The Merryville Museum was founded in 1981 to acquire, preserve, and maintain information, artifacts, and memorabilia pertinent to the history of the United States of America, especially as it concerns Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas.
The Merryville Museum can be located at
628 North Railroad Ave. One block off Highway 110 West in downtown Merryville, Louisiana.
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/merryvillemuseum
The Museum is Open:
Saturday & Sunday - 2:00 P.M. until 4:00 P.M.
All other days please call
Rene'e Corbett at 337-396-3467 or
David Williamson at (337) 825-8118
Merryville Historical Society & Museum Committee
Rene'e Corbett, President
Eddie Corbett, Vice-President
Stephanie Slaydon, Secretary
James Eaves, Treasurer
Notable Names from Merryville
Jesse Monroe Knowles
Born: July 23, 1919 in Merryville, LA
Died: April 23, 2006
Jesse Monroe Knowles was a Lake Charles businesman, civic leader, former member of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature from Calcasieu Parish and a survivor of the Bataan Death March in World War II. He was born in Merryville, LA but had resided in Lake Charles since 1935. Knowles graduated from Lake Charles High School(renamed Lake Charles Boston High School after consolidation).
Knowles was first elected to the Louisian House of Representatives as a Democrat in the 1959-1960 election cycle. In 1964, Knowles was elected again as a Democrat to the Louisiana State Senate, in which he served for four terms. He was named "Outstanding Legislator" by the Lake Charles Jaycees. Knowles supported Republican gubernatorial candidate David Treen in the 1979 general election. Early in 1980, Knowles, with just a few weeks remaining in his senate term, switched his party affiliation to Republican. Governor Treen then appointed Knowles, a past chairman of the Louisiana Wildlife Commission, as secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. However, a heart attack caused him to resign the post after only twelve days. Treen later named him to the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board. He was also elected to the board of directors of the Louisiana Rice Council and served thereafter as president of that group. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Knowles
Legend of Leather Britches
There is no more legendary man in the history of Beauregard Parish than Leather Britches Smith. Most think his real name was Ben Myatt. Some doubt it. There was a Ben Myatt who lived in Robertson County, Texas. One day he brutally murdered his wife. For this he was brought to trial in 1910 - found guilty - and sentenced to hang. With the help of his brother, he escaped - and it was after this that Leather Britches appeared in Newton County and Beauregard Parish. Esther Terry remembers him from her early childhood. Her family considered him to be a kindly man - until he started drinking. In 1912 he carried two 45 Colt pistols and a 30-30 Winchester rifle and sometimes demonstrated his shooting skills for the amusement and amazement of his friends. However innocent this may have seemed to some, others were intimidated by his marksmanship, drinking and bad temper. There is no doubt that he was at times a threat to public safety. There is a story of him shooting off the head of a chicken, then demanding the owner to cook it for him. People were inclined to do what he said. The law had done nothing to mitigate Leather Britches' bad behavior, so the Good Citizens League decided to take matters in their own hands - and to do it with minimal risk. At daybreak on September 25, 1912, a group of 6 men ambushed him at a pump house where the train stopped to drop off supplies - four or five miles outside of Merryville. Some say Leather Britches went down without firing a shot. Others say that he fired two wild shots after falling to the ground. Afterwards his body was iced down and put on public display in Merryville. Hundred came to see him. He lies buried near Mrs. Terry's father in the Merryville Cemetery, adjacent to the old brick schoolhouse.
Notable Names from Merryville
Chris "Red" Kenner Cagle
Born: May 1, 1905 in DeRidder, LA
Died: December 26, 1942 in New York, NY
Attended Merryville High School from 1922 until 1929. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.
Chris "Red" Cagle played college football eight years. He starred at Southwestern Louisiana 1922-25, scoring 235 points on touchdowns, extra points and field goals. This was a school record that lasted until 1989. Cagle played four more years for Army 1926-29, and was All-America halfback the last three years. His longest runs were 75 yards against Yale, 1928; 70 yards against Ohio Wesleyan and 65 yards against Yale, 1929. In four years at Army he scored 169 points, averaged 6.4 yards per attempt in rushing and 26.4 yards on kickoff returns. He was team captain at SW LA in 1925 and Army in 1929. Cagle was a dashing runner who played with the chin strap loose from his helmet, and sometimes without helmet. Southwestern LA had a 23-11-3 record in his time; Army was 30-8-2 with Cagle. Thus he played in 53 winning games in college. He was listed at 5-10 and 167 pounds. He also played five years in pro football and in 1934 founded the Touchdown Club of New York with Pudge Heffelfinger, John Heisman and Charles Pearson. Christian Keener Cagle was born May 1, 1905, in DeRidder, Louisiana. He died December 26, 1942, in mysterious circumstances. He was found unconscious at the bottom of a subway stair in New York.
Sam Houston Jones
Born: July 15, 1897 in Merryville, LA
Died: February 8, 1978 in Lake Charles, LA
Elected Govenor of Louisiana in 1940
Sam Jones broke the 12-year hold on the Governor's office enjoyed by the Long faction in Louisiana politics. Following the "Louisiana Scandals" of 1939 which focused voters' attention on the corruption of Long's followers, Jones won the gubernatorial election of 1940 defeating Earl Long. Jones had no experience in state government but promised - and delivered - an honest administration. He enacted civil service legislation, established competitive bidding for state purchases, and abolished the practice of annual voter registration. Jones governed during wartime, a difficult period to administer new policies. The reduction of executive power further hindered him. Jones did continue several of the Long programs including free lunches for school- children, equal pay for black and white teachers, increased funding of state colleges and aid to the blind, elderly and indigent families. Chiefly, he restored state and national respect for Louisiana. Jones did not build a political dynasty. He ran again in 1948, against Earl Long but, as one historian wrote, "Long outpromised Jones." Jones' heritage of good government continues in a group he helped found, the Public Affairs Research Council.
John & Ruby Lomax
When John and Ruby Lomax left their vacation home on San José Island at Port Aransas, Texas, on March 31, 1939, they already had some idea of what they would encounter on their three-month, 6,502-mile journey through the southern United States collecting folk songs. Many of the people and places they planned to visit were already familiar to them, and while they were always on the alert for previously unrecorded musical genres, songs and tunes, one of the purposes of this trip was to record some of their favorite folk songs and folk singers from past expeditions on state-of-the-art equipment. The Library of Congress provided the Lomaxes with the latest in recording technology: a portable Presto disc-cutting machine, with extra batteries and a supply of blank 12-inch acetate discs and sapphire needles that could be replenished upon request. Hauling this heavy equipment to and from the trunk of their Plymouth as they stopped to make recordings in schools, churches, homes, hotels, prisons and even along the roadside in locales throughout the rural South, they could hardly have suspected that, in 60 years' time, the cultural heritage they were collecting for deposit in the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress would be played back, with the click of a mouse button, through computer speakers in homes, schools and offices around the world, at the Library's Web Site.
Merryville, La., their first stop outside of Texas, had been suggested by John's son Alan (employed as assistant in charge of the Archive of American Folk Song since 1937) and his wife, Elizabeth. "Elizabeth's uncle lives in a little town in the no-man's-land on the Texas edge of Louisiana. Elizabeth says that he has a natural amateur's interest in folk songs and knows all the fiddlers and singers of that section, and he could probably lead you to very good material" (Letter from Alan Lomax to John A. Lomax; Port Aransas, Texas, Jan. 21, 1939). Herman R. "H.R." Weaver did prove a valuable contact, offering his home as a recording studio, guiding the Lomaxes to the blind gospel pianist J.R. Gipson and the New Zion Baptist Church congregation and singing a few traditional songs he had learned from his father.
Picture Above: H.R. Weaver singing "Ox-Driving Song" at his home in Merryville, La., October 1940 - Ruby T. Lomax
More can be learned about John and Ruby Lomax's journey at http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9908/lomax.html