Notice of Death – April 29, 2019


Shannon Dell Lott
September 30, 1961 – April 25, 2019
Arrangements TBA through Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home

Mack Henry “Frog” Jackson, Jr.
April 28, 2019
Arrangements TBA

Barbara Lewis
April 25, 2019
Service: Saturday, May 4 at 2 pm at the Asbury United Methodist Church, located at 704 Fifth Street in Natchitoches
Interment: Lawrence Serenity Sanctum

Louvenia Lewis
April 24, 2019
Service: Saturday, May 4 at the Winnfield Memorial Funeral Home Chapel
Interment: St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery


Mildred Welch Wright
March 17, 1922 – April 29, 2019
Arrangements TBA through Southern Funeral Home

Brenda Ann Melvin
August 24, 1943 – April 26, 2019
Visitation: Tuesday, April 30 from 9 am – 3pm at Kinner and Stevens Funeral Home of Jena
Service: Tuesday, April 30 at 3 pm in the chapel of Kinner and Stevens Funeral Home
Interment will follow at a later time private to the family

Preservation Trades Workshop hosted by Natchitoches’ National Center for Preservation, Training & Technology

By Kevin Shannahan

Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches National Center for Preservation, Training and Technology, a unit of the National Park Service, partnered with the Preservation Trades Association in presenting the 2019 Preservation Trades Workshop, held April 26-27 at the NCPTT building on the NSU campus.

Natchitoches is well known for its historic district and many historic buildings throughout the parish. Many of us go about our daily lives taking these buildings for granted. We should not, as many of them are irreplaceable due to the materials and construction methods used when they were built. Likewise, repair and maintenance of historic buildings often requires specific tools and techniques.

The workshop featured tradespeople in areas as diverse as masonry, window construction and repair and slate roofing. The workshops were a hands on experience as the instructors demonstrated their crafts and gave the attendees an opportunity for practice with expert help. Local NCPTT Materials Conservator and nationaly recognized expert in cemetery and gravestone restoration, Jason Church, gave a presentation on repairing ornamental cast iron fencing in cemeteries without using lead.

The Preservation Trades Network was formed in 1996 and is a network of men and women working in the traditional building trades. They are the people that do the work that makes historic preservation happen. The Natchitoches Parish Journal is delighted they chose Natchitoches for this year’s workshops.

Families enjoy 2019 Find Your Park Festival

Families explored Oakland Plantation at Saturday’s Cane River Find Your Park Festival on April 27. Stations located around the park grounds featured local organizations offering fun things to do on a beautiful day in Natchitoches Parish. A popular attraction was the petting zoo, were children held bunnies and chickens. Other larger animals were available for petting.

Cane River Find Your Park Festival is a part of National Park Week, a week-long celebration of America’s national parks.

2019 Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast and Color Run Held at NSU’s Beautiful Campus

By Kevin Shannahan

Kevin’s Gallery

NSU’s Alumni Pavilion and Tailgate area was the place for a great breakfast Saturday, April 27 as the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club held its third annual Pancake Festival and 5-K Race. The race is a new addition to the long standing annual pancake breakfast. The Kiwanians served up over 300 pancake and sausage breakfasts to a hungry crowd after 119 runners competed in the 5-k race.

This year’s race had a new feature that added to the fun. At the beginning of the race, at several stations on the course, and as runners finished, volunteers would throw up colorful clouds of powdered paint. Several inflatable bounce houses were on hand to keep the younger set entertained. NSU’s Circle K chapter, a Kiwanis version for college students, helped serve and clean up.

There was a pancake flipping and tossing contest for bragging rights between Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce President Laura Lyles, Annette Roque from Cane River Charities and NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. Despite some fierce competition from Lyles, whose chef hat showed her desire to dethrone the reigning champion, Dr. Maggio’s amazing spatula skills earned him his third Golden Spatula Award.

There was a distinguished visitor at the event. Mr. Bruce Hammatt and his wife Joy, also a Kiwanian, came up from Baton Rouge to visit. He is the President-Elect of the Kiwanis district that encompasses Louisiana, Mississippi and west Tennessee.

The event was a fun way to raise money for a serious cause. The Natchitoches Kiwanis Club is part of an international organization of civic minded people in Clubs all over the world who have decided to raise funds to eradicate neonatal tetanus, a disease that continues to ravage the poorer areas of the world. It is a shame indeed for a baby’s life to be in danger due to his or her mother not being immunized against tetanus. Kiwanians all over the world have banded together to bring lifesaving tetanus immunizations to mothers in need. The Kiwanis also sponsors the well known “Terrific Kids” program recognizing outstanding students in our schools.

The Pancake Breakfast is expected to raise $10,000 to support these worthy efforts.

The Natchitoches Parish Journal is donating the event photography. Photo protection is off and anyone may download any they wish. If you download a photo you like, please make a donation to the Natchitoches Kiwanis Club.

Community enjoys Ashland Car Show

The Ashland Car Show was a great success on April 27 with beautiful weather and about 10 cars on hand for the event. The crowd numbered around 200 community members, volunteer fire fighters and politicians. The Baptist Church was well represented and a dozen food and craft booths provided lunch and shopping. Sheriff Victor Jones served as grand marshal of the parade. Entertainment was scheduled throughout the day.

2019 Relay for Life-Fun For A Very Worthy Cause

By Kevin Shannahan

The Natchitoches Relay for Life, a beloved community tradition since 1998, was held on the NSU football tailgating field April 26. This year’s relay featured 40 teams and several hundred people representing every facet of our community, from the Sheriff’s Department, the Louisiana Technical and Community College, to local businesses, churches, and sororities. The 2019 theme was “Carnival for a Cure!”

The crowd was entertained by bands and performances by local dance schools. In addition, the teams competed in fun and truly inventive competitions. In keeping with the carnival theme, there was a “bearded lady” contest. The evening’s entertainment culminated in a fireworks display.

The Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, the nation’s leading non-governmental organization devoted to fighting and eradicating this insidious disease. The Natchitoches chapter of the American Cancer Society has a goal of raising $110,000.00 this year and is well on the way to meeting-and exceeding-that goal.

The Relay for Life is an event that remembers cancer survivors as well as those who succumbed each year. More importantly, it is a celebration of their spirit and of life.

Surprisingly undrafted, Demons’ Jazz Ferguson reaches free agent deal with Seattle

RUSTON – There was no disappointment, just excitement in Jazz Ferguson’s voice Saturday evening, after the Northwestern State All-America receiver took a different path than expected to the National Football League.

The 6-5, 227-pounder was surprisingly bypassed on the final day of the NFL Draft, but quickly reached agreement with the Seattle Seahawks within minutes following the completion of the draft.

“I feel just like I got drafted, to be honest. It was a long wait, and at the end of the day, I’m just very happy I’m on a team,” said Ferguson, a St. Francisville-West Feliciana product who spent the draft weekend with his family in Ruston, as his older brother Jaylon Ferguson, a star defensive end at Louisiana Tech, was a third-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens Friday night.

Pre-draft projections included speculation that Jazz Ferguson could get picked even as early as Round 3, but most predicted he’d go sometime in the final three rounds, but some said perhaps not at all. Analysts on gave him a sixth-round projection.

Immediately after the draft ended, Ferguson tweeted “Not the first time I’ve been doubted or counted out! #GODSPLAN”

He put up record-shattering numbers in his only season on the field with the Demons, after transferring from LSU and sitting out 2017 as a walk-on to regain his academic eligibility. NSU head coach Brad Laird, who was the defensive coordinator for the Demons that season, called him “the best scout team receiver in the nation.

“That’s not just because of his skill set,” Laird said. “Jazz was a great practice player, even on the scout team when he knew he wasn’t playing on Saturdays. He was a great teammate from Day One. He showed up on Saturdays, big time, but in our program, he was a big-time player and a team leader on Wednesdays, too. He had something to prove.”

Ferguson ultimately did so with the Demons by shattering five school records while earning four FCS All-America honors, including second-team recognition from STATS LLC and third-team Associated Press accolades. He was named the Southland Conference and All-Louisiana Offensive Player of the Year after averaging 101.5 receiving yards in 11 games, all starts, with 66 catches for 1,117 yards and 13 touchdowns.

That production and his skill set earned him a trip to Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine in February, where he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and posted a 37-inch vertical leap. None of it mattered Saturday evening to Ferguson.

“The combine doesn’t define you, your pro day doesn’t define you. All it takes is one team to give you the opportunity to make your dream come true.

“Guys got drafted today who didn’t go to the combine, who didn’t have the production (I did) last year, and good for them. I’m just blessed to have a chance in Seattle with an organization that has a winning culture, a great head coach, one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and an incredible fan base,” he said.

Going into the pro ranks undrafted didn’t shake his confidence, he said.

“Not even a little bit. I know I have potential and I’ve never been more determined to attain my goal of succeeding in the NFL.”

The last three days were filled with drama for the Fergusons, beginning early Thursday morning when a devastating tornado bounced through Ruston. His older brother was picked by Baltimore later in the night Friday than expected, then Saturday, Jazz’s name wasn’t called in the draft, although his phone and his agents roared to life in the waning stages as NFL teams explored free agent possibilities. He came to terms with the Seahawks about a half-hour following the last pick.

“I learned that I would be doubted no matter what,” he said. “It makes you want to go harder, compete harder against the top talent, to show you belong.”

His college coach has no doubt that he does, and particularly with how his road to the NFL took an unexpected turn Saturday. Ferguson knows how to defy odds, said Laird.

“What a great day for Jazz Ferguson, his family, and Northwestern State University as he has the opportunity to take his talents to the NFL,” Laird said. “His path to get there, overcoming adversity and personal setbacks, will drive him to be successful.

“The Seattle Seahawks are not only getting a great football player, but they are also getting a young man that will be great in the locker room and the community,” he said. “All of us associated with NSU football are very proud for him.”

Plantation Photographs Exhibit Opens at Sports Hall Of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum

By Kevin Shannahan

Dr. Richard Anthony Lewis, author of Robert W. Tebbs, Photographer to Architects: Louisiana Plantations in 1926, spoke to a full house at the opening reception for an exhibit of Robert Tebbs’ plantation photographs held at the Louisiana Sports Hall Of Fame & Northwest Louisiana History Museum Friday, April 26.

Robert Tebbs was born in England in 1875 and came to America with his family in 1888. He served in the Spanish American War and started a successful career as a sports journalist and photographer before trying his hand at architectural photography, becoming one of the foremost architectural photographers of his era. In 1926, he photographed 97 plantation homes throughout Louisiana, quite a change from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, one of his first commissions in 1913. Tebbs, with New Orleans architect Richard Koch acting as a guide, set out on his journey across our state. Many of the plantation homes were in precarious condition even then, and a number of them are no longer standing. Tebbs also photographed more than the larger, more well known plantation homes. His photographs are often the only record of what the smaller homes looked like. His interior shots of the often abandoned homes offer us a tantalizing glimpse into what they must have looked like in earlier times. Tebbs’ widow sold the entire set of photographs to the Louisiana State Museum in 1956. This is the first time they have been widely available for public view.

Dr. Richard Anthony Lewis, the evening’s presenter and author of the book on Robert Tebbs’ plantation photography, is the curator of visual arts at the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through Nov. 2. Come out and see an interesting aspect of our past, much of which only exists in those photographs.

Notice of Death – April 28, 2019


Shannon Dell Lott
September 30, 1961 – April 25, 2019
Arrangements TBA through Blanchard St. Denis Funeral Home

James Richard Whitten
February 18, 1942 – April 26, 2019
Service: Monday, April 29 at 11 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home
Interment: Adams Cemetery near Olla

Mack Henry “Frog” Jackson, Jr.
April 28, 2019
Arrangements TBA

Barbara Lewis
April 25, 2019
Arrangements TBA

Louvenia Lewis
April 24, 2019
Arrangements TBA


Debra Willo McCoy
April 12, 1956 – April 26, 2019
Visitation: Monday, April 29 from 12-2 pm at Southern Funeral Home
Service: Monday, April 29 at 2 pm at Southern Funeral Home
Interment: Ebenezer Cemetery in Weston

The Americal Division Holds Its Annual Reunion in Natchitoches

By Kevin Shannahan

Kevin’s Gallery

Over 60 Army veterans of the 1BN/52nd Infantry of the Americal Division’s 198th Light Infantry Brigade and their families gathered from all over the United States to Natchitoches for their 22nd annual reunion held at the Natchitoches American Legion and VFW post Thursday, April 25th. The Americal Division, formed in the Pacific theater in 1942, fought in Vietnam from 1967 to 1971.

This year’s reunion will mark the unit’s first time in Natchitoches. Americal division and Vietnam veteran John Masson and his wife, Donna, both long time advocates for veterans, organized the event. Those attending hail from every corner of our nation. The record this year for farthest to travel goes to veteran William Lee of Wasilla, Alaska who served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971. The Americal division is also something of a family affair for Mr. Lee. His father, Howard Lee, was an original member of the unit and landed on Guadalcanal on Oct 12, 1942 with Co I of the 164th Regiment of the Americal division. Twenty-eight years later, his son was fighting in Vietnam in the same division.

The reunion kicked off Thursday evening with a welcome from Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey and other area dignitaries and will continue through Sunday. The veterans and their families will get to experience our area’s unique history and culture during their visit. They will tour Melrose Plantation and have a crawfish boil-from crawfish they gathered themselves at local crawfish ponds. The visitors will also have an opportunity to take photos along the newly renovated Natchitoches riverbank and Beau Jardin gardens. There will also be a memorial service at the Natchitoches Veterans’ Memorial Park to commemorate those Americal soldiers killed in battle or who died since the war,

The Natchitoches Parish Journal welcomes the men of the Americal Division and their families to our community. We hope you and your families enjoy your stay here.

Reception honors memory of the late Lisa Borders, displays student artwork in Watson Library

A reception was held on April 24 at the Watson Library to honor the memory of the late Lisa Borders, who passed away in November after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Her husband, James Borders, is a professor of Art at Northwestern State University. He wanted to create a memorial wall dedicated to Lisa.

$300 sponsorships are being gathered for original pieces of artwork, created by one of James’ students from the Creative and Performing Arts Department, which are placed on permanent display on the new special memorial wall in the Watson Library honoring the memory of Lisa Borders.

Art student Maxey McSwain received the first Lisa Chesser Borders scholarship. The pieces purchased at the event totaled around $10,000.

A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the student-artist as a commission-scholarship, and the remaining funds will go to the late Chesser Borders Memorial Scholarship fund at NSU.  For more information on this fund call 318-471-8407.

Natchitoches Parish resident finds state record length Coral snake

After recently rescuing an abandoned baby bunny, Doris Whatley was picking clover on April 25 and saw Tux, her three legged rescue pup, shaking a snake in his mouth. She came back inside and got her husband in case it turned out to be a coral snake and not a king snake.

“I looked up the poem, ‘red touches black friend of Jack, red touches yellow kills a fellow’ before having Dan finish killing it with a shovel,” she said.

When she posted the initial picture on Facebook, several friends commented that it was the biggest coral snake they’d ever seen and asked how long it was? So on April 26 Doris went outside and stretched it out on a picnic table bench and measured it. It turned out to be 34 inches long.The previous longest in Louisiana was 32.4 inches.

So she researched the species online and discovered that they’re usually found in the Mississippi River Valley, and they generally don’t get much over two feet long.

In her research, Doris found a page about snakes, with pictures, on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website. At the bottom of the page it gave the email address of Herpetologist Jeff Boundy who had posted the information in pictures. He’s also written a book titled: Snakes of Louisiana.

Doris emailed Jeff the pictures and he replied, “That exceeds the largest coral snake from Louisiana, based on my study of about 240 specimens, the previous largest being 32.4 inches. The same species, Texas Coral Snake, approaches four feet long in open country to the west.”

He asked if Doris would save the specimen for him, so she put the snake in a jar and covered it with rubbing alcohol. An agent who passes by Natchitoches on a regular basis will deliver it to Jeff in Baton Rouge.

Seven seniors present Distinction Projects during Blue and Gold Week

Distiction Project students complete a rigorous program of independent study under the guidance of faculty mentors.
The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts’s (LSMSA) Blue and Gold Week featured various events centered on student achievement. In addition to activities hosted by the School Activities Board, this year’s event featured the spring musical “The Apple Tree,” the Junior Ring Ceremony and Capstone and Distinction projects presented by some of the school’s seniors.

Students, who pursue graduation with Distinction, complete a rigorous program of independent study under the guidance of faculty mentors, which included self-motivated reading, research and creative exploration. All seniors who underwent the program were required to provide two public presentations of their work in front of attending faculty, students and guests.

Students completing Distinction Projects this year were Colt Crain of Zachary, Jojo Deep of Natchitoches, Juliet Flanagan of Pearl River, Madison Latiolais of Breaux Bridge, Lily Orgeron of Lockport, Collin Serigne of Cut Off and Casey Tonnies of Bossier City.

Colt Crain presented “Arabidopsis thaliana vs. Schrenkiella parvula: Determining Salt Tolerance Using Comparative Genomics and Analytics” and “Measuring the Energy Content of Different Food Wastes for Potential Use in Industry.” His first presentation offered a solution to producing new farmland in otherwise un-farmable territory through research of related plant-types. His second project offered a solution on how to convert food wastes into potential energy sources. Crain is one of the first seniors to attempt a Distinction Project on two separate topics. His mentors were Associate Lecturer of Chemistry Dr. Michele Stover and Lecturer of Biology Dr. Jason Anderson.

Jojo Deep, under the mentorship of Associate Lecturer of MathematicsRandy Key and Associate Lecturer of English Dr. Pamela Francis, presented both a Distinction Project as well as a Capstone Project during Blue and Gold Week. In his Distinction Project, “Finding the Singular Locus,” Deep analyzed single points on a graph in a given variety, the “singular locus,” and developed an algorithm to calculate these points. His Capstone Project, “The Illusion of Disconnectedness: A Post-Colonial Literary Analysis of Avatar: The Last Airbender,” explored the balance between different cultures and imperialist rule in the popular animation series and how the themes within the show reflected modern society.

Juliet Flanagan’s Distinction Project “Optimizing Western Blots to Assess Genetic Variation in Strains of the Epstein-Barr Isolated from Burkett Lymphomas” observed the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), one of the major culprits of Burkitt Lymphoma, and incorporated the use of Western blots testing in order to compare various EBV strains. Her independent research was done under the tutelage of Anderson.

Madison Latiolais presented her project, titled “Passing through the Waters: The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 in Acadiana.” In it, she discussed the major flood which caused 100,000 residents to flee their homes and further explored the economic and social impact the natural disaster has in present times. Her mentor was Associate Lecturer of History Dr. Kyle Stephens.

Lily Orgeron’s presentation, “Germany’s Nazified Children: Studying the Relationship Between Empathy and Indoctrination in Germany’s Youth Through Literature,” provided a look at the Holocaust through the lens of impressionable German youth, as displayed in the novels “Max” by Sarah Cohen-Scali and “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Her Disctinction Project mentor was Associate Lecturer of English Dr. Jocelyn Donlon,

Collin Serigne’s project “Cut-Off: A Dialogue of People, Industry, and the Environment” included a presentation, a showing of his short documentary titled “Shrimp Land, USA” and a gallery showing featuring an installation exhibit all centered around his hometown of Cut Off, Louisiana. His mentor was Lecturer of Visual Arts Chris King, and the gallery was up for view in LSMSA’s Center for Performance and Technology art gallery.

Casey Tonnies, in her presentation titled “Synthesis and coordination chemistry of N, N’-disubstituted malonamide derivatives as a multi-step reaction for undergraduate labs,” developed new, innovative sequences for undergraduate students to use for their own lab experiments. She accomplished her independent research under the supervision of Associate Lecturer of Chemistry Dr. Stephen Costin.

Louisiana’s best and brightest students are able to study a unique curriculum and are granted opportunities to further explore topics that interest them through independent study and research opportunities, all under the direction of esteemed faculty members at the highest level in their field. To join the incoming class of Eagles for the 2019-2020 school year, register now at