J. D. Batton

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John David "J. D." Batton
Sheriff of Webster Parish, Louisiana
In office
July 1, 1952 – May 1, 1964
Preceded by O. H. Haynes, Sr.
Succeeded by O. H. Haynes, Jr.
Chief of Police of Minden, Louisiana
In office
July 1, 1948 – July 1, 1952
Preceded by Mrs. Benjamin Garey Gantt (interim)
Succeeded by Otis F. Minter, Sr.
Personal details
Born (1911-02-13)February 13, 1911
Minden, Webster Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died February 10, 1981(1981-02-10) (aged 69)
Minden, Louisiana
Resting place Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Maxine Evans Batton
Relations Jack Batton (brother)
Children Roger Evans Batton

John Willis Batton

Karen Sue Batton
Alma mater Minden High School
Tyler Commercial College
Occupation Law-enforcement officer
Businessman

John David Batton, known as J. D. Batton (February 13, 1911 – February 10, 1981),[1] was from 1952 to 1964 the sheriff of his native Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. He was defeated after three terms by O. H. Haynes, Jr., a fellow Democrat and the son of the sheriff, O. H. Haynes, Sr., whom Batton had himself unseated twelve years earlier.

Background

Born in the parish seat of Minden, Batton was the older of two sons of James Bryant Batton (1880-1939) and Nolie K. Batton (1881-1971). Batton graduated in 1929 from Minden High School and for a year thereafter attended Tyler Commercial College in Tyler, Texas.[2]

Batton's father, J. B. Batton, a native of rural Dubberly in south Webster Parish,[3] was a former Webster Parish deputy sheriff, a two-term Minden police chief,[4] and an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff in an all-Democratic special election conducted on June 6, 1933. Held barely a month after a devastating tornado struck the city on May 1, the election was required to replace Sheriff Arthur Montgomery Hough (1873-1933), who died on May 7 of influenza.[5]

As the chief deputy under Sheriff Hough, the senior O. H. Haynes won the special election in which 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots. His bare majority, 50.8 percent of the vote, negated the need for a runoff election. The runner-up in the race, with 22.2 percent, was Louie A. Jones (1900-1965),[6] the assistant superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and personal bodyguard of Governor Huey Pierce Long, Jr., and subsequently the warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola in West Feliciana Parish. Another candidate, J. D. Huckaby, was the president of the Webster Parish Police Jury. J. Bryant Batton finished last in the race with 7.8 percent of the ballots cast; he won a plurality only in his native Dubberly.[7] Haynes, Sr., held the sheriff's position for nineteen years.[8]

Law-enforcement career

Minden Police Chief

Like his father, J. D. Batton, was the Minden police chief prior to making his own first run for sheriff.[9] His brother, Jack Batton, was a businessman and rodeo enthusiast who served on the Minden City Council and as mayor from 1978 to 1982. At times J. D. Batton was in business with his brother.[2] In January 1948, while his brother was already a city council member, J. D. Batton lost a race for Webster Parish clerk of court to the incumbent Thomas Jenkins "Tom" Campbell (1895–1968). Batton received 3,037 votes to Campbell's 4,528.[10] Campbell was part of a local political family[4] whose current members include Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin.

After Batton's defeat for clerk of court, the position of Minden police chief opened when on March 1, 1948, Benjamin Garey Gantt (1890-1948), an Alabama native[11] who had been the chief since 1944, died suddenly of a heart attack. Gantt had been an unsuccessful candidate for sheriff a few weeks earlier in the race against the senior Haynesn. Gantt's widow, whose first name was Clyde (1889-1950), briefly filled the position of police chief pending the election for a full term.[12] Not long before his death, Gantt had been one of six defendants charged in the lynching at Dorcheat Bayou near Minden of John Jones and Albert Harris, Jr., two African-Americans. The charges against Gantt were dropped because of his cooperation with federal authorities.[13]

Batton nearly won the race for police chief in the first primary in a six-candidate field. In runoff balloting, Batton defeated another Democrat, C. M. Ritchie (born c. 1897), a former deputy sheriff and former employee of the since closed Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, 935 to 632 votes.[14]

Webster Parish Sheriff

Police Chief Batton and Sheriff O. H. Haynes, Sr., net in a runoff election held on February 19, 1952. Batton unseated the senior sheriff by 43 votes, 5,444 (50.2 percent) to 5,401 (49.8 percent).[15] On January 17, 1956, in conjunction with the successful gubernatorial comeback waged by Earl Kemp Long, Batton thwarted the attempt by former Sheriff Haynes, then sixty-seven, to return to office as well as the candidacy of C. Kelly McWilliams of Sarepta. Batton received 5,254 votes; Haynes, Sr., 3,134, and McWilliams, 1,493.[16]

Shortly after his first reelection, Batton was named one of seventeen directors of the Webster Parish Citizens' Council, a body which sought to prevent school desegregation. Others in the council were the mortician Ed Kleinegger, Tax Assessor Richard B. Garrison, and the Minden High School principal, W. W. Williams.[17]

Key deputies

Long-serving deputy Clarence Roland Hennigan (1905-1992),[18] a native of Bienville Parish and father of the retired professional football player Charlie Hennigan, joined the sheriff's department under Batton and was still in service at the time of his death[18] At the time he was the oldest active deputy in the state. Hennigan recalls that in 1952 the department had eight deputies, two per shift. So primitive were communications that the sheriff's telephone was on a pole in front of the current downtown courthouse, which opened in 1953.[9]

Former Batton deputy sheriff T. C. Bloxom, Jr., later was the long-term fire chief and police chief of Minden, Louisiana.

Another long-serving deputy who began his law-enforcement tenure in the tax-collection division in 1956 under Sheriff Batton was Thomas Cameron "T. C." Bloxom, Jr. (1929-2014), a native of Mansfield in DeSoto Parish. Bloxom continued in the department and was named chief criminal deputy under Sheriffs Haynes, Jr., and then Royce L. "Doc" McMahen, until he resigned in 1982, joined the coroner's office as an investigator,[19] and then challenged McMahen unsuccessfully for reelection to a second term as sheriff.[20] The Democrat Bloxom ran again for sheriff in 1999, when he polled 45.7 percent of the vote against the incumbent Larkin T. Riser.[21]

In 1962, Batton hired as a deputy John T. Kennon, Jr. (1928-2005), a nephew of former Louisiana Governor Robert F. Kennon, a former Minden mayor, district attorney, and circuit judge.[22] Kennon later served as the Minden city marshal and ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in the 1971 Democratic primary against O. H. Haynes, Jr.

Accomplishments

Batton listed his principal accomplishments as sheriff: 24-hour patrols, opening a sheriff's sub-station in Springhill, a parish-wide radio communications system, rescue trucks, escorts for funerals and school events, expansion of the criminal investigation office, and the establishment of a juvenile officer position,[23][24] which was proposed to be jointly funded by the sheriff, the cities of Minden and Springhill, and the Webster Parish Police Jury. Willard H. McClung (born January 15, 1932) was appointed to the position and sworn into office by 26th Judicial District Judge Enos McClendon.[25] In 1974, McClung ran for mayor of Minden but lost the Democratic nomination to J.E. "Pat" Patterson,[26] who then unseated the Republican incumbent, Tom Colten.

Early in 1959, Sheriff Batton joined Otis F. "Bill" Minter, Sr. (1902-1960), his successor as police chief, and Dr. Thomas A. Richardson (1911-1976), the Webster Parish coroner, in the investigation of the mysterious death of Minden railroad engineer Marcelous Douglas Cheshire (1906-1959), who was found with a blow to his head and his wallet missing on January 4 in the parking lot of a local grocery store. He died three days later in a Shreveport hospital. Cheshire and his wife, later Ruth Cheshire Lowe (1906-1991), owned the Joy and the Joy Drive-In theaters in Minden,[27] both long since closed. The investigation first focused on Duke E. Schultz (1929-1999),[28] a then 30-year-old gasoline station attendant with a history of arrests, a suicide attempt, and mental instability. Batton said that he believed Cheshire was struck by a rubber hammer used in service station work.[29] Nevertheless, after more than a half-century, the Cheshire death remains unsolved.[30]

Batton announced a crackdown on obscene telephone calls at a time in which caller identification was unavailable. "Persons making those calls will be apprehended and brought to trial," Batton promised while he noted a recent six-month jail sentence received by one violator.[31]

Reelection by four disputed votes in 1959

In the 1959 sheriff's campaign for his third term, Batton pledged to continue "a business-like administration" of the department, to fight juvenile delinquency and to maintain "our southern way of life."[32]

In the 1959 returns, Batton narrowly prevailed over two opponents, businessman Lawrence Harold Gilbert (1911-1995) of Minden and Thomas Guice McGinty (1893-1983) of Sibley, the older brother of the Louisiana historian Garnie W. McGinty. Batton polled 4,211 votes to Gilbert's 4,063. McGinty held the remaining 145 votes cast, three votes more than required to avoid a runoff contest.[33] Sixteen absentee ballots from the Minden City Hall precinct which were not available for counting on the night of the election were tossed aside. A recount increased Batton's total to 4,222; Gilbert, 4,065, and McGinty, 148. Batton was four votes, instead of three, ahead of the 4,218 need to win the position outright.[34]

Though Gilbert had threatened legal action,[35] he soon conceded his narrow loss. According to Gilbert, the attorney that he consulted said that any appeal had to be presented by midnight December 20 but more time was needed to prepare for any challenge which was likely to be successful.[36] Gilbert further indicated that any plan for legal action died when the Webster Parish Democratic Executive Committee certified Batton as the party nominee for sheriff.[37]

Batton's salary as sheriff in 1961 was $10,715. Some $104,000 was disbursed for salaries of all the deputies.[38]

Defeat in 1964

In a field of eight candidates, the junior Haynes emerged as Batton's principal rival in the 1963-1964 primaries. Haynes had once been a deputy under his father's tutelage and thereafter for eight years supervised the state driver's license office with jurisdiction over all of North Louisiana.[39] He was also the Exxon distributor in Webster Parish for some four decades. Fred Haynes, the second of four sons of the junior Haynes, was a Louisiana State University Tigers football star. Fred Haynes was the winning quarterback for his Minden High School Crimson Tide team which won the state championship.[8]

Other candidates included Royce McMahen, a veterinarian and a member of the Springhill City Council in Springhill in the northern end of the parish, Harold Gilbert, by then the Minden police chief, H. G. "Cy" Williams, an automobile dealer who was the president of the Minden City Council,[40] and offered an "Independent and conservative" platform.[41] and G. E. "Doc" Steed, a former contractor and the town marshal in Cotton Valley.[42] Another primary candidate for sheriff, Guice McGinty ran again in 1963 and polled thirty-three votes parishwide. George Alvin Pipes (1913-1976), a graduate of Plain Dealing High School in Bossier Parish, a guard at the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant, and a pipefitter from Dubberly ran in 1963[43] too and later switched to Republican affiliation to challenge Haynes in the general elections of February 6, 1968, and February 1, 1972.[44][45]

Haynes trailed Batton by 722 votes in the primary, 1,993 to 2,719 votes.[46] McMahen finished third with 1,484 votes in the primary. He then endorsed Haynes in the runoff contest with Batton, and Haynes announced McMahen as his choice for chief deputy. In the second campaign, Haynes ran a newspaper advertisement in which he promised "capable, conscientious, and sober leadership." He claimed that the issue was not one of physical equipment or the training of deputies but the leadership of the sheriff.[47] In the January 11 runoff, Haynes prevailed, 5,190 votes (53.4 percent) to Batton's 4,523 (46.6 percent).[48][49]

As sheriff, Haynes appointed the first African-American deputy, Louis Dunbar, Sr. (1914-1986),[50] whose son "Sweet" Lou Dunbar became, like Haynes' son, a distinguished athlete.[51]

The failed comeback attempt

In November 1967, Haynes scored a second nomination as sheriff by again defeating Batton and another primary rival, Chester J. "Red" Vaughan (1909-1992), a service station operator in Springhill[52] and a former city marshal, who described himself as an "independent" critical of "political bosses".[53] Vaughan also challenged Haynes in regard to unsolved crimes, such as the theft of cattle and oilfield equipment and the stripping of tires and accessories from automobiles.[54]

Haynes prevailed with 6,952 ballots (53.3 percent) to Batton's 5,456 (41.8 percent) and Vaughan's 634 (4.9 percent). Batton won the Minden area by five hundred votes but fell short in the remainder of the parish.[55]

Personal life

Batton was married to the former Maxine Evans (1916–1982). The couple was Southern Baptist and had three children, Roger Evans Batton (1943–2001), married to the former Frances "Gayle" Barton (1946-2018), a native of Winnsboro in Franklin Parish[56]; John Willis Batton (born 1947), a businessman from Hot Springs, Arkansas, and his wife, Judith Yvonne "Judy" Batton (born 1944), and Karen Sue Batton (born 1949) of Heflin in south Webster Parish.[57]

J. D. Batton grave at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden, Louisiana

Batton died in Minden three days before his 70th birthday in 1981. He, his wife, son, and mother are interred at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden.[58] His father, J. B. Batton, is interred at Brushwood Cemetery in Dubberly;[1] his brother, Jack, at the historic Minden Cemetery. Batton's nephew, James Howard "Jimmy" Batton (1943–1997), was a sheriff's deputy and later an investigator for the district attorney's office.[59]

References

  1. ^ a b "Former Chief, J. D. Batton, Succumbs", Minden Press-Herald, February 10, 1981, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b "J. D. Batton Issues Statement Giving Candidacy", Minden Herald, October 24, 1947, pp. 1, 5.
  3. ^ "James Bryant Batton". findagrave.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Minden Herald, October 24, 1947, p. 1.
  5. ^ "Parish Pays Final Tribute to Sheriff Hough Monday", Minden Signal-Tribune, May 9, 1933, p. 1.
  6. ^ "Louie A. Jones (1900-1965)". findagrave.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  7. ^ John A. Agan. "Echoes of the Past: Sheriff's Race 1933". Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  8. ^ a b John A. Agan (2002). Minden: Perseverance and Pride. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Company. ISBN 9781439630532. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Teri Herren (February 5, 1986). "Deputy C. R. Hennigan: 80-years young and still upholding the law". Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  10. ^ Minden Herald, January 23, 1948, p. 1.
  11. ^ "Benjamin Geary Gantt". search.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  12. ^ "Chief of Police Appointment Made by Council", Minden Press, March 12, 1948, p. 2.
  13. ^ Rachel L. Emanuel and Alexander P. Tureaud, Jr. (2011). A More Noble Cause: A.P. Tureaud and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Louisiana. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-8071-3793-2. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  14. ^ "Batton Given High Vote for Police Chief", Minden Herald, May 14, 1948, p. 1.
  15. ^ "Batton Elected Sheriff," Minden Herald, February 21, 1952, p. 1.
  16. ^ "Batton Wins in First Primary", Minden Herald, January 19, 1956, p. 1.
  17. ^ "Rainach to Speak at Council Meet Tomorrow Night," Minden Press, April 16, 1956, p. 1.
  18. ^ a b "Clarence Roland Hennigan". findagrave.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  19. ^ Marilyn Miller, "T. C. Bloxom Retires from Law Enforcement: Well, I Gave It My Best Shot", Minden Press-Herald, September 6, 1982, p. 1.
  20. ^ "Results for Election Date: 10/22/1983: Webster Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  21. ^ "Results for Election Date: 10/23/1999: Webster Parish". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  22. ^ "Kennon Hired As Sheriff's Deputy Here", Minden Herald, May 17, 1962, p. 1.
  23. ^ Minden Press-Herald (advertisement), October 19, 1967, p. 8
  24. ^ Minden Press-Herald (advertisement), November 3, 1967, p. 6
  25. ^ "Full time juvenile officer sought for Webster Parish", Minden Herald, February 8, 1962, p. 1
  26. ^ "Pat Patterson is Democrat Mayor Nominee", Minden Press-Herald, August 19, 1974, p. 1.
  27. ^ "M. D. Cheshire Rites Today; Probe Started", Minden Herald, January 8, 1959, p. 1.
  28. ^ "Duke E. Schultz (1929-1999)". findagrave.com. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  29. ^ "Sheriff Holds Cheshire Suspect", Minden Press, September 14, 1959, p. 1.
  30. ^ "1926: M. Douglas Cheshire". mindenmemories.net. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  31. ^ "Crackdown promised on obscene calls", Minden Press, July 29, 1963, p. 1.
  32. ^ Batton advertisement, Minden Press, November 30, 1959, p. 11.
  33. ^ "Batton Apparent Winner in Webster Sheriff's Race", The Shreveport Times, December 7, 1959, p. 2-A.
  34. ^ "Batton Increases Majority in Recount", Minden Herald, December 10, 1959, p. 1.
  35. ^ "Batton Declared Winner After 16 Absentee Votes Are Voided; Gilbert Plans Legal Action", Minden Press, December 15, 1959, p. 1
  36. ^ "Sheriff's Race Uncontested; Write-In Candidate Hinted", Minden Herald, December 17, 1959, p. 1
  37. ^ "Candidate Denies Plan to Contest Close Vote", The Shreveport Times, December 16, 1959, p. 8-A.
  38. ^ "1961 Audit Report Released for Sheriff's Salary Fund", Minden Herald, June 14, 1962, p. 1.
  39. ^ John A. Agan (2000). Minden. Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Company. p. 94. ISBN 0-7385-0580-3. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  40. ^ Minden Herald, July 5, 1962, p. 1
  41. ^ Minden Herald, May 29, 1962, p. 8
  42. ^ Minden Press, September 16, 1963, p. 3
  43. ^ "Seventh candidate for sheriff's race revealed", Minden Press, April 29, 1963, p. 1.
  44. ^ "Haynes Winner Over Pipes in Sheriff's Race", Minden Press-Herald, February 7, 1968, p. 1.
  45. ^ Minden Press-Herald, February 2, 1972.
  46. ^ "Batton and Haynes Paired in Runoff for Sheriff's Post", Minden Press, December 9, 1963, p. 1.
  47. ^ Minden Press, January 6, 1964.
  48. ^ Minden Press, January 13, 1964, p. 1.
  49. ^ "Haynes Defeats Batton in Webster Runoff Vote", The Shreveport Times, January 12, 1964, p. 1.
  50. ^ "Haynes for Sheriff: 1967 Election Guide", Minden Press-Herald, October 30, 1967, p. 8.
  51. ^ "Louis Dunbar". YouTube. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  52. ^ "'Red' Vaughan One of Three Seeking Parish Sheriff's Post", Minden Press-Herald 1967 Election Guide, p. 6.
  53. ^ Minden Press-Herald, October 10, 1967, p. 2
  54. ^ Minden Press-Herald (advertisement), November 1, 1967, p. 11.
  55. ^ "Haynes Uses Ward 2 Margin for Victory", Minden Press-Herald, November 6, 1967, p. 1.
  56. ^ "Frances "Gayle" Batton obituary". The Minden Press-Herald. October 29, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  57. ^ "Roger Evans Batton (1943–2001)". The Shreveport Times. November 30, 2001. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  58. ^ "John David "J. D." Batton". findagrave.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  59. ^ "James Howard (Jimmy) Batton", Minden Press-Herald, December 30, 1997, p. 1.
Preceded by
O. H. Haynes, Sr.
Sheriff of Webster Parish, Louisiana

John David "J. D." Batton
1952–1964

Succeeded by
O. H. Haynes, Jr.
Preceded by
Mrs. Benjamin Gary Gantt (interim)
Chief of Police of Minden, Louisiana

John David "J. D." Batton
1948–1952

Succeeded by
Otis F. "Bill" Minter, Sr.
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