Historically Speaking: A walk down Main Street

By Jessica Gorman

This photo depicting Minden residents in the snow in 1892 provides a view of downtown Minden when it was still made up of many wood-frame structures. This photograph, when paired with an 1883 newspaper article and Sanborn fire insurance maps, helps to tell the story of some of the downtown businesses located in Minden in the late 1800s. 

In 1883, beginning at the corner of Pine and Main and not included in this photograph, the block now containing Habacu’s and Brick Street Coffee was occupied by the drug store of J.C.T. Chaffe, which also served as the post office, and Loye, Chaffe, & Co.

In the next block, across the alley, was the tin shop of George Bowes. It would have been located just at the left edge of this photograph. Then, visible in the photograph, was the shared Western Union Telegraph and United States Express offices. Next to it was the store of Morris Rathbun.

Across Pearl Street, in 1883, was the M.M.S. McKenzie store on one corner and H. Drake & Co. on the other corner, where the Drake Building stands today. In the photograph, the original Bank of Minden building can also be seen between these two stores. It was built in 1890. 

Across the alley from the Drake store, in the two-story wood-frame building, was the A.J. Goodwill store followed by the W.D. Holmes saloon, Pink Roseman’s grocery store, and Leary & Crichton. This block, composed mostly of wooden structures, burned in 1902. This fire also endangered the original 1872 Webster Parish courthouse located across Main Street.

The remaining businesses in the downtown area aren’t visible in this photograph. However, continuing down Main Street across Union, were the stores of J.R. Miller, J.Y. Webb, T.R. Geren, and L. Glass & Son. Next, was the massive store of Alfred Goodwill that was destroyed by the 1933 fire. Before reaching the corner at Monroe was the Webster Tribune office.

On the opposite side of Main, across from the Webster Tribune was T.B. Neal’s store followed by C. Constable’s barber shop, the Silverstein & Dittmer saloon, Jake Harris’s store, and the jewelry store of Edward Etter.

To many, this may be just a cool photograph, but it is more than that. Especially when combined with other sources of information, a photograph is a source of historical information providing a glimpse into the past. It is my hope that anyone with old photographs will consider their historical value and their role in preserving the history of our parish.

This column is intended to share snippets of Webster Parish history. Please direct any questions or suggestions to dorcheatmuseum@yahoo.com or visit us at the museum. 

(Jessica Gorman is the Assistant Director and Archivist for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum in Minden and is an avid genealogist.)

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