Montgomery, Louisiana

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Town of Montgomery
Town
U.S. Post Office in Montgomery, Louisiana
U.S. Post Office in Montgomery, Louisiana
Location of Montgomery in Grant Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Montgomery in Grant Parish, Louisiana.
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Location of Louisiana in the United States
Coordinates: 31°39′58″N 92°53′12″W / 31.66611°N 92.88667°W / 31.66611; -92.88667Coordinates: 31°39′58″N 92°53′12″W / 31.66611°N 92.88667°W / 31.66611; -92.88667
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Grant
Area[1]
 • Total 2.07 sq mi (5.36 km2)
 • Land 2.07 sq mi (5.35 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)
Elevation 154 ft (47 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 730
 • Estimate (2016)[2] 723
 • Density 349.95/sq mi (135.11/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 71454
Area code(s) 318
FIPS code 22-51620

Montgomery is a town in the far northwestern portion of Grant Parish, which is located in north-central Louisiana, United States. The population of Montgomery was 787 at the 2000 census but dropped by 6 percent to 730 in 2010. The town has a poverty rate of 37 percent and a median household income of just under $22,000. The median age is just under forty; the population in 2010 was 78 percent white.[3]

Montgomery is part of the Alexandria Metropolitan Statistical Area though it is forty miles north of Alexandria. Founded in 1712, even before New Orleans, Montgomery is situated on U.S. Highway 71 close to the boundary with Natchitoches and Winn parishes. It is located on the eastern bank of the Red River.

Downtown Montgomery facing east
Montgomery High School
The VFW post is named for James D. Boston, Jr. (1916-1986), a World War II prisoner of war and later a history teacher at Montgomery High School.
First United Methodist Church in Montgomery
First Baptist Church, 739 Old Jefferson Highway, lost its oldest member in 2013; Ilda Bishop Cardozier, the long-term president of the Women's Missionary Union, died at the age of ninety-eight.[4]
Established in 1904, the Southern Baptist-affiliated Hargis Baptist Church has worshipped in this building since 1978. Located east of Montgomery, Hargis also has a church cemetery; pastor Dr. Marvin Jones (2015).
Northside Baptist Church (founded 1958) now worships in this facility at 330 Bienville Street in Montgomery just off U.S. Highway 71; pastor Kevin Billiot (2011).

1950s political tale[edit]

In the 1950s, Montgomery was known as one of the smaller communities in the state which could draw considerable crowds to political gatherings. William J. "Bill" Dodd, veteran Louisiana politician, in his memoirs Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics, recalls a 1955 gathering in which he "eulogized" Huey Long, Earl Long, and attorney general candidate Jack P.F. Gremillion. Dodd satirized Gremillion's World War II record: "Why he almost got killed himself when an enemy shell plowed into one of his most vital organs; if you don't believe Jack Gremillion earned his Purple Heart, he will show you the scars he has to prove it." The scars were on Gremillion's rear end, much to the embarrassment of the successful candidate. From Montgomery, the Long train headed to the parish seat of Colfax.[5]

Geography[edit]

Montgomery is located at 31°39′58″N 92°53′12″W / 31.66611°N 92.88667°W / 31.66611; -92.88667 (31.666001, -92.886539)[6] and has an elevation of 154 feet (46.9 m).[7]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km²), all of it land.

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 160
1890 144
1900 158 9.7%
1910 174 10.1%
1920 224 28.7%
1930 383 71.0%
1940 495 29.2%
1950 695 40.4%
1960 866 24.6%
1970 923 6.6%
1980 843 −8.7%
1990 645 −23.5%
2000 787 22.0%
2010 730 −7.2%
Est. 2016 723 [2] −1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 787 people, 332 households, and 210 families residing in the town. The population density was 379.0 people per square mile (146.1/km²). There were 395 housing units at an average density of 190.2 per square mile (73.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 77.00% White, 20.33% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.13% from other races, and 2.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.38% of the population.

There were 332 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.9% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. Nearly 32.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37, and the average family size was 3.03.

In the town, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 25.2% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $18,462, and the median income for a family was $23,558. Males had a median income of $28,125 versus $17,083 for females. The per capita income for the town was $11,533. About 34.0% of families and 39.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.8% of those under age 18 and 32.3% of those age 65 or over.

Community life[edit]

Montgomery-area churches include First Baptist, Northside Baptist, and Hargis Baptist, all Southern Baptist in affiliation, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, St. Luke A.M.E. ( African Methodist Episcopal) Church, St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, a United Methodist Church, and a Pentecostal congregation. Northside was located on the main highway during the 1990s. The new church building burned and was rebuilt on the same site at 330 Bienville Street. Hargis Church is located in the Hargis community east of Montgomery.

The Reverend Kevin Billiot is both the pastor of Northside Church and the part-time police chief in Montgomery, for which he earns $20,000 a year. Police officers make $7.50 an hour. "When I arrived here as police chief in April (2011), we didn't have uniforms. We didn't even have badges. We had two badges we shared among ourselves" and wore polo shirts with embroidered badges, Billiot explained."[10]

Current Montgomery Mayor Vera "Susie" Waters, who is paid $265 per month, but also works as office manager for two pharmacies, said that small-town finances "aren't in good shape right now. Any kind of equipment we purchase, we rely strictly on grants. When we can get a donation of equipment it's just a wonderful thing."[10]

Silman shooting spree[edit]

On Sunday afternoon, September 9, 1990, the Montgomery machinist and welder Thomas Wilson Silman (born c. 1949), an unmarried loner, went on a rampage and murdered four relatives: his father World War II veteran Thomas Henry Silman (1910-1990), sister Carolyn Silman Lewis (1957-1990), brother-in-law James Daniel "Danny" Lewis, Jr. of Robeline in Natchitoches Parish (1949-1990), a veteran of the Vietnam War,[11][12] and uncle and storekeeper Conley Kermit Allen (1923-1990).[13] He also wounded Montgomery police officer and fire chief Dan Fletcher and Grant Parish deputy sheriff John Rollins, who arrived at the scene of the shooting outside the Silman residence at Carrie and Jordan streets in Montgomery, and slightly impaired a neighboring townswoman, Frances Elaine Dalme[12] (1920-2000), a native of Meridian, Mississippi.[14] All of the shootings occurred in a few minutes. According to then Grant Parish Sheriff Leonard R. "Pop" Hataway, the Lewises were coming to the Silman residence for the senior Silman's birthday gathering. He would have turned eighty the following Monday. The younger Silman was angry that his sister had recently married Lewis, who was her first cousin and was dark complexioned but not African American as Silman had frequently claimed.[12]

Thirty lawmen appeared to capture Silman, including deputies Rollins, Jody R. Bullock, and Bob Sanders. Bullock and Sanders dragged Fletcher's body into a patrol car to carry him to assistance via helicopter to Alexandria, where he was treated at Rapides General Hospital.[15] Silman claimed to have killed his father by accident and then snapped into a fit of insanity when he murdered the three other kinsmen. He retained the Alexandria attorney James Michael "Mike" Small after he was declared capable of paying his own legal fees. Silman underwent examination by a court-appointed sanity commission which declared him competent for trial. The trial judge found Silman not guilty for the killing of his father, who had tried to disarm his son, but concluded that the defendant was guilty as charged with the first-degree murder of his sister, brother-in-law, and uncle. He was sentenced to three concurrent life sentences at hard labor, without the possibility of probation, parole, or suspended sentence. The sentence was thrown out by the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit in Lake Charles but reinstated in 1995 by the Louisiana Supreme Court.[16]

Silman's employer for fifteen years, Mickey Frazier of Winnfield, said that Silman never missed work and was "very congenial. He didn't have much to say. But he did talk. He was current on world affairs and never talked about family stuff. I didn't even know his sister was marrying."[12] The defendant did not shoot his mother, Claudie Lewis Silman (1926-2003). The parents, sister, and uncle are interred at Union Grove Cemetery in Montgomery. James Lewis is interred not by his wife but at Memory Lawn Cemetery in Natchitoches.[11][17]

Notable people[edit]

  • A. Leonard Allen, late U.S. representative, once taught school in the Verda community east of Montgomery.
  • Jesse C. Deen, state representative from primarily Bossier Parish from 1972 to 1988, was reared in the Hargis community and graduated from Montgomery High School in 1940.
  • Mary Dell Smith Fletcher (June 16, 1923 — April 21, 2009) was a Grant Parish educator and civic leader from Montgomery. She was born in the Verda community to Littleton Mapp Smith and the former Jennie Woods. A 20-year professor of English, she was a retired chairman of the Graduate Studies Division at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. She procured her bachelor's and master's degree from NSU and her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. She edited several collections of works in her speciality – the literature of the American South. In 1970, she served as president of the College Writers Society of Louisiana. Prior to her NSU career, Fletcher taught for five years at the former Colfax High School. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, the Louisiana Pecan Festival, the Grant Parish Arts Council, and the Grant Parish Historical Society. She served for almost twenty-five years on the Grant Parish Library Board, including a stint as chairman. The widow of William P. "Will" Fletcher (1917–1999), a retired United States Army colonel and a former Grant Parish deputy sheriff, she was survived by a daughter, Janet F. Dyson of Baton Rouge, two grandsons, three great-grandchildren, and her brother, Maurice Smith, a former Montgomery High School principal and Grant Parish school superintendent. She is interred at Hargis Cemetery near Verda.[18]
  • Stephen L. "Steve" Gunn, former mayor of Montgomery and former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
  • Lula Wardlow, a Methodist minister and denominational leader, served as mayor from 1926–1930; great-aunt of Steve Gunn. She was the first woman to have served as mayor of a Louisiana community—only six years after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Controversial child pageant star MaKenzie Myers (born c. 2005) appeared on The Learning Channel's Toddlers and Tiaras. A Montgomery resident, she is known for her bawdy sense of humor.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Get Montgomery, LA Demographics". louisiana-demographics.com. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Ilda Bishop Cardozier". The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  5. ^ William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics:The Ear Long Era in Louisiana Politics, Claitor's Publishing, 1991, p. 179
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  10. ^ a b "Rural police conference a boon to rookie Louisiana chief". The Town Talk, December 26, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "James Daniel Lewis, Jr.". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c d Jerry Humphries, "Shots broke Sunday calm - Sheriff: Gunman was upset by sister's marriage", The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, September 11, 1990, pp. 1, A2
  13. ^ "Conley Kermit Allen". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Frances Elaine Dalme". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  15. ^ Dru Richards, "Four dead, three wounded in shooting at Montgomery", The Colfax Chronicle, September 12, 1990, p. 1
  16. ^ "State v. Silman". leagle.com. November 27, 1995. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Claudie Lewis Silman". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  18. ^ Mary Dell Smith Fletcher obituary, The Alexandria Daily Town Talk, April 22, 2009