by Mrs. F.A. Leaming copied 10-8-58
They tore down most of the building brick for brick.. They sold off the sanctums and scattered the textbooks far and wide. But they never laid the ghost of Peg- Leg. And a thousand girls who shivered deliciously through his annual visitations for 76 years hope they never will.
The story of Peg- Leg is chronicled in no book, yet he has an important place in the history of a famous old DeSoto Parish School. His biographers are the thousand of men and women who lived and studied on the campus of the Old Mansfield Female College. His memory has persisted long after the lessons taught by the genteel ladies of the college were forgotten. – “Peg” was a young Confederate soldier who was severely wounded in the bitter fighting of spring, 1864. His leg was amputated and he died in the college when it was pressed into use as a hospital preceding the famous Battle of Mansfield April 8 of that year.
In the battle a relatively small Confederate force repulsed a far superior Union force bent on invading Shreveport. On a certain night in the spring of each year, legend has it that Peg- Leg returned to search the school for his missing limb. Dozens of former students who still live in this portion of Louisiana claim they’ve heard the maimed warrior stumping about the halls of the old college. “Oh, yes, we’ve heard him!” remembers Mrs. Ruth Fraser Campbell of Coushatta. “He came on Peg-Leg Night every year. “Mrs. Campbell boarded at the college in the early and mid-1920’s.
TUE BELFRY WAS DEFINITELY HAUNTED
Mrs~ Campbell also relates that the white wood belfry atop the three-story brick main building was definitely haunted. If. was difficult to climb the special stair and creep across loose planks of the open floor to see if perchance Peg-Leg was at home in the cupola; it was also strictly against the rules. Mrs. Campbell’s brother. W. R. Fraser, a student in the “model” school, once did venture into the cupola. The place-was disappointingly devoid of ghosts, but he did find an antique Colonial – teapot left there by some fugitive Yankee soldier.
In 1930, when the old school was abandoned and its furnishings sold for what could be salvaged, former students scrapped over the sanctums, which–except for Peg-Leg’s–were probably the school’s most distinctive single possession. “The sanctums were a sort of, handmade wardrobe which also served to screen the washstands in the bedrooms and create a corner of privacy.” describes Mrs. D. W. Saunders of Mansfield, whose three daughters finished at MFC. The sanctums are gone, scattered about the state. but old Peg still sometimes stumps about the premises.
This article was excerpted from the Desoto Plume Vol. 1 , Number 1, February 1966 From the history of Mansfield Female College.
SCHOOL WAS ROBERT DUNCAN’S DREAM
Mansfield Female College began as the dream of Robert Duncan. Dun:can, an ailing educator from Mississippi, who had been graduated from the University of Michigan, settled in Mansfield in the fall of 1849 with the hope of establishing a college for young ladies. He never realized his dream, for he died just a year later. He had, however, laid a solid groundwork. Donations of $30,000 from Mansfield’s citizens helped to build the college in 1854. In March of 1855 the state legislature chipped in $5,000 to complete the building program. First president of the new college was the Rev. H. C. Thweatt a young graduate of the University of Virginia. Rev. Thweatt died in 1881.and on his specific instruction, was buried on the campus “where the children can crack hickory nuts on my tombstone.” “No one is to chase them away. ” he directed. The clergyman’s grave now nestles next to a Scout hut where dozens of small boys scamper unmolested.