Jennie Perry-Harper, (born in 1862; died in 1930), and her youngest son, Whick Harper, (born in 1910; died in 1981), purchased a 40-acre tract of land in Mt. Lebanon in 1927 for $400.00.  The Harper family farmed the land for many years prior to acquiring the 40-acre tract.  The family history of living on the land predates the 1900’s.  There is a family burial site on the property; therefore, the Harper family considers this land hallowed ground.  Mama Jennie’s relatives were some of the first people to live in this part of Mt. Lebanon before the Civil War. 

When Whick Harper (Daddy Whick) married Vida Marie Simpson (Mama Dear) in 1936, he subsequently built a home on this land. As a term of endearment, the Harper family has always referred to the home and land as the “Old Place”.  The Jennie Harper Estate is still owned by the Harper descendants.  The Harper and Simpson family history can be traced back to Mt. Lebanon prior to the Emancipation of slaves by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

 


The History of Mt. Lebanon, Louisiana

     In January 1836, seven families arrived in North Louisiana; they were joined by five other families in March of 1836.  This formed the first permanent settlement in Bienville Parish.  These early settlers were of Anglo-Saxon origin; slave-owning aristocrats from South Carolina.  The village of Mt. Lebanon was named for the biblical Mount of Lebanon.  The community prospered and during the 1840’s other people were attracted to Mt. Lebanon and its nice homes and expanding trading center.  In the early years, Mt. Lebanon numbered about fifty families (not including the slaves), most of which were from South Carolina.  In 1851 a New Orleans newspaper predicted that Mt. Lebanon would become one of the most important towns in north Louisiana. 
 
     During 1836-1837 the citizens of Mt. Lebanon cleared land, built homes, opened a post office and several stores, and organized a Baptist church and school.  Mount Lebanon University was founded in 1852, the first university in north Louisiana.  During the Civil War, the college was closed and served as a Confederate hospital.  It was a place where they conducted pharmaceutical research and developed medicinal compounds to treat the wounded during the American Civil War.
    
     The college reopened after the war, and was eventually moved to Pineville, Louisiana in 1906 and became Louisiana College, which is the successor to Mount Lebanon University.  Louisiana College is affiliated with the Louisiana Baptist Convention, which was started in 1848 in Mt. Lebanon.  Louisiana College currently serves approximately 1,300 college students.    
 
     Mt. Lebanon was significant in the areas of religion and education.  It was a major center of Baptist activity in North Louisiana from the 1840's through the 1860's.  It was under the leadership of Reverend George W. Baines in the 1840's.  George W. Baines was maternal great-grandfather of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.  The church building is a historical landmark and still in use today.  The sanctuary is separated down the middle; men would sit on one side of the divide; women on the other.  There is a balcony where the slaves were allowed to sit and attend worship service. 
 
     Mt. Lebanon Elementary School for African American children was across the highway from Springfield Baptist Church for grades 1 thru 7.  A member of Springfield Baptist, Professor John "Fess" Rochelle, was principal at one time.  His wife, Evelyn Rochelle and Mrs. Beatrice Hart Henderson were teachers at the school; they were educators at Coleman High School in Gibsland, and taught most of the Harper siblings. 

     After the railroad was built through Gibsland; three miles north, Mt. Lebanon began to decline in population and economic opportunity.
 
Note:  According to the National Register of Historic Places, there are twelve (12) improved structures in Bienville Parish listed on the Register as Historic Places.  Mt. Lebanon has eight (8), Gibsland has one (1), Arcadia has two (2) and Ringgold has one (1).

 

 
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