Fort Polk helps heritage families hold on to history

Polk helps heritage families hold on to history
By DOC MOULTON, Public Affairs Office

Between 1940 and 1945, the U. S. War Department took possession of privately owned lands to develop Camp Polk. Some families sold their land to the War Department. However, some property was condemned and land acquired through eminent domain, a power given to states to seize a citizen’s private property without their consent for government or public use.

More than 300 families were uprooted from their homesteads and displaced throughout the nation. Livestock and crops were lost and families had difficulty adjusting. Deceased loved ones were left behind in the community cemeteries that still dot Fort Polk’s range today. Only a few remnants of homesteads and communities bear witness to the families that sacrificed their way of life for the defense of the nation.

In 2007, the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk recognized the potential risk of losing a phase of American history. Several descendants of area families were asked what they would like to do to preserve their history and heritage. The response was to develop a Heritage Family Collection of Camp Polk’s Displaced Families covering 1820 to the early 1940s. It was decided the collection would be housed in the Fort Polk Archaeological Curation Facility and a second copy in the Northwestern State University archives.

The collection will be preserved and made available to the public. Future plans are to make the material Internet accessible. The collection will consist of photographs and documents contributed by the heritage family descendants.

Oral interviews taken by the Louisiana Region Two Folklife Center at NSU and research material, such as copies of the parish property transfers, known legally as conveyance records, will be included in the collection.

The integrity of the collection is dependent upon input from family descendants. The collection should have a file of historical information on each displaced family, but specific families must submit the information to the collection.

The “Heritage Day” observance will be held Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. in the Main Post Chapel on Entrance Road. If you have information to contribute or questions about this collection, call the Fort Polk archaeological curator at 531-0916 or e-mail


Heritage Day to be held at Fort Polk

By KELLY MOORE/Staff Writer
Published: Monday, October 29, 2007 8:49 AM CDT – photo credit

FORT POLK – Fort Polk will be hosting Heritage Day Saturday, Nov. 3 to honor families affected by the expansion of then Camp Polk.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be followed by the Opening Ceremony at 9 a.m. at the Main Post Chapel. Throughout the day exhibits will be on display chronicling the families that lived on the range prior to Camp Polk.

A memorial will be dedicated at 11:15 a.m. at Warrior Park followed by cemetery tours.

In the late 1930s and 1940s Vernon Parish, like much of the nation, was exiting the Great Depression and people were on the move across the nations trying to find homes, jobs and families.

Soon the nation was being called on to fight in World War II and still battered from World War I there were still required to prepare for their newest endeavor.

Soon the powers that be decided that Louisiana would be an ideal area for training and that much of Central Louisiana would be turned into Camp Polk and soldiers would train here to fight the powers of Europe and Japan.

Unfortunately there were families living on these lands and they were move, some by force from the lands that they had worked and lived for generations.

The goal of Heritage Day is to pay honor to these families and to show them that the sacrifices that they and their families made were not in vain and that the sacrifices that they made were instrumental in not only the organization of what would be Fort Polk, but that the thousands of soldiers that trained at Camp Polk were directly responsible for maintaining the freedoms that are felt daily.

Col. David Sage, Garrison Commander said, “This day is to honor the people who gave up their land to establish Fort Polk and to gain history about the area prior to Fort Polk.”

Sage said that one of the goals is to show the families is that the Army has an obligation to maintain the old homesteads and cemeteries and that they are keeping their obligations.

Sage said that there are 17 families that are going to participate in the days events and that tables are going to be set up to collect information, artifacts and oral histories.

The oral histories are going to be collected by the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program at Northwestern State University.

The will be conducting oral interviews with people who lived on lands now encompassed by Fort Polk.

The interviews will be completed by Donna Green and 20 interviews have already been completed.

Greer has traveled to various locations to interview people who remember life on the range.

The collection of interviews will be housed with the Fort Polk Heritage Family Collection. One copy of the collection will be curated in the Fort Polk Curation Facility and the other will be held at NSU.

The collection will be made available to the general public and preserved for future generations.

If you wish to give an oral interview about living on the range and have not been contacted by Fort Polk or the Louisiana Regional Folklife Center please contact Dr. Dayna Lee or Ms. Greer at 318-357-4328.

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About Louisiana Genealogy Admin

I manage several RootsWeb mailing lists and message boards, support Louisiana Cemetery Preservation, am a former Louisiana and Mississippi librarian, have been researching genealogy of my family since 1988, and write and promote several blogs supporting either Louisiana genealogy or Louisiana cemeteries.
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