John T. David

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John Thomas David, Sr.
Mayor John T. David of Minden, LA.jpg
Mayor David as he appears at the Minden City Hall gallery
Mayor of Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
In office
July 1, 1946 – February 23, 1955
Preceded by J. Frank Colbert
Succeeded by Jasper Goodwill
Member of Webster Parish Police Jury
In office
1956–1968
Preceded by

At-large in Ward 4:
Leland G. Mims
Frank Krouse
Frank B. Treat, Sr.

Floyd Kennon, Sr.
Succeeded by

At-large in Ward 4:
Leland G. Mims
W. Nick Love
James Tenney "Jim" Branch, Jr.

A. G. "Ike" Kirkikis
Personal details
Born (1897-08-30)August 30, 1897
Minden, Louisiana
Died April 5, 1974(1974-04-05) (aged 76)
Minden, Louisiana
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Irma Mizell David
Children

John T. David, Jr.

Four grandchildren
Parents Thomas D. and Mary Elizabeth Pair David
Occupation Businessman
Religion Southern Baptist

(1) Mayor David was forced from office less than halfway into his fifth two-year term after the Louisiana Supreme Court sustained his conviction of two misdemeanors for bootlegging liquor through his David Drugs.

(2) David penned his letter of resignation as mayor to then-Governor Robert F. Kennon, who had served as mayor of Minden from 1926 to 1928.

(3) Less than a year after his 120-day sentence for illegal liquor sales, David was elected to the first of three four-year terms on the Webster Parish Police Jury, the parish governing body.

John Thomas David, Sr. (August 30, 1897 – April 5, 1974),[1] was a businessman who from 1946 to 1955 was the Democratic mayor of city of Minden, the seat of government of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. After scandal forced him from the mayor's office, he remained the chief of the Minden Volunteer Fire Department (1934–1971), which he had first joined in 1926,[2] and he served three terms from 1956 to 1968 on the Webster Parish Police Jury (the equivalent to county commission in other states). As mayor, David sought to increase available housing in the post-World War II era when military personnel returned home, married, and started families.

Mayoral tenure[edit]

Mayor J. Frank Colbert, a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, did not seek reelection in 1946. David and three other candidates, insurance agent Castle Overstreet Holland (1895–1981), former Mayor David William Thomas, and businessman Homer D. Acklen, hence entered the Democratic primary. Holland, who had been a member of the United States Marine Corps during World War I, was active in the American Legion, the Minden Chamber of Commerce, and the Lions Club. He was later named president of the former People's Bank and Trust Company in Minden. Holland led David in the primary by 19 votes, and the two entered a May 7 runoff election, in which David prevailed, 1,064-844.[3]

Once in office, David and the new streets and parks commissioner, Jack Batton, the younger brother of later Sheriff J. D. Batton and subsequently the mayor of Minden from 1978 to 1982, procured council passage of a plan to blacktop eight miles of dirt streets in the city. The project began with the link from Bayou Avenue to the Minden Cemetery. That initial phase was completed in three months.[4]

In 1950, David narrowly won his third term as mayor in a runoff, again, against C. O. Holland, 1,172 to 1,039 votes.[5] A 27-year-old attorney, A. Eugene Frazier, had been eliminated in the first round of primary voting.[6] In 1952, David again was a narrow winner for another two-year mayoral term. In the runoff election on May 13, David defeated A. Eugene Frazier, who made a second mayoral bid, 1,593 (56 percent) to 1,250 (44 percent).[7] Frazier ran this time on a platform calling for fluoridation of municipal water. A third candidate eliminated in the primary was another young lawyer, Henry Grady Hobbs (1923-2012), a Sarepta native who subsequently served eighteen years as the Minden city attorney.[8][9]

On July 1, 1954, David was sworn into his fifth two-year term as mayor. He had defeated by 87 votes, 1,969 to 18,896, furniture store owner Paul Wallace (1,896 to 1,969), a former member of the Minden City Council. The tally in the April 6 Democratic primary had been 1,437 (51.6 percent) for David to 1,350 (48.4 percent) for Wallace.[10] In his last successful race for mayor, David ran an advertisement in the local newspaper proclaiming himself as "Fair, Courteous, Impartial, Independent." He pointed to widened streets new sidewalks, street lights, a second fire station, a baseball park, swimming pool, and water tank as landmarks of his administration.[11] David advocated a four-year term for the office of mayor, a change approved by the Louisiana State Legislature.[12]

Resignation and jailing[edit]

On February 23, 1955, David resigned as mayor when the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld his conviction of two misdemeanors for illegal liquor sales in his Minden drugstore, a common practice known as bootlegging in a then prohibition city. In raids ordered by Francis Grevemberg, commander of the Louisiana State Police, David was arrested, along with George Cole Talton (1917-1965)[13] of the former City Limit Grocery on Pine Street in Minden and Doc Hudson, an African-American homeowner. The three were caught by plain-clothed troopers separately selling them illegal alcohol.[14] A citizens committee led by pastor H. Truman Aldredge (1912-1966) of the First Baptist Church of Minden sent petitions to the Bossier-Webster district attorney, Louis H. Padgett, Jr., to demand David's removal as mayor on grounds of "gross misconduct."[15]

Louisiana 26th Judicial District Judge James E. Bolin, sentenced Mayor David to a $600 fine and 120 days at the Webster Parish Penal Farm.[16] His resignation was confirmed in a February 23, 1955, letter to then Governor Robert F. Kennon, himself a former Minden mayor.[17] The penal farm is managed by the police jury, the body to which David was elected in 1956, 1960, and 1964. In his first term on the police jury, David served from the former Ward 4 with Leland G. Mims, W. Nick Love, and Claude R. Huckaby.[18]

David served the second-longest tenure of any Minden mayor, surpassed only by Bill Robertson, who served from January 1991 until his death in office on June 27, 2013.[19]

David had been allied with pro-Long elements within the Democratic Party but had not been an open opponent of the hometown Governor Kennon, then a leader of the anti-Long faction of the dominant party. Anti-Long elements in Minden sought to remove David as mayor, and the state police raid which netted David in November 1954 proved fortuitous from their standpoint.[2]

Paul Wallace ran in the special election to complete David's term but was again defeated. Businessman Jasper Goodwill, descended from a pioneer Webster Parish family, prevailed over Wallace, 944 (52.4 percent) to 858 (47.6 percent).[20]

On April 7, 1962, David attempted a comeback in the Democratic primary for mayor but lost to incumbent Frank T. Norman, 1,536 to 578. A third candidate, W. O. Cook, polled 236 votes.[21]

Webster Parish Police Jury[edit]

After he left the office of mayor, David served three terms on the parish police jury, but he was unseated in the Democratic runoff election held on December 16, 1967. James Tenney Branch, Jr. (1927-2010), a Minden businessman, polled 2,126 votes to David's 1,778 ballots.[22] A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Branch was a graduate of Louisiana State University, a former president of the local American Legion, chairman of the Minden Medical Center board, and the 1984 Minden "Man of the Year". Branch was subsequently the police jury president and in 1982 an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Minden.[23] Another candidate defeated in the police jury election that year was future long-term Minden Mayor Bill Robertson.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Mayor John T. David lived at this residence at 701 Goode Avenue in Minden.
David grave marker at Minden Cemetery

David was the third of eight children of Thomas D. "Tom" David (1869-1961) and the former Mary Elizabeth Pair (1875-1942).[25] In addition to his David Drugs, he operated David Furniture in Minden and was part-owner with Harold Martin Turner (1911–1988) of the former Southern Kitchen Restaurant in Minden. He was a founding member of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, which was organized in 1959 near the David home on the Homer Road in Minden through the work of the Reverend T. W. Leachman.[26] David and his wife, the former Irma Mizell (February 5, 1903 – September 29, 1989), a native of Heflin in south Webster Parish,[27] had a son, John T. David, Jr. (November 12, 1922 – September 15, 1991), a corporal in World War II.[28]

John David, Jr., and wife, Yvonne, had four children, Mayor David's grandchildren: Johnny Ross David (born 1943),[29] Dinah David Garcia (born 1947), Sally Irene David (born 1957), and Joe David. The former mayor had six great-grandchildren. He also had three brothers, Larkin Cortez David (February 16, 1902 – July 12, 1988), Reuben Leanard David (1904-1972), and James Bryce David (1918-1986), and five sisters.[25] John David's niece, Leatrice David West, was the daughter-in-law of Minden department store owner H.O. West. David died in Minden Medical Center and was interred in the family plot at the Minden Cemetery.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tombstone inscription at Minden Cemetery. David may have graduated from Minden High School c. 1914, but the author is unable to make confirmation of that point.
  2. ^ a b John Agan (2002). Minden: Perseverance and Pride. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Company. pp. 132–133. ISBN 9781439630532. Retrieved March 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ Minden Herald, May 10, 1946, p. 1.
  4. ^ "Paving Program Announced by Mayor David", Minden Herald, August 2, 1946, p. 1
  5. ^ Minden Herald, May 19, 1950, p. 1
  6. ^ Minden Herald, April 14, 1950, p. 1
  7. ^ Minden Herald, May 16, 1952, p. 1
  8. ^ "Henry Hobbs obituary". Shreveport Times, January 2, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  9. ^ Minden Press, April 11, 1952, p. 1
  10. ^ Minden Herald, April 9, 1954, p. 1
  11. ^ The Minden Herald, April 2, 1954, pp. 1, 7
  12. ^ The Minden Herald, February 5, 1954, p. 1
  13. ^ "George Cole Talton". Findagrave.com. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  14. ^ "State Police Raid Minden", Minden Herald, November 25, 1954, p. 1
  15. ^ "Action to Oust Mayor Is Taken", Minden Herald, January 17, 1955, p. 1
  16. ^ "David Is Given Second Sentence", Minden Herald, February 10, 1956, p. 1
  17. ^ Minden Herald, February 24, 1955, p. 1
  18. ^ Respect for the Past: Webster Parish Centennial, 1971, Webster Parish Police Jury, unnumbered pages
  19. ^ City of Minden, List of Minden Mayors Since 1988
  20. ^ Minden Herald, May 12, 1955, p. 1
  21. ^ Minden Press, April 9, 1962, p. 1
  22. ^ Minden Press-Herald, December 18, 1967, p. 1
  23. ^ "James Tenney "Jim" Branch, Jr.". Shreveport Times. Retrieved June 17, 2010. 
  24. ^ Minden Press-Herald, November 6, 1967, p. 1
  25. ^ a b "Thomas D. "Topm" David". Findagrave.com. Retrieved January 21, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Baptist Church Organized Here", Minden Press, May 11, 1959, p. 1
  27. ^ Minden Press-Herald, October 1, 1989, p. 3
  28. ^ The Men and Women in World War II from Webster Parish: http://freepages.military.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~coffeycousins/Webster/webster13.html
  29. ^ Net Detective, People Search
  30. ^ Minden Press-Herald, April 6, 1974, p. 1
Preceded by
J. Frank Colbert
Mayor of Minden, Louisiana

John Thomas David, Sr.
July 1, 1946—February 23, 1955

Succeeded by
Jasper Goodwill
Preceded by
At-large:

Leland G. Mims
Frank Krouse
Frank B. Treat, Sr.
Floyd Kennon, Sr.

Member of the Webster Parish Police Jury

John Thomas David, Sr.
1956—1968

Succeeded by
At-large:

Leland G. Mims
W. Nick Love
James T. "Jim" Branch
A. G. "Ike" Kirkikis