Joseph H. Herndon
David Tyson Sr.
Joseph Herndon Plaque
History of Herndon High School
written by Tyrone & Marguerite Tyson
The late Joseph Henry Herndon, a Negro man, was born on March 19, 1840 in Gilliam, Louisiana. Before his death, on November 25, 1924, he gave a monetary donation of $12,000 to the Caddo Parish School Board. The amount was given in order that a school would be built for Negroes in the northern area of the parish. Mr.
C.E. Byrd was Superintendent at that time. Mr. Herndon’s contribution and his strong belief in the educational process benefited the lives of many children both black and white. Also, sharing this belief was his nephew, David Tyson. It was the visionary Mr. Tyson who was later instrumental in carrying forth the wishes of Joseph H. Herndon’s Estate of which Mr. E. B. Herndon was the Executor in 1926. On July 2, 1953, the site of 80 acres was purchased for the school from C.W. Lane Corporation for the amount of $28,000.00. The property is located on the Gamm Road in Belcher, Louisiana. Construction began on February 2, 1955 and was completed before the projected date of September 1956. Mr. Roscoe H. White was Superintendent of the Caddo Parish Schools when Herndon High School opened in 1956. Note: The amount of Mr. Herndon’s donation of $12,000 grew to $125,000 in 1955 due to inflation, accumulated and compound interest. Mr. Herndon’s wealth can be attributed to an inheritance from his parents, John Frederick Herndon and Lue Patsy Herndon. They became wealthy from various investments in real estate, farming cotton, buying gold and having oil wells on their properties. Joseph H. Herndon was able to continue his parent’s legacies of wealth. In addition, he made other wise investments when he purchased U. S. Savings Bonds. The first bank in Vivian, Louisiana was the recipient of his financial support and deposits. Even though he was a man of wealth, for most of this life he lived humbly in a small community between Vivian and Gilliam, Pine Island. His home was a simple frame house, he wore patches on his pants and his kitchen floor was clay dirt. Before his death, he built a brick home in Texarkana and resided there until his death in 1924. He is buried in Rodessa, Louisiana at the Tyson Family Cemetery, Sugar Hill. Our school, Herndon High, which is now Herndon Middle Magnet was named after this legend. He will always be remembered by all of us. We appreciate great men like Mr. Herndon and others who gave a worthy contribution to society.
The late David E Tyson, better known as Dave Tyson, of Mira Louisiana was the nephew of Joseph H. Herndon. They both were strong advocates of education. David Tyson was a Pioneer. Stepping out on faith, he began to make the necessary moves to build a Negro High School in the northern area of the state. He made it quite clear that it was ‘time out’ for two room schools. His uncle, Joseph H. Herndon, had previously bequeathed funds to the Caddo Parish School Board to make the building of this school possible. In order to carry out this vision, he began to communicate with school board member, C.H. McEachern from Vivian, Louisiana. In order that school children would not have to travel long distances, he expressed the need to build a high school between the Shreveport, Arkansas and Texas lines. He specifically stipulated that he wanted the school to be named Herndon High School. In 1948, David Tyson offered to give 10 acres of his personal property to the Caddo Parish Board on which to build this school. The land was located in Pine Island on Clyde Place Road between Gilliam and Vivian. He also gave them an option to lease twenty more acres in order to have an Agricultural Department. However, there was one stipulation: that, if for any reason the school would close, all buildings and properties be returned to the original and rightful owner, The David Tyson Estate.
This property was offered in conjunction with the money donated by his uncle, Mr. Herndon. The Caddo Parish School Board voted against the offer. After this offer was declined, he persevered and fought diligently for a total of 30 years to make his dream become a reality.
When the school finally opened, he thought his work was completed. However, upon reading in The Shreveport Times that the school was named Gamm High School, he knew he had more work to do. He immediately went to Vivian and informed C.H. McEachern that the Caddo Parish School Board would face a lawsuit if the name of the school was not changed. After this meeting, the school was immediately renamed to Herndon High School as it had been so designated in the original Act of Donation.