James Oliver Nuckolls

April 17, 1884 printed in Bossier Banner April 24, 1884 page 3B

Notice is hereby given that the following named settler has filed notice of her intention to make final proof in support of her claim before the Honorable Judge or in his absence, the Clerk of the District Court at Bellevue, LA on 2nd day of June, 1884 and secure final entry thereof at the expiration of 30 days from the date of this notice, viz: Homestead Entry #1464 - Emily Frances Kirtley, widow of Edward Nichols Kirtley, deceased - for the west half of south-east quarter of section 8, township 22 North, Range 12 West LA Meridan, and names the following as her witnesses, viz: J. O. Nuckolls, J. B. Bixler, Jr., T.J. Ford, and A. Whitaker, of Red Land P. O.

L. Duplex, Register April 24, 1884 May29

Bossier Banner August 10, 1899Page 3B


We are authorized to announce Mr. J. O. Nuckolls as a candidate for Representative from Bossier parish in the next General Assembly subject to nomination by the Democratic party.

Article by James O. Nuckolls Sr.

Bossier Banner February 25, 1932page three


During the year 1867, I went around the country taking pictures (the old-fashioned tintypes) and made a considerable amount of money. I had a buggy and an old horse. I had purchased the horse from old man Boggs, on credit. Everybody has to have a starting point in business, and that is how I started. I names the horse Boggs, on account of the credit. I traveled around in Texas. There were no roads and bridges, but I pulled through the brush and swam the creeks and got along fine. The greatest drawbacks were the taxes and licenses. I thought that if I failed to pay I could be sent to the pen, at any time I might be caught, for a term of twenty years. My old buggy broke down and I packed my outfit in saddle-bags, and started home - for Louisiana.

There was a troop of Yankee soldiers in Boston (Texas) and I had to ride through there. About a mile out of the place a Yankee rode up and began to look me over. He asked me my name and I told him it was Ormond. He then rode on back to the town. I thought then that he had me. and that I was in for the pen. After a while, I espied a troop of the soldiers coming on and I let out and took to the woods.

After a time, I came to a place where the woods were not burned over. I then struck out south, for home. I traveled all day and came out in the road just behind where I had started from. I rode in the bushes for a while and saw a troop of calvary pass. Thinking they had all gone, I then rode back into the road. Very soon, however, I realized my mistake, for I met another squad, and when they reached me I yelled, "I surrender." One soldier thought my horse was a racer and swapped with me. I was riding fine when he made me swap back.

Well, they took me back to Boston and looked me over, even pulling down my breeches. It seems they were looking for a young fellow by the name of English, who had killed a Yankee soldier. They expected to shoot him on sight. An Irishman in the troop told me he started to shoot me when he first saw me. I then told them my right name, and that I was traveling around taking pictures. They asked me why I gave the wrong name and attempted to get away. I replied that I had thought them to be robbers who were after Smith to get his money. They treated me well.

Next morning they brought in a man who knew English. He had but one eye, but after taking a look at me, he stated that I was not English. They accepted his statement, and told me that when I saw a man in Yankee uniform I would be safe. I departed soon afterward. People on the road watched me go by, glad I had gotten away. Some time after my experience with the troop, Cullen Baker rode into Boston and killed Capt. Kirkman. Prior to that time he had ridden into camp on a mule, similar to the mounts of the cavalry, and had killed five or six of the soldiers and whipped one entire squad. I didn't stop until I had reached the Arkansas line. I rode up to the home of a man named Graves. The Sheriff had seized his cotton for debts, and wanted to leave for Lewisville. He wanted me to take his place. I asked if he had any books and he replied that he had. I accepted his proposition, telling him that I would sit on the North Pole or ride to the Equator for a good book. I soon learned from him that the name of the book was "The Last Days of Pompeii." In about three days I finished reading it and struck out for home. The river bottom was overflowed and when I reached it I saw a little hut, about the size of an umbrella. A man was sitting in it, with a keg of whiskey and a box of nails. I said, "Hello, what are you doing?" He replied that he was selling nails and throwing in a bottle of whiskey, which enabled him to beat the revenue. I told him that he had a better scheme than mine - and that the next time I would sell a picture and throw in a hoe handle.

The man told me he sold his whiskey, one nail and one drink for 10 cents, two nails and two drinks for 20 cents. I bought one nail. The road in the bottom was a streak of water. I said to Boggs (my horse), "Here we may go under," and we plunged in. Boggs had a stroke like a paddle wheel and he carried us safely through. When we got to high land, the next bank of the river, he kept up the same stroke, as though he were still in the water.

On the other side of the river, a little strip of high ground led from the water to the bank. It looked like two strips to me. (I guess the nail did it.) Boggs started up and slipped off in the quicksand. A crowd of negroes at the store pulled him out - and then all got drunk.

A stranger took me out to his home, saying it was a very rough place but better than quicksand. After my sojourn at his place, I continued on my journey, passing through Lewisville. (The sheriff had gone back or run away.)

When I got home, I began growing cotton - and have been broke ever since. Graves made money by getting into the practice of law. Cotton went up from 10 to 20 cents, and he made a fortune.

Editors Note - The above story is all the more interesting when it is considered that Mr. J. O. Nuckolls, its author, really had the experiences he relates. The country during those times was indeed wild. Outlaws and other such characters were numerous and notorious. Cullen Baker, referred to in the story, was one of the most feared and daring of the entire lot, so local tradition of the country says. Few of our present day citizens can remember those stirring times. Mr. Nuckolls is now near ninety years of age and saw service under the Confederate banner during the War Between the States.

Article by James O. Nuckolls Sr.

Bossier Banner March 10, 1932 Page three


This story is written at the request of a friend. It is to be about days long past and will tell principally of the Red River crossing at Shreveport during the War Between the States. The first bridge across the river at Shreveport was a pontoon bridge. It was constructed by placing a number of skiffs parallel and close together and laying across heavy plank for flooring. It made a very substantial bridge. It was built chiefly to facilitate military operations. My own company, the Third Louisiana Battery of Light Artillery, crossed on it the last year of the war.

After the passing of the pontoon bridge some one put in a small steamboat, under the command of Capt. White. On the boat there was always such a jam of people and mules, it took a tough man to manage it, and Capt. White came up to the scratch.

Next we had the Shreveport Railroad and Traffic Bridge. The additional expense of combining the two needs was paid for by the City of Shreveport and Bossier Parish. This arrangement was accomplished by the services and foresight of Mr. S. J. Zeigler of Bossier Parish. The building of this bridge was like uniting two continents. No structure before or since has been more important in building the city of Shreveport. Every day there crossed the bridge thousands of people who otherwise would seldom, or never cross the river and go to Shreveport.

I was collector of tolls on the bridge during 1906 and 1910, and everybody going east or west had to pass me. I had a good chance to observe the poverty or prosperity of thousands of people. I had as good a chance as any one in the State of Louisiana to note the effects of prohibition and anti prohibition, being on the bridge during 1906, when there were open saloons, and again during 1910, when they were closed.

On Saturdays (especially) hundreds of negroes would pass and pay their toll, and have plenty of money left - and many drunk in their wagons.

During 1910 it was quite different: They would return with their wagons loaded with supplies and furniture. During that year I saw scarcely twenty-five cross the bridge drunk.

When an election was held to submit to vote the proposal to return whiskey the saloon men fooled most of the merchants and came near winning. They represented whiskey was drink as freely as ever, but they couldn't fool me. A man couldn't get drunk without drinking whiskey, and I didn't see many drunk people. Even the real estate men got to kicking. The renters began to build their own homes, and the river planters raised a big kick against whiskey, too. Every Monday morning they would have to drive over into Shreveport to hunt their hands, and find them unfit for work. They threatened to boycott Shreveport if they continued to keep whiskey.

Among the people on the bridge was old man M. Smith. He was a soldier under Stonewall Jackson and had a heart of gold. He took a fancy to me and did my cussin' for me. He sure filled the bill. One time he was walking down the street in Shreveport, by a saloon, and a lot of negroes were in a riot and a number of policemen were trying to quiet them. Old man Smith stepped to the door and brought his swearing into play, and the crowd melted. They knew him.

I never heard of any serious accident on the bridge, with loss of life. Old man Smith was walking one night and somebody knocked him down and robbed him of $15.

He missed his watch and thought they got that, too, but it had slipped out of his pocket and fell into the river. Later, when the stage of the river was lower, he saw it, lying on the sand by a pier. He got it, wound it up and it went on running.

One day while the bridge flag was up, and a switch engine was wanting to cross, three drunk men came poking over the bridge. They had their heads down, and the old horse appeared asleep. The engine gave a loud toot. The old horse started up like a flash and sailed down the incline. The weather-worn buggy hit a telegraph pole and turned bottom side up. The men crawled out like pigs and staggered around foolishly.

The engineer on the train got "scared" and wanted me to say it was a short toot. I told him it was all right; it took a good one to wake them up.

The officials never could find a successful means of checking up on the toll collectors, and they tried nearly everything. The collectors called stealing, "knocking down." I could have stolen five thousand dollars during the two years I was there. While on the job I learned, through observation, that any one can cultivate habits of stealing or habits of honesty. After watching and training myself for twelve months, I was more honest, as far as money is concerned, than ever before or since.


Plain Dealing, Feb. 29,1932

The foregoing story was written upon my request. Its aged author, by the way, is one of six (perhaps seven) remaining veterans of the Lost Cause now residing in Bossier Parish.

Only & Turner preceded Capt. White as lessees of the ferry boat referred to - about 1878. Capt. Only, who was actively in charge of the boat, about that time could probably have equaled Capt. White as a past master at the art of swearing. Later it was that Capt. White leased the ferry and operated the Sterling White. As recalled, it was a beauty. Wagon trains perhaps a half mile long, or more, would be waiting at daylight for the landing of the boat on the east bank of the river. Often many of them spent some portion of their waiting hours with "Red Mike," hunting the elusive pea under the "shell."

Being a member of the Bossier Parish Police Jury during Mr. Nuckolls incumbency as toll collector on the old bridge, I can vouch for his accuracy.

Mr. M. Smith, who he so diligently paints, was indeed a character, and is fondly remembered. He was from Newton, Miss.


Plain Dealing, La.

Article by James O. Nuckolls Sr.

Bossier Banner March 31, 1932 Page four


When I heard that Peter Green was going to run for the Legislature I was very much surprised - in fact, I was shocked. Peter had always been a fine citizen, and had a good reputation. So I started out to find out about it. On the road I met old man Scruggs and asked about the rumor. He said, " I reckon so," and winked at me. "I guess Peter is after something."

When I got to Pete's house I found him and his wife going, hammer and tongues. He had just thrashed his son, Bob, to make him beg him to run for Legislature. He said he wanted to tell he had been solicited to run. Betty, his wife, told him she didn't see why he wanted to get in a rumpus with his neighbors, especially as he and Tom Spott had gotten friendly - since they had that fight. Pete said, "I bet you Tom will vote for me, too." "He could afford to do that, as he gave you such a good walloping," said the good wife. "I suppose if you let everybody round give you a walloping you could get elected."

I saw Pete was in a mess, but I had to stick to him. It seems in that neighborhood it was customary to let hogs run out without being marked.

Pete was in favor of marking and was called a "marker." Old man Sims was agin it; said he always had plenty of meat that way, and other way created suspicion. Down in the lower part of the parish, a man named Spike was running against Pete. So Pete thought he would let his neighbors cool off and see what Spike was doing. He thought he would take rounds on Spike, on the sly. Besides he had a cousin down that way who had been to see him once and talked lavishly about his influence. So Pete struck out on his mule at a fast trot. But after traveling a whole day, he saw it was a bigger country than he thought, and he would have to go slow, to make it. He thought it was as big as New York and he

might as well run for President. When he got down close to his cousin's home, he met an old fellow and asked him if he knew a man around named Scott, and how far was it to his home? The stranger told Pete there was such a man in that section, but he wasn't there now. He had been run out of the country for chicken stealing. "What is your name, mister?" "My name is Smith," says Pete, and lit out in a hurry. He went on down to Spike's neighborhood and found Spike in a peck of trouble. He met an old fellow and asked him about Spike. "Spike?" says the old man, "why he's got a jumping cow that has the whole country in a turmoil. We've shot all our ammunition at her, but it just limbers her up. As for my part, if he would take the cow with him, I would be willing to send him to the Legislature to stay the next hundred years." Pete felt fine. He felt he now had a cinch on the office.

Pete struck out for home. He went so fast and so far he was sorry he hadn't run for President - but when he got home he found Betty, his wife, almost crazy. She told Pete it was being talked all over the country that he beat her up, particularly in the spring. The neighbors said they could hear her cries every day about twelve o'clock. Pete was stumped, and said to Betty, "Didn't you call me to dinner every day last spring when I was plowing in the lower field, and holler pretty loud?" "That's it," said Betty, "they heard me calling you to dinner and thought you were beating me."

Well, after a while the election came off. Pete ran Spike a close race all over the parish, but in his own precinct he only got one vote. Everybody told Pete they had voted for him, which confused him more than ever. It looked like everybody in the precinct was lying but one man, and Pete didn't know who he was. Well, when the next election year came around, they elected Pete constable.

J. O. N.

Plain Dealing, March 21, 1932

Article by James O. Nuckolls Sr.

Bossier Banner April 28, 1932  Page four

Nuckolls Tells of Place of Southern Soldiers in History in This Article

Editor's Note - The story printed below has been furnished the Banner by Mr. J. O. Nuckolls, one of the few surviving veterans of the War Between the States, who fought for the Southland, during that great struggle. His article this week deals with the position in history of the Confederate Soldier, and because he was, in fact, one of them, it should be of very great interest to every person in Bossier Parish:

"The Confederate Soldier"

History is the record of events in the lives of the human race. The motives and causes of those events are very often forgotten. The motives and sentiment which prompted the Confederate Soldier, in the War Between the States, have never been published. It has been noted, throughout the world, that the war was fought to maintain slavery. The fighting was brought on, not by the question of slavery, but by the invasion of the Southern States by the Northern Armies. Three-fourths of the Southern Army never owned a slave, but these men were impelled to resist that invasion of Southern soil. In this resistance they were defeated, but in their defeat was shown a greater luster than that of the victorious Northern Army.

Their (the Confederates') deeds were unsung and forgotten, but their undying patriotism should never fade from memory. It is not victory that lives with undying fame. The Greeks at Thermopylea were defeated, yet their heroic defense will ever be remembered by men everywhere. While the victors have sunk into oblivion, the heroes of the Alamo did not resist in vain, but died with the entrancing deeds of their heroic souls.

J. O. Nuckolls


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