Historically Speaking: The Dubberly Affair

By Jessica Gorman

In November 1893, business owners in the town of Dubberly found themselves the target of threats posted at their place of business. The Shreveport Times reported the threats warned “them to close up their business and leave the country under penalty of death.” While the newspaper believed it to be nothing more than a prank, the people of Dubberly took it very seriously. They did not so much fear for their lives, but expressed the belief that there were those among them that were entirely capable of following through on threats to destroy property. 

Within days, ten men were arrested at Dubberly. The arrests were based on information provided by a man simply identified as Disaker. He was being kept at the Lake Bistineau Lumber Company in Yellow Pine, seemingly for his protection. The accused were brought to Minden by train via Sibley by Deputy Sheriff J. W. Reagan where they were released on $500 bond. These men were described as being “of a class of men who ought to be above such dastardly and contemptible work.” Admittedly, I was surprised when I read the names. They were Pierce Talton, Vander Talton, James Talton, Doc Bishop, W. E. Davis, D. H. Hardy, John Monzingo, Jesse Rickerson, and J. D. Mansfield. None had ever been accused of criminal acts before and were considered “good and law-abiding citizens.”

On 21 November, The Times reports more threats had been made, this time, against Attorney Lynn K. Watkins and Justice of the Peace O. L. Noles. On the 22nd, Captain Alfred Goodwill, resident of Minden who owned property near Dubberly, was named as recipient of a threat signed “Citizens of Louisiana” “stating that not a fence or a house should be left on his lands and that he and his property would be dealt with according to their law.”

Upon their arrest, these men had insisted to go before the judge as quickly as possible. As Judge Watkins was hearing cases in Bellevue, the hearing was delayed until that Friday morning. It was delayed again when the men failed to obtain representation by the time of the hearing.  In the end, bond for the accused was raised from $500 to $1000. Disaker, their accuser, had been accompanied on his trips to and from Minden by residents of Dubberly who wished to guarantee his protection.

During this time, several instances of mob law had occurred. For those familiar with the story of Linc Waggoner, that lynching took place several months later. While Judge Watkins expressed his desire to see these men prove their innocence, he warned the accused of the very real danger as “every instance” of this mob law he had seen resulted “in the conviction of the accused parties.” He also warned the public that taking the law into their own hands must stop and that the courts be allowed to carry out their duties. Also included was the promise that everything would be done to hold the guilty accountable. 

Strangely, the newspapers seem to go quiet on the topic after this. While I find other mentions of Dubberly, I find no mention of this case or how it concluded. So, I hoping that maybe someone has heard stories of “The Dubberly Affair” that may shed some light on the situation. I would imagine there was much upheaval in the community and maybe there are descendants who have heard family stories that may be related to the incident. 

(Jessica Gorman is the Executive Director for the Dorcheat Historical Association Museum, Webster Parish Historian, and an avid genealogist.)