Mer Rouge native and Bastrop resident Andy Wilson recently stopped by the office of the Bastrop Daily Enterprise with a newspaper that would have been stiff competition 102 years ago — The Mer Rouge Democrat.
Featured in today's paper are photographs of the August 16, 1912 edition of that paper. The stories in that paper highlight some of the history of Mer Rouge and Morehouse Parish as well as the country. A piece of particular interest given the importance of agriculture to the local economy is titled "What Morehouse Parish needs is a demonstration farm."
In this article, the Police Jury was called upon to create a demonstration farm to help local farmers learn how to grow crops on lands that had, at the time, been farmed for 100 years and were no longer making paying crops. The paper highlights the growth of "insect enemies" and highlights the importance of learning by seeing.
"...The thing to be done will be for the Police Jury to establish, at some point centrally located in the parish, a demonstration farm. Men learn from seeing more than any other way. An intelligently conducted demonstration farm will show to the farmers how insect enemies to growing crops can be destroyed, how the potato beetle, the army worm, the boll worm and the Mexican boll weevil can be kept in abeyance and crops of cotton grown with profit..."
The paper also tackles the mysterious disappearance of A.H. Garland, a St. Landry representative. It was reported through Western Newspaper Union News Services that "Mr. Garland was fond of travel, and it is believed that he took a tramp steamer, without giving notice to any of his friends, and that he is now in some foreign port and will return home after he has completed his trip."
While the Bastrop Daily Enterprise can't say for sure why Garland disappeared, he had reappeared by May 20, 1927 when he was featured in the Joplin Globe. In a report about the Mississippi River flooding in St. Landry and St. Martin parishes, Garland commented that he had spent two days in a boat combing flood waters for marooned residents.
"Between 8,000 and 10,000 head of hogs, horses, mules and cattle were left to drown in the flood," Mr Garland said to the Globe. "We took our boat down lanes and roads, checking every house to see that all the people were out, and, at each household, pets made heartrending appeals for succor."
According to the report, spiders by the thousands fell from trees into the boat and Garland declared snakes were numerous in trees and on driftwood in the swirling tide.
Photographs of that same flood's impact on Mer Rouge are a prominent part of parish record, and it is only appropriate that Garland — whose disappearance was covered in the Democrat — should reappear in flood coverage.
The paper also covered local news with the care of a neighbor and highlighted the death of an older citizen, P.C. Robinson, who passed away after living "more than four score years" as well as the Davenport store goal to have absolutely pure table syrup manufactured from ribbon cane by C.C. Davenport sold in every town in Morehouse in both tin cans and glass one quart bottles.
With local foods and local economies becoming a central focus for the USDA in 2014, it would seem that the maxim "what is old becomes new again" holds true everywhere and at any time.
If you have an important, novel or fun piece of local history to share, contact the newsroom of the Bastrop Daily Enterprise at 281.4421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can preserve the stories of our parish for posterity. The Morehouse Parish Police Jury is also looking for photographs and information about both the old and current courthouse and will be collecting information until August 18 for a centennial celebration for the existing building.