Digging holes here and there in American history.

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Monday, November 15, 2010


My newest history book is now available and selling well.  

GREETINGS FROM RUSTON:  A Post Card History of Ruston, Louisiana

First Baptist Church, 1920s

The book tells the city's history with the use of over 100 vintage post cards and interesting anecdotes.  Many of the post cards are over one hundred years old.

The book is available through http://www.amazon.com/ (see the link), by e-mailing me at campruston@gmail.com and at these Ruston businesses:

   Townsend House Gifts
   Karen's Hallmark
   Ruston Chamber of Commerce/Visitor's Bureau
   Rumo's Barber Shop

   Get yours soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Gunfight changed railroad town in 1898

By Wesley Harris

John Tom Sisemore
 The conventional view of Louisiana history invokes images of genteel Southern chivalry rather than the hurly-burly associated with the rough and tumble Old West. Yet Louisiana experienced wild and woolly times in the 19th century, requiring the services of lawmen like John Tom Sisemore. Although not a big man—he wore a size 4 shoe—Deputy U.S. Marshal Sisemore was tough and solidly built. His children would later remember townspeople referring to their father as "full of dynamite" and "the shortest six-foot fellar we ever saw."

In 1884, the town of Ruston rose from the red-clay hills when the railroad finally spanned north Louisiana. The Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railroad—or the "Very Slow and Pokey," as it was known locally—replaced the Wire Road as the main transportation route between Vicksburg and Shreveport. Vienna and other Wire Road communities all but disappeared when the railroad bypassed them.

With Vienna's demise, the courthouse was moved to Ruston. New schools were started, including a small college, the forerunner of Louisiana Tech. A Chautauqua program was established for educational and cultural activities amid shade trees and bubbling springs north of town. Fiery politicians, preachers, and pontificators visited the Chautauqua to lecture and exhort.

Bad men came as well. Routine gunfire and rowdy disturbances clashed with Ruston's hunger for sophistication and culture. Believing liquor to be the root of the community's ills, in 1894 the town fathers proposed an ordinance prohibiting the sale or possession of alcoholic beverages. It passed overwhelmingly.

As a federal marshal, Sisemore scoured north Louisiana, raiding stills and arresting bootleggers and outlaws. His name struck fear among whiskey runners.

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