By Wesley Harris
Nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Philip Cook, a Louisiana Tech history professor, led an effort to place historical markers at sites important in Lincoln Parish history.
Dr. Cook and the American Revolution Bicentennial Committee appointed by the Lincoln Parish Police Jury identified over a dozen sites to mark because of their significance. The Police Jury obtained a grant to fund the markers and its road crew mounted them throughout the parish in time for the American Bicentennial celebration held nationally and locally in 1976.
Over time, the markers have been damaged, stolen, or have deteriorated because of the weather. A police jury work crew has been refurbishing existing markers as time permits between other projects. The completed markers look brand new, but several have disappeared in the nearly five decades since they were erected.
Jessica Slaughter, a member of the Lincoln Parish Sesquicentennial Committee, said the group is seeking funds to replace the missing markers and add more markers. Slaughter said the committee hopes to wrap up the project with dedication of the new markers before the end of this year, the sesquicentennial of the founding of Lincoln Parish.
“The committee has designed a commemorative coin and a T-shirt with the logo of the parish’s sesquicentennial as fundraisers,” Slaughter said. “Proceeds will be used for markers, but because the plaques are quite expensive, additional help will be needed.”
A marker similar in size to the existing bicentennial markers will cost approximately $1,200.
Historical markers have long been used to briefly tell the history of a place, person, or event, hopefully piquing interest in learning more. Markers exist at the Louisiana Chautauqua site on North Trenton Street, the Autrey House in Dubach, and the Wire Road in Vienna, among other sites.
Slaughter said the sesquicentennial’s first goal is to replace three missing markers—the Robert Russ home site, the marker for Vienna, and the Louisiana Colored Chautauqua site in Grambling. “These three markers are the ones most often mentioned to the Lincoln Parish Museum as needing replacement,” Slaughter said.
The Russ marker was taken from the home site of Ruston’s founder several years ago. The site was later the location for the first Hillcrest school at the north end of Monroe Street. The Vienna marker disappeared within the last two years from in front of a church on U.S. 167.
In the early 1900s several Grambling men banded together to create the Louisiana Colored Chautauqua, an annual gathering to present educational and cultural lectures and activities.
“Our goal is to place as many of the markers as we can, starting with the missing markers and then moving on to other locations, depending on the funds donated,” Slaughter said. “We have a rather lengthy list of potential sites for markers.”
Donations by check can be sent to Historical Marker Project, c/o Lincoln Parish Museum & Historical Society, 609 N. Vienna, Ruston, LA 71270. The Museum is a non-profit organization and donations are tax deductible.
A limited number of commemorative coins remain available at the Convention & Visitors Bureau office at 2111 N. Trenton and at any Lincoln Parish Museum event. T-shirts can be obtained from Rick Godley at the Lincoln Parish Museum, 318-251-0018.