Edwards Barham

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Erle Edwards Barham
Edwards Barham of LA.jpg
Louisiana State Senator for District 33 (East Carroll, Morehouse, Richland, and West Carroll parishes)
In office
Preceded by Charles M. Brown
Succeeded by David 'Bo' Ginn
Personal details
Born (1937-07-10)July 10, 1937
Place of birth missing
Died October 17, 2014(2014-10-17) (aged 77)
While airborne en route to medical attention in Shreveport, Louisiana
Cause of death Small plane crash
Resting place Episcopal Church of the Redeemer Cemetery in Oak Ridge, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Bennie Faye Berry Barham
Relations Robert J. Barham (brother)
Children Ben Edwards Barham, II (deceased)

Erle West Barham
Amy Barham Westbrook

Robert Berry Barham
Residence Oak Ridge
Morehouse Parish
Alma mater Oak Ridge High School

Louisiana State University

University of Louisiana at Monroe
Occupation Farmer and businessman
Both former state Senator Edwards Barham and his father, Erle "Ninety" Barham, perished in small aircraft crashes - thirty-eight years apart.

Erle Edwards Barham (July 10, 1937 – October 17, 2014) was an American businessman, farmer, and conservationist in Oak Ridge, a village in Morehouse Parish in North Louisiana. He was the first Republican elected — by a 29-vote margin — to the Louisiana State Senate since the era of Reconstruction. Barham represented the agricultural District 33 from 1976 to 1980. Barham was narrowly unseated in the 1979 nonpartisan blanket primary by a Democrat, David 'Bo' Ginn of Bastrop, who held the seat until 1988.[1]


Barham was born to Louisiana native Erle McKoin "Ninety" Barham (1916–1976) and the former Rosalie Smith (1913–1999), originally from Missouri. He graduated in 1955 from Oak Ridge High School and received a bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He subsequently obtained a master's degree in ornithology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe (then Northeast Louisiana State College).[2] In the early 1970s, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon named Barham to head a White House conservation initiative.[3]

Until his death, Barham was married to the former Bennie Faye Berry (born September 1935). There are three living Barham children. These include youngest son Robert Berry Barham (born October 1971) and his wife, Camille Robichaux Barham, and their children, Graham Edwards Barham, Bailey Anne McKoin Barham, and Robert Collier Barham, and daughter Amy Barham Westbrook and her husband, Scott Hamilton Westbrook (both born January 1962), and their daughters, Margaret Benjamin Westbrook and Anna Claire Swearingen Westbrook.[4]

Another son, Erle West Barham (born 1964), known as West, farms a large area about the family's Ingleside Plantation in Leflore and Carroll counties in Mississippi. West Barham, as he is known, claims residences in Sidon and Greenwood, Mississippi. He grows cotton, rice, corn, and soybeans. He is married to the former Trudy Bridges (born 1963), and the couple has two children, Laten Edwards Barham and Nathaniel West Barham. West Barham is also a conservationist who has made a name for himself trying to preserve the habitat and survival of the bobtail quail. He is sometimes called the "quail man." The conservationist thrust of the family was actually set by the senior Erle Barham. There is a wildlife refuge on Barham properties in Morehouse Parish near the parish seat of Bastrop, and the Tensas Wildlife Refuge near Delhi in Richland Parish came to fruition with the help of the senior Barham.[3]

On September 18, 1976, Erle "Ninety" Barham was killed in the crash of the light plane that he was piloting near Oak Ridge. Barham and four friends were returning to Morehouse Parish from Baton Rouge, where they had attended the 1976 LSU-Oregon State University at Corvallis football game. Barham and three of the men were killed, but another, John S. Barr, III, survived.[5]

The state senate elections

On February 6, 1968, Barham ran unsuccessfully in a race for the Louisiana House of Representatives. He polled 44 percent as the Republican nominee and the third candidate in a two-seat district. The winners were the Democrats T. T. Fields and James Peyton Smith. In that election, all 105 state House seats were won by Democrats.[6]

In the 1975 Senate election, Barham campaigned extensively and narrowly prevailed, 14,499 (50.1 percent) to Democratic candidate L. B. "Buddy" Loftin's 14,470 ballots (49.9 percent). The district then encompassed Morehouse, Richland, West Carroll, and East Carroll parishes to the north and east of Monroe.

In his 1979 defeat, Barham did not benefit from any gubernatorial coattails. The four parishes in the district largely split their votes between Republican candidate David C. Treen and his Democratic opponent, state Senator Louis Lambert of Baton Rouge even though Treen was a narrow statewide winner.[7] However, eight years earlier, Treen in defeat had won most of those same northeast parishes by comfortable margins in his first race against Edwin Edwards. Had Treen had run stronger in the 33rd Senate district, his party may have held on to its single state Senate seat.

Edwards Barham technically was not the first Louisiana Republican state senator of the modern era. A.C. "Ace" Clemons, Jr., of Jennings in Jefferson Davis Parish switched from Democrat to Republican affiliation in 1970, having been elected in 1960, 1964 and 1968. Clemons served until 1972. Barham followed Clemons four years later as a full-term elected senator. When Edwards Barham was defeated, there were no Republicans in the state Senate for the following term.

Edwards Barham's former seat was later held by his younger brother, Robert J. Barham. Another Barham brother is Thomas West Barham (born November 1939), also of Oak Ridge. Robert Barham was first elected to the state Senate as a Democrat in a special election in 1994.[8] He was reelected as a Democrat with a 93 percent margin to a full term in 1995 and unopposed in 1999. Thereafter, he switched to Republican affiliation and won reelection again without opposition in 2003. Meanwhile, he ran unsuccessfully for the Fifth District seat in Congress in the 2002 jungle primary.[9]

Edwards and Robert Barham were distant cousins of Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Mack Elwin Barham, who was originally from Bastrop. They were also cousins of Democratic State Senator Charles C. Barham, who represented an adjoining district based about Ruston from 1964 to 1972 and 1976 to 1988.[10][11]

After leaving the state Senate, Edwards Barham continued to support Republican candidates, including Rodney Alexander, former representative of Louisiana's 5th congressional district, who first won the seat as a Democrat when Edwards Barham's brother, Robert Barham, ran in the primary but failed to secure a general election berth. In 2004, Alexander switched to the Republican Party and went on to defeat a fellow Republican, Jock Scott of Alexandria.

Educational and civic activities

Years after his legislative career, Barham was appointed to the board of supervisors of the Louisiana Technical and Community Colleges by former Republican Governor Murphy J. Foster, Jr. The term ended in July 2005. Earlier, Barham served on the Louisiana Board of Regents and the board of supervisors of the University of Louisiana System. He held the chairmanship of all three of those boards, the only person yet to have done so.[2]

Barham was a member of the Louisiana Cotton Producers Association and the Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association. He was a former director of the Bank of Oak Ridge, a former commissioner of Morehouse General Hospital, a past president of the Morehouse Parish chapter of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and a past member and president of the Oak Ridge Lions International. He was a member of the Masonic lodge. Barham also served as the treasurer of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Oak Ridge.[2]


Like his father, Edwards Barham died in a plane crash. On October 17, 2014, Barham, a certified flight instructor, was taxiing back to the hangar after a flight at Rayville Municipal Airport in Richland Parish when his Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft struck a perimeter fence. He died airborne en route to Shreveport for medical attention.[12]

Ben Edwards Barham, II, the oldest of the four children of Edwards and Bennie Barham, died at the age of fifty-five less than a month after his father's death. He too was a farmer, pilot, outdoorsman, and Episcopalian. He and his wife of thirty-eight years, the former Bonnie Dry, have two daughters: Stacy Barham Walker and Lydia Barham Acey and her husband, Justin Acey, and six grandchildren.[4]


  1. ^ David 'Bo' Ginn announced his candidacy in 1987 for Secretary of State of Louisiana but withdrew from that race, and victory went to then Democrat, later Republican, W. Fox McKeithen.
  2. ^ a b c "Erle Edwards Barham". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Eva Ann Dorris (January 23, 2004). "Farming and fowl can go together". Pontotoc, Mississippi: Delta Farm Press. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Ben Edwards Barham obituary (1959-2014)". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  5. ^ Erle M. Barham obituary, Monroe News-Star, September 20, 1976
  6. ^ Monroe News-Star, February 7, 1968
  7. ^ Shreveport Journal, October 29, 1979
  8. ^ "Official Election Results: 11/8/1994". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  9. ^ "Official Election Results: 11/5/2002". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  10. ^ "Senate to consider honor for Barham", Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, May 5, 2010
  11. ^ It is unclear how Erle "Ninety" Barham was related to C.E. "Cap" Barham, a former Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana and the father of State Senator Charles C. Barham.
  12. ^ "Former state Senator Edwards Barham dies in place crash". KNOE-TV. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
Preceded by
Charles M. Brown
Louisiana State Senator for District 33
(East Carroll, Morehouse, Richland, and West Carroll parishes)

Erle Edwards Barham

Succeeded by
David 'Bo' Ginn
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