Prosperity, Rapid Development Marked D’Arbonne Community In Its Early History

Walter Hitesman
The Gazette
October 5, 1939

In 1878, at the height of the reconstruction era in the South, a merchant, Eli Rugg, wandered in to the land south of Farmerville and established a store where today the community of D’Arbonne is.

Rugg erected a blacksmith shop and a residence a short time later. His store began to attract settlers from the surrounding countryside, already populated with some of the oldest families in the history of Union Parish.

By the turn of the year, 1877, another family had moved in. This was J. R. Bransford, who a few years later set up the first cotton gin in that section. On this settler’s heels came other businessmen and the settlement increased in size.

However, before these settlers moved in to give the surrounding territory a trading center, in 1852 a post office had been established there. It was discontinued in 1866 and reestablished in 1880.

Other Merchants

Other merchants soon followed Rugg into the section. Among those who set up business there were J. M. Pardue, who built the second store there, J. M. Wade, John Bransfield and John Newton Hicks.

When Bransfield opened up his cotton gin at D’Arbonne in about 1879, the prosperity of the settlement increased. Cotton would be ginned there and then transported to Monroe by mule, horse and oxen teams or taken to Fork Ferry to be loaded on to the streamers that used to ply the D’Arbonne.

It was a three day trip to Monroe overland. It necessitated camping at night on the road. The cotton would then be sold to cotton buyers in Monroe, then loaded on the large river packets for transportation to New Orleans.

The cotton that was brought to Fork Ferry was, in later years, bought by Daniel Stein who would ship it to Monroe by boat.

The first school in D’Arbonne was built about 1878 with a man named Doiser as the first school teacher.

Churches

The settlement itself did not have a church. There was a Methodist Church about four miles north of the community, however. This church was extremely old when the section was settled and old settlers guess the date of its erection as about 1850. It was named the Ebenezer church and was torn down about a decade ago. There remains an old cemetery, though, which reveals a tremendous amount of information concerning the first settlers of the vicinity.

Since the entire territory was an agricultural one and since the population figured in the early settlement of Union Parish and Farmerville, and since it was so close to Farmerville, the late establishment of a trading center there at D’Arbonne is understandable.

Baptist Church

Getting back to the churches of the community, there was established, about 1878, a Baptist church at Culburtson with the Rev. D. L. Hicks as its first pastor. This church still stands today and religious services are still conducted there serving the entire section. W. L. Gill, the Webbs and the Fraziers are given credit for the establishment of the church.

Old families who used to live in the section and some still do, are Gill, Frazier, Webb, Parkman, Johnson, Feazer, Wimberly, Anderson, Smith, Christy, Betterton, Dillard, Pardue, Bransford, McFarlands and the Bakers.

A Knights of Pythias hall was built in the settlement about 1880 and served as a meeting place for the community and many social functions were held there.

Post Office Reestablished

About the same time, 1880, the post office was reestablished there. The increase in population accounted for bringing it in again. It was discontinued again in 1906 after the brief rise of the town started to decline.

After 1890, many of the old settlers moved off and the settlement began to decline.

Today, the community still serves as a trading center for the surrounding territory but has settled back somewhat from the start it made in the early ’70’s and 80’s.

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