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Since 2007 We Have Been Preserving Webster Parish History One Piece At A Time At The 116 Pearl Street Museum

What began as a dream in the 70s has developed into one of the best small museum in the area.

Click on museum picture to see our blog.

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to watch our many "Night At The Museum Speakers"

How We Have Progressed Through The Years

It Has Taken Many Years To Get Where We Are Today

Pearl Street Looking South Museum Is Now Located On The Left Side

The Old Drury Murrell Home Was Moved And Donated To The Association In The 70s Unfortunately Was Destroyed By Fire Before It Was Used

Crich​ton Hardware Building Was Used For A Time

In 2008 We Were Almost Read To Open The Doors

The Annex Building Was Purchased To Double Our Size One Day

In 2008 We Opened The Doors!  We Still Have Much To Do....A Museum Is Never Complete History Is Always Being Made!

Now We Have So Much To Be Proud Of!

And Now We Have So Much To See!

Schelley Francis & Thad Andress, Two People With Lots Of Determination

Louise Baird Snook Honoring Thad Andress For His Dedication To The Museum.  Louise Snook Served As Board President until 2022.

Our Journey To Get To Where We Are Today

Written By John Agan and Published In The Minden Press Herald July 16th, 2019

This week’s column will be somewhat different, still historical, but a little bit personal. I will begin with a copied article from Minden’s past that was brought to my attention by Dorcheat Museum Director Schelley Brown Francis. The words come From the Minden Press of Monday, November 10, 1958. sixty-one years ago. An editorial written by Major DePingre regarding the need for Minden to create a museum. Reading the editorial, I can tell Major had been discussing the issue with Mrs. Paul Campbell, as some of her major interests are clearly articulated. Let’s examine Major’s work and move forward in light of where we stand today.

“A Museum For Minden"

“Cheneyville is the most recent small town of Louisiana to announce plans for a museum. Recognizing the importance of preserving its historical heritage for future generations, and of saving something of the beauty and serenity of a period where gracious living demanded hand-carved furniture and galleried homes, rather than glass houses and fast transportation to someplace else, the Cheneyville Community Development Association intends to convert the old Crescent Plantation into a museum and a park. The antebellum plantation house, which has remained in possession of the Marshall family since its construction, still contains original furnishings. Civil War skirmishes were fought nearby.

“Probably not the least of the Cheneyville Development Association’s aims is to provide a tourist attraction in a section not hitherto publicized as an historical area. Tourist attractions draw tourism, and tourists spend money, this has been proven repeatedly, and the trend in recent years has been for the tourist to travel to the places of his beginnings – to link himself with his own and his country’s past.

“Why can’t Minden have a museum? Homer has a museum. So has Mansfield. Dozens of other towns of the state have museums or reconstructed historical buildings. Minden has a place of historical importance – Germantown, but it is going to ruin. In the Minden City Hall is the first piano brought to North Louisiana. It is there because there was no place else to put it when the Library, where it was formerly housed, needed the space. One day it will be decided that the piano is in the way in the city hall and the instrument will be shunted to the basement and forgotten – or destroyed.

“Also, there should be a Minden bell that tolled for classes at North Louisiana’s oldest college, the Minden Female College, and served for generations of high school and grammar school children thereafter. The bell was saved from the scrap heap by L. L. Greer, who purchased it, and presently is on loan to the bell collection of Herbert Ford in Homer.

“A made-to-order building that might have housed the piano and other mementos of Minden’s past was the 100-year-old Holmes house which was razed some months ago to make way for a post office. One by one, Minden’s antebellum and early post-bellum houses have disappeared in the name of progress. Someday future citizens may wish for a Rockefeller to build here another Williamsburg, or a Dupont to buy back the furniture and pictures and mantle pieces to provide a museum, but it would be more feasible to save what is here now.”

Major’s desire for a local museum was shared by others concerned about preserving Minden’s history. Some of Major’s goals were achieved, the bell was saved to become the Victory Bell at Minden High School, the piano, ended up with the Ford Museum in Homer. Along with Major, I think of the “giants” of local historic preservation, most of whom I had the pleasure of knowing in my youth. Thomas Lorraine Campbell (and later her son Richard), Gay Stewart Wren (and her husband Marcus), Roy Miller Inabnett, Beth Drew White, George Turner and others who worked toward a museum for Minden. They were instrumental in creating the Dorcheat Historical Association and Museum in the mid-1970s and taking tentative steps on several occasions toward opening a museum. There was an ill-fated attempt to repurpose the old Drury Murrell Home (Green-Kleinneger Funeral Home) as a Museum, aided by the Minden Jaycees and Charlie Odom, ended by a tragic fire. Then a more substantial effort was launched, using the old Crichton Hardware building as the home for the museum. While this attempt was more successful, we did open for several years, the museum struggled, hanging on by a thread, without day-to-day management until we lost the lease. In the early 2000s, things began to change. Thad Andress assumed the leadership of the association and began pushing for contributors and funds to firmly establish a museum. Thad hired Schelley Brown (now Francis) to be the hands-on director and the magic began. Through their leadership a new building was obtained, ironically the former home of Major DePingre’s office supply store. The association was able to purchase the building, ending the threat of eviction. Larry Milford provided his genius for design on the museum exhibits and we now have the best small-town museum in the state and probably the region. If you have not visited the museum, you will be amazed to see what is housed behind those walls. Visitors are stunned at the quality of the displays and the story they tell. Beyond the physical exhibits. Schelley instituted a program “Night at the Museum” which features speakers who cover all areas of our heritage. Those events have developed a devoted following and pack crowds into the museum. The museum also offers its meeting room for local organizations to gather together.

Thus, I have had the chance to see the dream partially realized. Sadly, most of those local giants of historic preservation didn’t live long enough to see the goal fulfilled. I know they would be so pleased to see how their dreams have been realized. As I face the dwindling days of my own time here, I looked around and wondered what I would like to see happen. What would be my future dream for our museum? There is one obvious opportunity that I want to speak about for a bit. A few years back the museum was able to purchase the neighboring building on Pearl Street. For now, it lies unused, but not unconsidered. Schelley has given me a long, long list of exciting exhibits and themes that she wants to include in that new section of the museum. She and I and others are working on what will be included in that space as we speak. We have a display focused on local education but have so much material we need to expand the exhibit on that topic. We have a sports case, but it barely scratches the surface of all the athletic history present in our schools and the legacy of Larry Hunter and the Minden Red Birds. Our current displays only scratch the surface of the rich African-American history that has largely gone undocumented, the new building would allow space to expand that topic. Each of our smaller communities in Webster Parish has its own unique history that needs to be told and will in the additional building. We are ready to move on those exciting improvements and expansions. All that remains is to raise the money to develop the new section of the museum. Money is always a tough issue, the museum is so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from the community, and cognizant of the need to be a good steward of our contributions, but to fulfill our mission, we need a bit more. Annually, the Dorcheat Museum has its big fundraising event, a silent auction, in September. If you love Minden, Webster Parish and our history, please consider what you can do to allow our museum to grow and keep alive the stories of our past. Visit the museum and try to attend the events. You will get the chance to see the wonderful work that has been done, mingle with the wonderful groups of folks who are patrons of the association and perhaps catch a glimpse of the dreams we have for our museum. While we need your money, we treasure your involvement and support. Please consider helping preserve our local history.

The History Makers

Click On Picture To Read Obituary

Dr. Luther Longino


Was The Pioneer In The Preservation Of Our Area Of Louisiana

Working On Books & Doing Early Research

Click on Picture to Read Obituary

Thomas Lorriane Campbell


Proclaimed Webster Parish Historian 1978 Woman Of The Year

Numerous Articles & Hours Of Research

Click On Picture To Read Obituary

Juanita Agan


Known For Her Amazing Memory

& Her Story-writing Of Living In Minden 

1995 Woman Of The Year

Column In Local Newspaper

Click On Picture To Read Obituary

John Agan 1958-2020

Was Instrumental In The Preservation Of Webster Parish History

Writing Countless Articles & Countless Hours Of Research

In a quote from Agan’s Facebook page, he stated, “I just want to do what I can to help others and let the love of Jesus show through me. I want people to realize that Christ is all about love and we should all try to make the world a better place for everyone.”

Most readers are probably aware of who Agan was, but to the uninitiated, Agan has served Minden throughout the years in a variety of in different ways, whether that was by sitting on local boards, through his church family at First Baptist, or by helping people find their family roots in the Webster Parish Library’s genealogy department.

But what Agan achieved most critical acclaim for locally was his robust and expansive knowledge about the area and its history. He has penned a total of eight books on our local history, on top of contributing weekly columns titled “Echoes of Our Past” to the Minden Press-Herald since the year 2000, which explored various aspects about Webster Parish and its surprisingly expansive history.

Years ago, Agan was made Parish Historian by the Webster Parish Police Jury.

On top of that, he has also contributed his historical knowledge to the benefit of our local museums. Schelley Francis, Director of the Dorcheat Historical Museum, stated that she believes the Dorcheat Museum would not have been what it is today without Agan’s help.

“I will venture to say that the Dorcheat Museum would have never taken off like it has without the knowledge of this man. He has helped us to get the stories told. I would not have the knowledge of our history and I dare say neither would most of you without him,” said Francis.

“He has helped with almost every aspect of the Dorcheat museum from the very beginning. He also has been equally involved with the Germantown [Colony] Museum. He has answered my countless questions, while I compiled local history books and conducted tours. He knows our local history as if he was alive during that era of time. After the passing of Mrs. Thomas Campbell, our last official historian, he and his late mother were the force that has kept Minden’s history alive for us over the last 20-plus years.”

Click On The Picture Above For More About Thad's Contributions To Minden, LA 

Click On Picture To Read Obituary

Thad Andress


Was Instrumental In The Preservation Of Webster Parish History

Countless Hours Serving As President Of The

Dorcheat Historical Association Museum Board

Written by John Agan

Schelley Francis stated the following;

“The passing of another pillar of our community is a huge loss for the Dorcheat Museum. I can tell you that there never would have been the museum as it is today without Thad’s push and pull. In 2007 a meeting was held at the Andress home with the decision being made that I had one year to get it off the ground. Eleven years later Thad’s dream is a working, functioning reality. Thad was committed to having the best small museum possible done during his lifetime.

He served for many years as the President of the Dorcheat Museum and only stepped down when his health issues slowed him down. We worked on countless projects, books, cards, exhibits, and brainstorming sessions together…. Both of us being a little hardheaded, we sometimes butted heads…. but I felt we always respected each other and the fact we were both strongly convicted to our goals of a successful museum. I believe the museum was one of Thad’s most loved accomplishments. He loved his family and it was important to him to keep his family history alive as well as a place his grandchildren could come visit.”

“We served on the Minden Cemetery board together as well. Thad felt that as I did that the cemetery was an important part of our history. We have lost so many of this generation and it is a loss we will feel from now on. Thad’s passing will leave a great void in so many lives and in Minden.” .....Schelley Brown Francis

​Help ​Us Preserve Webster Parish History

The Dorcheat Museum is a 501c3 organization so every dollar you give is tax deductible. Our mission to save our history depends on you! We now offer donations through Paypal or you can always mail your tax deductible donations to us.

Dorcheat Museum

P.O. Box 1094

Minden, LA 71058

people who have worked hard behind the scenes


Current Board Members

Mike Harper as President, Marcel Vandenoord as Vice-President, Janet LaBruyere as Treasurer,

Lola Morgan Kidd as Recording Secretary, Schelley Brown Francis as Museum Director, 

Jessica Stewart Gorman as Museum Assistant Director and Archivist,

Charlotte Martin, Richard Campbell, Becky Marvin, Kay Elzen, Jo McCullough, Charlotte Jones, Mary Ann Hamilton, Lucy Adkins, Rachel Miller, Ki Williams, Sandy Wilkie, Bob Wilkie, Gary Haynes, Donna Sutton,

Ronald Swafford, Scott McCullough, Melanie McCullough, Melissa Marvin Brown

Emeritus Board Members

Louise Baird Snook past President 2008 - 2022

Ann Harlan Past Recording Secretary 2007 - 2003

Cora Lou Robinson 2008 - 2022

Dianne McGuire 2015 - 2019

Carleton Prothro 2008 - 2017

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