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Visions of Vernon: Vernon Parish Communities, Dusenbury - Elmwood

Stanley Fletcher
Leesville Daily Leader

     Dusenbury was a turpentine distillery camp in north-central Vernon Parish located at the intersection of Craigville Loop and Lease Road east of LA Hwy. 117.  The community was located in T4N, R8W, Sec. 13, about two miles southeast of Kurthwood and about 14 miles north of Leesville.

     Dusenbury had a post office from 1920 to 1922 with William Lawrence Currie as postmaster.  He also served as turpentine camp manager. Mail from there went to Alco then to Leesville.  In 1922 the post office was moved to Alco.

     Turpentine distilleries were mostly black.   Almost all major sawmills had a turpentine distillery which was about one mile away.  Many parish historians suggested the communities of Alco and Dusenbury became one in 1920.  Due to the racial divide of the day, that would have been socially unacceptable. 

     Jennings Naval Stores was the owner of Dusenbury.  It was organized in 1909 in Pensacola, Florida with Francis Louis Dusenbury as vice president.  D. D. Peabody ran Louisiana's operations under the title New Orleans Naval Stores which was incorporated in 1918 and went into dissolution in 1920.  This is why Dusenbury had a short history.

     Little has been written about Dusenbury.  Because Alco was one mile north with goods and services and because of its short life, Dusenbury never developed as a community.   

     Eddy was a money-order post village in the western part of Vernon Parish in T2N, R11W, Sec. 17.  It was on the Sabine River or 3/4 mile east and 5 1/2 miles north of Burr Ferry. The hamlet had a post office from 1901 to 1909 with Bettie Bray Faircloth as the only postmaster.  Because it was a money-order post office servicing the Sabine River area, it was high-volume. The annual pay was $154.57, which was a large amount for a rural post office. Mail from Eddy went to Schley then to Anacoco then to Leesville.  The post office closed in 1909.

     Bettie's real name was Elizabeth.  She was the daughter of Cavil Bray and granddaughter of Nathan Hunt Bray, Vernon Parish's first judge.  She married Wiley C. Faircloth in 1894. He owned 160 acres in T2N, R11W, Sec. 17, which was on present-day LA Hwy. 111 about 1/2 mile south of the Beechgrove Cemetery on Faircloth Road, where the post office was probably located.

     Mail-order purchasing, sometimes called catalog shopping, was the salvation of rural people.  Before the train and automobile, West Vernon Parish depended on Sabine River's boat traffic for goods.  In my research of Vernon Parish history, I was surprised to learn that pre-1871 Many Ward of Sabine Parish brought the world to Vernon Parish.

     Elmwood has a long history.  Located at the intersection of the east-west 1847 Hineston to Burr Ferry trace and the north-south Leesville to Almadane trace, it was one of the first hamlets in present-day Vernon Parish.   On an early map it was located at the confluence of Bayou Zourie and Castor Creek on a north-south Leesville to Almadane trace. On a later map it was located at the present-day intersection of LA Hwy. 1211 and Cooper Church Road with a railroad.  A third location was on the east bank of Castor Creek. On present-day maps it is located at the intersection of Blackmon and Cooper Church Roads.

     Elmood received a post office for eighteen years with a population of 300 in 1880  with Nathaniel S. Williams as postmaster. He maintained the post office at his mill until 1898 when it closed.  The post office reopened in 1899 with a population of 160 and closed again in 1921. Mail was delivered to the post office twice a week by post rider John Bartlett.  During those forty years Elmwood had eight postmasters: Nathaniel S. Williams in 1880, William D. Williams in 1899, Richard C. Bierden in 1901, James I. Craft in 1902, Edwin E. Jordan in 1914, Alfred D. Foshee in 1915, Richard C. Bierden in 1916, James L. Cryer in 1919, and Elizer Blackmon in 1920.  Mail from Elmwood went to Wingate then to Cooper then to Pickering then to Leesville. Thed Craft, listed as a postmaster in Vernon Parish history, was not listed in post office records, unless Thed was James I. Craft's nickname.

     The first page in Elmwood's history was written by Nathaniel who bought 40 acres in 1860 on Bayou Zourie in T1N, R9W, Sec. 30 where he built a mill.  The mill was located 1/4 mile upstream from the confluence with Castor Creek. The mill could saw lumber, grind corn, gin cotton, and polish rice.  

     The second page in Elmwood's history was a store/post office in the present-day Savage Fork community at the intersection of LA. Hwy. 1211 and Cooper Church Road in T1N, R10W, Sec. 25.  The community was on the west bank of Castor Creek nine miles southwest of Leesville and four miles west of Pickering. The land at the crossroad was owned by William F. Craft. James I. Craft, his brother, lived next door and was listed as owner of the store and postmaster. 

     The community also had a church, Elmwood Baptist Churched, which was established in 1885.  Elmwood had a large school with a student population of 57. The school was replaced by the New Davis School, not to be confused with Davis School in present-day Ward Seven.  Cryer School was three miles south across Bayou Zourie.

     In 1906 the Gulf Lumber Company purchased large tracks of land in Vernon Parish.  A sawmill was built in Stables which is present-day New Llano. The company built a southwest railroad through Elmwood connecting Stables to the Neame and Carson Southern Railroad at Stables Junction.  Elmwood became a railroad stop on the railroad until 1917 when the company sold to the colonists from California and Stables was renamed New Llano.

     The third page in Elmwood's history is questionable.  According to written history, Elmwood Baptist Church formed in 1885 in present-day Savage Fork.  According to church records, present-day Enon Baptist Church, which called itself Elmwood Baptist Church, formed in 1852 on the east bank of Castor Creek on present-day Brandy Brown Road.  Perhaps they were different churches. 

     The fourth page in Elmwood's history took place in 1952 when Elmwood Baptist Church moved to the intersection of Blackmon and Cooper Church Roads and renamed itself Enon Baptist Church.  On present-day maps the location is labeled as Elmwood. The church is no longer active.