Ned Touchstone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ned O'Neal Touchstone
Born (1926-09-27)September 27, 1926
Florien, Sabine Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died July 16, 1988(1988-07-16) (aged 61)
Lake Palestine
near Tyler, Smith County
Texas, USA
Resting place Hillcrest Memorial Park in Haughton, Louisiana
Residence Shreveport-Bossier City
Louisiana
Nationality American
Occupation Newspaper editor and publisher; Researcher; Journalist; Political activist
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) June A. McGehee Touchstone
Children David Mark Touchstone
Lia Touchstone Tippit
Lauren Touchstone Webb
Parent(s) Sam F. and Carrie Moore Touchstone
Relatives Danny Roy Moore (cousin)

Ned O'Neal Touchstone (September 27, 1926 – July 26, 1988) was a newspaper publisher who was a figure in the "Radical Right" in Louisiana politics during the 1960s. He was born in the village of Florien in Sabine Parish but resided in the Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area for most of his life.[1]

Touchstone was a descendant of Richard Touchstone (1657-1729), a New Jersey native who settled in Maryland. Another of his ancestors was Captain Benjamin Merrell (1731-1771) of Mercer County, New Jersey, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered in North Carolina in an early attack on the British crown.[2] Other family members were pioneers in 1798 in the settlement of Mississippi.

An unusual publisher[edit]

Touchstone was a professional researcher and writer and owned and for a time operated the largest retail book store in Shreveport. He was an avid reader and was known for his extensive vocabulary and for remembering and quoting large portions of published books and poetry. For eight years, he published in his print shop in Bossier City numerous weekly newspapers in Louisiana and Texas, including the former Bossier Press and the Waskom Gazette in Waskom in East Texas.[1] Before owning and operating his newspapers, he worked during the 1950s on Capitol Hill as an administrative assistant for five years for Democratic U.S. Representative Overton Brooks of Louisiana's 4th congressional district. Touchstone researched and authored the bill to construct the Veteran's Hospital in Shreveport, which is named for Representative Brooks. As a legislative aide, Touchstone encountered several Puerto Rican nationalists who were running down the steps of the Capitol. This small group of armed radicals had attacked several congressmen and wounded two in the arm. The radicals were fleeing when they encountered Touchstone, who was at the time entering the building with three other clerks. Touchstone, who was unarmed, ran up to the first armed man, knocked him to the ground, and seized his weapon.

Another legislative aide on Brooks' staff was Billy McCormack, later the pastor of the University Worship Center in Shreveport and a founding director and vice president of the Christian Coalition of America.[3]

In 1962, Touchstone became the editor of The Councilor, a publication of the White Citizens' Council, of which his mailing list included a worldwide readership of more than 106,000 but a paid circulation of 18,000. The Citizens Council was formed in the middle 1950s to oppose the civil rights movement in the South. The organization was composed mainly of conservative white southerners who sought to exert financial pressures on civil rights supporters. The greater part of the members were medium to lower-income whites who were staunch supporters of what was commonly called "the southern way of life." The Citizens' Council grew in numbers until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, a frequent target of Touchstone's editorials, along with Johnson's intra-party rival, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, subsequently a U.S. senator from New York.[4]

Touchstone's newsletter, The Councilor, was hostile toward liberals in both major parties, and particularly the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and Rockefeller Republicans who supported civil rights legislation.[4] Often Touchstone employed editorial ridicule and vociferous personal attacks against those whom he politically opposed. However, Touchstone was an expert researcher of truth and facts and never lost a legal challenge regarding any of his articles. Touchstone often hosted citizens from all over the United States and even various British dignitaries eager for his analysis of events.

Touchstone was known for his dry humor and play upon words as well as his political cartoons. He once printed a "Letter to the Editor" in The Councilor in which an African American man from the North derided young blacks in Sebring, Florida, where the city had set aside a beachfront for black recreation, but the site was constantly littered, "filthy," in the words of the letter writer, and therefore unusable by the public.[citation needed]

Touchstone was also affiliated with The American Mercury, the former H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan magazine which fell under the control of antisemites in the 1960s. Touchstone was listed as a contributing editor of The American Mercury and for a time took over management of the publication. He appeared in the masthead as the "financial editor" before the publication closed in 1981. He held a seat on the board of Willis Carto's Liberty Lobby, another anti-Semitic group which operated from 1958 to 2001. Touchstone even called Carto "one of the greatest living Americans."[4]

Opposing King, integration, and globalism[edit]

Touchstone decried the civil rights activism of Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he claimed (and later proved with federal documentation and photos) had political and financial ties with international communism. Touchstone said that many Americans could not understand that "King gets his money from known Reds until they are hit over the head with the facts.[citation needed] We stand ready to hit them over the head with solid facts."[citation needed] Touchstone opposed the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a communist front in which Lee Harvey Oswald had been active prior to 1963.[citation needed] The "Fair Play" group sent busloads of northern blacks into the South to compel desegregation.[citation needed]

Touchstone and another Radical Right ally, George Singlemann of New Orleans, instead organized the "Reverse Freedom Ride movement," which raised funds to provide bus trips for southern blacks wishing to relocate to the North. Disgruntled southern minorities were encouraged to relocate to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, the home of the compound of President Kennedy, or to other cities where northern leaders who supported civil rights legislation lived. Touchstone claimed that his "Reverse Freedom Ride" neutralized the "Fair Play for Cuba" activists.

Later, after the Kennedy assassination, Touchstone traveled and devoted himself to compiling the most detailed, fact-proven essay on the conspiracy that planned and hid the truth of Kennedy's murder in Dallas. Touchstone questioned the Warren Commission's report, which claims President Kennedy died from a single bullet fired by a lone gunman. For years, Touchstone investigated Kennedy's assassination and supported the conspiracy viewpoint formulated by Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison. There have since been many books, documentaries and even a Hollywood film, JFK, depicting the facts that Touchstone wrote about in The Councilor. The notes and photos he compiled were used for the basis of the film JFK regarding Lee Harvey Oswald as the possible "fall-guy" and the U.S. government potentially engaging in a cover-up of the assassination so as to hide the real reasons for the killing.[5]

Touchstone was an early critic of growing American globalism. He singled out "dangerous" groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Federal Reserve System, the Bank of France, the Bank of England, the three major American television networks, as well as the Rothschild and Warburg families.[4] Touchstone claimed that these families were so interrelated that to preserve their domination he found sixty-four examples where the Rothschilds had married first cousins. According to Touchstone, these international families provided the money to establish Vladimir Lenin in the former Soviet Union and continued to assist the international communist movement.

Six months prior to Touchstone's death, the United States observed the third annual celebration of the birth of Martin Luther King. In many cities with large numbers of minorities, the King holiday has become the third most popular of the year. The honor to King was especially troubling to Touchstone, who was never reconciled to desegregation and the turmoil, crime, and lower academic standings that he believed racial integration brought to southern schools, some of which became known for gangs, rape, narcotics, shootings, crimes against teachers, and even closings from lack of enrollment. However, Billy McCormack, who also served on Representative Overton Brooks' staff, grew to accept desegregation, having served on Shreveport's Human Relations Commission, the Black History Committee, and the Martin Luther King Birthday Committee.[3]

Running for superintendent of education[edit]

On November 4, 1967, Touchstone ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for Louisiana state superintendent of education. He claimed that he would use administrative measures to thwart the continuing process of school desegregation in Louisiana, which was completed under federal court decrees in August 1970. He was badly defeated by incumbent William J. "Bill" Dodd, a long-time Louisiana politician[6] who formerly served as lieutenant governor under Earl Kemp Long. Incidentally, Touchstone was born in Sabine Parish, and Dodd, who was seventeen years Touchstone's senior, was reared in Sabine Parish.[citation needed]

Ned Touchstone claimed to have been in Cuba on New Years Day 1959, when the communist Fidel Castro overthrew the government with his rebel army. Touchstone was ordered to stay in his American-owned hotel, but he instead chose to leave under the cover of night and walk through the bullet-ridden, fire-burning city of Havana so that he could gather facts for the first news story telephoned from the island to the United States. He spoke with several national news networks and made history while risking his life to get the truth of the communist conquest of Cuba to the American people.[citation needed]

Touchstone critics tried unsuccessfully to nullify his achievements by claiming, falsely, that the journalist was affiliated with the radical Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.[citation needed]

Death and family[edit]

At the time of his death, Touchstone resided on Lake Palestine near Tyler, Texas, where he and his wife had retired. Services were held on July 30, 1988, at the Osborn Funeral Home Chapel in Shreveport. As a hero of World War II, he was given a military burial and laid to rest at the Hill Crest Memorial Park in Haughton in south Bossier Parish near the red hills and lush forests where he was born and played as a child.[1]

Most of his lifetime work was donated to the Noel Memorial Library at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. His large personal library became the property of his children. Touchstone was known for his vast knowledge of facts and ability to call to mind complete passages from the thousands of books that he had read and collected. He was a world traveler and could discuss nearly any subject intellectually with any expert. His expertise included the fields of ancient history, languages, sciences, poetry, art, and the Bible.

Touchstone Wildlife & Art Museum in Haughton begun by Sam Touchstone and his second wife, Lura; with declining attendance, the museum faced an uncertain future in 2017.

Touchstone's mother, Carrie Moore Touchstone (1906-1982), is interred at Old Town Cemetery in Haynesville in Claiborne Parish.[7] His father, Sam F. Touchstone (1904-2002), a native of Clarke County, Mississippi, was a taxidermist and inventor from Bossier City. He was affiliated with a half-dozen Baptist churches during his sixty-seven years as a professing Christian. Like his son Ned, he is interred at Hill Crest Memorial Park in Haughton.[8]

Touchstone was married to the former June A. McGehee (born April 19, 1927), a native of Homer in Claiborne Parish who resides in Shreveport and is a Republican. The Touchstones have a surviving son, David Mark Touchstone (born September 23, 1952), a business lawyer in Shreveport-Bossier City; two daughters, Lia Touchstone Tippit then of Rockwall, Texas, and Lauren Touchstone Webb of Shreveport. At the time of his death, Touchstone had two sisters, three brothers, and ten grandchildren.[1]

From 1981 until his death two decades later, Sam Touchstone operated the Touchstone Wildlife & Art Museum on U.S. Highway 80 in Haughton. The facility showcases taxidermist exhibits on two floors from floor to ceiling with specimens of animals from all over the world. After Sam Touchstone's death, his second wife, Lura Patrick Touchstone (born September 1931), of Bossier City and her daughter, Samantha Olson, continued to operate and expand the museum. The facility also contains artifacts of Native Americans and a section on the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, who rampaged through North Louisiana to their deaths in 1934. In March 2017, Mrs. Touchstone, announced that the museum has fallen on difficult economic times with declining attendance, and the future of the facility remains doubtful. She noted that many schools no longer send children there on field trips though the museum has been very popular with young people in the past.[9]

Touchstone was a first cousin of former Louisiana State Senator Danny Roy Moore, a civil engineer and land surveyor who resides in Arcadia in Bienville Parish. Moore represented Claiborne and Bienville parishes for a single term from 1964 to 1968. Moore's mother, Capitola Touchstone Moore (1902–2002), a native of Perry County, Mississippi, is interred at Arlington Cemetery in Homer, where she had lived for much of her life. She was an older sister of Sam Touchstone.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ned O. Touchstone obituary, The Shreveport Times, July 30, 1988.
  2. ^ "The Merrell Family". Texas A&M University. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Billy McCormack Mission Group.com, June 10, 2012, website no longer available.
  4. ^ a b c d "Ned Touchstone, The Citizens Councils and The Councilor". Institute for the Study of Academic Racism. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  5. ^ Dave Reitzes. "The Clinton (Louisiana) Witnesses Linking Clay Shaw to Oswald". mcadams.posc.mu.edu. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ Shreveport Journal, November 6, 1967, p. 1.
  7. ^ "Carrie Lee Moore Touchstone". Findagrave.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Sam F. Touchstone". Findagrave.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  9. ^ Amanda Simmons. "Haughton museum faces closure". Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Capitola Touchstone Moore". Findagrave.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017.