Bernice Dots #25

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Bernice Historical Society

Bernice Dots #25

By Cathy Buckley

In March of 1949 Dr. W.C. Reeves purchased the old Bernice Baptist Church in order to convert it into a physician’s office.  Dr. Reeves was at the time on the staff of the Charity Hospital in Shreveport.  The Baptists were in the middle of the construction of their new home on Highway 167 only a short distance from “the heart of the town”.  The new building was described as “large and beautiful in design” and one that “would do credit to a far larger town than Bernice.”  C.T. Salley was the contractor.

All of us remember the many years Dr. C.C. Colvin and Dr. W.C. Reeves served the Bernice community.  Some of the Class of 1968 was talking the other day about these two doctors delivering most of our class members when we were born in 1950.  We all agreed that Retha Fitzgerald was the first baby delivered in the clinic with several of us to follow shortly thereafter.   We also remembered the many “house calls” Dr. Reeves made to our homes regardless of the time of night!

That same year saw the capture of three Grant Parish jail escapees within a Bernice café.  The prisoners had made their way north from Colfax in a stolen car which broke down near Farmerville.  The trio then started walking toward Bernice when a Farmerville physician stopped and picked them up and carried them the rest of the way. That evening the trio was approached in a Bernice café and apprehended by night marshal Edgar White.

In June of 1950 North Korean forces invaded South Korea.  The United Nations approved the use of military force in the region with the United States providing over 90 % of the soldiers on the ground.  One soldier from Bernice would lose his life in August of 1950 in a ground offensive near the town of Haman, South Korea. That soldier was a veteran of World War II, having served from 1943 -1946. Cpl. James Beverly Thurman would die the day before his 26th birthday.  At the time of his enlistment Thurman was a student at Grambling College.  His remains are buried at the Mt. Olive Cemetery, Bernice, La.

Another young soldier from Bernice lost his life in the summer of 1952. PFC Herman Gouan Harris, a member of the 45th Infantry Division, died while MIA and his remains were not recovered.  Harris died in the Chorwon battle area of South Korea.

Many remains of servicemen lost in the Korean War will eventually be repatriated to the United States. DNA samples are needed from these families in order to make it possible to attempt to identify remains found in the future. One such soldier returned to our area last week and his remains buried in Downsville.

The Korean War Project has attempted to identify relatives of Harris and currently on their web site is listed this information:

Call 214-320-0342 -For Family DNA Information. A Family DNA Sample is needed for PFC Herman Gouan Harris.

Anyone knowing relatives of this soldier should get them in contact with the number listed above as his remains may already have been returned but no positive identification can be obtained without DNA from someone related to him.  There is no cost to obtain the DNA kit.

The year of 1952 also saw Dr. C.C. Colvin deliver a third generation Bowen family member.  In 1910 Dr. Colvin delivered John Newton Bowen and 20 years later delivered his daughter Monelle and in March of 1952 delivered Cathy Nell McCallum, thus patting the breath of life into three generations of one family.

When asked about the birth Dr. Colvin stated he had also delivered the mother and grandfather on the McCallum side of the family as well.  Dr. Colvin began his medical practice in Bernice in 1909 and from that year until 1952 estimated he had delivered around 4000 babies.

The Shreveport Times wrote about Dr. Colvin’s work in Bernice which appeared in their March 9, 1952 paper.  At the conclusion of the article the author asked Dr. Colvin how old he was.  Dr. Colvin replied, “I’m getting too old to remember my age, but I do remember the date of my birth. It is 1884.”


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