DeRidder observes 100th anniversary of Grabow labor riots

Grabow riot centennial observance

DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - In the early 1900's, located at what is now the Beauregard Regional Airport was the Galloway Lumber Company Sawmill- home to one of Louisiana's most famous riots.  Saturday, the Friends of the DeRidder Army Air Base hosted a centennial observation paying homage to some of those families.

On July 7, 1912, President of the timber workers, A.L Emerson arrived at the non-union employed, Galloway Sawmill, to recruit employees into his union.  As he stood up to speak, shots were fired killing four people and injuring others.  The riot that followed is believed to have been a turning point in the unionized labor movement in the south.

"We talk about the Grabow riot quite a bit, but very seldom do we remind ourselves that the Grabow riot took place at the Galloway Sawmill" said DeRidder Mayor, Ron Roberts.

Sharon Hyde-Beltz with the Friends of the DeRidder Army Air Base says hosting the centennial observation event was important because of the riot's impact not only on southwest Louisiana, but more specifically, the families of the Beauregard Parish city of DeRidder.

"Those families have grown... there's lot's of descendants" said Hyde Beltz.  "[There are] lot's of people that would be interested in the history and have different stories" she added.

Different stories were shared during Saturday's event as Galloway family members shared their pictures and personal significance of the riot.

"The Hickman side of my family was involved" said Tommy Cooley.  "They lived right there by the mill and one of my great uncles had gotten shot" Cooley said.

"I live with it daily" said Barbara Galloway.  "My husband is still in the logging business and our son has taken over that business since my husband retired and I still take care of the books for the company" said Galloway.

"You have a century of history within the Galloway family that is an essential element in the history of Beauregard Parish" said Mayor Roberts.

Serving as a family reunion for some and a lesson for others, the centennial observation helped mark a historic turning point.

"Just remember the significance of the timber industry and what the Galloway family helped start in this area" said Barbara Galloway.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.