule name. Plain Dealing, both the town and the plantation’s namesake, stood for honesty and integrity as their name implies.

Mary Gilmer Vance, daughter of James B. Gilmer, and her husband, Dr. S.W. Vance, lived in the old George O. Gilmer home which was destroyed by fire in 1888. Sallie, a daughter of the Vances, inherited the Plain Dealing property. In 1877, Sallie Vance married S.J. Zeigler, one of the founders of Plain Dealing.

Mr. Zeigler came to Bossier Parish about 1870 and was one of the foremost businessmen of North Louisiana. When the St. Louis Southwestern Railway proposed to build a branch line from Lewisville, Arkansas, to Shreveport. Mr. Zeigler, first vice-president of the railroad, realized a town was needed to serve the Bossier area along the Cotton Belt Railroad. Therefore, Mr. Zeigler selected the Plain Dealing site.

The first sign of a town on the present day site of Plain Dealing was one small store owned by Mr. Zeigler, where Walker Brother’s Drug Store now stands. However, the town was laid out, and an auction for the sale of lots was held on July 25, 1888. Mr. Zeigler had excursion trains brought in from Shreveport and from Lewisville, Arkansas, for the auction. T. L. Calhoun, the brother-in-law of Mr. Zeigler, was the auctioneer. There were 348 lots sold for a total of $11,414.50. T. L. Calhoun was said to have slept the night after the sale under an old gum tree, unprotected by officers, with the receipts of the sale of lots on his person.

On July 25, 1888, Mr. L. T. Sanders recorded in his diary, “We all went to the Depot. There was a public sale of lots. We carried dinner. A large crowd, some from Minden, Shreveport, Lewisville and Texarkana. Lots sold fast and some high, $250 per lot down to $2 and $3. I bought five lots and paid $51 for all.”

A complete account of the sale of lots was carried in the August 4, 1888, Plain Dealer, a weekly newspaper edited and published by P.B. Holt and established a short time before the auction by Mr. Zeigler.

The community of Plain Dealing was, for a short time, known as Guernshein, a name of a prominent stockholder in the railroad company. The name was soon changed to Plain Dealing after the Gilmer Plantation.

The town was chartered April 24, 1890, and was described in the village charter of 1890 as a square, one mile in each direction from a nail in the Cotton Belt depot. Another election was held on August 23, 1890, to amend Section 1 of the village charter regarding the boundary of the town, and the city limits were changed from the two miles square to 1-1/4 miles square. The total population of the community at that time was believed to be fewer than 100. With the coming of the railroad, Plain Dealing began to grow into a prosperous small town.

The first mayor of Plain Dealing was W. Benton Boggs, who took office on April 5, 1890. Boggs, who was the first and one of the largest buyers of lots at the July, 1888, auction, originated from Red Land. His first wife was Estella Swindle, daughter of J.J. Swindle. After his first wife died, Boggs married Lena Jones, whose father owned a large store on Palmetto Avenue. Mr. Boggs later became a State Senator. He was also organizer and first president of Plain Dealing’s first bank, which was chartered in 1904 and failed in 1921.

In 1891 Mr. S. J. Zeigler donated and deeded to the town, Plain Dealing Cemetery. It is located north of town just outside the city limits off Hwy 157. Buried in the old original cemetery, now enclosed within the present cemetery, are the relatives of the Gilmer, Vance, and Zeigler families. Many of the monuments in the original cemetery were made in Italy and cost thousands of dollars.

The town of Plain Dealing has had 22 mayors with the present mayor being Mr. David W. Smith, pharmacist and owner of Walker Bros. Drug.

Mr. Leon Sanders, Jr. held the office of mayor from September 16, 1958 until December 31, 1998, an unbelievable 40+ years! Among Sanders’ proudest accomplishments as mayor were the completion of dams and lakes that in his own words “have saved us many times” and the new city hall which was constructed “without having to ask anyone for additional taxes.” Mr. Sanders owned and operated Sanders Department Store. Sadly, the store burned in 1999, losing many valuable papers and irreplaceable items. Plain Dealing owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Leon for his many years of selfless work on behalf of our hometown.

The first elevator in Bossier Parish was installed by Dr. W.F. Bell in Plain Dealing. Dr. Bell had the elevator installed after he suffered a heart attack and was no longer able to climb the stairs to his second-story office.

The Plain Dealing Progress, a weekly newspaper, was established in December, 1929, by F.G. Phillips. During the early years, Mack Phillips was the managing editor and wrote a column, “Just Talking with Our Readers, by Mack.” In addition to his duties as newspaper publisher, Mr. Phillips served as the principal of Plain Dealing High School from 1926 to 1949.

In the 1950’s Plain Dealing, as today, was known throughout the Ark-La-Tex for the Dogwood Drive. The Dogwood Drive was a salute to the white blossoms of spring for which the North Bossier hills are known. Mr. F.G. Phillips saw much beauty in the dogwood trees blooming the hills northwest of Plain Dealing. He thought Plain Dealing should invite other people in the area to come and see how beautiful the dogwoods were when they were in full bloom. (Read the poem Mr. Phillips wrote titled "Louisiana.")

So, the Plain Dealing Dogwood Association was formed and beginning in 195l, annual tours began each spring of the flower-covered hills of Plain Dealing.

Plain Dealing today still celebrates its dogwoods blooming in the spring on the first Saturday in April of every year. Today, a large parade and an all-day street festival is held. (Read the poem "Land of Dogwood Trails" written by Emma Wilson Emery, Poet Laureate of Louisiana.)

Civic pride is shown by our many clubs and organizations which are made up of volunteers who are dedicated to Plain Dealing. In 1938 Harold Purcell became Plain Dealing’s fire chief, giving Plain Dealing many hours of his time. He held this position for 49 years, retiring in 1987.

One of Plain Dealing’s most colorful and longest-serving public officials was W.E. “Willie” Waggonner who served as sheriff of Bossier Parish from 1948 until his death May 9, 1976. Waggonner’s younger brother, Joe D. Waggonner, Jr. was also a public servant. He served the Fourth Congressional District as Congressman from 1961 until 1979. During his tenure in Washington, DC, he was recognized as a leader of the Southern Coalition and the conservatives in the Congress. He served on committees in the House including Science and Astronautics and the most powerful Ways and Means. The two Waggonner brothers shared many attitudes about public life and people. The community of Plain Dealing was served well by both the Waggonners. (Click here for the obituary of our "Plain Dealing Man," Mr. Joe D. Waggonner.)

Since Plain Dealing was formed in 1890, the town was plagued by flooding. Roads were many times knee-deep because of heavy rains. In 1955 the Town Council and the Lions Club held a joint meeting to discuss a solution to this problem. Subsequently, the Lions Club requested information on Public Law 566, known as “The Small Watershed Program.” In 1956 an organization, Upper West Fork of Cypress Bayou Watershed, spearheaded by John J. Doles, Jr., met with Mr. R.D. Hinton. Chairman of Dorcheat Soil Conservation District and presented an application for assistance. Many people and organizations brought about the completion of this project. The town passed a $52,000 bond issue, and Bossier Parish Police Jury built and blacktopped roads to the lakes across right-of-ways donated by local citizens. S.H. Bolinger and Company donated work crews and equipment for clearing and leveling the shoreline and picnic grounds. Prisoners were used to clean underbrush and debris from the recreation area. Boy Scouts piled brush and planted grass. The Home Demonstration Club, Women’s Clubs, and the American Legion helped financially in projects around the lakes.

Three lakes were formed by the project. One was Lake Dogwood used for flood control, fish and wildlife. One was Lake Plain Dealing used for potential municipal and industrial use, picnicking, boating, swimming, water skiing and fishing. There was an unnamed lake for flood control only.

Some of the people closely involved in completing this project were Mayor Leon Sanders, John J. Doles, Jr., Caleb McKinney, Roy Bolinger and Joe C. Colvin who was the Bossier Parish Conservationist for Dorcheat Soil Conservation District.

The dams were completed in 1961. This outstanding accomplishment allowed Upper West Fork Cypress Bayou Watershed to receive the “Watershed of the Year” award in 1961. Mayor Sanders, John Doles, Jr. and Joe C. Colvin went to Tucson, Arizona, to accept this award.

This project served not only the purpose of eliminating flooding in Plain Dealing but also helped the community to realize the importance of cooperating to fulfill an important goal.

The Plain Dealing of today is still the loving, caring community of times past. People of Plain Dealing still believe in the “golden rule” which is voiced by its name.

May the Plain Dealing of the future be positive and bright.

Read “Plain Dealing: A State of Mind,”
by Debbie DeMoss Smith, a former resident of Plain Dealing.


CEMETERIES

Pleasant Hill Cemetery
A listing of graves with birth dates and death dates.
This is a cemetery located five miles east of
Plain Dealing, Louisiana, USA.
This is where my husband's relatives are buried
and the place where we will be buried.


PD Cemetery, A through G

PD Cemetery, H through N

PD Cemetery, O through Z

Plain Dealing Cemetery, Louisiana, USA.
My parents and three of my grandparents are buried in this
cemetery, as well as many other relatives and friends.


Chalybeate Springs Cemetery
This cemetery is located about 10 miles NE of Plain Dealing.



Rocky Mount Cemetery (A through G)

Rocky Mount Cemetery (H through N)

Rocky Mount Cemetery (O through Z)


"Dear Hearts and Gentle People"

DEAR HEARTS AND GENTLE PEOPLE

Written by Bob Hilliard and Sammy Fain

I love those dear hearts and gentle people
Who live in my home town,
Because those dear hearts and gentle people
Will never ever let you down.

They read the good book from Fri' till Monday.
That's how the weekend goes.
I've got a dream house I'll build there one day
With picket fence and ramblin' rose.

I feel so welcome each time that I return
That my happy heart keeps laughin' like a clown.
I love the dear hearts and gentle people
Who live and love in my home town.

There's a place I'd like to go and it's Batten, Idaho
Where your friendly neighbors smile and say "Hello."
It's a pleasure and a treat to meander down the street,
That's why I want the whole wide world to know,

I love those dear hearts and gentle people
Who live in my home town.
Because those dear hearts and gentle people
Will never ever let you down.

They read the good book from Fri' till Monday.
That's how the weekend goes.
I've got a dream house I'll build there one day
With picket fence and ramblin' rose.

I feel so welcome each time that I return
That my happy heart keeps laughin' like a clown.
I love the dear hearts and gentle people
Who live and love in my home town.

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME
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Thanks to Bluize' Graphic Grabbag for
the lovely dogwood background, and also to
Freemo Graphics for the single dogwood blossom.

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