The Nona Mills Lumber Company
When the Kansas City Southern Railroad reached Leesville in 1897, it brought a tremendous boom to the area. Lumber barons around the country saw the opportunity and began buying acres of land covered with prime virgin pine. The Nona Mills Lumber Company, organized in 1898 in Nona, Texas, established their Leesville mill in 1899. Rather than build their own town as did most lumber companies moving to the area, Nona Mills built homes for their employees near the already existing town and made improvements where they could. The young city of Leesville immediately began expanding, and by 1900 the small town had ten general stores, four drug stores, at least four hotels, several doctors and lawyers, and a host of other businesses.
Source: “Gateway to the Pineys: A Glimpse of Leesville, La Between 1905 and 1908” by W.T. Block
William Burke Williamson
In 1878, William Burke Williamson was born to Thomas Ray and Eva (Burke) Williamson in De Soto Parish. He was admitted to the Louisiana Bar in 1901 at the age of 23. The same year he also married Miss Hazel Allis. At this time he was employed by the Nona Mills Lumber Company as a company attorney and was able to build their home at 300 South 8th Street in the growing town of Leesville.
From 1908 to 1912, Williamson served as a Vernon Parish representative in the Louisiana House. He co-sponsored a bill to prohibit the sale of alcohol throughout Louisiana, but it did not pass.
After his term as a state representative, Williamson and his family moved to Lake Charles and he began a partnership with Arsene Pujo in the firm of Pujo & Williamson.
When war broke out, Williamson was relentless in his pursuit to join the effort even though he had a physical disability. He was appointed judge advocate and assigned to Camp Beauregard. In 1918, he was sent overseas to France and served there until he became ill and passed away in 1919.
The Lake Charles community honored the memory of Williamson by naming its new American Legion Post after him the same year he passed away.
To be continued
The story of the Oak Hill House at 300 South 8th Street in Leesville will continue with Dr. William E. Reid and family in the next Historic House Hunt post.