Bernice Historical Society
Bernice Dots #29
By Cathy Buckley
Union Parish Leader Dies
In December of 1952 Bernice resident G.E. Lindsey died after a lengthy illness. Lindsey was only nineteen years of age when his family moved to the newly created town of Bernice in 1900. As a young man of only 20 he helped establish the mercantile firm of “Gray, McDonald and Lindsey”. In 1906 he married Jimmie Ruth Fuller the daughter of J.R. Fuller and the president of the Bank of Bernice.
In 1908 he separated himself from his business partners and began operation of G.E. Lindsey and Company Mercantile. This business grew under Lindsey’s leadership and reputation for providing what the customer needed. He was always ready in time of need to help the local community. One such instance was in 1916 when the Ruston Creamery began business. Lindsey saw quickly that the local farmers could benefit from the Ruston business. His efforts to help the dairy farmers were outlined in a publication that circulated to dairy farmers across America. The February 1, 1916 article had this to say about Lindsey:
“G.E. Lindsey of Bernice, 23 miles north of Ruston on the Rock Island railroad, got busy with the farmers and probably no one has done more than he for the dairy industry of northern Louisiana. Lindsey bought a separator and placed it in his store and then asked farmers to bring in milk and use the separator free of charge. He then took the cream separated in his store, sampled it and shipped the product to the Ruston creamery. About 25 farmers are using the separator at the store and are getting checks twice a month. In one month about $200 went to Bernice from the Ruston creamery.”
In 1919 Lindsey built his first warehouse in Bernice and that same year was elected as the police juror serving the Bernice area. Lindsey would in later years be elected President of the Union Parish Police Jury and served in that capacity for many years.
In 1922 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Bank of Bernice and in 1923 opened his first of several cotton gins in the area. Eventually he would close the mercantile business and devote his efforts strictly to the cotton gin and cotton storage business. By 1939 he operated the Lindsey Gin and Seed Company, Lindsey Federal Bonded Warehouses and the Lindsey Cotton Company. In 1943 Lindsey opened a lumber mill in Bernice under the name Lindsey Lumber Company. Also operating at this time was the Lindsey Farm Equipment Company in Bernice.
His obituary stated he could be “credited with much of the progress of his town his parish and his state.” He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Bernice and an active member of the Bernice Lions Club. But perhaps the greatest tribute to his life was written in 1948 by long time friend “Uncle Brooks” and which appeared in the Louisiana State Federation of Labor Review for that year.
“Born on a farm, orphaned at a tender age, handicapped by poverty and denied the opportunities of education beyond that afforded by rural schools of the time. . . It seemed that all the cards were stacked against him but he bore responsibility at an early age and with the passing of years his many endeavors and achievements attest their present enormity”. Brooks listed his endeavors in the cotton gin and saw mill industry stating that his lumber business “assumed a gargantuan magnitude with sprawling buildings, lanes, streets, avenues and acres of lumber.”
The article described his wife Ruth as a woman of dignity, grace and beauty. Both he and his wife were intensely religious and described as more than willing to provide equipment and transportation to others without charge.
“To have lived his life to its fullest one must suffer. Prosperity alone never would have developed the Lindsey we have today. So closely interwoven in North Louisiana history with its progress, advancement, development and prosperity, the name Lindsey will ever be emulated and become a beacon to the wavering. . .with that eternal and noblest of all qualities, CHARACTER, ever remembering, ‘That when the great Scorer comes to write against your name it matters not whether you won or lost but HOW you played the game.’”
********************************************************************************************* Cathy Buckley is a native of Union Parish and lifelong citizen of Shiloh. She served as Principal of Spearsville High School for many years until her retirement. Cathy is now the director of the Bernice Depot Museum and a active member of the Bernice Historical Society.