Lincoln Parish to celebrate 150th anniversary in 2023

In 1873, some north Louisiana politicians saw an opportunity to expand their power by creating a new parish during the tough times of Louisiana’s Reconstruction Era.

The state legislature passed a bill creating Lincoln Parish from parts of Jackson, Bienville, Claiborne, and Union. Vienna was established as the parish seat and Allen Greene, a state senator who pushed for the new parish, gained nearly complete control of local government by having the governor appoint friendly allies to all offices.

That didn’t sit well with much of the citizenry, and it looked like bloodshed would decide the fate of the new parish. The Seventh Cavalry, later to be decimated at the Little Big Horn, rode into the parish to round up alleged troublemakers and support Greene and others in power. While it was a rocky start and tensions were high, cool heads among community leaders staved off deadly violence.

One hundred fifty years later, Lincoln Parish has largely moved beyond political squabbles to become one of the most prosperous parishes of north Louisiana. Its schools and government services are the envy of many of its neighbors.

The 150th anniversary, the sesquicentennial, is an opportunity to celebrate what the community has become, says Rick Godley, director of the Lincoln Parish Museum.

“We have a rich history and a great future here in Lincoln Parish,” Godley said. “The sesquicentennial can be an occasion to reflect on our history and how it impacts our future.”

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury passed a resolution in May creating a Sesquicentennial Committee to explore ways to celebrate the milestone. 

Doug Postel, parish administrator for the Police Jury, said the resolution tasks the committee with identifying and approving projects to celebrate the anniversary. Committee members represent various Lincoln Parish communities and areas of interest.

“A number of individuals representing various walks of life and Lincoln Parish communities have agreed to serve on the committee,” Postel said. “There will be many opportunities for others to serve on various operational committees and to volunteer to help with events.”

The committee selected historian Wesley Harris as chairman, retired sheriff Mike Stone as vice-chairman, and Devon Cannon as secretary.

Some of the committee members include Jessica Slaughter, Adarion Williams, Amanda Quimby-Carrier, Amy Stegall, Heather Reeder, James Payton, Jeremy Bolom, Nancy Bergeron, Devon Cannon, Phyllis Miller, Tori Davis, and Rick Godley.  

Harris said the committee researched previous celebrations marking local milestones such as Ruston’s 50th anniversary, the 75th Ruston Diamond Jubilee in 1959, Lincoln Parish’s 100th anniversary in 1973, and the American Bicentennial celebration in 1976.

“We saw common themes among those events,” Harris said. “The pride in what the community has accomplished stood out in the celebrations. Some of the activities held would seem rather quaint today, so we are working hard to determine how best to mark the occasion.”

Involving youth is a priority for the committee and ways to do that are being considered, Harris said.

“I was 15 during the Lincoln Parish Centennial in 1973,” Harris said. “I remember it well and participated some, but it was not a big deal for most kids. We want to do a better job engaging them for the 150th.”

While events are still in the planning stage, Harris said sponsors will be needed to pull off some of the activities being considered.

“We are preparing materials for prospective sponsors now,” Harris said. “While we will have official committee events and initiatives, any organization can recognize its own history during the year.

“We hope schools, churches, civic organizations, and businesses will see the celebration as an opportunity to acknowledge their own history in 2023. It’s a good time to get their histories down on paper and hold their own sesquicentennial activities independent of what the Lincoln150 committee is doing.”

Godley said he sees the Lincoln Parish Museum as “Sesquicentennial Central” as the committee is holding its meetings at its North Vienna Street historic home and several events will be held there.

“We hosted an open house at the end of 2022 as sort of a kickoff for the sesquicentennial,” Godley said. “Our members are excited to be involved in the effort.”

Godley hopes any group that writes or updates its history during this year’s focus on the past will donate a copy to the Lincoln Parish Museum to add to its collection of research material.

Details on upcoming events will be announced as plans are finalized but several events are in the works for February and March and others later in the year.

To recommend activities to commemorate the sesquicentennial or to volunteer, email lincoln150@gmail.com.


To report an issue or typo with this articleCLICK HERE