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John Ardis Cawthon

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John Ardis Cawthon
John Ardis Cawthon (Louisiana Tech).jpg
John Ardis Cawthon as secondary education department chairman at Louisiana Tech University (1966)
Born(1907-03-16)March 16, 1907
Bossier Parish
Louisiana, USA
💀DiedOctober 5, 1984(1984-10-05) (aged 77)
Ruston, Lincoln Parish
October 5, 1984(1984-10-05) (aged 77)
Resting placeMt. Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Mission Valley, Texas
🏡 ResidenceRuston, Louisiana
🎓 Alma materLouisiana Tech University

Louisiana State University

University of Texas at Austin
💼 Occupation
👩 Spouse(s)Eleanora Albrecht Cawthon (1948-1984, his death)
👶 ChildrenElisabeth Albrecht Cawthon Saunders
Two grandchildren

John Ardis Cawthon (March 16, 1907 – October 2, 1984)[1][2][3] was an educator and regional historian from Ruston in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. Cawthon was a frequent contributor to North Louisiana History, which named its John Ardis Cawthon Memorial Printing Fund in his honor.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Cawthon was born in south Bossier Parish[5][6] to James Alexander Cawthon (1878–1961),[7] a native of the McDade community, and the former Maggie Mae Dance (1878–1968), originally from nearby Webster Parish. He had one brother and two sisters.[8][9][10] He was first home-schooled by his mother, then from the fifth through the eighth grades, he attended the one-room school in the Koran community of south Bossier Parish. The family then relocated to Doyline in south Webster Parish, where Cawthon completed high school.[5][11] Cawthon studied English and history and received his Bachelor of Arts in secondary education from Louisiana Tech[6][7] in 1934 and his Master of Arts from Louisiana State University[6][7] at Baton Rouge in 1938.[12][13]


Cawthon taught in Webster Parish high schools during the 1930s at Cotton Valley (1934–1935)) and Sarepta[14] (1935–1939).[15] He was affiliated with Louisiana Tech University from 1939–1940, 1948, and from January 12, 1954, until retirement on May 31, 1972.[15] In the 1939-1940 year, he taught at the A. E. Phillips Laboratory School on the Louisiana Tech campus, recruited for that position by Professor Phillips himself.[11] From 1940-1942, Cawthon was assistant professor of education at Northwestern State University[16][7] (then known as Louisiana Normal) until he was conscripted at the age of thirty-five into the United States Army during World War II,[17] and attained the rank of lieutenant.[16]. He served in Europe in the Education-Orientation Division of the armed forces,[16][11] including being officer in charge of the Officers' Orientation in London,[16] registrar of the army school in Paris, and an instructor at the army university in Biarritz.[16]

After the war, Cawthon returned briefly to Northwestern and then left to study for his Ed.D. (since recognized by the National Science Foundation as equivalent to a Ph.D.) at the University of Texas at Austin.[15][6][7] His major professor, J. G. Umstattd, had worked with him during the war at the Biarritz American University in France.[11]

In 1948,[18] Cawthon and the former Elenora Albrecht, a native of Mission Valley in Victoria County, received their Doctor of Education degrees from UT at Austin, some twenty-four hours after they had wed at her Lutheran Church in Mission Valley, Victoria, Texas.[19] They spent the summer of that year at Louisiana Tech, and then accepted faculty appointments from 1948 to 1954 at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, Arkansas.[6][18] (Coincidentally, he had written about the ghost town of Russellville, Louisiana.) John Ardis Cawthon was an education professor at Arkansas Tech, and Elenora was the director of teacher education there. One of his first publications there was "The Curriculum: Secondary Schools" in The Encyclopedia of Educational Research.[20] For most of his career at Louisiana Tech, Cawthon was the secondary education department head.[5][12][21]

Historical publications[edit]

In 1944, Cawthon, while still in the Army, published in the since defunct Mississippi Valley Historical Review the American Civil War article "Letters of a North Louisiana Private to His Wife, 1862-1865."[22] This was republished in 1969 in Historic Claiborne, Vol. IV.[23]

In 1955, Cawthon wrote for the Arkansas Historical Quarterly the article entitled "George W. Dance", a biography of one of his own kinsmen, George Washington Dance, a native of Oglethorpe, Georgia, who spent his life primarily in Claiborne Parish just south of the Arkansas state line. Cawthon writes: "Referred to as poor whites from the hills, by the plantation owners on the big rivers, George Dance and his kind were not considered worthy of historical record. . . . The unpretentious George Washington Dance, however, wrote news articles for the Claiborne Parish weekly newspaper and compiled a history book. He expressed amazement at the progress of a wonderful nation, which he and his neighbors believed they had helped to produce."[24]

Elenora had also studied under Dr. Umstattd,[11] and subsequently assisted Cawthon in the preparation of his 1965 book The Inevitable Guest: Life and Letters of Jemima Darby, based on letters by friends and relatives in North and South Carolina to Miss Darby, John Cawthon's great-great-great aunt.[21][25][26][27][28][29][30]

Another Cawthon work of local history, since out-of-print, is Ghost Towns Of Old Claiborne,[31] which notes the lack of information available on the ghost town of Russellville, named the seat of Claiborne Parish in 1828. The parish government is now based in Homer. Cawthon's relative George W. Dance said on the moving of the courthouse: "When the courthouse moved, the glory departed. The village is now an old worn-out field."[31]

Cawthon was considered an authority on the graveyards of North Louisiana,[21] which were the subject of a series of articles he wrote after his retirement and published in North Louisiana History (formerly The Journal of the North Louisiana Historical Association) as "Among the Tombs in North Louisiana":[32]

  • "Among the Tombs Bienville Parish," Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer 1976: 140-149[33]
  • "Among the Tombs Bossier," Vol. 4, No. 2, Winter 1973: 58-63
  • "Among the Tombs Claiborne Parish," Vol. 5, No. 3, Spring 1974: 103-113
  • "Among the Tombs De Soto Parish," Vol. 10, No. 1, Winter 1979: 8-12
  • "Among the Tombs Jackson Parish," Vol. 6, No. 1, Fall 1974: 12-21
  • "Among the Tombs Lincoln Parish," Vol. 4, No. 3, Spring 1973: 90-94[32]
  • "Among the Tombs Morehouse Parish," Vol. 5, No. 1, Fall 1973: 10-13
  • "Among the Tombs Natchitoches," Vol. 8, No. 3, Spring 1977: 114-117
  • "Among the Tombs Ouachita Parish," Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter 1981: 42-49
  • "Among the Tombs Shreveport," Vol. 6, No. 4, Summer 1975: 165-173
  • "Among the Tombs Union Parish," Vol. 5, No. 2, Winter 1974: 68-72
  • "Among the Tombs Webster Parish," Vol. 4, No. 4, Summer 1973: 134-140
  • "Among the Tombs Winn Parish," Vol. 6, No. 2, Winter 1975: 74-80
  • "The Doyle Saga, 1843-1981," Vol. 12, No. 4, Fall 1981: 147-155
  • "Doyline School," Vol. 8, No. 5, Fall 1977: 185-186
  • "Fredrick Miller, First White Man Buried," Vol. 7, No.1, Fall 1975: 27-30
  • "Make a Joyful Noise," Vol. 9, No. 1, Winter 1978: 29-35
  • "Nine Forks, Frontier Crossroads," Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1980: 3-10


Cawthon's last work is entitled "E. H. Bolin, School Man of Webster Parish," Louisiana History in Vol. 15, No. 1, Winter 1984: 41-48. Bolin was a school board member from Doyline and the father of future State Representative and Judge James E. Bolin.[33]


Cawthon was honored by Louisiana Tech University with a 50 year alumnus diploma, three days before his death.[21][34] The John Ardis Cawthon Scholarship Fund in the Louisiana Tech University College of Education is named in his honor.[35] The journal North Louisiana History named its John Ardis Cawthon Memorial Printing Fund in his honor.[36]


  1. "Deaths and Funerals: Dr. J. A. Cawthon". Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. 4 October 1984. p. 16. Retrieved 15 March 2019. Thursday October 4, 1984. Funeral services for Dr. John Ardis Cawthon, 77, of Ruston, La., will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday .... Cawthon, a faculty member of the college of education and staff member of the division of student affairs at Louisiana Tech University, died Tuesday in a Ruston hospital following a brief illness.
  2. "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  3. The Louisiana Tech records reveal Cawthon's date of death as October 5, 1984, but North Louisiana History uses October 2 of that year.
  4. "North Louisiana Historical Association". Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Man, Wife, Sister - Three Tech Professors In 'Who's Who' Books". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. Times News Service. 15 August 1968. p. 8. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Student Teachers Association To Meet at College Saturday". Alexandria Daily Town Talk. Alexandria, Louisiana. 10 March 1955. p. 15. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Doyline Man Is Elected By Honorary Fraternity". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. 12 May 1947. p. 6. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  8. "James Dance Cawthon obituary". Shreveport Times. Retrieved February 24, 2011.
  9. "Maggie Lee Cawthon McIntyre". Minden Press-Herald, January 19, 2007. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
  10. "James Alexander Cawthon (father of John A. Cawthon)". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 "John Ardis Cawthon (1907-1984): A Short Sketch of an Outstanding North Louisianian," North Louisiana History, Vol. 15, No. 2,3 (Spring-Summer 1984), pp. 96-98
  12. 12.0 12.1 Louisiana Tech University yearbook, The Lagniappe (1967), p. 24
  13. Louisiana Tech records do not indicate when Cawthon received his first two degrees.
  14. "Principal Is Honored at Sarepta High". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. 9 May 1954. p. 5B. Retrieved 15 March 2019. Speaker was Dr. John Ardis Cawthon, professor of education, Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, Ruston, former member of the faculty at Sarepta, and a native of Bossier Parish.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Confirmed by the Human Resources Office at Louisiana Tech University
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 "Army-Navy Notes - On Inactive List". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. 27 December 1945. p. 9. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  17. Cawthon, John Ardis (Summer 1974). "A School Teacher Gets Drafted". North Louisiana History. 5 (4): 130–134.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Education Frat Elects Bowden". The Austin American. Austin, Texas. 16 May 1948. p. 15. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  19. "Dr. Eleanora Albrecht Weds Dr. John Cawthon at Victoria". The Austin American. Austin, Texas. 6 June 1948. p. 3B. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  20. Minden Herald, August 25, 1950, p. 1
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Hilburn, Wiley W., Jr. (21 October 1984). "A measure of goodness and grace". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. p. 9B. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  22. "Letters of a North Louisiana Private to His Wife, 1862-1865," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 30 (1943-1944), cited in Allan C. Richard, Jr., and Mary Margaret Higginbotham Richard, The Defense of Vicksburg: A Louisiana Chronicle. Google Books. Retrieved July 8, 2010. Search this book on
  23. "Confederates Letters Will Be Reprinted". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. 4 May 1969. p. 16A. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  24. "George W. Dance". 14: 252–276. JSTOR 40037990.
  25. D. E. (20 June 1965). "She Kept All of Her Letters". The Times. Shreveport, Louisiana. p. 15F. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  26. "Three In Review - Some Odds and Ends". Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. 13 June 1965. p. 11. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  27. "Book Notes". The Journal of American History. 52 (2): 443. September 1965. doi:10.2307/1908887. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  28. "Book Reviews: Other Recent Publications". The North Carolina Historical Review. 42 (4): 477. October 1965. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  29. The Alcalde (September 1965). Google Books (San Antonio, The Naylor Company, 1965). Retrieved July 8, 2010. Search this book on
  30. The Inevitable Guest is still offered by ARDIS Publications, coincidentally Cawthon's middle name.
  31. 31.0 31.1 "Susan T. Herring, Russellville: Ghost Town of Claiborne Parish". Archived from the original on July 7, 2010. Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Lincoln Parish Spotlighted in Spring Journal". The Monroe News-Star. Monroe, Louisiana. 12 April 1973. p. 8B. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 "Archives & Special Collections". Retrieved July 8, 2010.
  34. "Doctor, local man honored by Louisiana Tech". The Town Talk. Alexandria, Louisiana. 29 November 1991. p. A7. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  35. "Eleanor Albrecht Cawthon obituary". Ruston Daily Leader. June 4, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  36. "North Louisiana Historical Association". Retrieved July 17, 2010.

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