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Visions of Vernon Vernon Parish Communities, Monks Hammock - Neame

Stanley Fletcher | Vernon Parish Historian
Leesville Daily Leader

 Monks Hammock (31.2601842 N, -93.4785056 W) was a small, secluded hamlet in T3N, R11W, Sec. 10.  It was 8.1 miles west of Anacoco and 6.1 miles northeast of Haddens.

     It is unclear why the hamlet existed or why the community was called Monks Hammock.  There's no record of a Monk living in the area.  The hamlet was located in the most hilly area of the parish at the headwaters of Koonce Creek which was not large enough for a mill.  A hammock is defined as a fertile area higher than its surroundings with deep, humus-rich soil, so  perhaps the area was desired for farming. 

     The township is a mystery.  It was settled early.  The first homesteader was William Langton in 1843.  Other early landowners were John and Gadi West in 1844, William Davis in 1846, and Loring Clark in 1852.  Twenty families settled in the area before the Civil War.  In total, 124 patents were issued in the township, yet there were no other hamlets, churches. or cemeteries.  

     In the Carpetbagger Period, Charles H. Hackley purchased 306 parcels of Vernon Parish consisting of 36,946 acres in 1888 and 1890.  Of his purchases, 33 parcels were in the township which consisted of 5,263 acres which was 23% of the township.

     Ira Elijah Moore (1836-1911) owned the land where the hamlet was located.  He homesteaded the 120 acres there in 1905.  Ira was from New York.  He came to Vernon Parish from Caddo Parish.  Elijah served in the Civil War in Co. F, 17th LA Inf., which was a Caddo Parish unit.  After the war, he moved to Vernon Parish.  He listed his occupation as farmer.

     Morlam (T1S, R8W) was a railroad intersection four miles east of Neame.  It is found on early 1900s maps of Vernon Parish.  The two railroads that intersected were the north-south Louisiana Central Railroad from Grannis built by the Pickering Lumber Company and the east-west Missouri and Louisiana which became the Neame, Carson, and Southern Railroad in 1914.  The railroad connected Neame with Cravens.  Later Pickering built a railroad from his Pickering to his Cravens mills without going through Morlam.    

     When did the railroad exist?  The railroad connected Pickering Lumber Company's main mill at Pickering with the company's mill at Cravens which existed from 1905 to 1925.  

     Where did Morlam get its name?  It is a mystery.  The only Morlam I could find was a misspelling of Marlam, who was a lumber mill auditor.  His name was also spelled Morlan.

     Many present-day roads are vacated railroad track beds.  Possibly, LA Hwy 10 from Dead Man's Curve to Cravens, Pinewood Road, and B. Johnson Roads were vacated railroad beds.  This would explain why the three roads have no curves.

     Neame (30.9746357 N, -93.2818302 W) was a sawmill town located in T1S, R9W, Sec. 22 on U.S. Hwy 171.  It was located 11.8 miles south of Leesville and 8.9 miles north of DeRidder.

     The first local homesteaders in the township were Edward Smart and Isaac Winfree in 1884 who homesteaded as land speculators anticipating the coming railroad.  The first non-speculator family to homestead was Wiley Fletcher in 1889.  Other early families were William Craft, James Cryer, and James Foshee.

     Major land barons Nathaniel K. Fairbank, Turlington Harvey, Anthony VanSchaick, and Augustus Carpenter and minor land barons Charles Comstock, Henry Lamport, and William Robinson purchased much of the area in 1884, 1889, and 1890.  In total, the barons purchased 146 parcels of the total 188 (78%).  Only 26 families lived in the township owning 48 parcels of the land (26%).  Even locals Edward E. Smart and Isaac O. Winfree purchased eight parcels in 1884 for speculation.

     The sawmill was built by the Central Coal and Coke Company in 1898.  Because lumber and not coke production was the company's product, the courts forced the company to change its name to Delta Land and Timber Company in 1914.  The sawmill was first called Taylor, name source unknown.  The name was changed to Keith from R. H. Keith, president of the Missouri and Louisiana Railroad Co.  The third name change was Neame, from Joe Neame, a Dutch financial backer.

     Just as the company changed name in 1914, so did the railroad.  The Missouri and Louisiana Railroad (1902-1914) was changed to Neame, Carson, and Southern Railroad (1914-1926).  The company operated 81 miles of track.  One track ran west across Anacoco Creek to Stables Junction then turned north to Camp Baker for a total of 22.13 miles.  Another track ran east to C. C. Junction. 

     Neame received a post office in 1898 with Thomas H. Walton as the first postmaster.  The population was about 500.  From 1898 to 1926 Neame had fourteen postmasters with Beatrice Parrott as the last one from 1926 to 1932, seven years after the mill burned.

     The town of Neame was divided into three parts, north Neame was called Klondike which was where whites and Mexicans lived.  Central Neame was the mill and south Neame was called Doggie which was the black area of the mill.

     As with many mill towns, many goods and services were provided by the company.  The company had a commissary which had groceries, furniture, hardware, and dry goods.  There was an adjoining market.  Neame also had an ice cream parlor, barber shop, pool hall, swimming pool, open-air movie theater, and a doctor provided by the company. 

     Neame had two churches for blacks and whites.  The churches alternated between Baptist and Methodist every other Sunday.  Pastors were paid by the company.

     According to articles written by local historians, Neame had two schools.  A check of a 1907-08 list of Vernon Parish schools does not show a Neame school.  A check of 1930-31 schools does show a black school but no white school.  

     The mill burned in 1925.  Logs from Camp Baker were taken to a second mill at Carson in Beauregard Parish.  The timber boom was waning so the company did not rebuild.  In 1926 the mill site was abandoned.  Longbell Lumber Company and C. N. Lockwood occupied the site for a short period but abandoned the site.  Part of the site was used by Sewell Concrete Company for gravel. 

     All that remains of Neame are the drained mill pond on Clear Creek east of the mill site and two cemeteries, one black and one white.  The black cemetery is located in the southeast corner of the mill site across the tracks and the white cemetery is located in the northwest corner across the highway from the Infirmary Bar.  While the black cemetery has fallen away and is difficult to find, the white cemetery has an iron fence with 21 graves.