Wednesday, March 30, 2016



East Carroll Delta News, Aug. 5, 1965

"According to some evidence, when DeSoto discovered and crossed the Mississippi River in 1541 he was somewhere near what is now East Carroll Parish. LaSalle in 1682, when he successfully explored the Miss. River to its mouth, very likely spent the night on the banks of what is now Lake Providence. East Carroll remained a part of New France until 1763, when most of the western Mississippi Valley passed to Spain. The Spanish government sought to bring settles to northeast Louisiana. Settlements, however, clung to the hill areas. The Delta low-lands flooded every year and swampy, were regarded as too unhealthy and otherwise unsuitable for colonization.

East Carroll Parish returned briefly to French rule on March 26, 1803, when public announcement was made of the recession of Louisiana to France from Spain. This was soon followed on April 30, 1803, by the United States’ acquisition of the vast area from France for $15 million by virtue of the Louisiana Purchase.

After the war of 1812, development of the Delta region continued in earnest. Providence, as a name of a community, first appears in press accounts about 1835. War, reconstruction and yellow fever slowed progress but by the return of the century expansion resumed.

During reconstruction and lasting until about 1928 lands in the present sixth and seventh wards, about one-fourth of the parish land area, reverted to a forest primeval similar to a hundred years earlier. By 1930 reclamation of this productive area resumed when over 150 families moved in and established their homes. Now one can not tell the difference in this reclaimed area and the land along the Mississippi River cultivated since 1830."

After a harsh winter, the Spanish expedition decamped and moved on more and more erratically. By then, the last Spaniard who was remotely familiar with the area, Juan Ortiz, had died. Eventually, the Spaniards returned to the Mississippi.

On the banks of this river, de Soto died on May 21, 1542 after contracting a fever. Since he had propagated among the natives the myth that Christians were immortal, his men had to conceal his death. They hid his corpse in blankets weighted with sand and sank it in the river. (However, both Lake Providence, Louisiana and Lake Chicot in Arkansas claim that DeSoto is buried in their respective lakes.) While Spain and Portugal could have been crossed by a trained wanderer in less than one month, de Soto's expedition roamed through La Florida for three years without finding the expected treasures or a place to begin with their colonisation. His men aborted the expedition.

Cicero and Columbus Allen at Lake Providence...

2nd Regiment Arkansas Cavalry, Co. C. (May 15, 1862)

A cavalry company formed in Providence, Carroll Parish on Aug. 10, 1861. The courageous and resourceful Lieutenant Cicero M. Allen and Lieutenant Allen and all the brave Louisianans engaged in the skirmish at Newport News, Virginia. The 1st sacrifice of the South was Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Dreux. Cicero & Columbus Allen, Bailey V. Vinson and McVicker carried his body from the field.

While in Briton's Lane, Tennessee, Cicero Allen was wounded and made prisoner. After being carried to a Federal hospital where they dressed his wounds he walked out of the hospital and found the surgeons horse - leaped into the saddle and fled into the darkness. Afterwards he was called "The One-Armed Scout".

The Briarfield Rebels fought in Tennessee and later in eastern Louisiana. The company enlisted in Confederate service at Memphis, Tennessee, on September 1, 1861, and was assigned as Co. D. of the 6th Battalion Arkansas Cavalry.

(another 'Briarfield Rebels' story "The Twins")

Allen, Cicero M. (Esq)
In May of 1869 C. M. Allen was serving as chairman of the committee on subscriptions for the Grace Episcopal Church, secured $1,500 for building purposes.

[NEWSPAPER]: Jan. 12, 1867. Dissolution of co-partnership of the late firm of Allen & Aicklen. The successors to said firm are Messrs. C. M. Allen & Bro., composed of Cicero M. Allen and Columbus H. Allen, of New Orleans, both of whom are well known by this community as active business men. C. M. Allen & Bro.'s Dry Goods & Groceries. Cicero M. was a energetic and popular manager of the establishment and was one of the most enterprising merchants to be found anywhere.

[NEWSPAPER]: May 7, 1867 MARRIED At the residence of the bride's father, on Tuesday evening, the 30th ult., by Rev Dr. Sansome, of Vicksburg, Miss Sallie McCarroll and Mr. Cicero M. Allen, of this parish. Columbus, his twin brother was married the same day in New Orleans. On Aug 8, 1868 a Democratic Club was organized with Cicero M. Allen nominated as Treasurer.

Cicero enlisted at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, February 21, 1862; transferred to Co. C, 2nd Arkansas Cavalry, May 15, 1862; appointed first sergeant, June 1, 1862; wounded at Denmark, Tennessee, September 1, 1862; appointed third lieutenant, March 27, 1863; captured at Coldwater, Tennessee, November 3, 1863; sent to U.S. Military Prison, Camp Chase, Ohio; transferred to U.S. Military Prison, Johnson’s Island, Ohio; exchanged; captured at Charleston, Virginia, February 23, 1864; sent to U.S. Military Prison, Fort Delaware; exchanged; promoted second lieutenant, July 20, 1864; paroled at Jackson, Mississippi, May 13, 1865 (gave his address as New Orleans, Louisiana); born c1842 in Holmes county, Mississippi; eyes blue, hair light, complexion light, height 5’ 8”; occupation clerk.

Allen was called "The One-Armed Scout". While he was at Briton's Lane, TX. he was wounded in the arm and made prisoner; his horse was killed in the charge. While at the Federal hospital where his wounds were dressed he walked out of the building, he leaped upon the saddle of the surgeons horse and went into the shelter of the darkness and was soon outside of the enemy's lines. He carried the battle flage of his regiment at Shiloh, until ordered by General Hindman to replace his twin brother. Allen was made Lieutenant at Ponchatoula. His 1st affair was with the small tin-clad vessel, the "Lafitte", around the Amite River. In her efforts to get away the vessel ran upon a snag and was blown up. Allen's men got possession of a schooner, and one of the men dived into the water and secured the gun by a rope and slip knot. Allen's detail of men (2 in number) came upon a yawl of nine Federals, jumped ashore from the schooner prepared an ambush. Allen commanded all to fire, killing the commander of their squad. The remainder jumped in the water and swam to the woods. Allen and his two men kept up the attack. Allen, not disclosing his real number of soldiers, ordered "Cease firing!", then calling upon several imaginary companions to "Halt!" he boldly marched forward and received the surrender of the whole party, two officers being among the number. By himself he rounded up the prisoners, taking their arms and ammunition, and boarded them on the schooner. "Camp Fire Stories of the Mississippi Valley Campaign", by Marie Louise Benton.
Allen, Columbus H.
Columbus enlisted at Corinth, Mississippi, April 1, 1862; transferred to Co. C, 2nd Arkansas Cavalry, May 15, 1862; transferred to Co. G, 14th Confederate Cavalry, and appointed third lieutenant.

NEWSPAPER: May 7, 1867 MARRIED in the city of New Orleans, Miss Emma Postlewaithe and Mr. Columbus H. Allen. His brother Cicero was married the same day in Vicksburg, at the bride's father's residence.

"The Briarfield [Rebels] did some fine service during the Siege of Port Hudson where the Briarfields were active in capturing a Federal wagon train. The advance guard in the venture was commanded by Columbus Allen, the twin brother of Cicero. Although a private, he had been mistaken for his brother by Colonel Powers. The brother availed himself of this opportunity for a good practical joke. Lieutenant Allen came into the left flank of the Federals and did some excellent fighting, capturing 100 wagons, 4 mules and about 40 prisoners, while 20 Federals were killed and wounded. To prevent any further mix-ups between the twins, Columbus Allen was transferred to another division.” “Camp-fire Stories of the Mississippi Campaign”, by Mary Louise Benton.

Arthur J. Luther


Alfred J. Luther enlisted, in Missouri, on May 30, 1861 in Company A of the 1st Kansas Infantry.  Alfred was promoted to Sargeant on May 1, 1862, then rising to the rank of corporal before the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek was fought on August 10, 1861, and the 1st Kansas was in this battle when Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon was killed and Alfred was slightly wounded.  The First Kansas was documented having lost 300 of their 800 men that day.

General Ulysses S. Grant was ordered to capture Vicksburg.  At Lake Providence, two of Grant’s  engineers proposed digging a mile long canal from the river into the lake and then follow various waterways from the lake to the Red River to bypass the Rebel regiments and cannons in the bluffs near Vicksburg.

Along with many other regiments, the 1st Kansas Infantry, was sent to Lake Providence, arriving on February 8th, 1863, for provost duty until July.  They were attached to the 1st Brigade, 6th Division, of Major General James B. McPherson’s XVII Army Corps, during the ‘Grant’s Canal’s project. 

Many lives were lost at Lake Providence due to small pox, cholera, malaria, etc. due to unsanitary conditions.  On March 22, 1863, Sgt. Alfred Luther was one of those lost.  Alfred was respected for bravery by fellow soldiers, always there, doing the duty handed and never showing any fear as is expected of the soldiers.

Records indicate the original burial site of Alfred as “1 mile north of Lake Providence, 40 yards south east of Dr. Blackman’s residence, in a row, running from North to South, joining the Vaults (tombs), heads of bodies towards the East.”—a red asterisk was placed in the records by the name of A. J. Luther.
Later about 40 soldiers’ remains were removed from Lake Providence and places in the Vicksburg National Military Cemetery.  Burial removal records indicate that A. J. Luther, #24, as a “white soldier”, however most of the soldiers removed were unknown colored soldiers. 

“1st Sgt. A. J. Luther, Section K. grave #5971.”  According to National Archive records, no member of Luther’s family ever filed for a military pension after the war.

I’m sure you are wondering why I am writing about this particular soldier out of all the soldiers that was stationed at Lake Providence, out of the tens of thousands that were there. 

When preparing this soldier for burial, it must have been a big surprise to learn that he was actually female.  To learn the sergeant, the man they thought was Alfred, and fought alongside for two years, was actually a ‘she’.  And imagine all that she had to endure during her two year stint, to conceal the female identity.

It is said that about 250 women fought as men… yet almost unheard of.  The men in the company all spoke of her in terms of respect and affection. 

She would have been promoted to a Lieutenancy in just a few days if she had lived.

Sandra Guthrie Moore

Joseph Kerr & the Indians

                          Choctaw Indian Removal in 1831
           Lake Providence’s Trail of Tears

Note: This summary was prepared for the Spring 2005 program meeting of the Arkansas chapter of the Trail of Tears Association at Camden's First United Methodist Church. It was written by Kitty Sloan, chapter president. Ecore Fabre, as Camden was then known, was a significant site on the early Choctaw Trail of Tears during the winters of 1830-31 and 1831-32 where many Choctaws died.
In November 1831, four steamboats loaded with Choctaws left Vicksburg, Mississippi. The passengers were heading to the new Choctaw Nation along the Red River and its tributaries in what is now southeast Oklahoma. Many of them would pass through Washington, Arkansas, getting there by two very different routes. From Washington, they would travel west to Fort Towson and other emigration depots.
Two of the four steamboats traveled north to the Arkansas River. Choctaws wanting to avoid the influences of Christian missionaries would travel along the river all the way to Fort Smith and beyond. Others would head south at Little Rock, taking the Southwest Trail to Washington.
[Chief Moshulatubbee (1770-1836], [pictured on left] (He made the trip on the Trail of Tears.   In 1838 Mushulatubbee died of smallpox in present-day Arkansas. )

Two of the four steamboats, the Cleopatra, with a reported 600 Choctaws aboard, and the Talma, with 564, traveled south from Vicksburg, heading to the Ouachita River under the supervision of special agent Samuel T. Cross. Their leaders were some of the most prominent men in the Choctaw Nation: George W. Harkins and Joel H. Nail, who both returned to Mississippi to lead other groups west. Also on the Talma was chief Greenwood Leflore, who would return to Mississippi to stay. The Talma also carried a large contingent of Choctaw Methodists. The ship's captain later commented that "he never saw any people conduct better or appear more devout. They had morning and evening prayers and spent much of their time on board the boat reading and singing hymns."
Leaving Vicksburg at the same time were about 300 Choctaws heading overland with horses and cattle.

On December 9, 1831, the Cleopatra and the Talma arrived at Ecore Fabre, then the head of steamboat navigation on the Ouachita River. The plan was to continue by wagon to Washington and then Fort Towson.         [Joseph Kerr]
But the Choctaws refused to proceed without the friends and relatives who were coming overland with the livestock. Concern about these others had prompted frequent stops along the river to inquire of their whereabouts. The weather had turned brutal with temperatures near zero. A Lake Providence, Louisiana resident, named Joseph Kerr, who later wrote two scathing letters critical of removal provisions, said it was the worst weather he had ever seen, with heavy sleet bowing and breaking even large trees. He also observed that most Choctaws were scantily clad. [Joseph Kerr pictured on left]
From Ecore Fabre, Cross and a search party headed back south on the Talma. By the time he found the overland travelers stranded in the Louisiana swamps, these Choctaws had gone six days without food. Many had already died. Cross brought 265 Choctaws and the surviving livestock to what is now Monroe. At about the same time, a larger steamboat, the Walter Scott, with about 250 Choctaws, was stranded there, unable to ascend any further. The Walter Scott passengers, the swamp survivors, and 44 others found along the road were taken north on the Talma.
All of these Choctaws, by now almost 1,800, ended up at Ecore Fabre in December 1831, awaiting the 46 wagons that would take them west. On New Year's Day 1832, they finally left, reaching Washington in mid-January and two weeks later arriving at the official emigration depot "east of Fort Towson at McCann's old place on Clear Creek."

While camped at Ecore Fabre, many more perished. "We have had very bad weather," tribal leader George W. Harkins wrote on December 28, 1831, in a letter that was later published in the New York Observer. "Since we landed at this place about twenty of Nail's party have died and still they are continuing to die. Two of my party have died."
At the time, Elizabeth Nunn, widow of John Nunn, was operating the ferry across the Ouachita at Ecore Fabre. Ferriage payments to her are among the invoices in the removal records. In addition, she sold the government at least five cords of "wood for Indians while at the landing."

These were to be the last official removal groups to travel the Ouachita River route. Lack of good roads, bridges and ferries through the sparsely-settled region made overland transportation difficult. Plus, there were allegations of price-gouging, with removal agents paying $2 a bushel for corn when it could be purchased elsewhere for 50 cents a bushel. Later government-sponsored groups would take steamboats to Rock Roe on the White River and travel overland from there.
But small, non-government groups continued to travel through Ecore Fabre. Thousands of Choctaws removed themselves independently of U.S. agents in what came to be called commutation groups. Those who did so were promised $10, later $13, to be paid at the end of the journey. These groups often crossed the Mississippi River at Point Chicot and traveled overland through Ecore Fabre.
In fact, Special Agent Cross's first assignment after leaving Ecore Fabre in January 1832 was to go to Point Chicot to issue "commutation tickets to those Indians who are moving on their own resources." These travelers were expected to feed themselves by hunting along the way. Many of these groups encountered problems. Now they are also the most difficult to document.

Joseph Kerr letters:
LAKE PROVIDENCE, LA., June 14, 1832.
DEAR SIR: I see, by some late paper, that a treaty has been made lately with the Creek Indians, and see that one provision of it, which may have | been considered important, is, that “each family shall be furnished with a blanket.”
It was with yourself the treaty was formed. You have long resided in a cold climate, and from that circumstance may consider a blanket enough for a family so far south. This would be an improper estimate. But the whole treaty is one that I would not have expected from the head or heart of Governor Cass, acting under General Jackson, as President. It is indeed a narrow thing in every part of it. This treaty, and the report of Houston's case, has induced me to write to you on the subject of the Indians. This, however, I would have done, had neither come to my view.
I live now on the side of, and within forty feet of the road, and the only one by which the Choctaw Indians have passed, and must pass, that go #. land. Their extreme poverty and consequent suffering in passing last fall, attracted my particular notice, and the Houston case explained to me in some measure the cause of their extreme suffering from hunger, while passing. I do not yet know who is the contractor for furnishing them rations, But be him or them, who they may, their object is to make money without the least feeling for the suffering of this unfortunate people. From Vicksburgto this place is sixty eight thousands on This route scanly They received a supply and only then a part of the parties to eleven Here they received worse than a scanty supply them to do eighty thousand fifty-through an uninhabited country thousands of Which is an overflowed swamp and in Which distance are two large deep streams That must be crossed in a boat or on a raft and one other Nearly impassable in any way This They Had to perform or perish Being there no provision made for them on the way This too was to be done During the worst time of weather I have ever seen in any country to heavy sleet Having broken and bowed down all the small and much of the large timber And Performed This was to be under the pressure of hunger by old women and young children without any covering for Their feet or legs under body except a cotton dress Generally In passing Before They Reached the place of getting rations here I gave a party leave to enter a small field in Which They Were pumpkins would not enter without leave though starving Those They ate raw With the greatest avidity I furnished part of the beef They got and was invited to take out the kidney fat by the Man Who was to furnish them These People Have With them a great number of horses and some cattle chiefly oxen The time required to get the horses and cattle together in a morning When traveling Through a country thickly covered cane With strong as this is must be very large in good weather and in bad weather, as this is must be very large in good weather and in bad weather days are spent at the same Often camp Provision ought to be made to feed them all the way whatever the delay May be I presume it is much in the power of the President to Provide in a cheap way for the safety if not the comfort of These People If I am correct I would Suggest Having the propriety of bacon salt Provisions These furnished for long marches Corn carry If They Could They got it but have not Been esta furnished I think That too Instead of a blanket to each family a blanket to each individually and to skin to make moccasins and leggings to each would not be too much skins This Have not people but They Could Be HAD low on contract Further still I would go I would give AT LEAST each a pair of shoes or moccasins and two pair of short stockings I have seen poverty amongst the northern Indians but theirs is nothing Compared To That Of Those south of the Friendship for the whites never can exist in the bosom of any of Those That The passed here last fall Least sensitive of them has-been touched too deeply in the tender part ever to be reconciled Report says eat and I have no doubt of the truth of the Choctaws It That Have Been Greatly defrauded in the sale of Their stock cattle Indeed Appears it to us Who are almost near enough to see the whole That few if any are sent amongst them or intrusted to act for or With Them That Are Not The most unprincipled of the human family so invariably How This should happen is difficult to suppose somewhere Blame is due to a great extent and I am living quite secluded and write but little esta letter as proof of May be but the tenor of it will show That I am not an inattentive looker on and the hints and opinions here May Given Perhaps answer some purpose but If it does remove one cause of complaint Shall I think my time well spent Be That As It May be assured That the administration and Generally Have yourself Particularly no warmer friend as to things than I am in overall JOSEPH KERR Hon Secretary of War Lewis Cass, Secretary of War.