Red River Sankofa Historical Society

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Joseph H. Herndon

Joseph H HerndonJoseph H. Herndon, a Negro man

The late Joseph H. Herndon, a Negro man, was born on March 19, 1840 in Gilliam, Louisiana. Before his death, on November 25, 1924, he gave a monetary donation of $12,000 to the Caddo Parish School Board. The amount was given in order that a school would be built for Negroes in the northern area of the parish. Mr. C.E. Byrd was Superintendent at that time. Mr. Herndon’s contribution and his strong belief in the educational process benefitted the lives of many children both black and white. Also, sharing this belief was his nephew, David Tyson. It was the visionary Mr. Tyson who was later instrumental in carrying forth the wishes of Joseph H. Herndon’s Estate of which Mr. E. B. Herndon was the Executor in 1926. On July 2, 1953, the site of 80 acres was purchased for the school from C.W. Lane Corporation for the amount of $28,000.00. The property is located on the Gamm Road in Belcher, Louisiana. Construction began on February 2, 1955 and was completed before the projected date of September 1956. Mr. Roscoe H. White was Superintendent of the Caddo Parish Schools when Herndon High School opened in 1956. Note: The amount of Mr. Herndon’s donation in 1926 of $12,000 grew to $125,000 in 1955 due to inflation, accumulated and compound interest. Mr. Herndon’s wealth can be attributed to an inheritance from his parents, John Fredderick Herndon and Lue Patsy Charles. They became wealthy from various investments in real estate, farming cotton, buying gold and having oil wells on their properties. Joseph H. Herndon was able to continue his parent’s legacies of wealth. In addition, he made other wise investments when he purchased U. S. Savings Bonds. The first was purchased in 1919 in the amount of $100,000 after World War I. The first bank in Vivian, Louisiana was the recipient of his financial support and deposits. Even though he was a man of great wealth, for most of this life he lived humbly in a small community between Vivian and Gilliam, Pine Island. His home was a simple frame house, he wore patches on his pants and his kitchen floor was clay dirt. Before his death, he built a brick home in Texarkana and resided there until his death in 1924. He is buried in Rodessa, Louisiana at the Tyson Family Cemetery, Sugar Hill. Our school, Herndon High, which is now Herndon Middle Magnet was named after this legend. He will always be remembered by all of us. We appreciate great men like Mr. Herndon and others who gave a worthy contribution to society.

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