When settlers came from
and Alabama to settle the area in 1879, they were unable
to sleep well at night because of the loud noise caused
by the frogs in the area.
Thus, the town was named Frog Level, a suggestion made
by Boyd McMahon at a meeting. The town was a typical
modern town, having, of all things, a bowling alley in
A post office was established at Frog Level in April of
1879 and was moved to Rodessa in June of 1896. The first
postmaster was Amory C. Pitts.
Frog Level had a pine-log cabin on
that was used as a school. City officials tried to call
it Perry School, after an 1882 teacher; however, since
the school was closed in the winter months and occupied
by goats, it was named
After the Kansas City Southern Railroad came through the
community, the town moved three miles west of its
original location and had a name change in the 1890’s.
From then on, the town was known as Rodessa, after being
named for the daughter of the area’s first railroad
conductor. Noah Tyson, Sr., one of Frog Level’s
founders, served as postmaster and a police juror along
with running a store. His great-grandson, Noah Tyson IV
lent his name to the Noah Tyson Memorial Park. The
monument is located on Highway 1, north of Highway 168.
Rodessa was important in the cattle industry
in its early days. Stock pens and a loading ramp were
located near the railroad tracks. Cotton was shipped
from here as well.
From the time men struck oil on July 11, 1935, Rodessa’s
main street was packed with cars and covered in dust as
people traveled to and from the drilling locations.
The town’s population skyrocketed from about 100 to
Between 1935 and 1936 the oil strike in Rodessa turned
into an all-out oil boom, and developers began to expand
the town, forming subdivisions, such as “Westdessa” and
In its prime, Rodessa had more luxuries than other small
towns. There were two lumber yards, four drug stores,
four doctors, two movie houses, and thirty supply
As with many of the other towns in north Caddo Parish,
the oil boom brought alcohol, gambling, murder, and
prostitution. This rough past has had an influence on
Rodessa, which is now a dry town.
L. Young No. 1 was plugged and abandoned in 1943. The
oldest producing gas well is the French #B-1, which was
completed on June 1, 1934 and makes 5,000 cubic feet
Woods surround the last surviving oil derrick and its
equipment. Two rusted storage tanks of the W. R. West
No. 1 on the Tyson lease still contain oil drilled
during the 1930’s oil boom.
1938 a tornado touched down on Rodessa. Twenty-five
people were killed.
September of 1939 a modern brick structure was built
with an attached auditorium and gym. The building,
which contained twenty classrooms and was built for
$195,000, housed the first high school in Rodessa.
Grades one through eleven were taught in the 33,437
square foot building. The beginning enrollment was
about 800, causing the hurried construction of temporary
buildings to house classrooms for the 250 students the
structure could not hold. Gladys Pitts Hendrick was
named principal of the school, which at that time was
the largest in the parish. After World War II,
enrollment in the schools of the area waned and
necessitated a centralized facility. The last senior
class to graduate from the school did so in 1955 and the
school was formally closed in 1973.
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