Dark among last Civil War vets
Began service at age 16 as courier, drummer boy

By Murphy J. Barr
Journal Historian

Major William Edward Dark was the oldest son of L.J.L. and Frances Gresham Dark, born in Meriwether County, Georgia in 1848. When the War Between the States (Civil War) came about, he served as a courier and drummer boy at age 16 for Capt. Nathaniel Estes of a Confederate Company from Cedartown, Georgia. He was asked once when he was staying with his son, Will Dark, who was his general in the Civil War. He said proudly, General Joseph Johnson, whose statue stands in the Civil War Memorial Park at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

William Edward Dark was very proud to be a soldier of his country. He never missed a reunion of the United Confederate Veterans, and when he died in 1941 at age 93, he was the last Confederate Veteran of Winn Parish. He was known as the famous Dancing Confederate soldier, and was invited by President Woodrow Wilson to do his dance specialty while attending a reunion in Washington, DC. When the band struck up "Yankee Doodle," he always started his famous jig.

Once in his old age, only a few years before his death, his grandson drove him to Dodson and parked in front of the store building. The men helped Mr. Billy onto the truck bed and he danced his jig for them. He then got into the car with his grandson and drove away. The men applauded him with great respect.

Mr. Billy Dark was in North Carolina when released from the Confederate Army. In 1868 his father moved his family to North Louisiana to teach at the Hico school. Hico is located five miles northwest of Dubach, which at that time was in Claiborne parish before Lincoln Parish was established following the Civil War. Mr. Billy's father established a farm in the Hico area, and it was known as the Dark Farm for a number of years. The farm was in operation and owned by the Own family for a long number of years until it was sold only a few years ago. Mr. Billy Settled in Dubach and probably the next year he married Miss Louisiana Fuller.

The Fuller family were pioneers who settled in the early years. Descendants continue to live in the Dubach area today. Mr. Billy and Louisiana Fuller Dark were the parents of two children, William Lee Dark, born in 1870, and Lela Laurance Louisiana Dark, born in 1872. But sorrow struck when death took the mother in 1874 from tuberculosis. Will and Leva lived with the grandfather, L.J.L. Dark, and came to Winn Parish with them when they came. Billy Dark married again to Florence Ester Roach and began his family again. Nine children were born to this union, of whom five lived to adulthood. Four of them migrated to Winn Parish and married and raised families and added to the history of Winn Parish. These children were Emma (1878-1941), who married George T. Hudson, and lived in Jena; Louella Dark, born 1888, married to George W. Branch, and reared a large family on the farm adjoining Will Dark's land at Gaar's Mill; Howard Dark married Lela Eldridge and settled on a farm in Jackson Parish; Pink Troop Dark (1887-1968) married Kara Crain of Walker in Jackson parish, and settled on a farm in Winn Parish until their children were grown, when they moved to Shreveport.

After Esther Roach died, Major Dark married a third time to Miss Ada Pipes, and to this union were born seven children. Cora, married to a Mr. Carter; Ora, married to Mr. Higginbotham; Joe Dark; Anna, married to Mr. Ziegler; James Franklin Dark; Gordie, married Mr. Knox, and later Mr. Powell; her twin, Maude, married Mr. Stewart.

After the turn of the 20th century, Major Dark moved his family to a farm north of Jaramillo, and lived there the rest of his days. He had children the age of Will and Melissa who would go to Grandpa Dark's place to spend the night and go coon hunting and fishing in Herrington Creek with Grandpa. The land he owned was back in the tick forest. Once when his brother James was visiting, he said to Billy, "Sell this place and move to town where your folks can see something." He answered "By God, they see too much now."

On his 81st birthday, he played a game of hop-scotch in the yard with some of his small grandchildren.

In 1938 when the veterans of the Confederate and Union Armies met in Philadelphia, PA, he went and for the first time his son, Will, went to care for him. He was past 90 years of age, but did not want help to cross the street.

In his younger days he drove his family to church in a mule-drawn wagon on meeting days at Harmony Grove. Later he owned several cars, but never learned to drive. He suffered a stroke in December, 1940, and was laid to rest at Harmony Grove cemetery in January, 1941.