Webster Parish, Louisiana
|Parish of Webster|
Webster Parish Courthouse in Minden (dedicated May 1, 1953) was a project of the contractor George A. Caldwell.
Location within the U.S. state of Louisiana
Louisiana's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Daniel Webster|
|Parish seat (and largest city)||Minden|
|o Total||1,590 km2 (615 sq mi)|
|o Land||1,540 km2 (593 sq mi)|
|o Water||60 km2 (22 sq mi)|
|o percentage||9 km2 (3.5 sq mi)|
| o Estimate |
|o Rank||LA: 29th|
|o Density||26/km2 (67/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|Website||Parish of Webster|
As of the 2010 census, the Webster Parish population was 41,207. In 2018, the population estimate was 38,798. Public officials who have long sought to increase the industrial potential of the parish, expressed concern over the downward spiral. Jim Bonsall, the president of the Webster Parish Police Jury, the parish governing body, cited the ending of the Haynesville Shale boom as the primary reason for the population losses. The parish has long depended on jobs in the petroleum and natural gas fields.
The parish is named for 19th-century American statesman Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It was created on February 27, 1871 from lands formerly belonging to Bienville, Bossier, and Claiborne parishes. The parish centennial celebration was held in May 1971. Speakers included Police jury president Leland Garland Mims and Judge Enos McClendon of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court, who gave a biographical sketch of Daniel Webster. Many officials and parish employees dressed in period costume of the 1870s for the event.
Among the first settlers in Webster Parish was Newett Drew, a native of Virginia, who about 1818 established a grist mill at the former Overton community near Minden. At this time the area was Natchitoches Parish and later Overton became the Parish Seat of Claiborne Parish in 1836 until it moved in 1848. His son, Richard Maxwell Drew was born in Overton and served as a district judge and state representative prior to his death in 1850 at the age of twenty-eight. R. M. Drew's descendants held judicial or legislative positions in Webster Parish as well, Richard Cleveland Drew, Harmon Caldwell Drew, R. Harmon Drew, Sr., and Harmon Drew, Jr.
The existing Webster Parish Court House in Minden, built at a cost of $876,000, was dedicated on May 1, 1953, with Governor Robert F. Kennon, who was reared in Minden and formerly served as its mayor, as the featured speaker. Planning on the courthouse began in 1950, when it was determined that the previous structure had become obsolete.
At the time of its establishment in 1904, the previous courthouse, built at a cost of $45,000, was said to have "rivaled any other in north Louisiana for its graceful, domed architectural style and marbled hallways." A modern multi-level jail was added to that courthouse in 1906 at a cost of $16,000. The new jail enabled constituents coming to the sheriff's tax office to avoid passing through the jail.
When Webster Parish was carved from Claiborne Parish in 1871, the state representative was John Sidney Killen, a native of Darlington County, South Carolina, who beginning in 1849 operated a farm and cattle spread north of Minden. He was the great-grandfather of a later mayor of Minden, Floyd D. Culbertson, Jr., who served from 1940 to 1942, and the father-in-law of Webster Parish pioneer William G. Stewart, a farmer and president of the Webster Parish School Board, for whom the former William G. Stewart Elementary School was named.W. W. Carloss, who fought in the Siege of Port Hudson, was the Webster Parish state representative from 1874 to 1888, but he thereafter moved to Lafayette County in southwestern Arkansas.
From 1896 to 1900, Thomas Wafer Fuller of Minden, a descendant of a prominent area family, served as the state senator freom Webster and the surrounding parishes of Bossier and Bienville. He was also a newspaper publisher, twice the owner of the former Webster Signal. From 1908 until his death in 1920, he was the second school superintendent in Webster Parish. Leland G. Mims, a Minden businessman, served as a Webster Parish police juror (the parish governing body) from 1953 to 1976, president of the jury each year from 1956 to 1973, and president of the Police Jury Association of Louisiana from 1965 to 1967. Mims' father-in-law, W. Matt Lowe, served on the police jury between 1940 and 1954 and was the mayor of Minden from 1916 to 1920.
From 1992 to 2012, Webster Parish was represented in the Louisiana House of Representatives by a member of the Doerge family. Democrat Everett Doerge, a retired educator and native of Minden, unseated the short-term Republican incumbent Eugene Eason and held the seat until his death in 1998. His widow, Jean M. Doerge, also a former educator, a Democrat, and a native of Natchitoches Parish, won the special election as his successor. She was reelected three times, twice without opposition but was term-limited in 2011. The Webster Parish representative effective in 2012 is Democrat Harlie Eugene Reynolds, a retired educator from Dubberly.
In 1996, the Webster Parish Police Jury approved a $1,849,000 bid to the firm Finney Co. of Shreveport for construction of a new parish library facility on Est and West Street in Minden.
Webster Parish is generally competitive in most contested elections. The parish voted for Republican Barry Goldwater for president in 1964 and George Wallace in 1968, when the former governor of Alabama ran on the American Independent Party ticket. Richard Nixon won here in 1972, and Jimmy Carter of Georgia prevailed in 1976. In 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan won the parish by a nearly two-to-one margin over former Vice President Walter F. Mondale.
In 2000, Governor George W. Bush of Texas won in Webster Parish with 9,420 votes (55.1 percent), compared to then Vice President Al Gore's 7,197 (42.1 percent). Patrick Buchanan of the Reform Party held 183 votes (1.1 percent). In 2004, Bush again won the parish, having polled 11,070 votes (60 percent) to Democrat John Kerry's 6,833 (37 percent).
In 2008, U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona carried Webster Parish with 11,417 votes (62.5 percent), compared to Barack Obama's 6,610 (36.2 percent). Four years later in 2012, Republican Mitt Romney led in the parish with 11,400 votes (61.9 percent), 17 fewer ballots than McCain had received. In 2012, President Obama polled 6,802 votes (36.9 percent), 192 more than his 2008 tabulation.
The last Democrat hence to have won in Webster Parish at the presidential level was Bill Clinton in 1996, who received 9,688 (55.3 percent), compared to Republican Robert Dole's 6,153 ballots (35.1 percent). Ross Perot, founder of the Reform Party, held 1,324 votes (7.6 percent). In that same election, the Democrat Mary Landrieu carried Webster Parish in her successful U.S. Senate race against Republican Woody Jenkins, 8,459 (51.3 percent) to 8,020 (48.7 percent).
From 1933 to 1980, the office of Webster Parish sheriff, also the chief parish tax collector as well as the enforcer of criminal law outside the municipalities, was filled by only three men, all Democrats, from two political families. Oscar Henry Haynes, Sr., held the position from 1933 to 1952 and was a deputy sheriff for the five years prior to his becoming sheriff. His son, O. H. Haynes, Jr., a 1939 graduate of Minden High School, served from 1964 to 1980. Like his father, Haynes, Jr., had been a deputy sheriff. Haynes, Jr. then served for eight years as supervisor of the state driver's license office in Minden, and he was the Exxon distributor in Webster Parish for some four decades. Haynes, Jr., was the father of Louisiana State University football star, Fred Haynes (American football). Coincidentally, Fred Haynes was the winning quarterback for his Minden High School football team which won the state championship in a home game against a team from Lafourche Parish. The game was held the night before the 1963 sheriff's primary election. The Hayneses are interred at the historic Minden Cemetery.
Between the tenures of the Hayneses was their intraparty rival, J. D. Batton, who filled the post for three terms from 1952 to 1964. In the runoff election held on February 19, 1952, Batton unseated the senior Haynes by 43 votes, or 5,444 to 5,401. Batton was the brother of a long-term Minden City Council member and one-term mayor, Jack Batton. In his 1956 reelection, Batton defeated a comeback bid by former Sheriff Haynes, Sr. Batton's father, J. Bryant Batton, had run unsuccessfully against the senior Haynes in a 1933 special election for sheriff. Haynes, Jr., was succeeded as sheriff in 1980 by his chief criminal deputy, Royce L. McMahen, a veterinarian from Springhill, who held the position for four terms until 1996. The current Webster Parish sheriff is Gary Steven Sexton (born April 1953), a Democrat from Shongaloo, who was elected in 2003, 2007, and 2011.
As of the census of 2010 there were 52,903 people, 20,500 households, and 12,589 families residing in the parish. The population density was 92 people per square mile (27/km2). There were 18,991 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km2). The racial makeup of the parish was 65.51% White, 32.83% Black or African American, 0.34% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 0.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 16,501 households, of which 30.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.70% were married couples living together, 16.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.90% were non-families. 27.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the parish the population was spread out, with 25.60% under the age of 18, 8.60% from 18 to 24, 26.00% from 25 to 44, 23.60% from 45 to 64, and 16.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.20 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $28,408, and the median income for a family was $35,119. Males had a median income of $30,343 versus $20,907 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $15,203. About 15.30% of families and 20.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.60% of those under age 18 and 16.10% of those age 65 or over.
The elected Webster Parish School Board operates local public schools.
The 39th MP Company of the 773rd MP Battalion and the 1083rd Transportation Company of the 165th CSS (Combat Service Support) Battalion reside at Camp Minden west of Minden, formerly the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant. Both of these battalions are part of the 139TH RSG (Regional Support Group).
American statesman Daniel Webster, the namesake of Webster Parish
The Webster Parish Library is located in the Minden Historic District. To the right is the library annex, which was the previous library structure. The current library was constructed in 1996 under the direction of library board president Henry Grady Hobbs (1923-2012) and vice-president and former State Representative Eugene Eason. Prior to 1965, the annex had been the J.G. Ferguson home.
The Dorcheat Historical Association Museum at 116 Pearl Street in Minden hosts monthly lectures open to the public.
Wooded road leading to Upper Caney Lake at Caney Lakes Recreation Area
The one-room Yellow Pine Christian Church, formerly known as Union Church, located south of Sibley, Louisiana, was established in 1902 and in 1996 added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2013, the congregation initiated the construction of a second building for Sunday school rooms and a fellowship hall.
The Pine Grove United Methodist Cemetery north of Minden is among several rural cemeteries in Webster Parish.