Caroline Dormon

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Caroline Coroneos
"Carrie" Dormon

(Louisiana botanist, historian, historical preservationist, naturalist and author)

Caroline Dormon of LA.jpg

Born July 19, 1888
Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

(1) Arcadia (Bienville Parish)
Briarwood estate in Natchitoches Parish

Died November 21, 1971 (aged 83)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Spouse Never married

James L. and Caroline Trotti Dormon

Religion Southern Baptist

Alma mater:
Judson College (Alabama)

Caroline Coroneos Dormon, also known as Carrie Dormon (July 19, 1888 – November 21, 1971), was a botanist, horticulturist, ornithologist, historian, archeologist, historical preservationist, a naturalist, a conservationist, and author from North Louisiana.

She was born in modest circumstances at Briarwood, the family home in northern Natchitoches Parish south of Saline, located off Louisiana Highway 9, to James L. Dormon and the former Caroline Trotti. She was reared in Arcadia, a small town and the seat of government for Bienville Parish.


As a child, Dormon developed a great interest in plants and wildlife. She was educated at the Baptist-affiliated Judson College in Marion in Perry County, Alabama, from which she received a bachelor's degree in literature and art. She taught for several years in Louisiana schools, and then re-established her home at Briarwood in 1918. She then began to collect and preserve native trees and shrubs.

Diversified career

In 1921, she became a public relations representative for the Louisiana Forestry Department. She attended a Southern Forestry Congress in 1922 and persuaded the United States Forest Service to establish a national forest in Louisiana. U.S. Representative James B. Aswell of Natchitoches worked with Dormon to bring to fruition the Kisatchie National Forest, which was designated in 1930 during the administration of U.S. President Herbert Hoover.

In 1941, during the administration of Governor Sam Houston Jones, Dormon joined the Louisiana Highway Department (later the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development) as a beautification consultant. She was later a landscape consultant for the former Charity Hospital in Pineville, named for Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr.

She was a consultant for the former Hodges Gardens State Park,privately established in 1956 but transferred to the State of Louisiana in April 2007. It was since closed in 2019 and remains idle.

Dormon also proposed what became the Louisiana State Arboretum, located some eight miles north of Ville Platte, in Evangeline Parish, as part of nearby Chicot State Park, a 301-acre site. The Caroline Dormon Lodge opened in 1965, serving as a visitor center, library, and herbarium of native plants which grow within the boundaries of the arboretum.[1]

Her published works include: Wild Flowers of Louisiana (1934), Forest Trees of Louisiana (1941), Flowers Native to the Deep South (1958), Natives Preferred (1965), Southern Indian Boy (1967), and Bird Talk (1969).

Caroline Dormon was the only woman member of the De Soto Commission established by Congress in 1935 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Hernando de Soto's expedition across the American Southeast, which crossed northern Louisiana.

In 1965, Dormon was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science award from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. The Dormon Collection is located at the Eugene P. Watson Memorial Library of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches.

Located near Saline in southern Bienville Parish, Briarwood is the headquarters of the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve. Natchitoches attorney and philanthropist Arthur C. Watson organized the Foundation for the Preservation of the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve and served as its treasurer until his death in 1984. The Caroline Dormon Trail extends 10.5 miles in the Kisatchie Bayou Recreation Complex within the national forest. It is popular for horseback riding, hiking, and bicycling. The trail starts at the Longleaf Scenic Byway.

In August 2012, the Rapides Parish School Board, based in Alexandria opened Caroline Dormon Junior High School, located on 33 acres in Woodworth off U.S. Highway 165. Land for the school was donated by the United States Forest Service from the Kisatchie National Forest. The K-8th grade school cost $6.5 million and is a “green” school with presumed energy saving tweaks such as solar panels. The 50,000-square foot school has some three hundred students.


Dormon died in Shreveport and is interred at the Briarwood Baptist Church Cemetery near her home. She willed Briarwood to the public, and it is open for tours and other events. More information is available on Dormon in The Gift of the Wild Things: The Life of Caroline Dormon written by Fran Holman. Also available is Adventures in Wild Flowers: The Timeless Writings of Caroline Dormon, a compilation of fifty articles edited by Dr. Holman.

In 1972, an art show named in Caroline Dormon's honor was organized in Shreveport the year after her death by, Emmett Elmo Rhodes, Jr. (1923-1992). For twenty-six years, this annual art show and festival ran to promote nature art in her name which eventually received entries from all over the state. The show had both children's and adult divisions. It was held at different venues located in Shreveport and was first help at the R. S. Barnwell Art and Garden Center, then at Mall St. Vincent, then at the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum.


  1. Myra F. Peak. Louisiana Arboretum. Governor's Office of Federal Affairs and Special Projects. Retrieved on March 25, 2011. 

Further reading

  • "Caroline C. Dormon," Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol.1, 1988, p. 251.
  • Donald Rawson, "Caroline Dormon: A Renaissance Spirit of Twentieth Century Louisiana," Louisiana History, Vol 24, 1983.

External links