John Ardis Cawthon

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John Ardis Cawthon

(Educator and historian at
Louisiana Tech University)

John Ardis Cawthon (Louisiana Tech).jpg

Born March 16, 1907
Bossier Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died October 2, 1984 (aged 77)
Ruston, Lincoln Parish, Louisiana

Resting place:
Mt. Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Mission Valley, Texas

Spouse Eleanora Albrecht Cawthon (1948-1984, his death)

One daughter, Elisabeth Albrecht Cawthon Saunders
Two grandchildren

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army

(Education-Orientation Division)

Battles/wars World War II
For his wife Elenora Albrecht Cawthon, see last section of this article.

John Ardis Cawthon (March 16, 1907 – October 2, 1984)[1][2] was an educator and regional historian from Ruston in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana, who was affiliated with Louisiana Tech University from 1939–1940, 1948, and from January 12, 1954, until retirement on May 31, 1972.[3] Cawthon was a frequent contributor to North Louisiana History, which named its John Ardis Cawthon Memorial Printing Fund in his honor.[4]


Cawthon was born in south Bossier Parish to James Alexander Cawthon (1878–1961), a native of the McDade community, and the former Maggie Mae Dance (1878–1968), originally from nearby Webster Parish. He was named for a family friend, John Houston Sibley, and the Reverend H. Z. Ardis, a pioneer Baptist minister who had taught at the early Mount Lebanon College in Bienville Parish. He hence shared his father's initials, "J. A." He was first home-schooled by his mother, who had attended Athens Academy in Claiborne Parish. From the fifth through the eighth grades, Cawthon attended the one-room school in the Koran community of south Bossier Parish. The family then relocated to Doyline in south Webster Parish, where John Cawthon completed high school.[5]

James and Maggie Cawthon married in 1905 in Athens in southern Claiborne Parish. Cawthon had a brother, James Dance Cawthon (1915–2011) of Shreveport, who taught briefly at Springhill High School in Springhill in northern Webster Parish before he began a long career in the accounting department of the United Gas and Pennzoil companies. James Dance Cawthon, who served as the business administrator for a decade of the First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, also did some historical writing which was published by the North Louisiana Historical Association.[6] Cawthon had two sisters, Maggie Lee McIntyre (1911–2007) of Doyline, a state social work supervisor from 1935 to 1976, based in Minden,[7] and Annis Ella Cawthon (1909–1999), a former educator in Springhill. In 1950, Annis Cawthon was elected president of the Webster Parish Classroom Teachers Association.[8] She later taught mathematics at Louisiana Tech from 1959 to 1974.[9][10] Cawthon's parents and sisters are interred at Doyline Cemetery.[11] All of the Cawthon siblings graduated from Louisiana Tech.[5]

Cawthon studied English and history and received his Bachelor of Arts in secondary education from Louisiana Tech in 1934 and his Master of Arts from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge in 1938.[12][13] He taught in Webster Parish high schools during the 1930s at Cotton Valley (1934–1935)) and Sarepta (1935–1939).[3] 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.[5] From 1940 to 1942, Cawthon was a member of the faculty at Northwestern State University (then known as Louisiana Normal) until he was conscripted at the age of thirty-five into the United States Army during World War II. He served in Europe in the Education-Orientation Division of the armed forces.[5] In 1974, some three decades after the event, he wrote the article, "A School Teacher Gets Drafted," in North Louisiana History.[3][14]

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.[3] His major professor, J. G. Umstattd, had worked with him during the war at the Biarritz American University in France.[5]

Historical publications

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."[15]

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 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."[16]

In 1948, Cawthon and the former Elenora Albrecht, a native of Mission Valley in Victoria County some 135 miles west of Houston in South Texas, 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. Elenora had also studied under Dr. Umstattd[5] 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.[17][18]

Another Cawthon work of local history, since out-of-print, is Ghost Towns of Old Claiborne,[19] which notes the lack of information available on the ghost town of Russellville, which was 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."[19]

Here is a listing of other Cawthon articles, written after his retirement from Louisiana Tech and published in North Louisiana History, formerly The Journal of the North Louisiana Historical Association:

  • "Among the Tombs Bienville Parish," Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer 1976: 140-149[20]
  • "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.
  • "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.[20] For most of his career at Louisiana Tech, Cawthon was the secondary education department head.[12] The John Ardis Cawthon Scholarship Fund in the Louisiana Tech University College of Education is named in his honor.[21]

Elenora A. Cawthon

Eleanora Albrecht Cawthon
Eleanora A. Cawthon (Louisiana Tech).jpg

Born December 6, 1917
Mission Valley, Victoria County
Texas, USA
Died June 1, 2014 (aged 96)
Carrollton, Denton County, Texas

Resting place:
Mt. Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Mission Valley, Texas

Spouse John Ardis Cawthon (married 1948-1984, his death)
Religion Lutheran

Elenora Albrecht Cawthon (December 6, 1917 – June 1, 2014),[21] who was of German extraction, was the daughter of Lillie Lassmann and Otto H. Albrecht. From 1955 to 1988, she was the Louisiana Tech placement services director, though the position had various titles over the years. From 1972 to 1973, she was the president of the National College Placement Council. She was a president of the Ruston Business and Professional Women Club.[22]

She attended Patti Welder High School in Victoria, Texas, and graduated in 1936 from the two-year Victoria College.[21][23] She received her three degrees from the University of Texas in 1938, 1939, and 1948, respectively. Elenora and John Ardis Cawthon married in 1948, 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. (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.[24]

The couple returned to Ruston in 1954 to accept their terminal faculty appointments. They lived in a white house on the edge of the Tech campus. Elenora remained in the house for fifteen years after her husband's death. At the age of eighty-one in 1999, she returned to Mission Valley to become a working cattle rancher, which had also been her father's occupation.[22]

In 1984, Mrs. Cawthon deposited their family and professional papers dating back to 1827 to Louisiana Tech Special Collections.[25] In 1994, Mrs. Cawthon completed an oral history about the careers of her husband as well as herself for Louisiana Tech Special Collections.[26] Elenora Cawthon was also an appointed member of the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors, having served in that capacity after her retirement from Louisiana Tech. In 2003, she was honored by Tech with its "Distinguished Service Award."[22]

Elenora Cawthon last resided in Victoria County, Texas, where she was active in the Lutheran Church.[22] She had also been the organist at St. Paul Lutheran Church when she lived all of those years in Ruston.[21] Daughter Elisabeth Albrecht Cawthon Saunders (born 1957) is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington in Tarrant County.[27] Elisabeth is married to John Stephen Saunders (born 1954), and the couple has two children. They reside in the Dallas suburb of Coppell.[7][22] Eleanor died in Carrollton, Texas, at the age of ninety-six.[21]

John A. and Elenora A. Cawthon are interred at Mt. Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Mission Valley, Texas.[21]


  1. John Ardis Cawthon. Retrieved on March 7, 2019.
  2. Louisiana Tech University records reveal Cawthon's date of death as October 5, 1984, but North Louisiana History and use October 2 of that year.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Confirmed by the Human Resources Office at Louisiana Tech University
  4. North Louisiana History. Retrieved on July 17, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 "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.
  6. James Dance Cawthon obituary. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on February 24, 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Maggie Lee Cawthon McIntyre. Minden Press-Herald, January 19, 2007. Retrieved on July 20, 2010.
  8. "Miss Cawthon Elected President of Webster Parish Teacher Group", Minden Herald, April 28, 1950, p. 1.
  9. James Alexander Cawthon (father of John A. Cawthon). Retrieved on March 8, 2019.
  10. "Cawthon Rites Slated Today." Minden Press-Herald, May 31, 1968, p. 1.
  11. Index to Doyline Cemetery. Retrieved on July 19, 2010.
  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. "A School Teacher Gets Drafted", North Louisiana History, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Summer 1974), pp. 130-134.
  15. "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 on July 8, 2010. 
  16. George W. Dance. Jstor, Vol. 14, pp. 252–276.. 
  17. The Alcalde (September 1965). Google Books (San Antonio, Texas. The Naylor Company, 1965). Retrieved on July 8, 2010. 
  18. The Inevitable Guest is still offered by ARDIS Publications, named for Cawthon's middle name.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Susan T. Herring, Russellville: Ghost Town of Claiborne Parish. Retrieved on July 8, 2010; no longer on-line..
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Archives & Special Collections. Retrieved on July 8, 2010.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 Eleanor Albrecht Cawthon obituary. The Ruston Daily Leader (June 4, 2014). Retrieved on August 23, 2014.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Dr. Elenora Cawthon: Distinguished Service Award. 'Louisiana Tech Magazine (Fall 2003). Retrieved on July 17, 2010.
  23. Alumni News, The Victoria College (Spring 2003). Retrieved on July 8, 2010; no longer on-line.
  24. Minden Herald, August 25, 1950, p. 1.
  25. John Ardis Cawthon and Elenora Cawthon Papers. Retrieved on July 8, 2010.
  26. Centennial Oral History Collection. Retrieved on July 8, 2010.
  27. Elisabeth A. Cawthon. Retrieved on July 19, 2010; no longer on-line.