Thursday, October 13, 2011

THE RUSTON CHAUTAUQUA

Three years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Mrs. Peggy Carter of Louisiana Tech University's Archives department. I was researching for an article I was writing about the WWII-era POW Camp in Ruston, Louisiana, and Mrs. Peggy cheerfully led me to a wealth of resources. I was floored by the incredible amount of history in the Archives department, and before I left Tech that day I had another story in mind. For on that day, Mrs. Peggy asked me if I knew anything about the RUSTON CHAUTAUQUA. "No, I don't think so," I said. "Oh, Jackie. You're going to love this..." she said and sat me down at a wooden table near her desk. And within a few minutes, I came to realize that Mrs. Peggy Carter was right.

Since that day, I've been obsessed with all things Chautauqua. In fact, I published Wesley Harris' article on the subject in the March / April 2011 edition of The Minute Magazine. See the article (written by Wes Harris) on pages 58 and 59 by clicking here. So you can imagine my surprise when I found a link between the RUSTON CHAUTAUQUA and THE HOUSE AT SUGAR CREEK. Amazingly enough, Mrs. Vera Taylor Oden writes about the Chautauqua in her memoir. With great excitement, I give you post fifteen of twenty-one sections that describe life in Sugar Creek, Louisiana prior to 1902. If you haven't read the post about the significance of Vera Taylor Oden's memoir, click here.


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SECTION XV: (Summers at Chatauqua)

There are so many incidents which I remember so well, one of which was my first train ride. I think I must have been three or four years old. We drove to Arcadia and took the train to Ruston to attend Chatauqua. As we stood on the platform the big black engine pulled in, whistle blowing and bell ringing, it nearly scared me to death. I screamed and they had to hold me to keep me from running away.

Every summer they had a series of Chatauqua attractions at Vienna, near Ruston, and people came good distances to attend. The ones I recall were lectures Bob Taylor of Tennessee, Sam Jones and Dewitt Talmadge. There were several buildings on the shady grounds, one a round pavillion where the lectures were held. I remember going down a long row of steps on a hillside to springs where people drank water.



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Unfortunately, I only had room to publish one photo of the Chautauqua along with Wes Harris' article. But now I will share a few of the other photos in Louisiana Tech's collection with you. Enjoy!





The Chautauqua Membership Book, circa 1892-1893.






The Chautauqua Hotel (photo circa 1900) was located just outside of Ruston, Louisiana.






The Chautauqua Auditorium circa 1900.






Photo of the 1854? Chautauqua Taken from Pierian Springs looking toward the auditorium.

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