By Jon McKinnie
Loch Lomond Landing (originally called Parker’s Landing, operated by John Parker established on the west bank of the Ouachita River ~1820), was one of the first settlements north of Monroe, if not the first. It was located at the junction of D’Loutre Bayou basin and Ouachita River in southeastern Union Parish.
Early Loch Lomond landowners included Hypolite Pargoud (1838), James G Richardson (1854) and John Ailes (1837). The primitive Loch Lomond road was cut through the forest to the west. Early settlers in the area that became Rocky Branch probably spread from the Loch Lomond Landing.
In 1839, the entire parish had a total of 333 families including slaves. The town of Farmerville mostly existed on paper. By 1850, there were still less than 400 families in Union Parish and most of these lived along the bayou, river landings and on the large farms.
Early settlers in the Rocky Branch area who purchased the first lands from the federal government land office include:
- 1852 – Clamands, Wilson Terry
- 1854 – Livington, Larche
- 1858 – Baker, Carter, Smith, Colson
- 1861 – Foster, Freeman, Rogers, Bryan
- 1904 – Dodd, Howard, Chapman, Goyne
- 1910 – Smith, Moore
It wasn’t easy going places back then. It was just a bunch of trails crisscrossing, in and around the woods, no real roads. At the time one could get to Trenton (West Monroe), if you knew the way, but the trails were rough, and often either washed out, or under water.
In 1906, John Martin Goyne was awarded a contract with the state of Louisiana to cut a road from Cross Roads to West Monroe. He was to be paid $75 when the road was finished.
Goyne started at Cross Roads, and worked toward the now Rocky Branch area, which was originally named Colson. Goyne continued to establish the primitive road to Trenton, which took total of two years. He would track through the woods looking for the highest ground, so the road wove in and around the forest. The primitive road was cut with an axe and crossbow saw. His only help was a mule, used to pull the trees out of the way.
Early foundation families that moved into the Rocky Branch area included:
- 1850 – Willis Dodd – listed in 1850 Union Parish census
- 1850 – William Hardy “Jim” Howard – Listed in 1850 Union Parish census
- 1870 – Perry Key Smith moved to Rocky Branch area.
- 1872 – W. D. Thurston, Baptist Church founder.
- 1872 – John M Ward & Betty Meeks (moved to Cross Roads, built Wards Chapel Road)
- 1870’s – Sawyers moved to area.
- 1870’s – J.T. Simpson family moved to area from Russell Co., Alabama
- 1890’s – Jack Ely Hay, received Federal land grant, built sawmill. Donated 20 acres for school. Jack Ely “John” Haye married Stella Pace in 1899
- 1906 – John Martin Goyne (cut road from Cross Roads to West Monroe)
Before the 1940’s Rocky Branch had a fairly stable population of people who continued to live in the community and marry someone close by. Just about everybody was kin to somebody else in the community.
Albert Smith’s family migrated from England to Virginia, down the east coast across the south into Grant Parish. Perry Key Smith married Therisann Mercer and moved from Grant Parish into Rocky Branch community, buying land in 1870. Their grandson, Albert Whitman Smith married Annis Armstrong and raised their family at corner of what is now Albert Smith Road and Richardson Road.
The earliest known Ouchley is Dallas Ouchley (1845-1878). He showed up in the 1860 Union Parish census, likely in the Point area. He was Kelby’s 2nd great grandfather and served in the 31st La. Infantry during the Civil War. He later had 2 sons, one of which was George Rufus Ouchley (1874-1947). Rufus moved to land just up the hill from the confluence of Rocky Branch with Bayou D’Arbonne soon after 1900.
J.T. Simpson family came to Union Parish from Russell Co, Alabama in the mid-late 1800’s. Melita Green’s family settled in or near Ouachita Parish and she later married Macon Simpson. J.T. Simpson had one of the first general merchandise stores in Rocky Branch from about 1920-1930. J.T. Simpson was the father of Celia Dodd & grandfather of Norman, Ruth and Clayton Dodd.
Elisha Dodd came to the Union Parish area around the mid-late 1800’s. Elisha was 2nd Great Grandfather to Norman, Ruth & Clayton Dodd.
Willis E. Dodd is listed in the 1850 Union Parish Census about 8 years old and came here from Alabama. Dodd had the store in Rocky Branch from the late 1930’s till he passed away in 1951. The store continued to be ran by his 2nd wife Laura.
Celia Simpson Dodd took photos of the Rocky Branch School as it was under construction. In later years, she worked at school as cook in cafeteria. Celia married Grover E Mann Dodd on Dec 24 1927.
Corbett Simpson, who was Celia’s brother, also ran a store in Rocky Branch in the early 1940-50’s. Corbett married Mattie Lee Armstrong. They had one son, Junius.
Jake Richardson’s family DNA identifies them as 100% British and Irish, tracing back to Raffe Richardson in 1512. American Revolution Brig General Richard Charles Richardson (1704-1780), grandson of Sir Robert Richardson, was born in Jamestown, Virginia. Dr. Thomas Parker Richardson married Fannie Simmons and migrated to Monroe about 1857. They raised their family on 1,000 acre Waverly Plantation, north of Columbia.
Robert Lyggon Richardson, grandson of Dr Richardson, married Winnie May Moore, one of the “Moore Sisters”, daughters of August Moore and Octavia Carter. They moved to Rocky Branch where they raised three children including Sybil, Robert Jr and Ruffin Jordan “Jake”. Jake married Erma Jean Smith in Oct 1948 and they had six girls, including my wife, Phyllis.
Flavil and Dolores G. Hollis moved to Rocky Branch in the 1940’s when Flavil was appointed the principal of the Rocky Branch School. Flavil was diligent in his role as principal and introduced the hot lunch program to the school so that students would no longer have to bring their lunches and everybody was assured of a nutritious meal. Delores taught also at Antioch and Cross Roads.
Early Store Owners included:
- Truman Smith – Smith had the Flavil Hollis, RB Pace Store.
- Celia Dodd & Ruth Parks- They had the Truman Smith, Flavil Hollis, RB Pace Store before it burned in 1962.
- Willy E Dodd – Dodd had the store in Rocky Branch from the late 1930’s till he passed away in 1951. The store continued to be ran by his 2nd wife Laura Ranson.
- J. T. Simpson – Simpson had one of the first general merchandise stores in Rocky Branch from about 1920-1930, then moved north of Farmerville on the Marion Highway. There he opened another Simpson’s store and service station.
- Ed Dodd – Dodd ran a general store prior to Corbett Simpson having it. Ed Dodd, son of Willy E Dodd, married Myrtle.
- Corbett Simpson – Simpson ran a store in Rocky Branch in the early 1940-50’s.
- Kelton Howard – Kelton and Jerry Howard ran their own store in Rocky Branch, which was a combination grocery and service station.
Early Churches located in Rocky Branch included:
- Pleasant Hill Baptist Church (est. 1872)
- Rocky Branch Church of Christ (est. 1918)
- Rocky Branch Baptist Church
- Rocky Branch Assembly of God
- 2nd Church of Christ (est. 1981 on Sterlington Highway)
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church:
The first church, originally called Baptist Church of Christ at Pleasant Hill, was constituted on Wednesday, August 21 1872, as a result of action taken by the Baptist Church of Christ at Farmerville, Louisiana on July 13 1872. The church was in Rocky Branch four miles west of Port Union.
The following individuals were listed as foundation members: W.D. & Matilda Thurston, Catherine Baker, Nancy Taylor, Catherine Nolan, Joseph & Tabathia Williams, and Sarah J. Jones. One month later, W.P. Smith, Elizabeth McGough, William & Sarah J. Burford and Francis Baker were accepted as members. The next week, Alice McGough, Isaac S. Phillips, John Howard, Mary Baker, Samuel Sawyer, Sarah A. Smith and Robert B. Burford were added.
The original post office called Colsons Post Office opened near the Rocky Branch community on Mar 12 1887. The mail came from West Monroe to Mr. Jule Parks, who sent it on to Rocky Branch by a black man named I.J., who drove a horse and buggy to Rocky Branch. Curtis Green was Postmaster of the Loch Lomand Post Office.
At some point the post office name changed from Colsons to Rocky Branch Post Office. The local post office closed on Apr 18 1931. Bill Rabun was its last Post Master.
Miss Ruth Dodd remembers the old Rocky Branch Post Office building which was located on Richardson Road. A large oak tree beside the road marks the post office location.
There has been some discussion over the years as to exactly where an area called “Nip-N-Tuck” was located. I have been told that “Nip-N-Tuck” stretched from Antioch community to D’Loutre Bayou, down through Cross Roads and Rocky Branch.
Originally from Union Parish and a resident of Farmerville, Jon R. McKinnie enjoys writing and spending time with his wife, Phyllis Richardson Hal, two children and four grandchildren. Jon also serves as the Historian ofr Lt. Elijah H. Ward Camp #1971. Sons of Confederate Veterans, Farmerville, La.