Creating the Magic City of Bogalusa we all know today

Published 10:51 am Sunday, March 16, 2014

This part of our state used to be Indian country, and the Choctaw tribe had its area on the banks of what they called the the Bogue Lusa creek. When the sawmill began to start building their mill the Indians left; some moved west and others moved to the Mississippi area. Some of the early history of this area has the Choctaws as a friendly, working group that didn’t want to get in a war with anyone.

One of the connections with our area was where the Cassidy Park and the Senior Center are located. Some of the early information says they had a sacred burial site in the park area. Their tradition had the belief that if anyone went into the burial area they would be struck with a fatal sickness and not live long thereafter. That cemetery area is still supposed to be there, but I don’t believe their sickness claim still holds true.

The Choctaws lived east of the Mississippi River, mostly in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. They farmed and raised animals and had a reputation as peacemakers. One of their ways of settling a dispute was what they called Choctaw Stickball. This game was usually between another tribe, with as few as 20 to as many as 300 participants. The goal posts could be a few feet or maybe even a mile apart, but it was their way of avoiding war.

These Choctaw tribes helped Europeans and American settlers get food and a place to live back when times were really hard. Back in the early 1900s the people from the northeast came to settle in our area and start a sawmill with the yellow pine forests for their lumber supply.

As the sawmill came to be, the city had to have a name, and Mr. William Sullivan gave the city the name of Bogue Lusa, but the postal authorities said the city could not have a two-name title so he changed the name to Bogalusa, and it became the Magic City. There was a lot of planning and negotiating by the leadership of the sawmill to make this a special lumber producing company and an ideal city for their employees.

Bogalusa was laid out to be four distinct areas, separated by the Bogalusa Creek and the railroad. These four areas still exist but are not noticed as different from each other. The first area to really get settled was the area we know as Richardsontown. This new part of the city was the first area to have a bank and later law offices, many retail stores, hotels, restaurants and places of entertainment. Many people came to the area for the work that was available, and the city continued with the plan that had been designed for the workers and those who supplied provisions for the growing families.

Most mills were built of the lumber they were producing, but the plan for this mill was a building of steel and concrete as a protection from fire. Most mills didn’t have those kind of plans, so this made the Great Southern Lumber Co., a new idea, and it really helped with their company and their plans for the city.

The first workers lived along the creek and slept in tents and on the ground with a blanket or two. This was a time that the ordinary worker worked seven days a week with long hours and earned $200 to $400 a year. The company furnished housing later for the families that came, and the income was more than a lot of them had made before. Later the different sections of town had company housing for the employees, and a lot of families were created and raised here.

When the sawmill began to run out of timber the idea of a paper mill came along, and the Gaylord Paper Co., came to be and is still the main employer in the area.

Early on Gaylord built houses for all its workers, and a lot of families still use these houses. Sometimes it is real interesting to drive around, especially in the Pleasant Hill area, and see the houses that used to be company houses.

We have been blessed with some intelligent leaders from day one and still today that has made our Magic City a great place to live with our families.

Let’s remember to thank the Good Lord for these blessings. May He bless us all today.