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Visions of Vernon: Vernon Parish Communities, Savage Fork - Sea

Stanley Fletcher
Local historian

  Savage Fork (31.0321348 N, -93.3534996 W) is a Postbellum Period crossroad community located at the intersection of Cooper Church and Savage Fork Roads.  More properly called Elmwood, the name Savage Fork came as a result of the fearless and colorful activities of the younger citizens.  The crossroad was occupied by a hardware store owned by William Fred Craft (LA 1859 - LA 1925), a church, and a trainstop.

     The first page in Savage Fork's history was in 1847 when an east-west trace cut through the community connecting Huddleston with Burr Ferry.  The next page was in 1906 or shortly later when the Gulf and Sabine Railroad built a line through the community connecting Stables (New Llano) to Stables Junction.  The railroad met the Neame, Carson, and Southern Railroad between Neame and Camp Baker.

     Vernon Parish's earliest homestead was in Savage Fork in 1836 by Henry Jackson (de 1797 - LA 1856) from Germany.  Other families that homesteaded in the community were Cooper, Craft, Cryer, Stephens, Wilson, and Williams.

     In the community's beginning it did not have a post office.  Mail was delivered to Nathaniel S. Williams' (TN 1833 - LA 1903) mill on Bayou Zourie.  Eventually, Savage Fork received mail delivered to Fred's store at the crossroad from Boyce by post rider John Bartlett (LA 1867 - LA 1952) twice a week.   

Davis New School 1907

     Before Vernon Parish was created students in the community went to Hunts Springs School which was created in 1850.  In 1879 Elmwood received one of the largest schools in the parish with 57 students, 27 boys and 30 girls.  Later in history the school's name was changed to Davis New School.   By 1907 the only remaining Ward Four schools were Cooper, Hunt Springs, and Whiskachitto.  Over the years the schools continued to open and close.  In 1922 Cooper, Granniss, Whiskachitto, and Pickering were the only remaining schools.  By 1930 Pickering remained with two schools, black and white,  and Whiskachitto with one.

Craft Cemetery Savage Fork

     There were six recorded Antebellum Period churches in Vernon Parish.  Enon Primitive Baptist Church was one of them, created in 1852 in Hunts Springs which was north of Cooper Cemetery.  The church also served as one of Vernon Parish's first schools, called Hunts Springs School.  In 1865 the church moved to Elmwood where it also served as a school again.  Due to destruction of records by fires twice, Enon's history gets confusing.  Possibly, there was a church split.  In 1912 Burel J. Blackmon (LA 1884 - LA 1973) donate land for a new church south of Elmwood and in 1920 James I. Craft (MS 1854 - LA 1936) donated land for a new church west of Elmwood .  The churches came back together in 1948 and moved to the intersection of Blackmon and Cooper Church Roads in 1953, where the community is called Elmwood today.

      As with many communities in Vernon Parish, much of the land was purchased by speculators.  In 1888 Charles Hackley (IN 1837 - MI 1905) purchased 4,258 acres and the partnership of Henry Lutcher (PA 1836 - OH 1912) and Bedell Moore (NJ 1840 - CA 1908) purchased 6,879 acres between 1888 and 1890.  Minor speculator John L. Woods (VT 1821 - OH 1893) purchased eleven parcels.  By 1890 over 48% of the land was bought by speculators.

     Schley (31.226750 N, -93.427230 W) was a Postbellum Period Ward Two community established in 1899 at the present-day intersection of LA Hwy 111 and Camp Baker Road.

Archibald Farris Schley S Postmaster

     A post office was located there from 1899 to 1915 with Archibald "Archey" Farris (LA 1864 - LA 1949) as postmaster.  Postmasters that followed were James Owens in 1900, ___ Addison in 1902, Nathaniel Lee in 1911, and John Newman in 1914.  

     Why did Schley exist?  It first appeared on a 1913 map and last appeared on a 1933 map.  By 1940 it was no longer on Vernon Parish maps.  Because two railroads ended in the community, Schley was probably an end camp.  A 1921 railroad map has Schley as an end-camp of the Gulf and Sabine River Railroad from Leesville.  According to written records, the Neame, Carson, and Southern Railroad which ran from Neame to Camp Baker ended in the community.

     Sea, (T1S, R11W, Sec. 6) which was also called Star Foray and Sherwood, was a turn of the century hamlet about two miles northwest of Evans, close to if not on the Sabine River.  The hamlet was located on Evans Ferry Road, which is present-day Vernon Parish Road 93.  The community was small, with a population of 45 in 1906.

William Smith And Wife Sea S Postmaster

     Sea received a post office from 1899 to 1909.  William T. Smith (MS 1865 - TX 1919) was first postmaster from 1899 to 1907.  The second postmaster was his father, Rufus H. Smith (MS 1841 - LA 1922), who served from 1907 to 1909.  Mail from Sea went to Evans.

     Sea's name probably came from Rufus' nickname, Seabourn.  The name Sherwood probably came from Rufus' father, Sherrod H. Smith (GA 1811 - LA 1887).  The origin of the name Star Foray is not known. 

     The first homesteader in the Sea community was Archibald Thompson (Unk.) in 1846 followed by Eli Damrel (NC 1797 - LA 1859) in 1848.  Other early families were Craft, Harvey, Jarrel/Jarrell, Loftin, and Perkins.  

     Because the township was primarily hardwood, carpetbaggers had little interest in the area.  Lutcher and Moore purchased only forty acres in 1884 and 840 acres in 1890.

     Sea was in Ward Three.  When the parish was created thirteen schools serviced the ward, eleven white and two black.  Sea was between Evans to the south and Burr Ferry to the north.  Children in the township went to Lone Oak School.  The school had 34 students, 22 males and 12 females.  Adjacent schools were Midkiff and Eaves Schools to the east, Jane School to the west, McCurly School to the south, and Sabine and Pearl Creek Schools to the north.  By 1907-08 all schools were closed except Echo, which was renamed Evans.  By 1930-31 Evans School was the only remaining school with 207 students and eleven teachers.      

New Orleans Opelousas And Great Western Railroad Train 1865

     There have been many attempts to build a railroad through present-day Vernon Parish before the 1898 Kansas City Southern.  The first attempt was in 1852 with the charter of the New Orleans, Opelousas, and Great Western Railroad.  Construction started in Algiers with plans to build to Opelousas then turn northwest through present-day Vernon Parish.  In 1859 the company purchased land in section thirty of the township where the railroad would cross the Sabine River.  After building 83 miles of track to Brashear, present-day Morgan City, construction ceased.