In the year 2020, we will look at the communities of Vernon Parish, past and present, three communities at a time.
Because some communities have much recorded history and some have little, articles will vary in length. Communities will be covered alphabetically.
Adaline's location was a mystery. According to a U.S. Post Office map, it was established in 1891 located halfway between Barham and Hornbeck, which were one mile apart. This would mean part of the Hornbeck community is located on the old Adaline community site. Adaline first appeared in 1891 less than a mile south of Hornbeck, six years before Hornbeck and eleven years before Barham existed. Adaline was absorbed in 1897 when Hornbeck was established by the Kansas City Southern Railroad.
The community had a post office for fourteen months from April, 1891 to June, 1892 which served 50 families. The closest post office in 1892 was Anacoco, which was seven miles away.
Hornbeck to the north did not receive a post office until 1897 and Barham to the south in 1902. Did mail go to Anacoco which was seven miles away? Where did the people go? How can a large community of fifty families not appear on maps eight years later? Many questions are unanswered?
Alco, which got its name from Alexandria Lumber Company, was one of the last sawmill towns in Vernon Parish. The company owned mills in Pineville, Longleaf , and Meridian. The community was located 1.9 miles east of Kurthwood on LA Hwy. 465 in Ward Six.
Alco was a late-comer in Vernon Parish history, being established in 1922. Before the community was called Alco, it was called Nona, which was established in 1909. Because James A. Grant, Sr. was the postmaster, on some maps the community was called Grant.
As said, the mill at Alco was established in 1922 about 1.9 miles east of Kurthwood on present-day LA Hwy 465. The mill had two side camps located at Hutton in Vernon Parish and Sieper in Rapides Parish. Instead of transporting logging crews to cut sites daily, side camps were established where workers and their families lived.
The mill had 300 workers. Many additional workers were employed as cutting crews who lived in the side camps. As with most lumber companies, whites primarily operated the sawmill and blacks harvested the trees, built the tracks, and operated the turpentine stills, if there were any.
Alco used the Red River and Gulf Railroad, which ran northwest to Peason in Natchitoches Parish after going through Kurthwood and east to Longleaf in Rapides Parish. At Peason in Natchitoches Parish the railroad was the Christie and Eastern Railroad which terminated at Sandel north of Hornbeck in Sabine Parish on the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The eastern line transported lumber to Longleaf on a 53 mile track, 30 in Vernon Parish and 23 in Rapides Parish.
Like most sawmill towns, conditions were much better than outside the towns. The largest population ever reached was 2,000, even though 1,000 was the average population. The town was laid out in blocks of two or three acres. Each house was located on an acre which offered space for backyard gardens.
The town was racially segregated. Houses for whites were primarily square with pyramidal roofs while houses for blacks were primarily bungalows, sometimes called shotguns. All houses had electricity which was generated by burning woodchips and bark.
The town had a hotel, post office, doctor's office, white and black school, commissary, depot, and two churches, Baptist and Methodist. The white school had an average daily attendance of 99 students and five teachers. The black school had an average daily attendance of 117 students and four teachers. The commissary solicitor took orders from each household for dinner and supper, then delivered a daily sack of groceries for fifty cents. Kurthwood, only two miles away, had a theater, which charged ten cents for a picture show.
On September 7, 1945 the mill closed. In 1946 it was disassembled and the company moved the mill to Longleaf. Houses and buildings were sold to be moved or torn down and the rail lines were taken up in 1954. The only building left was the post office, which closed in 1981.
Alliance was a crossroad community in Ward Four (Ward Seven was created from Ward Four in 1928) three miles northwest of present-day Rosepine. It was located in the Pleasantview Church community south of the intersection of Creek Cut Off and Hawks Roads. The community had a post office for seven years from August 8, 1892 to February 28, 1899 with James J. Cryer as postmaster. According to the 1900 U.S. Census, James was a merchant which meant his store probably served as the community post office. He owned forty acres of land which he homesteaded in 1890 and forty more which he homesteaded in 1903, while mayor of Rosepine. In 1910 he lived in the Village of Rosepine.
It's unclear why the community had a post office for seven years. Post office records did not provide Alliance's population. It seems the community was a crossing point on the east bank of Anacoco Creek to the Ollieville and Cottonwood communities.