Written by Maradee Liggin Cryer
I grew up in Union Parish. We lived about seven miles from Bernice, Farmerville and Dubach. My roots are deep there as most of my ancestors came into Union and Lincoln Parishes in the years between 1844 and 1892. Exactly 100 years after my Liggin ancestors moved from Alabama to Union Parish I was born. Our house was just a couple of blocks from the old one-room school house called Union Gin School. I remember as a child walking around the area and being told about the school that had been located there. My mother and father and my father’s father attended this school. I also remember an African-American one-room school that was located closer to Bernice. My mother often said this should have been preserved because of the history associated with the school. Unfortunately it was torn down.
A few miles down the road was Shiloh Church. We attended church there every Sunday morning, night and Wednesday night. There were also the revivals in the summer and Vacation Bible School. I remember George Moore and his wife Mary Maude Moore. George Moore was one of the deacons in the church and was well thought of. My mother and father are buried in Shiloh cemetery.
To reach Dubach we drove down a dirt road through Middlefork Swamp. My roots are really in this area as this is where my Liggin and Wynn ancestors lived. Most of them are buried in the Fellowship Church cemetery that is located along this road. Also along here is a private family Liggin cemetery that contains my great great grandfather and grandmother, James G. Liggin and his wife Elizabeth Peters Burton Liggin. He was born in Virginia in the 1700s.
My Tabor ancestors lived between our house and Bernice. Somewhere near Shiloh Church, I believe. My grandmother Laura Tabor Matthews Lewis Smith moved back
to Union Parish after her husband died, leaving her with 3 young children. When my mother, Edna Matthews Liggin married, Laura married a widower (Mr. Lewis). He did not live long and she later married the grandfather that I remember, “Pop” Smith. Pop was a character…a carpenter with unlimited energy. He repaired and built many houses in Union Parish.
My mother’s brother, John Matthews, lived across the road from us. He was known in the area as the “butane” man. He drove a butane gas truck and delivered gas to the area homes. Some of you may remember this….everyone burned butane in their space heaters to heat their homes. There was a tank buried in the yard that had a lid that lifted for the “butane” man to take his hose from his truck and refill the tank. John was always getting early morning calls from “widow-women” in the area who had put off calling him to have their tanks filled…until it was too late and they were out. (Many of these elderly women had little money and were tight with what they had.) He never complained…just got out of his warm bed and drove out to refill their Butane tanks so they could have a warm fire in the mornings. My grandmother (Douglas Liggin) used to sit all day in a rocker in front of her space heater.
My mother, Edna Liggin, was known as the “bookmobile” lady. She worked on the Union Parish bookmobile and visited all the area schools. She would take an interest in each child and often set aside books she knew they would enjoy. She was also the Parish genealogist and wrote many articles for the Bernice and Farmerville newspapers. Another of her interests was bottle collecting. She would go to all the old home sites and find their garbage dumps. Everyone was responsible for their own trash and garbage disposal and usually buried it in an old ditch or roadbed. From these “trash” areas she found memories from the past in the form of bottle and old trinkets. She would research these bottles and write about their history in the local papers. We had a large barn beside our house. On this barn she started hanging the bottles she had found (not the valuable ones) and soon it became known as the bottle barn. I remember a Monroe newspaper sent out a reporter to interview her and take pictures. The article later appeared in the Monroe paper.