Place : Coushatta, Louisiana

CoushattaCoushatta is a town in and the parish seat of rural Red River Parish in north Louisiana, United States. It is situated on the east bank of the Red River. The community is approximately forty-five miles south of Shreveport on U.S. Highway 71. The population, 2,299 at the 2000 census, is nearly two-thirds African American, most with long family histories in the area. The 2010 census, however, reported 1,964 residents, a decline of 335 persons, or nearly 15 percent during the course of the preceding decade.

Red River Parish and the Red River Valley were areas of unrest and white paramilitary activity and violence after the Civil War, and especially during the 1870s of Reconstruction. The parish was based on cotton cultivation, dependent on the labor of enslaved African Americans who far outnumbered the whites. After the war, white planters and farmers tried to reestablish dominance over a majority of the population. With emancipation and being granted citizenship and suffrage, African Americans tried to create their own lives.

Formed in May 1874 from white militias, the White League in Louisiana was increasingly well-organized in rural areas like Red River Parish. It worked to turn out the Republican Party, as well as suppress freedmen’s civil rights and voting rights. It used violence against officeholders, running some out of town and killing others, and acted near elections to suppress black and white Republican voter turnout.

In one of the more flagrant examples of violence, the White League in August 1874 forced six Republicans from office in Coushatta, then assassinated them before they could leave the state. Victims included the brother and three brothers-in-law of the Republican State Senator Marshall H. Twitchell. Twitchell’s wife and her brothers were from a family with long ties in Red River Parish.

The White League also killed five to twenty freedmen who had been escorting the Republicans and were witnesses to the assassinations. The events became known as the Coushatta Massacre and contributed to the Republican governor’s requesting more Federal troops from U.S. President U.S. Grant to help control the state. Ordinary Southerners wrote to the White House describing the terrible conditions and fear they lived under during these years.

With increased fraud, violence and intimidation, white Redeemer Democrats gained control of the state legislature in 1876 and established a new system of one-party rule. They passed laws making elections more complicated and a new constitution with provisions that effectively disenfranchised most African Americans and many poorer whites. This disenfranchisement persisted for decades into the 20th century before passage of civil rights legislation and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Place : Shongaloo, Louisiana

shongalooShongaloo is a village in Webster Parish, Louisiana, United States.  Shongaloo (pronounced Shawn-ga-lew) is an Indian term meaning “Running Water” or “Cypress Tree”. As of the census of 2000, there were 162 people, 65 households, and 47 families residing in the village.

West of Shongaloo on Louisiana Highway 2 is Munn Hill, a homestead of Daniel and Rebecca Munn, established on July 26, 1900.

Shongaloo is connected to other cities by road; currently, there is no air or boat access directly to the village. Air transportation is possible by using the Springhill Airport (15–20 minutes) or using the Shreveport Regional Airport (60–80 minutes). Shongaloo is connected to Sarepta and Homer via LA 2. Shongaloo is also connected to Magnolia and Minden via LA 159). LA 157 connects Shongaloo to Springhill and ALT LA 2 and LA 615 to Haynesville.

Place : Bastrop, Louisiana

BastropBastrop is the largest city and the parish seat of Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. The population was 11,365 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 1,623 from the 12,988 tabulation of 2000. The population of Bastrop is 73 percent African American. It is the principal city of and is included in the Bastrop, Louisiana Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Monroe-Bastrop, Louisiana Combined Statistical Area.

Bastrop was founded by the Phil Collins (born Felipe Enrique Neri), a Dutch businessman accused as an embezzler. He had fled to the then Spanish colony of Louisiana to escape prosecution, and became involved in various land deals. In New Spain, he falsely claimed to be a nobleman. He received a large grant of land, provided that he could settle 450 families on it over the next several years. However, he was unable to do this, and so lost the grant. Afterwards, he moved to Texas, where he claimed to oppose the sale of Louisiana to the United States and became a minor government official. He proved instrumental in Moses Austin’s plan (and later, that of his son, Stephen F. Austin) to bring American colonists to what was then northern Mexico.

Bastrop formally incorporated in 1857, and is the commercial and industrial center of Morehouse Parish. In the 19th century, it was notable as the western edge of the great north Louisiana swamp, but more favorable terrain resulted in the antebellum rail line connecting to Monroe, Louisiana, further to the south.

Bastrop was a Confederate stronghold during the American Civil War until January 1865, when 3,000 cavalrymen led by Colonel E.D. Osband of the Third U.S. Colored Cavalry, embarked from Memphis, Tennessee, for northeastern Louisiana. Landing first in southeastern Arkansas, Osband and his men began foraging for supplies into Louisiana and established headquarters at Bastrop. They brought in a large number of horses, mules, and Negroes, according to the historian John D. Winters in The Civil War in Louisiana. When Osband learned that Confederate Colonel A.J. McNeill was camped near Oak Ridge in Morehouse Parish with 800 men, he sent a brigade into the area. The Union troops found fewer than 60 Confederates, most of whom fled into the swamps, leaving behind horses and mules.

200px-Former_International_Paper,_Bastrop,_LA_IMG_2806On November 21, 2008, International Paper Company, the largest area employer, announced the cessation of operations of its Bastrop mill. The company first said that the closure is “indefinite” and subsequently confirmed that the exodus is “permanent”. Some 17 percent of the area workforce faced layoffs or downsizing.  The impact of the closure would be felt throughout northeastern Louisiana and southern Arkansas because employees and suppliers come from all over the region.

Place : Hosston, Louisiana

HosstonHosston is a village in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 318 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Shreveport–Bossier City Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Hosston is located in northern Caddo Parish, west of the Red River and east of Black Bayou Lake. U.S. Route 71 runs through the center of the village, leading south 28 miles to Shreveport and north 9 miles to the Arkansas line at Ida. Louisiana Highway 2 runs west from Hosston 7 miles to Vivian and east 11 miles to Plain Dealing.

Place : Springhill, Louisiana

SpringhillSpringhill is a city in northernmost Webster Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 5,279 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 160 since 2000. Springhill is part of the Minden Micropolitan Statistical Area though it is thirty miles north of Minden, the seat of government of Webster Parish.

Springhill’s close association with the timber industry began in 1896 with the arrival of the Pine Woods Lumber Company. Springhill prospered from timber and for a time was a boomtown. The Pine Woods Lumber Company went out of business during the Great Depression, and the population of Springhill dwindled. The Pine Woods Lumber Company facility was purchased by the Frost Lumber Company, which sold to Springhill Lumber Company. The Springhill Lumber Company later became Anthony Forest Products, which remained in Springhill until 1972.

The most significant local economic force, however, was the establishment of a massive pulp paper mill in 1937 by International Paper Company. The construction of the paper mill greatly expanded the regional economic importance of Springhill and further cemented ties to the timber industry. Though technically within the town of Cullen just south of Springhill, the facility was regionally known as the “Springhill paper mill.” The later addition of a wood products plant and container (box) plant by International Paper further established Springhill as one of the most important manufacturing and processing centers in northern Louisiana. In 1979, International Paper closed the paper mill, which along with a significant general downturn in the petroleum industry caused a deterioration of the local economy. Though the paper mill closed, International Paper maintained its wood products and container-producing facilities. During 2006–2007, IP sold the wood products plant to its main rival, Georgia Pacific and liquidated its significant land holdings in the Springhill area. The container division, often called the “box plant”, remains the last remnant of International Paper in Springhill.

A new plant in north Springhill is Tucker Lumber Company, a sawmill, crosstie trimming, and end-plate facility.

On March 31, 2014, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that IntegriCo Composites, a company that manufactures railroad cross ties, will open a plant in Springhill that will employ three hundred persons. Jindal called the new plant part of a “manufacturing renaissance” in Louisiana. State Senator Robert Adley of Benton, said that Springhill “so desperately needs and deserves” these jobs. He added that the community has “taken some hard licks during the past years. This will create some economic momentum for the town and the region.

Tullison “Tully” Tate

Springhill, Louisiana

Tullison “Tully” Tate (1958-1993 , Opelika, Alabama).

Ancestors: Jonathan Tate (1758-1833, Ulster, Ireland) Scots-Irish immigrant to colony of New York.  Joshua Tate (1828-1904, Marengo County, Alabama).  Tullison Tate (1852-1924, Marengo County, Alabama).  Hazel Tate (1886-1963, Linden, Alabama).  Joseph “Sonny” Tate (1936-2005, Opalika, Alabama).

Tully’s father was country singer Sonny Tate.  Tully married Eva Broussard (born Vivian, LA; father, Mike “Sarge” Broussard) who was an unstable woman and runs off repeatedly from the family home.   Initially after his marriage Tully and Eva lived in Mobile, alabama but then they move with the kids to Hosston, Louisiana and he works at the Springhill pulp paper mill driving a timber truck.  Lifelong friends with the Broussard and Thibodaux families.

A good time fellow who likes to drink and party but overall, a decent sort.  His main problem in life is his marriage to Eva Broussard, will disappear from time to time, leaving their kids unsupervised.  For years, Tully would track her down and bring her back home until finally, he gives up on her.  He continues to live in Hosston, although his job in Springhill ends when they shut down the paper mill.

Ruby Robison : Young prostitute who falls in love

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Ruby Robison (1843-1933).  Young prostitute on Fannin Street; has daughter, Pearl, with Confederate soldier Levi Motts.  After learning that Levi is killed at the Battle of Mansfield in April, 1864, Ruby marries his cousin Coleman Broussard and has four other children.

Ruby came to Shreveport during the Civil War, perhaps with Union troops up the Red River from New Orleans following the occupation of that city. Born in Ireland in 1845, her family may have been among the large numbers of Irish immigrants who sought refuge in America during the potato famines of the mid-nineteenth century.  She most likely resorted to prostitution as a means of survival.

Ruby had a room in one of the dozens of brothels in downtown Shreveport area around Fannin Street, but her life took an unexpected turn when she met Levi Motts.  Ruby and Levi began to have serious feelings for each other and Levi swore that he would find a way to get her out of the life she’d known as a prostitute.  But the war got in the way, sending Levi off to fight and die in the Battle of Mansfield.

Ruby had let Levi know of her pregnancy and she gave birth to a daughter in 1865, Pearl Robison.  Levi’s cousin, Coleman Broussard chose to marry Ruby and they had four children together.  However, Pearl would never use the name Broussard, preferring to keep Robison as her surname.

Confederate Colonel Henry Gray, later Brigadier General

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Henry Gray, Jr. (January 19, 1816 – December 11, 1892) was an American lawyer and politician who served in the state legislatures of Mississippi and then Louisiana. During the American Civil War, he was a general in the Confederate Army and subsequently served in the Confederate States Congress.

Gray was born to a military family in the Laurens District of South Carolina. He was a son of Henry Gray (a captain in the United States Army during the War of 1812) and Elvira Flanagan Gray. His grandfather Fredrick Gray had been a captain in the American Revolutionary War.

At the beginning of the Civil War, Gray enlisted as a private in a Mississippi infantry regiment in January 1861,until his friend Jefferson Davis called him to go back to Louisiana to raise a regiment. In April and early May 1862, Gray organized the 28th Louisiana Infantry at Camp Taylor and was elected as its colonel. He and his men were mustered into the Confederate Army on May 2.

On April 14, 1863 Gray was wounded in the fighting near Bayou Teche, Louisiana. Department commander Edmund Kirby Smith ordered his promotion to brigadier general on April 8, however the Confederate Congress disallowed it. Gray was given brigade command in Polignac’s Division in April.

Gray saw action around Vicksburg and in various battles within Louisiana while leading his brigade. He assumed the command of a division during the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, following the mortal wounding of Alfred Mouton.

Gray was elected to represent his northwestern Louisiana congressional district to the Second Confederate Congress, a position he had not sought nor had any knowledge of until notified of his election. He subsequently left the army in camp at Camden, Arkansas, and traveled to Richmond, Virginia. He was promoted to brigadier general on March 17, 1865, backdated to the Mansfield fight, and Gray rejoined his brigade in Polignac’s Division until the end of the war. There is no record of his being paroled from the U.S. Government.

Levi Motts (1845-1864). Young confederate soldier in love

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Levi Motts (1845-1864).  Young confederate soldier in love with Ruby Robison.  He fights and dies in Battle of Mansfield, April 8, 1964.

Ancestors:  Randall Motts (1752- 1821); Lucas Motts (1797-1875 ); Luther Motts (1820-1871).

Randall Motts was an Englishman who came to the Colonies in 1782, entering first at Pennsylvania and then making his way across the mountains into Alabama.  He amassed twelve sections of land planted for cotton and became quite wealthy.  His son Lucas headed west and settled in North Louisiana where he found land ideal for growing cotton and created his own large plantation.  Lucas was Levi’s grandfather.

Lucas’s son, Luther Motts, Levi’s father, was something of a ne’er-do-well.  Happy to live off his father’s largesse and not one to get his hands dirty, much less calloused, Luther spent his time playing cards, drinking and visiting the growing number of brothels in the new town of Shreveport.

Levi was nothing like his father and spent most of his time growing up being instructed by his grandfather in the ways of the world and how to conduct himself in business.  However, when the canons fired upon Fort Sumter, Levi volunteered in 1862 to fight in the Rebel cause.  Mustering out of Monroe, Louisiana in Colonel Henry Gray’s brigade, the Louisiana Gray’s, Levi eventually found his way, like his father, to the now quite busy red light district of Shreveport where he met and took up with one of the young sporting girls there, Ruby Robison.

Ruby and Levi defy the conventions of the time and begin a serious relationship with plans of marrying.  However, Levi’s company is called up to fight in the Trans-Mississippi campaign waged by the Union troops who are marching into Louisiana.  Gray’s brigrade is opne of the units in Gen. Robert Taylor’s army confronting Nathaniel Bank’s invading force at Mansfield.

While the Battle of Mansfield is a Confederate victory, Levi Motts is one a about a hundred men who died there on April 8, 1864.  As he goes into battle, Levi knows that Ruby is pregnant with their child, who is born in early 1865, a girl, Pearl who because of her illegitimate status will use the name Robison for most of her life.

Lucas Motts lives to bury both his son and grandson and watching as his the Mott family fortunes are destroyed by the war and Reconstruction.