By Jessica Gorman
The development of downtown Dubberly was spurred by the coming of the railroad in the early 1880s. In May of 1889, the residents of Dubberly were busy making improvements to the town. It was reported that “lumber cannot be delivered fast enough for building purposes.” In particular, completion of a new school was delayed for this very reason. To remedy the situation, a planing machine was to be put into operation at the new saw mill. This would prove helpful as construction of new residences was planned for the summer. Even so, indications are that the struggle for the lumber supply to keep pace with construction continued into the following year as completion of a new hotel was dependent upon the availability of lumber.
The importance of education in the community was indicated by the presence of several schools, both public and private, for white students. These would seem to be the Brushwood and Talton schools, which had served the community for some time, and the Dubberly school being the new school under construction. These three schools later formed Dubberly High School during the consolidation of Webster Parish schools in the 1920s. Students from Dubberly were also attending college in Minden, Mt. Lebanon, Arcadia, and Ruston. Misses Purity and Georgia Woodard are two Dubberly residents known to have been enrolled at Mt. Lebanon the following year. Education was also of importance to the black community. There is mention of several schools for black students that were well-attended.
The merchants of Dubberly were described as “men of enterprise and energy.” This was attested by the development of the town and what was described as the excellent financial standing of the merchants themselves. Even so, a call was put out to address the need for more merchants. It was believed that because the town did not offer all that it could, it was missing out on business that was being conducted elsewhere. More specifically, need was expressed for a drug store and a livery stable.
There is also mention of community activities. Interest had been shown in the establishment of a masonic lodge. Camp meetings were held regularly and improvements to the grounds had been made. Residents enjoyed fish fries and fishing trips.
Many of the buildings constructed during this time period were destroyed in 1920 when Dubberly was struck by a disastrous fire that destroyed its downtown area.
(Jessica Gorman is the Executive Director for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum, Webster Parish Historican, and an avid genealogist.)