DISCOVER THE STORY
Get intimate with the history of Claiborne Parish by visiting our many outstanding exhibits.
Northwest Louisiana was home to Native Americans for hundreds of years before the advent of European settlers. The group to occupy our area during historic times were members of the Kadohadacho (Caddo) Confederation. Their villages were located in the fertile valleys of the Red River and its tributaries, where farming and hunting provided their means of sustenance. In 1835 the elders of the Caddo Nation met near the present site of Shreveport, and sold their tribal lands to the United States for $80,000.
Our cabin was built circa 1860 by the forebears of Mr. George W. Green. It is typical of the dwellings built by early settlers for their families to habitate in one large room with a loft for sleeping. The cabin contains many artifacts used by our ancestors in their everyday lives such as candle molds, quilts, a spinning wheel, butter churns and much more.
Early Claiborne Parish Education
Education has always been important to the people of Claiborne Parish. John Murrell, our area's first permanent settler, hired James Ashburner in 1822 to teach the neighborhood children in his home. Many early schools were conducted in primitive wooden buildings with students sitting on benches on a dirt floor. During the late 19th century, a number of private schools (including the Homer Male College and the famed Arizona Academy) dotted the parish. The great public education movement gained momentum in the 1920's, fueled by tax revenues from our newfound oil fields.
The Louisiana and North West Railroad ("L&NW) runs once a day from Gibsland, Louisiana to McNeil, Arkansas. The "Coming of the Railroad" in 1887 gave the Hill Country a jump-start toward recovery from the devastation of the Civil War. The L&NW kept the small rural communities of Claiborne Parish connected with the outside world, transporting timber and crude oil to larger commercial centers in the nation.
Early Claiborne Parish Medicine
Physicians in North Louisiana's Hill Country followed the standard medical practices of their day. They accepted the theory that sickness resulted from an imbalance in bodily substances. Bleeding, blistering, and purging were common techniques for ridding the body of excess "humours". Dr. Nolan Wilson's foot-pedaled dental drill and the optometric equipment of Dr. E. J. St. John are featured in our medical exhibition.
The Oil Boom
The 20th century brought profound social and economic change to Claiborne Parish. The catalyst for change was the discovery of oil in the region- first in Homer in 1918, then in Haynesville in 1921, and finally in Lisbon in 1936. Local residents were overwhelmed by the material needs of newcomers who flocked to their locations. Shacks, tents, and lean-tos were erected on every vacant lot to provide lodging for workers and other seekers of wealth.
Ground floor: Native American, European Settler Migrations, Life of Early European Settlers (log cabin, tools, crafts, implements of daily life), moonshine still, railroads, oil discovery, US Civil War relics, banking, musical instruments, antique bell collection, and craft dolls.
Second floor: Education including early schools and colleges, medical/dental/pharmacy, replica 1890 hotel room, general store, church life, antique radio collection, Model T Ford, horse drawn carriage, Geoffrey Beene exhibit, and military exhibit.