History of Claiborne Parish Chapter
An organizational meeting of the Claiborne Parish Chapter was held Friday, October 17, 1975, in the home of Mrs. Wideman Watson. She was to be the organizing regent. Mrs. Dorothy Guthrie, LSDAR state secretary, assisted Miss Frances Flanders, LSDAR state regent, with her duties in confirmation of the newly formed chapter sanctioned by the National Board of Management. Upon indication, Claiborne Parish Chapter had a total membership of 23 persons, including 13 transfers and 10 new members.
The name, Claiborne Parish, was chosen as it is one of the oldest parishes in the state of Louisiana, having been organized in 1828, and named for Col. W.C.C. Claiborne. He was the first governor of Louisiana and served as a Commissioner to receive Louisiana from France. The transfer took place in the Cabildo, the Place d'Armes, in New Orleans on December 20, 1804. On March 26, 1804, Congress established the territory of Orleans. On October 2, 1804, Claiborne was sworn in as Territorial Governor. Interestingly enough, Claiborne Parish Chapter is the only one to have "parish" in its name, coinciding with a DAR regulation that chapters must be titled for events, places, or people that predate 1830.
For some time, the membership flourished and the chapter received numerous awards for service, donations, and patriotism. However, in the recent past, the roster was extremely low and the chapter was in danger of disbanding, almost causing the members to go "at large." Fortunately, a surge of new members and several descendents of the organizing members rallied, thus preventing the chapter from closing. Though the membership roster is below 50, the ladies are strong advocates of the DAR principles. In fact, several of the chapter's members have held state chairs, and one vivacious lady, Mrs. Betsy Ann Crothers Moreland, served as State Regent (2001-2004) and Vice President General (2004-2007). In addition, Claiborne Parish is proud to be the "home" chapter of two State Outstanding Juniors, Kaylon Thompson French and Camille Thompson Wise. October 2000 marked the 25th year of service for the chapter. Five of the original 23 members remain active today.
History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana
Claiborne Parish was created from Natchitoches Parish by Act No. 42 of the Louisiana General Assembly approved March 13, 1828, and named in honor of the first American governor of Louisiana, William Charles Cole Claiborne.
Known in the early 1800s as the "Banner Parish" of North Louisiana, the original Claiborne Parish extended for approximately 64 miles east of the Red River along the northern border of Louisiana and extended south a distance of almost 60 miles. From the original parish, the following parishes were formed entirely or in part: Bossier, Jackson, Bienville, Red River, Webster, Lincoln, and Claiborne. Today, Claiborne Parish is truly a "Sportsman's Paradise" with fishing, hunting, camping, and a myriad of other outdoor sports available year round. The gentle hills of North Louisiana continue to nurture agriculture, produce oil/gas reservoirs, and attract a host of other industries much as they did in the early days of the parish. Education was as important to the original settlers as it is to today's residents. Homer held the distinction of having one of the premier schools in the 1800s. This tradition continues today. Within the parish are twelve schools producing the best and brightest students. Claiborne Parish is a wonderful place to rear children and retire gracefully. Home, family, and the appreciation of nature aptly describe the sentiments held most dear to Claiborne Parish's residents. To those who live, work, and go to school here, Claiborne Parish remains a "Banner Parish."
The parish seat has been located in Russellville (1828-1836), Overton (1836-1846, in present day Webster Parish), Athens (1846-1849), and Homer (1849-present). Unfortunately, the courthouse at Athens along with all parish records were destroyed by fire in November 1849. Due to this event and the fact that the railroad was establishing a depot in Homer, the parish seat was moved to Homer. The town of Homer was named for the Greek poet and was laid out around a traditional Courthouse square in 1850 by Frank Vaughn. The trends in culture, architecture, and traditions were set by the Anglo-Saxon influence rather than the French. Evidence of this can be seen throughout the lovely, small town even today.
The present day brick courthouse, built in the Greek Revival style of architecture, is one of only four pre-Civil War courthouses in the State of Louisiana still in use today. The building, completed in 1860, was accepted by the Claiborne Parish Police Jury on July 20, 1861, at a cost of $12, 304.36, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a splendid old building and well worth touring. Many a function has been held on the Courthouse's lawn over the decades. Every year during the Christmas season, visitors travel from all over to see the gracious old building awash in the gentle glow of twinkling lights. Many a home-coming snapshot or formal wedding portrait has been taken beneath the grand old oaks and columns. Also listed in the National Register of Historic Places are the area and buildings immediately surrounding the Courthouse Square. There are numerous shops and businesses located in the beautiful old square.