Gibsland, Louisiana

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Gibsland, Louisiana
Downtown Gibsland
Downtown Gibsland
Location of Gibsland in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Gibsland in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Coordinates: 32°32′34″N 93°03′34″W / 32.54278°N 93.05944°W / 32.54278; -93.05944Coordinates: 32°32′34″N 93°03′34″W / 32.54278°N 93.05944°W / 32.54278; -93.05944
CountryUnited States
 • MayorRay Ivory, Sr. (No Party)
 • Total2.65 sq mi (6.87 km2)
 • Land2.63 sq mi (6.82 km2)
 • Water0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
272 ft (83 m)
 • Total773
 • Density293.58/sq mi (113.36/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Area code318
FIPS code22-28835

Gibsland is a town in Bienville Parish in northern Louisiana, United States. As of the 2020 census, its population was 773.[2] The town is best known for its connecting railroads, as the birthplace of the defunct historically black Coleman College, and for the nearby shootings in 1934 of the bandits Bonnie and Clyde.

Gibsland native John McConathy was a champion basketball player at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, who later was the superintendent for the Bossier Parish School Board, in which capacity he was the guiding force behind the establishment of the $57 million Bossier Parish Community College.[3]

Coleman College[edit]

In 1890, with ten students, Coleman Baptist Male and Female College opened its doors to educate the children of nearby freed slaves. The institution produced primarily teachers and preachers.

Supported by the Southern Baptist Church, Coleman College at its peak owned some 100 acres (40 ha), of which ten were devoted to educational purposes. There were eight buildings which included classrooms, auditorium, dormitories, and an administrative building. The college offered a choir, glee club, and intercollegiate athletics. Nicknamed the Bulldogs, Coleman College's chief athletic rival was the historically black Grambling College Tigers in Grambling in Lincoln Parish, subsequently Grambling State University. Enrollment at Coleman reached as high as four hundred in some years.

The college closed in Gibsland in 1944. Among its graduates were the first president of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Dr. J. S. Clark, and Ada Bell Lewis Coleman. Ada Coleman was the mother of Mildred Coleman Marks, Geraldine Coleman Gaillord, and the deceased McVicker Monroe Coleman, Jr., and Georgia Coleman McClaron.

Professor Coleman, founder and president of Coleman College, died of injuries sustained in an automobile accident in March 1927 in Jackson, Mississippi. His great-grandson, John R. Marks, III, in 2003 became the mayor of the capital city of Tallahassee, Florida.

Later in 1944, Coleman College re-opened for another decade in Shreveport. By 1946, the trustees had made the last payment on property in the Mooretown community at 3701 Hollywood Avenue, the current location of Winnfield Funeral Home. Decreased enrollment caused the school to close once again in the middle 1950s.

Railroad history[edit]

First incorporated in 1889, the Louisiana & North West Railroad Company operates 62 miles (100 km) of shortline between Gibsland and McNeil, Arkansas. The LNW interchanges on both ends of the line: with the Union Pacific (former St. Louis Southwestern) in McNeil; and with Kansas City Southern (former MidSouth, ICG) at Gibsland.

For many years the road was well-known among railfans for its unusual stable of F7 "covered wagons"—unusual motive power of choice for a backwoods southern shortline. In the early 1990s, the F units were sold off to various places, gradually replaced by Geeps from various locations. The LNW shops are located at Gibsland, a few hundred yards from one of the busiest interchange diamonds in all of the state. For decades, three different railroads interchanged in Gibsland. The switching activity could get so hectic the daily routine was known among railfans as the "Gibsland Shuffle."


Gibsland is located in northern Bienville Parish at 32°32′34″N 93°3′13″W / 32.54278°N 93.05361°W / 32.54278; -93.05361 (32.542675, -93.053511).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.7 square miles (6.9 km2), of which 0.023 square miles (0.06 km2), or 0.81%, is water.[5]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
Gibsland racial composition as of 2020[2]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 70 9.06%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 660 85.38%
Native American 1 0.13%
Other/Mixed 25 3.23%
Hispanic or Latino 17 2.2%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 773 people, 261 households, and 161 families residing in the town.



The Bienville Parish School Board operates the K-12 Gibsland-Coleman Complex in Gibsland.

Arts and culture[edit]


The Jonquil Jubilee and Historic and Garden Tour and the Bonnie and Clyde Festival are celebrated annually. The Jonquil Jubilee offers advice to area gardeners from botanists.

Bonnie and Clyde[edit]

The Bonnie and Clyde Festival is held in Gibsland in mid-May. It features a staged bank robbery by actors portraying the infamous duo. The festival has been featured on the television program Weird U.S. on the History Channel. Bonnie and Clyde were killed off Louisiana Highway 154, south of Gibsland toward Sailes.

Gibsland is home to the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum located in the former cafe where the outlaws ate their last meal, a breakfast. The museum is owned and operated by Perry Carver. Linton Jay "Boots" Hinton (born January 1, 1934, died December 5, 2016), formerly of Dallas and a son of posse member Ted Hinton managed the museum until his health failed. The museum exhibits also mention the local posse members brought in for jurisdictional reasons, Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan (1896–1958) and his chief deputy and successor as sheriff, Prentiss Oakley (1905–1957).

Gibsland-Coleman Alumni[edit]

Gibsland-Coleman Alumni Association was organized in 1981. The first reunion was held in July 1981. The Gibsland-Coleman Alumni Association is a non-profit organization of alumni and other individuals who are interested in supporting the organization-mainly providing college scholarships annually to graduating seniors. Chapters are located in Houston, Los Angeles, and Gibsland. The reunion is held in Gibsland annually during the first weekend of July.

Government officials[edit]

The present Mayor of Gibsland is Jeannie Richardson. Ms. Richardson qualified to run for mayor in the 2022 elections against incumbent Mayor Ray Ivory. Ms. Richardson won with a 67% majority. Ms. Richardson assumed the position of Mayor in January 2023 and will serve a four-year term. There are five Aldermen who serve on the Council of the Town of Gibsland. Julius Pearson, Gary Durham, Angela Adams, Dianna Pearson and Debra Rushing all qualified to run in the 2022 election, and were unopposed; therefore, they assumed their positions in January 2022. All the councilmembers were on the previous council with the exception of Angela Adams. This will be her first term. All councilmembers will serve a four-year term.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Explore Census Data". Retrieved 2021-12-29.
  3. ^ Scott Ferrell. "NSU hoops legend John McConathy dies at 86". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  5. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Gibsland town, Louisiana". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.