Informer: DeQuincy objected to removal from Calcasieu

By By Andrew Perzo / American Press

Editor’s Note: Today’s Informer re-presents the third installment of a four-part answer to a question on when the boundary of Calcasieu

Parish was drawn and why it juts northward to include DeQuincy.

In the days before the Senate killed

the 1906 parish division bill, the Lake Charles American reported that

the divisionists,

planning for loss despite their wishes, were already looking ahead

to the next legislative session, in 1908. That year they

proved even more formidable, gaining converts in DeRidder,

DeQuincy, Oberlin and elsewhere.

The proliferation of support — and the surfeit of proposed parish maps — led the Lake Charles American on May 15, 1908, to

muse sarcastically on the possibility of Calcasieu breaking with Louisiana altogether to form a new state.

One of the proposals advanced by divisionists called for placing DeQuincy several miles inside a DeRidder parish — an idea

that incensed many in the town, including Mayor J. Lee Herford.

“We do not ... intend to stand quietly

by and allow ourselves to be put to the inconvenience and expense of

going to DeRidder

to transact official business instead of to Lake Charles which is a

much more convenient and larger place to do our trading.

...,” Herford told the Lake Charles American in late May.

“We are not pressing for a division of

the parish; we are not sure that the time is opportune. ... If there is

going to be

a division, however, you can say that the people of Western

Calcasieu are going to say something about how it shall be divided

or will defeat any effort to divide it.”

DeQuincy residents called for creation

of a separate parish of their own, encompassing land west of the

Calcasieu River. Proposals

offered by other groups suggested the formation of parishes named

Pine, Rice and Sanders. Later plans suggested for the Jennings

and DeRidder parishes the names Jefferson Davis and Beauregard,

which had years earlier been advanced for a section of Catahoula

Parish.

Still, despite the abundance of supporters and plans, parish division failed once again to receive lawmakers’ approval.

The drive for division began again two years later, and newspapers in New Orleans and Oakdale wondered why representatives

of both sides couldn’t simply meet and resolve the matter without bitterness. The Lake Charles Daily American-Press had a

ready answer.

“We cannot ‘get together in a spirit of

friendly brotherhood and solve the problem,’ because our divisionist

brethren insist

always upon going off in a corner, cooking up a scheme that suits

themselves and trying to ram it down the throats of those

who oppose division,” read an editorial in the paper’s Jan. 28,

1910, edition.

“They have never shown the slightest

desire to conciliate or consult the opponents of division. No one has

known each year

what plan of division would be presented until the proposers of

the partition of Calcasieu appeared before the long-suffering

legislature and insisted upon immediate action, sometimes without

even allowing the taxpayers to vote on the question of division.”

Sen. H.C. Drew that May filed a bill to create a West Calcasieu Parish. But divisionists opposed it and persuaded another

lawmaker to write a bill to carve three new parishes — Beauregard, Jefferson Davis and Sanders (later changed to Allen) —

from Calcasieu.

The bill called for “simple creation by the legislature,” but Gov. Jared Sanders insisted that a referendum for all parish

residents be included in the measure, according to a May 20 story in the Lake Charles Daily American-Press.

Eight days later, a delegation of western Calcasieu residents asked lawmakers to halve what would remain of Calcasieu to create

the parish of Brimstone with Sulphur as its seat. But the proposal went nowhere.

In late June, Sanders signed laws to

create, with the people’s approval, three new parishes, and that

November voters in Calcasieu

cast ballots on the issue.

The vote was 6,606 against and 4,281 for. The divisionists, upset with the results, turned to the courts.

Next: “A Sensible Plan At Last.”

• • •

The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email informer@americanpress.com