The UPS Man Cometh

Finally!  Back in January, I ordered from the book, Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, originally published in 1890 by Southern Publishing Co.   For several months, I kept getting notices from Amazon that shipping would delayed and they would give a date range during which it would ship.  All truned out to wrong until the last notice, which suggested that I could expect to get the book by April 27.  And it arrived on that very day!

The book covers Avoyelles, Bossier, Caddo, De Soto, Natchitoches, and Winn  parishes where I have identified ancestors, and Bienville, Claiborne, Grant, Rapides (misspelled “Rapids” on the cover), Sabine, and Webster parishes where I most likely will find ancestors.

I didn’t any family names in the index.  I did peruse the chapters on Caddo and De Soto; those parishes being where many, if not most of my Louisiana forbears lived.

What good are books like this if they don’t specifically mention one’s research subjects?   Well, books like this give a great deal of context to one’s record research.  Context is all important!  This book, published in 1890 (just eight years before my grandfather was born in Bossier Parish) describes the history of the parishes from their founding.  Historical events and famous people are put into context.

Fpr instance, on the 1900 census, my great-grandfather’s occupation is described as, “fireman, electric roundhouse.”  I surmised that this was some sort of railroad job.   The book reveals that in 1890, there were at least four intracity electrical street car lines in Shreveport.  Apparently, Grandpa Dick and his son, Frank, worked for one of them.

The book seems, on initial perusal, to be quite thorough in its detailed descriptions of each parish.  At various places, however, one is reminded of the context of the times in which it was published.  For example, in describing De Soto Parish, it states that the town of Keatchie was “named after some lazy Indian,”  who is not further identified.

I’m eager to get into the rest of it and I may post relevant passages here from time to time.


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2 Responses to “The UPS Man Cometh”

  • Robyn says:

    I so agree with you bout reading books for context. Its funny though…when I try to impart this wisdom to beginners it’s very hard for them to understand why. I guess in the beginning many are still obsessed with census and vital records;). Another point to add is how good the more academic ones are for the footnotes and bibliographies…can lead you to sources you never thought about.

  • Hi Craig,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that reading books pertaining to the area our ancestors lived in can be very helpful in putting our research into context. I recently have gained so much insight into the time and place my Richards ancestors lived in East Texas during the early 1800s by reading two different history books, one written in the 1800s and one written in 2003.

    Glad your book finally arrived!

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