Ever wondered when Jackson Parish began to be settled and why it was called such? What about how the town of Jonesboro actually got its name? Maybe you curious about how Jonesboro became the parish seat or even things like how the early settlers made their money or got around back. You are not alone. Over the next several weeks a series entitled “Blast from the Past” will be published exclusively in the Jackson Parish Journal designed to help shed a light on these questions and more. This week – The Early Beginnings!
A long-lost newspaper article that was written by W.S. Ingram and published on July 18, 1926, in the Shreveport Times, provides an interesting description of the “early days” that comes from, as they say, “straight from the horse’s mouth.” The historical piece is an interview with W. W. McDonald, age 76, whose family migrated to the area from Alabama in 1846 and who was one of the first children born in the parish. As you may have already started wondering, the answer is yes, he is a direct descendant of the McDonald family that today owns the Jackson Parish Bank in Jonesboro.
“I was born in 1850 just outside of Rochester, (small settlement near Indian Village close to where the town of Choudrant is now located) four years after my father and grandfather had settled in Jackson Parish (1846). This new subdivision of Louisiana had been formed in 1845, one year prior to our arrival. The eastern and northern border of the parish had been cut out of Ouachita Parish to include everything south of the D’Arbonne stream. The western and southern borders ran along the Bienville and Winn Parish line.
There were very few people here when my family came but soon hundreds arrived establishing big settlements about Vernon and other sections along the eastern Ouachita Parish line. Our family was members of the Whig party, but many in Louisiana were staunch Democrats and idolized Andrew Jackson after whom the parish was named.
Our family was one of many who were part of a great migration west from the “old states” who in the decade of the 1840’s were seeking richer lands and happier regions. Upon arriving they fawned over the prospect of great wealth and a prolific lifestyle that was promised to them through the endless bounty of virgin timber and undisturbed rich soil. Adding to the enjoyment of their discovery was the overabundance of wild game, beautiful flora, wild fruit and nut trees and innumerable streams of pure water teeming with fish, all situated along cool shaded ravines and sun kissed hills.
These early settlers immediately became active in political affairs which led to Jackson Parish being represented in the famous constitutional convention of 1845, in which the people were first given the right to name their governor, instead of that power being vested in the general assembly.
In the legislative schedule adopted that year, though just created, Jackson Parish was given one member in the lower house and made part of the senatorial district comprised of Jackson, Union, Morehouse and Ouachita parishes.”
Next week: Settling in!
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