Bernice Dots #3

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Bernice Historical Society

Bernice Dots #3

By Cathy Buckley

Prior to the sale of lots in Bernice each block had been divided into 20 business lots and 8 residence lots.  At the end of the auction a total of 207 lots had been sold ranging in price from $25 to a high of $270 paid by T.A. Heard.  One block brought in $3000.

In 1903 a newspaper article appeared in the Times Picayune describing the day of the auction.  The article appears here in its entirety:  “Cold Water Bernice!”  Instead of hearing Bernice, the thriving young town up the Arkansas Southern, called a “dry” town, you always hear it termed a cold water town and thereby hangs a good story about its founding.  Goodness knows the deep coating of white sand that covers the place does not indicate much water of any kind, but it got this name legitimately.

The founder of Bernice had money.  He laid out the site, built some houses and a church; dug a well, and said it should be a religious center, always void of saloons.

Then he got up the usual town-site excursions, invited everybody to come and see, without money and without price.   He advertised that Bernice had the coolest water of any town in the State.  Just after dark on the night prior to the arrival of the home seekers, a special train of an engine and one car went bowling up the line carrying 2000 pounds of ice, which was quietly dumped into the new well and allowed to cool.

All the day following the thirsty visitors partook of the cooling draught.  It was pronounced the best water in Louisiana.  Ever since that it has been “Cold Water Bernice.”

By July of 1899 there were 6 stores almost completed, one hotel, one large sawmill and lots donated for churches and a school.


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