September 30, 2014

Sicily Island Petitions to Become Incorporated, 1955

The following article appeared in the April 6, 1955 edition of the Monroe News Star:


Move Underway To Incorporate Sicily Island

SICILY ISLAND, April 6 (Special) - A move to incorporate Sicily Island is progressing, with the required percentage of voters having signed petitions which were being circulated.

State Rep. G. C. Womack of Catahoula parish, will present the petitions to Governor Robert Kennon and request that he present the town a charter.

Kennon will also be asked to designate persons selected at an open meeting here to serve as town officials until an election can be held.

Lonnie Franks was selected as mayor, with M. I. Saltzman, Bruce Edmonds, T. J. Peniston, Willund [Walling] Chisum, Jr., and Clark Salter as councilmen.

September 29, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 58

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Tomato Sandwiches and Lemonade...
Willie Evans Knight
One time when I was about 7 or 8 years old, several of us kids were up town playing.  Mrs. Willie [Evans] Knight came along and picked us up and took us up to her house.  They lived in one of the little houses up on the bluff going down towards the first bridge heading out of town.  
Mrs. Willie fixed us tomato sandwiches and lemonade.  We had been running and playing and were so hot.  That was a wonderful treat for us.  I remember how she cut the ends off of our light bread.  I had never eaten a sandwich without the ends on the bread.  
That must have been around June of 1934 or 1935.  It wasn’t long after this when Mrs. Willie, Mr. Rufus and their daughter, Billie Sue moved into their new house that was a couple of streets over from my house.  It was built on the same street as Claude and Vivian Enright, Oscar and Birdie Krause, Alvin and Olga Seal and Ed and Irma Enright.
Mrs. Willie still lives in that house.  Mr. Rufus died years ago and Billie Sue lives out in Texas.  Mrs. Willie has been the same person she was back when she made us those tomato sandwiches and lemonade.  She has always done things for other people and especially children. 
Popcorn Balls...
Aunt Clara Bass was an old colored woman who made the best popcorn balls.  The Seal girls [Ouida and Juanita] and I loved to go visit Aunt Clara and eat those popcorn balls.  
One day a bunch of us kids were playing in the dirt road that ran beside Mr. Maurice Saltzman’s house and Mrs. Yancey’s house.  Eloise Yancey, Mrs. Yancey’s daughter, saw us playing and came to the door.  She invited us inside to eat popcorn balls they had made for us.  That was a nice thing for them to do.  Those popcorn balls hit the spot!
Yancey House and road across from Saltzman House
Mrs. Yancey grew strawberries back in the 1930s.  As the berries began to ripen, she would go along and spread pine straw around the plants.  She would lift the berries off the ground and prop them on the pine straw to keep them from rotting.  
The birds were bad about eating strawberries so most people didn’t bother with them. This part of the country just wasn’t a good place to grow strawberries.
There was a vacant lot behind Mrs. Yancey’s house.  It covered about a ½ acre.  People would rent the land to plant crops on.  Corn, cotton and sorghum had been planted on this little ½ acre lot. 
Sorghum looked like corn plants or sugar cane stalks.  I don’t know what all it was used for other than to make Sorghum syrup.  
I remember some of us boys slipping into that sorghum patch and getting us a stalk.  It was a disappointment because it wasn’t like chewing on sugar cane stalks.  

Note:  Parts 1-57 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

September 28, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Pearl Ensminger Bondurant

Monroe News Star - 6/13/1966

Pearl Ensminger

Born on December 10, 1880

Daughter of
David Wesley Ensminger and Alice Shipp

Wife of
Yelverton Bondurant, Sr.

Mother to
Anita Bondurant Oliphant and Yelverton "Yelvie" Bondurant, Jr.

Died on June 13, 1966
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

September 24, 2014

Wednesday's Child - Lucy A. Davis

Lucy A. Davis

Born on July 8, 1893

Daughter of
John Burton Davis, Sr. and Annie Matilda Chamberlin

Sister to
John, Jr., Ladelle, Allen Young, Adelaide Mary
and Robert Emmett

Died on October 6, 1899
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Of such is the kingdom of heaven

September 22, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 57

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
We had our first heavy frost on the 2nd of November, 1991.  The last two weeks of October were warm.  I’m sitting here in the kitchen looking out the window over to where the cottonwood stand used to be.  As I have mentioned on other tapes, I can remember back in the 1930s when all sorts of livestock used to roam this little village.  Cows, hogs, horses, mules and sheep all ran loose. 
Jack and Son McNair
Jack and Son McNair had live, tamed mallard duck decoys.  I believe it is illegal now to use live ducks as decoys but back in those days it was legal.  Jack and Son would put their ducks out in the water; they must have had them tied in some way.  I remember hearing those ducks quacking and calling and then the wild ducks would come in and they would shoot them. 
The live duck decoys were kept at cousin Jessie Chisum McNair's house who was their mother.  Back in the Mid-1930s, those ducks would fly all over town.  I remember being out in the cottonwood stand and looking down in the hollow of an old fallen tree and seeing a mallard hen sitting on some eggs.  I watched those eggs for a week or two then suddenly they were gone.  I don’t know whether they hatched out or something got them.  The eggs were light blue and larger than chicken eggs. 
Me and the Seal sisters, Juanita and Ouida, used to play all out in that cottonwood stand.  Their father, Mr. Alvin Seal, built them a swimming pool out in that stand of trees.  He also built a shed over the pool.  I can just see the sunshine coming down through the cracks of that old shed.  The swimming pool was about two and a half feet deep, 14 or 16 feet wide and about 24 feet long. 
Mr. Alvin had all kinds of things fixed up for those girls.  They had swings and what we called a shoot-to-shoot.  In their house was a small room that was called their play room.  Later on, they had two more daughters, Patsy Ann and Carolyn. 
We used to have a lot of gray geese on the Island.  There would just be flocks of them.  Several people had them.  My Grandma Steele used to have some.  What I remember about old gray geese was how those things would hiss at you.  Those ganders could hiss like a snake.  They would stick their ole long necks out and hiss at you.  They would also jump on you.  I was scared to death of them when I was little. 
I remember hearing Grandma Steele telling about the time a gander grabbed Junior Seal [Walon, Jr.] by the seat of his britches with its bill then took its wings and whipped him.  I’ve seen ganders do that to dogs and scare the devil out of them.
I think the last geese I saw on the Island were the ones I owned in 1955 or 1956.  At one time, I must have had twenty grown ones.  I had built a little house out in the back of our yard for the geese to lay eggs.  Several of the hens laid eggs and sat on them but they never hatched.
One day Annie Boxler, who lived in a small house on the corner of our lot, came over and told me a cat was getting the goslings as they were hatching.  She said she had seen the cat going in the little hen house and getting the goslings for a week.  She never thought to tell me about it before.  Those four or five nests must have had at least forty eggs in them.
The whole thing was so discouraging that I just gave up on raising geese.  I eventually sold all of them to old man Harry Jenkins.  He would come by and get a few at a time until he got them all.  He paid me two dollars for each one. 
I also had two sheep, Gertrude and Georgia.  I know my oldest two children remember them.  We got Gertrude first then bred her to one of Mr. Henry and Mrs. Georgia Westbrook Peniston’s sheeps. 
Gertrude and Georgia
The following Christmas morning, Georgia was born.  After they got up grown, we gave both Gertrude and Georgia to the Penistons. 
Years later I got some chickens, turkeys and a couple of mallards.  I loved having them out in the yard.  Some of the town folks starting complaining that the roosters crowing in the morning bothered them and woke them up.  Most of the people who complained about the roosters crowing were raised hearing that sound.  Some complained that the chickens scratched their flowers. 
Turkeys in yard
They went to the town council and an ordinance was passed that stated that no one could have chickens, turkeys or ducks in town so I had to get rid of all of them.  I will always believe it was simply about politics.  People who were on the opposite side of me politically seemed to find anything and everything they could to go against me.  I had complaints against my cats and dogs bothering people.  Some of the silliest things I had ever experienced.
Since I’m now out of politics, I have seriously considered buying a bunch of goats and turning them loose here in town.

The following letter was submitted by my father to the Catahoula News Booster after the town council passed the ordinance mentioned above:




TOM (a turkey gobbler) and DONALD (a duck) ALSO COME UNDER THIS 'FOWL' RULING.

Borrowing a phrase from the late Judge Drew, Court of Appeals, Shreveport, Louisiana, in making his decision in a similar case (1945),
"I cannot conceive of a normal person, endowed with ordinary sensibilities and ordinary habits, being greatly discomforted by the announcement of a new day from the well-trained voice of a stately cock, the sound which is used as a symbol of good cheer by many advertisers."
"He has been doing that all over the world since before the year 1, and so far as I can find, no one has until now tried to silence his cheerful greetings."
Big Red and his owner won that one.  Judge Drew ruled "to allow the rooster to continue to crow."
However, since Big Red and his harem in this instance have greatly disturbed some of the Island's citizens with his crowing and the hens scratching for worms, I think it best that Big Red go - along with his harem - including Tom Turkey and Donald Duck.

Quoting again from Judge Drew's decision,
"Although there seems to be nothing impossible in these fast moving times, I doubt if anyone has yet learned how to stop a rooster from crowing in the early morning, other than by wringing its neck."
As I said, Big Red won that court decision in Shreveport, Louisiana back in 1945.  Of course, Shreveport only had a population of 100,000 back in those days. ~ Yours truly, Bruce A. Edmonds

Note:  Parts 1-56 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

September 21, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - James A. "Jimmie" Wells

Monroe News Star - 4/21/1953

James A. "Jimmie" Wells

Born in 1902

Son of
Oscar James Wells and Dora Elizabeth Jones

Brother to
Lydia, Lillie, Harvey, Oscar, Thomas, 
Johnny "J. R." and Lillian

Husband of
Lona Frances Evans

Father to
Tommie, Jerry, Larry, Margie, Dorothy and Doris

Died in 1953
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave member, Karen Klemm Pinckard.

September 19, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past - Johnnie Crawford

Mr. Johnnie Crawford was born on October 24, 1919 in Enterprise to the marriage of Addie W. Crawford, Sr. and Frances Edith Williams.  His siblings were Eddie Purvis, Addie, Jr., Mildred, Lloyd and Floyd.

Following his marriage to Thelma Franklin of Olla, Louisiana, Mr. Johnnie moved to Sicily Island where he ran Crawford's Barbershop.  They also raised their two sons, Bill and Johnny, in Sicily Island.

Many a little boy had their hair cut in Mr. Johnnie's barbershop.  I loved going in the barbershop and was fascinated with the old theater seats that lined the side wall.  

My mother and two brothers heading inside for haircuts

Mr. Johnnie passed away on August 14, 2013.  He is buried alongside his wife in Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Pineville, Rapides Parish, Louisiana.

September 17, 2014

Wednesday's Child - Johny B. Punchard

Johny B. Punchard

Born on February 15, 1907

Son of
William H. Punchard and Ida Mae Blaney

Brother to
George W. Felcer, William "Bill", James Leon "Lee" and Ada

Died on April 20, 1908
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

From Mother's Arms to the Arms of Jesus

September 15, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 56

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Baseball in the Ville...
Back in the mid-1930s there was a baseball field over by the colored masonic hall in the Ville on some property that Mr. Maurice Saltzman owned.  Baseball was played during the summer months for a few years.   You would either hear on the street that a game was going to be played or you could hear the crowd when the games were going on. 
I didn’t know back in those days who the opposing teams were or where they came from.  I’ve heard others through the years say that the teams came from Jonesville and Wisner.
I remember seeing Son Alex Barley hit the ball.  It looked like after it went ever so high in the air, it would take off again.  It would land way over in the Spencer yard.  I also remember seeing Stemmie Cooper pitching the baseball.  Stemmie was a brother to Emily Cooper who I mentioned on earlier tapes. 
Frank Finister played catcher.  Frank Finister’s daughter, Rachel, married Stonewall Jackson from down on the Peck place.  I understand that Frank is still living.  He’s got to be around eighty-five or ninety.  He lives up around Monroe.  [Frank Finister, Jr. still lives in Sicily Island and works down on the Peck place.]
Julia Rogers
Walter Saulsberry played first base.  One day they were warming up out in the field before the game.  When someone threw the ball to Walter, he would fall flat on the ground with his arm outstretched and catch the ball with one foot still touching first base and his head turned away from the person throwing the ball to him.  Each time he caught the ball he would yell, “Tweet, Tweet, Tweet Twaddy, Tweet Trow!”  I don’t know what it meant but I know that’s what he yelled.
I can remember the fellow who called those games.  His name was Joe Rogers.  His wife, Julia, worked for my mother. 
As an eight or nine year old boy, I went over there a many a times to watch them play.  Sometimes I was the only white person there.  There would be at least a few hundred people there watching and enjoying the games.  I don’t know that I really understood the game at that young age.  I was there mainly to play on the sidelines with my little friends, Willie Jim, Dolly and Tommy Lee. 
By the late 1930s, rent houses were built on the lot where the baseball field sat so there was no more baseball in the Ville. 
Fighting on the Sidelines…
There was always some fighting going on at the ball field.  I never saw any of the players or the fans fighting.  The fights were always between the kids.  I remember at one game Ike got in a fight with William B. McIntyre.  Ike was Matilda’s son and that’s all I knew him by.  I don’t remember their last name.  Matilda was a crippled colored lady who lived down on the Peck place and helped my Aunt Nita Peck for a good many years.
William B. McIntrye was the son of Bass and Candice McIntrye.  William B. was a town dude and Ike was a country boy from down on the plantation.  William B. died when he was just a young man.  As well as I can remember, William B. had some kind of kidney disease.
After Ike and William B. fought that day, Dolly and I put on a little exhibition.  I believe Dolly’s real name was Willie Cain.  His mother was Bessie Cooper.  We played together a lot but most every time we met up we fought.  We matched up pretty good.  Once Dolly and I fought, Dolly and Willie Jim fought.  Even though Willie Jim wasn’t any bigger than us, he was three or four years older.  Willie Jim won that fight.
I saw Dolly about forty years later when his aunt, Mag Cooper, passed away.  Mag Cooper was a cousin to Emily Cooper.  Mag lived out on the Rock Road.  She worked for us off and on for several years.  Mag spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with us the last ten years of her life.

Note:  Parts 1-55 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

September 14, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Gertrude Krause

Monroe News Star - 2/27/1968

Mary Gertrude Krause

Born on August 13, 1890

Daughter of
Gotleib Krause and Caroline Rotham

Sister to
Henry Markham, Albert Gotleib, Kate Louisa, Augustus Samuel "Gus",
Oscar Otto and Caroline "Lina"

Wife of
Samuel S. Boniel
Glenn H. Barbee

Died on February 24, 1968
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave members, Karl & Paula T. Morley.

September 13, 2014

Harrisonburg Ferry, 1929

The following article appeared in the January 18, 1929 edition of the Monroe News Star:


Rates on Harrisonburg Ferry Reduced by Owners

By Associated Press.
WINNSBORO, Jan. 18.--Of information to the traveling public along this branch of the Lone Star route is the announcement that the only remaining ferry between this point and Alexandria, which is located at Harrisonburg, has materially reduced its charges, and has agreed to give immediate service to patrons.  Only one-third of the previous rate is now charged.  In competitive bidding for this franchise Leon Kirby received a four-year contract.  There will be no schedule, but the sounding of a car horn will bring the ferry to the side on which it is wanted for immediate service.

With the placing of the beautiful bride across Little River at White Sulphur Springs, the Harrisonburg flat is the only one on the Lone Star route from the Louisiana line to Alexandria, and the improved service at Harrisonburg on this ferry will materially shorten the time between north and central Louisiana on this route.

September 10, 2014

Wednesday's Child - Roy Lee Roberts

Roy Lee Roberts

Born on August 30, 1912

Son of 
Jeff Franklin Roberts and Emma Idell Stringer

Brother to
Ernest Marvin, Lillian Lorene, Jefferson W., Clara Frances, Dessie Marie,
Edith Idell, Howard Ray "Buddy" and Emma Jean

Died on December 11, 1925
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

He was the sunshine of our home 

September 9, 2014

Milestone Celebration

Another milestone has been reached at Roots From The Bayou.

I began this blog on November 8, 2012 with a desire to capture and share the histories, families, customs and cultures of Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish and other areas in Louisiana.

Thanks to all of you who have visited this blog, the number of page views just rolled past....

The Organization of the Sicily Island State Bank

Sicily Island State Bank in background - circa late 1950s

The original Charter of the Sicily Island State Bank was filed on April 26, 1918.  Directors, officers and stockholders were listed in Article 7 of the charter.

Thomas Jefferson Chisum, Sicily Island
William Smith Peck, Sicily Island
Charles Acia Cornick, Sicily Island
Henry Guice, Sicily Island

William Smith Peck, President, Sicily Island
Thomas Jefferson Chisum, Vice President, Sicily Island
Fred Falkenheiner, Cashier, Vidalia

Stockholders:  Yancey Brothers, Kleiser & Causey, Thomas Jefferson Peniston, Henry J. Disch, Clarence Edward Enright, Charleas Acia Cornick, Yelverton Bondurant, H. B. DeWitt, Edgar E. Garrison, Henry M. Krause, Zebulon York, Sr., W. T. Woodward, Dave Stafford, J. A. Kiper, William Smith Peck, Thomas Jefferson Chisum, Isham Alfonso "I. A." Steele, Henry E. Guice, W. A. Squyres, E. D. Miles, John Henry Knight, Edward Dorsey Smith, John W. Peniston, L. Saltzman, Edmon Chambers, A. F. Patterson, Felex Burt, C. W. Rogers, Willie Woodward, Myrtis Woodward, P. H. Wailes, Estelle Woodward Peck, Charles J. Gordon, Augustus "Gus" S. Krause, J. W. D. Summers, Fred T. Chambliss, Gladys Kendrick, Sadie Kendrick, Edward Walling Chisum, Laura Ballard Chisum, Elijah V. Bourke, Henry Peniston, David P. Ford, Fred Korn, C. R. Wilson, Lee W. Furr, Pearl Ensminger Bondurant, John C. Hardin, Sr., Thomas L. McKay, Joseph S. Francis, F. H. Grayson, Thomas C. McKay, A. Lenigam, Dwight E. Woodin, W. E. McGraw, Thomas Benjamin Gilbert, J. M. Henagen, P. V. Leddell, L. L. Anding

Sicily Island State Bank - 1978 
Many a high school homecoming parade was viewed from the concrete sidewalk that ran in front and down the side of this building in the 1960s.  One memory that stands out in my mind is the silver aluminum Christmas Tree that always graced the windows of this building during the Christmas season.

Back in the 1960s, there were no drive-through windows and there certainly weren't any ATM machines.  I remember it being a big deal when an after-hour deposit slot was installed on the side of the building.

Below is a photograph of my grandfather, Bruce Edmonds, who was a cashier at the Sicily Island State Bank for many years; beginning in 1944.  He was also the son-in-law of one of the original directors and stockholders, Isham Alfonso "I. A." Steele.

A portrait of the founder of the bank, Williams Smith Peck can be seen in the background of the photograph.

Ken Clark, Miss Laura "Hat" Harris and Will Peck, IV worked in the bank during my grandfather's tenure.  I also remember Mrs. Patsy Jackson and Mrs. Evelyn Miller being cashiers some years later.

Bruce Edmonds, Cashier - Sicily Island State Bank

The photograph below was taken in 2010.  The Sicily Island State Bank building has been remodeled and enlarged to include a drive-through window.

On the left side of the photograph you can see a separate building across the street which has now become part of the bank.  Years ago, this building was the Pan-Am Station.  If you look just over the shoulders of the men in the top photograph, you can see the station and part of the name.

Sicily Island State Bank - 2010

Source:  A History of Sicily Island, Will S. Peck, IV

September 8, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 55

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Mildred had cooked some turnip greens, cornbread and sweet potatoes.  I went over and picked up Emily Cooper to come eat with us.  John Gary came by while we were visiting and brought us some more sweet potatoes. 
We had a good visit and some good conversations.  We must have talked for about two hours.  John will be seventy-six on June 19, 1992.  Emily will be seventy on January 2, 1992.  I’ll be sixty-five on June 3, 1992 and Mildred will be sixty-six on July 22, 1992.  We are all about the same age. 
John Gary cooked for the Peck family.  He had been going to the Peck home since he was just a little boy with his mother and grandmother, Aunt Jo.  I remember John’s grandmother, Aunt Jo.  
Peck Home where John Gary cooked for the family

I reckon he cooked for the Peck family for over 50 years.  He could have gone down to New Orleans or to some other city and been a chef in one of those big, fancy restaurants.  He was a wonderful cook and was known far and wide for his talents in the kitchen.  I asked him why he never left and pursued a chef’s job and he said he was happy right here on the Island.
John told me something I didn’t know about Aunt Hester Robinson who I had mentioned on an earlier tape.  Aunt Monk and Uncle Truman Hunter lived over in the ‘Ville’ for years and years.  Aunt Monk and Aunt Hester were sisters. 
Aunt Monk raised the Saulsberry children.  I believe they were her nieces and nephews.  Their names were Sadie, President, Alec and Walter.  The house they all lived in has been gone for years. 
John Gary asked me if I remembered when one of Uncle Buddy and Elizabeth Fair’s daughters was killed.  She was married to old man Wes Hence.  They were all in the field working when a colored man named Jim Butler pulled a pistol and shot and killed her.   I remembered hearing about it but I don’t know if it was before or after I was born.  
I did remember when Brady Skinner killed Wes Hence some years after this shooting.  Wes was supposed to be bad and a lot of people were scared of him.  He had been threatening what he was going to do to Brady who was just a young man.  
Brady hid in some bushes down the lane that ran behind the Peck place near where John Gary now lives.  He had a club of some kind and waited for Wes to walk by.   He jumped out and hit him with the club and killed him.  
John said the strange thing was that where Wes was killed was no more than 75 yards from where Jim Butler had killed Wes’ wife. 
John asked what kin Dorse Kent was to Rose.  I told him they were brother and sister.  He didn’t know that.  It just goes to show that when a few people sit around and visit we get more information.  
We talked about Bill McGuire who worked for the Pecks.   Old Bill was part Indian.  He lived with Liddie Ann Thomas who was the daughter of Otilla and Buck Thomas.  Bill stayed around the club camp on the lake.  He rented out boats, cabins, and ran the camp for the Peck family.  He did all the cooking for the big picnics and political rallies that were once held at the camp. 
Bill McGuire came to Sicily Island from Oklahoma with Zack Miller and his family.  Zack Miller came here after buying land and building the 101 Ranch in the early 1900s.  He was good friends with old man Peck. 
Zack’s son, Little Zack, is still living and comes to visit Marvin Nolen every year.  As long as Bill McGuire was living, Little Zack would go see him on the Peck place.  He called him Uncle Bill.
I believe Little Zack and his sister, Blevins, came down here and stayed with the Peck family one summer a long time ago.

John Gary passed away on April 4, 1999 and is buried alongside his wife, Velma, and his son, John, Jr. in Pilgrim Cemetery, Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

Note:  Parts 1-54 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

September 7, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Jessie Gilbert York, Sr.

Monroe News Star - 9/14/1960

Jessie Gilbert York, Sr.

Born on October 27, 1903

Son of
Zebulon York, Sr., and Mollie Earle

Brother to
Earle, Julia, Zebulon, Jr., Horace, William,
Kenner and Thomas

Husband of
Edna Latham

Father to
Jessie Gilbert, Jr.

Died on September 12, 1960
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave member, Karen Klemm Pinckard.

September 6, 2014

The History of the 101 Ranch and its Winter Home in Sicily Island

Original 101 Ranch in Ponca City, Oklahoma

The original 101 Ranch was established Ponca City, Oklahoma by Col. George W. Miller in 1893. Beginning with 2,000 acres, Col. Miller and his three sons, Joe, George and Zack, eventually expanded the ranch to 110,000 acres and 25,000 head of Longhorn cattle.

Following the death of their father, the three brothers continued to add more livestock which included herds of Holstein, Shorthorn and Hereford Dairy cattle as well as Duroc-Jersey hogs.

The Miller brothers entered the entertainment world in 1905 by hosting a newspaper editors convention which featured the famous Indian warrior, Geronimo and Bill Pickett.  After garnering national attention from this event, the 101 Ranch Wild West Show was born.

101 Ranch Wild West Show Wagons

The 101 Ranch Wild West Show toured the United States and in 1914 began touring internationally. The King and Queen of England were entertained by the show in 1925.  The last show was performed in 1931.

Pawnee Bill and Zack Miller, Sr.

At some point in the early years of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, The Miller brothers purchased land south of Sicily Island and opened a branch of the 101 Ranch.  This branch is said to have been used to winter some of the show animals which included elephants.

The following article from the October 14, 1936 edition of the Monroe News Star mentions the winter location of the 101 Ranch in Sicily Island.

Zack Miller and his family lived on the Sicily Island 101 Ranch circa 1913.  Zack was married to Olive Marguerite Blevins who was the daughter of Anderson Bean Blevins and Tassie Belle Lowdermilk.  Their two children were Zack Miller, Jr. and Tassie Blevins Miller Gibbs.

Marquerite and children lived at the 101 Ranch in 1930.  This was most likely during or after her divorce from Zack, Sr.

1930 U. S. Census
Zack Miller, Jr. continued to visit Sicily Island until his death in 1993 in Grass Range, Fergus, Montana. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco, McLennan, Texas, near his mother and sister.

Pictured in the photograph below are Zack Miller, Sr. (center), wife, Marguerite (white hat), Zack, Jr. (kneeling) and Blevins (standing).

101 Ranch Old Timers Association

Brothers Joe and George died in 1927 and 1929, respectively.  Zack Miller was unable to handle the management and operations of the ranch and wild west show.  By 1932, all assets of the ranch were lost in bankruptcy.  

The 101 Ranch Old Timers Association was formed to preserve the memory of the ranch and entertainment provided by the Miller family.  In 1960 the Ponca City, Oklahoma 101 Wild West Rodeo Foundation was formed. Yearly reunions continue to be held.

The Sicily Island 101 Ranch is now owned by Carroll and Amy Huff Barron.

September 5, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past - Willie D. Kirby

William D. "Willie D." Kirby


Son of
James Monroe Kirby, III and Bernice Taylor

Brother to
Jimmy, Flora Mae and Albert

Husband of
Margaret Wells

Father of
Kay and Amy

"Willie D." taught math at Sicily Island High School for a number of years alongside his wife, Margaret who taught English. He was known by his students as a someone who enjoyed teaching and interacting with them.  He was also a familiar sight on Friday night home football games where he always worked the admission gate.  

Willie D. all-around good man who is still missed by many.

September 4, 2014

When the Veterinarian Visited the Island

Monroe Morning World - 1/14/1951

Who remembers the yearly trips Dr. Blunschi made to the Island to vaccinate our dogs?  From the above article it appears that 1951 was the first year this was done.

During the 1960s, Dr. Blunschi would park behind the Sicily Island State Bank and the local people would bring their dogs to be vaccinated.  Was the set up always near the bank?  Does anyone know when the yearly visits ended?