Saturday, October 26, 2013

Some Bossier History

Our friend Pat has a good blog post in And so it Goes in Shreveport about a dedication today in Natchitoches at the grave of Dr. John Sibley, a soldier in the American Revolution. Please go to the link and read it, then come back and read the rest of the story.
The Bossier Connection
So what does that have to do with Bossier Parish?
After his wife in North Carolina passed away in 1811, Dr. Sibley married a young Natchitoches woman, Eulalie Malique, in 1813. They had a son, Rufus Sibley.
Rufus married Salina Gray Irwin, daughter of Jacob Irwin, who had been a gunsmith for Dr. Sibley at the Indian Agency. Jacob Irwin had located to Bossier Parish (or Claiborne Parish until it became Bossier in 1843), where he had a plantation on the river at Irwin’s Bluff. Jacob Irwin was married to Mary Edwards, who was the daughter of Larkin Edwards, the Caddo Interpreter who received a plot of land in the Caddo treaty that he sold to the Shreve Town Company in 1835.
Rufus and Salina Irwin Sibley
Rufus and Salina operated a stagecoach stop at Coleville, which is about 5 miles east of Benton. (There is a cemetery at Coleville where Eulalie Sibley, Jacob Irwin and Rufus & Salina are buried).
They raised their family at that location. Rufus built a small house on the property for his mother, Eulalie, and each week one of her granddaughters would stay with her to assist her with housekeeping and cleaning. The only caveat was that they had to speak French during that week, as she didn’t think too highly of the English language.
During reconstruction, the Sheriff of Bossier Parish seized two mules belonging to Rufus for failure to pay Spiritous Liquor taxes at the stagecoach stop. Rufus got a Shreveport lawyer and filed suit in Bossier Parish Court to recover his mules. He sued on the grounds that the Police Jury was not properly representative under the 14th amendment and therefore any taxes they passed were null and void.
He won the case and the Sheriff had to return his two mules.
The picture below is of the oldest child of Rufus and Salina, Mary Helena Sibley, who married F. M. Hanks.
Mary Helena Sibley Hanks
The picture was taken in 1921, two years before her death. The license plate on the car gives it away.
To make a long story short, her daughter Vivian was my grandmother. She married R. E. Wallace in 1910. My mother was born in 1916, and then in 1947 I was her gift to Bossier Parish.
We're still around.
Vivian Hanks Wallace
Granddaughter of Rufus Sibley and
Great-Grandaughter of Dr. John Sibley.
To me she was just 'Bibby', my grandmother, and one of the most decent and loving people I ever knew in my life. She passed away in 1972. I think of my grandparents nearly every day.


  1. Jim, The grave marking ceremony was a history lesson of the integral part Dr. Sibley played not only in the development of Northwest Louisiana but the expansion of the United States through his role in The Freeman-Custis (aka Red River Expedition) and the beginnings of the founding of The Republic of Texas.

  2. Very cool, thanks for posting this.

  3. Fascinating short article, Jim. More, please. Good work.



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