Written by Edna Liggin
North Louisiana Historical Association
The Times – Shreveport Louisiana
July 2, 1976
It all began a year after the parish of Union was organized in 1839.
The president of the first Union Parish Police Jury, Matthew Wood, got involved in a feud with his boyhood chum, Peter Harvey. Matthew was a stern Whig while the Harveys were were staunch Democrats and politics were a part of the family tradition in those days.
In the 1840 election the Whigs supported William Henry, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too”. Harrison as opposed to Martin Van Buren, the Democrat. The Whigs hung coonskin caps on posts while the Democrats hung long strips of red pepper. Harrison won, but the old general soon died and Matthew Wood went into mourning. The Wood-Harvey feud followed.
It is not known whether Matthew Wood left Union Parish before the Police Jury dealt with the problem of the construction of a courthouse for the new parish, but a two-story brick courthouse was built. The woodwork was painted and chairs and a front door lock purchased.
A lot of other things like windows, chimneys, brick floors, more chairs, and fireplaces were added six years later to make the place more comfortable. Woe unto the rider whose horse trampled inside the fence around the courthouse in 1853 for he had to pay a fine of fifty dollars! Police Jury records of 1854 show the adding of an oak door for the parish “dungeon” (jail), lining the door with material two inches thick, and fastening it down with wrought iron spikes six inches long. The door had a special opening through which prisoners were fed.
Among the other goings after the Civil War were the cotton farmers who had no alternative but to either ship their cotton by boat down the Ouachita River or haul it by wagon from 20 to 65 miles to the available gins. If you were simply “going” in 1884 there was a stage coach, large enough to haul six to eight passengers drawn by from two to four horses. It ran through Union Parish to Choudrant every day except Sunday, carrying mail and passengers. At Choudrant, you could either catch a train or the stage coach to Monroe or Shreveport.
Three well-remembered steam boats that plied Corney Creek or Bayou D’Arbonne were the “Bell of D’Arbonne”, the “Lora Lindsey” and the “Helen Vaughn”, piloted by Capt. Vaughn, Lindsey, and Williams. These boats all sank in a few years for one reason or another, but many oldsters living today recall the excitement of the “comings and goings” of the stream boats on the streams of Union Parish.
Edna Matthews Liggin will always be remembered as the official historian of Union Parish and the Book Mobile Lady. She began writing the Uncle Lige column in The Gazette in 1939. Over the years she wrote many articles about the Union Parish history, the people there and her bottle collection. In her retired years she enjoyed visiting the older people in the Union Parish community.