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Parish History: John Murrell-First Settler, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

Submitted by: Susan Herring

 

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"Father Of Claiborne Parish" John Murrell Arrived In August Of 1819

BY SUSAN T. HERRING, Editor, The Guardian-Journal

Published April 29, 1999

 

   If you travel just six miles southwest of Homer on the Dutchtown Road you will find what is left of the old homeplace of John Murrell, Sr., the first permanent white settlers within the present boundaries of Claiborne Parish. A marker erected beside the road on June 15, 1958 reads, "John Murrell's Home, Claiborne Parish Government began here about 1828."

 

 In the summer of 1819, when there were no roads, only trails among a land covered with a dense thicket of brush, briars, and vines, you might wonder why Murrell came to choose this particular spot. According to descendant, Lillian Malone Robinson, Murrell selected the site because it was near a creek that ran over charcoal and so he knew the water was filtered and clean.

 

   It wasn't until around 1824 when fires raged across the dense underbrush and cleaned off the face of the land, leaving an open, beautiful country. Wild game of every kind were plentiful, especially deer and turkey and it wasn't long before North Louisiana became known as "Hunter's Paradise."

 

   Two hundred eighty acres of the old homeplace is presently under a 99-year lease to Williamette Industries, who recently clear cut the property. Thanks to Haynesville resident Doug Marquardt, District Forester for Williamette Industries in Emerson, Arkansas, the site is still in tact and several dead and fallen trees have been removed from the Murrell Cemetery.

 

   Marquardt learned of the site's historical value eight years ago when Boy Scout Jermey Houston Vickers of the Yatasi District chose the cemetery for an Eagle Scout project. Vickers made and hung a sign over the entrance of the cemetery which reads - JOHN MURRELL SENIOR.   

 

  In the winter of 1818, Murrell, his wife and six children left Carthage, Tennessee with a few household goods, cooking utensils, a pack horse, two dogs and a rifle and traveled by barge down the Cumberland, Ohio, Mississippi, and Red Rivers, seven years before Louisiana became the eighteenth state to join the Union. Ten families joined the Murrells at Nashville, by the names of Wallace, Clark, Ward, Manning, Dyer, Hutson, Robinson, Duty, Dooly, and Peterson.

 

   Although most of Murrell's neighbors were Indians, a number of pioneers in the surrounding area are known, such as legendary trapper-trader John Honeycutt in Union parish and the Feazels in Downsville area. A widow Long and her son Davis Long settled the Haynesville area in 1818, built a log cabin on the north side of Dixie Bayou, but moved the next year, leaving the area unsettled for years.

 

   Several years earlier, a group of Carolina immigrants settled east of Claiborne parish. James Huey settled south of present Calhoun, while son-in-law Daniel Colvin settled at Colvinsville, which was later renamed Vienna. Other settlers included names such as Sims, Butler, Peters, Rainey, Pipes, Sykes (at Sykes' Ferry), Alden, and a Richard Fields near Old Germantown.

 

 

 

 

 

   On March 29, 1819, Murrell's seventh child, Isaac, was born and is considered to have been the first white child born in Claiborne Parish.

 

   During the first two years, several families settled in the Flat Lick Community. They were Martin and James Allen, Obadiah Driskill, Abraham Crownover, Jessie Williams, Thomas Gray, Dr. Hugh Walker (a self trained doctor), Adam and Nedham Reynolds, Joseph Edwards or Edmonds, John and James McCarty, William M. Gryder (first blacksmith in area), Daniel Moore, Mr. Holcomb, and Mr. Brazil. J. McCrady or McCarty raised the first significant cotton crop in 1826, about the time the first slaves appeared in the area.

 

   Murrell's two-story house, known as the Flat Lick Plantation, had eighteen rooms with two chimneys made of native stone on each side for fireplaces on both floors. This house would serve as the first church, with Baptist minister James Brinson and Newitt Drew holding monthly services, assisted by Arthur McFarland. It also became the first school when Murrell hired James Ashburner Conley in 1822 to teach for $15 per month. The first road in northwest Louisiana known as the Military Road was built in 1828 and passed directly by the Murrell home.

 

   In 1823, the Murrell home served as the first post office, named "Allen Settlement" in honor of Martin Allen, the first justice of the peace. Murrell served as postmaster. The first store opened in 1822 near the Murrell home, closed a year or so later, then was reopened by Robert Lee Kilgore and James Lee in 1825.

 

   In 1828, law and government was also dispensed from the Murrell home, serving as the courthouse until the Police Jury of newly created Claiborne parish chose Russellville to be the first parish seat.

 

   Several letters written in the 1860's tell of Murrell's youngest son, Isaac, who had a young slave named Edmond Merritt, described as "a faithful one he was". Merritt went with nephews Perry and John to fight in the Civil War.

 

   On the morning of Sept. 17, 1862 one son told Merritt to take John Sr.'s gold watch home, that he would not be back. That night after the Battle of Sharpsburg, Merritt went onto the battlefield, turning over hundreds of dead to see their faces, but could not find them. Later, after returning their belongings and the gold watch, Merritt found John had been killed. Perry and friend, R.A. White, had been wounded.

 

   After the Civil War, John, Jr. gave each of his former slaves forty acres, a cabin, and the right to be buried in the family cemetery. They took the last name of White. One marker reads, "Enoch White was born during the years of slavery. He reached a ripe old age. I hope to meet him some day in the great beyond. by his only daughter Victoria Lewis." Another reads, Allen White, Jr. PVT 1 CL, 329 Labor BN, Jan 26, 1895, Mar 19, 1933. Let not the dead forgotten be, Lest men forget that they must die."

 

   At the entrance to the Murrell Cemetery is a grave marker which reads "Frederick Miller, Born In Germany, 1765 - 1822, grandfather of Emmaline Miller Botzong Langheld and Long John Miller, First white man buried in Claiborne Parish."

 

   Few descendants of Murrell remain in the Homer area, however, Homer resident Ed Seeliger's two granddaughters, Angela Elaine Seeliger Hernandez, born Feb. 3, 1974, and Allison Yvette Seeliger, born July 27, 1977 are direct descendants of William Columbus Murrell, son of John Jr. William Columbus was said to have lost John Sr.'s gold watch on the way to the state fair in 1896.

 

   Murrell was buried at the Murrell Cemetery on his home place, Flat Lick Plantation. He was a talented, enterprising person who became known as the "first man to introduce civilization to northwest Louisiana." and his epitaph reads, "Sacred to the memory of John Murrell, Sr. who died Jan. 25, 1847 age 63 years, 5 days. His creed was Faith, Hope, and Charity." One early settler, possibly John Murrell, Jr. wrote that "...we were all plain people then, with but few wants and much love for our fellow man."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parish: The History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana--Part 1

File prepared by: Barbara Smith  Cwsmithfam@aol.com

 

USGenWeb NOTICE: Libraries and individual researchers may download this file for personal,  non-commercial use only.  Any other use requires written permission from the transcriber. The submitter has given permission to the USGenWeb Archives to store the file permanently for free access.

 

PART 1--Chapters 1-7

 

The History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

by D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse

W. H. Stansbury & Company

24 Natchez Street

New Orleans, La.

1886

 

PREFACE

 

     A very few words will suffice to introduce this little book. It was written to keep alive the memories of the Fathers; to present to the youth of our land, of this and future generations, a picture of life as it was in North Louisiana sixty years ago, showing how people in that day made love, celebrated marriage, administered (sic) justice, went to church, etc.; to perpetuate the memory and preserve a record of the heroic deeds and sublime suffering of those who fought under a flag that is forever furled; to give to those who shall come after us, a correct history of the stormy Reconstruction days an ordeal more trying than the war itself and  to protect the acts of that exciting period from misrepresentation; to encourage and stimulate to greater exertion those laboring in the cause of education and religion, by reciting the highly gratifying progress of the past; and to correct as far as possible the many false impressions that have been made upon those living in other sections about our State by partial and superficial tourists, and to set our rich and varied resources in their proper light before the world, with the view of turning emigration in the direction of our highly favored, and heretofore  misrepresented and inaccessible section.

 

     How well the task has been executed, we leave for others to say. That the work is in some respects incomplete, and contains many errors, we are painfully aware. Some of the muster and death rolls are incomplete, and quite a number of soldiers from Claiborne joined companies in adjoining parishes, whose names we have been unable to procure.

 

     A number of enterprising citizens have aided us in the preparation of the work, in the way of furnishing data; to these we now return our thanks.

 

     We return special thanks to Capt. J. H. Walker, Prof. H. C. Brownfield, J. E. Hulse, Esq., and Mr. B. R. Coleman, for valuable assistance in compiling the work.

B. M. H.

 

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER

 

     THE art of navigation nearly to the close of the fifteenth century was confined to the inland seas and the coasts of the European or Eastern world. The compass not then being known, the seaman, in his voyages, was guided on his course by capes, head­lands, the sun and stars; consequently, his voyages were of no great extent. Tradition had filled the wider seas with dangers and monsters dire; storms guarded all unknown regions and forbade all venture into the unknown. An obscuration by clouds of the sun and stars filled the seaman's soul with a sense of dread for fear he might lose his course and miss the port he sought. Furthermore, there was a danger line in the wide western sea and in the equatorial regions that he dared not approach. The decending (sic) waters of the one would surely prevent his return home the heat of the other would dissolve his ship.

 

     But towards the close of the fifteenth century, new though vague ideas as to the shape of the surrounding seas began to be entertained; the geographer and the philosopher assumed to teach that the earth, instead of being a flat or vast plain, was round; they denied that the sea extended to an immeasurable distance in all directions from and around the earth and flowed over at some unknown limit and was wasted in the void below; or that the equatorial sea was a hot, seething  cauldron in which life was impossible. Men now began to reason, that should this earth of ours be round or globular, the sea must reach from shore to shore of its different coasts. Should this be true, at once was dissolved the many doubts, and the absurd theories that then perplexed the geographer as well as the philosopher. In a great measure it would make plain many facts belonging to sea and land that appeared inscrutable: such as the flow of rivers, the rising and falling of the tides and the dip of the  horizon.

 

     Columbus had believed for years that the earth was round or globular, and that the waters of the ocean extended from the eastern shore of Europe to the western shore of India. If so, guided by that wonderful instrument, the compass which had then come into use he could sail across any sea to any land which it reached. Abjuring all traditional dangers he resolved to prove that nature's works were consistent, and an aimless creation impossible. His eagerness to prove his faith by his works became more fully aroused just at this time by the wonderful stories brought from the far east by the Venician traveler, Marco Polo. These convinced him that the earth was round, and that by sailing to the west he could reach India then the land of wonders and fabulous wealth, by a much shorter and safer route than by the long and dangerous overland route Marco Polo had traveled. He determined to prove the correctness of his theory.

 

     With this theory well defined in his own mind, and with maps and charts in hand, he went forth in search of help, being poor, to enable him to undertake his great venture. Patiently, for years, he explained his theory of the conformation of the earth and urged the feasibility of the  enterprise all  in vain. The ignorance of that period, as it was in ours when Morse begged a pittance to prove his telegraphic theory, closed the  ears of bankers and thrones to his appeals. Genoa, his native state, Portugal and other powers rejected him as the wildest of adventurers.

 

     "What," exclaimed the learned schools and the great statesmen, "the earth round and like a globe swinging in space! and people on the other side with their feet towards ours! Impossible absurd; they would fall from the earth into the void below; the ocean would be emptied of its waters; the rivers would run dry, and the earth become a desert. More, should the earth be globular and a ship sail down to the other side, it could never return, for a ship cannot sail up hill."

 

     As a last chance, Columbus approached the throne of Castile, or Spain. The King and Queen became interested in his theory, listened to his explanations until such rich visions of empire and wealth and the extension of the Holy Church arose in their minds, that they determined to equip a fleet and send him forth on his great venture.

 

     In due time a fleet of three small vessels, so small that few at this day would venture on a hundred miles from shore, were made ready. With much difficulty a crew was enlisted, and in August, 1492, Columbus sailed from the port of Palos on that voyage which has built up and revolutionized governments, religion, philosophy and knowledge. Touching at the Azore Islands, said to have been discovered by, a ship driven by adverse winds out of her course, he thence turned the prows of his little fleet directly west into the wide waters of the deep and unknown Atlantic. After sailing many days to the west, without any sign of land appearing, the fears and superstitions of his crew began to make them uneasy. They murmured, and then demanded that the ships should be turned towards home. But Columbus, selfpossessed, by pursuasions (sic) and promises influenced his men to trust him and go yet further into the unknown sea. At last signs appeared which nerved the hearts of his trembling crew birds began to fly over and around the ships, driftwood was seen in the water, then a green bush floated by. These signs of land not far off were too plain to be unheeded; sail was shortened, and while moving slowly forward a close watch, by eager eyes, was kept for land. About midnight a light was seen moving as if carried by a person walking. Immediately the ships were stopped in their forward movement for fear of going ashore and all waited impatiently and wonderingly the marvelous revelation the morning was to bring forth. And when that memorable morning of October the 12th, 1492 came, a new world in all its pristine beauty lay before Columbus and his anxious crew. The fact that the earth was as a globe, that the waters of the sea reached from shore to shore was proved, and Columbus had triumphed.

 

     Columbus, believing he was on the western coast of India, named the inhabitants Indians hence the name of the original people of the American continent. In a subsequent voyage, he sailed for miles along the shore of the main land south of the Carribean (sic) sea, and yet died not knowing he had discovered a new world.

 

 

     This discovery of Columbus aroused a wild spirit of adventure among all the maritime people of Europe, and adventure after adventure was sent out to the new world, mainly in quest of gold and glory. Many sought, in the interest of commerce, a shorter route to India by way of the northern sea, but this vast continent, its extent then unknown, lay directly in the way. In search of this route, Cartier, a French navigator, in 1535, entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence and ascended the river of that name to an Indian village where now stands the town of Montreal.

 

     In 1605 De Monts founded the town of Port Royal in Nova Scotia which claims to be the first European settlement in America. Champlain in 1608, established a trading post on the St. Lawrence river, which post in the course of years has become the historic city of Quebec. Sixty years after the establishment of this post, during which time the French had secured strong position on the St. Lawrence, Father Marquette, a Catholic priest and missionary learned from the Indians of a great river further west, by them designated The Father of Waters, because of its immense volume, and resolved to see it. In the light canoe or boat used by the Indians, he made his way down the Illinois River to the Mississippi, which he entered, in 1674 and continued down it as far as the mouth of the Arkansas. Returning to Quebec, he told of this immense river; and in 1683 La Salle and others, about twenty in number, made their way to it, descending it to the Gulf of Mexico and in honor of Louis the XIV, then King of France, La Salle named the country through which the Mississippi flowed, Louisiana. Deeply impressed with the future possibilities of this great waterway and the adjacent country through which it carried him, he returned to Canada and immediately sailed for France. Convincing the King of the magnificence of such an acquisition to his domain, by order of the King a fleet was fitted out and La Salle; with a number of emigrants, set sail for the mouth of the Mississippi to establish a colony in Louisiana. But not having correctly ascertained the bearing of the outlet of the river, he failed to find it and landed at some point west on the coast of Texas. His brother soon departed with the fleet to France, leaving La Salle and the colonists ashore in the new world. Discontent arising among the colonists, La Salle in search of succor, started by land to Canada, but was assassinated by his followers, who disappeared in the wilds of Texas, and the colonists who remained at the place of landing were shortly afterwards made prisoners by a squad of Spanish soldiers from Mexico. This terminated for a number of years, all efforts of the French to colonize Louisiana.

 

     The year 1698 is memorable in the history of Louisiana, for early in that year the brothers, Bienville and Iberville, entered the Gulf of Mexico with men and arms in search of the Mississippi, duly empowered by the King of France to take lawful pos­session thereof. Anchoring near Dauphine Island, they erected a small fort on Biloxi Bay, and for the first time, after so many years of delay and disappointment, the flag of France floated out in the breeze of the Mississippi valley, proclaiming to the world that France claimed legal ownership of the same. Early next year Bienville sailed up the river and es­tablished a garrison where now stands Fort St. Phillip, since so famous in the history of this country. Possession thus being secured, in 1712 the first civil gov­ernment in all this wide expanse of unexplored coun­try was authoritatively proclaimed.

 

     The officer commissioned to administer this civil government after several years of perplexity and failure resigned his commission and the civil authority was turned over to Bienville. With that energy and judgment which characterized the man, he pushed further up the river, and in 1718 erected a fort and laid out the city of New Orleans. Forty-five years thereafter, the inhabitants of Louisiana having heroically endured many perils and privations, battling with the natives, disease and famine, the French government, exhausted by her long wars and missrule, and deriving no income from this far western colony; ceded New Orleans and all the territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain. A Spanish emigration followed the cession, but it failed to bring peace and prosperity to the colony, or rev­enue to the Spanish Coffers. The French and Span­iards could not assimilate. Spain, in a short while, found the territory of Louisiana so costly a burthen that, in 1781, she gladly receded it to France. But France was now in the clutches of Napoleon I, and delirious with revolution, was contending in battle with all the powers of Europe. The movement of her armies required money, and in 1803 she sold Louisiana to the United States for the sum of $15,000,000. Slowly moves the march of empire. From the year 1535, when Cartier entered the St. Lawrence River, to the cession of Louisiana to the United States, 1803 elapsed a period of 268 years, filled with wildest romance, adventure and heroic endurance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

LOUISIANA AS A TERRITORY

FIRST TERRITORIAL GOVERNOR-

ADMITTED INTO THE

UNION AS A STATE

 

The United States having assumed possession of this lately purchased territory. Congress, in 1804, in order to insure the people a stable government and as soon as possible reconcile the different races to the new order of affairs divided the country into two divisions; designating the southern division as the Territory of Orleans and the northern and western as the District of Orleans. Mr Jefferson, then President of the United States and during whose administration and by whose advice the purchase was made, appointed W. C. C. Claiborne, Governor of the Territory of Orleans-which position he held until 1812, administering the government so firmly and wisely that, in a great measure, the conflicting interests and prejudices of the several nationalities became reconciled and quieted.

 

     The result of this wise administration of public affairs by Gov. Claiborne was to so rapidly induce emigration to the territory that in 1812 admission into the union  was claimed, and in that year, by formal act of Congress, the territory of Orleans was admitted as the State of  Louisiana, and W. C. C. Claiborne was duly elected her first governor.

 

     It soon became apparent that the welfare of the people at the distant post of Natchitoches, on Red River, and of the scattering settlements that were gradually forming further up the river and in the adjoining country, required attention; consequently, the territorial legislature, by act in 1804, incorporated the Parish of Natchitoches( embracing all that part of north Louisiana west of the parish of Ouachita to the Sabine river, then the dividing line between the United States and Mexico.

 

     North Louisiana at this time was covered with a dense mass of brushwood and interlacing vines the home of the wolf, the bear, and the panther. Numbers of horses and cattle, the progenitors of which had wandered from the inhabited sections of the territory to this wilderness, ran free and wild.  Several tribes of Indians were living here and there, now and then visited by tradesmen in search of peltry, and the country by hunters in search of game. The few earlier settlers that ventured into these wild regions had to fairly hew their way, for only a few devious trails and paths were to be found. Roads, there were none, save the read that connected Monroe and Natchitoches. Subsequently the United States having established a garrison several hundred miles above, on Red River, at Fort Towson, opened what was known as the Military Road, connecting this post with Natchitoches and Alexandria, for the purpose of transporting supplies to that faroff post. The settlements in those early days being so wide apart, and hunting and traffic with the Indians being the chief occupations, direct roads were impossible. But gradually, settlement followed settlement, clearings increased, and from these clearings and the camps of the hunters, fires broke out sweeping over all the land, killing the tangled undergrowth or brushwood, even destroying the foliage of lofty trees.

 

     In the following years fires again raged, consuming all the dead and fallen rubbish that then encumbered the ground. Being thus relieved of its heavy undergrowth or brushwood, in its place forest grass and switchcane sprang up, and in one season a mantle of green covered the nakedness of the earth. Then all north Louisiana appeared as an immense park, diversified with vast openings and vistas most enchanting. Game of every kind, peculiar to this region, increased rapidly, particularly the deer and the turkey. The buffalo came up from the wide prairies of the Attakapas, and in a few years North Louisiana became known as the Hunters' Paradise. The surveyor's chain was stretched across the land, and both surveyor and hunter carried back to the older settlements, and to the States east of the Mississippi River, such glowing descriptions of the beauty of the country, the fertility of its soil, its health, its abundance of game, the streams abounding in fish, and in winter every pond and lake crowded with all manner of water fowl, that a regularly increasing tide of emigration set in to this promised land. So rapid was this emigration that it became necessary to divide this immense parish of Natchitoches, for the seat of justice was too far to be reached by distant settlements, consequently, in 1828, the Legislature passed the following act incorporating the parish of Claiborne, naming it for Louisiana's first governor.

No. 42.

 

AN ACT TO CREATE A NEW PARISH IN THE PARISH

OF NATCHITOCHES TO BE CALLED THE PARISH

0F CLAIBORNE.

 

Section I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Louisiana, in General Assembly convened: That all that portion of territory within the following boundaries, towit: Beginning on the eastern bank of Red River, about fifty miles north­west of the town of Natchitoches, at the northern boundary line of Township thirteen; thence east, in the direction of said line, to the dividing line between Ranges three and four west; thence along said line, which shall form the western boundary of the parish of Ouachita, north to the Arkansas Territory, thence west to the main branch of Red River, and descending the same to the beginning, be and the same is erected into a new parish, to be called the parish of Claiborne.

OCT. LABRANCHE, Speaker of the House of Representatives

AD.  BEAUVAIS, President of the Senate,

Approved March 13, 1828:

H. JOHNSON, (Governor of the State of Louisiana

 

CHAPTER III.

 

CLAIBORNE PARISH

 

The parish having been thus incorporated, the paraphernalia of law and justice was put in motion by the election and appointment of all necessary officers. The first District Court, in all its majesty, embodied in the person of Judge Wilson, of Monroe, supported by Isaac McMahan as Sheriff, and Robert Cockran as Clerk, was convened in the house of John Murrell, whose house for years was the center of all public business for the new parish, where law and justice were dispensed until the police jury, in its wisdom, selected a seat of justice. Tile place selected was on the premises of Samuel Russell, and was named Russelville, in honor of Mr. Russell who had offered liberal inducements to the jury for the benefit of the parish, and because this locality had become more central to the widely diffused population. When the District Court convened at this new domicile Judge Overton was the presiding officer, Wm. McMahan was Clerk, and Isaac McMahan was yet Sheriff.

 

     Russellville remained the parish site until 1836 when the Population having tended westward, the seat of justice was removed to Overton on Bayou Dorcheat, near the place now known as Minden Lower Landing. This place being at the head of navigation, it was believed that the location would be permanent and a thriving commercial town would build up. But Overton proving to be unhealthy and subject to overflows, and the population having become preponderant in the eastern portion of the parish, in 1846 the seat of justice was removed to Athens, where it remained until the courthouse, with all the records of the parish was destroyed by fire believed to have been the work of an incendiary. Then the police jury for by this time the rapidly increasing population had disseminated itself about equally all over the parish determined to locate the courthouse centrally and permanently. After due investigation and proper consideration of all claims as to locality as well as the main interests involved, the site where Homer now stands was selected. These lands had been entered and were owned by Allen Harris and Tillinghast Vaughn, both of whom made liberal concessions to the parish for the public buildings, and to the people for schools and churches. Frank Vaughn, son of Tillinghast Vaughn, had the honor of naming the new parish town. The first District Court was held here in September, 1849, in a cheap board shanty erected for the purpose. Litigants and visitors encamped around in the woods, and, when  court was in session would stand at the windows and peep through the cracks to watch the proceedings of the august tribunal within, until fatigue or hunger or thirst would drive them to their camps for rest, or to the grocery for refreshments. Roland Jones was then district Judge, Allen Harris, Sheriff and W. C. Copes, Clerk.

 

      But Claiborne Parish being prosperous and her people increasing rapidly in numbers every year determined to erect a suitable building in which justice should preside, and to execute this laudable intent, the necessary tax was levied, and in due time a commodious (sic) brick building, with all the proper offices, was erected. Judge Jones, supported by Sheriff Allen Harris and Clerk W. C. Copes, in 1850, held the first District term in this new courthouse, then the finest structure in all North Louisiana.

 

     Following the incorporation of Claiborne Parish was a marked increase of emigration particularly about 1835when steamboats, navigating Ouachita and Red Rivers, made access to the country less difficult. But, from 1840 to 1860, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee sent in their sons and daughters and slaves by hundreds and by thousands. In a few years roads, farms, villages, churches and schoolhouses were to be found all over the parish. Every trade and industry was represented; bountiful crops rewarded the farmer's toil without stint, and peace and prosperity blessed all the people.

 

     This remarkable influx of populaion (sic) almost yearly demanded the formation of new parishes; consequently, out of the immense original Claiborne was formed, in their order of dates, the following parishes, Bossier, in 1843; Jackson, in 1845; Bienville, in 1848, Webster in 1871, and Lincoln, in 1873-thus this once great parish to its present limits bounds towit: Union Parish on the east, Arkansas on the north, Webster Parish on the west and Lincoln on the south, leaving her a total area of 778 square miles, embraced in five townships and subdivided into eight wards; Ward 1 has an area of 120 square miles; ward 2, 110; ward 4, 72; ward 5, 72; ward 6, 83; ward 7, 104, and ward 8, 107. And yet old Claiborne although so reduced from the granduer (sic) of her original area, has not been shorn of all her glory; she yet proudly maintains her Position as the banner parish of North Louisiana, and so she will remain, for her foundation is of iron, and she can and will conquer all adversity.

 

CLAIBORNE PARISH.

 

CHAPTER IV.

 

CLlMATE, HEALTH, PHYSICAL RESOURCES, ETC., OF CLAIBORNE PARISH.

 

Claiborne is one of the old parishes of the State, having been organized as a parish in 1828. Previous to that time it formed a part of Natchitoches parish. When organized, Claiborne contained, in addition to its present area, all of what is now known as Bienville and Webster Parishes, and a part of what is now Lincoln. It now extends from Union Parish on the east, along the southern boundary of the State of Arkansas, to Webster Parish on the west, and is bounded on the south by Bienville and Webster Parishes, and on the southeast by Lincoln Parish. It will thus be seen that Claiborne occupies abut a central position in the northern tier of parishes, and is beyond 'question the highest as well as the healthiest portion of the State of Louisiana.

 

     The average altitude of Louisiana, as set forth in Toner's Dictionary of Elevations of the United States, is 75 feet above the level of the sea. This is a somewhat lower average level than that of any of the other States, except Florida, which is put down at 60 feet above the sea in its average. Claiborne Parish has the highest average elevation of any parish in the State, being about 200 feet above sea level. Still this is a rather low average as compared with the country north and west. There is an impression with some that high places are the most healthy, but this does not always follow, and is not the testimony of experience here in Louisiana. Sometimes the lowest places in the same neighborhood have had quite the advantage in point of health.

 

     In the Old World some healthful and fertile localities are below the level of the ocean as the valley of the Jordan, more than 1000 feet below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, the shores of the Caspian Sea, and portions of Holland, reclaimed from the ocean by its dykes. Settlers here from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and other States, say they find Claiborne Parish as healthy as the countries from which they came.

 

     It is never visited by the severe epidemics of yellow fever and smallpox which are so fatal in the parishes bordering on the rivers especially in the cities and towns on their banks; nor is it subject to those dangerous malarial diseases, such as swamp fever, typhoid fever, etc, which are such a scourge to the lower country; in fact, it is singularly free from epidemics and malarial disorders of all kinds, and will compare favorably with any portion of the United States in point of health. The only epidemics ever known in the parish is measles, and that of a very mild type, very rarely causing death.

 

     Area in square miles 778; in acres, 4477920; amount of land vacant, 537660 acres; population in 1880, 18,857whites and blacks equally divided; amount of taxable property, as per assessment roll for last year, $1,479,060; rate of taxation, 11 mills on the dollar; area in cultivation, 126,000 acres; valuation of land subject to taxation, $743,317; value of stock, $293,835.  The conditions of the atmosphere in its degrees of temperature and moisture are items which affect organized life, animal and vegetable. Since the temperature of the atmosphere falls, as distance from the equator increases, one degree of depression for every added degree of latitude; and since, moreover, the thermometer falls one degree for every 300 feet of altitude, Louisiana being comparatively near the equator and so little above the sea level, might be thought, by residents of Northern States, to be very warm; but there are other influences which disturb this natural order of things which must be taken into account before the truth is reached. There are dozens of rivers and hundreds of smaller streams coursing over the surface there, too, lakes and other bodies of water are numerous.

 

     The evaporations from these streams and lakes, and from the Gulf of Mexico on the south, rapidly consume or absorb the heat of the sun, just as water sprinkled on the floor absorbs the heat of a room, and this process is more rapid because, as the vapor rises, taking with it all the heat it can render insensible, breezes from the Gulf, as from the plains of the northwest, take it away and supply other air to be filled with other vapor performing the same office in the cooling process, so that, as a matter of fact, the thermometer rises higher in summer in New York, Boston and Philadelphia than in any portion of Louisiana. Sunstroke, so frequent and fatal in the cities, and, indeed in the country, north, is never known in Louisiana. There is, also, another item not to be overlooked in seeking the causes of a higher temperature in summer in countries north of Louisiana it is, that the days are longer in summer as we proceed northward, and the nights shorter. There is, therefore, less time for throwing off or radiating the heat received from the sun, until his return with other supplies.

 

     I regret that there are no tables of mean relative humidity and temperature from which I can quote, for the information of the possible northern reader, on this important subject. But an experience of thirty years in this part of Louisiana enables the writer to say that the thermometer very rarely rises as high as 100 degrees in summer, and as rarely falls am low as 25 degrees in winter.

 

     As already noticed, the thermometer does not rise quite so high in Louisiana as in countries further north, but this is not the whole advantage. The temperature of the animal system is ordinarily above that of the atmosphere. The breezes are constantly removing from contact with the body the partially heated paticles (sic) of air and supplying cooler particles, which absorb the heat, and the cooling sensation is in proportion to the rapidity of the process. Such breezes are a constant and enduring feature of Louisiana's summer climate, occurring with almost daily unvarying regularity. It is this feature that enables a man or beast to exist during a long summer day under our semitropical sun, without distress or danger; and it is this too, perhaps, which accounts for the total absence of sun strokes among men, and hydrophobia among dogs. It would, perhaps, not be well to omit mention in this connection, of the fact that we have some cold weather in Louisiana. This country is subject to occasional cold waves brought down upon it by the northwest winds, but they are of short duration; lasting not generally longer than three or four days, as the wind quickly veers round, our Gulf breezes come, and our normal winter weather resumes sway, which is never cold enough to require shelter for stock, or to make fuel for heating purposes a matter of consideration.

 

     The surface of the country is undulating, hills and valleys running in every direction; or, perhaps, it might more properly be described as rolling, as the hills are only gentle elevations, never precipitous and high as in the States north and east. This rolling or undulating surface gives rise to numerous water courses, creeks, bayous, etc., which drain the country in every direction, and whose currents are generally sufficiently swift to carry off the greatest, rainfall, so that we have very little of what is known as swamp and overflowed land, with their ponds and lagoons stagnant water, breeding miasma, malaria, mosquitos(sic), buffalo gnats and other ills and pests to man and beast. In this respect, Claiborne Parish is blessed above almost any other part of the State, the greater part of which, as is well known, is not sufficiently rolling to drain well, and in consequence the slow, tortuous water courses failing to carry off the water fast enough, it spreads out over the adjacent lowlying country, where a great part of it is left in ponds, lake, and lagoons, which, under the influence of our warm summer sun, doubtless gives rise to the various malarial diseases and insect pests for which Louisiana has acquired quite a reputation.

 

     The writer has often been surprised at the opinion held by residents of other States, particularly the Northern States, in regard to Louisiana. They seem, in many cases, to regard the whole of Louisiana as one vast frogpond, interspersed with occasional dry patches or spots of land on which the inhabitants eke out a miserable, chillshaken existence; indeed, they would be surprised to find a resident of the South, outside the cities and larger towns where, as they think, man has improved natural conditions, who was at all robust or in ways like a man. They seem to think he should conform very nearly, both in his physical development and habits of life, to his most intimate friend, the frog. In fact, nothing could be more erroneous, or further from the truth, than the idea entertained of Louisiana generally by residents of other States, and this idea has originated and been fostered by the inaccurate descriptions of geographers and by the written accounts of travelers along our water courses, which, until late years, have been our only highways of trade, and these travelers, added to their lack of means of observation, have been, to say the least, very casual observers, and seem in most eases to have taken a jaundiced view of everything.

 

     It is true, and very proper to be noted here, that we have what is called malaria in Louisiana, but we have very little of it in the rolling woodlands of Claiborne. Through about the center of this parish runs the ridge, or water divide, which separates the waters of the Red and Ouachita Rivers the water courses on the right, or west, emptying into Red River, and those on the left, or east, into Ouachita. We have no streams which are navigable within the boundaries of the parish, though there are several having their rise here which are navigable in their lower courses. Our natural scenery, though not perhaps as picturesque as that of mountainous Countries, is sufficiently varied and interesting to impart a sense of pleasure to any one not entirely blind to nature's beauties. We have winding streams, babbling brooks, gushing springs, manyhued forest scenes, birds with brilliant plumage, and merry songsters; we have rocks here, too, and minerals; strange as it may seem to those who only know Louisiana from hearsay. No poets fancy has ever delineated in measured song the beauties of our fields and forests; no artists pencil or brush has transferred to canvass the beauties, of our landscapes; but they are here, and will abide their time. In this respect, as in many others, this part of the State is verily a terra incognito.

 

     As to the soil of Claiborne, it would be impossible within the limits of this book, or within the limits prescribed to this part of it, to do full justice to this important feature--important because the soil is as yet our country's only stock in trade, its only resource. We are emphatically an agricultural people. Everything is dependent directly and exclusively upon the productions of the soil when  this fails everything else fails when the cultivation of the soil becomes unprofitable, everything else becomes unprofitable, Hence, the importance which attaches in a work of this kind to the nature and quality of the soil, Leibig, the celebrated German Agricultural Chemist, says that the poorest soils, even the Limeburg heath of his country, contains enough of mineral plantfood for centuries of profitable tillage, but that it is locked in such chemical combination as to render it inaccessible to plants, except in a very slight degree. If this be so, and it doubtless is so, for Leibig knew whereof he spoke in matters of this kind, it would seem that the quality of the soil is not a matter of such very great importance had we but the key to this chest, the means of unlocking this chemical combination, and surrendering this inexhaustible supply accessible to plants, but here is the rub, we have it not, nor are we likely to have it soon, if ever. The farmer in North Louisiana is obliged in the main to take his soil just as he finds it to accept the return it makes for his patient toil, of its own free will, without the aid which scientific discoveries have rendered possible in more favored cases; for he is, in most cases, ignorant of the elements with which his soil is supplied or in which it is deficient he knows nothing of the chemical combinations necessary to the growth of the plants he wishes to cultivate; and even if he possessed this scientific knowledge, he has not the means at hand to render it practicably useful. So the best he can do, is to make use of such fertilizers as he may have at hand which observation and experience tell him will be beneficial to his plants. He is an experimenter, groping in the dark even the little way which his circumstances will admit of his going in this direction. The supply of fertilizers on an average farm in Claiborne parish, known to be of value, is so limited that a large part of the area in cultivation must necessarily go from year to year without fertilization; so that the quality of the soil is an item of the first importance.

 

     When I tell the practical geologist that the soil of Claiborne Parish is not alluvial in its character, he says at once, then it belongs to the tertiary formation, or to the tertiary geological epoch, and is formed in the main from the disintegration of sandstone. Your soil, says he, must be largely composed of sand. Quite true, sand seems to be a predominant constituent of our soil, but I say to him, we have "red lands in Claiborne--lands in which sand is not at all conspicuous, as an element. They are, says he, somewhat sandy in their character, and are formed from the disintegration of red sandstone to which iron has given the coloring matter; such soils ought to be rich in the phosphates of iron and profitable to cultivate, as these elements are valuable as a plantfood. Right again; our red lands are profitably cultivated on them crops do well, to which the phosphates of lime and iron are a vital necessity.  The practical farmer, or plant grower, knowing little of chemistry or geology judges of land by the natural growth upon it the trees which nature has planted there, and which have flourished and taken possession of the soil in its wild state. He sees the oak, the ash, the hickory, the walnut, the blackjack he knows that from their ashes good soap is made; he may not know that these ashes are rich in the phosphates of lime, so valuable as plantfood, but he does know that where these trees grow, corn, cotton and potatoes will grow, and may be profitably grown. He knows, too, when he sees the character of the soil, that it is porous, loose and mellow, that it will readily yield up what elements of plantfood it possesses, that it is generous in its nature and easy of cultivation. The  practical farmer of Claiborne knows these things and makes practical and profitable use of such knowledge, but he does not know often, how, by several successive years of profitable tillage, he has robbed his generous soil of the greater part of its available plantfood, and that he has to replace what he has recklessly, taken away to reinvigorate his exhausted soil.

 

     In fact, he does not seem to be aware that these years of constant cultivation are making fearful in­roads upon his bank account his stock in trade the available plant food in his soil; does not seem to know, or acts as though he did not know, that these elements of plantfood are his only resource, the sole reason why his lands are worth anything whatever to himself or others. If he thinks about these things at all, he thinks that lands are cheap, and so goes ahead, year after year, without counting the cost, even to himself in the end, leaving out of consideration altogether the heritage of his children, the needs of the generation which is to come after him. In this case, the "sins of the fathers are indeed visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations." The rule generally followed is, as fast as one field is exhausted it is turned out, the forest cut away and another enclosed to go through the same process of treatment; so that our domain will soon be largely composed of old fields turned out to grow up in pines, for it is a peculiarity of our soil that the natural growth does not return to it after it has been treated in this way, that natural growth which eventually enriches it and brings it back to its original state of available fertility, but young pines take possession of it, and they, as is well known, add little to the fertility of soil by the decay of their foliage, as is the case with numerous other plants. It might be well to enter a little more into detail as to the average farmers' methods and the success which attend them.

 

     When he decides upon the precise plot of eminent domain which he will next lay waste, his first step is to seek out all the timber growing upon it which can be converted into rails, such trees are felled and converted into rails, next he cuts off the undergrowth, which is made into brushheaps to be burned when dry; then cuts down the saplings and smaller trees, whose bodies are cut into convenient lengths for hauling home and whose laps go to the brushheaps; he next chops around all trees left standing, thus "deadening them' as it is called. as this circular chopping through the sap part of the tree prevents the free circulation of the sap, thus killing the tree which is left standing to take its chances against decay and the prevailing winds, its falling is only a question of time. He hauls out everything available for fuel, thus frequently getting enough fuel for a year or two from a small plot of ground next he puts all logs left on the ground into convenient lengths which, with the help of his neighbors, he makes into heaps on the ground, and into these heaps go all refuse from the fuel selected. The brush with log heaps often cover almost the entire surface of the ground. His clearing is now done and is ready for the grand burning as soon as the brush and logs are sufficiently dry. If the clearing is done in the summer or fall, the burning may be done in winter, but if the clearing is done in winter the burning is not generally done until in the spring, just before planting time. After this new field is burned off, he proceeds to surround it with a "crossfence" of rails, when it is ready for the plow.

 

     The farmer frequently realizes enough corn or cotton from this new field the first year to pay for its clearing, though it generally happens that very little is obtained for the first year's cultivation, but the second year's cultivation generally yields excellent crops bale of cotton or thirty bushels of corn per acre being frequently realized on uplands the second year, but its maximum is not generally reached till the third year. This field is then kept in constant cultivation in crops which take all from the soil and return very little, or nothing, to it until by a constantly diminishing yield, it is found no longer profitable for cultivation; then it too, is laid aside, and another inroad made upon the forest.

 

     Nowhere in the United States, perhaps, can more generous soil be found than the rolling woodlands of Claiborne Parish nowhere a soil which more readily yields up its elements of plantfood, or is easier of cultivation. There are richer and more durable lands elsewhere, but taking into consideration certainty of yield and ease of cultivation, there are none, I venture to say, which will better repay careful tillage and proper management than they, or more worthy of the attention of the intelligent agriculturist. These lands are almost all adapted to the highest fertilizing; they can, by proper management and very little cost, be kept at their maximum yield indeed, they can be made better every year instead of being made poorer, as is now too often the case. I have heretofore spoken of the better class of uplands in Claiborne, these, as I said before, often yield, with careful tillage and with­out fertilizers, as much as a bale of cotton or 30 or 40 bushels of corn per acre. Corn and cotton being the leading productions of the country the value of land is generally estimated by its production of these two staples; but there are other lands not so productive; others in cultivation on which half of the above yield is considered a good one; others there are, too, which seem comparatively worthless, except for the timber on them.

 

     But this last class of lands form but a small part of Claiborne's area. There is very little land within the limits of the parish which may not be profitably cultivated, and upon all of it fertilizers may be profitably used. This fact has been demonstrated again and again, in numerous instances. The surface soil, though unusually light and porous, has underlying it a firm and compact subsoil which is within easy reach of plant roots, and which serves the double purpose of giving the plant a firm hold on the earth, and of preventing the leaking through of fertilizers applied to the surface soil. This subsoil is not entirely of clay or aluminum, as the chemists call it, which is not food for plants, but is found to contain, in many cases, a fair amount of plantfood.

 

     The staple commodities of this part of the country for markets outside the State, it is expected, will soon enlarge in number, but at present they are extremely few, and might perhaps be summed up in one word Cotton. Cotton is almost our only crop for sale. It is, as we say here, "our only money crop." The history of agriculture in the United States, and perhaps in other parts of the civilized world, has always taught one important lesson which impoverished farms and empty purses are slowly urging the present generation to heed. It is this that no exclusively agricultural community can ever be prosperous while it confines itself to the production of a single commodity. No matter how well the soil may be adapted to its production, the climate and natural conditions suited to its growth, that country or community which links its fortunes to that of a single plant, that stakes its all upon its successful culture, will be and must needs be always poor and often finds itself in sad straits. Experience proves this lesson wherever such a course has been pursued. The most unobservant traveler through a country where cotton is cultivated to the exclusion of other crops suited to the soil and climate, or where tobacco, hemp, or any other single plant reigns supreme, has had this truth forced upon him by the worn out lands, the deserted homesteads, the dilapidated fences and farm houses, the utter absence of progress and enterprise, and the scenes of thriftlessness and want which meet his eyes on every side,

 

     While cotton is now almost the only thing produced for market, the soil of Claiborne Parish is admirably adapted to the production of a variety of other crops, which might profitably take the place of cotton in part. The sweet potato is, for house use, a universal crop in this part of the State, and seems to be in its natural home. It is easily propagated from the roots, sprouts or vines, and with a little care in the preparation of the ground and subsequent cultivation; returns an immense yield, often as much as 300 bushels per acre. From its easy propagation and cultivation, its large yield and the variety and excellence of the dishes prepared from it, it is one of the indispensable crops for home use, but has not hitherto, been raised for markets outside the State. This is due, doubtless, to lack of transportation, but now that we have a railroad within easy reach and are likely to have another soon, this impediment will be removed and we may expect to see the sweet potato take its place among the products of the country and with great profit to the farmer.

 

     The Irish potato or "white potato," is accredited as a native of Chili and Peru, and was introduced into North America by the Spaniards, from whence it was, in 1586, carried by Sir Waiter Raleigh to England, and perhaps acquired its name of "Irish potato" from the extent to which it was grown in Ireland. This tuber ought soon to take a prominent place among the very profitable crops of North Louisiana. There is probably nothing that the soil produces which can be more profitably grown than the Irish potato.

 

     Field peas of many varieties grow to perfection here and are often a valuable adjunct to the farmers' corn crop, as they furnish excellent food for all kinds of domestic animals, including man himself. Their cultivation is receiving a large share of attention now, which is a sign of better times, as besides its valuable qualities as a food, its culture is very beneficial to the land on which it is grown. The pea is largely an air feeder and hence may be grown on very poor land and be made to return much more to the soil than it takes from it, and thus increase fertility. It is found very advantageous to land to sow it in peas and plow under while the vines are green.

 

     Wheat does not seem to do well anywhere in Louisiana, though it has been tried at various times on the uplands of Claiborne; its culture has never been attended with marked success. Sometimes its yield has been satisfactory, more frequently however it fails.

 

     Oats are a staple production of the country. If sown in the fall they rarely fail to amply repay the farmer for all the care and attention bestowed upon them. Barley and rye also do well here but are not at present largely planted, not as much as formerly.

 

     Sorghum has been at various times experimentally grown, and is at present grown in small quantities. It grows very luxuriantly, and is of certain yield if properly cultivated, but has been regarded as of doubtful profit. Its tops or seed are known to be excellent food for stock.

 

     Garden products are an essential feature of every household in the parish; no home is complete without its vegetable garden, the products of which go far toward furnishing the family with wholesome food throughout the entire year. Every variety of garden vegetable found in this latitude does well here, beans, English peas, cabbage, tomatoes, turnips, onions, beets, lettuce and numerous others grow very luxuriantly, and nothing pays better or is more pleasing to the eye than the well kept gardens in Claiborne Parish.

 

     The timber supply is sufficient to meet the demands of the population, as it naturally increases, for many generations. Pine, several kinds of oak, sweet and black gum, hickory, walnut, ash, maple, iron wood, persimmon and many other varieties are found in easy reach of nine-tenths of the farms. There are thousands of acres once in cultivation worn out and now left to grow up or wash away, that are covered with young pines, etc. Here and on parts of farms too wet to cultivate, grow delicious blackberries, bushels of which may be seen at a glance; dewberries in luxuriant plenty are found in these old fields. These, together with various other berries, such as the different kinds of haws, huckleberries, paw paws, (the banana of the temperate zones) etc, may be had in plenty for the mere trouble of gathering; chincapins, walnuts and  hckorynuts are equally as numerous. Fruits of all kinds peculiar to this latitude grow to perfection, and a failure of the crop is rare. Flowers, native and exotic, are reared with little trouble, grow luxuriantly, and frost, except with the most tender varieties, seldom requires that they be housed or protected.

 

     Game of the smaller species, such as squirrels, birds, hare, etc. are numerous, but deer and turkey, though once very numerous, are now rare, having sought more thinly settled parts of the country.

 

     Melons of every variety, from the classic pumpkin to the primitive gourd, abound in Claiborne and of the very finest quality, among which the watermelon deserves special mention. It is probable that nowhere in the world can this fruit be grown more successfully than here on the sandy lands of Claiborne. It is extremely prolific, fully flavored and often grows to immense size. The writer has often seen them weighing fifty pounds, sometimes sixty. They might be very profitably grown here for northern markets.

 

CHAPTER V.

 

EARLY DAYS IN NORTH LOUISIANA, BY AN OLD SETTLER

WILD APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY FOREST FIRESSETTLEMENTS, ETC.

 

     In the latter part of the winter of 1818 could have been seen in the Horse Shoe bend Of Cumberland River, Tenn., about three miles from  Carthage, a flat boat tied by ropes to the shore. On this boat was a man and his wife, some children, a few household goods, cooking utensils and a rifle. That man was John Murrell, starting with his family in search of a home in the far west, somewhere up in the Red River valley. Early in the morning the lines that held the flat boat to the shore were cut looser and John Murrell, wife and children turned their backs to their old Tennessee home. Floating down the river, they joined at Nashville, according to a previous understanding, a company of emigrants that were bound to the same unknown promised land. Disposing of his old flat boat, Murrell and family got aboard one of two barges, or, as then called, keel boats. There were about ten families, towit: that of Wallace: Clark, Ward, Manning, Dyer, (big Joe), Hutson, Robinson, Duty, Dooly, Peterson and Murrell. Descending the Cumberland, they entered the great Mississippi and floated down to the month of Red River. After resting here a few days, they slowly ascended the wondrous Red River, and after many days of toil and much loss of time in working their way through the Great Raft (note from transcriber-this is a reference to the immense log jam which hindered navigation on the Red River) and among monster aligators (sic), safely landed at Long Prairie, in the Arkansas Territory. All were charmed with the country--it was so fresh and new but it was a solitude. The sound of an axe or rifle was not to be heard, nor the smoke of a cabin to be seen. They were alone in a primeval world. One of the company, H. Robinson, became so dissatisfied because of the wild and unbroken solitude of the country, that he alone with his wife and child, made off through the wild woods for his home in dear old Tennessee.

 

     The others, having more nerve, spent some time in hunting out localities to suit them. Murrell and Wallace pitched their camp on the bank of the river, put up rude board shelters, cut down a small patch of cane and planted corn and vegetables. Murrell having about $100 in cash, determined to invest it in cattle; so in June he took a trail that led down to Natchitoches Parish; for it must be remembered that the only pass ways were the hunter or Indian trails, or paths. On the trail Murrell traveled there were between Long Prairie and Natchitoches, only two cabins, one of which was vacant, for the man (Bosel) who built it, left in a few days after completing it for Texas, or the Spanish country, as it was then called. The other was the home of Isaac Alden and Mrs. Johnson, the place now known as the Bools place, eight miles east of Minden. Alden and his wife entreated Murrell to bring his family and take possession of this cabin. But Murrell wanted cattle, so he went ahead on his cow hunt south of Natchitoches found and bought ten cows and calves. On his arrival home with his cattle, he was horror struck to find a number of his family sick with fever. This he could not stand, and at once determined to get his family away from the river. The deserted cabin on the Natchitoches trail, the kindly suggestion of the Aldens, promptly came to mind, and he resolved so soon as his family was able to travel, to leave the poisonous Red River and find a shelter in this lonely cabin.

 

     His wealth was not great, consisting of two ponies, ten cows and calves, one dog, one rifle and an axe, but of far more value to him than all else, a brave wife and six dependent children. August 6, 1818, he stopped in front of that vacant cabin on the place now belonging to Wm. H. Maxey, and beneath its humble shelter, thankfully placed his wearied wife and children. Letting Mrs. Johnson know that his family was in the Bosel cabin she immediately attended to his wants, letting him have meat, bread, corn, etc, and showing every delight at knowing she had a neighbor within twelve miles, for up to this time her nearest neighbors were at Campte (sic) miles below on Red River. As neighbors, we mean such as a civilized, Christian woman could welcome. We could almost daily see Indians, for there were many of them in the country. They lived in small villages, and moved from place to place as their hunting expeditions required. But these Indians were inoffensive, committing no depredations on stock or other property.  One of these villages was on the land now owned by Col. John Kimbell, and among these roving people was a halfbreed Cherokee, who had fled from his people for killing one of the tribe.

 

     Away from the malarial Red River, Murrell's family soon regained good health, save the babe, which in a few days left the lonely cabin a corpse.

 

     Murrell being possessed of a fair supply of native genius, as well as plenty of pluck, at once went to work and in a day or two had rigged up and in fine working order a first class Armstrong mill. This mill, though simple in appearance, combined several of the mechanical powers, operating through a spring pole to a pestle in a mortar box, or hole burnt into the end of a heavy block of wood. The spring pole is worked up and down by hand hence the name "Armstrong mill." The sifting apparatus of this mill was made of a dry deer skin from which the hair had been shaved, stretched tightly over a broad wooden hoop, and then burned full of holes with a hot spindle. It was a great success; far surpassing the common hand pestle and mortar. However, two or three years thereafter, he succeeded in getting an improved Armstrong, a steel mill, which proved to be a great saving of labor, and made a better meal than the old fashioned spring pole.

 

     The country then was almost entirely covered with a dense thicket of brush, briars and vines. Cane was abundant on all the streams and abutting hill points, but fire breaking out and spreading, all over the land, killed this mass of brush, while a second fire cleaned off all the face of the land, leaving it an open, beautiful country. You could see a cow or deer as far as the eye could reach through the intervening living timber. New grasses sprang up, the wild pea vine and switch cane, and a better range for farmer’s cattle, hogs, deer and turkey was never seen.

 

     Murrell cultivated his first crop with the hoe, both his ponies having died. The woods abounding with all manner of game, he got his main supply there from. A turkey for dinner required only a few minutes hunt, venison steak was to be had at any hour, and bear in the proper season was readily converted into the best of bacon. Wolves, too, abounded. It was common to see them, of moonlight nights, traveling around the house or cow pen. Mrs. Murrell left her churn at the creek side one night and the wolves carried it off it to a tree top fifty yards away and knawed (sic) it to pieces. They were fearful on young pigs and calves.

 

     As previously stated, there were no roads, but in lieu thereof were two trails leading through the country one from Mt. Prairie, Ark.,to Natchitoches, the other from Long Prairie, Ark, to Monroe, or Ouachita Parish. Natchitoches Parish, in which was then embraced Claiborne Parish, extended from Rapides north to Arkansas Territory, and from Ouachita Parish on the east to the Spanish country (Texas) on the west.

 

     In the fall of 1818 several families moved into the country. Mrs. Long settled, where is now Haynesville. Her house, or cabin, stood about where now is the residence of A. Brown. Her son, Davis Long, settled the place now known as Long’s Springs, near Minden, and lived there a batchelor for years; but in 1836 he took unto himself a wife, and raised a clever family of children; among them we recollect Miss Lucy Long. She is now dead.

 

     If I mistake not, about this time Martin Allen came into this same neighborhood and settled on what is known as the J. W. Fuller property. He was the first Justice of the Peace appointed in this part of the parish.  Mr. Holcomb, about the same time came among us, and Mr. Brazil and Obediah Diskill, and Mr. A. Crownover. Mr. Diskill settled the Cooper place, and Mr. Crownover on the Dr. Harper Creek. Mr. Crownover was a hatter by trade, and to get me a hat I hunted coons many nights to get fur enough to make it. Ten good skins were required to make a boy's hat. Dr. Walker located on the same Harper Creek (both settlements are now in the Joe Carter farm); and he was a doctor by  nature and not by education, and very successful in treating all the simple sickness of that day, (1819); for the country was remarkably healthy. The population of this settlement increased rapidly, it looked to us to be numberless, and may be enumerated by calling the names of the  families Mr. Jessie Williams and his good wife, Aunt Minnie, two children and a black dog, and Thomas Gray, who settled three miles south, of Murrell. He was a most zealous Methodist and seemed to think, from the way, he talked, that Methodism was first and the Bible second. But religion was at a mighty low ebb in those days. Meat, bread and shelter were the main considerations.

 

     In 1820 news came that some German emigrants had been left near Loggy Bayou in a destitute and helpless condition. Mr. A. J. Alden, Thomas Gray and Murrell went to see if they could be of any assistance to them. Finding them in a truly bad condition, each contracted with a family to live with him two years in consideration of a support and being taught the use of our implements in making a living in a new country. Mr. Alden brought home with him Jacob, a pedler; Mr. Gray, Adam Miller (father of Jake and Cody), and Murrell, Frederick Miller and his father, father and grandfather of Long John Miller. The old man Miller died the second year after he was brought among us, and for his body was dug the first grave, in Murrell's grave yard, and we believe he was the first man to die in Claiborne Parish. That grave used to look lonely out there in the woods, but it is in a little city of the dead now shaded by the cedar and forest growth. These people worked out their contracts, then settled near by on homes of their own and raised large and respectable families. There are many of these true Millers in different parts of the parish.

 

     During this year William Gryder moved in and settled on Buck Creek, with all his girls, boys and dogs many, though he had no more than the law allowed him. He was our first blacksmith, and hammered more iron and with more persistence than any man in ail the land. With him bell making was a specialty; he could not be beat, and he learned all his boys to make bells his girls were belles by nature, of the best kind, as was proven by the boys taking one as soon as they could. Also came this year the McCaftys, the Edmonds and many others, good men and women, whose names I cannot now recall.

 

     In 1821 Mr. Newt Drew settled on Black Bayou, near Driskill. Drew was a gunsmith by trade, though he here turned his attention mainly to farming. He sent his old servant, Jack, one morning to drive up his horses. That morning Jack found a bear turning over a log in search of bugs, and thinking himself a good bear hunter, picked up a pine knot and made for the bear. Slipping close up he let drive at the bear, and to his astonishment the bear wheeled around to see what was the trouble. Seeing Jack, the bear laid his ears back and made for him, but Jack, trusting to his legs, fled like a scared wolf. He escaped from the bear, but when he stopped in his wild flight, he was lost, and wandered around for three or four days when he was found in Dorcheat Swamp, near Long's Springs, as now known, about twenty miles from home. Jack quit the bear business. Mr. Drew afterward moved down on the Dorcheat, established the lower landing and got under way the town of Overton, which being at the head of navigation it was thought would become a big inland city. He also built the first saw and grist mill in the parish. It was on the Cooly and ran by water power. Much might be said of this good old go-ahead pioneer. Himself and wife were true old Tennessee Baptists. His oldest son, Thomas Drew, became Governor of Arkansas. Harmond Drew, his youngest son, became District Judge in this State; and Richard Drew died while Probate Judge of this Parish. Some of his daughters married well, others, contrary to the old man's wishes, not so well. This makes me think of the first marriage that took place in our parish though the ceremony of the marriage was performed in Arkansas, if I mistake not. At least it soon became the fashion for the bride and groom to go to Arkansas to get married. People then were about the same as now, in this particular. When they determined to marry, any officer or preacher, who was able to administer the ceremony, would do. This was in 1821, and Mr. John Allen and Miss Mary Holcomb were the happy pair. The next, in 1822, was Wm. Crowly and Miss Jenny Long. This pair, I think went to Natchitoches. Then came the marriage of Raleigh Rogers and Miss Mary Ann Long; then George Demos to Miss Nancy Gryder, and then, well, almost a host in rapid order. All went to Arkansas for convenience. A certain pine log in Arkansas became known as the stopping place, and which soon became famous for it had frequent visitors from far and near. One couple came from beyond the  Sabine river. It was my friend Thomas Palmer and Miss Steel, They told a good joke on her old father. He left home for Natchitoches on business, when seeing their chance, they made ready and followed on just after him. When near Natchitoches they turned to Grande Core (sic), crossed Red River, took the Claiborne trail and made direct for that old pine log, where they were duly married. They dodged the old man completely, because they feared, I reckon, he might say not and therefore knew nothing about thereafter until be got back home some two or three days afterwards. If that old log could talk it could tell some funny things. Sometimes the justice of the peace would be absent on a bear hunt, sometimes attending court at Champanolle or Echore Fabre, and sometimes exercising himself as a good old "Arkansas gentleman." He would have to hunted up and brought in sometimes via armis, and in the mean time the anxious Couple would camp out and wait patiently.

 

     In 1822, Mr. Deck (a gunsmith), blessed with an interesting family, settled near where Minden is now located, and Mr. Bias settled within three miles of him on the now Leary place. Near here also settled Mr. Loyd, a devout Methodist preacher, and John Gerren, a very quiet man, but a true born Methodist, and beliked by everybody. James Crow one of our best citizen, and a full fledged Baptist, but not a fussy man, lived on a place that is now embraced in the farm of Mr. D. Murrell, now dead. Mr. W. Wright located on part of the same farm. Aunt Jenny, as everybody called his wife and whom everybody liked, could tell as good a joke and laugh as long and loud as any one. She was a kind hearted, generous woman.

 

     We had no such thing as store clothes in those days. Every family had their cotton cards, spinning wheel and loom. Our shirts and pants were all home­spun, home woven and homemade. Buckskin pants and hunting shirts, and moccasins, the regular old Indian moccasins, were very fashionable, and a pair of good heavy homemade shoes made one feel almost proud enough, particularly if he was a young man, to think and feel like courting every woman he could hear of in the country.

 

     Our first school was taught by James Ashburner, in 1822, at a salary of $15 per month. John Murrell employed him.

 

     We got our salt at McCally's salt works, somewhere in the vicinity of Drake's old salt works, in Bienville Parish.

 

     It was about this time, too, that Mr. James Brinson of Ouachita parish, commenced his monthly preaching at John Murrell’s house. Assisted by Mr. Arthur McFarland, they soon established a church (Baptist of course) and kept up regular services for many years. These were the first  Baptist preachers in the parish. To show how our section was improving, and what notoriety it was gaining, sometime in this year, 1822,  Harrison & Hopkins of Natchitoches, sent up a small stock of goods in charge of a Frenchman by the name of Forshe, who opened up in a small cabin close to Murrells. But he went off on whiskey, and in a year or two lost his stock in trade and ran away.

 

     In 1823 a long step towards the civilized world was made, for in that year a mail route was established from Natchitoches to Washington in Arkansas. Our post office was called "Allen Settlement Post office," because Mr. Allen was our first Justice of the Peace, and John Murrell was appointed postmaster. Trips were made back and forth twice a month. Letters conveyed over 500 miles cost twenty-five cents, and under 500 miles twelve and one half cents postage. Let us here state that our old friend Peter Franks, was an early settler on Brushy Creek, now in Bienville Parish; also John Leatherman, the Cragiles, and Robert and Jas. Henderson were on the road near the place now known as Buckhorn, but the date of their coming we have forgotten. The first cotton gin was erected by Thomas Moore, in 1824, for Adam Reynolds, who sold it to Russell Jones in 1825, then on the present Harper place. Reynolds was a man of great energy. He made more improvements and sold out oftener than any man in the parish, except perhaps, John D. Pair. About this time Josiah Wilson, believing competition to be the life of trade, started up the Middle Landing, near Minden. These two landings go to show that the boating business (keel boats I mean) amounted to something. James Lee and R. L. Kilgore, in 1825, opened a fair stock of goods in the little storehouse near Murrell that had been put up by Harrison & Hopkins. And in this year we had our first camp meeting, held near Isaac Miller's place, and conducted by Revs. Wlm. Stevenson, McMahon and Ross. The next, in 1826, were held on the Maxey place, and in 1827 was assembled our first Baptist Association, in a school house on the late Dr. Martin's farm, near Germantown.

 

     In 1825 Charley Hays settled on the place now known as Keener farm, near Athens. He was reputed the greatest bear hunter of his day making bear hunting a specialty in the winter when they were fat.

 

     In those early days the French Creoles in and about Natchitoches and Campte would make raids through the country bear hunting, having with them from 25 to 30 ponies and as many dogs. They moved north­ward in December and returned generally in February, with their ponies loaded down with bear meat and skins. This year George Grounds located on Flat Lick. He was as kind and true a hearted Dutchman as ever lived but would go off on whiskey sometimes. He had a large family, some of whom were devoted Methodists. I think some of his descendants are yet in this Parish. Our first singing school, in 1827, was taught by Mr. George Ridley, near Mr. Ground's house. He used the patent notes. In this year also, and I am sorry to tell it, the Baptists had a split in their church about the fellowship of the members, whose conduct was not in keeping with the word. Some condemned while others sustained them believing their conduct not to be unscriptural. The parties sustaining the brothers, took the Bible for their creed and guide, and went off, refusing to be governed by man’s (?) creed, and there are a few of that faith in the parish yet calling themselves Christians, for short. They came very near playing out though when the war of 1861 came on. Some time during this year the road heretofore referred to as the military road, was cut by United State troops, connecting Fort Jessup, on lower Red River, with Fort Towson, away up on upper Red River. This road was opened to transport supplies to that distant garrison. I well recollect that the soldiers and recruits passing to and from that fort, stole everything of small value they could lay their hands on such as bells, whetstones, chickens, geese, etc., and among other things a pet deer from Murrell’s yard.

 

     In 1828 Claiborne Parish was created. It was bounded on the east by Ouachita Parish, on the west by Red River, on the north by Arkansas Territory and on the south by a line dividing townships 13 and 14, crossing the old military road at or near what was then called Boggy Branch, and touching Red River at or near East Point. Our first probate judge was Chichester Chaplin, a young lawyer and widower of some promise. He was from Natchitoches and was appointed judge. But he soon cast aside his weeds and married Mrs. Palmer, a most estimable lady. Bo(?) was Clerk of the Court, Isaac McMahon Sheriff.  Mr. Wilson of Monroe, District Judge. Murrell’s house was used for a courthouse for a year or two, when, by the influence of Sam Russell and others at interest, a place on His (Russell’s) property was selected as the parish site, which was named for him, Russellville.  Then James Lee and R. C. Killgore moved their stock of goods there, thereby being the first merchants in Russellville.

 

     As our people had now increased considerably in numbers, the convenience of public roads began to be called for. So in 1829 our first public road was opened. It was from Russellville to the Minden lower landing, the head of navigation on Bayou Dorcheat. Hands were summoned for a distance of 25 to 30 miles to open it. This road was a big item in our history then. An election was held this year, and Murrell’s house, which seems to have become the headquarters on all public occasions, was the voting place. A difficulty sprang up while the voting was going on between George Grounds, Jr, and James Madden. They exchanged a few blows and were then separated. Wm. Robinson, Justice of the Peace, ordered the Sheriff to arrest the two combatants and bring them before his august presence, which order was promptly executed. On investigation the J.P. found Grounds guilty of assault and battery, fined him $20 and to be held in custody until paid. Grounds, poor fellow, had no money, but offered to sell two cows and calves to pay the fine. A purchaser was soon found for the cattle, the fine paid, and so was closed this breach of the peace without further trouble. Was that not a better way to dispose of such troubles than now prevail?

 

     James Dyer, who moved to Texas after the war, was the first representative, 1829, that Claiborne Parish had the honor of sending to the  State capital; and his immediate successor, a full-blooded Democrat, was Berry A. Wilson. It was in 1830, I think, the legislature appropriated $1,500 for the improvement of navigation in Loggy Bayou and Lake Bistenau. (sic) The contract was awarded to a Mr. Leavright, which work he executed to the satisfaction of the committee appointed to examine and pronounce upon the faithful fulfillment of the the contract. And now as our honorable Court had got into good working order, it may be well to refer to the first case of any importance that was spread upon the court docket. This was Hempkin vs. Mabry Wafer. It hung fire for years. Mr. Wafer lived on Sugar Creek, and was Justice of the Peace in that ward. He was a shrewd man, knew what he was about, and in law was generally successful.

 

     By this time and up to 1837 a number of small trading houses were set up in different parts of the parish. Mr. Savage, of Campte, had a shop at Overton, and was succeeded by Joe Robinson, also of Campte. D. C. Pratt was his successor. One McGrady opened up on Flat Lick. George A. Bell succeeded him and then Wm. Harkins bought out Bell. They all carried on a splendid one horse business. Mr. Harkins was justice of the peace for years, and was considered a good judge of law at least he had considerable experience as defendant.

 

     As before stated, roads in these early days were not, and the pathways and byways were winding, yet along these ways our people would bring from distant trading points nearly all their supplies on horseback, even to bars of iron. Our rude wagons would sometimes set out on a trip to Natchitoches or Monroe, with wooden axles and no skeins, and the screeching of the wheels, which were long and loud, could be heard of a morning three and four miles away, reminding one of a pack of hounds at full cry in the distance. But the boys and drivers were used to such a racket, and the game was so plentiful that by the time the wagons would reach Natchitoches or Monroe they would be bearing an extra load of deer skins and skins or peltry were then our main staple or exchange in trade. It took twenty to forty days to make these wagon trips.

 

     Sometime in 1833 Mr. Alexander and Jake Masters determined to slaughter an old bear that had got into the bad habit of making away with their hogs in Dorcheat swamp. They soon got Mr. Bear up and then the chase began. The bear passed several times through an open slough in the cane brake, and Alexander discovering this, took a stand for him in the slough. Soon the bear entered the slough, and spying Alexander, made for him with a vengeance. Alexander's gun failed to fire, the bear went for him, and had it not been for Alexander's buckskin suit he would have been killed he was maimed for life. Masters said it was the first fight he ever saw that he had rather not take choice of sides.

 

     I should have stated that the first killing in this section was by a Mr. Sapp who killed his brother-in-law, Bryant, and then fled to the Indian Nation. The cause of the killing was said to be heinous. Then came the next murder in our parish. It occurred about eight miles east of Minden, on the military road. It was the willful assassination of a Mr. Sloan, of Arkansas, by John Halthouser, for his money. Halthouser believed Mr. Sloan had a good sum of money on his person as he was a trader, but he had only $370 with him at that time, of which sum $60 was found in possession of Halthouser. To make a good thing of it, watch was kept on Sloan until report said he had some fifteen hundred dollars that he was taking to Arkansas. Secreting himself in the brush, on the military road, Halthouser waited his opportunity. The old man Sloan, apprehending no danger, rode by where the murderer was concealed, and was shot through the head from behind with a rifle ball. It had been raining a good deal and the ground was wet and the grass luxuriant. The track of the dead man was left on the ground, as his body was dragged to one side, about fifty yards from the road, and thrown into a pool of water. The buzzards attracted the attention of some passersby, a few days afterwards, when on examination the ghastly corpse was found, and a too precipitate display of money led to the suspicion of the Dutchman, which demoralized him. It was generally believed at the time that Halthouser,s brother in law had a hand in the murder, but if such was the case Halthouser was too plucky to tell on him. Halthouser was found guilty, confessed, and was executed at Russellville in 1835, by Mr. Dyer, then our sheriff.

 

     But after this followed one of the most horrible murders and shocking crimes ever recorded. It was the desecration and murder of Miss Demos, a young lady about eighteen years of age. She was on horseback, going by a pathway from her father's house to a neighbors, to warp some thread. Failing to return in time search was made, the signs of a desperate struggle found, and the signs being followed, the dead body of the girl was found, with both arms broken and the face pressed down in a pool of water. The footprints of the murderer were plainly to be seen on her shoulders, where he stood pressing her down. The whole community arose in its wrath and instituted search for the monster. A bloody shirt belonging to one Lambright was found in his own cabin, and on failing to satisfactorily to explain, he was arrested as the murderer, but escaping from jail, how, no one knew, fled to Texas and was no more heard of.

 

     Here we close these reminiscences, because a number of the actors of that day are yet living and the events of the later years are patent to many now with us, and can be recalled by them, perhaps, with more relish than myself, for we were all plain people then, with few wants and much love for our fellow man. Sixty seven years, with all their promises and disappointments, their sunshine and shadows, have come and gone since I came to North Louisiana. Many changes, ups and downs, since then have occurred. Then I was young and jubilant, now I am old and stricken in years; my sons and daughters, save one, fail to answer my call. Ah, Yes---'' My head it is gray; Yet I sit in the sunshine to watch you."

 

CHAPTER VI.

 

A GEORGIA EMIGRANT-HIS RECOLLECTIONS OF THE

 

EARLY DAYS IN CLAIBORNE PARISH.

 

     On the 28th of November, 1847, my father and step­mother, with eight boys, left Troup County, Georgia, for a home somewhere west of the Mississippi River. On the 8th day of January, (a historical day in Louisiana), 1848, we landed in the little village of Athens, which was situated on a deep sandy ridge about ten miles south of Homer, (Homer was then not in existence) and fourteen miles north of Minden. Minden was then a small but active trading point at the head of navigation on Lake Bistenau. This I hope will enable you to know where Athens is. We found in Athens, when we stopped there, a beautiful flowing spring, a court house, which was then considered a creditable building, and about a dozen dwellings, here and there. The court house remained at Athens until 1849 when on the night of Nov. 27th, it was fired and burned down with all the parish records. How it took fire has never been found out. The post office was in charge of Arthur McFarland, who was a Baptist preacher. There was a little tavern also kept by one Saunders P. Day; also a small stock of goods in a little log house, managed by a man named Kiser. Right here was concentrated the business part of town.

 

     We had a good camping ground just above the spring I have referred to. Shortly after we had got our camp pitched, who should ride up but Mr. John Kimball, and to father's great surprise he at once recognized him. He and father, when boys, were play mates. Well, you can imagine how pleasant was the meeting between these two men in the wilds of Louisiana, who separated when boys in old Georgia. Mr. Kimball at that time was living on the John Frazier place, now known as the Keener place. Mr. Kimball was anxious for all new comers to do well, so he told father of a good place about three and a half miles southeast of Athens, known as the Nelson place, and which he thought could be bought cheap and on good terms. Nelson had moved to Arkansas, leaving this place in charge of Col. Lang Lewis, as agent. On agreement, early next morning, Col. Kimball was back at our camp, and in a little while he and father went off together to look at the Nelson place. On examination father was so well pleased that he and the Colonel went direct to Col. Lewises, and, behold, here came together three old Georgian boys, now men with families in the far West. Father did not hesitate to make known his business to Col. Lewis; a trade was soon made, a good dinner partaken of, and a long old Georgia talk indulged in all round. Then father and Col. Kimball set out for our camp in Athens, to bring the good tidings that we had a home now, and would next day be under our own shelter. I tell you that was a happy camp that night. The next morning, January 10th, we rolled out of camp for home where father lived until September 30, 1867, on which day he died, aged seventy-four years.

 

     When we settled down in our Louisiana home, the country was new, open and full of game, such as turkey, deer, ’coon , etc. We could have  venison or a turkey just any day. Often we would have as many as a dozen dried venison hams at a time. Wolves were numerous and very troublesome. They were very fond of pigs, and many a night have I heard a pig squeal as Mr. Wolf was flying off with him to the thicket. They disappeared in 1852, and the last bear killed in our neighborhood was in 1850 by Thomas Berry and A. J. Durant, near the old Windfall race track. Lands were cheap, $2.50 per acre on an average up to 1848. It was very productive often making as much as forty bushels of corn per acre.

 

     There were only a few common watermills in the country then, and when the summer came the winter and spring supply of water in the ponds would become exhausted, and of course the mills would stop grinding. Two were on the Murrell creek and one just below old Russellville, on the Berry Creek. There were a few horse mills and gins here and there. Densmore Cargile and Sam Leatherman had mills attached to their gin machinery and made very good meal. The tole then was only one fourth of the grist. Wonderful changes and improvements have taken the place of those early day makeshifts. But we all thought nothing of it then, satisfied in believing we had the best times could afford. Now I am in hearing of eight steam mill whistles where lumber of all kind is made corn ground and cotton ginned, and even pressed by steam at some of them. As for churches and schools, very little interest was taken in them when we first landed in this country. But in 1850, when the Georgians and Alabamians began to crowd into the country, a great interest in both church and school was soon manifested, and this interest has been making more or less progress up to this date, as is proven by the numerous schools and churches throughout the parish.

 

     Perhaps it may be well to name the families living in this part of the parish when we came their descendants or many of them are here yet. We will name the McFarlands, Brinsons, Nelsons, related families; Albert Ashbrook, Jessie Long, Luther and Dave Pratt, Esquire Russell, the Butler’s, Browns, Isaac Alden, Peter Franks, Berry Wilson, Jim Lee, R. L. Killgore, James Dial, Madden, Sr., Thompson, Tom Berry, Martin and Jimmy Crow, Bob Henderson, Wright, Sam Williams, Leathermans, Pruits, Taylors, Cargile, John Wilson, Parker and Barfield, Mullens and Charley Hays, father of C. L. Hays. Some of these families were in the Russellville and others in the Athens neighborhood. Near Athens you will find Thomas Leatherman, who has ever proved himself a worthy citizen, and C. L. Hays, Who has as few enemies (if he has any) as any matt living, and Isaac Butler, who yet loves the fun of beaver, rapping, and Tom Crow, who can makes dollar and has sense enough to save it. Among the old ladies ye, among us, who were young and in their prime when th6y came here, let me mention Aunt Charity Berry; she is about eighty-five years old and is still living on the place where she first settled, fifty years ago. My old step mother also, who came to this land of promise with father thirty six years ago, is still living, and is seventy-eight years old.

 

     Russellville being the parish cite (sic) of Claiborne Parish, perhaps a few words as to its history may not be out of place here.  Its settlement began, if I mistake not, about 1825. B.L. Killgore deposited the money in the Land Office at Natchitoches to enter the land on which the Village was built. This deposit of the purchase money was made at the request of many citizens in order to secure that particular locality for the town as the land in that part of the parish had not yet been surveyed. The courthouse and jail, both of wood, were promptly erected, also several small business houses and grog shops. It was a wild place inhabited in part and visited by a number of hard cases to be found in all new countries, Russellville had the honor of the first man tried, convicted and hung as the law directs. The miserable man, Halthouser, was hung about half a mile east of the courthouse. R. L. Killgore, one of the early merchants of Claiborne, first sold goods, etc., near the Murrell place and next at Russellville. Lee and Berry Wilson were with him. Soon after commencing business in Russellville he married Miss Maxia A. Miller, whose father was the first white man buried in the Murrell graveyard. Killgore was a popular and worthy citizen, and the people showed their appreciation of him by electing him parish judge, which office he filled eight years. He was next elected by the Democratic party to represent Claiborne Parish in the State legislature, defeating his Whig opponent, James Dial, by a large majority. Killgore, after serving his term in the legislature, retired to private life, esteemed by all. He raised a large family of children five boys and six girls. He lost two gallant sons in the late war, and his youngest son was the first person buried at Salem church. Judge Killgore died in 1871 and his wife in 1883. Both were buried by the side of their son.

 

     A parting word about Russellville. We have referred to her when she was in all her pride and prosperity. When the courthouse was moved her glory departed. The village ground is now an old worn out field, and the only house that was a part of the village stands solitary and alone, just above the spring. This was the house of Judge Killgore, and is the oldest house in this part of the parish. Having referred to Athens as she was thirty-six years ago, let me refer to her as she is now. Athens is situated in the midst of a good and religious people. There are none better, taken all in all in the parish. She has two first rate Baptist and Methodist, each blessed with a large membership. She has the parsonage of the Tulip circuit-has a good school--a good doctor-two commodious storehouses--a good steam gin and gristmill--a blacksmith and woodshop and a post office with four mails a week. Four public roads lead to and from the village, and on each are several beautiful residences. And now let me close this little narrative by advising all men to obey the laws; keep God's commandments, and then we will dwell in peace and harmony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VII.

 

OVERLAND, FROM WEST POINT, GEORGIA, THROUGH NORTH LOUISIANA TO

ARKANSAS AND BACK TO CLAIBORNE

 

     On the 8th of December, 18,3, with wife and four children, I left my old Georgia home for the State of Arkansas. There had been a continued and unusual amount of rain, the streams were much swollen and the roads were almost impassible. On this account, when we reached Eutaw, in Green County, Ala., we stopped four months. This place had lately been made the county site, consequently it was fall of life  and activity in the way of improvements. The surrounding lands were rich, and mostly owned by wealthy planters. We utilized our time and skill while in this place. The first of May, 1844, I was en route to the West. B.P. Robinson, who left Georgia with us, had stopped over at Greensborough, the late county site of Green. He left Greensborough the day before we left Eutaw, it having been agreed that we should meet at a certain place , but in this we failed, and I moved on. But Robinson overtook me at Pearl River, in Mississippi. At Jackson we took the road to Rodney, having learned we could not get through the Mississippi bottom opposite Vicksburg.

 

     Crossing the river we traveled down the west bank to Waterproof. Then we left the river, turning northwest to Green's bayou. And this was our first day west of the great river. In Alabama and in Mississippi we had seen large bodies of rich land and magnificent farms stretched out as far as the eye could reach, around splendid mansions. My thoughts would go back to Morgan County, Ga, where I was born and partly raised, and to Troup County which I had so lately left, and the contrast was wonderful.

 

     We found a great deal of poor land though, both in Alabama and Mississippi; but when we beheld the land west of the Mississippi we found the soil far beyond anything we had ever imagined. We could but think of that granary of the world, the land of the Nile, in Egypt. We had some trouble in crossing Green's Bayou, for it was full. Getting side by side two dry cypress logs, we made a raft, and fortunately, being in the days when corded bedsteads were in vogue, we tied our bed cords to the trees on either bank and thereby drew our raft across. We carried a wagon at each trip, then carried over the women and children and last swam our stock over. We were of course delayed here some time, in the midst of immense canebrakes, cypress and other swamp growth. The noises of this howling wilderness at night were peculiar and to us horrible. Believing we had crossed the most difficult stream on our way to Sicily Island, we resumed our journey in good spirits, but were soon and sadly disappointed. We came to the Tensas River, where the Choctaw enters it, at Kirke's Ferry, and was told and saw that there was no chance of pursuing our way to Sicily Island by land, for from the ferry to the island nearly everything was under water. We pitched our camp on the edge of a canebrake near the banks of the river, and fed our stock on cane. There were but few settlers near our camp, which made it rather lonely, and as the river was rising very fast, we also felt a little uncomfortable, for retreat was impossible. (sic) Apprehensive that our camping place might be entirely submerged, we determined to build a proper raft, and try to make our way down the Tensas. Robinson had three sons nearly grown, a lad of a boy, a negro man and woman. I had one negro woman. We determined to utilize all our force in building our raft, had determined on plan and size, and were about to commence work, when as fortune would have it, up came a little stern wheel boat, propelled by horse­power, Hailing this boat she came to land, and it was not long before we made a trade with the proprietor to take us around to Harrisonburg, on the Ouachita River , but as the boat was on her up trip, we had to remain in our disagreeable camp two or three days, and daring this time we took to pieces our hack and wagons. On the return of the boat we got our families aboard, then our teams, and so placed our wagons as to prevent our stock from falling overboard. Our horse steamboat moved down stream slowly, and on reaching Waterproof, greatly to our annoyance, remained there some time.

 

     We could only be patient, however, and abide our boat’s time. At last up the Ouachita, we went creeping along, taking three days to make a trip of seventy miles. We landed at Harrisonburg in the night, but desiring to leave that boat, we went to work and got everything ashore and had our wagons together ready for an early move the next day. Harrisonburg was a small place and looked rather ancient boasted of two or three business houses with small stocks of goods. Turning our way north we found the country very poor, but having plenty of fine pine timber; occasionally would be passed a body of good land, and now and then a settlement on the road we traveled. We began to feel discouraged, to think we had left behind the Eden of America.

 

     When we reached Jackson Parish, we found a little more promising country, more settlements, and the people had plenty of all the substantials. Water­melons were abundant and free. Pushing on through, we reached and crossed D'Arbonne near the junction of Corni Bayou. On reaching Farmerville, then a new place and improving rapidly, we rested a while. Leaving Farmerville with a good impression of its people, we pursued our journey through Union Parish to Union County, Arkansas, and stopped at a place which afterwards became known as Lisbon. After crossing the D'Arbonne, we found the lands generally to be of a deep sandy soil, well watered, with an abundance of pine timber. A peculiarity of this region I noticed, was a swamp growth all over the hills, and this was a new chapter to me. Emigration was pouring into this hill country from all the Southern States. A few of the old settlers, "Hoosiers," some called them, who had been here for years and who had made hunting their main business, still remained on their old homes. They were generous and kind, though rude in their way, but felt grieved at seeing the forest, in which they had spent so many happy days, so ruthlessly cut down. Most of the emigrants of that day were men of some means, with growing families. Union County tilled rapidly with a class of men, take them all in all, that could not be surpassed in those sentiments that go to make up a reliable and trusty people. About the time Eldorado was laid off into lots, 1845, I settled down about two miles from it, but remained only one year. The improvement of town and country that year was wonderful, and for years the agricultural yield was great. But in a few years the lands washed badly and began to fail when they should have been in their prime. We left Union County the last of December, 1845, and went to Deshee County.

 

     We got to our new home in the early part of January, 1846. Deshse is a river county, and Napoleon, situated at or near the mouth of the Arkansas River, was and yet may be the county site. I spent the year in that part of the country lying between the Barthalomew and Saline Rivers. In 1847 I had to move, but it was only to another place in the same region. Being in the saddle most of the time, I traveled over large portions of the country, but mostly in the Arkansas River sections. From Pine Bluff to the Arkansas Post the lands were very rich, and a number of large farms were being worked there. A few farms only were back from the river. At the close of the year, I moved to Drew County, settling down n the parsonage, where I remained during 1848 and '49.

 

     Having to change my location, I moved to a small town not far from Monticello, known as Rough and Ready. At the close of 1850, I was broken down in health, and with a dependent and expensive family of seven children to raise and educate. Having visited Claiborne Parish, I decided to make that my home. Leaving Pine Bluff in the latter part of December, I arrived in Claiborne in April, 1857, having been delayed by business on the way. There was then a heavy tide of emigration pouring in. I have never seen more energy displayed than was displayed by these newcomers. Thousands of acres were yearly cut down and brought into cultivation. As to intelligence and morality, this community was comparable with any. There were many men of sterling and superior worth here. The soil of the parish, her prodigality of forests, were  unsurpassed by any upland parish in the state or county in south Arkansas. From 1850 to 1861, the accumulation of property in the parish was immense, churches were established everywhere; schools in every neighborhood; prosperity blessed the land and the people were just and happy. But the war cloud came down in 1861, and the present and promising future vanished in the turmoil and devastation of marching and contending armies.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

 

OTHER SETTLEMENTS AND NEIGHBORHOODS ANTIBELLUM (sic)

VILLAGES PERSONAL MENTION INCIDENTS, ETC.,

 

     Although the tide of emigration had been steadily increasing in volume, it was not till 1850 that it reached its flood; then the rush, by land and by water, was continuous and immense, particularly to the eastern portion of the parish. Up to about that year, this part of Claiborne was rather thinly populated but those that had come in were of the best material. It was composed of such families as that of O'Banon, Hargis, Dr. Bush, Thomson, Nolan, Williams, Smith Barber, Wasson, Bruce, Kennedy, Hall, Nelson, Wafer, Bullock, Aitken, Stephenson, Dyer, Gee, Butler, Henderson and Henry, James Dyer, Sam'l Smith, Dr. Bush and Richard Hargis, who once, represented the parish in the State Legislature. These pioneers came to North Louisiana when it was one of the most charming countries in the west. The axe had never resounded in these forest isles, save the chipping of the early surveyor. The forest was grand in its primeval state; the cloth of green spread interminably, presenting a vast range for all manner of stock in summer, and in winter was the switchcane on the hill­sides and dense masses of large growth in the bottoms. The huge oaks never failed to furnish a bountiful supply of mast, or acorns. Game, consisting of bear, deer, turkey, wolf, fox, cat, ducks, numerous birds, fish in such quantities that the supply really appeared inexhaustible. It was certainly the happiest community to be found. Unpretending, possessed with a bountiful supply of the real comforts of life, with elementary schools in log cabins, the pathetic story of the Cross told under some umbrageous arbor, or in a rude log house with puncheon floor and seats , with wants few, and ways just, these people were happy.

 

     But about 1849-50, this primeval land was found by the working Georgian and Alabamian, and from 1850 to 1861 lands changed ownership rapidly, the large area of public lands, then vacant, were soon entered. Then indeed the busy hum of agricultural industry commenced in earnest.

 

     "Loud sounds the axe, redoubling stroke on stroke, On all sides round, the forest, hurls the oak. Headlong, deep echoing, groan the thickets brown, Then cracking, crashing, rushing, thunder down."

 

     And the busy thud of the massive mawl, swung by black sinewy arms, kept time to the old plantation song of the simple happy negro, which for its plaintive melody can never be recalled on stage or in song. Roads were opened, the bayous bridged, academies were built and churches reared, in which such men as Randal, Wafer, Pennington, Fancher, Fuller, Simmons and others of equal ability and earnestness worked to develop the religious spirit of the people. Up sprang the village of Lisbon, surrounded and built by many well known families. I recall those of Killgore, McClendon, Cook, Duke, Patton, Tate, Bullard, White, Simmons, Heard, Coleman, Tippet, Aycock, McCasland, Dawson, Williams, Pennington and many others, with Dr. Seth Tatum, making it a live village.

 

     A few miles west of Lisbon was the thriving business stand of Forest Grove, the leading spirit of which was that truly good and upright man, Frank Taylor. He now sleeps in the bosom of Texas, and the place he once made noted throughout Claiborne, is now pointed out by the cold marble shaft in its silent forest grave yard. Here rests the remains of that eloquent and active Christian, Tatum Wafer; and Dr. Scaife, a physician of note and a man of business; of Milton Barnett, and many others whose memory is yet green in the hearts of surviving friends and relatives. The Methodist Church at this place was the most noted in the parish in its day, for here the ablest men preached and the most  effective work was accomplished in the name of the Master. North from this place on the banks of the Corni flourished for years the active village of Scottsville at the supposed head of navigation on that stream. But navigation never came. Yet such men as Major Browning, Dr Bush, Thomas Hart, the Stanleys and others like these, gave it life and vigor for years. But the village is now dead and no longer

known.

 

      West of this place was situated the little inland village of Colquitt, surrounded by such men as John Wilson, Elbert Gray, the Tignors, and others, whose names we cannot now recall. Blessed with a good church and a thrifty community, it flourished as did Claiborne, but is now nearly silent. A few miles west of this place, we come to Gordon, named for Dr. Gordon, who started it, and is now, if living, a citizen of Texas. It too, was surrounded by an active, go-ahead community, and flourished to the outbreak of the war.

 

     We next come to Haynesville. The original name of  the place was Taylor's Store, for J. C. Taylor, who opened a small retail business there in 1848. Previous to that date, in 1843, Hiram Brown had located close by, also J. C. Wagon and L. S. Fuller, in 1844. In 1846 Miles Buford and Samuel Boyd cast their fortunes in this settlement, and in 1849 Henry Taylor came among them. Yearly the settlement increased in numbers, and farms, large and small, were opened. In consequence of this increase in population and agriculture, Wm. W. and J. L.Brown began a mercantile business, next door to Taylor. Sam Kirkpatrick and Dr. Wroten opened a drug business. Up to 1848 very little of the public lands had been entered in this neighborhood, and farming was on rather a small scale. The country was full of game, and deer skins and hams were staple articles of trade. But with THC rush of emigration that began in 1850 and which continued up to 1860, new ideas came, new wants and new industries. Agriculture began in earnest, and in a few years large farms were in every direction, the public lands were all entered, roads opened and a mighty prosperity was exhibited all through the region.

 

      Summerfield, situated in the northeastern portion of the parish, is a thriving village of about one hundred and twenty inhabitants. It was settled by W. R. Kennedy in l868, by the erection of a wood and black­smith shop, and a business house. It now has four stores dealing in general merchandise and plantation supplies, several drug stores, a saw and gristmill, and several mills in the vicinity , all run by steam. It has four churches, M. E. Church South, Methodist Protestant, Missionary Baptist, and Primitive Baptist, all with live and progressive congregations. The town has a good school building, with a good and regular attendance of pupils. The four stores do an aggregate business of about fifty thousand dollars annually. The town has two mails a week. The country around is in a prosperous condition, and with good water, pure air, good health, and a fertile soil. Summerfield and its neighborhood offer strong inducements to those hunting homes. The land is well timbered, and can be bought, at from one to five dollars per acre. The agricultural future of this section of our parish is bright for him who puts his heart in his farm work and will use progressive methods of tillage.

 

     About six miles east of Homer is located the beautiful village of Arizona. Soon after the war a magnificent cotton factory was erected at this place, capable of employing a large number of hands. Its inconvenience to easy and rapid transportation, with other trouble, caused it to cease operating after a few years. It is now owned by John Chaffe of New Orleans, and is motionless. Arizona for a number of years, was the seat of  Arizona Seminary, a very popular and flourishing school under the principalship of J. W. Nicholson, now the eminent Professor of  Mathematics in the State University at Baton Rouge. Notwithstanding the discontinuance of the factory, and the decadence of its school, Arizona has held many of its best citizens, the Willises, Wafers, Nicholsons, Drs. Calhoun and Baker, Dutcher, Corrys, etc., and is happily blessed with, surrounding community of thrift, morality, and intelligence. In addition to the school and factory buildings, Arizona has one or more stores in operation, and a large and excellent meetinghouse, the property of the M. E. Church South, in which large and intelligent congregations meet regularly for religious worship.

 

     Tulip, another small village, situated about nine miles southeast of Homer, was, until quite recently, a fine trading point. Here for many years, P. Marsalis & Sons have carried on a heavy general merchandise and supply business; but lately much of their custom has, been drawn to Arcadia, a rising town on the V. S. & P. Railroad, twelve miles south; and to meet the exigencies brought about by this change, they have moved the greater portion of their business to that place. Besides its store and post office, Tulip owns a steam saw and grist mill, a steam cotton gin, a school­house, and a commodious and very good Methodist meeting house. There are a number of other steam cotton gins and saw mills in the immediate neighborhood, no less than five or six steam whistles being in easy hearing of the place. Tulip is noted for the steady and churchgoing habits of its people, and for the permanence and excellence of its school. The neighboring lands are among the most productive in the parish, and are occupied by a class of industrious and thrifty citizens. Among the old settlers, we may mention the Watsons, Marsalises, Whites, Gandys, Fomby, Leslie, Hays and others.

 

     The water shed of Claiborne is quite simple; Dorcheat carrying the water from the western slopes to Red River and D’Arbonne and Corni to the Ouachita River from the eastern slope. From D'Arbonne east the country is gently rolling, but from D'Arbonne to Sugar Creek south, the ridges are more sharply defined, particularly near the bayou, as well as the valleys and plains. This portion of the parish was very thrifty in the antibellum (sic) days, and claimed the largest farms and heaviest taxpayers, of whom I recall the names of W. A. Obier, S. P. Gee, J. W. Andrews and B. C. Frazier. The Sugar Creek and adjoining lands were fine, and here were to be found the Hood family from Alabama, Buck Edmunds, Perritt, Howard, Snider, Landers, Robinson and many others; here their numerous industrious descendents are yet to be found.

 

     We cannot close these notes of the early days in Claiborne without referring to two or three characters among the living and the dead.

 

     James Dyer, who represented this parish in the State Legislature when the country was in its primeval state left just after the war, an old gray headed man, with his young wife and several children, for Texas. He has been dead for some years.

 

     Josephus Barrow, a leading man in the Primitive   Baptist Church, and who died six or eight years ago,   was a worthy man and well qualified. He was a good neighbor and an active citizen, possessed of strong natural ability, considerate in the discharge of all his duties in obedience to the law of his God, as he understood it. He was steadfast in his friendship, his word was his law, provided for his family, left them a competency and has many children to revere his memory and follow in his path of truth and honor.

 

     Joshua Willis, yet with us, a native of Virginia, but from Troup County, Georgia, to this parish, now in his 90th year, belongs to that modest but true type of Virginia, gentlemen, that secures the regard and esteem of all good people. He has a numerous family of sons and daughters, grand and great grand children around him. Courteous in manner, even in his temper, just in his ways, he can truly say he is ready to leave without an enemy. His good wife, Aunt Barbara, who had stood by his side aiding and encouraging in all the vicissitudes of his long life, has gone to her happy home. And now, as this upright old man, veteran of the War of 1812, a pensioner of the United States, nears the apex of that mount which stands before all the human family, he no doubt feels in his heart that when his eyes look out upon the pleasant, restful plains of the true promised land, that wife who was the soul and the pride of his young days, and his prop and stay in the hard toils of this life, will be the first to greet, as of yore, and welcome him home.

 

     But here comes another character before us, with head gray but not bowed, and eye flashing as ever--Capt. W. G. Coleman. Genial in manner, with a good word for all, he was and is yet a son of Carolina. An ardent subscriber to the Calhoun school of polities, in his early manhood he was an outspoken nullifier, and in older years a bold and defiant secessionist. His first taste of war was as a volunteer, under Captain Jarnigham, in THC Creek War of 1837. Returning to Carolina he married, and in his native State remained till the death of his wife. The charms of old Carolina now became dimmed to his eyes, and with his four children he emigrated in 1844 to Perry County, Alabama. Here he contracted a second marriage, and this wife, who has borne him eight children, is yet with him. In 1846, when Mexico declared war against the United States, he was one of THC first to respond to his country's call, at the head of one hundred gallant men, known as the Perry Rangers. He joined Col. Coffee's regiment of Alabama volunteers, and with that regiment: for twelve months, was engaged in all it, marches, hardships and battles. And here let us not fail to recall the name of his faithful body servant, Sep.  Although in a free country and other servants fleeing to the Mexican lines, Sep stood fast by his master, nursed him in sickness, faithfully administered to his wants when worn down with fatigue and exposure, and not only to him but to others of the company when he possibly could. He had the good will and confidence of all the men, became the custodian of their little treasures and never betrayed a trust. Returning home with his master, he died in his arms, and as his glazing eyes looked up into that kind master's face for the last time, that master's stricken heart blessed the faithful Afric son. In 1850, Capt. Coleman moved to Claiborne Parish, and being fond of the chase greatly enjoyed the rare sports of the day. In 1854, he with Col. J. W. McDonald, in a hotly contested campaign, as the Democratic candidates, gained a signal victory over the then rampant Know Nothing party. He has refused all political preferment since. When the war of secession was about to commence he, being to (sic) old to serve, drilled several volunteer companies previous to their march to the front.

 

     Capt. Coleman joined the Missionary Baptist Church at Lisbon in 1854, and was elected clerk of the church. For twenty three years he has as promptly taken his seat at the desk as he did at the head of his company when the long roll called it to arms on the arid plains of Mexico. Always fond of company, always , good neighbor, his friends are many. Having ever been temperate in his habits, he now, although in his 80th year, writes a clear and even hand, and can yet bring down his bird on the wing as often as the best shots among our young men. Without enemies, with hosts of friends, he now serene and happy, awaits the bidding of the Master, summoning him to the great church above.

 

     Another character who appeared in this parish between 1830 and 1840, and is yet with us, is Col. John Kimball. A Georgian by birth, in his young man­hood he sought this part of the western world, and by strict attention to duty and business, secured to himself a competency and hosts of friends. He represented this parish in the State Legislature in 1855-56 with credit to himself and satisfaction to his people. He is now an old man, feeble in strength but with a heart strong as ever; yet a tiller of the soil and with honor untarnished, he is beloved by many and respected by all.

 

     Nathan Brown, with his wife and four children, left Tennessee in 1833, crossed the Mississippi River at Memphis, from which point he made his way slowly through the wilds of Arkansas, camped a day or two where now stands the flourishing town of Prescott in amazement gazed at the magnificent meteoric display in November of that year, and in the timbered lands on their route had frequently to cut their way and as often dig down the banks of streams or bridge them before crossing, finally landing at or near Crystal Springs, in Claiborne Parish. Here he remained about five years, when he settled down at his home, near Haynesville, where he has resided since. Prospering in this world's goods he reared a large family of sons and daughters--sixteen only--thus enlargening (sic) the little family that left Tennessee toward a regiment in number. Mr. Brown, after an absence of fifty two years, returned to Tennessee on a visit to a sister whom he left a young married woman.  She is now a grandmother. Old and stricken in years, but with honest hearts and dear consciences, this brother and sister meeting will they recognize each other can they recall ,he young manly and sweet womanly faces that separated so many years ago in Tennessee, when life's young morning was bright, and so full of promise?

 

     Almost weekly can be seen on the. streets of Homer, the tall, erect form of Isaac Gleason. He came from the swamps of the Mississippi and Ouachita to this Parish in 1835. Born on the frontier and there raised, he is one of nature's unsophisticated children, warm­hearted, liberal, just, doing evil to none. All around Homer, in the D'Arbonne bottom was his hunting grounds, and many are the bear, panther, turkey and deer that have fallen at the crack of his long flint and steel Kentucky rifle. He claims to have killed the last bear that was killed on the grounds of Homer. Nature was his school, and he has culled much profound knowledge there from, knowledge by experience, which others only obtain by reasoning. Uncle Isaac has raised a good family of sons and daughters, has given his daughters every advantage the schools of Homer could offer, and now he can safely point to all his children with pride, for they have taken their places among the just and the good.

 

     As another of our old and honored citizens, we may mention Col. J.W. Berry, who came to Claiborne in 1834, when a mere youth. In 1836 and 1837 he resided at Overton. In 1838 he moved to Minden and engaged in merchandising, which he continued till near the commencement of the war. He has been honored by his fellow citizens with many positions of trust. In 1847 he was elected 1st Lieutenant of a company of militia, and commissioned by Governor Isaac Johnson In 1849 he was appointed on the staff of General Gilbert, of Shreveport; was elected to the Legislature in 1851; elected Colonel of Claiborne Regiment in 1855; reelected to the Legislature in 1860; appointed Colonel in the Confederate service, and assigned to duty as enrolling officer of Claiborne Parish; and was again returned to the Legislature in 1864. Since the formation of Webster in 1871, Col. Berry has resided in that parish, and has been constantly honored with public trusts.

 

     Among the early settlers of Claiborne Parish, who yet live, is W. F. Moreland. Engaged in agriculture, he has never sought political preferment, but at the request of his people has served them m both Houses of the Legislature. In these positions he discharged the duties with marked judgment and ability, and to the satisfaction of his constituency. In 1879, with Rev. J. T. Davidson, he represented the Parish in the Constitutional Convention, and his course was heartily endorsed by the people. Pure and irreproachable, he has passed through the trying ordeals of public life with honor unsullied; and honored of a11 who know him, he is now spending the evening of his life in the quiet of his country home.

 

CHAPTER IX.

 

GERMANTOWN--ITS ORIGIN,   GROWTH AND    FINAL

DECAY.

 

     This is a town or settlement, the history of which is full of interest, embracing much that is romantic; and could all the details be had, the events would be thrilling. In 1830, and for some years previous, Germany had become infected with revolutionary ideas that were then declared wild and dangerous, and many of which, when attempted to be carried out, proved altogether visionary. Among others who became involved in these schemes was the Count Von Leon. His liberal movements or ideas were declared treason. He was arrested, tried, and condemned to die, but a powerful influence which then pervaded Germany came to his rescue, and his life was spared.  This mighty influence emanated from the Masonic order. Count Leon had taken the highest degrees, and in his own state Or principality, was the head of the order. Through this influence his sentence was commuted to perpetual banishment. Bowing to this cruel, though merciful sentence, as to the matter of life and death, in 1831 Count Von Leon of the principality of Hapsburg, and Madam the Countess Von Leon, daughter of one of the merchant princes of Frankfort on the Rhine looking for the last time on their native land, turned their faces to the west, giving up all the comforts and luxuries of wealth and religion, an untried and unknown home in far off America. Perhaps there are a few of our old people, from the states east of the Mississippi River who raised in wealth and all its comforts, but were suddenly reduced there from can realize and sympathize with the miserable change that thus suddenly occurred in the life of this family, aggravated too by knowing that a return to their old home was forever forbidden.

 

     Embarking at the nearest seaport, Count and Madam Leon, accompanied with about 300 persons, who came with them as colonists to build up a new home in untrammeled America, without accident or mishap on the sea, safely landed in the City of New York. Resting here a while and the better to determine whither to go the company moved down into Pennsylvania, the neighborhood of Pittsburg, where ?????? two years. Becoming dissatisfied on accounthn??? of the harshness of the climate and the indifference or cold welcome meted out to them, some of the company removed to Ohio and other northern states. But the main body, following the fortunes of the Count and Countess, determined to seek a milder climate than was to be found in the northern portion of United States. Having determined to make Louisiana their home, they gathered up their stores, and after a long and arduous journey, in which they endured many hardships and much suffering, they landed safe near Natchitoches, on Red River. Here they located and commenced business; but soon the colony fell victims to swamp fever of the most malignant type. Count Leon and the most of his followers died and were buried here on the banks of the Red River not under their native linden trees, but under the stately cotton wood, and the solemn cypress. The Count and the most of his faithful followers now sleep that long, dreamless sleep, in unknown graves somewhere on the banks of the Red River. No friendly hand can ever decorate their graves, but with each returning spring the wild flowers will bloom over them and the tall cypress will keep ward over them till the morning of the resurrection.

 

     How lonely and sad the Countess now weeping in a strange and far off wilderness, over the grave of her husband! One of Louisiana’s noble representatives in Congress introduced and had passed a bill, donating the colony a good body of land in Claiborne. The colony was very wealthy when it left Germany, but they had spent a large sum for implements and equipments which were all lost, together with much of their jewelry and, fine furniture. A large part of this wealth was sunk in barge boats on which they traveled. The last articles of value which the Count owned was a beautiful set of Masonic regalia, set with precious stones, and valued at $6,000. This was sold to the Catholic Church at Natchitoches, and is, we believe, still in its possession. The Countess now, after a stay of about two years on Red River moved with the remnant of the colony to Claiborne Parish, and settled on the land donated by Congress, which lies about twelve miles southwest of Homer. When they reached their destination, there was not the sign of a habitation to receive them, nor to be seen in that vicinity. The only road near was the military road from Natchitoches to Fort Smith in Arkansas. Brought up in towns, these people knew nothing of country life, but they went to work with 'willing hands and brave hearts, and soon built themselves rude log houses to protect ,themselves from the storms of winter and the heat of summer.

 

     The colony still had its own minister, physician, mechanics, etc., and of course held everything in common. Here the colony engaged in agriculture and merchandizing, and succeeded well. Their mercantile business was small at first, but gradually increased till in 1870, they did a business which aggregated $100,000. Their business was conducted on the credit system and a large number of their customers failing to settle, in 1871 they failed. Had they enforced collections, they might have continued to prosper financially , but recalling to mind their own distresses years before, and the aid and sympathy extended to them at that time, they deeply sympathized with their customers, who had lost their all in the great civil war, and they could not find in their hearts to oppress them. Noble Countess! that old ledger is her grandest monument. Countess Leon left Germantown in 1871, went to Bastrop, La, and resided a while there with her daughter. From Bastrop, she moved with her daughter  to Hot Springs Arkansas, where in 1881, she died at an advanced age.

 

     The Count Leon had but one son--a noble young man--greatly admired by all who knew him. He died while yet young, in 1870, we believe of yellow fever, near Vernon in Jackson Parish.

 

     A few months ago the writer of this sketch visited the scene of this old settlement. The store and shops in which the former inhabitants did business, are all gone. In a small house near, we found an aged gentleman--Wm. Stakouskya--native of Germany, and one of those who came over with the Count Leon. The old gentleman is a fine scholar and well read in both German and English literature. At our request he recited the history of the colony, and gave it an interest we have wholly failed to transfer to these pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER X

 

Minden-Its Origin, Growth and Present Status

 

     Prior to February, 1871, at which time the Parish of Webster was created, the town of Minden was embraced within the limits of Claiborne; its mention may therefore be properly included in this work.

 

     This beautiful and thriving little city was founded in the year 1837, by Charles H. Veeder.  Veeder was a man of great energy and enterprise.  At that time Claiborne included the greater portion of the territory of North Louisiana lying between the Ouachita and Red Rivers, and a movement being on foot to divide the parish, which would necessitate the removal of the parish seat, Mr. Veeder worked hard to have the new Courthouse located at Minden; and it was principally through his efforts that an appropriation was secured from the state to build “Minden Academy.” Thus may be claimed for him the honor of having been one the originators and the chief promoter of this institution, which was subsequently change to Minden Female Seminary, and that later to Minden Female College.  Defeated in his efforts to get the Courthouse, and failing financially, Mr. Veeder soon after left the country. He died at Bakersfield, California, September 6, 1875 at the age of 79 years. The following extracts from an obituary notice published in the Weekly Courier of that place will be interesting to those .who knew him: "Col. Veeder was born in Schenectady, N. Y., Oct. 1st, 1796. He was educated at Union College, Schenectady, and adopted the profession of the law. At an early age he sought service in the War of 1812, served with distinction, and was a pensioner of the government to the time of his death for services rendered in that struggle. He was of a restless disposition, and constantly sought excitement in new and stirring scenes. He traveled the West and South pretty thoroughly, figuring at various times in Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana and Texas, and finally finding his way to California in 1849. Here he lived in Vallejo, Sonoma, Mendocino, and eventually came to this place. Col. Veeder was a man of large intelligence, warm sympathies and kindly instincts, and his loss will be generally deplored."

 

     Adam L. Stewart, who sold to Veeder, was probably the first white man to occupy the ground on which Minden stands. The first merchants to follow Veeder we re Wilson & Wells; Lee & Co.; Morrow, Berry & Co.; W. A. Drake, Sr.; and Myers Fisher. Soon after these came John Chaffe, Foster Robinson, Berry & Thompson, Harry Drake, Wm. Oliver, D. & J. H. Murrell, and others. Minden's first lawyers were E. Olcott, Tillinghast Vaughn, D. L. Evans, G. W. Peets and Andrew Lawson; and her first physicians were Wills, Pennell, Williams, and D. M. Farland. Dick Thompson was the first hotelkeeper. His hotel stood where T. B. Neal’s old brick store now stands. The first business house erected in Minden was on the site of the handsome brick store now occupied by Leary & Crichton. The site of the 01d Minden Academy is now occupied by Minden Female College. Minden’s first newspaper was conducted by a Mr. Craig, and was Democratic. The first church was built by the Methodists in 1839; the next by the Baptists in 1841. The Catholic church was established in 1867 and the Protestant Episcopal in 1870. Of the pioneer citizens of Minden, Col. J. W. Berry, Dr. Dan M. Farland, Wm. Hardy, E. Etter, and David Canfield are about all that remain in the place. A few linger yet in other homes; the rest have gone to the silent shore.

 

     In 1871, Minden became the parish seat of Webster, a new parish organized that year from portions of Claiborne, Bossier and Bienville. The present Courthouse was built immediately after the incorporation of the parish at a cost of $25,000 and is one of the finest structures of the kind in this portion of the State. In addition to its handsome Courthouse, Minden has many bountiful residences, and numerous large and substantial brick stores, all of which indicate the cultivated taste and solid prosperity of its people.

 

     The excellent location of Minden as a trading point, added to the liberal and progressive policy of its merchants, assured it a prosperous business career from the beginning. We have no figures to show the extent of its trade prior to 1882 but in that year there were shipped from the town 22,000 bales of cotton, of which 15,000 bales were handled by its own merchants.

 

     In 1883, the shipment was 15,000 bales, of which its merchants bought lO,O00. In 1884 the receipts were 10,000, and the purchase 9000. During the last ten years the annual receipts have averaged fully 15,000 bales, of which its merchants have handled about 10,000. Minden's average annual sales of merchandise during this period, have aggregated fully half a million.

 

     The decline in business in l883 and 1884 was owing to the changes wrought, first, by the extension of a branch of the Paramore Railroad to Magnolia, Ark., which town, in consequence has controlled about 5,000 bales of cotton that had formerly gone to Minden; and secondly, by the completion of the V. S. & P road running five miles south and cutting down its receipts another 5,000 bales.

 

     Such heavy inroads upon their business would have discouraged and paralyzed many, but not so with these people. They were equal to the emergency. Nobly, and with their accustomed zeal and activity, did ,they go to work and build a tap connecting them with the V. S. & P. R. R.  which they have now completed at a cost to themselves of nearly $50,000 and which connects them with every train on the main line. They have also succeeded in impressing the V. S. & P. R. R. authorities that Minden can control a large amount of business for their road, which, until the completion of the tap, had gone to Magnolia. This together with the fact that it is more to the V. S. & P. R. R.  to have business concentrated at Minden than to meet the strong competition at Shreveport, has induced it to give a through rate of freights to and from Minden for less than that of any other town along its line. To compensate the V. S. & P. for this concession, the Minden men have agreed to do all their shipping by rail, not patronizing the boats at all, believing that the rates they have obtained from the road are about as low as they formerly were by boat.

 

     The merchants of Minden repudiate the idea of the railroads having done anything for them as a favor but claim that its geographical position has made Minden a competitive point; not, however, to the extent of Shreveport, but sufficiently so to entitle it to the comparative freight rates given, These advantages Minden now enjoys, and the high financial  standing of its business men, and the energy and pluck displayed by them in laying out $50,000 in cash on their branch road, and this just after the loss of $40,000 by the  burning of some 1200 bales of their cotton two years age and the financial embarrassment occasioned by the failure of some of their friends in New Orleans last spring, are a sufficient guarantee that Minden is to be herself again. She will ship fifteen to eighteen thousand bales of cotton this season,(1885-1886), and with a good crop next year, 25,000 bales are the figures set by her merchants. Minden claims that she should handle all the cotton in Webster Parish, and in the west half of Claiborne; and will contend for the trade of Bienville Parish lying around Ringgold, an d believes that hereafter, in time of low water a considerable amount of cotton will come to her from Red River below Loggy Bayou. Minden is amply able to pay cash for all the cotton brought to her, and with her reduced freights, she is certainly a formidable competitor of the towns along the line of the road; and when the known liberality and progressiveness of her merchants are taken into the account, there is very strong additional inducement for farmers to patronize her market.

 

     For her educational advantages, Minden is not surpased (sic) by any town in the State, nor, as for that matter hardly any where else. Her Female College is one of the oldest institutions west of the Mississippi River, giving superior education to young women. Its alumni, widely scattered over the State, have always maintained the high position the College holds in the public estimation. They are among the most honored wives and daughters of her citizens. Many of them have achieved distinction as writers of prose and poetry, and some of them are among the best female teachers in the State. A brief history of the school, we are sure, will be interesting to the reader.

 

     In 1838, Minden Academy was organized and was successively conducted by Rev. R. T. Baggs, Henry M..Spofford, Prof. Burke, Rev. Wm. Brooks and Rev. W. H. Scales. In 1850, the name was changed to Minden Female Seminary by organizing it under the first Board of Trustees.

 

     The first Principal of the Seminary was John S. Garvin, who took charge in September, 1850.  He did not finish a scholastic year, but resigned and left it in charge of some of his associates, who were assisted by J. D. Watkins, then one of the principals of the Minden Male Academy his associate being A. B. George. Of these teachers, Mr. Spofford subsequently became one of the eminent Supreme Judges of La, and Mr. Watkins a Judge of the District Court now one of the most distinguished jurists of the State. Mr. George is now one of the eminent Judges of the Court of Appeals.

 

     In 1853, a new Board of Trustees was formed, who elected Mr. S. L. Slack as principal. Under his administration the name was changed by Act of Incorporation to Minden Female College. President Slack began his administration by securing funds and erecting the main buildings of the College and no man ever brought to it more zeal, energy and ability. THC buildings erected under his supervision show the wisdom of his plans.

 

     President Slack resigned and was followed by J. Franklin Ford. This gentleman succeeded in having two additional buildings added to the College one the large Concert Hall, the other a large building for boarders. Under the administration of President Ford, which lasted six years the college was in a most prosperous condition. In February, 1862, he resigned, and was succeeded by J. E. Bright, D. D. Dr. Bright was a scholar of rare attainments, and a minister of great celebrity. A large number of pupils from every part of the State attended while he was in charge. He served as President eight years, resigning in January, 1871.

 

     The next President was Rev. T. B. Russell, who served only one year, resigning on account of ill health. After the departure of Mr. Russell, the Board employed Miss Mildred Boyle, as Principal. Miss Boyle had been one of Mr. Russell's associate teachers, was a graduate of the College, and had taken the first honors of her class. She managed the institution very successfully until failing health compelled her resignation.

 

     In 1876, Col. Thos. O. Benton, formerly of the law firm of Garrett, Benton & Slack of Monroe, La., was elected President. Col Benton, a profound lawyer and elegant scholar, held the position three and a half years. Resigning, he was succeeded by Col. George D. Alexander, who was elected President for five and a half years. Col Alexander entered upon the discharge of his duties in February, 1879, and the term of his office will expire with the scholastic year 1885-86. He is a gentleman of erudite scholarship, and the reputation of the college has increased greatly under his administration.

 

     The old Minden Academy, erected mainly through the agency of Charles H. Veeder, was, as we understand, a school for both boys and girls.. When it was, changed to Minden Female Seminary, in 1850. provision was made for the separate education of boys. The present Male Academy was built about that time mainly through the liberality of W. A. Drake, Sr. who donated the sum of $1500 for that purpose, thus putting himself on record as one of the benefactors of Minden, and of his race. This school has been in charge of many able teachers, and has a high reputation.

 

     Its pure water, good health, pleasant location, fine residences and beautiful shade trees, together with the literary air of its citizens, render

Minden a most desirable place for a home, where both daughters and sons may receive a finished education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claiborne Parish History, Claiborne Parish, LA

Source:  Source: Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana

The Southern Publishing Company, Chicago & Nashville, 1890

Submitted by: Gwen Moran-Hernandez

 

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Chapter VII

Page 379

 

CLAIBORNE PARISH-NATURAL FEATURES-STREAMS, TOPOGRAPHY AND STATISTICAL MATTER-PIONEERS, LAND ENTRIES AND OLD TOWNS-IMPORTANT ACTS OF THE POLICE JURY-THE COURTS AND POLITICS-MILITARY RECORD-THE PRESS-EDUCATION-MEDICINE-AGRICULTURE-RAILROADS-HOMER CITY-SMALLER VILLAGES OF THE PARISH-INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY SKETCHES.

 

"Men married women then

Who kept their healthful bloom

By working at the churn,

And at the wheel and loom.

 

And women married men

Who did not shrink from toil,

But wrung with sweat their bread

From out the stubborn soil."

R. H. Stoddard.

 

CLAIBORNE PARISH is decidedly rolling and even mountainous on the divide between the D'Arbonne and Black Lakes.  The soil of the uplands in from 18 to 27 inches in depth, is free from rock and may be  cultivated readily.  The area is 767 (corrected 778) square miles of which 60 square miles are red lands.  In 1879-80 there were 126,000  acres in cultivation of which, 46,567 were in cotton; 42,920 in corn; 471 in sweet potatoes and 99 in sugar cane.  The cotton acreage yielded 19,568 bales (of .42 bales per acre) 600 pounds seed cotton or 200 pounds of cotton lint.  J. Y. Davidson of Homer, placed the capacity of red lands at 1,000 pounds of seed cotton per acre of fresh land and 700 pounds per acre of ten years' old land.  To uplands he credited a capacity of 1,200 pounds, and after twenty years, 800 pounds of seed cotton per acre.  The population in 1880 was 18,858--8,544 white and 10,314 colored.  In 1870 there were 9,630 whites and 10,608 colored or 20,240; and in 1860, 8996 whites, 7,848 slaves and 4 free colored or 16,848.  In 1850 the total population was 7,471, 2,522 slaves; in 1840, 6,185, including 2,295 slaves; and in 1830, 2,764 including 215 slaves.  The population in 1890 is places at 21,011 and the number subject to military duty at 2,831.  The State census taken in June, 1890, credits the parish with 8,909 white citizens-4,560 males and 4,349 females; and 12,101 negroes-6,108 males and 5,993 females together with 7,377 children of all colors, the blacks showing a small majority.  The total, 28,387 includes 1,111 inhabitants of Homer.

 

The real estate is assessed at $823,254 and personal property at $805,415 or a total of $1,628,669.  The value of live stock is placed at $341,034.  The total acreage is estimated at 497,920 acres, of which 65,000 are in cultivation-27,780 under cotton, 24,460 under corn, 3,870 under oats and remainder under other crops.  In 1889 there were 10,380 bales of cotton produced; 265,350 bushels of corn and 29,950 of oats.

 

It is estimated that there are 1,500,000,000 feet of yellow pine lumber, and probably an equal amount of hardwood, including cypress,  various kinds of oak, hickory, etc.  There are thirty-six saw-mills in the parish.

 

The mineral interest of the parish are represented by deposits of iron ore in considerable quantities, so nearly pure ore that steel may be made from it very cheaply.  During the war a Confederate officer, under instructions to search for iron ore, made a trip through this parish and reported rich deposits of lead, but the site has not since then been discovered.

 

The storm of April, 1889, moved the church building at Colquitt, 14 miles north of Homer, and damaged or destroyed all the small buildings in its track.

 

In June, 1889, an alligator or gar is said to have carried off a small colored boy, who was swimming in the Corni, near Summerfield.  The boy was never heard of again.

 

In April, 1881, a party of 300 persons went into the forest at Dyke's mills, to search for the seven-year old son of W. H. Randle.  After two days the boy was found in Dorcheat swamp, twelve miles from home.

 

In 1818 the only houses or cabins between Long Prairie in Arkansas Territory and the old town of Natchitoches were those just completed by a man named Bosell, who is June moved down to the Sabine River country, and another was the home of Isaac Alden and Mrs. Johnson.  Both cabins were on the hunter's trail eight miles east of Minden, near the present line between Claiborne and Webster.  Murrell's Cemetery was established in 1822 by the burial of one of the poor Dutch immigrants, Miller.  In 1821 John Allen and Mary Holcomb introduced matrimonial customs here; while in 1822 Jenny Long and William Crowley went down to Natchitoches to have the old, old church sanction their proposed union of hearts.  In this year also John Murrell employed James Ashburner Conley to open a school, the pay being $15 per month.  A Baptist society was organized by James Brinson and Arthur McFarland at John Murrell's house, and Jean B. Fashier opened a store close by as agent of Harrison & Hopkins, of Natchitoches.  A year later john Murrell was appointed postmaster for the new office in Allen's settlement.  In 1824 a cotton-gin was constructed by Thomas Moore for Adam Reynolds (on the present Harper farm), which became the property of Russell Jones in 1825.  Lee & Killgore opened a store near Murrell's in 1825, vice Fashier, who drank heavily and fled.  The preachers, Stevenson, McMahon and Ross conducted a camp-meeting near Isaac Miller's cabin in 1825, the first within the wide domain of ancient Claiborne.  Shortly after the establishment of the seat of justice at Russellville, Lee & Killgore removed their store thither.  In 1829 a road was opened from Russellville to Minden Lower Landing, and in 1830, $1,500 was expended on Lake Bisteneau.

 

At Russellville in 1835-36 James M. McMahon was postmaster.  Col. Berry thinks that L. E. Pratt was subsequently postmaster at Overton.  On the removal of the parish offices to Overton Russellville was deserted as related in the sketch of that village.  About 1826 the first slaves were introduced here, and the cultivation of cotton entered on extensively.  Sac Pennington Gee, of Ward 6, was the largest slave owner in 1860, owning about eighty slaves.  Gen. J. L. Simmons, who resided near the line of Webster Parish, claimed seventy; J. W. Andrews, T. H. Tuggle, J. C. Blackman, Horace Blackman, James Blackman, T. A. Heard, Joshua Willis, R. M. Browning, Dr. Bush, the Maddens, Wiley Thornton, G. S. Barrow, Josiah and Josephus Barrow, John Wilson (near Arkansas line), the Tigners, W. F. Moreland, James Dyer, Thompson Wood, Thomas Wafer, J. T. Wafer, W. B. Nicholson, W. A. Obier, Marshall Kinabrew, Morgan Hall, G. W. Maddox, James A. Turner, Hugh Taylor, Joseph Shelton, Henry Taylor, Richard White, J. M. White, J. R. Walker, John Walker, John L. Tippitt, J. J. Duke, Harmon Patton, Jonathan Knox, Capt. Coleman, Michael L. Casson, John Murrell, Jr., Littleton Fuller, James M. Morrow, R. M. Kennon, T. H. Brown, John Cooksey, William and Allen Hill, John Kimball, Wilkes Ramsey, Gennbeth Wynne, Samuel Smith, J. L. Godley, W. W. Goodson, J. J. Blackburn, B. C. Johnson, Ephriam Pennington, J. M. Wafer, Thomas Hightower, J. S. Corry, James L. Dial, B. C. Frazier, James C. Egan, Phineas Gleason, Nathan Brown, Dinsmore Neely, John Neely, Ben Reynolds, A. R. Thompson (killed in a railroad accident in 1869 or 1870), Bryan O'Bannon (who died in 1890), D. W. Gladden, J. D. Dansby (killed in 1884), A. A. Phillips, J. M. Prestidge, the Grigsbys, Dr. T. E. Glass (moved to Texas in 1863), William McCree and others named among the early land buyers were slave owners.  Hall Frazier, a slave of John Frazier, bought his freedom twice, and established a mercantile house at Minden, and a water-mill on Cross Creek in Claiborne, and moved to Winn Parish, where he died some five years ago.  So far as Mr. Ramsey remembers, he was the only free colored resident in Claiborne in 1852, and was himself a slave owner, having purchased one slave from Leatherman, who had previously sold his farm here for two slaves.

 

Among the ordinances of Homer, adopted in 1855, is one pointing out the duty of patrol captains.  Section 3 of this ordinance ordained that each captain of patrol should cause the bell of the Homer Hotel to be rung every night at 9 o'clock to notify the negroes to repair to their homes, and all negros caught out from their homes after said time without a pass from his or her owner shall be flogged by the patrol.  White persons caught conversing with negroes under suspicious circumstances, or found round kitchens or negro quarters after the stated hour were to be brought before the mayor and fined.  Groups of negroes, over three in number, found on the square on Sundays, were to be dispersed.

 

The first private purchasers of the United States lands in Township 19, Ward 6, were Arthur McFarlane and William Ashbrook on Section 18, 19, in 1831; William Lee, P. P. Brinson and William Crowley, in 1832-33; William Hill, J. Casey, H. Barber, Robert Henderson, Alex T. Nelson, Keziah Brinson, Elias Welborne, Hardy W. Miller, William P. Robinson, James C. C. McCauley, John Browning and William Moglin, in 1835-37.  In 1836 James Dyer entered lands on Section 3 and Robert L. Killgore on Section 6 in 1837.  December 4, 1830, James Lee entered for the parish of Claiborne 144.45 1/2 acres on the northwest quarter of Section 6; Charles Hayes on Section 8, in 1832; Jesse L and Erastus Long, in 1833; James W. Wright, in 1836; Daniel Carragan, in 1832, and Stephen Pate on Section 9, in 1838.  Francis W. Turpin, W. R. McAlpine and John Stamps located on Sections 32 and 33 in 1837, while the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 29 was entered for the town of Lexington.  Township 19, Range 7, was entered on Section 4 by John Wilson in 1835.  James Crow, Reuben Drake and John Bausket, Bartley M. Shelton, Jasper and Tom Gibbs, Lewis Harrison, Elizabeth Henderson, Chandler Lewis, Carney Cargile, Robert Madden, Samuel G. and Daniel Graves, Tom Leatherman, T. B. Goldby, F. M. Bradley, R. H. Barrett, T. C. Scarborough and Samuel A. Kirby located lands throughout the township in 1836-37.  Daniel Gray entered the first lands on Section 24 in 1832. James M. Morrow entered several tracts in Township 19, Range 8 in 1839-40 and Richard M. Kennon in 1848.

 

Township 20, Range 6, was first entered by Jethro Butler on Section 22, Thomas Brown on Section 12 and John Avers on Section 14 in 1832.  In 1836-39 a number of settlers purchased lands here, among whom were John P. Smith, Samuel Clark, J. M. Bigham, Samuel Butler, Thomas Henderson, Joe and Ben Brown, John Williams, J. G. Austin, Drewry Thompson, W. A. Drake, Ransom Butler, William Dyer and Joseph Burns.  In 1833 Samuel Walker located on Section 35.  The first entries on Township 20, Range 7, were John Merrill or Murrell on Section 5, in 1835; W. B. Hargis, Section 12; Blakeley Edins, Section 26, and Tillinghast Vaughan on Section 36, in 1836.

 

The entry of Township 20, Range 8, dates back to 1837, when Russell Jones, William Hobbs, Jacob Peacon, William Harkins, Quintain Dines, Ben Nugent, Jesse and Louis Nullion, James Hiler and John Murrell entered their lands.  In 1838-39 Fred Miller, Jacob Wittle, Fred Botzong, Morris Miller, Steve Butler, J. W. Miller and W. Melton made entry.

 

Township 21, Range 6, was entered largely in 1836-37.  Among the buyers in the first-named year were R. L. Killgore, John Smith, Thomas Wafer, Daniel Sears, William Crowley, James Dyer, John L. Dyer and Ben Goodson.  In 1837 came Volney Stamps, William C. Mylene, D. S. Humphries, Daniel McDougall, George W. Peets, William M. Givin and Caleb Goodson.  The first entry was made in February, 1835, on Section 25 by Joshua Willis.  In 1848-49 William C. Moreland, Antony Pate, Martin Able, John L. Tippett, Dumas Patterson, Allen Woods, A. B. Colton, E. S. Hamilton, Thomas P. Hamilton, William Berry and W. Giles entered some lands here, while ten years before this Ben and T. W. Green entered their land.

 

Township 21, Range 7, was opened for entry in 1839, when Mary and Burrey Bradley located on Section 3, George Demors and son on Section 4 and Catherine Hews on Section 27.  From 1849 to 1859 immigrants flocked hither, and before the war the whole township may be said to have passed into the hands of private owners.

 

Township 21, Range 8, was first entered in 1838-39 by William M. Gryder, Section 1; Silas Talbert, Section 2; Hugh and Hiram Gryder, Section 10; Martin Wood, Section 18; John Holcomb and Fred Grounds, Section 20; William Harkins, Section 27; Wash. E. Edins and Bamster Edins, Section 29; George and Conrad Grounds and George A. Bell, Section 30; Vincent Walker, Section 32, and John B. Hendley and John Murrell, Section 36.  Like the former township it was bought up principally during the antebellum decade.

 

Township 22, Range 6, was offered for sale in 1839, when Charles Y. Long entered a tract on Section 3; Jesse Lee, Section 23; John B. Wallace, Section 24; and John Gwinn, Section 35.  The township was mainly purchased within the years 1849-58.

 

Township 22, Range 7 west, did not claim more than one private owner prior to 1853, when Hugh Taylor, J. F. McGinty, John E. Weeks, Jesse Connor, Samuel Cook, George W. Fuller, Dave Cripps, James A. Turner, Isaac Oakes, R. M. Been, Jonas Short, J. J. Wise, John Herring and W. H. Brittain made their selections.  In 1848 William F. Moreland entered a half section on Section 1.  Between 1853 and 1858 the lands passed into the hands of private owners.

 

Township 22, Range 8, was sold between the years 1848 and 1859.  Robert C. Russell bought on Section 1 in 1848; Miles Beaufort was a large buyer in 1850.  Patrick O'Connell bought on Section 19 in 1841; John McCarty, Section 21; Jonathan Knox, S. S. C. Wilson, Section 22; Michael L. Casson, Section 32; William M. and Claiborne Gryder, Section 35 in 1839, and Silas Talbert, Section 36 in 1838.  In 1859-51 a large area was purchased by residents.

 

Township 23, Range 6, was opened in 1839, but was not until 1849 was there any impression made on this section of the wilderness by the immigrants.  In July, 1839, Abram Foster entered 78.44 acres on Section 8, and here a halt was called until 1849.  During the ensuing ten years the township passed from the ownership of the United States.

 

Township 23, Range 7 west, was first entered in November, 1838, by Joseph Copeland on Section 3, and secondly in December, 1840, on Section 34 by Franklin Short.  In June, 1849, he purchased a second small tract on Section 35, and Morgan Franks on Section 12.  In 1850 a large number of settlers and speculators descended upon this township.

 

Township 23, Range 8, was proclaimed in 1839-James Ward making the first entry on Section 10, in December of that year.  Cornelius McAuley entered land on Section 31 in 1847.  Isaac L. Leonard, J. C. Garlington, Peter McDonald, James C. Beck, J. W. Camp, J. P. Sale, W. T. Leonard, James C. Taylor, Redick Aycock, Lewis Moore, Joel G. Patrick, William E. Hughes, A. J. Watters and perhaps a few others located lands here during the years 1850-56.

 

Russellville the second seat of justice (Murrell's being the first), was settled as early as 1825 by the Killgores and others named in the chapter on pioneers.  A rude court-house and ruder jail were erected, and R. L. Killgore's store opened.  The place was named in honor of Samuel Russell, who urged the location as the proper place for the seat of justice. There, in 1835, the murderer Halthouser was hanged, and in the old jail several of the white and black desperadoes of the period were confined.  The only evidence of the place being ever a village is the old Killgore House, still standing in the clearing.  The owner died in 1871, and his widow in 1883. On December 4, 1830, is made a record of the purchase, by James Lee for Claiborne Parish, of 144.45 1/2 acres on the northwest quarter of Section 6, Township 19, Range 16.  In 1829 the first road was opened from Russellville to Minden Lower Landing at the head of navigation on Bayou Dorchette. About this time R. C. Killgore and James Lee moved their little stores to this point from the old Fashier store, which they occupied in 1825 near Murrell's house. Later a water-mill was constructed on Berry Creek, and gins and horse-powered mills were in use in the neighborhood.  In 1836 the parish seat was removed to Overton and Russellville soon after fell into decay.  In 1858 Salem Cumberland Presbyterian Church was established near the deserted town.

 

The history of the town of Overton is given in the pages devoted to Webster Parish.  Owing to the unhealthy location and the general desire for change, Overton was deserted in 1846, and Athens selected as the official center of the parish.

 

Athens was selected as the seat of justice in 1846. Charles L. Hay settled on the present Keener farm in 1825. Thomas Leatherman, the Butlers, Crows and others hitherto named, were identified with this section. In 1832 the first camp-ground was established close by.  In 1846 the school building and a large area of ground were donated for parish seat purposes by John Wilson.  The flowing spring was a consideration in adopting this site.  Kiser kept a small general store, Saunders P. Day was tavern-keeper, Arthur McFarland filled the dual position of postmaster and Baptist preacher, John Kimball lived on the Frazier lands.  Col. Lewis was also here and all the parish officers.  A Methodist Church, known as Ashbrooks, was erected in 1830; in 1839 the Missionary Baptists held meetings in the schoolhouse; in 1851 the first Presbyterian society of the parish was organized near here at old Midway, but soon after moved to Athens.  On November 7, 1849, the academy of school building, in which were the offices of the parish, was burned with all the valuable records and documents-the only things of value destroyed.  In 1850 the grounds were reconveyed to Wilson, and he was also granted a sum of money in consideration for the burning of his school-house.  The fire was considered at the time to be carried out by conspirators, who desired the destruction of part of the records, and to carry out their desire destroyed all.  New Athens is east of the old town on the Louisville & Northwestern Railroad.

 

The site of the town of Lexington, east half of the southeast quarter of Section 29, Township 19, Range 6, was entered in 1837.

 

Lisbon was an important point over forty years ago.  Near by, in April, 1849, at Thomas B. Wafer's house, a Methodist society was formed.  The Baptists built a large meeting-house there a few years ago (1885-86).  In the village and adjacent thereto, resided several pioneer families. Masonic Lodge No. 130, organized here in 1857, ceased in 1886.

 

Forest Grove was founded a few miles west of Lisbon, by Frank Taylor and others, such as Dr. Scaife, Milton Barnett.  Prior to 1850, Contractor John C. Blackman built a Methodist church-house near Maj. Dyer's house, six miles east of Homer.  This building was moved to Arizona in 1866.  Scottsville stood north of Forest Grove, on the banks of the Corni, and flourished for years at the supposed head of navigation of that stream.  But navigation never came.   Yet such men as Maj. Browning, Dr. Bush, Thomas Hart and the Stanleys gave it life and vigor for years.  Dawson Lodge No. 138, A. F. & A. M., was organized here at an early date, and ceased in 1873.  Colquitt, Gordon, Haynesville, Summerfield, Homer, Arizona, Tulip, Aycock, Blackburn, Cane Ridge, Dykesville, Holly Springs, Langston, Millerton and Ward's mill are the center of the old settlement of the parish as now constituted.  Terryville was the name given to an old center existing before the war.  In 1854 a Masonic lodge, No. 127, was organized there. This ceased to exist in 1861.  At Holly Springs another lodge (No. 211) was chartered in 1870, and continued work until 1879, while Flat Lick, where one of the earliest church organizations took place, claimed a Masonic lodge from 1868 to 1883.

 

Claiborne Parish, the first subdivision of Natchitoches Parish, was established by an act of the Legislature, approved March 13, 1828.  The boundaries extended from a point on the east bank of Red River, fifty miles northwest of Natchitoches village, at the northern line of  Township 13; east on that line to the line between Ranges 3 and 4 west, along the range line, forming the western boundary of Ouachita Parish, to the south line of Arkansas Territory; thence west to Red River, and down the river to the place of beginning.  Within the originals boundaries of old Claiborne, were the parishes of Bossier, detached in 1842; Jackson, in 1845; Bienville, in 1848; Webster, in 1871, and part of Lincoln in 1874.

 

The police jury also organized at John Murrell's house in 1828, and held meetings at Murrell's for some time, or until the offer of Samuel Russell of a site for the seat of justice was accepted.  This place was called Russellville, in honor of the donor.  Chichester Chaplin was parish judge.

 

The first court held at Russellville was presided over by Judge Overton, Isaac McMahon still being sheriff, while William McMahon, who had taken Cochran's place, was clerk.

 

After the removal of the great raft in 1835 the head of navigation was extended to a point near the Minden Lower Landing on Bayou Dorchette.  The aspirations of the place fifty-five years ago were lofty, and , as a result, the parish seat was transferred thereto in 1836, and the name Overton conferred upon it, evidently in honor of Judge Overton.  For ten years the police jury and courts met here, but owing to a desire for a more central location, and in consideration of the unhealthy character of the village in the bottoms, the offices and records were moved to Athens in 1846.  In 1848 the public buildings and records at Athens were destroyed by fire, and the same year the seat of justice was established at Homer (named by Frank Vaughan), on land entered by the parish or granted by Allen Harris and Tillinghast Vaughan.  A very primitive board building was at once erected, and there, in September of that year, Judge Roland Jones opened court, with Allen Harris, sheriff, and W. C. Copes, clerk.  During the winter on 1849-50 a substantial brick building was erected for public purposes, and therein, in the fall of 1850, the same judge, sheriff and clerk opened court.

 

The oldest record of the police jury is dated November 12, 1849, the records of twenty-one years having been destroyed with the court-house at Athens, November 7, 1849.  At this time Thomas Henderson was juror from Ward 1; John Bopp, No. 4; James B. McFarland, No. 5; Reuben D. Madden, No. 6; Silas Gamon, No. 7.  F. Lyman was clerk.  A copy of ordinance, published in Minden paper shows that on July 1, 1848, the boundaries of seven wards were fixed, J. Kilborne being then president, and F. Lyman, clerk.  In November, 1849, Allen Harris was collector, and on December 18, James Kilborne was appointed agent to sell lots at Homer, and in April following, the exchange of property between T. Vaughan and the parish was ratified.  At this time a donation of five acres near James M. Wynne's farm was make to the town of Homer by the parish for cemetery purposes.  In June, 1850, the new jury organized, with James B. McFarland, of Ward 5, president; Thomas Henderson, of No. 1, Reuben Warren, of No. 2, Joslin Jones, of No. 3, Robert C. Adams, of No. 4, Tatum M. Wafer, of No. 6 and Silas Gamon, of No. 7 being the members.  The president was empowered to make a deed of one acre to each incorporated religious society at Homer.  In September a reconveyance of all lots at Athens, formerly donated to the parish by John Wilson, was ordered.  Ward 8 was established in 1852.  At this time James Patterson, Reuben Warren, Jackson Sikes, W. B. Scott, J. G. Barnett, James M. Dorman, Dinsmore Neely and Adolphus Johnson represented the eight wards, respectively, with William T. Hadley, clerk.  James A. Millican was treasurer.  In 1853 one change is noticed in the personnel of the jury.  E. A. D. Brown represented Ward 5.   W. B. Scott was chosen president, and N. W. Peters, clerk.  In June the sum of $150 was ordered paid to John Wilson in compensation for the burning of the Claiborne Academy at Athens, which was used for court-house purposed up to November 7, 1849.  In September Bonaparte T. Payne was sent as student to the Louisiana Medical College by this parish.  In January, 1854, action in re the defalcation of Allen Harris in $3,396.25 was taken, and a rigorous prosecution ordered.  James B. McFarland was also censured for neglect of duty while president of the jury.  The jurors in June were C. J. Thompson, James S. Brandon, Albert Wilbanks, R. C. Adams, Dinsmore Cargile, Andrew Thompson, Dinsmore Neely and A. Johnson.  L. F. R. Reynolds was chosen clerk, but Peters continued in that office.  Nicholas Corry was chosen medical student.  In January, 1855, a committee was appointed to receive the court-house from the contractors.  Cotter & Killgore, C. J. Thompson, William R. Moreland, L. Lucius Leonard, Isaac Murrell, D. Cargile, A. R. Thompson, D. Neely and A. Thompson qualified as jurors in June, and elected B. D.  Harrison clerk.  T. Vaughan was then, as he had been for years, parish attorney.  In 1856 Harrison resigned, and W. H. Elliott was chosen clerk, and Sheriff Warren, collector.  In June W. T. Hardee took Cargile's place as juror, and B. D. Harrison was chosen clerk.  The Claiborne Advocate was given the printing contract at $125 per year.  In September James Kilborne represented Ward 3 and John S. Carleton, Ward 6; Joseph Jones was selected as medical student; T. J. Hightower was appointed treasurer, vice Millican; Syke's ferry was established, and the estimate of expenditures for 1857 placed at $8,500.  In January, 1857, the act relating to the formation of school townships was passed.

 

In June, 1857, William McDonald, J. M. Prestidge, G. J. Wise, Isaac Murrell, W. T. Hardee, John S. Carleton, D. Neely and A. Johnson formed the jury.  President Dinsmore was authorized to subscribe for $4,000 shares ($100,000) to the stock of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad, and levy a tax of two per cent for five years to meet this outlay.  This ordinance, with the date of voting on it, was to be advertised in the Advocate and Democrat.  E. B. Whitson was appointed treasurer, later B. F. Cunningham was nominated as medical student, and T. G. Warren, collector.  In 1858 John R. Ramsey represented Ward 5, and Thomas D. Meadows, Ward 8, being the only changes.  The Minden Bridge Company was incorporated to build a bridge at Murrell's Point, and the expenses for 1859 were estimated-($6,405).  T. C. Barnett was chosen medical student in October, and at this time the court-house was declared unsafe, and measures were taken to build a new house.  In February, 1859, the question of providing shelter and attendance for small-pox patients was disposed of, and suits against Ex-Treasurer Millican were suspended.  In January, 1860, J. R. Ramsey signs the record as clerk, G. W. Oliver was appointed parish attorney and J. R. Ramsey, treasurer.  In March of that year the following names of jurors appeared:  Seaborn Gray, W. L. Oakes, N. W. Peters, J. H. Curry, John Kimball, D. Neely and T. D McAdams.  J. G. Warren was president.  The organization of June, 1861, shows John G. Warren, president; B. D. Harrison, clerk; J. S. Bush, No. 1; W. L. Oakes, No. 2 (later J. M. Prestidge); J. W. Norton, No. 3; Isaac Murrell, No. 4; A. H. Payne, No. 5; J. A Parker, No.6; J. G. Warren, No. 7, and C. H. Tait, No. 8.  At this time $800 was appropriated for ammunition and Leak & Co. appointed purchasing agents; $500 was appropriated for the relief of soldiers' families; 1-15 of 1 per cent was levied for military purposes, and the appointment of I. Murrell, J. M. Morrow and E. K. W. Ross, as a sub-committee of the State Relief Association, was confirmed.

 

On September 3, the court-house committee reported the building complete (the total cost being $12, 304.30); scrip was ordered to be issued, and W. J. Blackburn appointed parish printer.  In January, 1862, the sum of $30,000 was appropriated for defensive purposes; in March an additional sum of $40,000 was granted in bonds and $50 and $25 bounties authorized.  Dr. Bush and Sheriff Kirkpatrick were appointed agents to negotiate all bonds, and it may be stated that the jurors gave up ordinary public business, as the citizens did their business, to forward the interests of the Confederate cause; military and relief measures occupied their whole attention.  In June, E. A. D. Brown, of Ward 5, W. B. Gill, of Ward 7, and J. L. Williams, of Ward 8, were the new members.  John W. Hayes was appointed treasurer, and scrip of all denominations from 5 cent to $10 was ordered to be printed, the total issue not to exceed $20,000.  In September the estimate for the year 1862-63 was placed at $97,160.54, exclusive of $17,898.46, provided for.  An additional issue of scrip for $40,000 was authorized and plans for a jail building adopted.  In January, 1863 the war resolutions were adopted.  In February scrip for $5,500 was issued, and in September the recorder and treasurer were authorized to take measures for the removal of moneys and records in case of invasion.  In January, 1864, the members of the jury were Seaborn Gray, J. M. Prestidge, R. Warren, I. Murrell, J. B. McFarland, William Mitcham, W. B. Gill and J. L. Williams.  The contract for building the jail was sold to J. C. Blackburn for $800, and scrip for $7,500 was ordered to be printed, B. D. Harrison agreeing to supply the paper and do the printing for $300.  In June, Josiah Watts, Ward No. 5, Thomas c. Weir, No. 6, and Elijah Sparks, Ward 8, appear as new jurors.  In September, the bonds and scrip outstanding amounted to $52,637, against which the sum of $21,000 was on the treasurer's hands.  In July, 1865, R. A. Hargis, John Wilson, R. Warren, I. Murrell, B. C. Frazier, A. R. Thompson, J. T. Fortson and J. J. Duke were appointed police jurors by the governor.  On the death of R. Warren, G. M. Elliott was elected.  In September, 1866, the newly-elected jury comprised J. F. Hightower, T. J. Moore (president), Jackson Sikes, J. H. Curry, T. B. Wafer, J. L. Madden, J. E. Goodson and J. J. Duke.  Several acts mark this administration, such as road laws, destruction of scrip, etc.  The last meeting was held June 5, 1867, and the record is signed by Burk Coleman, successor of B. D. Harrison.

 

In June, 1869, Thomas D. Meadows presided, with R. E. Thompson, O. A. Smith, Jackson Sikes, J. H. Curry, John Kimball, W. E. Taylor and John McClish, members, and W. W. Brown, clerk.  In 1870 D. W. Harris of Ward 7, took  the place of McClish, and in 1871 B. F. Reed took Taylor's place.  T. J. Hightower was treasurer and D. W. Harris, clerk.  In August, 1871, the legal jurors chosen to take the places of those deposed qualified with W. C. Martin, D. Cargile, W. L. Oakes, D. W. Harris and T. D. Meadows.  The Webster committee comprised T. B. Neal and W. A. Drake.  In June B. D. Harrison was appointed clerk and W. J. Blackburn collector.  During the fall of the year this jail was destroyed by fire.  In January, 1873, W. L. Oakes was chosen president, J. H. Simmons, A. C. Barber, George Shaw and J. F. Heard formed the new board.  John S. Young was appointed attorney and D. W. Harris was treasurer.  The jurors for 1875 elected E. W. Cox president; J. J. Glover represented Ward 1; Elliott Gray Ward 2; J. H. Chappell, Ward 3; and E. Sparks, Ward 5.  In 1875-76 J. R. Ramsey was treasurer.  On June 4, 1877, J. H. Chappell, president; J. J. Glover, W. S. Copeland, A. L. Atkins and J. F. Ford met at Homer.  J. H. Simmons was appointed treasurer, D. D. Harrison clerk, W. W. Arbuckle physician, J. R. Ramsey (recorder) straymaster.  Later J. T. Tiger, H. A. Lewis and E.W. Cox appeared as jurors.  In 1878 S. R. Richardson was parish physician, and J. C. Moore treasurer.  The names of Milton, Hulse, A. T. Nelson, T. A. Watson, J. M. Dunn, W. G. Coleman, A. L. Harper, W. S. Copeland and J. H. Curry appear as jurors in June, 1879, but by January, 1879, R. H. Cleveland had taken Dunn's place.  In June, 1880, the jurors were R. J. Hart, W. L. Oakes, W. S. Copeland, John Miller, Jr., J. W. McFarland, S. W. Howard, L. R. Lay and T. D. Meadows; J. R. Ramsey was appointed clerk.  In December, 1880, the majority of voters in Ward 1,5,6,7 and 8 opposed the granting of license for the sale of liquor.  In January, 1883, the parish was out of debt and the tax levy reduced to 6 mills.  In 1884 B. R. Neil, Shelby Baucom, E. W. Cox, J. E. Gandy, J. F. Heard, J. M McKinzie, R. T. McClendon and S. Kerlin were members of the police jury.

 

The members of the police jury in February, 1885, were Samuel Kerlin, B. R. Neil, No. 2  Shelby Baucom, E. W. Cox, J. E. Gandy, J. T. Heard, J. M  McKinzie and R. T. McClendon.  In April of this year, J. W. McFarland was appointed commissioner for the parish at the New Orleans World's Fair; the purchase of lot and contract for building jail entered into by a committee of the jury were ratified.  An election on the question of prohibiting the sale of liquor was ordered, and the establishment of a poor-farm authorized.  On August 24, 1886, the 5 mill tax aid to the Arkansas & Louisiana Railroad Company was carried, the vote being 1,371 for, and 1,247 contra.  In July, 1887, the sale of the old jail building and lot was confirmed.  In July, 1888, T. A. Watson was elected president, vice J. M. McKinzie.  The jury comprised the president and ex-president named T. W. O'Bannon, B. R. Neil, J. A. Aycock, T. T. Lowe, R. A. N. Wynne and B. J. Bridges.  In July, 1889, the jurors considered the title of Claiborne to the old town of Lexington, and asked the representatives of the parish to introduce a bill granting the police jury power to sell the old town site.

 

The oldest record of the district court of Claiborne, now in possession of District Clerk Ferguson, is dated may 27, 1850, or almost twenty-two years after Judge Wilson opened the first court within the house of John Murrell (eight miles east of Minden) at the Allen settlement.  Then Robert Cockran was clerk and Isaac McMahon, sheriff.  In May, 1850 Charles A. Bullard, of the Sixteenth District, presided in the absence of the judge of this, then in the Seventeenth District.  James Dyer, John Bopp (chief of the Dutch colony), R. Butler, Phineas Gleason, Charles Hayes, John Kimball, W. DeMoss, John Dore, Isaac Miller, A. T. Brantley, Edwin Foster, Stephen Pate and James L. Dial were the grand jurors.  William B. G. Egan was appointed district attorney, vice the absent John S. Gilbert.  William C. Copes took the oath as clerk, and Waddy T. Cleveland as deputy clerk.  In November, 1850, Roland Jones, of the Seventeenth District, presided.  The sheriff, Allen Harris, appointed A. G. Willbanks, deputy.  In May, 1851, Judge Bullard was present, William L. Burton, district attorney, being absent.  Eugene J. H. Jones was appointed, and took the old time oath which denounced in measured terms dueling and other chivalric methods of that day.  A large number of civil cases and a small criminal list was the rule, up to November, 1851, when Judge Jones was present.  Both list appear large and this ordinary business with the record of naturalization of foreigners occupied the court's attention.  The grand jury's address pointed out the material growth of the parish, the zeal of citizens in bringing to justice all criminals, and the pride of the people in the new court-house.  While gratified at all this, the jurors were severe in their references to the log-hut or cabin, then forming the parish prison.  In May, 1852, Judge Bullard was present; vice Jones; John Young was appointed to act as district attorney.  Several indictments were returned against Giles and John Crownover for exciting insubordination among slaves, resisting patrols and admitting whites into negro quarters.  In November of that year Franklin Taylor was excused from jury services on the grounds that he was a school director.  In September, 1853, Andrew Lawson took his seat as judge of the Seventeenth District.  The admission of Alfred Goodwill to citizenship was one of his first acts.

 

In March, 1854, Harmon A. Drew was judge of the Seventeenth District; J. D. Watkins, district attorney, and D. Henry Dyer, clerk.  A number of indictments for retailing without a license were returned.  In March the report of the grand jury was ordered to be published in the Claiborne Advocate.  Under the system of judicial interchange, H. M. Spofford, of the Eighteenth Circuit, took Judge Drew's place here in July, and to him Chris Chaffe, a second member of the English colony at Minden, confessed his intention of becoming a citizen after four years' residence at Minden.  Thomas Reeves, of Homer, John C. Loye and William and Stephen Life followed this example.  In March, 1855, the grand jury reported on the unsafe condition of the court-house and the insecure state of the jail.  In September Thomas T. Land, of the Eighteenth District, was present, but in January, 1856, Judge Drew resumed his place.  In September, 1856, R. W. Richardson, of the Twelfth District, was present, with Reuben Warren, sheriff, and D. H. Dyer, clerk.  In July, 1856, W. B. Egan was judge, and in October David Cresswell, of the Eighteenth District, presided in some special cases.  In April, 1858, John H. Cunningham was admitted to the bar, and took the customary oath.  John G. Warren served as sheriff until H. W. Kirkpatrick qualified, in 1860.  At this time, B. R. Coleman was district clerk and E. L. Dyer, deputy clerk.  The April term of 1861 was opened by Judge W. B. Egan on the 1st and closed on the 2d.  There was another short term in October, and at that time No. 17, as applied to the district, was written 11th, to correspond with the act of Legislature.  From October 21, 1862, to April 18, 1864, there is no record of court.  On April 19, 1865, Judge Egan adjourned court sine die, but on September 25 of that year Judge J. D. Watkins, of the Eleventh District, opened the fall term.  John Kimball was sheriff, and M. Callahan, clerk.  The latter was succeeded in 1866 by Hyder A. Kennedy, while John Kimball was succeeded by L. J. Kimball, and he, in 1867, by J. A. Witter.  In October Judge Watkins received an order from W. T. Gentry, asking that the jury list be restricted to registered voters, found on tables of assessment.  In 1868 S. D. Spann was clerk; J. A. Witter, sheriff, and James T. Story, successor of Beck, was recorder.  On the opening of the May term of this year, Attorney-Gen. B. J. Lynch transmitted to the clerk a copy of Special Order No. 203, issued by Gen. Hancock, of the Fifth Military District.  In view of this order and of a then recent decision of the Supreme Court, Judge Watkins ordered the discharge of all the jurors summoned for that term.  In October court was opened and a return made of a constitutional jury.  At this time S. D. Spann signed the record as clerk: A. Ragland as deputy sheriff (R. T. Dawson being sheriff); J. R. Ramsey, recorder, and N. J. Scott, parish judge, all elected that year.

 

In April, 1869, Gov. Warmoth's commission to John L. Lewis, as judge of the Eleventh District, was read in court.  N. J. Sandlin was district attorney.  On the opening of the fall term of court, October 20, 1869, the case of the State vs. J. L. Lewis was presented.  The new judge delivered an opinion which resembled somewhat the alleged resolution of the Pilgrims in 1620, as it pointed out "The land belongs to the saints, and we are the saints."  This opinion explained in April, 1869, Judge Drew (who was commissioned parish judge in 1869, by Warmoth, was at loggerheads with N. J. Scott, who was elected in 1868 to the same office) refused to try the case against Lewis, when it was continued to the present term.  Parish Judge Scott was present in October, 1869, but the presiding judge (Lewis) refused to recognize his authority or call upon him, as, on May 9, 1869, he (Scott) surrendered the office of parish judge to H. A. Drew.  Having shown so much, he proceeded to dispose of the docket.  In November, 1869, Parish Judge Scott took the place of Lewis ad hoc, and refused to entertain a motion for a non-suit, but tried the case and gave judgment for the commonwealth.  An appeal was at once entered, but before it could be disposed of Gov. Warmoth commissioned James Constantine Egan judge of the Eleventh District on March 18, 1870.  In April Green Smith was found guilty of murder.  In October, 1870, W. Jasper Blackburn was parish judge; Prince Spencer was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to three years in the penitentiary.  In April, 1871, J. S Young was parish judge, and W. F. Aycock, sheriff.  The trial of Troy Harrison for the murder of J. M. Burns (January 1, 1871) was commenced.  In April, 1873, J. E. Trimble presided as judge, with John A. Richardson, district clerk; N. J. Scott, parish judge; W. F. Aycock, sheriff, and J. R. Ramsey, recorder.  In April, 1877, Judge E. M. Graham opened court here; H. W. Kirkpatrick was sheriff; Drew Ferguson, clerk (succeeding S. D. Spann), and J. R. Ramsey, recorder, who served until January, 1880, when the office was merged into district clerk's office.  The report of the grand jury referred to the small number of bills presented, crediting the peaceable condition of affairs to the unquestionable establishment of the lawful government of Louisiana, and to the wise administration of Gov. Nichols.  The jurors were not so happy in their fall expressions, as, on October 20, the report deals with the horrible murder committed near Homer.  In the fall of 1879 resolutions on the death of Robert T. Vaughan appear on the record, signed by John Young, J. S. Young and E. H. McClendon.  Allen Barksdale was district attorney in September, 1880, and J. H. M. Taylor, sheriff.  The district was now known as the Third.  In June, 1884, Judge John Young presented his commission, and District Attorney E. H. McClendon qualified for that office.  On August 27, 1888, Judge Allen Barksdale was present, having been elected in April of that year.

 

The first homicide in the parish was that of Bryant, by his brother-in-law, Sapp.  The latter fled to the Indian nation and escaped the law.  Shortly after, Sloan, a trader from north of the State line, was murdered by John Halthouser, at a point eight miles east of Minden.  This led to the trial of Halthouser in 1835, and his execution at Russellville in 1835 by Sheriff Dyer.  Then followed the assault on Miss Demos, a girl of eighteen years, by one Lambright.  Not content with assaulting her, he murdered her in the most cruel manner, left some evidences of his guilt, was arrested, but while waiting trial escaped from the jail and fled to Texas.

 

During the occupation of the country by the carpet-bag element, murders were ordinary affairs, and even down to the present time the parish is far from being freed of those passionate men, who, in their rage, think nothing of human life.  In January, 1873, a negro named Henry Moore, assaulted and murdered Mrs. Kidd, who resided near Athens.  A number of white men hunted down the brute, gave him a fair trial and hanged him.  On July 31, 1879, a negro named Martin, killed one white girl and assaulted another.  The people gave pursuit and, capturing him, hanged him with little ceremony.  A few similar crimes mark the record of the last decade.  In September, 1889, Deputy Sheriff Brown arrested Adams, who escaped from the penitentiary in May, and coming to Ward 1, married a young woman near Lisbon; he murdered his father-in-law in Winn Parish in 1887, and received a life sentence.

 

On the inside of the cover of the court record 1857-67, is the first roll of attorneys known to have been made in connection with the bar of Claiborne.  The names given are as follows: Tillinghast Vaughan,* J. M. Thompson, in Texas; Henry Gray, Bienville; John Young, now senior member of the bar; J. D. Watkins, Webster; A. B. George, appellate judge; G. W. Oliver,* A. C. Hill, Texas; N. J. Scott, Bienville, G. M. Killgore,* Col. John S. Young, Shreveport; F. Vaughan,* J. R. Monk, L. B. Watkins, supreme court; J. G. McKinzie, Webster: W. B. Egan,* Micajah Martin,* Texas; James C. Egan, judge of Fourth District; J. W. Wilson,* W. F. Blackburn, judge at Alexandria; W. E. Paxton,* T. E. Paxton,* G. L. Jones,* Joseph Pierson,* David Pierson, at Natchitoches.  The lawyers admitted since 1867 are Robert T. Vaughan,* J. W. Young,* Drayton B. Hayes,* John A. Richardson, E. H. McClendon, J. E. Hulse, J. W. Halbert, J. E. Moore and C. W. Seals.       *Deceased.

 

In 1868 W. Jasper Blackburn, so well described by W. H. Scanland and William Meadows (colored), were delegates to the Constitutional Convention from Claiborne.  Although the scheme was ignored by the whites, Claiborne placed Judge Taliaferro at the head of the Democratic ticket, and Col. McDonald, who beat the Know-nothings in 1854, at the head of the local ticket.  The Warmoth circle of Republicans, of course, carried all their points.  W. W. Bennett, a physician, and C. B. Pratt were chosen to represent Claiborne in the Legislature; R. T. Dawson, sheriff; S. D. Spann, clerk of district and J. J. Scott, parish judge.  A district judge, J. L. Lewis, was counted in, but ultimately James C. Egan was appointed to that position.  Two years later the new constitutional heroes had made themselves generally odious.  In 1870 J. C. Meadows (colored), or Meadoes and J. S. Killen were elected representatives; John S. Young, parish judge, and W. F. Aycock, sheriff.  In 1872 the Liberal and Democratic tickets were in the field, opposed to the Republicans.  The former merged into the Fusion ticket, with John McEnerny at the head, while Kellogg led the Republicans.  W. J. Blackburn, Republican, and J. W. McDonald,* Democrat, were counted in by their party as senators; William F. Moreland and Thomas Price were elected to represent Claiborne, Aycock was re-elected sheriff; J. A. Richardson was chosen district clerk, N. J. Scott, parish judge; R. P. Vaughan, district attorney, and J. R. Ramsey, recorder,  Two Legislatures assembled at New Orleans.  A. B. George was a senator throughout the days of terror, but unlike McDonald, who wisely preferred compromise with the rulers to resistance, he did not enter the Republican Senate until all hope was lost to the McEnerny party.  Gen. John S. Young and H. C. Mitchell were representatives in 1874, and aided in securing control of the House for the Democracy.  Two years later Gen. Young was re-elected, with J. J. Duke members of the House; H. C. Mitchell was in the senate; H. W. Kilpatrick was chosen sheriff; Drew Ferguson, district clerk; E. M. Graham, district judge; Allen Barksdale, district attorney, while Messrs. Scott and Ramsey were chosen parish judge and recorder, respectively.  In 1878 Judge J. D. Watkins of Minden, and John C. Vance, of Bossier, were elected senators; W. C. Martin and J. H. Hay, representatives; William F. Moreland and Rev. J. T. Davidson, members of Constitutional Convention; Kirkpatrick was re-elected sheriff, and John A. Richardson was chosen parish judge.  Owing to the decrees of the constitutional convention, the State and parish offices were vacated, and an election ordered to fill the vacancies.  John B. Phillips and A. L. Atkins were chosen representatives.  Messrs. Watkins and Vance were re-elected senators; J. H. M. Taylor, sheriff, and Drew Ferguson, district court clerk.  Judge Graham of Lincoln, and Attorney Barksdale were re-elected.  In 1884 Thomas Price and W. J. Leslie were chosen representatives; J. C. Brice and J. C. Vance, senators; John Young, district judge; E. H. McClendon, attorney, while the sheriff and clerk were re-elected.

 

*Col. J. W. McDonald died in December, 1888.  He was born in North Carolina in 1814, and was brought to Louisiana in 1822.

 

In 1829 James Dyer was elected member of the Legislature from Claiborne, and it was he who, in 1830, won an appropriation of $1,500 for the improvement of Lake Bisteneau, one Leave-right taking the contract.  Berry A. Wilson was chosen representative in 1830.

 

In 1851, 1860 and 1864 Col. J. W. Berry was elected representative.  In 1854 Capt. W. G. Coleman, a soldier of the Creek War and of the Mexican War, was one of the Democratic candidates for the Legislature,

 

In 1859 Moore received 907 and Wells 528 votes for governor; Landrum 957 and Jones 90 for Congress; Young 684 and Moreland 938 for senator; Martin 936, Kennedy 546, J. W. Berry 753, and Dyer 744 for representative; Whitson 806, Cleveland 354, and Tatum 442 for clerk; Kirkpatrick opposing the Know-nothings.  He and J. W. McDonald were elected by large majorities.

 

Col. John Kimball was representative in 1855-56.  Sack Pennington Goe was representative in 1839.

 

W. F. Moreland was representative.  R. L. Killgore was parish judge for eight years and subsequently representative.

 

In 1856 there were 857 votes given to Buchanan and 700 to Fillmore in Claiborne.  J. W. Berry received 852 and Isaac Murrell 678 for representative.

 

In 1859 Moore received 907 and Wells 528 votes for governor; Landrum 957 and Jones 90 for Congress; Young 684 and Moreland 938 for senator; Martin 936, Kennedy 546, J. W Berry 753, and Dyer 744 for representative; Whitson 806 Cleveland 354, and Tatum 442 for clerk; Kirkpatrick 842 and Weldin 789 for sheriff, and Simmons 874 for assessor, against 744 recorded for Cross.

 

In 1860 Breckinridge received 896, Bell 719, and Douglas 166 for President.  J. L. Lewis, of Claiborne, signed the secession ordinance of 1861.

 

In 1863 J. W. McDonald was chosen senator; J. W. Berry, representative; J. W. Kirkpatrick, sheriff; B. R. Coleman, clerk; H. C. Walker, assessor, and H. L. Cox, coroner.

 

The Claiborne elections of November, 1865-Egan received 763, A. A. Abney 512, and Pearce 504 votes for senator.  W. F. Blackman and W. F. Moreland 642 votes each for representative, defeating Drew and Murrell on one ticket and Blackburn and Martin on a third ticket.  Senator Abney died in February, 1867.

 

There were 1,588 votes cast for Nicholls (D.) and 427 for Packard (R.), candidates for governor in 1876.  In 1879 L. A. Wiltz (D.) received 1,725 and Taylor Beattie (R.) 444; McEnerny (D.) received 2,175 and Stevenson (R.) 596 in 1884/ while in 1888 Nicholls (D.) received 2,397 and Warmoth (R.) 768.  The number of voters registered in April, 1888, was 5,117-2,512 being white.  Fifty-three whites and 2,404 Africans could not write their names.

 

The census of 1840 gives the names of Jethro Butler, aged eighty-eight, and Benjamin Goodson, aged eighty-two, residing in Claiborne.  They were pensioners of the Revolution.

 

In September, 1877, a convention of Mexican veterans brought together Capt. W. G. Coleman, J. G. Heard, Joseph Heard, Jesse Aycock, T. P. Hamilton, B. D. Harrison, J. R. Smith, John Cook, M. H. Lippmins, J. A. Witter, Ob. Owen and J. M. Blackburn.  The Soldier's Association was organized August 10, 1878, with W. L. Oakes, president, and A. T. Nelson, secretary.

 

The "Claiborne Guards" of the Second Louisiana Infantry, was organized in Homer in April, 1861, with John Young, captain; J. B. Parham, J. M. Andrews and John S. Young, lieutenants. On muster in at New Orleans Capt. Young was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Second Louisiana.  J. M. Andrews was elected captain of the Guards, with J. B. Parham, John S. Young and W. C. Leslie, Lieutenants. Going into service at Richmond and on the James River, the winter was passed at historic Yorktown. Early in 1862 the company re-enlisted and elected A. S. Blithe, captain, with Cager, Martin, Reams and Cotton lieutenants, and Charles Cheatham, sergeant. The company served under Lee at Gettysburg, and were with him at Appomattox. In May, 1865, the survivors returned to Homer.

 

The Moore Invincibles or Company A, Ninth Louisiana Infantry, were organized in May, 1861, and mustered in at Camp Moore, Louisiana, June 13, 1861. In January, 1862, the men re-enlisted for the war. In 1861 R. L. Capers was captain with Alfred Blackman, Rydon Grigsby and W. F. Blackman, lieutenants; Tom Bowling, Merrill Roland and Frank Montgomery, sergeants. On reorganization Rydon Grigsby was chosen captain, and served until killed at Sharpsburg; W. W. Arbuckle, surgeon. Montgomery, the first lieutenant, lost a leg at Harper's Ferry; Thomas Bowling, the second, was wounded at Gettysburg, and William Mills, third lieutenant, At Harper's Ferry, where he died. First Sergeant William Dansby was killed at Petersburg; Lieut. Napoleon Henderson at Harper's Ferry.

 

The Claiborne Rangers, organized in June, 1861, were mustered in in July as Company B, Twelfth Louisiana Infantry.  In August, the command was dispatched to the front and later moved from Columbus, Ky., to New Madrid, Mo.  From March to May, 1862, if formed part of Fort Pillow's garrison.  After a year of brisk service, the men are found before Vicksburg, and in May, 1863, suffered heavily at Baker's Creek.  After the surrender of Vicksburg, Company B engaged in the eight day's fight at Jackson.  In 1864 it formed part of Johnson's corps, and in the fall of that year was attached to Hood's army in Tennessee.  During the winter the men suffered more from cold and hunger than from the  enemy.  In February, 1865, the regiment rejoined Johnston's  army in North Carolina, and on April 26, 1865, surrendered at Greensboro in that State.  On June 7, the survivors arrived in Claiborne.  Company G. of Twelfth Louisiana was also a Claiborne command, organized March 4, 1862, with Thomas Hightower, captain; Zachariah Grigsby, T. Bridgeman and James Potts, lieutenants, and Thomas Price, Sergeant.

 

The fortunes of this command are almost identical with those of Company B.  Prior to the Baker's Creek affair, the people of Homer sent clothing to the men by their agent, Linchicum; but the welcome additions to 1,000 wardrobes made the knapsacks too heavy to be carried into battle, and so they were left in a secure place until victory would perch on the regimental flag.  This was not to be, and with the loss of victory came the loss of much-prized clothes from friends at home.  The Arcadia Invincibles formed a part of this regiment.  The Claiborne Invincibles, or Company H, Seventeenth Louisiana Infantry, was organized in October, 1861, with William A. Maddox, captain; John G. Heard, G. M. Killgore and J. A. Simmons, lieutenants.  From November, 1861, to February, 1862, the command was in camp near New Orleans.  In February, 1862, the regiment was at Corinth, in April at Shiloh (where Capt. Maddox was wounded), and at Vicksburg from May 7, 1862, to July 4, 1863.  On May 21 Company H, was reorganized at Edward's Miss., with G. M. Killgore, captain; M. C. Leake, A. L. Harper and J. D. Hamilton, lieutenants, and soon after was present at Chickasaw Bluff.  Leake was wounded on May 30 and died June 5, 1863, when Lieuts.  Harper and Hamilton were promoted, and J. H. Hay elected third lieutenant.  Capt. Killgore died July 27, 1863, while en route home.  In April, 1864, the exchange took place at Pineville. A. L. Harper was chosen captain, with J. D. Hamilton, J. H. Hay and Walter Hall, lieutenants. After this its duties were confined to service on the Red River.

 

The Claiborne Volunteers (Company C, Nineteenth Louisiana Infantry), with A. H. Kennedy, captain; John Spears, S. A. Hightower and J. W. O'Bannon, lieutenants, was organized in August, 1861.  In September they were mustered in at Camp Moore.  Like Company H, Seventeenth Louisiana Infantry, this was present at Corinth and Shiloh. From April, 1862, to April, 1863, the command was at Pollard, Ala., but came to Vicksburg too late to aid the defenders.  At Missionary Ridge, New Hope Church, Kenesaw Mount, Florence, Nashville and other fields this company did service, and up to May 4, 1865, when the surrender to Gen. Canby at Mobile, Ala., was recorded, Company C, continued to win laurels.

 

Company E., Thirty-first Louisiana Infantry, was organized in April, 1862, and in June took up a position in the swamp opposite Vicksburg, being afflicted with measles in sixty-five cases and fever in forty cases. Camping at Tallulah or Delhi and the fiasco at Milliken's Bend occupied the attention of the men up to November, 1862, when one or two raids were executed without results.  The memorable ride from Vicksburg to Jackson and return to Vicksburg, on flat cars, resulted in the death of forth men from pneumonia. On December 26, Company E took part in its first battle at Chickasaw Bluffs. Again at Port Gibson, an don the retreat from Baker's Creek to Vicksburg, other military experiences were gained.  After the surrender the men returned to their homes, but in January, 1864, were convened at Vienna, and in June at Minden, parole camps being established there.  Further service was confined to the line of the Red River, until the Appomattox affair ended the hopes of the Confederacy, and enabled the tired troops to return home on May 23, 1865.  The officers were, captain, Shelby Baucum; lieutenants, D. W. Gladden, James M. Cleaver and Thompson Scott; sergeants; W. F. Wallace, E. Sanders, W. T. Williams, J. J. Howerton and R. D. Hightower.

 

Company G, Twenty-fifth Louisiana Infantry, was organized in February, 1862, with Seaborn Aycock, captain; P. C. Harper, W. J. Leslie and Thomas Brown, lieutenants, and John Cook, sergeant.  The later succeeded Brown, as lieutenant, within a short time.  At Corinth, Shiloh, Farmington, Perryville and Murfreesboro the command received its first practical lessons in warfare.  At Jonesboro, Ga., Capt. Aycock was killed, and W. J. Leslie took his place.  In Tennessee the command was in active service with Hood's army, and after the surrender at Appomattox, was still in arms and guarded the commissariat at Meridian, Miss., until the property was transferred to the United States quartermaster, thus being the last Confederate troops east of the Mississippi.

 

Company D, Twenty-eighth Louisiana Infantry, was organized in May, 1862, with M. O. Cheatham, captain; James Simmons,------ Warson and J. Thompson, lieutenants, and J. L. Tippet, sergeant.  On May 15 it was mustered in at Monroe, then moved to camp near Vienna, and thence into the Mississippi bottoms.  Later the Twenty-eighth was sent into the Teche country, and there, at Franklin, encountered the Federal troops.  Sergt. Tippet was killed there, and a number of private soldiers fell.  At Yellow Bayou Lieut. Simmons was killed, and at Mansfield and Pleasant Hill the command lost a small number.

 

Company F, Fifth Louisiana Cavalry, or Claiborne Partisan Rangers, was organized by  R. L. Capers, captain; John S. Young, N. J. Scott and G. A. Gordon, lieutenants, in June, 1862.  McN. Brown was first sergeant.  In August this and five other commands formed the First battalion of Partisan Rangers, with Samuel Chambliss, lieutenant-colonel, and R. L. Capers, major.  John S. Young was promoted captain of company F.  Before the close of the year the battalion was raised to regimental strength, with R. L. Capers, colonel.  John S. Young was subsequently commissioned major, and afterward lieutenant-colonel.  In was organized as a cavalry regiment in February, 1863, with 761 men.  Its operations were confined mainly to the country between the Ouachita and Mississippi Rivers, and later against Banks, on Red River.  In 1865 G. A. Gordon was captain of Company F; A. W. Palmer, J. H. Carr and J. R. Monk, lieutenants, and McN Brown still held the rank of first sergeant, immovable in notions of promotion as he was in political faith.

 

There was one Louisiana Cavalry company in the Eighteenth Tennessee Cavalry Battalion, Company E, commanded by Capt. Junius Y. Webb, seventy-eight strong.

 

The Claiborne Advocate was the first newspaper issued within the present boundaries of the parish, and the second within its ancient boundaries-the Minden Iris being the first. In 1851 B. D. Harrison, of Talladega, Ala., came to the present seat of justice, and in June of that year established the Advocate, with Frank Vaughan editor. J. M. Thomasson subsequently held the chair.  W. S. Curstis purchased the office in 1855, and carried on publication regularly until the tocsin of war sounded throughout the land.  Some time after Curstis bought the Advocate another candidate for journalistic honors and emoluments appeared in the new town, but its life was very short. In 1859 the inevitable Blackburn, W. Jasper, established the Homer Iliad. This was at a time when ideas of secession began to take shape, and to the useless task of changing such ideas Blackburn directed his energies. He fought the secession policy up to the beginning of the war, and denounced it until he and the Iliad had to disappear.  A reference to other pages will point out clearly his adventurous life during the days of civil strife.  After the war was closed he and the Iliad reappeared, and continued in the flesh here until 1877, when the Guardian was founded.

 

The Claiborne Guardian was established by Phipps & Seals in 1877;  B. D. Harrison had some connection with the office; Drayton B. Hayes was editor until his death, in 1885, when J. E. Hulse took his place.  In 1886 D. W. Harris was proprietor.  B. D. Harrison died in April, 1889, after a continuous residence of thirty-eight years at Homer.  The Guardian was issued for the last time on June 30, 1890, O. P. Ogilvie & Co. purchasing the Journal form J. E. Hulse, May 8, and consolidating the two papers June 18, under the title The Guardian-Journal.  In 1889 Mr. Ogilvie purchased the Phipps interest in the Guardian, and subsequently Charles Shaeffer purchased  Seals' interest.  The Louisiana Weekly Journal was issued January 13, 1886, by J. E. Hulse and B. D. Harrison, and continued publication until the consolidation of 1890.

 

The Southern Agriculturalist was established in 1890 as the organ of the Farmers' Alliance of this parish.  Number 10 of Vol. I was issued July 31, 1890, with G. H. Dismukes editor and proprietor, and J. E. Goodson publisher.  The Agriculturalist knows no man.  It espouses the cause of the farmers, according to its faith, without fear, and handles its enemies without gloves.

 

The Greenback Dollar was published some years ago at Haynesville, but collapsed after a short term.  In June, 1879, J. G. Warren resumed publication of the Greenback Dollar, and at that time the Western Protestant ceased to exist.

 

The Haynesville Star was issued in 1889, and reached No. 22 in Vol. II on August 1, 1890.  John M. Henry is editor.

 

Some years before the war the system of private schools was introduced here, and is to-day observed; however, the common-school system is not unknown.  The enrollment of white pupils in schools of Claiborne for 1877 was 1,111; for 1878, 1,416; for 1879, 1,458; for 1881, 1,716; for 1882, 1,843; for 1883, 1,875; for 1884, 1,739; for 1886, 2,052, and for 1887, 2,199.  The enrollment of colored pupils for 1877, was 1,050; for 1878, 762; for 1879, 1,254; for 1881, 1,040; for 1882, 1,024; for 1883, 1,070; for 1884, 785; for 1886, 1,530, and for 1887, 1,605.  In 1890 the returns show over 7,000 children, of whom the blacks are in the majority.

 

The physicians of the parish, with location and date of diploma, are recorded as follows:  Silas Turner, Homer, Iowa State University, 1865; William Henry Hines, Summerfield, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, 1859; John Elmore Meadows, Homer, Medical College of State of Georgia, Augusta, 1857; William Williams Arbuckle, Homer, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, 1845; Stephen Moore Dickens Webb, residence Flat Lick P. O., Minden, Webster Parish, University of Pennsylvania, 1854; William Wirt Culpepper, Athens, New Orleans School of Medicine, 1870; John Davidson Calhoun, Arizona, New Orleans School of Medicine, 1869; Alfred Castillo Simmons, Lisbon, Atlanta Medical College, 1860; William Sellers, Summerfield, University of Louisiana, 1870; Joseph Atkinson, Homer, Medical College of Alabama, Mobile, 1872; Richard Groves Gantt, Haynesville, Medical College of South Carolina, Charleston, 1881; William Madison Baker, Arizona, University of Louisiana, 1874; Hugh Monroe Longino, Haynesville, University of Louisiana, 1870; Thomas Florence Patton, Lisbon, University of Louisiana, 1881; Jesse Marion Ledbetter, Summerfield, Charity Hospital Medical College, New Orleans, 1876; Henry Alvin Longino, Haynesville, Missouri Medical College, St. Louis, 1880; Marcellus Franklin Alford, Summerfield, University of Louisville, Ky., 1879; Luther Longino, Minden, Webster Parish, Missouri Medical College, St. Louis, 1882; Tandy Linton Appleby, Homer, Southern Medical College, Atlanta, Ga., 1883; George Richard McHenry, Homer, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Baltimore, Md., 1882; Montrose Day, Haynesville, Missouri Medical College, St. Louis, 1881; Thaddeus Henry Pennington, removed to Arcadia, Bienville Parish, University of Louisiana, 1856; Albert Richard Bush, Gordon, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Baltimore, 1883; Joseph William Day, Homer, Graffenburg Medical Institute, Alabama, 1857; Joe Glenn Gladney, Arcadia, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Baltimore, 1886; James Madison Walthall, Gibsland, Bienville Parish, Hahnemann Medical College, 1887; Robert McAlpine Bromfield, Athens, Louisville Medical College, 1888; Charles P. Cargile, Ward's Mill, Atlanta Medical College, 1886; Addley H. Gladden, Homer, Tulane University of Louisiana, 1888; James Buck Alexander, Holly Springs, American Medical College, St. Louis, 1889; James Freeman Pace, Athens, Memphis Hospital Medical College, 1889; Andrew Jackson Pennington, Blackburn, Medical College of Alabama, 1878; Curtis Albert Baily, Athens, Louisville Medical College, 1890.  Frank Henry and Sterling R. Richardson registered under the act providing that physicians who practiced for five years prior to 1882 were fully qualified.

 

The Claiborne Agricultural Society may be said to have permanently organized in 1871.  The first fair of the old association was successful, but the five succeeding meetings were failures.  The seventh fair was held in 1877 and proved successful.  In 1889 the Claiborne Fair Association purchased grounds, and at once entered on the work of preparation for the fair of 1890.  At that time R. P. Webb was president; F. U. Allen, vice-president; J. W. Holbert, secretary; J. K. Willet, treasurer; J. H. Simmons and T. Bridgman, with the offers named, directors.

 

The Farmers' State Union is one of the strongest organizations in Louisiana, J. W. McFarland is secretary; R. L. Tannehill, of Winn, treasurer; T. J. Guice, of Grand Cane, State lecturer; W. H. Bass, of Pleasant Hill, chaplain; and G. L. P. Wren, of Minden, member of executive committee.  Claiborne Farmers' Union was organized in April, 1887, with C. J. Cargile, president, and J. W. McFarland, secretary.  The Farmers' Union Co-operative Commercial Association, of Claiborne, was incorporated October 3, 1889, with the following named directors: S. A. White, R. T. McClendon, B. B. McCasland, John C. Murphy, A. T. Nelson, J. S. Burnham, C. A. Gandy, T. T. Lowe, and J. W. Nelson.  Early in December, 1889, a store was opened at Homer, under the management of A. T. Nelson.  In January, 1890, there were 120 stockholders and $25,000 paid-up capital.

 

In July, 1882, S. Y. Gladney and J. A. Richardson went to Hope, Ark., to meet Maj. Beardsley of the Arkansas & Louisiana Railroad, and confer with him on the subject of building a road from Hope, via Haynesville and Homer, to the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railroad.  In February, 1886, the railroad question was revived, and Beardsley suggested a 5-mill tax for ten years, on the valuation of 1886.  In August a meeting was held at Homer, to further the interest of the road, J. T. Boone, W. D. Prothro, H. F. Scheen, Gladney, Richardson, Clingman, Bridgman, Nelson, Gill and Hammett, the directors being present.  The tax was approved on August 24.

 

On January, 15, 1890, the stockholder of the Louisiana North & South Railroad, at a meeting held in Homer, decided to sell the property and franchises of the road to the Louisiana & Northwestern Railroad Company.  The construction of the road to Gibsland cost about $120,000, of which the sum of $40,000 was contributed by citizens of Claiborne and Bienville Parishes.  The new company assumed all obligations, and took out a new charter containing the names of about 160 of the members of the old stockholders in this company.

 

The Louisiana North & South Railroad Company elected directors in July, 1889, G. G. Gill (treasurer), S. Y. Gladney, J. A. Richardson (attorney) and W. G. Darley, of Homer (assistant secretary), W. B. Colbert, A. D. Hammett and W. L. Kidd, of Gibsland, being the local directors.  Maj. Beardsley sold one-half his interest in the road between Homer and Gibsland prior to this date, but retained the management.  In August the work of constructing the road south to Bienville was entered upon, and in 1890 regular train service between this new town and Gibsland was established.  The office of the company are at Gibsland.

 

In the history of Caddo Parish references are made to the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad.

 

Homer is situated 16 degrees west of Washington, in Latitude 32 degrees 46 feet north, on the divide between the D'Arbonne and the Corni.  The entry of the town site of Homer was made July 24, 1848, the east half of the southeast quarter and the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 23, Township 21, Range 7, by the police jury, while Tillinghast Vaughan entered, on the same date, the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of same section, which he was compelled subsequently to exchange, under threat of removing the parish seat.  This exchange was promptly made, and the town was surveyed by B. McCloskey.  The sale of lots followed (before the fire at Athens), H. Robertson, J. C. Cunningham and E. H. Fuller buying on the north side; B. F. Sanders, W. Dyer, S. P. Day and A. Whitehead on the south side; C. C. Gryder, Grooms & Co., B. L. Rye and J. Atwell, on the east side; T. Mitchell, R. Browning, J. Taggart and J. Beopple, on the west side-all fronting the public square.  Tillinghast Vaughan purchased Lost 83 and 86, in Block E, and William Berry, the corresponding lots in Block D, While A. B. Catton purchased south of Berry.  J. Nettlerode purchased the present Hulse property, and S. P. Day purchased four lots where now stands Mrs. McCranie's brick block.  T. Henderson purchased the lost north and east of the old jail.  Fuller, Foster and S. Gamon purchased the north front lots of the block north of the court-house, and W. B. Dyer, W. C. Ridgeway, W. Prichard, J. B. McFarland, W. McDonald, G. W. Martin, J. Merze, J. Gwinn, S. Nelson, A. Hise and Wynne were the other original lot purchasers.  The name was suggested by Frank Vaughan.  William H. Maxey at once erected a log house on the southeast corner of the square, and a temporary building for parish office was constructed east of Maxey's house and a hotel erected where is now the residence of Mrs. McCranie.

 

After the location was adopted R. W. Capers built a storehouse on the northwest corner of the square.  This was a log cabin, wainscoted with boards sawed at Eldorado, Ark., forty miles away.  The old Claiborne Hotel, a two-story house, stood north of the court-house; then the larger Maxey Cheap Cash Store on the site of the pioneer cabin, and next the three cute Germans, Samuel, Michael and Alexander Wiles, opened a little business house.  A. McCranie built on the southeast corner and established a large trade.  B. D. Harrison opened a newspaper office in 1851, and the same year the Masons of the village organized.  J. C. Blackman's house stood where R. W. Collier's dwelling now is, but the old building was removed a point west, and in 1886 was occupied by J. M. White;  Green's house on the hill is occupied by the Widow Vaughan; on the site of Green Taylor's dwelling stands that of J. K. Willet; the old tavern has given place to Mrs. McCranie's dwelling; the Bonning House and Tillinghast Vaughan's house are all standing as reminders of Homer's early days; but the temporary court-house, as well as the first permanent building erected  for parish purposes, have disappeared.  Up to 1861 every one of the buildings named had happy associations, but then the terrors of civil war over the place and the peace of this Louisiana Auburn was offered up as a sacrifice to the god of arms.  Every home sent forth a soldier, and when the refugee families from the Mississippi Valley came hither to seek shelter from the storms, they found only non-combatants, stoical while enthusiastic, silent and thoughtful.  The riflemen and artillery of the North did not come hither until the war was over, but the Trans-Mississippi battlefields claimed many of Homer's citizens and few returned to realize the political and social changes which a few years had effected.

 

The first postmaster of Homer is not remembered by the old settlers, but as McFarland was master at Athens when the seat of justice was moved, he may have moved here also.  W. C. Crutcher, who was postmaster in 1852, kept his office in his drug store.  M. Callahan was postmaster subsequently; J. P. Smith came next as United States Postmaster, in 1866.  Augustus Lovellette, a Federal soldier was commissioned after the war.  W. J. Taylor, R. T. Vaughan, J. A. Witter with S. Y. Gladney, deputy; Miss Lou Martin, 1870-71; D. W. Harris, 1871-86; W. W. Brown, 1886-89; Mrs. E. V. Boring, in July, 1889, now incumbent.

 

The location of old-time business houses in always worthy of attention.  At the southeast corner of the public square was William H. Maxey, and on the extreme southwest corner, Dunston & Dansby.  Reams & Clegg were at the northwest corner.  Between these points were many houses of less note, but all appeared to do a lively and successful business.  Repeated failures of crops, however, brought about disaster, and house after house failed or closed.  Jonathan Ferguson assumed control of the old Planter's House, and did a thriving business for a number of years.  In time Gill & McCranie dissolved copartnership and sold their brick house to Otts & Barrow, but McCranie, too full of business to stop work, erected a spacious and handsome wooden store on the northwest corner, where prosperity seemed to bless every venture he made there.  The business of Duston & Dansby was closed, owing to the death of the former, and their fine brick house was disposed of to J.C. Blackman and Hugh Taylor (good Uncle Hugh), which firm, for some years, did a fine business.  On the death of Uncle Hugh the firm closed and the business went into the hands of George Taylor and H. C. Mitchell, who did a fine business until burned out in April, 1871.  G. G. Gill did a good business at the corner store now occupied by W. G. Taylor.  Reams & Clegg having closed out their business, the old Caper's House, where so much business had been done, now became vacant.

 

On December 22, 1876, fire destroyed the north and west sides of the square.  To replace the houses burned was now the object of the business men.  The McCranie brick store took the place of the old frame house; W. J. Barrow also built a good house and G. G. Gill built on the site of Col. Caper's store.  While this fire destroyed several buildings, the heavy snow, which followed, crushed the Methodist house of worship and necessitated restoration or rebuilding.  The fire of August 20, 1890, destroyed the old livery stable of J. T. Otts and F. N. Allen.

 

Early in December, 1877, Dr. Cunningham's house on Third Street was burned.  It was the fifth of a row of dwellings on this street, the other four being saved by the citizens.

 

The fire of July 27, 1889, originated in the Whitter saloon, the front of which had been torn down to make way for the A. K. Clingman brick block.  The south side of the square was swept away except T. J. Longino's brick block.  The flames leaping across the street reduced the Hamilton and W. W. Brown buildings to ashes, but were arrested at the Johnston jewelry store.

 

The first set of ordinances was adopted September 12, 1855, and signed by W. S. Custis, mayor, and W. Crutcher, clerk.  In 1856 J. M. Thomasson was mayor, succeeded in 1857 by John W. Pennall, who in November gave place to W. S. Custis.  In this year B. D. Harrison succeeded Crutcher as clerk.  In 1858 N. J. Scott was chosen mayor.  Ordinance No. 39, adopted in June, provided that all coffee-houses be permitted to keep their back doors open and sell on Sunday's until 9 A. M., and from 5 to 9 o'clock P. M.  On May 17 Surveyor E. B. Whitson, with Chain Carriers H. L. Cox and E. A. Walker, marked the boundary lines of the town.  Micajah Martin was appointed clerk in 1859, and E. L. Dyer in 1860.  In 1861 G. W. Price was mayor and James Potts, clerk, followed in 1862 by F. Vaughan, mayor, and B. D. Harrison, clerk.  In 1864 A. McCranie presided as mayor, with M. Callahan, clerk, and in 1866 N. J. Scott was elected chief magistrate.  At this time Ordinance No. 16 was adopted, fixing the license tax as follows: Retail grocers, $300; dry-goods, $50; livery stables, $25; family grocery, $50; confectionery stores, $25; hotels, $25; drug stores, $30; and dentist, $25.  In 1867 H. L. Cox was elected mayor, and the license tax was reduced to less than one-half in most cases.  J. R. Ramsey succeeded Cox the same year, and served until the election of J. Ferguson in 1868.  W. J. Reams succeeded Callahan as clerk, both serving in 1869, when the first book of ordinances closed.

 

In 1877 J. Ferguson was mayor, and B. D. Harrison, secretary.  In 1878 W. J. Leslie, Dr. S. Y. Webb, Dr. Meadors, John Cook, Col. J. S. Young, George Davis, B. T. Ledbetter and Bob Ferguson were school directors.  In 1879 Mayor Ferguson presided, with M. R. Bryan, clerk, followed in 1880 by J. A. Richardson and J. H. Simmons, mayor and clerk, respectively.  In 1881 E. H. McClendon was mayor, and in 1881-82 J. R. Ramsey signed the records as clerk.  In April, 1882, John E. Hulse was elected mayor.

 

In 1885 E. L. Johnson was elected mayor, and in 1886 J. D. Ferguson.  A. E. Welder was acting clerk, vice Ramsey, at the greater number of meetings up to July of the last named year.  Walter Ward was mayor in 1887-88, while S. J. Maffett succeeded J. R. Ramsey as clerk in 1888.  The officers in June, 1890, were:  J. E. Hulse, mayor; R. W. Collier, George Gill, A. E. Wilder, C. O. Ferguson, J. T. Otts, selectmen; R. L. Richardson, clerk; Thomas Harris, marshal, W. F. Bridges, treasurer.

 

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Louisiana may be said to date back to 1823, when eighty-nine white and ten colored members represented the denomination in the State.  From 1829 to 1833 William Stephenson preached throughout this section.  In 1827, however, a class was organized in the Hood settlement with John Burnham, leader; this was followed by Ashbrook's class near old Athens, but not until after the organization on the Louisiana Conference in 1846 did the people of the wilderness receive the new faith.

 

A society was organized at Homer, in 1849 or 1850, within the log house  which stood where is now Dormon's blacksmith shop.  Later a house for worship was erected in rear of the present house, and this was used until December, 1876, when the big snow crushed it in.  In 1877-78 the house now in use was erected.

 

The Cumberland Presbyterian society was organized at Homer, and another at Shongaloo, in the fifties.  The Homer Association dissolved instanter, but a strongly society was organized at Mount Pleasant, and still another at Pleasant Grove, near Alexander's mill.  During the war the building at Mount Pleasant was destroyed by fire.  Salem, near the site of old Russellville, ultimately became the seat of Cumberlandism, with churches at Haynesville, Salem and four other places.

 

The Presbyterian Church dates back to Mr. Banks' address at Overton, in 1838, and to Allen's settlement in 1839.  In 1851 the first organization was effected near Athens, although a preacher and school teacher of this faith resided at Homer then.  In 1852 Rev. J. F. Davidson arrived and found one other Presbyterian here.  Up to 1872 services were held in the Methodist Episcopal Church, but in that year their own building was completed.

 

The Missionary Baptist Church dates back to June 11, 1825, when a society was organized south of new Athens.  Fourteen years after the place of meeting was fixed at the old academy at old Athens, and lost many of its members by that move.  In 1859 the three remaining members, with others, reorganized under the name New Hope Church.  In 1826 or 1827 Black Lake society was formed at John Murrell's.  In 1852 the name and location at Ebenezer Church was changed to Homer, S. Harris, being then pastor, and J. A. Millican, clerk.  In October, 1867, the organization ceased, but was revived four years later by A. Harris, who was succeeded as pastor by H.Z. Ardis.  From 1873 to August, 1877 the pulpit was vacant, and then J. W. Melton was called as pastor.  Friendship Church was organized in 1847, at James Wise's house; in 1856 the Rechabite Church near Haynesville was organized as New Friendship out of this society; the old Friendship out of this society; the old Friendship church-house was burned, and the society dissolved.  Gilgal Church was constituted in 1842; Union Church on Dorchette, in 1852; Pilgrams' Rest in 1853; Cool Springs, in 1862; Crystal Springs, in 1874, and then followed the white and colored churches of modern times.

 

The Homer Male College (Methodist) was incorporated in 1855 and in 1856 work on the buildings was begun, but for some reason the rooms were not opened for educational purposes until 1859.  The presidents were Rev. Baxter Clegg, assisted by J. W. Stacy and J. B. Gutter in 1859, followed by Rev. W. D. O'Shea in 1860, who conducted the school until 1863, when R. M. Seavey came; it was closed in 1865.  In 1869 Rev. H. T. Lewis, assisted by Messrs. Borden and Wills, reopened the institution.  Rev. J. E. Cobb was president in 1870, with Messrs. A. C. Calhoun, J. W. Nicholson and E. M. Corry assisting, and Rev. F. J. Upton, collecting agent.  The latter collected subscription notes aggregating over $40,000, but their collection was quite another affair and ever the interest on a great part was refused.  In 1973 Rev. J. L. Bonden presided, followed by Baxter Clegg, Dr. T. B. Gordon and R. A. Smith, who was president when the institution was sold under execution in 1878.  Contemporary with the male was the female college.

 

The Homer Masonic Female Institute was established in 1859 as successor of the Homer Female College, with Prof. Wilcox in charge.  The Masonic lodge owned the property and directed the policy of the school.  Prof. Sligh and Mrs. Sligh were teachers here for many years.

 

The Homer Masonic Male and Female College dates back to 1885, when the plan of county education was adopted, and President Davidson placed in charge.  Then the Claiborne Male and Female College and the Masonic Institute appeared to have been separate institutions for a short time until the consolidation of two years ago when Claiborne College was adopted as the title.  The faculty comprised Mrs. Lawrence, M. A., and Prof. Martin, A. M., associate principal; Miss Mary Furman, M. A., instructress in elocution and French; Miss A. M. Teskey, M. A., in the art department; J. W. Connell, A. M., commercial department.  The brick building of olden days was restored, a new boarding hall erected and the Masonic Institute building repaired and refitted.

 

The Athenian Institute and Business College was presided over in 1888 by R. P. Webb, with E. H. Payne, secretary; T. J. Caldwell, treasurer; W. W. Culpepper, A. H. Wilburn, A. H. Caldwell, J. W. Hilbun, H. L. Awbrey, N. D. Smith and B. P. Smith, directors.  In November of that year the officers named were called upon to refute the charges against Rev. L. A. Taylor.

 

Taylor Lodge No. 109, A. F. & A. M., was chartered in 1851, and continued in existence until 1858, when the charter was surrendered.  Later, in 1858, Homer Lodge was chartered.  This lodge was organized U. D. With D. H. Dyer, worshipful master; J. M. Tilley, J. T. Brooks, J. S. Burnham, J. F. Leak, secretary; G. W. Price (died in 1881), E. B. Whitson and W. P. Brown, officers in order of rank, and James A. Millican, J. C. Blackburn and E. H. Fay, unofficial members.  The meeting of April 22, 1858, was held under charter No. 152.  Master Dyer was re-elected with E. B. Whitson, secretary; J. M. Thomason was chosen master for 1859, and in January the new charter of the Female Collegiate Institute was considered; John S. Young, R. F. Fancher, Wiley B. Gamon, J. G. and G. W. Warren, John Young, W. A. Carr, J. J. Brown, John Greer, S. M. Brown, W. H. Maxey, S. P. Gee and other members of old Taylor Lodge were admitted members of the new lodge.  In 1860-61 G. M. Killgore (died during the war) was master, and W. P. Brown, secretary, until J. /w. Stacy was appointed.  The death of E. B. Whitson is noticed on February 16.  A. C. Hill was master, and B. R. Coleman, secretary in 1862, followed in January, 1865, by H. W. Kirkpatrick, worshipful master, and W. C. Crutcher, secretary, an they, in 1866, by F. A. Jones, worshipful master, and A. Weil, secretary.  The masters and secretaries elected since 1867 are named as follows:  F. A. Jones, M.; and B. R Coleman, Sec., 1867; A. C. Hill, J.; and J. R. Ramsey, Sec., 1868; F. A. Jones, M., and J. R. Ramsey, Sec., 18679-72; R. T. Vaughan, Sec., 1872; J. W. Todd, M. (died in 1877), and B. D. Harrison, Sec., 1874-76; J. R. Ramsey, W. M., 1877-90, and B. D. Harrison Sec., 1877-89.  On the latter's death John A. Richardson was appointed temporary secretary and subsequently elected secretary.  The cause of losing the old charter was due entirely to the fanatical action of a few members, when resolutions bearing on the death o Allen Harris were considered.

 

Homer Council No. 1, U. F. of T., was a strong organization here in 1877.  The Grand Council of North Louisiana was also organized here.

 

Davidson Council 444, A. L. of H., was organized November 20, 1881, with the following members: Drew Ferguson, commander; A. Weil, M. H. Lipmins,* 1888; W. W. Arbuckle,* J. R. Ramsey, W. W. Brown, D. W. Harris, Nancy L. Harris,* 1883; B. D. Harrison, E. J. Harrison, G. W. Vaughan, J. e. Hulse, R. R. Hightower, J. H. M. Taylor, Sallie Jones, Betty Ferguson, L. J. Brown, W. C. Price, D. P. Taylor, E. G. Hightower, P. E. Lipmins, W. P. Carter* 1886, and G. W. Day.  The names marked * are deceased, and to their representatives $10,000 was paid.  J. R. Ramsey has served as commander since 1882.

 

Lodge 27, K. of P., was instituted July 5, 1881, with J. R. Ramsey, P. C.; Drew Ferguson, C. C.; T. S. Sligh A. E. Wilder, J. W. Holbert, J. K. Willet, M. C. Lawrence, W. Ward, James T. Otts, J. Floyd Key, B. A. Bridges, A. K. Clingman, Barney McHenry and John Brown, filling the other offices.  The office of chancellor commander has been filled by A. E. Wilder, F. C. Greenwood, E. H. McClendon, G. G. Gill, J. A. Richardson, C. O. Ferguson, E. R. White and A. E. Wilder, the present commander.  Then Endowment Rank was organized immediately after with G. G. Gill, the first president, followed by Drewry Ferguson.  G. G. Gill is now president, with Walter Ward as secretary.

 

The Y. M. C. A. Was organized June 10, 1890, with C. W. Seals, president; Dr. Pollard, vice-president; P. A. Tatum, secretary, and J. K. Willet, treasurer.  Lila M. Gill, Ada Mercer, Agnes McCorkle and J. A. McCorkle were appointed a committee to select books.

 

The Homer National Bank was organized in November, 1889, with W. P. Otts, president; J. W. Holbert, vice-president; C. O. Ferguson, cashier; T. Bridgmen, P. Loewenbery, J. H. Simmons, J. W. Holbert, J. K. Willet and Drew Ferguson, directors.

 

The Interstate Building & Loan Association was organized in March, 1890, with J. K. Willet, president; A. K. Clingman, vice-president, and R. P. Webb, secretary, treasurer and attorney.

 

The Southwestern Building & Loan Association was organized in March, 1890, with A. K. Clingman, president; J. C. Willis, vice-president; R. P. Webb, secretary, and they with Joe Palmer, W. A. Walker, John P. Awbrey and J. L. Ferguson, formed the board of directors.

 

The Otts House is the modern hotel of the town.  The old Homer House and the old Claiborne House are referred to as belonging to a past age.  The brick for the proposed Clingman hotel was burned in 1890, by Mark Lee.  The projector of this house established the Clingman nurseries in 1873.

 

Athens is an old name given to a new town on the Louisiana & Northwestern Railroad.  It claims a population of about 250, six business houses, a Masonic hall, one saw-mill, and planer, one steam gin and grist-mill, blacksmith and woodshop, a hotel, three religious denominations (Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian) and excellent school in charge of Prof. J. M. Davis, good depot buildings and telegraph office, and a few modern dwellings houses.  It is surrounded by a healthy and productive country, the soil and climate being admirable well adapted to the raising of all the products peculiar to this country, and especially to the successful growth of fruits and vegetables.  The country is well watered and timbered.  Sugar cane is grown in large quantities, and the manufacture of molasses is practiced on an extensive scale.  The farmers are also turning their attention to the raising of mules and horses, principally the former.  The first fire was that of March 23, 2890, which destroyed the Baker store, and a portion of his stock of merchandise.  The old Masonic lodge, Athens No. 145, organized at the old town in 1856, is still in existence with headquarters in the new town.  In 1889 the Benevolent Association of Confederate Veterans was organized, composed of former residents of the States of Georgia, Maryland, Alabama, Mississippi and other Southern States.  The following officers were elected to serve during the first year: J. T. Baker, president; P. A. Awbrey, vice-president; J. H. Carr, recording secretary; J. W. Brooks, corresponding secretary; J. F. McFarland, treasurer.

 

Arizona, six miles east of Homer, may be said to have been founded in 1866.  Soon after the war a magnificent cotton factory was erected at this place, capable of employing a large number of hands.  Its inconvenience to easy and rapid transportation, with other trouble, caused it to cease operating after a few years.  It is now owned by the John Chaffe estate, and is motionless.  Arizona, for a number of years, was the seat of Arizona Seminary, a very popular and flourishing school under the principalship of J. W. Nicholson, now professor of mathematics in the State University at Baton Rouge.  Notwithstanding the discontinuance of the factory, and the decadence of its school, Arizona has held many of its old citizens, the Willises, Wafers, Nicholsons, Drs. Calhour and Baker, Dutcher, Corrys, etc.  Here Beacon Lodge No. 220, A. F. & A. M. was chartered in 1872, and existed until 1886.  Hither the Forest Grove Methodist Episcopal Church-house  was moved in 1886. 

 

Haynesville, formerly known as Taylor's Store, dates back to 1848, when J. c. Taylor established his business here.  Prior to that date, 1843, Hiram Brown had located close by, also J. C. Wasson and L. S. Fuller, in 1844.  In 1846 Miles Buford and Samuel Boyd cast their fortunes in this settlement, and in 1849 Henry Taylor came among them.  Yearly the settlement increased in numbers, and farms, large and small, were opened.  In consequence of this increase in population and agriculture, William W. and J. L. Brown began a mercantile business next door to Taylor.  Sam Kirkpatrick and Dr. Wroten opened a drug business.

 

The country was full of game, and deer skins and bear hams were staples articles of trade.  But with the rush of emigration that began in 1850 and which continued up to 1860, new ideas came, new wants and new industries.  Agriculture began in earnest, and in a few years large farms were opened in every direction, the public lands were all entered, roads opened and prosperity was exhibited all through the region.  After the war the Greenback Dollar and the Western Protestant were issued here.  Other little journals were projected; but the present Star of 1889-90 shows signs of permanence.  The Methodist Episcopal Church at this place is one of the old classes of D'Arbonne Circuit.  Haynesville Lodge 178, A. F. & A. M., was chartered in 1861.

 

Summerfield, situated in the northeastern portion of the parish, is a thriving village of about 120 inhabitants.  It was settled by W. R. Kennedy in 1868, by the erection of a wood and blacksmith shop, and a business house.  It now has four stores dealing in general merchandise and plantation supplies, several drug stores, a saw and grist mill, and several mills in the vicinity, all run by stream.  It has four churches (Methodist Episcopal Church South, Methodist Protestant, Missionary Baptist and Primitive Baptist).  Hebron Missionary Baptist Church was organized near this village in 1848 by R. A. Hargis and Richard Young.  On August 29, 1882, a Baptist society was reorganized here by Elder Burt, the old society at Hebron being also in existence.  In 1845 a Methodist society was organized in the Corni Bluff vicinity, which in time merged into the Summerfield society, whither house of worship was erected there.  In 1842 the Methodist Protestant denomination organized in the parish, and Presbyterianism was organized in 1851.  Summerfield Lodge No. 210, A. F. & A. M., was charted in 1870, and now bears the number 88.  There are twenty-three members reported.

 

Tulip, in the southeastern part of the parish, was an important trade center until the completion of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad in 1884, when Arcadia, in Bienville Parish, competed for the trade of the district.  Here, for many years, P. Marsalis & Sons carried on a large general store without serious opposition.  Among the old settlers of this vicinity are the Watsons, Marsalises, Whites, Gandys, Leslie and Hays, with others named in the list of first land buyers of the township.  A stream saw and grist mill, a steam cotton-gin, a school-house, a commodious Methodist meeting-house, and a number of steam cotton-gins and saw-mills in the immediate neighborhood make up the industries, no less than five or six steam whistles being in easy hearing of the village.  A lodge of Masons, known as Tulip Lodge No. 187, was organized in 1867, and still works under the charter of that date.  The Methodist Church is the final development of a series of organizations that went before it.  In 1847 or 1848 William McCue settled near the Dansby place, and , with the assistance of others, built a log house in which was organized a small membership.  As others began to move into the neighborhood, Re. James Watson, Josiah Watts, M. Kenebrew, William Oliver, and others, in order to have the church more centrally located, it was taken down and moved two miles farther south.  It there took the name Walnut Grove.  About 1855 a large frame building was erected about half a mile east to take the place of the loge house, and to it was given the name of Pisgah.  Here it continued until 1872, when the class was divided, one section being attached to Homer and the other to Tulip, where a new house was built at a cost of $1,500.

 

Colquit is still known, the storm referred to in the first chapter shaking it into life.  Around this place settled the Tignors, Grays and Wilsons, and here, in 1856 Cool Spring Lodge No. 149, A. F. & A. M., was organized, continuing work until 1881.  Methodist and Baptist societies were organized there at an early day.  Gordon was founded by Dr. Gordon years before he moved to Texas.  It is still a small business center.

 

Antioch P. O. Was established in August, 1889, with J. B. Williams, master.  Forty years before a Baptist society was organized here, and in December of that year Seaborn J. Fuller was chosen pastor.  It was a strong Baptist settlement, such pioneers as the Fortsons, Lees, Hays, Johnsons, Williams, Browns, Applewhites and Sterlings being members of the society of 1852.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parish History: Historic Claiborne '62, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

Submitter: Claiborne Parish Historical Association

File Preparer:  Kelly Priestly

 

USGenWeb NOTICE: Libraries and individual researchers may download this file for personal,  non-commercial use only.  Any other use requires written permission from the transcriber. The submitter has given permission to the USGenWeb Archives to store the file permanently for free access.

 

Historic Claiborne

Materials prepared for the Claiborne Parish Historical Association

Claiborne Parish Historical Association Homer, Louisiana 1962

 

Foreword

 

     This is the second collection of papers and other items of historical interest to be published by the Claiborne Parish Historical Association. The first, entitled Claiborne Parish Sketches, appeared in 1956.  Slightly altered excerpts from the preface to the latter are given here:

 

    "The Association feels that these materials constitute important additions to the recorded history of this area and that they should be preserved in print.  In editing the papers there has been no attempt to attain uniformity of treatment or style.  Each paper reflects its own authorship, fully identified for the readers' information.  Each author assumes responsibility for what he has prepared.

 

     "The Association acknowledges its indebtedness to the contributors to this volume.  The ends of the Association could hardly be realized without the efforts on the part of individuals which is represented here.  The gathering of the materials of history is often tedious and discouraging, but there is great satisfaction in knowing that one has helped to record the passing scene and save it from oblivion.  Our authors and contributors have that satisfaction."

 

     We acknowledge with thanks the long-suffering patience of our printers. The publication of such a volume calls for co-operation well beyond an ordinary obligation, and this we have had.

 

Henry A. Smith, President

Lily Kinabrew Phillips, Publication Chairman

Sue Hefley, Editor

 

 

EARLY SETTLERS

 

by Lily Kinabrew Phillips

 

                Over a century ago, numbers of families who were friends in Georgia, loaded their household belongings in ox-wagons, helped their wives, daughters and sons to climb in then urged the oxen forward on the long trek to Louisiana.

 

     After a tiresome journey of slow traveling, they arrived in the spring time.  Settling in Claiborne parish, some to the east and some to the west, they went to work clearing and preparing to till the soil, not the modern way, but with oxen and crude implements.

 

     Records show that the land purchased by these families had been obtained from the government on what was then called "entered land", Sometimes for the sum of fifty cents an acre, with receipts signed by the receiver.

 

     Work, the settlers did.  They felled their trees, towed them in from the forest, and with an improvised sawmill fired by pine knots, which they called 'lightered', they began the building of small homes built of the virgin timber, cut by the elders, with all lending a helping hand.

 

     After the first crop was laid by, they provided a grist mill for the grinding of their corn. At the gin, cotton was pressed into bales by hand with wooden screws.  With the cane mills being pulled by horsepower, and with cane ready to be ground for the first syrup makings, all treked to the mills, drank the juice, and ate cane to their hearts' content.

 

     An old store stood for years, operated eventually by the great-grandchidlren of the original owners.  Here everything was sold from a pin to a plow.  It was also a community meeting place.

 

     With wild game aplenty, and with streams in the area abounding in fish, many preferred the rod to the gun.  Soon these became self-supporting communities.

 

     These pioneers were a religious people, on the fourth Saturday of each month the circuit rider came, when all business was suspended while the people attended services for two days. The ministers traveled the wilds on horseback or in a buggy.

 

     The "old peddler" made his rounds through the communities, with his spirit of gaiety, along with kitchen utensils, and dress material, which was known then as calico, and sold for five cents a yard, which was probably a good thing as it took 10 yards or more to make one of the full trailing dresses with long sleeves and high necks.  From three to five petticoats, lace trimmed, were worn with these dresses, which was then the fashion.

 

     The peddler finishing his work went on his way with very little cash, but with an ample supply of chickens, eggs, vegetables and other barter.

 

     All was not work with these communities.  Their days and nights were brightened by picnics, play, parties, square dances, candy pulls and Sunday singings.

 

     Old cemeteries are interesting.  It would appear to have been a custom to quite frequently have the place of birth indicated on the grave marker, consequently there was a good index as to the origin of those who came to settle here when it was a wild frontier. Many died from the effect of tragedy, epidemic or war.  They had courage to settle this new land.

 

CLAIBORNE PARISH

 

Reprinted from The Haynesville News, April 28, 1938

 

     Claiborne is one of the oldest parishes, having been organized in 1828, and was named for Mr. W. C. C. Claiborne, our first governor.  Out of the original Claiborne were formed the following parishes: Bossier, Jackson, Bienville, Webster, and Lincoln. Russellville was the first seat ofjustice. In 1836, the population having taken a westward trend, the seat of justice was removed to Overton on Dorcheat Bayou, near what is now known as "Minden Landing."  But this place was found to be unhealthy, so in 1846 Athens became the parish seat, and remained thus until the court house and all records were destroyed by fire.

 

 

     By this time the population had increased so rapidly a more central location was desired for the court house so the choice fell upon Homer.  The town was named by Frank Vaughn in honor of the Greek poet.  The land had been entered and owned around this location by Allen Harris and Tillinghast Vaughn: both of these men gave liberal concessions to the parish and town for public buildings, schools and churches.  The  first court was held in a cheap board shanty about where the O. G. Jones' store is situated.  The court house that was built at that time was thought to be one of the finest structures in North Louisiana.  About 1857, this building began to show decay, so it was taken down and the  present court house was erected on the same spot. About 1849 or 1850 the working Georgians and Alabamians began to settle in Claiborne.  Roads were opened, bayous and creeks were bridged, schools and churches were built.  Near this time Lisbon was settled.  A few miles west was Forest Grove.  At this time the Methodist church of Forest Grove was known as the most noted church in the parish.  Colquitt and Haynesville then fell in line of development.  W. R. Kennedy settled Summerfield in 1868 by erecting a wood and blacksmith shop there, and a business house.  About 6 miles east of Homer is the beautiful village of Arizona, where soon after the Civil war was erected a magnificient cotton factory.

 

     The first marriage that took place in Claiborne was in 1821 and Mr. John Allen and Miss Mary Holcomb were the happy pair.  The ceremonies were performed by the Justice of the Peace. Up to this time no marriage license was required and it was the fashion then for the bride and groom to go to Arkansas to get married; many remember the old oak stump where ceremonies were solemnized by an Arkansas Justice of the Peace.

 

     Land sold for $2.50 an acre up to 1848.

 

     The first newspaper to be published here was the "Claiborne Advocate," edited by Frank Vaughn.

 

     The L. & N. W. railroad entered this parish in about 1887 or 1888. There was much excitement and rejoicing over such an improvement as all our travel to that time was done by covered wagons, buggies and surreys.  The U. S. Mail was brought over by team and when the carrier reached town he blew a horn to let people know the mail had arrived. Everybody flocked to the "post office" to wait until it was opened.

 

ANTIOCH

 

by Pearl Fortson Smith

 

     I do not know in what year or by whom the community of Antioch was first settled but I do know that Antioch is one of the oldest settlements in all of Claiborne Parish.

 

     Most all of the settlers were natives of Georgia, coming from different sections of that state.  My general recollection of names is: Monk,

Williams, Lay, Scaife and Fortson.

 

     My own father's family left Columbus, Georgia, when he was twelve years old.  They came with all their possessions by boat to New Orleans, then overland by carriage train to what is now Claiborne Parish.  They brought their slaves with them.  The slaves that I remember are the cook Sarah and the carriage driver, a red bone, whom every one called "Red Sam."  He had his quarters over the carriage house and his only duties were to take care of the horses, the harness and carriage, and to drive my grandmother.

 

     My grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Fortson, built a two story colonial home about nine miles east of the town of Homer.  A number of our towns-people remember it as the old Fortson home, long since burned.  The only homes now standing belonging to the old settlers are the Scaife house and the Williams house, both east of Homer on the Summerfield road, and the Ben McCasland house on the Lisbon Road.

 

     Each man in the neighborhood had his own special talent.  Mr. Beach was usually called in if a cow or a horse became ill.  Mr. Ben McCasland filed snake bones for the babies to wear around their necks to make teething easier.  My father robbed the bees; they never stung him. Mr. John Williams was the only Sunday School superintendent I ever remember in the neighborhood. Mr. Jim Monk was a school teacher.

 

     The first school building was a one room log house with a huge fire place, wooden shutters over the windows, home-made seats and one  long desk extending the entire width of the room with seats on each side where we sat to take our writing lessons.

 

     The only church in the community was Baptist---a large, well-built edifice with one section reserved for the slaves.

 

     There was a pool just under the hill back of the house, fed by a  beautiful spring, for baptizing.

 

     "Uncle Billie Malone", as he was generally know, had the only cider press in the community and the neighbors would carry loads of apples to him every summer to be gound into cider and that was generally used as refreshments with home made giner bread to go along.

 

     My mother made her own candles from tallow, often mixed with beeswax made by boiling the honeycomb.  The tallow she made by rendering out the fat saved from beeves killed on the farm. She also organized reading clubs and debating clubs during vacation times.

 

     Mr. John Williams had the only cotton gin in the community and my friend, Luna Williams, and I thought it was the greatest fun to ride thelong poles to which the two mules, Rock and Dock, were hitched to run the gin.  We would also slide head foremost down the chute, which carried the lint cotton to the lint room.  Truly, we had our own special angels watching over us.

 

     Most all the settlers of Antioch were farmers, with cotton their specialty.  As a result of the Civil War, fortunes in cotton were lost.  I can remember the fire screens my grandmother had covered with Confederate money, which was no good after the war.

 

     I do not know just how many men from the Antioch community served in the Civil War; B. B. McCasland, W. R. Fortson and L. R. Lay were three who died.

 

     And, by the way, Mrs. L. R. Lay, who was Margaret Garrett, was a sister to Pat Garrett, who killed "Billy the Kid."  The gun with which he killed him is still in the Lay family.  Pat Garrett and his wife used to visit the Lays and we children thought it quite an honor to be able to say, "We know Pat Garrett."

 

     As the community grew and progressed, our fathers realized the need of bigger and better church and school facilities; so we discarded the old buildings and built new and more adequate ones.  We had school teachers second to none, such as: C. C. Seals, who afterwards became U. S. District Attorney of the Western Section at Shreveport during President Cleveland's administration; Mrs. Hattie Lawrence; S. E. L. (Sidney) Brown, a graduate of the University of Ohio; Miss Winnie Camp; Mr. Jim Monk; Mr. Joe Meadows; Mrs. Debet Bonner, mother of Mrs. Mary T. Bonner Cole and Pleas Bonner.

 

     We finally obtained a post office at Antioch, with Mrs. John Williams post mistress.  In connection with the post office she had a little storewhere she sold shoes, tobacco, snuff, calico and numerous other things that country folk need.

 

     At Christmas time there were always turkey dinners with plenty of "Sillabub," with a party each night with the late Tom Richardson, grandfather of our townsman, Pat Richardson, and Mace Palmer and a colored man making the music.  We danced the Virginia Reel and the old fashioned square dance, with Mr. Will Palmer and a Mr. Glass calling the sets.

 

ARIZONA

 

By Vera Robinson Malone

 

     In the year 1738 John Robinson was granted a piece of land from King George II of England. This land was on Muddy Creek, located in what is now Cumberland County, Virginia. Benjamin Franklin Robinson, one of the old family, still owns this farm. One of the boys, Hudson Allen Robinson, Sr., moved to Carthage, Tennessee in the year 1815. A few years later he and Hudson Allen Robinson, Jr., came to Louisiana to find a home. They came on horseback by way of the old Indian Trail. They came to what is now Arizona - then a dense forest; they hewed oak logs and built the first house. Then Hudson Allen Robinson, Sr. went back to Carthage, and moved his family by wagons back to the new home. The old shade trees--oak and walnut-- are still there. Some of the old hewn logs which were put into the house were still there a few years ago.

 

     Hudson Allen Robinson, Sr., and his wife, Mary Dyer Robinson, spent the rest of their lives at Arizona and are buried near the community. Their son, Hudson Allen Robinson, Jr. (born in Carthage Sept. 8, 1823, and later known as Uncle Dick) continued to live in Arizona and died there in 1916 at the age of 92. His wife was Sarah Jane Schinque Robinson. She was born near Natchez (Louisiana) near Natchitoches. Her family moved to the Tuggle Place, near Homer. She walked to church in Homer each Sunday, stepping in the footprints of her grandfather, Wesley Goodson, who wore a long white linen robe. He was the first preacher to preach in Homer; his "church" was a one-room log hut.

 

     Other settlers were Joshua Willis and Barbara Winston Willis. They were married in 1817; their children were: Americanus, Joshua, Barbara, Patsy Ann, John Winston, Lenora. They were related to England's Winston Churchill. Some family names identified with early Arizona are: Nicholson (J. W. Nicholson was the founder and principal of Arizona Academy, and in later years served as president of Louisiana State University) Harris (Tom Harris was superintendent of education for the state of Louisiana for many years) Willis (the Willis- Knighton Clinic in Shreveport bears this family name) Palmer (James G. Palmer was once mayor of Shreveport and served as Judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals). Barnette (William C. Barnette served as judge of the 3d Judicial District Court from 1912 through 1914) Malone, Brown, Baker, Scaife, Leslie, Calhoun, Menefee, Thomason, Blackman, Myers, Oakes, Ledbetter, Wafer, Pryor, Parker, Jamerson, Bonner, Beard, Johnson, Kimbell, Simpson, Corry, Parson Harris, Major Dyer, and others. Miss Mary Mimms "Sweetheart of the South" and Minor Wallace "Silver Tongue of the South" went to school here.

 

     Our Arizona Methodist Church is a very old one and is owned- not by the Methodist Conference, but by the people of the Arizona community. This arrangement was made by our forefathers and we are glad to have it this way. The church and school grounds were donated by J. P. Malone's great grand-father Willis whose wife was Lenora Willis Malone and who later married one of the Nicholson family.

 

ARIZONA

 

By Clare D'Artois Leeper

 

     This article is reprinted from the Shreveport Times, Historic Place Names Series, by permission of the Times and the author.

 

     Arizona, Louisiana was incorporated March 1, 1869, the name taken from the Territory of Arizona. The persistent belief that the word Arizona derives from the Spanish "arida zona", calls for inclusion, as Jack Reynolds says, merely for the purpose of refutation.

 

     The origin of the word Arizona advanced by James McClintock in his "History of Arizona" and accepted by all modern historians, says: "There is no doubt that Arizona Territory was named after some springs near Banera, eight miles south of the border, and about 85 miles below Tucson. These springs were called "Alel-zon" by the Papago, meaning "small spring".

 

     In the days before its incorporation, Arizona boasted of the largest flour mill in the state and of the first cotton mill operating west of the Mississippi River. The flour mill was abandoned after it was discovered that wheat could not be grown profitably there. And the cotton mill, too, was abandoned as economically unfeasible because it was 30 niles from a navigable stream and there were no railroads to haul its products.

 

     In 1869 James W. Nicholson established the Arizona Seminary which was considered one of the best colleges in the state. After two years he left the school to return to teaching in Homer College. The seminary began to wane at Arizona after his departure. After two years there, he returned to Arizona to place the school on a sound basis, staying there until 1877, when he was offered the chair of mathematics at LSU, which he accepted. There he remained until his retirement, and in the interim of his service he was LSU's president from 1883 - 1884 and from 1886-1896.

 

     With Nicholson's departure, Arizona Seminary began to decline. And like the flour mill and the cotton mill before it, the Seminary was finally abandoned. There was an unsuccessful attempt to revitalize Arizona by making it oil-rich, but only dry holes were drilled. By 1953 the Arizona post office served only 14 star route boxes. So in 1954 the post office was discontinued.

 

 

 

 

                                                               

 

ATHENS

 

By Annie Volentine

 

     Athens is a small town ten miles south of Homer, with a population of 432. The original town, Old Athens, was two miles west of the present town.

 

     Although Athens was not chartered until 1898 when Governor W. H. Heard signed the proclamation, the town started its existence when the Louisiana and Northwest Railroad was routed through the present town site in 1888 and J. T. Baker moved his general merchandizing store from Old Athens and the Reverend and Mrs. J. L. Stone moved the post office to New Athens. About three years later W. H. Pace and W. 0. Barnes began their drug store on what is now "main street".

 

     Athens was incorporated - a mile square - in 1898 and inside the corporation limits is a dwelling now owned by Mr. and Mrs. C. N. Willett, which was built by a Mr. Beauchamp before 1857. (So said the late J. E. Gandy, who told his family that he remembered going there with his mother in 1857 when he was five years old and he was born in 1852). The house is well preserved. At one time a partition between rooms was removed and it was found that the studdings were six-inch square hewn timbers.

 

     The first church in the town was the Cumberland Presbyterian (now the United States Presbyterian). It was organized in 1858 by the late Reverend G. N. Clampitt and he served as its first pastor. The land for the church and Salem cemetery was donated by Judge J. L. Kilgore, a great-uncle of John and Myrtle Dance, who live at Athens at the present time. Later Frank Bridges gave an adjoining plot of ground for an academy. Elders for the first church were: W. H. Gandy, John A. Harris, Peyton Pate, Thomas Berry, and J. N. Mitchell. Deacons were: P. H. Hicks, Green Walker, and T. E. Bailey. The Presbyterian Church was moved to its present location in 1905. The first Methodist Church here was built in 1890. It was called Foster's Chapel by its first pastor. It was moved to the present location in 1910. Early leaders of this church were: W. H. Pace, Eugene Watson, F. E. Marsalis, Jim Pittman, W. C. Webb, Frank Webb, J. T. Baker.

 

     The Athens Baptist church was built in 1903. Before that time the congregation went to the Old Athens Baptist Church, which is still well preserved and is used every Sunday.

 

     The first court of justice for Claiborne Parish was housed in the Samuel Russell log house (at Russellville).  This site was a few hundred yards north of Salem cemetery and all that remains is a mound of dirt where the building decayed and the old oak that was used as a gallows for hanging criminals.  The first judge was J. L. Kilgore.

 

     Doctors who have come from Athens are: James, F. J. Pace, C. A. Bailey, C. C. Craighead, Walter Harman, Joe Gandy, L. T. Baker, B. P. Smith, Don S. Marsalis, Thomas Ward, Claud Craighead Jr., Lavelle Maddry, Lamar Atkins. Lawyers who have come from Athens are: Jean Craighead Shaw, who practices with her husband in Homer, and the late Ab Atkins.  Preachers who have come from Athens are: the late Willie Barksdale, Presbyterian; Douglas Peeples, Methodist; Tommy Greer, Baptist.

 

     The first car owned by anyone in the town was one bought by W. J. Greer, a merchant, in 1913.  The next year Dr. C. C. Craighead bought the second one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                               

 

ATHENS

 

By Clare D'Artois Leeper

 

     This article is reprinted from the Shreveport Times, Historic Place Names Series, by permission of the Times and the author.

 

     Greek classical place-names dot the U. S. map, and Louisiana is not without its share of them. Athens, the first such name to appear on the Louisiana map, was soon followed by Homer, Sparta, and Arcadia.

 

     The original Athens of Louisiana, which served as the third parish seat of Claiborne parish, is now known as Old Athens and is located 2.3 miles west of the present village of Athens.

 

     Many of the Athenses of the U. S. were so named because universities were to be located in them. However, Louisiana's Athens does not seem to have had such an institution according to The History of Claiborne Parish by D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse. One of the authors visited Athens in 1848 and gave a rather complete description of the place. While he did not mention the presence of any university he did comment on, among other things, the presence of "a beautiful flowing spring, a courthouse, which was then considered a creditable building, and about a dozen dwellings, here and there. . ." Although Athens, Louisiana, does not seem to have had a university it did serve as a seat of government. This fact, coupled with its strong topographical resemblance to Athens, Greece, was certainly enough to warrant the choice of the name.

 

     Three notable similarities exist between the two Athenses. First both Athenses were situated upon hills. The famous hill upon which Athens, Greece, is built is known as the Acropolis and has an altitude of 512 feet. Louisiana's Athens is built on the highest hill in Louisiana (altitude 415 feet). Second, both Athenses had that prime requisite necessary for the survival of early towns, a water supply, and both had it in the form of flowing springs. Third, both Athenses are approximately three miles from water transportation. There may be yet other similarities between the two Athenses especially in the matter of bracing breezes and annual mean temperature. But the similarities cited proved that the placenamers knew their classics when they selected the name of Athens, Louisiana.

 

AYCOCK

 

By Gilbert C. Owens

 

     Aycock, one of Northwest Louisiana's old settlements, was known as the Hood settlement before it had a post office, and was the cradle of the Methodist Episcopal church in this area, a class being formed there in 1827. Later Walton Wilson donated land near his home and a church was built known as the New Hope Methodist Episcopal Church of which he was a member. Many years later as the country settled and became a prosperous farming area New Hope Church was moved about half way from Aycock to Homer and is now known as the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church. The church has played a most important role in making this country what it is. Our forefathers made the supreme sacrifice that this great country of ours might survive and I relieve it will so long as we follow their plan and scheme of things, and keep their memories alive.

 

     Aycock's only postmaster, Walton Wilson, was the son of A. M. Wilson, a young lawyer born in North Carolina, who married and had two children in Mississippi. He came here to build a home in the "wild west" leaving his family in Mississippi. He never finished his home; he died in 1841 and is buried about one quarter mile north of the present site of Aycock. The daughter Eliza Wilson married a Mr. Ponder from Texas.

 

     The son, Walton Wilson, married Sicily Honeycut. They reared a large family. Only one child survives, Mrs. W. C. Owens of Haughton. The oldest grandchild is Mrs. T. A. Owens of Aycock. Sicily Honeycut Wilson lived to the ripe old age of 94.

 

     I have spent many hours listening to her tell of the old days and the good times and bad times which she remembered so well. She told of some friendly Indians and of course there were some not too friendly. She would tell me some exciting experience in the early days. The stage line from Homer to Trenton (Monroe) had a stage barn where they changed horses at Sugar Creek near where Highway 146 (White Lightning) now crosses.

 

     The first one out of Homer was in Ward 7 and Ward 6 line was a few feet in front or east. The mail was carried horse back from Arcadia north to Marsalis or Tulip to the stage stop and on to Arizona, almost one mile northeast, another old settlement. This was on the old Indian trail from Natchitoches to Chicago.

 

     After considerable questioning of the old timers, including my grandmother, and much search of history I learned that Aycock was named for a Mr. Aycock, who lived just across Bayou D'Arbonne, then considered Aycock Settlement about half way from the present site of Aycock. Walton Wilson and Captain Seaborne Aycock were good friends and neighbors. After the war was over Walton Wilson was a prosperous farmer, breeder of saddle horses, and carpenter and blacksmith. Several of the homes still stand which he built. He made window sashes, doors and the lumber was hand dressed. He and his two oldest sons had a sawmill and they cut 18" heart pine boards some twenty feet in length. The settlement needed a post office after the war ended and my grandfather Wilson was builder and postmaster.  The post office was named Aycock, in memory of Captain Seaborne Aycock, born. Sept. 27, 1819, probably in Selma, Ala. He served in the Mexican War and came to Louisiana in 1852 and the outbreak of the Civil War. He married Angeline Ford, Jim Ford's sister, Dec. 3, 1846. She is buried at Rocky Springs. The records show that on March 15, 1862, Seaborne Aycock entered service in the Confederacy and on the same day he was elected captain of Co. G. La. Infantry. His officers were P. C. Harper, W. J. Leslie and Thomas Bron, lieutenants and John Cook was sergeant. This company was formed at Lisbon.

 

     History indicates that Capt. Aycock fought at Corinth, Shiloh, Farmington, Perryville, Murfreesboro and was killed while leading a charge at Jonesboro, Ga. This was part of the Atlanta Campaign. He was under Hardee and Hood. He was killed August 31, 1864.

 

     The village of Aycock reached its peak in the early 1900's. It had a church, school, post office, cabinet and wagon shop, blacksmith shop, three stores, a doctor, three sawmills and gins, a railroad and log camp. The Dubach Lumber Co. Rail Road went to the south edge of Sugar Creek, Sac P. Gee's place, with a spur narrow gauge line up White Creek, near Tulip, where Mr. Walker Fomby had a sawmill. Mr. Will Hightower had a store at the present site of Aycock, only across the road, next to Dr. Jarrell's home and office; the home still stands. Not far from the railroad Mr. Will Sconias had a large general store, which he later sold to A. M. Wilson, and a two story building, with W.O.W. Lodge Hall on the second floor. The log camp was about half way between these two stores; the other store was in Hood Town.

 

     The saw mills and gin: There were Wilson's Mill near the post office and Heard's Mill, owned by the father of the late Bert Heard. The first mill was a horse drawn mill; later it was powered by steam.  The Atkins Mill was near the present Wesley Chapel Methodist Church, on the west side of the Aycock Community.

 

     Aycock community was considered to be bound on the west by the road from Arizona to Arcadia, as far as White Creek near Marsalis, and on the north by Bayou D'Arbonne.

 

BLACKBURN

 

By Iler King Campbell

 

     In the West section of Claiborne Parish lived a number of farmers who had come largely from Alabama and Georgia to settle in the red hills of North Louisiana, establish their homes and raise their families.  As the number of farmers increased and the community grew the need for a local store was felt and in 1881 two young men, Frank T. and John Henry King, opened their doors for business and Blackburn became a village.  Soon in the rear of this store the federal government established a post office and John Henry King was the first postmaster.  Here, too, from miles around, came the farmers to discuss political issues and the price of farm products.  It was not unusual to see teams of oxen hitched here.

 

     In the community lived a man named John Blackburn, who owned and operated a vat where he tanned the skins of animals he caught and those he bought from farmers.  He conditioned these hides and made shoes out of them for the neighborhood.  Because of the importance of his occupation and his pioneering spirit, the village was named for him -- Blackburn.

 

     As the community grew and prospered and more homes were established, the need for educational and religious influence was felt.  So a one-room schoolhouse was built.  Soon a Missionary Baptist Church was erected and across the narrow road a Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  In the School each year was held the community Christmas tree celebration; friends and neighbors gathered here on Christmas Eve to hear the children say their recitations and to see "Santa Claus".

 

     Later Dr. Cason opened an office in the community; Ben and Charley Shockley operated a cotton gin and Will Walker was the blacksmith.  In the rear of the blacksmith shop the owner set up a grist mill, where each Saturday farmers came from miles around with corn to be ground into meal while their mules an horses were being shod.

 

     At the height of progress in this village many families, realizing the need for better educational facilities for their children, moved to Homer, Haynesville, or Ruston.  The King brothers, after twenty-one years in business at Blackburn, moved their business to Homer in 1902.

 

CAMP POST OFFICE

 

By Ava Avinger Jackson and Alma Avinger Bledsoe

 

     On a cold frosty morning in 1898 a shrill whistle echoed through old D'Arbonne bottoms and Claiborne Parish was on the map. The  Louisiana & North-West Railroad, so long dreamed of, had become a reality. Beginning at McNeil, Arkansas, it stretched through hills and woods, crossed Red River at Grand Ecore, and terminated in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

 

     Among the small communities along the line lay Camp, halfway between Homer and Haynesville, a sleepy little cross-roads junction, boasting two small stores, the John W. McKenzie store in which was established Camp's first post office, and the Ed Adkins store. There was also.Shockley's sawmill, a cotton gin, and corn mill. There was a depot close by the watering tank where the people patiently waited for their first passenger train.

 

     John W. McKenzie was appointed post master by Postmaster General Charles Emory Smith June 1, 1901.

 

     On January 24, 1906, James A. Robinson moved to Camp and built a general mercantile store and the post office was transferred to this

location, Mr. Robinson becoming post master.

 

     On January 8, 1908 John P. Avinger bought the Robinson store and was appointed post master by Postmaster General Geo. von L. Meyer. On March 9, 1914 Onfrey P. Avinger was made post master and continued in that capacity until December 30, 1915. Upon his moving away from Camp, John P. Avinger was again made post master and remained post master until the post office was discontinued February 15, 1917.

 

     On August 1, 1908, Rural Route No. 4 was established out of Homer, which supplemented the service of the Camp Post Office. Then in the summer of 1917, upon the closing of the Camp Post Office, Rural Route No. 3 was established out of Haynesville to serve the people not  included in the Route No. 4 District.

 

     Among the families served by these routes were the Morrises, Robertsons, Adkins, Avingers, Robinsons, Aubreys, Camps, McKenzies, Gentrys, Kendricks, Hardaways, Walkers, Tinsleys, Harrises, Smiths, Gordys, Shaws, Millers, MeElwees, Lewises, Evans, Beavers, Roberts, Heards, Bairds, Hammetts, Bridgemans, Crows, Owen, Kirkpatrick, Peacaw and many others.

 

     Soon after the Avingers came to Camp, Dr. Kilgore, a general practitioner, came, built a small office and became the community's family

doctor.

 

     If one were to visit the home of Irma McKenzie Noland in Homer, he would find the old original wooden box which was tacked on the inside of the store door into which letters were dropped for mailing - now being used as a lovely planter.

 

     Camp was named for Robert Camp who lived in the vicinity at that time. To the Old Timers, however, it will always be known as "Stand Pipe". This identification arose from the fact that a tall water pipe was erected by the side of the railroad track to convey water from D'Arbonne Creek to the engines before the big tank was built.

 

     In the evenings as the neighbors began to gather around the old McKenzie well in front of their house one would know it was time for the north-bound "Doodle" to come puffing through a deep cut around the bend.

 

     Years have passed and all the stores are gone. Only a few houses remain. Friends and families are scattered, but we have a wealth of memories of those care-free days of our childhood.

 

COLQUITT

 

By Jewel Garland Tigner

 

     The Colquitt community, twelve miles north of Homer, was founded prior to 1850 (John Thomas Tigner with his brother George came to Claiborne from Georgia in 1849, and settled at Colquitt.) It was named for an early settler. Pioneer family names are: Christian, Gray, Greer, Odom, Palmer, Barrow, Monk, Leake.

 

     The village formerly consisted of two stores, a postoffice, two churches (a Baptist and a Methodist), a school, a blacksmith shop, and gin. Dr. Perry Taylor was the beloved doctor of the community. Miss Hattie Lawrence was a beloved teacher of early days; another who gave long and faithful service was Mrs. Mary Lou Meadors Matthews, principal of the school for many years. At one time cotton farming was the main industry; dairying and oil have supplanted cotton.

 

     Margueritte Garland Nation provides additional information: The Colquitt Methodist Church is well over 100 years old; pioneer members belonged to the following families: Wilson, Tigner, Palmer, Monk, Greer, Christian, Adams, Spears. The church had its beginning in a two-room log building. One room was used as a church and the other was the Community School house. On May 31, 1885, this log building was destroyed by fire, and services were held in the Masonic Hall until a new building was completed in 1886. In 1912 the building was blown from its foundation by a tornado. After this damage was repaired, there were no more changes until the years 1936-37 when there was some renovation. In 1950, three Sunday School rooms and Fellowship Hall were added. Since Colquitt has always been on the Haynesville charge, the forty-one pastors who have served the Haynesville church have also served the Colquitt congregation.

 

MORE ABOUT COLQUITT

 

By Bernice Andrews Wise

 

     Colquitt is a community about thirty square miles in area in Township 23 North, Range 6 West, Claiborne Parish. It is between Cypress Swamp on the north, Middleforks Botton on the south, less fertile land on the east, and the community of Gordon on the west. The rolling hills have clay soil on the high land and deep sand on the low land, with numerous springs and small creeks. Chincapin Hill, about the center of the area, is the most prominent landmark. There are some graves on this hill, and one is reported to be the grave of the man after whom Colquitt was named. The town was laid out and streets named about the year 1850 and it flourished during the cotton growing years. It had several stores and a post office, a Methodist church and a Baptist church.

 

     The first cotton gin was a screw and press, driven by a mule and filled by hand with baskets. This gin, a sawmill, and a grist rnill were on the Crawford Greer place. The first steam gin was at the Palmer place east of Colquitt. The first school was a two-room log cabin at the crossroads south of the Greer home. A two-story school was built near the Christian home, where the teachers boarded. This building had a large room downstairs that was used as an auditorium for local theatre, for quiltings, and for an annual Thanksgiving dinner. The fabulous food at Colquitt is still brought to the memorial at the Methodist Church in May, and to quiltings. The local favorites include chess pie, black walnut cake, plum pudding, and applesauce cake. Mulligans, barbeques, and chittling suppers are enjoyed.

 

     A list of members of the Colquitt Baptist Church show the following joining by letter on February 9, 1879: Elbert Gray, Andrew Jarrell, S. R. Jarrell, Joe Grey, J. S. Gray, Mony Gray, Mrs. Sollie Owens, Mrs. Ella Jarrell, Miss M. H. Barrow, Frances Mills, Mrs. Mary Owens, Mrs. Emma Jarrell, Mrs. Mattie Gibson, J. M. Finley, Mrs. Eunice Jarrell. Joining before 1900 by baptism or letter were Mrs. H. E. Gray, John E. Gray, Mrs. Willie Nelson, A. H. Haynes, E. J. Haynes, J. N. Wise, Sr., Miss Mattie Wise, William Gray, Mrs. Malinda Gray, D. P. Owens, Jesse Wise. The list of those contributing to the building of the church in 1887, as recorded by John E. Gray and J. N. Wise, included many Methodists, and this spirit of cooperation has continued through the years, with the Methodists having services on the first and third Sundays and the Baptists on the second and fourth.  Payments made to Capt. A. C. Jones seem to indicate that he was the builder.

 

     State Line Church was also a part of the Colquitt community. Its constitution states: "We the undersigned do hereby covenant and agree to establish a church at G. R. Bishop's house to conform to all the requirements the Scriptures, to live peaceably, maintain ordinances, and to attend the meetings regularly unless providentially hindered". The "undersigned" were Steven Culpepper, Joseph Wise, Joseph Culpepper, Cornelius Ludlum, Mrs. Elisabeth Haynes, Mrs. Martha G. Wise, Mrs. Rebecca Ludlum, Mrs. Caroline Wise, Mrs. Dealia A. Culpepper, Joseph Wise, Mrs. Amarintha Culpepper. The first baptism recorded was that of Miss Josephine Millican. Family names in the membership roster were: Price, Millican, Owens, Wise, Byrd, Bishop, Peavy, Clower, Puckett, Lee, Colman, Mullins, Culpepper, Mills, Teague, Garner, Hudson, Goodwin, Cabbage, Bishop, Mullens, Haynes.

 

     During the early years, this church was part of the Columbia Association; later, in 1871, it became part of the Liberty Association. Church dissolution was in the year 1881.

 

DYKESVILLE

 

By Agnes Caston Ware

 

     The Dykesville post office was established April 30, 1886, after which the following men served as postmasters:

 

     Alexander N. Garland, April 30, 1886; William J. Garland, August 8, 1889; Sbelvy B. Baucum, Feb. 8, 1898 - May 7, 1902. (1)

 

     A. N. Garland was the father of Mrs. George Tigner of Homer.

 

     W. J. Garland, one of the outstanding figures in Claiborne Parish history, was in the mercantile business in Dykesville. A member of the Claiborne Parish School Board, Mr. Garland was also very prominent in the Methodist Church of Dykesville, among other things teaching Sunday School. His daughter, Mrs. Shep J. Beene (better known as Miss Nancy) recalls times that bad weather and other factors limited Sunday School attendance to just their family, but her father went right on with the lesson. Since they were eight miles from a minister her father was often called upon to perform burial ceremonies, Mrs. Beene added. Another of Mr. Garland's daughters, Mrs. Sam Nation, resides in Shreveport, and is well known for her work in genealogy.

 

     In 1948 a tornado hit the small community and not much remains as a landmark save the White Hall Methodist Church and cemetery, where head stones bear the names of the early settlers: Garland, Baucum, Day, Dickerson, Sale, Talley, Thomas, Knight, Baugh and others.

 

1. The National Archives and Records Service of Washington, D. C., sent this information to Mrs. Sam Nation.

 

 

 

 

                                                               

 

GORDON

 

By Agnes Caston Ware

 

     Seven miles east of Haynesville, "Gordon was founded Dy Dr. Gordon years before he moved to Texas." (1)

 

     Somewhere in the early 1900's Gordon was a thriving community, with post office operated by Oat Smith, (2) a gin, a grist mill, a general store run by Marshall Lewis, Madden's Store, a schoolhouse, and possibly a saw mill. (3)

 

     One of the students at the school was Willis T. Owens, Sr., who lived at Gordon most of his life, and who ran a general store for over half a century. The last store Mr. Owens built stands mute and empty now, with only the fading letters "Gordon, Louisiana" to remind one of its senior citizen, while across the highway only rubble is left of the once lovely home, with huge wisteria vines hiding the fences and large crepe myrtles marking off the boundaries of the yard.

 

     Two colored churches, two white cemeteries, and a well-kept community house are all that remain of the old Gordon, the latter being the old school building, where revivals are still conducted, funerals, and old-fashioned all day singings, with "dinner on the ground."

 

1. Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, The Southern Publishing Co.

 

2. Stories of Dixie, James W. Nicholson, American Book Co., copyright 1915, p. 120.

 

3. Inforination furnished by Finis Bailey, born and reared near Gordon, who now lives in Haynesville.

 

HAYNESVILLE

 

By Joyce B. Dobbins

 

     Historical records reveal the earliest settler in the Haynesville community to be a Widow Long who established a residence in 1818, but she moved very shortly to Arkansas. Not until some twenty-five or thirty years later was there to be a tidal wave of migration into this area. J. C. Wasson and L. S. Fuller came in 1844, Hiram Brown in 1845, Miles Buford and Samuel Boyd in 1846. In 1848 J. C. Taylor migrated from Georgia and settled in the community now known as Old Town, buying 160 acres of land at 75 cents per acre from the government and establishing a small country store, so that Haynesville was first known as Taylor's Store. J. C. Taylor expanded his business enterprises and donated land for the first Methodist Church, cemetery, and school house built in 1860. The school's first teachers were Tarpley Winn and Thomas Beck.

 

     Other Old Town businesses include a drug business owned by Sam Kirkpatrick and Dr. Wroten, a jewelry shop operated by a Mr. Wood. Mr. Stone was a carpenter, Mr. Ray was a coffin maker, and Captain Maddox, John Brooks, and Lindsey Mosely had general stores.

 

     This community steadily grew, and by 1898 it was a thriving village of some 250 people, covering a mile square, and serving many families within a ten mile radius. The community acquired the name "Haynesville" from a certain Captain Haynes who lived there temporarily.

 

     Saddle-pocket preachers and bush arbor services held important places in the religious life of early Haynesville pioneers. These ministers traveled the country on horseback bringing the word of God. These sacks thrown across the saddle held the Bible in one end and their clothes in the other. Early saddle-pocket preachers were Tom Brasher, Rufus Neal, Hollis, Idson and M. C. Parker,

 

     Back in Old Town days, Haynesville was not incorporated, and government consisted of constables and justices of the peace who occasionally held court. Haynesville's first post office dates back as early as 1849 when the mail was brought from Homer and placed in a showcase of Brown Brothers' Store.

 

     Journalism was introduced in 1879 to Haynesville by John Warren and J. M. Hendry, who edited a Political paper called the Greenback Dollar.  It was printed until 1889, and J. M. Hendry took over editorship of the Haynesville Star.

 

     From 1887 to 1893 Haynesville had a Normal Institute for teacher training headed by Phillip Gibson, nephew of J. C. Taylor. It was under Mr. Gibson's guiding hand that the Haynesville Star was first published.

 

     In 1898 the shrill blast of a train whistle marked the dawn of a new era for Haynesville. The residents bought three hundred acres of land and gave it to the L. and N. W. railroad company so that the town would be placed at its present location. Major J. D. Beardsley, promoter of the railroad, sold the land in lots to finance its completion. Two hundred acres were bought from C. A. Bridgeman at $6.25 per acre, 60 from J. W. Camp at $10.00, 40 from G. B. Sherman at $7.50 per acre. Major Beardsley plotted a map of the town and named the streets with such early family names as Dawson, Gantt, Greer, Taylor, and Bailey.

 

     Within a few years Old Town ceased to exist and new businesses were brought in as well as old businesses relocated. Jo Greer and George Sherman built the first store in August, 1898. The first depot was a box car which was used for three or more years. T. W. (Tom) Camp was the new town's first barber. Shortly afterwards John Sale began to burn brick kilns; W. A. Waters and Hugh Miller built the first brick stores; T. U. Norton, Tom Sale and S. B. Baucum followed with brick establishments. When Haynesville was  incorporated around 1899 frame buildings were outlawed. In 1904 John Henry was elected the new town's first mayor and S. E. Rankin was made its first marshal.

 

     Practically overnight, in the early part of 1921, Haynesville mushroomed from a peaceful little town of 1,000 inhabitants to a oil boom town. Tents, shacks, and lean-tos were thrown up to provide lodging and food for both workers and oil speculators. "Liquid gold" gushed forth on March 30, 1921, bringing in untold wealth which was followed by a building boom for new residences and business establishments, churches and school buildings.

 

     The condition of the roads and streets during the oil boom is vividly recalled by those who lived through the boom. A mule drowning in mud and slush on Main Street was a topic for conversation for many days during this time. The same is true for the youngster, a very enterprising young business man who took advantage of the situation, placed "2 x 12's" on blocks across the street and charged five cents to walk across.  Rural mail carriers resorted to horseback to get the mail to its proper destination.

 

     Haynesville's progress can be attributed to many, many people. To list them all would be an extensive project, but names of a few families that have helped to make Haynesville a progressive town are as follows: Dawson, Greer, Brown, Waller, Sale, Sherman, Beene, Miller, Norton, Camp, Callender, Ware, Harp, Almand, Garrett, Rankin, Burns, McEachern, Lowe, Bond, and many others.

 

     Since World War II the importance of cotton in agriculture has been replaced with beef cattle, dairying, and forestry.

 

H0MER

By Lily Kiiiabrew Phillips

 

     Homer, which superceded Athens as the parish seat of Claiborne, bears a name chosen by Frank Vaughn, son of Tillinghast Vaughn who helped lay out the town around a public square, about 1850. The choice of a name can be explained in the interest in the classics which characterized the times. The name of the local newspaper, the Illiad, the classical style of the courthouse, the names of nearby communities - Athens and Sparta - are further indications of this interest.

 

     By 1860 Homer was a flourishing incorporated town, with approximately 700 inhabitants. A description of the town in 1886 is found in a rare booklet by F. H. Tompkins entitled North Louisiana: its soil, climate, productions, health, schools, etc., coupled with its timber and mineral wealth, also embracing a description of its various towns, prospective and completed railroads, and printed by the A. H. Pugh Printing Co., Cincinnati. Excerpts which follow provide not only light upon the history of Homer, but upon the journalistic style which was in favor at

that time:

 

                "Dotted down among the iron clad hills of Claiborne is the charming and peerless little city named after the great Grecian bard. As will be seen from the account of Claiborne, it ranks among the finest of all the hill parishes of our state, and its people as possessing all the traits of real ante bellum hospitality. So is this little city like its surrounding. Its inhabitants are generous, whole-souled and hospitable, and possess the rare intelligence that always shows itself so plainly in those towns which have always had good schools. The schools of Homer have always been presided over by teachers of the very highest excellence. The Homer Masonic Female Institute has ushered from its portals girls whose subsequent careers, as mothers,  wives, authors and teachers, have added lustre and fame, to their alma mater, and culture to the community within whose limits their lives have been spent. The Homer Male College has laid the foundation of many a collegiate education, and furnished many a bright boy all his parents were able to give him to battle against the world and make life a success. The votaries of mixed schools, of males and females, have gained the ascendancy, and these two honored institutions are now one, presided over by a gentleman of scholarly attainments, crowned with habits of piety and religious devotion. Situated in the midst of a people of thrifty and frugal habits, Homer's trade has always been very large. New trade centres, brought into existence by lines of railroad, have diverted its trade from a distance to some extent, yet its local trade has increased with the increase of population, and it enjoys a fine trade now. For a town of its size it has quite a large capital employed. A detailed statement of its business houses is as follows:

 

                A. E. Wilder. Dealer in dry goods and jewelry, does a large business almost exclusively for cash, and carries a beautiful stock of fancy goods, jewelry, etc. Mr. Wilder was for many years the confidential bookkeeper for A. McCranie. Embarked in business for himself in 1882, and has a good line of customers and plenty of friends.

 

                C. 0. Ferguson. In 1880, three young men, clerks in stores, who had saved their money, embarked in business together. They were Fayette Camp, A. H. Davidson, and C. 0. Ferguson. . . . They stepped into a fine business. In 1881, Mr. Camp withdrew, having sold his interest to the remaining partners. In 1884, Mr. Davidson withdrew, leaving C. 0. Ferguson the sole possessor of the fine and growing business. His friends are many...

 

                G. G. Gill.  Mr. Gill is doing a general mercantile and advancing business. He is an old and esteemed merchant . . . an enterprising man and noted for his liberality. His store is on the north corner of the west side of the public square.

 

                J. K. Willet. A very deserving young man, who . . . by untiring industry, close economy and strict attention to business has built himself up an excellent business in the general mercantile and advancing line . . .

 

                Joseph Shelton is a young gentleman who has made the drug business a success. He is affable and courteous, and possesses a line of customers that no one can take from him ...

 

                J. W. Clingman is a young man who has recently embarked in the drug business . . . Mr. Clingman merits and receives a fine trade.

 

                W. J. Taylor commenced business in 1876 with but a small capital. He has been doing a general mercantile business on a cash basis since, and increasing his capital, year by year, until he now enjoys a good trade and carries a good assorted stock.

 

                Willie Tankersley is doing a retail business in the grocery line. He            is a native young man and yet a minor. He may be numbered among the largest and staunchest of Homer's merchants some day.

 

                Otts & Allen. Two popular and enterprising young men, bought out the livery stable and stock of J. O. Tankersley, who had for many years done a fine business in Homer. This stable runs a daily line of hacks to Arcadia, and furnishes A 1 teams to drummers.

 

                Ragland & Taylor. This stable is managed by Mr. R. P. Ragland, the senior partner, an old and popular livery man. He has a first-class stable, with first-class stock and conveniences.

 

                Brown's Hotel. Kept by Mr. W. W. Brown, is a very large and commodious house, built within the last few years. It is the business center of the town.

 

                Hamilton House. Another hotel, is also a large house and eligibly situated near the Brown Hotel.

 

                Ott's House. This is kept at the old Ward House by Mr. W. W. Otts, a gentleman formerly in the mercantile business in Homer. It is popular with the traveling public.

 

                Clingman Nurseries . . . These extensive nurseries are now in their 14th year. They embrace every family of fruit trees that are adapted to our climate ... There is perhaps no nursery in existence in the United States to-day that has such strict rules with regard to the proper representation of trees. If a canvassing agent should misrepresent or mislead, to sell, it is deemed sufficient cause for his immediate discharge. Mr. Clingman pays his employees stated wages, and consequently can better control them in this matter than those nurseries which employ their men on commission, and allow them to make any statement to effect a sale. Trees, vines, shrubs, etc. grown at this nursery have all the advantages of acclimation, which is a great desideratum and one not possessed by Northern dealers. This nursery also prefers to replace any trees which may die or fail from any cause, than let the loss fall on the purchaser..."

 

{Also see "Page 30-Announcements" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

HURRICANE

 

By Joyce B. Dobbins

 

     Hurricane is located in the southeast corner of Claiborne Parish, seven miles north of Arcadia, on state highway 519, amidst rolling, red topped hills. A covering a of gravel and rocks with some weighing as much as fifty pounds may be found in many places. Sandy soil is prevalent, as well as a year round supply of water in surrounding wells, springs, and creeks for both livestock and human consumption.

 

     Hurricane's earliest history dates back to 1830-1850 when it was used as a camp site for travelers to Old Sparta on business. The presence of good drinking water and plenty of land was eventually to bring in many pioneering settlers. Particularly was this true after the Civil War.

 

     Research reveals that some of the earliest settlers were Tillman Howard, John Greer, S. A. Craighead, the Crossland brothers (L. P., Ab, and Tom), Washburn Byrd, Charlie James, and Bill Kilpatrick. Both Mr. Byrd and Mr. Kilpatrick located here around 1850. From 1860-1875 these families moved in: Bonaparte (Bonie) Watson in 1875, Irving Feazel in 1873, M. A. (Alex) Baker in 1867, Rance Baker and Giles Dobbins in 1872. Very shortly the Chandlers, Coxes, Davidsons, and Harrels were to follow.

 

     One of the first houses, built by the father of Tillman Howard, in 1836, is still in existence, although it is in poor condition. The front porch has long faded from the main structure, but the log walls, rock and mud chimney, and the dog trot typical of the architectural design of the period are still intact.

 

     The present Hurricane cemetery had its beginning in 1850. Shortly after Mr. Bill Kilpatrick moved into this community, he passed away. Mr. Washburn (Wash) Byrd owned the land which the community agreed upon as a proper cemetery site and Mrs. Kilpatrick paid him one dollar for a burial plot. Trees had to be cut down before a grave could be dug. To-day this grave is in a group of six marked only by rocks for head and foot stones.

 

     Hurricane's name was derived from the "big hurricane of 1863." Its early settlers have passed vivid descriptions of this storm down through the years, So much tall, virgin timber was blown down that it was impossible to ride horse back to Arcadia. Cow trails were blocked with tall trees preventing the cows from returning home for milking.

 

     Historical records reveal Charley Hays to be one of the early settlers of Athens. Mr. Hays rode into Claiborne from Tennessee on a horse in 1825. His descendents have contributed greatly in the early settling of Hurricane. J. W. Hays, a son, moved from Athens to Hurricane and established a saw log and planer mill, a cotton gin and grist mill. Many of J. W. Hays' descendents are still to be found in Hurricane and many parts of North Louisiana.

 

     Hurricane had a full time doctor in the late 1800's and the early 1900's. Dr. Thomas M. Mask (1855-1917) administered to all kinds of ills in the community including toothaches.

 

     The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, founded in September of 1883, is the oldest and first church in Hurricane. The Rev. G. R. Stewart organized it and Mrs. Caline Pardue gave it the name Bethel. The church continued with that name until 1922 when the Presbytery changed it to Hurricane.

 

     In 1908 the Hurricane Junior High School was built with Will Greer, Larkin Stevens, and Jim Watson as trustees. In 1916 The Hays School consolidated with the Hurricane Junior High School. In 1951 it consolidated with the Athens High School. The main building and teacher's home were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The cafeteria and auditorium remained for a community center.

 

     Up to World War II Hurricane was a cotton farming community, but at present the only farming practiced is either in forsstry or dairying.

 

JUNCTION CITY

 

By I. A. Brinker

 

     Junction City became a town on Sept. 27, 1894. The town came into being when the Arkansas Southern Railroad, later the Rock Island, was extended to that point by a Mr. Henderson, who named Junction City.

 

     On the day the railroad reached the site a barbecue was given, supervised by Mr. A. J. Brinker, a citizen of the community, and a public sale of lots was held. Many people of surrounding country came - many to buy lots - and many old people saw a train for their first time.

 

     The first business house was built by the railroad and managed by a Mr. Couch. Many places of business were soon built. Some of the first of these merchants were, Mr. Al Curby, and Simmons, Muse and Harris, and Jessie McDonald, druggist. Descendents of these families still live in Junction City. An abundance of virgin pine and oak timber grew here and many homes were built. Saw mills moved into the surrounding country and operated for many years.

 

     We are in the unique position here on the state line of having two sets of town officials - one on the Arkansas side and one on the Louisiana side. Most of the businesses are located on the Arkansas side - the post office, bank, schools, and churches, although the railway depot is on the state line - half in Arkansas and half in Louisiana.

 

     In the early days, a water well was located in the middle of the street on the state line, half being in Arkansas and half in Louisiana, with the southwest quarter of the well in Claiborne Parish and the southwest quarter in Union Parish. This well furnished water for the townspeople and a watering place for animals riden or driven into town by those who came to buy or sell. Now U. S. Highway 167 is routed through the main street and covers the location of this well.

 

     In that time cotton and corn were the money crops and source of income for the surrounding territory. Several thousand bales of cotton were sold yearly to buyers here. Today there is no buyer here, and only one cotton gin operates in this territory. Dairying, cattle-raising, truck gardening,-- timber and some cotton-are the chief sources of income to farmers.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                               

 

LISB0N

 

By Ruth Tait Keener

 

     The community of Lisbon, Louisiana, became the homestead of early settlers from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Carolinas, between 1800 and 1850. Finding here a sufficient water-supply for the livestock of the wagon-train, these pioneers put down roots on what proved to be good soil, for it sustained the needs of six or more generations of their descendents.

 

     A post office was established at Lisbon on September 30, 1851, with Seth Tatum appointed as the first post master. (1) Mail service for rural residents was begun when Rural Route No. 1 was established on January 3, 1911, with Tom M. Killgore as the first rural carrier. (2)

 

     While Lisbon was in her youth, the citizens gave expression to their religious feelings by organizing the Rocky Springs Baptist Church and the Lisbon Methodist Church.

 

     Rocky Springs Baptist Church was organized in 1845. (3) The Church acquired 4 acres of land during the 1850's, as follows: 1 acre by donation from W. D. Hester on January 24, 1852; (4) 2 acres for $1.00 from J. L. Love on April 21, 1852; (5) and 1 acre for $10.00 from Allen Killgore on June 25, 1857. (6)

 

     The Lisbon Methodist Church was organized in April, 1849, at the house of Thos. B. Wafer. (7) This church acquired three acres of land, August 5, 1871, from James McClendon, by DEED OF GIFT to the Methodist Episcopal Church South of Lisbon, President and Trustees: T. H. Pennington, J. J. Duke, John Duke, J. W. Dawson, James M. Clements, James Cook, and James McClendon. (8)

 

     There has always prevailed at Lisbon a respect for those who serve in defense of our country. During the Civil War, the great-uncle of this writer, in a letter to his parents, Louis M. and Milley Raborn, told that his company was organized at Homer, then departed for Camp Moore. On the way the men were stopped at Lisbon where the citizens had gathered to present a patriotic program in their honor, and to present the company with a flag.

 

     This same spirit of patriotism was again demonstrated following the death of Allen David King, who gave his life for our country, August 6, 1952, while serving as 1st Lt. U. S. Infantry, Co. K. 31st Rifle Regiment, 7th Division, in Korea. In his memory the Lisbon Men's Club built and continues to maintain a lake and recreational area east of Lisbon, just north of the Claiborne Gasoline Plant.

 

     The schools of the Lisbon community date back to the middle of the 19th century. Small one-room schools were located from five to eight miles apart. Some of the family names responsible for these schools were: Harris, Meadows, English, Killgore, McCasland, Simmons, Ford, Smith, Dawson, White, McDonald, McClendon. Some of the school masters came from these families. These schools were run partially by taxes but mostly by parent-paid tuition.

(9)

 

     On March 16, 1907, there was a transfer of 4 acres of land from Charles J. Morton, of Union Parish, to Lisbon School Trustees: O. W. Meadows, President, and J. A. Aycock, T. F; White, W. O. McDonald, and W. C. Killgore. (10)

 

     In the early 1920's, while John Sparks Patton, a native of Lisbon, was serving as Claiborne Parish Superintendent of Schools, the rural schools of Sharon, Antioch, and Arizona were consolidated with the one at Lisbon, making it the Lisbon High School. Leon Killen was the first principal. (9) Serving as principal for the longest period of time was M. J. Haynes, from 1926 until his retirement in 1953.

 

     Lisbon School had an enrollment of about 150 students during the time of the Lisbon oil boom, from about 1937 until about 1947. Since then it has dwindled to the present enrollment of 102.

 

     For several decades, the community flourished economically by raising cotton as its major industry. In recent years, farmers have given more attention to the raising of cattle and pine trees. Also, for the past  twenty-five years, the oil industry has contributed much toward financial prosperity.

 

     After being bound together by their mutual interests for more than a hundred years, the families of Lisbon legally joined themselves together in 1958. On July 16, 1958, a number of residents signed a petition, requesting the Governor of the State of Louisiana to declare their settlement to be a municipal corporation, to be known as "The Village of Lisbon."

 

     This petition was signed by members of the following families: Abbott, Bailey, Bennett, Carathers, Copeland, Gaston, Greeson, Haynes, Heard, Killgore, Knighten, Lowrey, McAdams, Marsh, Merrill, Peppers, Saulters, Spears, Tait, Welch, White, Williams, Womack.

 

     Subsequent to the official incorporation of the Village of Lisbon, a meeting was held at which time the following officers were elected: Mayor: Ben W. White; Marshal: Thomas Peppers; Aldermen: T. F. Greeson, F. M. Lowrey, and Frank Tait.    These gentlemen took their oaths of office, October 23, 1958, In 1960, the Village of Lisbon had a population of 229. (12)

 

                                                BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

1. National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D. C.

2. Federal Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

3. Minutes of Liberty Baptist Association.

4. Claiborne Parish Clerk of Court's Office-Conveyance Book A, page 566.

5. Claiborne Parish Clerk of Court's Office-Conveyance Book A, page 564.

6. Claiborne Parish Clerk of Court's Office-Conveyance Book D, page 505.

7. "The History of Claiborne Parish'', by D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse.

8. Claiborne Parish Clerk of Court's Office-Conveyance Book J, page 478.

9. "A History of Lisbon High School" in files of Claiborne Parish School

Board.

10. Claiborne Parish Clerk of Court's Office--Conveyance Book X, page 14.

11. "The Guardian-Journal", August 21, 1958.

12. U. S. Dept. of Commerce--United States Census of Population 1960-

Louisiana, Number of Inhabitants.

 

MAH0N

 

By Lilla May McElwee Shaw

 

     Following an age old custom, Mahon Community was named in honor of its most prominent first citizen, John Mahon. A son of Mr. Mahon is now a U. S. Senator from Texas.

 

     Dr. Fleater Palmer was the first mail carrier, covering a route from Homer to Mahon and on to the Gordon community.

 

     Its early settlers were: Mr. Mahon, R. H. Cleveland, who came from Georgia, John S. McElwee (father of W. T. McElwee) who came from Brownsville, Tennessee, Dr. J. E. Meadors; Willis Jarrell; Willie Moreland; Hickman; Jim and Monroe Kirk; and Jim Ford.

 

     Mr. Hickman operated a blacksmith shop, repaired implements, shod all work-horses and mules, and also made caskets as needed.

 

     In 1891 Hugh Taylor and R. H. Cleveland bought Mr. Mahon's store. This store supplied every need of the inhabitants of the community and also a chosen few of the luxuries. Among the latter were apple and apricot cider, stored in kegs, boasting of faucets from which it was dispensed in mugs at 10 cents each. Some of the earliest clerks in the store were W. T. McElwee and Tuck Bailey. Taylor and Cleveland later sold the store to Dr. J. E. Meadors, who operated it over a space of years.

 

     In January 1901 W. T. McElwee married and brought his bride, Mattie McKenzie, to Mahon to live. He built a store and christened it "The Blue Front". Besides operating the store he supervised a gin and grist mill, the toll being "one peck of meal to the bushel". Aside from these enterprises he was the landlord of a large farm, which he called "The West Side Plantation". There were fifteen families living on it to do the labor.

 

     On chosen Saturday nights W. T. or Tandy, as he was better known, would stage an entertainment which the wage hands called "de Bull Fight". All of them crowded into the store, and then Tandy would toss (over the counter) sardines, apples, oranges and candy. There was a mad scramble to acquire these free items and various strategies were used to amass the most. One long legged Negro tied strings around the bottoms of his overall legs, and unbuttoned the sides, and when it was over - he had all this space filled, as well as his pockets. At Christmas, a tree was erected in "The Blue Front" decorated with colored paper chains and popped pop-corn strung on thread. One of "Santa's helpers" distributed the gifts, and no Negro failed to hear his name called. Supplies for "The Blue Front" came by rail to Homer and then were hauled by wagons, with four-horse teams, to the store.

 

     No doubt the most popular item on the plantation was the old dinner bell that rang out its chimes at 11:30 a.m. every work day. Once Richard McElwee who lived with his grandparent John S. McElwee, said: "Aunt Matt's bell says: Cakes and pies, and grandma's says: Peas and bread."

 

     Back in those days everybody wore "long-handled" underwear, made of drilling and tied at the bottom of the legs to hold tightly in place and guard off the wind. These was never discarded until the crocus were in full bloom.

 

     One moonlight night Tandy was returning from Homer in his buggy. As he came to a branch "Dan Patch" stopped and shied and began snorting. Looking to the right, Tandy saw the figure of a man. Thinking it to be a Negro man that lived near-by, Tandy did not become frightened until he saw the figure seem to go through a rail fence and cross the road, disappearing into "thin air". At that, Tandy gave "Dan Patch" the reins and they lost no time in getting home.

 

     Some of those who clerked for Tandy were: Andrew Evans, Chester Owens, Frank Owens, John Prather, and A. W. Blackwell. Contemporary with Tandy in the community were J. J. McElwee, Jim Baker, Martin Smith, Walter Jarrel, Mr. Warwick, Virgil Green, John T. Meadors, Tom and Drew McKenzie, Brythol Evans, Jim Robertson, Mr. Malone, Jeff Russell, and Prentiss Meadors.

 

     All the old homes are either deserted, torn down, or occupied by Negroes at the present time. The children of Tandy still own his property. There are Lilla May (Mrs. Madden Shaw), Rosa (Mrs. J. T. Swann) Mary Lee, (Mrs. James L. Green) and Tandy Jr.

 

     Most of the land has been dedicated to the pine industry, and no longer will be heard the plaintive songs of the Negroes in the cotton, corn and sugar cane fields. The bell no longer promises cakes and pies for there is no one to heed the invitation. A sentinel is kept on the growing pines; the hawk by day and the owl by night. And often an antlered deer is silhouetted in the twilight, drinking boldly from the spring at the road side.

 

SHARON

 

By Ruth Tait Keener

 

     The community of Sharon, known also as Kimbell Town, which takes its name from the Sharon Baptist Church (organized in 1872) and from the Kimbell School, consolidated with Lisbon High School in the 1920's, is located about seven miles southeast of Lisbon, on the Dubach Highway.

 

     Some of the school teachers at Kimbell School were: Mrs. Willie Lee Kimbell Tarpley, Mrs. Berta Tatum, Mrs. Vera Ferguson Enloe, and Mrs. Eva Patton Bennett.

 

     During the childhood of this writer, church services at Sharon were held on Saturday morning, preceding the First Sunday, and the first and third Sunday afternoons of each month. Following the Saturday morning eleven o'clock preaching services, the congregation spread dinner on tables underneath the trees in the yard, or in the church building during inclement weather, and visited with each other. Afterwards, there was a general conference, at which time all church business was transacted, as the members felt it would be desecration of the Sabbath to bring up business matters on Sunday. Following the August revival, baptismal services were held in a pool, equipped with steps, on the farm of Nolen Carter. For several years, the Church has been on a full-time basis, with worship services held every Sunday morning and evening, and prayer services on Wednesday night. A pastor's home on the Lisbon-Bernice highway was built on land which was donated for that purpose by Mrs. Ady L. Green Scriber.

 

     Sharon is the meeting place of the mail routes from Lisbon and Dubach.

 

     It is also the meeting place of those who borrow reading material from the bookmobile of the Claiborne Parish Library. Miss Sudie Fowler, now almost 90 years of age, has earned a Reading Certificate nearly every year since the library was opened, in April, 1951.

 

     Some families in the community will be remembered by their names of: Brown, Carter, Clawson, Clements, Cooper, English, Enloe, Fowler, Green, Hanks, Haynes, Hendrix, Henry, Hood, Kimbell, McCurry, McVay, Mansfield, Mitchell, Oxford, Peacock, Puckett, Rives, Scriber, Stansbury, Tait, Tatum, Tanner, Tippet, Wilson, Wise, Holmes.

 

SUMMERFIELED HISTORY

 

By J. Will Gray

 

First post office--Scottsville on Corney Bluff, Barges came to Corney Bluff; today, you can hardly make it in a rowboat.

 

Earliest business establishments:

     J. W. O'Bannon........................ General merchandise

     Paul Talbot........................... General merchandise

     W. M. Ledbetter....................... General merchandise

     G. Hay...............................  General merchandise

 

Earliest doctors:

     Dr. W. M. Sellers.............................. Drug store

     Dr. J. M. Ledbetter............................ Drug store

 

School building - Log-cabin before the Civil War.

 

Earliest settlers:

     Alberry Wasson (one of the earliest)

     Wilson

     Henry Smith (Jack Smith's great-great grandad)

     Martin

     Kennedy

 

Later settlers (but still way back) O'Bannon, Ledbetter, Kerlin, Barber, Brown, Gray, Allgood, Havis, Ramsey, Tanner, Hall, Thompson, Langford, Barrow.

 

Main highways:

     (1) Farmerville - Magnolia road.

     (2) Claiborne Road; Farmerville to Homer.

     These were roads blazed through the woods, but there are still signs of the old roads today.

 

Industry:

     Farming: the Georgia Plowstock was the chief piece of equipment; Negro labor was plentiful.

 

Transportation:

     Mostly wagons, horse-back and ladies side-saddle. The ladies wore long riding skirts. They used horse blocks, composed of three steps to get on and off. I might add too, that it was almost a disgrace for ladies to expose their ankles. Later were the horse and buggy days.

 

Churches:

     Earliest ones I know about date back to about 1975. They were: Methodist, Baptist, Primitive Baptist (earliest of all).

 

SUGAR CREEK

 

(This information is furnished by E. R. Hester, of Arcadia, and was obtained from the National Archives in Washington, D. C.)

 

     On October 1, 1853, a post office was established at Sugar Creek, in Claiborne Parish, which is about nine miles north of Arcadia. It was discontinued February 28, 1907. Eight men served as postmasters during its fifty-four (54) years of history. The list of men and the dates of their appointment are as follows:

 

   Postmasters                           Dates of appointment

 

John S. Carlton...............................October 1, 1853

William A. Sherard..........................December 29, 1857

R. Rabun.....................................January 14, 1861

James A. Enlow..................................July 24, 1868

M. J. Beckham...................................June 26, 1871

George W. Sims..................................June 14, 1888

Frank T. Taylor................................April 12, 1890

George W. Sims..............................October  23, 1902

 

                     Discontinued on February 28, 1907

 

WELDON

 

By Henry A. Smith

 

     Weldon, a small community in Ward 1, near the Union Parish line, really had its beginning at the "Alabama Camp Ground", where "revival" meetings were held annually under an arbor. The community was not known as Weldon until years after the beginning of the "Alabama Camp Ground" - before 1850.

 

     Part of the village of Weldon was patented from the United States to Severn Ozley and to John T. Beville. These men sold portions of the patent to the following: J. T. Wade; Aaron C. Harper; J. R. Fuller; J. J. Booles; T. G. Weldon; C. A. Wade; T. H. Land; J. E. Haynes; J. H. Haynes; T. H. Willamson; C. A. Roach; O. E. Glover; J. M. Houst, 1904.

 

     This community supported both an elementary and high school until 1926, when the school was consolidated with Summerfield.

 

ROSA WILDER BLACKMAN, HISTORIAN

 

By Sue Hefley

 

     Rosa Wilder Blackman records history in clay, wire, cotton, string, beads, and scraps of this and that. She is a Homer artist whose best known and most loved creations are her Negro dolls for the construction and clothing and dramatic setting of which she is entirely responsible. She and her dolls have had wide acclaim, but perhaps her contribution to the preservation of the history of her section has never been recognized adequately as such. For this contribution she deserves "distinguished award."

 

     The Negro of the old south belonged to a special segment of society and because of the circumstances of his life, certain characteristics were developed and he became a distinct personality. Individuals varied, as they always do, but the image of the Negro of the old south is something we of that region hold in common. Because it is an image which is fading with time and because it is one which should not be lost, Mrs. Blackman's work in preserving it has a very special importance. As long as her dolls may be seen and studied or faithful photographs of them consulted, this period of history lives.

 

     Mrs. Blackman's dolls represent characters she has known. They are nine or  ten inches in height and are carefully built over a foundation of wire, covered and padded with cotton and shaped with wound string. The head, hands, and feet are modeled meticulously from clay, hardened, and finished with a life-like "skin" of soft brown enamel. No two faces are alike since each has its real-life counterpart. Mrs. Blackman has used just the right fabric, perhaps faded and patched, for the clothes for each doll. The facial features are unforgetable and the posture of each---sitting or standing---is evidence of this artist's genius for imparting a living quality to her creations.

 

     A catalog of her best known dolls can be made by referring to descriptive brochures which Mrs. Blackman has prepared from time to time and by consulting newspaper accounts of exhibits in which her work was represented. Such a catalog is in itself a contribution to the history of the region for the dolls tell their own story of patient labor, faithful service, deep religious feeling, and of some of the lighter moments of relaxation and play. The following list includes excerpts from brochures and newspaper accounts:

 

Magnolia: The white "chile" she holds wears a dainty lace-trimmed dress and is wrapped in a fringed flannel shawl. Magnolia wears a dark calico dress and trimmed underwear in keeping with the times.

 

Uncle Bill Cornelius: Born of slave parents in North Carolina, Uncle Bill moved with them to Louisiana "just after the surrender". "Cornelius" was the surname of his "young marster". He carries a sack on his back which contains a donation of clothes from his white friends.

 

Aunt Sally Woodfork: Aunt Sally wears a patched dress and apron, white head-rag and underwear, and well-worn shoes. In the back yard she talks to herself as she stirs the clothes in the boiling-pot. A hat surmounts the headrag.

 

Lee Annie: This old-fashioned Mammy wears long white drawers and undershirt, a red flannel petticoat or balmoral, home-spun dress, apron, and little shoulder cape.

 

Uncle John Wills: An old, stooped man. He has long, gray chin whiskers and wears patched pants, a ragged felt hat, old shoes and a wool coat over a shirt or sweater. He carries a burlap sack over his shoulder.

 

Cotton pickers (men) They wear well-worn pants, shirts, shoes, and straw hats. They drag long cotton sacks and hold in their hands cotton just picked from the bolls. (women) They smile and show white teeth; they wear big straw hats, leather shoes, and faded summer clothes.

 

Cotton choppers (men and women). Dressed like the pickers they carry hoes over their shoulders.

 

Reverend Mayfield: He has a fringe of gray hair around a bald head and wears a black wool Prince Albert coat and pants, white shirt and collar, black tie and shoes. He stands behind a pulpit upon which is a white linen scarf and an open Bible. With outstretched arms he is bringing The Word to his congregation.

 

Crapshooters: Two Negro men are mounted on the same base. They wear overalls, or shirts and pants, old felt hats, and leather shoes. One obviously is winning and the other losing; the thrown dice are visible on the foundation between them.

 

Duck: Duck is a wash-woman. She carries her bundle of clothes on her head, and wears a woolen petticoat or "balmoral", faded dress, apron, and men's shoes.

 

Aunt Mary Lewis: A "shouting member" of the African Methodist Church, located in Buck Bottom, a small Negro settlement on the outskirts of Homer. She often "got happy" and "shouted"; the women fanned her while the men carried her--"stiff as a board"--out of the church for fresh air.

 

Melvinie: Dressed in a spotless white apron, calico dress, and white head-rag, Melvinie has abandoned her sweeping for the moment and is refreshing herself by playing on the organ in the parlor. Her broom rests beside the organ, her hands are on the keyboards and her feet on the pedals. A small mirror on the wall at her side allows the viewer to see her remarkable profile.

 

Old Black Joe: Seated with his banjo, ready to play. "A Stitch in Time": A woman seated, dressed in faded gingham, with a white apron and head-rag and a fringed shawl. Needle and thread are in hand.

 

Woman ironing: Standing at the ironing-board, "testing" the iron in the time-honored fashion.

 

     Mrs. Blackman began making these dolls in 1941. They have been sold throughout the United States, and some have found purchasers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In 1958 there was a special showing of twenty-one of her dolls at the Louisiana Art Commission galleries in Baton Rouge. Samples of her work have been acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the American Museum of Natural History, Louisiana State Museum, the "doll section" of the museum maintained by Hobbles Magazine, the Children's Museum maintained by the Detroit Board of Education. and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

 

     Mrs. Blackman was born in Homer and has lived there almost continuously. She is the daughter of A. E. Wilder, native of Old Vienna, near Ruston, and Bennie MeCranie, born in Homer. She is a self-taught artist and her work has great idividuality and distinction. It truly reflects the sympathetic respect and affection she has for her subjects and her concern for the preservation of the history of her region.

 

{Also see "Page 43-Melvinie", "Page 45-Log Cabin & Aunt Sally Woodfork", and "Page 47-Cotton Picker & Crap Shooters" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

THESE THINGS I REMEMBER

 

By Blanche Collier Kinnebrew

 

     Our parents and grandparents worked hard for a living; this was especially true of our grandparents who survived the War between the States. Much property in the South had been destroyed, and many houses burned to the ground. There was little time for relaxation and social life. There were no automobiles, so most of the travel was by carriage or in wagons drawn by horses or mules. Church going and family visitation were just about the only diversions.

 

     Church organs were pumped by hand and lights were swinging kerosene lamps. In private homes candles were used in the bedrooms and lamps only in the parlors.

 

     Every home had a smoke-house which was used for curing and storing foods. The smoke-house was built back of the main house, excavated about a foot; it was without a floor and it was kept very dark for coolness. Hams were hickory smoked for a month or six weeks, salted and hung from the rafters where they were kept indefinitely. Sorghum syrup in tin buckets, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes were stored here.

 

     Very little could be bought in the smaller towns and ice had to be shipped from the nearest city. Most of it melted, even though it was packed in sawdust. Some well-to-do folks owned ice boxes, but all country families let perishable foods and milk and butter down into the wells in long cylinder-like buckets and pulled them up at meal time.

 

     Housewives considered it a disgrace if all mattresses and feather beds were not taken to the back yard and sunned every two weeks. There was usually a colored servant who helped in lifting these beddings. The mattresses were made from home-grown cotton and feathers for the feather-beds were picked from the chickens and geese.

 

     Soap was made at home in a container of oak-wood ashes which formed a lye when water was added and the whole boiled with grease. The device used was called an ash hopper. Floors and dishes were scrubbed with this lye soap which was very hard on the hands.

 

     Mops were made of corn shucks. Holes were bored into a thick piece of wood about six by twelve inches and a handle also was made of wood and fitted into the bottom which held the shucks securely.

 

     Every Monday was washday - rain or shine. The wash-shed was in the back near the well. In it were three or four large wooden tubs set on a plank platform. A black wash-pot sat nearby and dry wood was piled under it for boiling the clothes. The battling block was also considered a necessity. Clothes were beaten with a long wooden bat, called a battling paddle, on a wooden block which was called a battling block.

 

     Freezing food was unheard of. Beef was delivered by horse-back to the homes, often in time to have fried steak for breakfast. The old butcher would blow a horn to let the housewife know when the beef was ready. It was not unusual, especially in case of unexpected company, to catch a chicken from the back yard, wring its neck, dress it, fry it, and have it on the dining table in thirty minutes.

 

     The old parlor was really called the "inner sanctum" and rightly so, because no one was allowed to enter unless there was company.

 

     In south Louisiana French styles of furniture were copied-gold mirrors and chairs, bric-a-brac, mahogany cabinets, rosewood tables, and breakfronts, but in north Louisiana the parlors were of colonial type, with carpets of red velvet, usually with a floral design. There was the old square piano, cherry, mahogany, or walnut chairs, and a sofa upholstered in velvet or horsehair, There was a grandmother rocker and there were marble-top tables. Enlarged family portraits hung on the walls and lace doilies were seen on the arms of chairs and on tables. The family album lay on a table in the parlor. Dried flowers were often used as an ornament. The parlor may have had a musty odor since it was opened only once a week to "air it out".

 

     The more modern parlor of about nineteen hundred changed its décor over-night. "Art-squares" replaced the wall-to-wall carpets. These squares were about nine by twelve feet, leaving a two-foot space around the floor which was stained or polished. Sofas were overstuffed and showed no wood at all; with the sofa came two overstuffed chairs - one a straight chair, the other a rocker. The upright piano replaced the square; electric lights replaced the old swinging lamp.

 

     Every home had a wood fire, with a brick hearth and wooden mantel-board on which the clock rested, flanked by huge vases and bowls for flowers.

 

     Popping corn was a pleasant pastime on Sunday afternoons. Amusements for the young people were varied. Public dances of a decade before were replaced by dances in private homes where the girls and boys were learning the new dance called the "two-step!" Music was furnished by members of the group who could play the piano. Walking down the railroad track by moonlight was most popular as none of the streets were paved. Boys and girls walked in  pairs, holding hands.

 

     Of course there must be chaperones and finding them was sometimes a problem. The hayride was popular; the boys would rent a wagon and mules and fill the wagon with hay. The girls would furnish the lunch. The crowd would ride out into the country for about five miles, stop at a country home and eat lunch. I well remember how they would sing all the way home. I remember a hayride to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Burrell Moore, where Mrs. Moore's sisters, Dora and Clara Wade, were visiting. As we departed for home we sang "See the boat go round the bend, good-bye my lover, good-bye." Other songs popular at that time were "Sweet Adeline", "In the Good Old Summer Time", and of course every hay-ride ended with 'Good Night, Ladies".

 

     Soon after this period - about the year 1905 and 1906, picture-shows and automobiles were introduced and all local social life changed. Young people no longer took moon-light walks or carried lanterns to parties. Pop-corn and Coca-Cola replaced the chicken barbecue. Sock parties (where everyone was asked to bring as many pennies in a miniature home-sewn sock as his years of age as a donation to charity or perhaps to a Sunday-school class) icecream suppers in the corridors of the Courthouse or under the cedar trees on the G. G. Gill lawn just went out of style. Then came the gramophone, the radio, and television; city and country were brought together.

 

{Also see "Page 50-Ash-Hoppers" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

LIFE IN THE C. S. L. PATTON FAMILY, 1866 - 1960

 

By Laurice Patton Robinson and Blanche Patton Hensley

 

     Our father, C. S. L. Patton was born Sept. 20, 1866 in the little village of Lisbon to Harmon Wright Patton and Narcissus Antonet Tate Patton. He had three brothers, James, John, and Tom Patton. He had three sisters, Etta, Effie, and Louella Patton, all of whom were older - except Louella.

 

     His father died when our father was only a boy. Our father had all of the education that was offered at Lisbon at that time. Three of his teachers that we remember hearing him speak of were: Professor Nicholson, Mr. Minor Wallace, and Mrs. Mattie Perkin. He also attended Tulane University as long as he was financially able. He then taught in the one-room schools of this parish for a time.

 

     Our father married Kate Henry of Arcadia, who also taught in this parish. They settled four miles south of Lisbon on land that he inherited, bought, and homesteaded. To this union were born six children: Laurice, Lanier, Blanche, Marion, James Henry, and Charles Emmette.

 

     Our father made a living for his family by farming his land with the help of a few share-crop families and also with the help of his children who all knew what work on the farm meant. This farm produced cotton, corn, peas, potatoes, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, cattle, hogs, sheep, geese, turkeys, and chickens.

 

     Our mother managed all the home affairs, such as cooking. Food preserving, making clothes for the family. The clothes she made were all the clothes we had in those days except shoes, hats, heavy coats, and our father's dress suit. The bed-clothes were made by hand. We children all had our "cook" weeks and "house-cleaning" weeks.

 

     Our father also helped run the cotton gin that was on his mother's place. After the ginning was over, the cane had to be made into syrup. Both the cotton gin and cane mill were of the old type. The gin was run by wood fire under a big boiler of water to form the steam. The syrup mill was pulled by a mule to grind the cane and then the juice cooked in a large pan over a wood furnace. Our father also helped shear the sheep during the year. This was usually done in the late spring and summer months.

 

     Work on the farm in those days was a full-time job for the entire family. You never heard of much unemployment in those days. The land was cultivated with a one-horse plow and hoes. Fences were built out of rails split from logs and pickets for garden and yard fences were riven out of pine logs; boards for covering houses were riven out by hand. The home had to be heated with wood which had to be cut or sawed from the trees on the place. This, too, was work for the family, and there were no electric saws then.

 

     Our home was a big old-time two-story house which had seven rooms and a big porch and a large open hall. There was much happiness and much hard work in this humble home. There were no modern conveniences. The heating system consisted of three large fireplaces and a wood cook-stove downstairs and a wood heater upstairs. We had "running water" when we children decided to "run" to the well with a bucket and draw the water with a windlass and rope and then "run" in with it. This well would get very low in water during the dry summer months, so we had to do the washing during that time at a spring down under a big hill about a quarter of a mile from the house. We would pack our lunch basket and take our clothes down to this spring for a day's work and fun. There between two beautiful trees my father had built a nice wash-bench to put the tubs on and placed a battling-block and stick near by to be used to help clean the dirtiest clothes. We had big iron pots in which we boiled the clothes after we had washed them. Then we would take them from the pots and rinse in clear water.

 

     Our "Frigidaire" in those days was an old well that had gone dry, but was deep and cool. We would swing our milk, butter, eggs, and fresh meat down in it in containers by ropes. This would keep these things cool and save them for several days at a time.

 

     We never kept much fresh meat at one time. We killed the hogs in the winter when the weather was cold and cured the meat. We would kill a beef in the summer or fall and divide it among our neighbors and when they killed one they would do the same. This gave us beef quite often without keeping much on hand at one time,

 

     We raised most of our food at home, with the exception of a few staple foods such as flour, sugar, and coffee. The coffee was bought green and was parched and ground at home.

 

     The soap we used for everything except toilet soap was made at home by our mother with the help of the children. We saved the ashes from the fireplaces and placed them in a hopper which our father had built out of a hewed log and some boards. We then lined this hopper with shucks from corn to be used as a filter, and then placed the ashes in the hopper. It was kept covered until we needed a new supply of soap. Then we would soak the ashes with water and it produced the prettiest red lye you ever saw. When we had run enough lye we would take the craeklings and other scraps of meat which had been saved for this purpose, place in a large wash-pot with the lye, and cook until it formed a nice thick soap. This soap was placed in a big barrel and put in the smokehouse to last the rest of the year.

 

     It was good to make lye-hominy while we had plenty of lye. We shelled a nice supply of corn and cooked it in water with enough lye to cause the husk to turn loose. Then we would wash it many times in clear water and cook it in grease and other seasoning. This was much better than the hominy you buy in cans now.

 

     We children had to go four miles to school and there was no transportation except what each family provided. We went by such means as walking, horse-back, buggy, and finally, a little one-horse wagon. We left before daylight and returned after dark many times during the winter months; school was from eight to four in those days. We had no holidays except Thanksgiving and about a week at Christmas. All parties and other entertainment for young people had to stop while school was in session. We did not even have a ball-game except on Friday afternoons after school. All ball practice was at recess and during the noon hour.

 

     Hog-killing was a big event. We children always wanted it done when we could be at home to help (or perhaps hinder). Our father would hire a few colored men to help him dress and cut up the meat and hire some colored women to help our mother take off the fat, cut and render the lard, grind and stuff sausage. There were also the feet and heads to clean and we children helped with this. These parts were used in making of hogshead cheese.

 

     The meat was cured by spreading it out and sprinkling salt over it, letting it remain through the night so it would get cold through. The next morning it was packed down with salt in a large box. It remained here for two or three weeks, then was taken up and the salt washed off with scalding water. It was then hung in the smoke-house and smoked with smoke made by burning hickory wood. After it was completely dry, the hams would be placed in cloth sacks made for that purpose, and hung back up. The bacon was left hanging as it was.

 

     We always had much fun in our home. We played games around the fireside, sang songs around the piano, popped corn, parched peanuts, and made molasses candy. We played outdoor games such as town ball, the ball being made from an old sock. We went fishing, gathered nuts and fruits from the woods, went horse-back riding, and played many pranks on each other.

 

     We were instructed in the reading of the Bible. We had prayer at the table. Every member of the family had to be present at each meal at the same time; sickness was the only excuse.

 

     The kind of life we led may seem very hard to some, but we can say that we had a happy life together. Our mother passed away on November 11, 1936 and our father passed away on September 17, 1960.

 

                                                               

 

MUSINGS AND MEMORIES OF ARIZONA

 

By J. Vernon Harris

 

(Editor's note: This is taken from a longer account; a "camp hunt at Nicholson's Bridge on D'Arbonne Bayou" furnishes the setting that leads to

reminiscences)

 

     ...Afterward, the men sat around smoking and talking. Across the bridge, the road wound around the hill up to the old house almost in sight of the camp. Their conversation and thoughts went back to their childhood as they reminisced and re-lived "Those good old days on the farm at Nicholson's Bridge". The boys listened, and the tales the men told made an indelible impression on their minds. They, too, lived on that hill and played, and  frolicked over the hills and bottoms as they did. They knew the location of all the sugar cane patches along the creek. They knew where to find the trees with the most food for squirrels, and went with the brothers on their hunts to catch "possums". They knew that old Brer Possum had to be kept up for a couple of weeks and fed before he would be clean enough to eat as a roast with sweet potatoes for that special meal. They helped each winter with the hog killing, keeping the fire going around the big wash pot with the water to scald the hogs and helping to scrape the hair off. They roasted the liver-like meld from the hogs over the coals in the fire and turned the sausage mill as they ground and stuffed the sausage that helped to tide the family over during the winter. They stirred the pot of lard as they cooked the fat from the hogs and made their own shortening, squeezing the grease out of the cracklings and saving them to make crackling bread. They watched as the meat was salted down in the big box for curing, and after the salt had penetrated the meat, they helped to hang it up in the smoke-house and watched the fire so that the smoke only would come from it and fill the little room, but the fire must not blaze up lest it set fire to the house and burn it up along with the meat.

 

     During the winter, they carried out the ashes from the fireplace where they had burned oak, and stored them in an ash hopper where the rain could fall in it and drip through the hopper. The pan that caught the lye water was then carried into the kitchen and they helped to make the soap with which to scrub clean, floors, clothes, and boys and girls. They helped to  shell the corn that went into the big wash pot to make lye hominy, and they shelled the corn and went with the boys to the grist mill to grind it into meal.

 

     They helped to hunt deer and wild turkey and always kept plenty of quail, squirrels and rabbits in the house for meat. They set out hooks on D'Arbonne in the spring and "muddied" in the late summer to help the larder out with plenty of catfish. They went with the family to visit their neighbors, to the fish fry in Robinson's Pasture, and enjoyed all the fellowship and friendship of the people in the community.

 

     John Tom Harris, son of Eli Harris who had moved into the community sometime before the War between the States, returned from the war and settled down near the home of his father. He married Kate Glover, and reared a family of five boys and girls. Four of the five boys were on this particular hunting party. The oldest, Orren who lived in Webster Parish was not present. While Grandfather Eli had owned a number of slaves, and was a considerable planter in the area, with the end of the war and the emancipation of the slaves, each farmer was left to clear his own land if not cleared. Walter, Glover and Tom could well remember the days and the ways their fields had been cleared in their early childhood. The men of the family went into the woods and felled all of the trees and cut them into logs, leaving them where they fell. This usually took place during the winter, and in the early spring, they gave a "Log-Rolling." Menfolks met at the field and teamed up in pairs, each pair using a stick under the log, and each trying to get the long end of the stick and to out-pull his partner. The logs were toted from the field and piled where they were burned. The "new-ground" was then planted in corn by the family as soon as the ground was warm enough.

 

     The women met at the house where they all helped to prepare a big meal for the men: plenty of meats, turnip greens, dried blackeyed peas topped off with cakes and pies which had been prepared by all for the occasion. Late in the evening, after the meal came the fellowship together. There was a sense of togetherness in the community with each family concerned about the welfare of their neighbors. In time of need, their help was automatic and timely. In case of sickness in a family, the neighbors helped to "sit up" with the patient and to wait on him. In death, the neighbors "laid out the body" and took charge of securing the coffin and digging the grave. This was a community of people who lived together, played together, worked together, and wholly enjoyed life together.

 

     There was a little church in Arizona, a Methodist church where the people went to worship their God. They assembled on "meeting days" like all good Methodists and all participated in their quarterly conferences, each held on a Saturday, with preaching the next day. The community was prosperous in spite of the hardships of the men coming directly from the war, and before too long, the community was faced with the ever present problem of turning to industry. Claiborne Parish had plenty of labor, plenty of skill, and a group of public spirited men who imported and built a cotton niill in the town to make piece goods. Transportation problems and unfair freight rates pushed the cost of the goods so high that they were unable to compete with northern markets, and the Arizona Manufacturing Company folded up and its property was sold.

 

     In the bustling town of Arizona there was also a fine school, operated after the war by Col. J. W. Nicholson and known as Nicholson's Academy. Col. Nicholson later became the professor of mathematics at Louisiana State University where he remained for many years. He was the author of several books of mathematics which were taught in all schools of Louisiana from the early grades through college. He recorded many of his experiences before and after the Civil War under the title "Stories of Dixie". The two-story Academy stood under the big oak trees near the church on the main street of the town. Water was supplied by a spring in the edge of the woods some few yards away. The town supported a Woodman of the World Camp, and a Masonic Lodge, and this writer remembers that as a very small child he visited in Arizona and had the privilege of climbing the stairs of the old two-story building, long since converted into a more modern school of two rooms on the ground floor with the upper floor used as lodge rooms. Though the lodges were inactive, much of their regalia was still in the rooms, their robes, swords and other regalia that created in the minds of those boys, a feeling of awe and mystery that they never lost.

 

     Arizona was the birthplace of numerous men and women who have helped to make history in Louisiana and elsewhere, serving in many professions such as the medical, legal, teaching, and political. One of them, Thomas H. Harris served the state as Superintendent of Education for more than a quarter of a century. Others have served as judges, lawyers, doctors. Family names of Arizona included the following: Barnette, Calhoun, Scaife, Palmer, Robinson, Nicholson, Willis, Harris, Corry, Baker, Malone, and others.

 

     The family of John Thomas and Kate Harris was typical of the others in the community. While they had a large family of living boys and girls, two others were buried in the Forest Grove Cemetery northwest of Arizona on the Section Road. These had died in their infancy, and like most of the other families they laid them to rest in the Forest Grove Cemetery.

 

     There was plenty of work on the Harris farm in the fields along the top of the ridge and down in the bottom, and all of the boys had their particular jobs to do. They plowed in the fields and helped with all of the farm chores, but they also had time to hunt the woods from an early age in search of game which was plentiful. Each of them took his turn in hunting to provide meat for the table, and all of them became expert marksmen and woodsmen.

 

     On Saturday nights, the children were allowed to go to parties in the neighborhood. The girls entertained their beaus and the boys would go "calling" on their girls. The boys, who had to go some distance to visit their girls were required to be back in time for Sunday morning breakfast. Each boy had his own horse and saddle, and he made his long-distance calls on horseback. Sometimes, there were group hay-rides, candy pullings, and other types of parties.

 

     On "Meeting" or Preaching Sunday, all the family dressed in their best and headed for church in Arizona. With Pa and Kate on the wagon seat, the older girls riding in straight chairs, each sitting primly erect, and the younger girls riding on quilts in the back of the wagon with their feet hanging out, and the boys riding horseback alongside or walking, the Methodist congregation was swelled by these twelve members. With preaching over, the family would on some days accept the invitation of one of their friends who lived near the church for dinner. It was not rare to see some three or four families visiting in the same home for dinner on "Preaching Day."

 

     Sometime during the year, always on one day during a protracted meeting, and often at the quarterly conference, all of the families for miles around came and brought their dinner which was spread on the ground under the big oak trees. Services usually lasted most of the day and during these series of protracted meetings, sinners were converted, fellowships restored and friendships renewed with those who had moved from the community but had returned for this particular day.

 

     Once a year a certain Saturday was set aside in the community for a "graveyard working." Men, women and children and visitors from afar met at Forest Grove Cemetery, each family bringing dinner. The men and boys cleaned off all the graves, scraping all of the grass from the entire cemetery, while the women and girls busied themselves with putting flowers on each grave and spreading dinner. At noon, a short memorial service was held by the preacher, and then all ate dinner. Always, the women vied with each other to see who could bring the most and the best that they had. For days before such a meeting, there was baking and roasting and all kinds of cooking going on that there might be plenty of food at the meeting for those who had a long way to come and couldn't bring food. There has never been a time when all the food at one of these meetings was consumed, and it was a social error for one to begin to eat and not at least eat a mouthful of each cook's special dish on the table. All afternoon the families visited and talked about those who were gone to other towns or communities and who could not make it back home today.

 

     Bell had not yet invented the telephone, and the means of communication were still crude, but very effective. In time of need, word was sent to the neighbors by one of the children on horseback, or by one of the darkies on the place. In case of emergency, the old dinner bell on the post by the back door was rung as a signal to the men in the field who immediately quit their work and hurried to the house. If the menfolk of the family were laid up with the slow fever or other illness, and the crops got behind, then the neighbors would pitch in and work the crop out. If barns were destroyed by fire, there was a barn-raising from new logs by the neighbors.

 

     Funerals were mostly held at the grave side at Forest Grove when all of the neighbors came out to pay their respects to the family and to assist them in any way they could. They dug the grave, and when the body arrived in the wagon, it was tenderly lifted out and lowered into the grave on plow lines. Neighbors filled the grave and the service was completed, and again the neighbors who had not seen each other for a few days lingered to visit and say "howdy" to each other.

 

     Forest Grove Cemetery lay on the south side of the Section Road and was divided into white and colored sections. The west side of the graveyard was for the use of the whites. The colored section started right up against the white section, and extended along the road, it being somewhat larger than the white section. There was no fence around either of the sections, and bushes were not allowed to grow between it and the road.

 

     The years have passed on, and all of the sons and daughters of John Thomas Harris and Kate Glover are gone. Having heard so much of the happenings at Arizona, the writer felt that he was a part of it all. He had visited so much there that he feels that he is a native of Arizona. In fact, he first saw the light of this world in one of those old houses that has long since been destroyed by the ravages of time between Nicholson Bridge and Arizona, the son of Walter and Katy Harris. It was in Arizona that he first heard of a Chivaree.

 

     Until 1923, one of the brothers of Walter lived in Arizona and the writer spent many happy moments in their home with them and their children. Glover had just moved his family from the old Kimball place into the heart of the community where the houses were rather close, being built on city lots, and no more than fifty yards apart. That night, after the moving, it seemed like the entire community showed up at the house, singing and welcoming the new family to their new home. One of the songs they sang was "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" and when he finally got over there and found that all he could see was the other side, refreshments were served to all, most of which was brought by the visitors. There were cakes and cookies for all, and a wonderful expression of welcome from a community to a new neighbor.

 

     Two world wars and several minor conflicts have gone by and time has taken its toll of the many fine people who lived here. Fields have grown up into forests again; syrup mills are fast becoming museum pieces, but on Home-coming day at the Arizona Methodist Church and on that certain Saturday in May when the community meets at Forest Grove for its annual graveyard working, the descendants of most of the families who once lived there return to enjoy with the descendants of those who remained at Arizona, the fellowship and friendships their fathers had when they helped to carve the homesteads from the wilderness.

 

     Time, too, has taken its toll of the prosperous town of Arizona. What was once the seat of culture and industry in Claiborne Parish would hardly be recognized by one who had known it in the olden days. An economy-minded federal government closed the post office several years ago. Gone is the spring that furnished water for Nicholson's Academy and for the church. In fact, gone these many years is the building in which all of the Arizona schools assembled, from the one initiated by Col. Nicholson to the last one operated by the Parish School Board. However, just a little farther east, on the lot that was bought for it in the eighteen fifties, still stands the little white Methodist Church. It hasn't grown much, either in size of the building or in the size or number in the congregation, but neither has it shrunk in the size of the building or in the faith of its members and its place in the community. They still hold their quarterly conferences on Saturdays, and they still worship the same God that led them lo these many years.

 

     Across the road, just a little way off, but still in sight of the little white church, standing on its own acre of ground, is the ivy-covered brick chimney, the sole evidence of the industrial might of the community, the one remaining part of the Arizona Manufacturing Company, built by a civic-minded and cooperative community during the trying years of the reconstruction period following the war between the states.

 

     The little white church and the tall ivy covered smoke-stack stand in their respective places, symbols of the faith and determination of the settlers. Their descendants who still live in the community will still welcome one with the same sincere southern hospitality that their fathers knew, and to them, this effort is dedicated, with the hope that they may hold fast to the way of life that is their heritage from their forefathers who carved out of the wilderness a home for themselves and their loved ones.

 

OLD HAYNESVILLE TOWN

 

By Margueritte Garland Nation

 

     Old Haynesville, a thriving town from 1843 to 1898, was located in the northwest part of the parish, twelve miles north of Homer, where the Military Road and the Dykesville - Gordon road crossed. To the south of ttown flowed the well-watered Dixie Bayou, which was used by the farmers and cattlemen for their stock. At one time an industrious farmer tried raising rice on the low banks which overflowed.

 

     In the early days there were no roads in Claiborne Parish. The families who moved into this section traveled the two hunter or Indian trails leading from. Mt. Prarie, Arkansas to Natchitoches, and the other from Long Prarie, Arkansas to Washita now Monroe in Ouachita Parish. The latter connected with the trail west which crossed the Mt. Prarie Natchitoches trail about fifteen miles south of the Arkansas line.

 

     The first settlers of the Old Haynesville vicinity were probably Mrs. Long and her son Davis who built a cabin on the north side of Dixie Bayou in 1818. The pioneers came in very slowly at first, Samuel Russell stated there were only eighteen families in this part of the parish when he came in 1822.

 

     In the winter of 1827 and 1828 the United States government cut a military road through the woods and over the hills from Fort Towson in Oklahoma Territory to Natchitoches for the purpose of transporting supplies to the inland outpost. This road passed the Long cabin on Dixie Bayou and later became the north-south street of Old Haynesville. During the 1830-1838 period another road was built which connected with the Military Road at Dixie Bayou and ran southwest through what became Blackburn, Germantown and on to reach Dorcheat Bayou at Overton. It was over these routes that the prospectors drifted in, and finding the land good, country full of game, and the neighboring Indians peaceful, they decided to stay. Many established themselves at a location suitable to their needs, before applying for a land entry from the government.

 

     In 1846 a small community had sprung up a short distance north of Dixie Bayou on the Military Road. A Methodist camp meeting was located near by and named for Capt. Thomas Price. James C. Taylor, a young Georgian arrived in 1848, built his store, dug a public water well and the community became known as Taylor's Store.

 

     The earliest land entries in this area appear to have been in 1848. But not until the 1850's did the working Georgians and Alabamians find this primeval land; then the land rush was on. Most of the purchases of lands were made during the ten year period of 1850-1860. Many of the lands near Taylor's Store were given to veterans of the Mexican War.

 

     The daily orders of the Postmaster General show that when the name of the post-office at Walnut Creek, James Ward postmaster, was changed to Haynesville on February 9, 1852, the site of the office was also changed. There is no further information regarding, the description of the new site or the distance involved in the change.

 

     A tradition has survived to the effect that Haynesville was named for Samuel Haynes, a Georgian, who brought his family to this location, before the land was opened for entry. He remained in the community only long enough to find a suitable place to open a farm and after eight months settled at what is now Shongaloo. Mr. Haynes has many descendants in that section today. Among them are: Tom Haynes, Shongaloo; J. B. Haynes and Mrs. L. B. Allen of Springhill.

 

     The first postoffice was in J. C. Taylor's store and during the next forty-six years it was "kept" in almost every business house in the town. The first mail was brought in by horseback once a week from Homer. Later routes were established to Emerson, Ark., Gordon, and Millerton, over which mail was carried every day and to Horner twice a week, unless Dixie Bayou was swimming. There was never a bank in the town; the people purchased postal notes, money orders or used the bank in Homer for their savings,

 

     The postmasters who have served at Old Haynesville are:

 

     James Ward, Sept. 22, 1846; James C. Taylor, Feb. 9, 1852; Samuel Kirkpatrick, Feb. 25, 1859; James C. Taylor, May 21, 1860; Mrs. Margaret Kirkpatrick, Feb. 8, 1870; James B. McKenico, Oct. 21, 1872; R. F. Hardaway, Jan. 21, 1873; James C. Taylor, Oct. 20, 1873; Wm L. Phillips, Sept. 1, 1876; Joseph Taylor, Jan. 27, 1877; John A. Brooks, April 1, 1878; Joseph Taylor, May 20, 1878; John G. Warren, Jan 19, 1880; James R. Smith, May 17, 1880; William Y. Dawson, Nov. 12, 1888; John M. Henry, May 12, 1891; Abraham N. Brown, Sept. 12, 1893; Lillian Brown, Feb. 8, 1898 - June 12, 1903.

 

     In 1850 the Methodists of the community decided to build a church and J. C. Taylor donated the land. On the site where the present Old Town cemetery is located a log church was built and used as a place of worship until it was destroyed by fire.

 

     By 1861 the town had two dry goods stores, James C. Taylor's and Brown Bros. operated by William W. and John Leonard Brown. Dr. Wroten and Sam Kirkpatrick were owners of a drug store. The Methodist Church was in the process of being rebuilt by Joseph W. Camp and a Choctaw Indian, on the same location. Before it was finished the war between the states was declared and Mr. Camp had to go into the service. He finished it when he returned from the war. Living in the community was James Beck, a doctor; T. J. Beck, a teacher; A. J. Waters, Methodist minister; and H. B. McMahon, Cumberland Presbyterian minister.

 

     Old Haynesville was incorporated in 186l with the boundary lines set for an area running one mile east and west and three-fourths mile north and south in parts of Twp 22 Sec 1, Twp 23 Sec 36. Provisions were made for a mayor, board of selectmen consisting of five members - clerk, treasurer, assessor, collector, and constable - who were elected to serve. No list of names of these officers has been found.

 

     Yearly the settlement increased, farms large and small were opened. The farmers grew most of their foods, meat, vegetables, fruits, syrup, and corn from which they made bread. Cattle and cotton were the money crops. Cattle had to be driven, and cotton hauled to markets in Monroe and Shreveport. It took a week to make a trip to Shreveport with wagon loads of cotton. Many farmers traveled in caravans for protection and camped out at night. The farmers purchased at the markets the items they could not produce such as coffee, sugar, flour, tea, and bolts of materials to be made into clothing for men, women, and children at home.

 

     Old Haynesville gave her fair share of sons for the lost cause. Most young men went to Homer to join the ranks, and paraded on the court house square as they marched off to war. The home folk were kept busy producing supplies of food, clothing and shoes for the army and home use. Many a woman guarded the home front, while her man was away at war.

 

     When the war was over there were parties and dances for the returning soldiers. Mr. John Meadows gave a party for son Jim and his friends. This entertainment was the beginning of a romance between Miss Margaret Indiana Brooks and soldier Abe Brown who had served in the Confederate Army for four years and came home without a scratch. They were married in 1866, purchased the Dixie Bayou farm from Henry Taylor, resided there for thirty years, raising a family of nine children.

 

     The earliest schools were taught in the homes. A teacher was engaged to teach children of several families in the neighborhood. About 1860 James C. Taylor gave the land and constructed the first school building. A tuition was paid by the parents for each child who attended. When the child finished he had a common school education.

 

     The first teachers were Tarpley Winn, Thomas Beck, and a Mrs. McFarland, widow of a Methodist minister.

 

     The Haynesville Normal Institute, a two-story building with porches on three sides was located across the street from the Methodist Church. This building was later torn down, moved and rebuilt at the new town. Some of the early teachers of this school were Mr. Brantley, and E. J. Moore who had as his assistants the Misses Jenny, Tiney and Mattie Hearn, sisters of Mr. George Hearn Sr. of Shreveport, J. C. Byrd, and Miss Claudia Woolworth, music teacher and Lou Featherston. Sidney Brown and Philip Gibson served several terms as president. During the teaching of John Bunyon Lockart, a young Methodist minister, there arose a dis-satisfaction between the tax payers and the teachers. Some withdrew and built a new one-story school south of the Presbyterian church, which they called the Haynesville High School. Prof. and Mrs. John M. Davies taught in this school about 1887. In 1888 Prof. S. J. Meadows served as supervisor and Miss Lena Meadows as one of the teachers. Some of the pioneer families represented were: Brown, Browning, Broadnax, Camp, Gantt, Marshall, Moss, McEachern, Price, Swan, Smith, Taylor and Winn. Children came from miles around to attend the two schools.

 

     An act for the organization of a school for literary, scientific, religious and charitable purposes, with the title of Haynesville Academy was signed in 1893 by the stockholders of the Haynesville Institute Corporation who lived within five miles, they were:

 

     W. A. Waller, C. B. Hollis, C. A. Burnham, J. W. Greer, H. M. Longino, A. N. Brown. Witnessed by: C. W. Sherman, Tom Taylor before Notary J. M. Henry. Among the teachers during the 1890s were: Mr. Huddle, Mr. and Mrs. Moody, Walter Price and his sister, Miss Mattie Price, Mr. and Mrs. Herring, Miss Lula Baird, Miss Glover Sims, Miss Ola Braselton, Jim Bond, Miss Elizabeth Camp, Miss Valley Greer, Miss Bell O'Bannon.

 

     Old Haynesville suffered from several storms. The one in 1878 or 1879 destroyed the Methodist church; it was rebuilt by John W. McEachern and an old colored man, Uncle Gus Gilmore. They used the same sills and sleepers that were used in the first frame building built by Mr. Camp. There was a divider of columns and a rail through the center of the church. The women sat on the right side, the men on the left side, couples never sat together. The lights were candles fastened to little wooden shelves on the walls. Night services were announced for "early candle light". Day services quite often stressed "preaching with dinner on the ground". There was no heat in this building until Miss Lillian Brown, the organist, nearly froze one Thanksgiving service and started a collection to buy a stove. The building was used for worship services until the congregation moved to the new town, and served as chapel until it was torn down in 1932. The same sills and sleepers, with the salvaged lumber, were sold to the Negro Methodist Episcopal Church in New Haynesville for one hundred dollars.

 

     The Cumberland Presbyterians first held services in Sam Kirkpatrick's home. In 1860 the Rev. H. B. McMahan was residing in Haynesville, he was the only preacher serving the Presbyterians during the Civil War. A church was built across the street from the McKee place, in 1878 a parsonage was purchased near by and made ready for the Rev. F. E. Leach. The Presbyterian church was used for community church activities as the congregation owned the only organ in the town. The Misses Minnie Warren and Lillian Brown were the organists. After the Haynesville Academy was moved to the new town, the Presbyterian church was used a few years for a school taught by Miss Glover Sims. The congregation built a new church in the new town and the old building was finally torn down. Some of the members of the church at the Old Town were: Kirkpatrick, Price, Randle, Fambro, and Baird.

 

     The Friendship Baptist church was located about a mile east of Old Haynesville. The congregation built a nice church for the day and time and started a cemetery. Near by was a rocky spring which flowed into a framed pool and served as the baptistry in the early days. Mr. Joe Meadows started the first Sunday School in 1887. In 1890 Miss Lena Meadows and Mr. W. Y. Dawson were married in the church. Among the members of this church were: Frank Darden, Meadows, Hollis, Sims, Sales, Harkins, Jones, Copeland, Oakes, and Jarrell.

 

     About one and one-half miles north west of Old Haynseville was the  Shady Grove Methodist Protestant Church. It was organized in 1853 by Rev. Peter McDonald, a native of Scotland. The first services were held under a brush arbor. Later Rev. McDonald and his son built a log church which was replaced by two other buildings, still later the congregation moved to New Haynesville. There has been a cemetery at Shady Grove since about the time the church was organized. Some of the families prominent in the early church and camp meetings were: Black, Bond, Caswell, Dunn, Edwards, Garrett, Goodwin, Harp, Hearn, Kennedy, Knox, Lowe. Longino, Marsh, McDonald, Morgan, Powell, Sherman, Smith, Tanner, Trammell, Taylor, and Warwick.

 

     Several newspapers were published at Old Haynesville from time to time. There were: The Haynesville Star with editors Geo. H. Dismukes and John M. Henry; The Greenback Dollar with editor J. G. Warren; and The Western Protestant.

 

     Among the social activities and entertainments of the town were weddings, concerts at the close of schools, ice cream socials, candy pulls, box suppers, dancing and promenading, and at Christmas time a community tree at the school building. Many young men placed expensive gifts for their sweethearts on the tree. Some liked to play jokes, switching gifts and placing a bottle of whiskey for the preacher. Boys would be boys, even in those days.

 

     Fanpaws Wagon Show and Circus made regular stops in Old Haynesville during the 1880's. An advance man was sent ahead to select a suitable place for the circus ground. He usually engaged Abe Brown's gin lot for its location on Dixie Bayou would furnish plenty of good water for the elephants and other animals. Farmer Brown's barns were full of corn and hay and at the farm house Mrs. Brown and the women folk were known to set a fine table. Mattresses filled with cotton from the gin would be placed on the hall floors and rooms not used by the family.

 

     The circus traveled by horse-drawn wagons through the country. In the rainy season the wagons would mire down on the muddy roads, or break down and have to be left on the road over night. It was a frightful thing for the children to hear the lions roaring in the night. The snake charmer kept her pet in a big wooden box at the house. During the cold weather large bottles of water had to be heated and placed in the box to keep it warm. The circus spent a week in Haynesville and people came from communities all around to see it play.

 

     A showman was the first person buried in the "Old Town Cemetery". He was killed in a fight with a fellow worker. Neither his name nor the date of his death has been preserved; it is thought to have happened before 1867. Probably the oldest marker in the cemetery is for the second person buried there, a young child of Rev. W. C. Haislip who was the Methodist minister serving the church from 1867 to 1870.

 

     The last available United States census of the Village of Haynesville for the year 1880 shows: seventeen families, one hundred thirty-five people.

 

     Postmaster was James R. Smith; merchants, J. C. Taylor, S. F. Brown, Geo. Edward Phipps, Luther Longino; druggist, S. T. Hutcheson; clerks, John McLeath, Gent Bailey, George W. Brown, Martin W. Sherrod; doctors, Dr. Hugh M. Longino, Dr. Almer Longino; minister, Rev. Finis E. Leach, Cumberland Presbyterian Church; teacher, John C. Byrd; music teacher, Mrs. John A. Brooks; mechanics, Ben A. Swan, Walter Everett; blacksmith, John G. McKethan; huckster, James Dickinson.

 

     During the next eighteen years Dr. Richard Gantt and his son, Dr. Hal Gantt practiced medicine in Old Haynesville. Willis Harp built a drug store in which Dr. Shack Waller and Lee Waller had their offices. Greer and Sherman owned a dry goods store; J. H. Taylor opened a store; W. Y. Dawson joined the firm of Longino and Dawson, Thomas Nix was in business; Dr. Montrose Day was a new-comer to town and Wright Sherrod could be engaged to play the fiddle for any entertainment.

 

     When it became known that the railroad would be built from Homer to McNiel, Arkansas with plans to by-pass the town, a new location was purchased on the site of the railroad two miles north of Old Town. The business houses, the school, and many homes were torn down and rebuilt at the new location. The old town took on the appearance of a ghost town, only the postoffice was left, housed in the two-room office building previously occupied by Dr. Hugh Longino. Every afternoon the citizens of New Haynesville closed their stores and rode back to the Old Town to get their mail.

 

     In October of 1898 the postmistress, Miss Lillian Brown, received orders from headquarters in Washington, D. C., to move the office to the new town, retaining the same name. She immediately prepared for moving by borrowing a "one-horse wagon" from her brother-in-law, Gus Lane. With the help of a trusted elderly colored citizen as drayman, the few pieces of office furniture were loaded on the wagon. Miss Brown climbed into the buggy with mail pouch containing postal notes, money orders, stamps, and other valuables and followed by the driver and wagon, took off with the post office for the New Town.

 

     Gradually the landmarks of the "Old Town" have disappeared. The place is only marked by the McKee home; the Cemetery and a small stream, which was once Dixie Bayou.

 

                              BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana., Harris & Hulse, 1886.

Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, Sou. Pub. 1890.

Claiborne Parish Sketches, Claiborne Parish Historical Association, 1956.

History of Northwest Louisiana, John Fair Hardin.

A Century of Methodism, Haynesville Methodist Church, 1955.

Atlas containing 1828 map of Claiborne Parish consulted at Shreve Memorial Library.

Western District 1838 Survey Map, Louisiana State Land Office.

 

The author acknowledges the help of Wade O. Martin, Secretary of State for Louisiana.  She has consulted Lillian Brown Garland's notes on life at the Old Town and is indebted to the following for personal statements: Henry C. Brown, E. O. Brown, Bess Brown Green, Miss Addie Meadows, Mrs. E. E. Stewart, J. T. Haynes, Mrs. L. B. Allen. She has consulted official postoffice recoris in Washington, D. C., she has gleaned information from various newspaper clippings.

 

OLD MOUNT ZION

 

By Frances Nelson Gladney

 

     Unknown to the majority of present day residents of Claiborne Parish there stands today in a clearing in a wooded section about seven miles northeast of Homer, between what are known as the upper and lower Colquitt roads, a country church, a white frame building in good repair. Yet to a small minority it is well known, Mount Zion Methodist church must have been an integral part of the lives of the families making up its congregation - Morelands, Meadors, Nelsons, Langstons, Clevelands, Featherstons, Taylors, Allens, Camps, Coueys, Leslies, Lanes, Winns, Browns, Blackmans, Johnsons, Stones, Kimballs, and others. Lacking written records relative to the choice of the name Mount Zion for this particular Methodist Episcopal Church South, one may not be reading too much into the name when one surmises that the old Testament references to Jerusalem, the city of peace, or Mount Zion, the dwelling place of the Ark of God and the site of the first Temple, entered into the minds of these pioneer Claiborne Parish settlers as they designated their house of worship as Mount Zion.

 

     Today this white frame church building is no longer known as Mount Zion, rather as Mount Obie. The conveyance records of Claiborne Parish reveal that on May 17, 1901, the Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church South was sold to the board of Trustees of Mount Obie Methodist Episcopal Church of America - Colored, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. (1)

 

     During the sixty years it has been in their possession the members of Mount Obie have made a few changes in the physical property of the building as repairs have become necessary; but in many respects the church remains much the same in appearance as it must have been in the 1880's and 1890's. According to present day descendants of a few of the families once active in the work of the church of those early days the most noticeable changes in the building and furnishings are: windows cut in the wall back of the pulpit where there were none originally; a new straight altar rail replacing a curved one; electric lights and gas heaters, obvious results of rural electrification and butane gas, replacing kerosene lamps and wood stoves of days gone by. Yet, even with these changes, one driving through the country side and coming upon this little white church in the woods can turn back the pages of time and visualize "Old Mount Zion." That is - one is able to do this - if one knows its history. Otherwise, it is probably just one more  small country church lost in anonymity. A knowledge of its history enables one to see it as a bright flame of faith burning in the hearts of those early settlers.

 

     Available records and memories of several living descendants of members  of Mount Zion Methodist Church do not reveal the exact date of the organization of this church. From The History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, by Harris and Hulse, one learns that Mount Zion was organized in a low school house and that the date at which this organization took place had not been obtained when that history was published in 1886. This same history stated that at that time - 1886 - there was a very creditable new house of worship at Mount Zion and that many of the leading citizens of the parish held membership there. The book further noted, "The very liberal hospitality of these brethren is widely noted, especially at the camp meeting seasons."

 

     Mrs. Vassie Allen Bostick has stated that Mr. Young D. Allen, her grandfather, gave logs for lumber to build the church still standing today. Also by Mrs. Bostick's statement it is known that Mrs. Young D. Allen brought a glass pitcher from Macon, Georgia, and gave it to the church for use as a pulpit pitcher. Inside the building the pews in use today are the same ones that were there when the church was sold to the Negroes. Dr. William Edmond Moreland has said that his father, Mr. W. W. (Willie) Moreland, assisted by other men in the congregation, built these pews. The curved altar rail, at which many knelt to receive communion, to which some came forward to join the church, before which the caskets of others reposed, is no longer there. It has been replaced in recent years by a more modern one. Also no longer there is the railing dividing the center section of pews, Mrs. James Frank Gladney, the former Jemmie Nelson, and Dr. William Edmond Moreland have recounted that the men sat on the left side of the center railing and the women on the right. The short pews on the left facing the side of the pulpit were for the older men and were called "the Amen pews." Facing the right side of the pulpit were the short pews for the occupancy of the older women.

 

     Yes, the present church was there in 1886 and probably a number of years earlier. On February 28, 1878, William F. Moreland, A. T. Nelson, R. A. Allen, J. H. M. Taylor, James F. Nelson, F. A. Lane and G. T. Winn organized themselves into a body corporate under the name and style of the Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church South and School Association. (2) On September 21, 1878, W. J. Leslie and J. F. Nelson in consideration of their love for the causes of Christianity and education deeded to William F. Moreland, President of Mount Zion Church and School Association, 5.25 acres in Section 19, Township 22 North, Range 6 West, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, together with the right-of-way to and the use of the two springs known as the camp ground springs. (3) Though no written record giving the exact date of the organization of this church or of the building of the house of worship is available, it is quite probable that the church was built a number of years prior to 1886. The deed of 1878 seems to indicate the existence of both a Mount Zion Church and School. And it is not unlikely that the church had been organized and was functioning some years before the association was formed and the land deeded to it, for it was a rather common practice of that day to use a site for religious gatherings, even before a public deed was made and filed. The reference in the deed to the camp ground springs certainly signifies that the site had been used for religious gatherings earlier than 1878. Just five years after this land was deeded to the Mount Zion Church and School Association worship services were held - evidently fairly regularly- at Mount Zion and records were kept of the Mount Zion Church Conferences. (4) An old book with worn binding and yellowed pages whose title page bears this information: "The Church Conference Record. Mt. Zion, Haynesville Charge, Homer District, Louisana Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Methodist Publishing House. 1883." has been preserved. This record of Mount Zion Church Conference covers the period of 1883-1897. These minutes reveal many things of interest. From them one learns that the following ministers served the church: John A. Miller, C. R. Godfrey, F. C. Hocut, Harry W. May, R. M. Blocker, Thomas J. Upton and D. C. Barr. During this period the following served as church conference secretary: A. T. Nelson, J. P. Nelson, W. L. Lay, A. S. Nelson, W. W. Moreland and J. F. Nelson. In the middle 1880's the assessment plan for collecting money for the preacher in charge was used.

 

The minutes of the conference of October 22, 1886, state, "...The Steward, Bro. A. T. Nelson, reported that the finances of Mt. Zion Church were well up as regarded the preacher in charge and that only a small balance of the Presiding Elder's salary remained to be paid." A perusal of these records and the diary of James R. Langston, local elder and lay preacher, reveals that there was a Sunday School at Mount Zion. The diary entry for Sunday, March 23, 1884, states that a "Saboth School" was organized there that day. The church conference minutes of October 22, 1886, read: "...Bro. A. J. Nelson, S.S.S., made a good report in regard to the condition of the Sunday School at this place. The scholars and officers numbering about twenty-five and all working in a way that indicated success." Another part of the worship at Mount Zion evidently was carried out through the medium of class meetings. At each conference there was always a report from the class leader. This portion of the work experienced its ups and downs - the entry of the conference of March 28, 1886, is an example of this-"...Next business before the house was report of J. T. Nelson, class leader of Mt. Zion Church. He reported that the class meeting went into winter quarters in December last, and that on account of the inclemency of the weather and the exceedingly small numbers who pretended to attend the social meetings at all, that up to this time it was a matter of impossibility to revive this part of the public worship." Even though the class meeting was inactive at that time the Rev. C. R. Godfrey stated in his report to the church conference of that date, that Mt. Zion Church was the only charge in good working order, and that the other churches in the circuit were in rather a cold state, in regard to spiritual matters." Indeed it would seem that the flame of faith burned brightly at "Old Mount Zion."

 

     The causes of Christianity and education often went hand in hand. This seems to have been true at Mount Zion. The Mr. W. J. Leslie mentioned in the deeding of the land to the Mount Zion Church and School Association was one of the first, perhaps the first, school teachers at Mount Zion. Mrs. Lillian Featherston Wideman has recalled going to school there to Mr. Leslie. Mrs. James Frank Gladney has recalled hearing her mother, Mrs. James Willis Nelson, the former Willie Taylor, tell of her first day at school at Mount Zion under Mr. Leslie in the year 1867 or 1868. From this one knows that the Mount Zion School was in existence at least ten years before the land was deeded to the Association.

 

     It was often true in small country communities that the burying ground was near the church, About three quarters of a mile south-east of the Mount Zion Church on what is now known as the lower Colquitt road is the Mount Zion Cemetery, the burying place of many of the old settlers of that section of Claiborne Parish. This land was given by Mr. Young D. Allen. The first burial was that of a little Negro slave belonging to Mr. Allen. The next was that of Mr. Allen's daughter. There are no markers for these first two graves. (5) The present fence was given by Mr. A. T. Nelson, Mr. Dick Cleveland, Mr. Hugh Taylor and Mrs. Willie Taylor-Nelson. Mrs. James Frank Gladney, daughter of Mrs. Willie Taylor Nelson, has recalled her mother listing these names as donors of the fence. It is possible that others contributed. She also recalls that her mother said they did not have sufficient funds to enclose all of the unmarked graves - many of which are in the woods back of the present enclosure. Through the years the cemetery has been given some care by a few of the descendants of those buried there. in recent years the Claiborne Parish Historical Association placed a marker on the gate designating this as "Mt. Zion Cemetery."

 

     Today's visitor will find only the cemetery marked by the name Mount Zion. The school is no longer there near the church. The so-called tents, semi-permanent structures, used at camp meeting time have disappeared into the past. The two springs known as the camp ground springs remain as landmarks to those familiar with the area. And the white frame church,. though no longer bearing the proud name of "Old Mount Zion," still stands. Yet in the hearts and minds of the few whose parents' and grandparents' lives were centered around "Old Mount Zion" the flame of faith kindled there will ever burn brightly.

 

1 Conveyance Records of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, Book U, page 138.

2 Records of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, Book A Miscellaneous, page 215.

3 Conveyance Records of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, Book M, page 527.

4 Personal Diary of James R. Langston, 1883-1886. Mt. Zion Church Conference Record Book, 1883-1897,

5 Statement of Mrs. Vassie Allen Bostick.

 

                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

MT. ZION CAMP MEETING

 

By Jemmie Nelson Gladney

 

     "Andrew (1) is moveing in quite early this morning to the camp ground. Meeting commences this evening at early candlelight." These words, written by one of my great-grandfathers on the twentieth day of September in the year 1883, which was before I was born, evoke pictures of an earlier period in the history of Claiborne Parish before Thomas Alva Edison's incandescent lamp became commonplace. But for me, and perhaps others of my generation, they do more than that. They bring into focus once again a small country church "dear to the heart of my childhood" and pleasant hours spent at the selfsame church camp ground some years later as a little girl. The words "camp meeting" were meaningful for my grandparent's generation. They hold special significance for some of my generation. Today's generation never having known this joyous occasion may well question its origin and its function.

 

     Historians do not agree on the beginning date of the "Great Religious Revival" in the United States. But they testify that it inflamed the

Cumberland region and for fifty years fanned out across each new frontier in the west. One pioneer preacher wrote, "From 1801 for years a blessed revival of religion spread through almost the entire inhabited parts of the west." In this revival movement originated our camp meetings.

 

     I have pleasant memories of one of these camp meetings which was held at the Mt. Zion Methodist Church. I have not been able to find when the Mt. Zion Camp Meeting was organized. The History of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, by Harris and Hulse, which covered the period 1820-1885, states: "Mt. Zion has for many years been noted for its Camp Ground where annually 'the tribes go up to worship.'"

 

     I think the Mt. Zion Camp Meeting must have had its beginning several years before 1870 because my family told me that Grand-father Nelson (1) added a log room with fireplace to his tent that year. I have been told that Mrs. Rosa Miller, wife of the Reverend John A. Miller, died during one of these camp meetings. I find on her marker in the Mt. Zion Cemetery that she died September 23, 1871. I own a diary which covers the years 1883, 1884, and 1885. The Mt. Zion Camp Meeting is mentioned in September of these years. I quote directly from this diary which was written by James R. Langston, my great-grandfather. He was a farmer, country storekeeper and Methodist lay preacher. James R. Langston's whole world - family, friendships, church, farming iinterest, country store and post office – comes alive in this old volume whose pages are crumbly with age. Perhaps these entries relative to Mt. Zion Camp Meeting. written by him so many years ago, will help to make camp meetings of another day and age live for you. Spelling and wording are as in the original.

 

"Sept. 11, 1883. Andrew is working on his tent.

 

Sept. 12, 1883. Andrew is working on his tent with several handes.

 

Sept. 14, 1883. Andrew finished working on his tent yesterday.

 

Sept. 18, 1883. ...I assisted in fixing up the camp ground preach er's tent, cleaning out the church, etc...

 

Sept. 20, 1883. . . . Andrew is moveing in quite early this morning to the camp ground. Meeting commences this evening at early candlelighting. Kimble came & taken supper with us. Walked over to church. Miller (2) preached. His subject was prayer. Kimble concluded.

 

Sept. 21, 1883. ...There was services at 9 o'clock prayer meeting. Preaching at eleven o'clock by Kimble. Preaching at 3 by Pipkin. The best sermon I ever heard in that house. There are not many pearsons outside of the tenters. It has been a little cool all day in the shade. Not many pearsons in attendance. We had Brothers Medlock (3) & Heart to spend the night with us.

 

Sept. 22, 1883. Clear & cool. Some more tenters came in. Experience meeting at 9. Preaching at eleven (by Comett). Quarterly conference after diner. Preaching in the evening by Heart and night by Joe Jordan. We had five preachers and several others with Brother Foreman with his wife & two sons.

 

Sept. 23, 1883. Saboth clear & cool. Brother Jas. Smith preached at nine. Comett at eleven. Sacrement of the Lord supper was administered. Doors of the church opened. Two young men joined. Heart preached at three. Ann Tigner is with us...A large number of pearsons out today. Preaching in the church and under the arbour. Kimble preached at night Had several to spend the night.

 

Sept. 24, 1883. ...I walked over to the church. Pipkin preached from the dry bones etc. A good sermon. Several young men came home & taken dinner with us...I went back in the evening. Joe Jordan preached. I did not go at night The children went. Jas. Smith preached...

 

Sept. 25, 1883. ...I am not able to tend church. Had a glorious experience meeting lasting until near 12 o'clock. No services until 3. Medlock preached. Kimble preached at night. I have not been able to attend church today....

 

Sept. 26, 1883. ...The congregation met at the stand for prayer and received those in the church that had joined. The tenters are moving home this morning. The encampment will soon be deserted. Some of us will never in all probability meet there again. There has been good done. No doubt the great day of eternity will tell it out.

 

Sept. 25, 1884. ...Gus (4) taken his & Eller's (5) & wife's bead & 2 mattresses, 6 pillers & 2 boalsters & Eller & Ider (6) to the camp ground to assist Emer (7) to fix up the tent...

 

Sept. 26, 1884. I taken wife to the camp ground. There was five tents occupyed. Had preaching three times each day and Experience meeting at nine in the morning. Preachers coming in. Well supplied with Preachers. McSwain from Magnolia, Billingsley from Arcadia, Couey from Cashatta, Parrish from Tulip, Miller & .Medlock from Homer. Also Hamill (8) and myself...

 

Sept. 27, 1884. Cloudy. I went to Homer after Emer (9) & the children & brot them out to the encampment. I did not attend the services until night. Not much stir. Good preaching.

 

Sept. 28. 1884. Saboth. A large concourse of people. Experience meeting at nine. Preaching at eleven in the church & school house. The sacrament administered in the church after services. Preaching at 3 & early candlelighting, but few penitents.

 

Sept. 29, 1884. ...Congregation getting small but little excitement.

 

Sept. 30, 1884. The last day of the meeting. Some of the members rejoicing. Others cold & sinners unmoved & unsaved. Some came to the alter the last hours of service. Some two or three claimed to be changed. This closes the camp meeting. Perhaps the last I shall ever attend. I have been blest several times during the meeting...

 

Oct. 1, 1884. ...Got home after 10 o'clock. Met numbers on their way home from camp meeting. Gus had got our things home & commenced picking cotton.

 

Sept. 24, 1885. ...Camp meeting commences at Mt. Zion tonight.

 

Sept. 26, 1885. Cloudy. I taken wife & Lee in the wagon & drove down to Mt. Zion camp ground. A good attendance but few Preachers. The Elder preached at eleven. Held conference at 2 o'clock. Medlock preached at three. Elder at candlelighting...

 

Sept. 27, 1885. Saboth. Cloudy. A light sprinkle of rain fell in the night. After breakfast we drove back to the camp ground. Stone (10) conducted love feast. The Elder preached at eleven. We got our diner & left for home..."

 

     These so called tents of which my Grandfather Langston wrote in his diary were not portable shelters consisting of coverings of canvas stretched over poles, but were more like camp houses. They were made of rough pine lumber with a floor covering of sawdust or straw. There was a row of these buildings northeast of the church. They were occupied by the families of A. T. Nelson. Wm. F. Moreland. R. H. (Dick) Cleveland, L. H. Featherston. Joshua Allen and Andrew J. Nelson. Possibly there were others whom I do not recall. There was a preachers' tent. Dr. Edmond Moreland and Mrs. Vassie Allen Bostick believe the school house (near the church) was used for the preachers' tent.

 

     The memory of Grandfather Nelson's (Andrew J. Nelson) tent is very clear after more than half a century. The main building was of rough plank, running up and down, roofed with hand hewn boards. The floor covering was oat or wheat straw. There was a narrow gallery across the front of the building. Down the center of this main building was a hall, open at both ends, which separated the long rooms, known as the boys' and girls' rooms. A curtained door in each room opened into the hall. The girls' room had a low scaffold built along the wall to accomodate five or six mattresses. These would be called bunk beds now. The other furnishings of the room consisted of a mirror on the wall; nails for hanging clothes; a bowl, pitcher and kerosene lamp on a table and two good sized trunks. I suppose the boys' room was furnished in a similar manner. The hall between these rooms had long plank benches on either side. This was quite a visiting place for the young people. There were chairs on the front gallery.

 

     A long shed the width of the center hallway and the girls' room, open on one side, was attached to the rear of the main building. This shed was used for cooking and eating purposes. There was a long table with benches on either side and always a white cloth on the table. Several feet away from the dining area was the cooking place. A large hopper-like box filled with earth on which wood burned into coals served as the cook stove. Caroline West had charge of the cooking. She was neatly dressed in dark calico and wore a big white apron and a white head-rag. There were other cooks and other help, I am sure, but I remember only "Aunt C'line." She was so kind to me.

 

     There was lots of "eating company," especially on Sundays. The visitors I enjoyed most were the pretty girls my uncles would bring to dinner. I thought Miss Minnie May Monk the loveliest of all.

 

     Facing the open side of the eating shed was Grandmother's room. This was a log room with a fireplace. It was built in 1870 because my grandparents needed it for their twin sons, Will and Tom, who were born in February of that year. This room was furnished with two beds, a trunk or two, straight chairs and Grandmother's rocking chair. I recall the names of some of Grandmother's friends who came for a rest in her comfortable log room - Mrs. Jim Otts, Mrs. Arthur Ford, Mrs. Chris Ferguson,,Mrs. Ben Fortson and Mrs. Alabama Kinnebrew.

 

     I wonder if I did not enjoy all of this tent life more than the regular services of the camp meeting.

 

     There lingers in my memory the grove prayer meetings in the early evenings. The women and children would go into a quiet clearing in the woods away from the church and tents for a worship period. The women would sing and pray. They would tell of their experiences. Often Grandmother Nelson would get very happy. She always talked of the bright, happy things of life and the glories of heaven.

 

     It is my hope that this backward look at the Mt. Zion Camp Meeting, a vital force in shaping the lives of many of the early residents of Claiborne Parish, may give present day readers a fresh insight into the rich heritage which is theirs. Many descendants of these early residents, who came in buggies, wagons, on horseback and by foot to the camp ground at Mt. Zion in those September days long ago, owe a debt of gratitude to those same campers. They came with mixed motives, perhaps. These few days together, usually five to seven, offered a wonderful opportunity to visit with neighbors, to dispense and receive true Southern hospitality, to be refreshed in an atmosphere of Christian fellowships through the medium of singing, praying and listening to spirited sermons. However, it is important to remember that most of them came desiring and expecting revival and conversion by the grace of God. I feel that the Mt. Zion Camp Meeting was a power for good in molding family and community life of that period. Yes, there was "good done," as Grandfather Langston wrote in his diary September 26, 1883: "The tenters are moving home this morning. The encampment will soon be deserted. Some of us will never in all probability meet there again.

There has been good done. No doubt the great day of eternity will tell it out."

 

1. Andrew Jackson Nelson.

2. John A. Miller

3. J. W. Medlock

4. Gus Nelson

5. Mrs. Gus Nelson, nee Ella Willis

6. Miss Ida Willis

7. Miss Emma Nelson

8. W. L. Hamill

9. Mrs. Emma Harrison, nee Langston

10. Joseph H. Stone

 

MORE ABOUT MT. ZION

BRUSH ARBOR AND FIRE STANDS

 

By W. E. Moreland

 

     A brush arbor at Mt. Zion was a very important part of the religious life of the camp grounds. It was constructed annually with poles and branches from surrounding timbers - upright, forked poles and saplings to which horizontal poles were fastened by means of vines, mostly rattan, by tying them to the top of the upright poles or posts. Leafy tree branches, such as sweet gum, were laid across the horizontal poles to make a dense shade. Under this arbor various worshipping groups met during the day; prayer groups, testimonial, and singing groups met for worshipping out of church. The arbor was located some forty or fifty yards below and to the west of the front of the church in the edge of the camp ground clearing. Besides the church and brush arbor services, other worshipping services were held in the open woods and large front rooms of the various tents (houses).

 

     Another accessory, almost a necessity and a near luxury, at Mt. Zion Camp Grounds, was the "fire" or "light stand." At Ft. Jessup Camp Grounds, in Sabine Parish, these were called "fire pans." Four posts, several feet high were put in the ground in a four to five foot square covered with plank, which was made several feet square and on top of the plank was put several inches of sandy loam dirt. On top of this dirt, pine knots were used to keep the fire burning at night for lights to go to and from tents and church. The colored help kept these fires and lights burning until after night services.

 

PENTECOSTAL EXPERIENCE

 

By Lillian Featherston Wideman

 

     A camp meeting was held yearly by the congregation of Mt. Zion. Near the church a big arbor, surrounded by tents, was kept for the purpose. This meeting generally provided a spiritual uplift for the members and visitors, for people who came from miles around, to attend this revival.

 

     I recall one year, the congregation seemed cold and God's presence was not evident, so they decided to fast and pray without ceasing all the next day. That night the arbor was full of people; the preachers talked and prayed much. All at once, the whole congregation began shouting and were supremely happy.

 

     It was like Pentecost the Bible tells us about. There was a general spiritual uplift. The members all declared the meeting had been a decided

success that year.

 

HISTORY OF ALABAMA CHURCH 1850-1945

 

By Lillian Dawson Smith

 

     In 1849 a group of white people came from Shelby County, Alabama, to North Louisiana in search of a new home. The trip was made in wagons drawn by horses, taking six weeks to make the trip, arriving here in December, 1849.

 

     Being of Methodist belief they soon organized a Methodist Church and named it Alabama in memory of the State of Alabama from whence they came. It was first organized three miles west from where it now stands, and a brush arbor served as a place of worship. They soon decided to move the church and A. D. Gaskill donated three acres of land for Alabama Church ground so long as it remains an organized church, reverting to original owner should it cease to be a church. The framework of the building was made of hand hewn timber, as but little lumber was available in that day. The building stood for many years, and. many fond memories still linger with us. The carpenters for this building were Henry White Harper, John Harper and J. W. Beville. The first trustees were Henry White Harper, G. W. Boggs, Seborn Ozley, G. W. Lowrey, A. D. Gaskill. Some of the charter members were Mr. and Mrs. A. Hall, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Boggs, Mr. and Mrs. Seborn Ozley, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Harper, Mr. and Mrs. Henry White Harper, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Beville, Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Gaskill, Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Lowery, Mr. and Mrs. Mart Harper, Mr. and Mrs. William Harper, A. L. Harper and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Webb Jennings, Mrs. Laurence Kidd, Dr. and Mrs. Gaskill, Mrs. Harriett Harper Brinker. This building is located in Union Parish just east of the line of Union and Claiborne Parish. Some years later the membership decided to hold camp meetings each year, and built a large arbor just west of the church which was used for many years for holding the annual camp meetings. Small houses were built on all sides of the arbor for camping. A two story school building was erected on this campus. The lower story was used for teaching school. The upper story served as a "Masonic Hall", it also housed ministers during camp meetings. Just east of this church a well was dug, eight feet in diameter, by John Robnet and William S. Akin. In 1895 the membership decided to build a new church building. After many difficulties the church was finished, everything paid in full, and on Christmas Day, 1895, the first service was held by Rev. R. P. Howel, the pastor. The leading carpenters for this building were Rev. R. P. Howel, the pastor, and James Henry Harper, Some of the financial agents were J. M. Andrews, A. C. Harper, G. W. Harper, J. T. Roach, A. J. Roach, T. K. Phillips, T. W. Bailey, J. C. Bailey, W. M. Ferguson, Billie Johnson, J. W. Jones, W. D. St. John, B. W. St. John, J. C. Fonst, J. H. Ozley, W. B. Lowrey, C. W. Enis, H. J. Tanner, W. H. Tanner, J. M. Akin, J. M. Butler, Billie McCrumb, F. M. Greer, W. B. Greer, J. A. Roach, R. W. Welch, W. H. Shielks, J. H. Harper.

 

     Some families have had representatives in the ministry for more than one hundred years. Rev. John Akin, Rev. W. E. Akin, Rev. Roy Akin, have a combined service of over one hundred years. Rev. J. D. Harper and Rev. R. H. Harper have a combined service of ninety or more years. Rev. T. W. St. John, Rev. Jack Harper, Rev. Joe Wise, a Miss Harper, who went as a missionary to Mexico, all went from this church.

 

     It was a heaven below when these valiant soldiers of the Cross would sing and shout and pray, and when we meet in that Celestial City and the general roll is called and the saints come marching in, there will be many in that Great Procession from Alabama Church.

 

(Historical data supplied by Harriet L. Akin Beville; sponsored by the Alabama Sunday School, 1945; written by Hattie Aycock Akin.)

 

THE STORY OF COUNT LEON

 

By Rudolph Fiehler

 

Editor's Note. Until 1871 the present parish of Webster was part of the parish of Claiborne. The settlement of Germantown, prior to that date, has a proper place in Claiborne Parish history.

 

     During the summer of 1961, at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, I needed a subject for a term paper for a course I was taking at a summer institute for advanced students of German. Because of my interest in the history of the Germantown colony near Minden, I chose to write about the leader of that settlement effort, Count Maximilian Leon. The following is a translation of the paper which I submitted.

 

                                                               

 

     At the edge of Minden, in Webster Parish, Louisiana, one may see a historical marker directing one to Germantown, where a hundred years ago a communal settlement existed from about 1840 until about 1870.

 

     The Germantown road runs about seven miles northwesterly from the highway marker. It follows the old military road which in the early days linked the frontier military posts of Natchitoches and Fort Smith. Nowadays this historic trail is an ordinary farm road, and only those who are interested in local history know of its long story.

 

     The site of Germantown itself is today just a farm owned by Mr. Chester Krouse, a somewhat reserved person, who, though well aware of the long tradition that surrounds the old place on which he lives, does not understand or speak the German language which was once the rule there. On his farm, behind the family dwelling, are a number of somewhat dilapidated log buildings, the only substantial remnants of the one-time flourishing colony.

 

     Mr. Krouse has often thought of restoring the old buildings. It has even been suggested that a sort of museum might be established on the place. Influential persons in the vicinity, among them former governor Robert Kennon, have shown interest in such a project. But there has been a certain hesitancy about going ahead, for sources of historical information have not been readily available. Since the time of the first World War, when the German language lapsed into silence in this part of the country, there has been no one who would undertake to read the stacks of papers which Mr. Krouse still carefully preserves. Moreover, there seems to have been a general notion that the Germantown colonists were a most extraordinary group of people, with outlandish customs.

 

     It is well known, of course, that the Germantown colonists came from Germany under the leadership of Count Leon, who led his followers first to Pennsylvania, then down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and finally up the Red River as far as Grand Ecore, now Natchitoches, where he died before he could establish the colony he dreamed of. His widow, however, a most energetic personality, who became known as the Countess, then took over the leadership of the distressed emigrants, and settled them in the remote sand hills along the old military road, where at that time the primeval pine forest was still practically untouched.

 

     One hears also of a Doctor Goentgen (a name which was sometimes anglicized to Jenkins), who worked together with Count Leon; further about a Doctor Krauss, a pharmacist from New Orleans who joined the colony some time after it had been established; also of a man named Bopp, who conducted the business affairs of the colony; and finally about a man named Stokowski, who in the more recent past carried on the only general merchandise store in Germantown.

 

     But the most exciting stories are those which are told about the Countess. Until about 1870, for more than thirty years, she was looked up to for leadership in the colony. Only after her death was the communal organization of the colony dissolved and the property divided among the various individual members. She was said to have come from a prominent family in Frankfurt-am-Main, and the story is that although for many years she had no keyboard instrument to keep her musical accomplishments alive, she nevertheless devised a practice device out of pieces of wood, so that she could keep up her finger exercises. When in later years her business manager Bopp, having sold a crop of cotton in New Orleans, returned with a piano, she in her eagerness took possession of the instrument before it was quite unpacked, and played on it for hours without stopping.

 

     The Countess had two daughters, the eldest of whom, Elizabeth, married a music teacher named Schardt, with whom she lived for many years in the city of Monroe. Anna, the youngest, married Jacob Stahl, Jr. Out of this marriage came an only daughter who is now living in Hot Springs, Arkansas at an advanced age. Sad to say, this granddaughter of the Countess has been taken seriously ill in the past year, and it is doubtful whether one would want to ask her to relive her memories of Germantown.

 

     Local tradition has not much to tell about the personality of Count Leon himself, who died in Grand Ecore before the settlement was made. Several years ago Professor Karl J. Arndt, of Louisiana State University, published an account of the origins of Germantown in the Louisiana Historical Review. Therein he alluded to some extraordinary suppositions concerning the origins of the Count; for example, that he was supposed to be the illegitimate son of a German nobleman and that he had called the princes of Europe to account, among them Napoleon himself.

 

     About four years ago I undertook my own investigation of the Germantown story. Mr. Krouse was at first somewhat reticent. He said, and probably with good reason, that already too many professors had dabbled in the matter, that important documents and historical evidence had been scattered, and that curious visitors had carried off all sorts of valuable curiosities as souvenirs.

 

     But there was still something to be worked on. In one of the log buildings there was an important looking selection of books in an old chest, but these were in very poor condition. Evidently nobody had tried to read them for a long time - and no wonder, for most of them seemed to be in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. About this time Professor Arndt returned a large package of miscellaneous papers which had been in his possession, but these seemed to be mostly notations concerning business transactions, while others were written in such flighty handwriting that they were quite illegible.

 

     The most impressive of the material which Mr. Krouse showed to me was a large photostated folio of about sixty pages: a reproduction of a book in which the constitution of the "New Philadelphian Congregation" was written down. It seems that the original of this book somehow disappeared from the Krouse homestead, but it was tracked down by Professor Arndt, who saw to it that it was placed in the Congressional Library in Washington. The constitution was written in a beautifully legible German script. In very formal style, it set forth the twelve basic laws according to which the life of the Germantown conununity was to be regulated. A discerning reader might see in them the pattern of the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic law, but to this basic structure were added all sorts of detailed regulations, the general intent of which seemed to be to bind the people to their "exalted leader" in every detail of their daily lives.

 

     Along with this large photostated book, Mr. Krouse had other interesting papers to show. There was a long manuscript in the same handwriting as in the photocopies, which told of certain goings-on in Pennsylvania, where Count Leon and his followers had resided for a time in the Economy colony of Johann Georg Rapp before coming to Louisiana. Appended to this account was a shorter, and probably earlier, draft of the twelve basic laws of the "New Philadelphia Congregation." I also spotted another document which was of immediate interest to me: it carried the seal of the Archduke Ludwig of Hesse and gave a certain Bernhard Mueller permission to change his name to Maximilian Leon Proli.

 

     That was as far as I carried my inquiry at the time, except that in the summer of 1957, when I happened to be in Worchester, Massachusetts, I called on Professor Arndt, who is now teaching at Clark University. I suggested to him that many people would be interested to know more about his researches into the history of Germantown, and he hinted that something might soon be forthcoming in print.

 

     About a year ago I received a letter from Mrs. Prescott Krouse of Minden, who had been collecting the remaining bits of tradition concerning Germantown before they would be entirely forgotten. Coming originally from Michigan, she had married a nephew of Mr. Chester Krouse about fifteen years ago. Since then, though occupied with household duties and with the rearing of her two children, along with occasional employment as nurse in the Minden hospital, she had done a good deal in gathering the facts and tales which have to do with the old colony.

 

     Mrs. Krouse's letter renewed my interest in Germantown, and and my own interest probably stimulated her to keep up with the task she has set for herself. She now has written a manuscript entitled Germantown: The Fragments of a Dream, which I hope some day may be published. An important part of the history, however, remains to be searched out. This is the story of Count Leon before he came to America.

 

     In the library of the University of Tuebingen I was able to locate five titles which made mention of Count Leon. Of these, three mentioned him only casually in connection with the story of Father Rapp's Harmony settlement in Pennsylvania. The other two sources, which dealt with Count Leon at some length, were: "Der Herzog von Jerusalem," in Gartenlaube magazine, 1867. The Harmony Society at Economy, Pennsylvania, By Aaron Williams, (Pittsburg, 1866).

 

     A critical comparison of these two sources showed that they must have been independently derived from a single earlier source; for while they agreed in the main, each had details which were not found in the other. Both sources agreed in setting forth as undisputed fact the story of Leon's unacknowledged descent from the German nobility. It was further told that Leon was educated for the priesthood, and that he made a pilgrimage to Rome; also, that he lived for a time in the city of Cork in Ireland, where he became acquainted with a certain wealthy Miss H--, who supplied him with the means to carry out his dreams for the betterment of mankind.

 

     Returning from Ireland, Leon was said first to have gone to Hamburg, then to Stuttgart, and finally to Offenbach, not far from Frankfurt-am-Main. There a number of devoted followers clustered about him, among them the family of the wealthy Frankfurt merchant Heuser. It was the oldest daughter of this merchant, Elizabeth Heuser, who became his wife, the Countess of the Germantown tradition.

 

     Legal difficulties began to plague Leon's group in Offenbach, and though he enjoyed the favor of the Archduke of Hesse, he felt impelled to turn the communal property of his followers into cash and to emigrate with them to America. The emigrants sailed from Bremen to New York, then up the Hudson to Albany, by canal to Buffalo, and on the lake to Erie, Pennsylvania. There they received an invitation to join the prosperous colony of the eighty-year-old Johann Georg Rapp at Economy. This colony, incidentally was very famous in Europe: Lord Byron devoted several stanzas to it in his poem "Childe Harold."

 

     Dissension soon afterwards arose in Rapp's colony, probably as a result of the presence of Leon and his followers, who with some of Rapp's former adherents now withdrew to Phillipsburg, not far away, where they acquired property for a new colony. But here again troubles developed, and Count Leon, with those who remained faithful to him, traveled westward to Louisiana, where they hoped to found a colony in the lattitude of Jerusalem. Leon's death seemed to be the end of the story. None of the European accounts told anything of what became of his followers.

 

     In an effort to find the original printed source of the strange stories which had been circulated about Count Leon, I made a trip about the middle of August to Frankfurt-am-Main, where I inquired at the once-famous city and university library. I felt both frustrated and saddened when, upon visiting the unpretentious building which now houses the Frankfurt library, I was told that all of the valuable - and in fact priceless - historical treasures which had still existed before World War II had been completely destroyed in the aerial bombardments.

 

     I was not yet ready to give up the search, however, and so I caught a street-car to the neighboring town of Offenbach. It seemed at first as though my luck would be no better there. The bombings which had destroyed the Frankfurt library had also ruined the more important municipal buildings in Offenbach. But in one corner of what remained of the city hall, a small new library had been started, and from that place I was referred to the city archivist, who told me the "tales of Hoffman."

 

     I found Herr Georg Hoffman esconced on the fourth floor of the city warehouse. His historical treasures, which had survived the war, lined three of the four walls of his little office. When I mentioned the name of Count Maximilian Leon, he knew immediately what I was looking for. Two books which he produced without hesitation were

 

                Der Wundermann des 19. Jahrhunders, oder Leben Abenteuer, und Meinungen des beruechtigen Propheten B. Mueller, genannt Proli (Hanau, 1833)

 

                Maximilian Leon Proli, der Prophet von Offenback. By Fritz Herrman (Darmstadt, 1920)

 

     There was no doubt in my mind that the book with the long title, dated 1833, was the original source which had supplied material for the two important sources, dated about thirty years later, which I had found in the Tuebingen library, for here was a longer, and even more fanciful account of that strange journey to Ireland and of the generous Miss H--.

 

     There was no doubt in my mind either that the former city archivist Fritz Herrmann whose book was published in 1920, had done a thorough and scholarly job of collecting, examining, and evaluating all the historical evidences which yet remained of Count Leon. There was no reason to look further, for if there were any further loose ends to the story, it appeared that they would be beyond the reach of any person who had only a limited amount of time to spend in his search.

 

     Herr Hoffman was most helpful. After I explained my problem, he allowed me to borrow the two books on my promise to return them within a week, so that I could have them reproduced on microfilm at the University of Tuebingen. Everything worked out as planned - the originals are in the Offenbach archives, but microfilm copies will be available in the library of Louisiana Polytechnic Institute for anybody who cares to take the time to study them.

 

     It is from Fritz Herrmann's book that the story of Count Leon will have to be retold. Translation of the important materials and presentation in readable form will perhaps take a little time, but it is hoped that this retelling can be made available in due time, perhaps as an appendix to Mrs. Prescott Krause's book.

 

SHOTGUN AND DOGTROT

 

By Ted-Larry Pebworth

Illustrations by Lillian Bellizio

 

Reprinted with permission of the publishers and the author from Ford Times, January 1957

 

     The so-called "Shotgun," a long, narrow house of small proportions, is a familiar sight in northwest Louisiana, as it is in other sections of the South. It is built for economy and coolness, its one-room width and doors in a straight line, front to back, providing a channel for the infrequent summer breezes.

 

     The shotgun, sometimes called "gunbarrel," house is usually built of rough, local sawmill pine, the large cracks between the vertical planks covered with small wooden strips.. When glass and screening are unavailable, the windows are closed with rough wooden shutters. On cold or wet days the shuttered rooms are pitch black, and the kerosene lamps can help little in dispelling the gloom.. A fire in the stick-and-mud fireplace is an additional means of light as well as heat. Local clay with twigs and pine straw serve as the building materials for the fireplaces and their chimneys, which must be repaired after every rainy season. These chimneys are often the cause of fire.

 

     The houses are set two or three feet off the ground on unmortared piles of native rock, so saturated in low grade iron ore as to leave rust marks on anything touching them.

 

     On the front porch, between two posts, is a shelf with a water bucket and dipper. Soap, washbasin, and a native vine in a pot hanging from the porch roof on a rusty wire usually complete the furnishings of the shelf. Behind it are home-made rocking chairs that complain when rocked in, and cane and hide-bottomed straight chairs.

 

     Metal locks with glass knobs have replaced the rope and wooden latch on the door, and lard buckets have replaced the wooden kegs as flower pots, but little else has changed in a hundred years.

 

     The big brother of this house, the "dogtrot," is a combination of two shotguns set side by side under the same roof with a wide hall, the dogtrot, between.

 

     Often the kitchen is a separate building, sometimes connected to the main house by a tin-roofed shed, but often as not, by nothing more than a path. This was an early attempt at fire insurance. At a time when matches were uncommon and expensive in this part of the country, the kitchen fireplace contained a fire constantly, either burning logs or banked coals. To leave the house for any length of time was dangerous, so the best solution was to separate the house and kitchen. From this practice comes the expression still used by the old people when they finish a meal, "Let's go into the house."

 

     Also to prevent fire, the yards of most rural houses were, and still are, scraped clean of grass. This is a wise precaution in an area where brush and grass fires are frequent. Accordingly, the hoe and yardbroom are common implements.

 

     The furnishings of the porches of these houses differ little from those of the shotguns. The big difference is in the dogtrot itself. Pegs on the wall hold family firearms; ancient antlers may hold hats, coats, and home-made walking canes. The family dogs sleep in the shade of these halls, giving them their name, and chickens wander at will from front porch to back, until they are shooed away.

 

     Both the shotgun and the dogtrot are early attempts at natural air-conditioning, and in the days before artificial cooling, these were the best that architecture had to offer.

 

     Today, the shotgun and dogtrot are obsolescent, but enough examples remain for the traveler to see these interesting house-forms. In Louisiana, shotguns and dogtrots can still be found on U. S. 80, between Shreveport and Arcadia; U. S. 79, between Homer and Minden; and State 9, near Athens.

 

{Also see "Page 93-Shotgun & Dogtrot" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

SOME NEGRO SONGS HEARD ON THE HILLS OF NORTH LOUISIANA

 

Collected by Vallie Tinsley White

 

(Excerpts from a thesis submitted by the author at Louisiana State University, 1928; reprinted by permission of the author)

 

     In my quest for spirituals I accompanied my colored friends to several churches, of which I remember the names, Pine Hill, Bethel, and Price's Freewill Macedonian Baptist. I found them all tucked off behind the hills and pine thickets at the ends of rough wagon roads.

 

     On my first visit I was accompanied by Azzle, wearing a large red hat and a sleeveless red silk dress and carrying her shoes in her hand. When we arrived about nine o'clock, a low humming was rising from the rude church. There were as many Negroes on the outside of the church as inside, and I was impressed by the quietness of them all. They moved about like black spirits, veritable shades in Pluto's dark regions. I have heard them sing at the top of powerful lungs as they worked in the fields; I have heard Teather's mighty booming call three miles away in the middle of the night as he returned from his nocturnal prowls.  So I was surprised at their subdued tones here.

 

     I found the singing of two kinds. The first was like the song of soldiers where "each heart spoke a different name but all sang 'Annie Laurie'." In this case they were attempting to sing unfamiliar songs from "white folks' books;", and although they were all saying the same words, each had a different tune. After they had wailed in this way for a while, they all knelt, bent their backs, and tucked their black heads down until they completely disappeared behind the seats. They did not cease to sing, however, but lowered their voices to a hum that rose and fell like a distance-mellowed echo of the song itself. In a short time out of this humming a single voice became audible and grew louder, while the humming became fainter and gradually died away.

 

     "O Lord, dear Father, guide us through the shiftin' scenes of life ... and finally take us somewhere, Lord, where there won't be no sickness an' sorrow, somewhere in the sweet Beulah Land, jest somewhere Lord," prayed the sweet voice of a woman, while the audience accompanied her with a perfectly rhythmic chorus of "amens" sung out at exactly regular intervals regardless of where she was in a sentence.

 

     At my request the older Negroes sang some of those wonderful old spirituals - of which I am including a few in this book-, and the young ones joined in with embarrassed grins on their faces. When I asked a young girl if they sang the spirituals at her church, she smiled tolerantly and said, "Yes'm, sometimes de old foks raise dem old tunes..."

 

     So it is that the younger Negroes are trying to get away from the songs that have come to them from the days of slavery, and collectors who would preserve them must work rapidly. With the dying of the old Negroes of the present day will die most of the old spirituals.

 

                                                WHAT SHALL I DO?

 

This was a favorite of the Negroes, and they often sang it in the fields as they picked cotton together.

 

                If I wuz you, I'd stop right here an' pray;

                If I wuz you, I'd stop right here an' pray;

                If I wuz you, I'd stop right here an' pray;

                O, my Lord, O, my Lord, what shall I do?

 

                O run, sinner, run, an' hunt you a hidin' place;

                O run, sinner, run, an' hunt you a hidin' place;

                O run, sinner, run, an' hunt you & hidin' place;

                O, my Lord, O, my Lord, what shall I do?

 

                O what you gwinter do when death comes a-creepin' in de room?

                O what you gwinter do when death comes a-creepin' in de room?

                O what you gwinter do when death comes a-creepin' in de room?

                O, my Lord, O, my Lord, what shall I do?

 

                Chris' tol' Nicodemus dat he mus' be born agin;

                Chris' tol' Nicodemus dat he mus' be born agin;

                Chris' tol' Nicodemus dat he mus' be born agin;

                O, my Lord, O, my Lord, what shall I do?

                                                               

 

                                                I DONE DONE

                                (From Pine Hill Church)

 

                You tol' me to preach,

                You tol' me to preach,

                I done done,

                I done done,

                You tol' me to preach,

                An' I done done what you tol' me to do.

 

                You tol' me to shout,

                I done done,

                You tol' me to shout,

                I done done,

                You toll me to shout,

                An'  I done done what you tol' me to do.

 

                You tol' me to moan,

                I done done,

                You tol' me to moan,

                I done done,

                You tol' me to moan,

                An' I done done what you tol' me to do.

                                                               

 

                                                I NEVER HEARD A MAN

 

(This is the most powerful and appealing spiritual I have ever heard sung. The little old Negro preacher sang the stanzas, and the congregation joined in the chorus)

 

                King Jesus was a preacher;

                He spoke in Palestine,

                Proclaimed to all the nation

                His power to redeem.

                All de days of my life, ever since I been born,

                I never heard a man speak lak dis man befo'.

 

                                Chorus

 

                I never heard a man speak lak dis man befo'.

                All the days of my life, ever since I been born,

                I never heard a man speak lak dis man befo'.

 

                He spoke over in Jerusalem;

                His parents they were gone;

                "I want to ask some questions,

                I'm from my Father's throne."

                All de days of my life, ever since I been born,

                I never heard a man speak lak dis man befo'.

 

                He spake at the grave of Lazarus,

                When a congregaton met;

                The Lord God folded up His arms;

                I'm told that Jesus wept.

                All de days of my life, ever since I been born,

                I never heard a man speak lak dis man befo'.

 

                He spoke to the Jewish nation,

                "I am the solid rock;

                Behold I am your Saviour,

                I stand at the do' an' knock."

                All de days of my life, ever since I been born,

                I never heard a man speak lak dis man befo'.

                                                               

 

     From my father's collection: My father, who is the "Mister Mun" or "Cap" to the Negroes, is the real collector of the first group. He learned them from the Negroes themselves as he worked with or "worked" them in the fields in the "long summer days"; and at night he propped his tired feet against the columns, and taking his violin under his chin, Played their plaintive tunes...

 

                Long summer day,

                Old Massa an' old missis a-settin' in the shade,

                Drink their coffee and their tea,

                Give Po' nigger de black-eyed pea.

                Long summer day,

                Long summer day.

                                                               

 

....Another "hand" sang these lines over and over:

 

                Some of dese mo'nings

                An' it won't be long,

                De cap'n gwinter call me,

                An' I'll be gone.

 

And so it happened...The next little jingle was adopted by our family for practical use. We children often woke each other with it.

 

                Wake up, Jacob, day's a-breakin';

                Meat's in the pot an' hoe-cake's a-bakin'.

 

     My mother's contribution: Aunt Gracie is known as "Aunt Tabbie" and "Aunt Patsy" in different places. I found this song better known and more loved than any of the others...

 

                Go tell Aunt Gracie,

                Go tell Aunt Gracie,

                Go tell Aunt Gracie,

                The ole grey goose is dead.

 

                The one she was savin'

                The one she was savin'

                The one she was savin'

                To make a feather bed.

 

                She died early this mo'nin'

                She died early this mo'nin'

                She died early this mo'nin'

                Under the old green apple tree.

 

                She left two little goslin's

                She left two little goslin's

                She left two little goslin's

                One for you an' one for me.

 

                                                               

 

                                                "SHOO, MY LOVE"

 

     In a long jingle entitled "Aunt Dinah Drunk" in Talley's Negro Folk Rhymes, I found this line: "Oh, shoo my Love! My turtle dove." When I read it, there flew back into my memory like a flock of sparrows to a tree top  the following:

 

                Hawk an' turkle dove

                Went to the war;

                Hawk came back with a broken jaw.

 

                Shoo, my Love,

                Shoo, my Love,

                Shoo, my pretty little turkle dove.

 

                                                               

 

LETTERS LETTER FROM SAMUEL RUSSELL

 

February 14, 1830

 

(Nettie Mae Brewer, of Independence, Virginia, provides this copy of a letter from Samuel Russell to Lewis and Agnes Brewer, written from Russellville February 14, 1830. Miss Brewer has given permission to print the letter. Russellville was the first parish seat in Claiborne. Miss Brewer is a great niece of Samuel Russell, a brother of her great grandfather, Lewis Brewer, Sr. This letter is of unusual interest and significance).

 

                                 Russvill Parish of Clairborn, La. Fby. 7th

 

Most affectionate Brothers and Sisters: I received yours of the 18th November 1829 I received on the 30th day of December in the same date which was within six weeks from the Date thire of, it gives me great pleasure to hear from you all and to hear that you were all well and doing fine, more over it was pleasant to me to know that you had received one letter from me out of ten, you write to me to inform you of the increase of my family, we are of an increasing breed, my wife has had eleven children, six boys and five girls. David, my oldest son married Betsy Brazel, a fine girl, she brought him three children, but to her displeasure of the first day of November last, she departed this life. Tho he is better prepared to take care of his Little ones, then many a man who has been left with the same mother, he has got fine negro woman to take care of them and a good old motherinlaw to see to it. My oldest daughter Tabitha is married to one, Issac Thorinton, she has three sons, David living about 25 miles from me. Tabitha is three miles of me, they both are doing well. William, the third child was born a cripple by a skire, has become insane. Rachel and Nancy and Samuel and Philip, Luvincy and Betsy yet. Lewis is no more. I have had a great Reason to be thankful to my Creator for the blessing that he has bestowed on me and my family. I can insure you that if ever a man injoid pleasure in the family I have in mine, for in their prudence they are ranked in the first class of people in our country and ought is not against the first one of them. You wrote to me to let you know how I come on in this world, as it is your wish to know, I give you a small account.

 

   First of My Standing with the people in this County

 

I moved here in 1822 when there was 18 family in the bounds of this County. I was put into office and as the settlements increased and got stronger, I laid the foundation for a new Parish, and being in favor with the Judges and Lawyers at a general Review in the town of Natchitoches I was introduced to Governor Johnson and after sometime I explained the situation of our settlement to him, he said that if I draw a draft and send it to the Legislator that he would do his best to give us a new parish. I don so and he was as good as his word. I had the management of the whole and when the town was Laid for the seat of justice, I was appointed to do it. The people were so pleased it was their choice that, the name of the town should be Russelvill in Remembrance of me. My situation of life is such I have plenty to live on. I have 75 head of meat cattle and a good farm on which I make one hundred clear money a year besides what supports my family. I have one Likely Negro man, and four horses and I don't owe one dollar in the state. I cribed one thousand bushels of corn this last season and made 2,830 pounds of seed cotton besides, oates, potatoes a plenty, corn is worth 50 cents per bushel, cotton 9 dollars per hundred when ginned. I send to New Orleans once a year for sugar, and coffee and other things such as I need. I trade in horses, teams, sometimes. I have ten other teams, but one in fact, the property that I hold would command two thousand dollars, if I was to say so.

 

David belongs to the Baptist Church, as for my part, I am in no society, but a true believer in God and pin my faith in him, and not in man, and as your thinking, we can meet in the world to come, if you will look where the Sadducees questioned our Saviour, saying there was one woman, who had seven brothers to her husband, whose wife was she to be in the Last Day. He said, "there was neither marriage nor given in marriage there, for if the husband and wife is not known to Each other, it is certain that brothers won't. It may turn out that we may see each other in this life yet it would be a pleasing site to me to see you or any of my Relations or acquaintances. Don't forget to write to me and let me know how you and all the rest of my people are that is in your knowledge. Remember me to Phillip, Russel, and Rebecca, and to all of your children and also to all inquiring friends.

 

So I shall conclude by assorbing myself your Most Effectionate Brother until Death, place your Faith in God and not in men and I hope there will be no danger.

 

                                            Samul Russel

 

To Lewis Brewer and Agniss, his wife. Letter addressed as follows-

 

Alenfsetelment Feb. 14, 1830. Lewis Brewer, Elk Creek, State of Virginia, post office, in Grayson County

 

                                                               

 

LETTERS FROM HUGH L. HARRIS

 

January 1862

 

(Rosa Wilder Blackman, who owns the original of these letters, has given her permission for their printing here. She provides this information: "These letters were written to Uncle Tom Harris by his trother Hugh Lawson Harris while he was at Camp Carondelet during the Civil War. His brother Ben whom he mentions had passed away in Williamsburg, Virginia, and he hoped McC (Grandpa McCranie) would bring his body back home. Grandpa did, and Ben's body is in the old cemetery in Homer. When Hugh died, Grandpa went to Virginia to bring his body back, but he was arrested as a spy and held for seven weeks. It is said that Grandpa gave a sign - Masonic - to his guard and he was released. Of course Grandpa failed to bring home the body of Hugh, the writer of these letters.")

 

                                                                                Camp Carondelet Jan 10th 186-

 

                                                Dear Brother

 

     I seat myself tonight to write you a short letter hoping that it may find you and Ma's family in good health. I have been looking for a letter from you for some time, but it has not yet come. It looks to me like the family has entirely forgotten me, it seems that every other member of the company get letters from home but me. This is the second letter that I have written to you and one to the ______ one of the family and to Mc's family since I have received a letter from home. I think that some one of you might spend one hour every Sunday evening in writing to me. I have six or seven correspondents and I always fine plenty of time to write to them. If you can't get no other time you might write after all the rest was asleep. I am doing that very thing now, for my mess mates are all in bed fast asleep while I am writing to my dear and only Brother. When you write tell me what you are doing or going to this and who Ma has hired Jeff to this year and what she is getting for him. I have nothing more to write to you that would interest you. Tell Sallie when she writes to _________ Kinabrew this she may tell him that his Uncle Frank and Rusk are both in good health. I recom that you have heard of the death of Benj. F. Henry our second sargeant. He was a very clever young man and we regret his loss very much. I wrote to William and his brother in the ______ Regt. telling them of his death. He has been decently buried and a large stone erected at the head of the grave with his name and regt. engraved on it to mark the spot where he lyes. You and the rest of the family must write to me very often for I feel very lonely since we lost our Dear Brother. Give my love to Mc's family and Jeff and Cozziah and the children. Write soon to your devoted brother.

 

                                                                                Hugh L. Harris

 

                                                               

 

                                                                                                Camp Carondelet Jan 22 '62

 

                                                Mr. Thomas Harris

                                                Dear Brother

 

     As I have to sit up with the corpse of one of my mess mates, Blak Pate (?) I will you a letter in answer to one which I received from Ma dated Jan 9th in relation to the death our brother. I heard of his death too or three weeks ago but have not heard the particulars of his sickness. I tryed my best to get a furlough to go and see him but could not get it signed by the Coln. Capt. Capers did all that was in his power to get it for me but could not. Dr. Egan did also. I have written to Nick Capelin to write to me what became of his things and if he had any money and if so what became of it. I recom that it took all that he had to pay his Doctor bill and board. I wrote to Ma and Lucie as soon as I heard of his death but it seames that Ma has not received my letter. I want her to have him brought home if she can. John Reeder (?) received a letter from Capelin stating that he was going to bring him home. He said that they have been several days preparing him and Bob Kirkpatrick to send back. I received a letter from Lucie the other day. She has heard of the death of our brother Tom. Be sure and tell Capt. Capers that Pate is dead. I am sitting up with the corpe now. He died about three o'clock this evening. We dressed him in his new uniform and put on his cap and gaters or leggins. Our company is in very good health at present we have but three sick here in comp. A. One of them is Ole (?) Thurston. He is very sick with the pneumonia. I am in finer health than you ever saw me. I received 2 pairs of gloves today from Sister Sallie with a piece of paste board tacked to them and on the board she said that she was glad to hear that I was getting well. I would like to know how you all have heard that I was sick for I have not be really sick a single day since I left home. It is true that I have had the jaundice and the chollic but that did not make me sick much. I mean that I have not been in bed a day. I am very sorry to hear that the old lady Alford is dead. It seams that all of my old friends and acquaintances are dying. I see so many dead these days that I never think to ask who he is. The cause of a great many of these deaths is from exposure. They don't take any care of themselves at all. They will go on guard and lie down on the ground and sleep half the night without a single blanket and come off the next day with the pneumonia. When I am on guard I come to my house and go to bed and get some of them to come and wake me just before it comes my time to go on post. I go out and stand 2 hours and come back to bed. When our regiment mounts guard the best looking man and the neatest gun in the ranks is excused from guard duty for the day. I came off the other day. Olin Blackman gets off every time when he tryes but is on now. Our company has a new uniform and some one of us gets off nearly all the time. Tom be sure and send me some books by the Capn on his return. I had rather have novels if you can get them. You have never written to me whether you got the gold dollar which I sent you to pay for them or not. And be sure to send me a dictionary. If my watch is fixed send it. When you write tell me what has become of _____ Alford and Chally (?) since their mother's death. Capt Capers went off and forgotten the fine knife which I sent to McCranie. I believe that I have written all that is necessary. Give my love (to) Ma and Sallie and most especially to my little nephew Allin (McCranie) and his friends. Write soon to your brother

 

                                                                                [signed} Hugh L. Harris

 

P.S. Ask John Blythe why he don't answer my letter

 

LETTER FROM MARY THOMAS HOBDY KIMBELL

 

(Letter: From Mary Thomas Hobdy Kimbell (Tom) to her mother and father, Mary Jane and John Kimbell, who was sheriff of Claiborne for the year 1865. "Jud" is L. J. Kimbell, sheriff of Claiborne, 1866-1870, The Kimbell home, about 6 miles from Homer on the Homer-Harris road, was a landmark before it was destroyed by fire in the late 1920's. Ruth Gladney Featherston, granddaughter of L. J. Kimbell owns a photostat copy of the original letter and has given permission for its printing here.)

 

                                                                                Limestone County, Mt. Calm, Texas

                                                                                June the 27th, 1874

 

My Dear Ma & Pa

 

     Your letter brimful of news, was received a few days ago, and was highly appreciated by me, the first and only letter I have received since I left home. We are both well, only Jud is complaining a little. I am afraid he is going to have a spell of bilious fever. I was sick last week had a spell of bilious fever, like I had last summer at home not quite as severe. . .. I can't say that I missed your good nursing, for Jud was very kind and good and waited on me as much as any one possibly could . . . I reckon you think we are moving around considerably. I'll have to explain it all. We have a gentle good buggy horse and tolerable good strong buggy. We first came down to Limestone which is about 50 miles. Our object was to exchange places with Mrs. Graves a widow of preacher Graves' Brother (the Corryelle place I mean) While down here, we heard we could get a school near Mt. Calm. This way of paying $20 for board in silver, money going out and none coming in, don't suit my economical notions, you know. We went back to Corryelle, washed up, starched and ironed our clothes. Jud helps me wash. At first I would not hear to his helping me, but now I don't think I could do hardly a tall without him. We are grangers, you know, and must live at home as much as we can. They charge such high prices for washing, enough of that. We only staid with Mrs. Gage 8 days. Jud paid her pretty high for that. We went around prospecting and visiting, first to Mrs. Parks. Tell Joe I saw more than she did, not only saw the beautiful spring rushing down like a torrent with the great rock overshadowing it, farther on the great wall of rock high as a house looking so white, but we went over big rocks, ever ever so many into a large cave higher than my head. Our back gallery is a tolerable representation. Imagine it all rock. Mr. Parks told me the dimensions of the cave I was in, but I've forgotten. There were several smaller caves around but they looked too dark in there for me. Mr. Parks said he had been ever so far in them. While viewing these sublime works of nature, a feeling of awe and reverence comes o'er us. For beauty and variety of scenery, I think Texas must surpass most of the states. I believe I am falling in love with it, so that I will want to live nowhere else. From Mr. Parks we went to Mr. Wallaces, from there to Mr. Nolands spent the night with them, to Mr. McClendons next, staid three or four days with them, enjoyed myself finely.

 

Tell Nin I've fallen in love with Mrs. McClendon. She is a mighty good woman, from there to Mr. Knowling in the neighborhood of Mr. Turnipseed and Mr. Pancake. We went to our place on the Brazos. I like the looks of it very much. The cotton looked well and so did the corn needing more work though. Some of the corn was planted over again that didn't look fine. The house has two rooms with a piazza between, to one side of the room another piazza and a kitchen a tolerable good well of water. The soil seems to be very easy to cultivate, the renter was complaining of the crabgrass. I can't tell you all the places I have been to. I tell Jud I believe I know more people here than I do in La. I am afraid I am wearying you with my foolish talk. I pieced me up a quilt the week before I got sick & have been filling it out with white this week. I have knit up all the thread you gave me, except a little ball. I'll keep that for darning etc. He says he has enough socks for awhile. He told some of his friends he believed I was going to have him a suit for every day in the week. I haven't made him but four shirts & two pair of  drawers, he has enough clothes to do him a good while. I have a pair of pants to make for him but would not trouble with them this week. Wouldn't you laugh to see me cutting them and jerk the scissors away and say you would do as good with your eyes shut. We are boarding. I told you what I had done to let you know that lazziness hasn't taken possession of me quite. You must remember that I have been traveling around most of the time. I thought I would write some to Joe and Nin in this letter but have not. They can read it that will do as well. You know when I write to one I write to all. We are boarding with Mrs. Graves. I like her very much. We have a private room all ceiled, two glass windows to it. Her house cost $800, upstairs to it, it is a frame house. She has a well of water have to haul it though a good little piece. Our school commenced this week. Think he will have 30 or 35 scholars.

 

If he gets a pretty full school I will assist him. Give my love to all, tell John to write to me. Joe, Nin, Fan & Billie won't write. Write soon I know you & Pa will make fun of this silly letter

 

                                                                                                Tom

 

If Jud can get into some business perhaps I'll teach the school myself.

 

MISCELLANY

 

By Rosa Wilder Blackman

 

Formula for making lye soap.

 

     Into the hopper which was a large barrel mounted on a sloping platform, oak ashes from the wood-burning fire-places were dumped and covered with a lid to keep dry until used. On the day the soap making took place, water was poured over the ashes. When the liquid lye drained down the trough into containers it was then emptied into an iron pot under which a fire had been made. When the lye boiled, grease was added by putting in old meat scraps, lard, meat skins, and bones. If the hopper had not produced enough strong lye, a ball of lye about the size of a base-ball was purchased from a store and added to the mixture. This ball of lye had a thick coating of pine resin to protect the hands while handling. When ready to use, the soap was reddish brown in color and was about the consistency of thick cream. Soap was kept in barrels and a long handled gourd was used for dipping out. This soap was excellent for scrubbing kitchen floors before covering them with sand.

 

Amusements.

 

     Several tent shows made yearly visits. M. L. Clark traveled overland, his trained ponies pulling the wagons. Clark had several gaily colored cages that housed his "vicious" animals. Haag's Almighty owned a caliope. The show wintered in Shreveport on Fairfield Avenue where Mr. Haag owned a large two-story home on spacious grounds. Here the wild animals were kept behind bars.

 

     After the Kinnebrew Opera House opened for business, theatrical troops played for one-week stands. Their repertoire consisted of Uncle Tom's Cabin, East Lynne, Way Down East, and Ten Nights in a Bar-room. Ladies wore their best. Their hair was "crimped" by curling irons, which were heated by placing them in the glass chimney of a coal-oil lamp. Hair was frequently scorched. Faces were not camouflaged by make-up; only perfumed white powder, known as Lily White, was used. Artificial flowers were pinned in the hair.

 

     Paul English's company played to full houses. In the summer the shows were given under a tent and in the winter in the Opera House. Clarence Covington was the advance agent and often was a stand-in for a disabled actor for "the show must go on." He supported Paul English who played the lead in The Awakening of John Slater. Two of English's players made the grade in the theatrical world. John Considine is now a character actor in Hollywood and Jeanne Eagles, deceased, made famous the play Rain in which she starred as Sadie Thompson.

 

     Home talent was not to he overlooked. Parts for the Old Folks Concert were taken by grandmas and grandpas. Mrs. J. A. Richardson's singing "Darling Nellie Gray" and playing her own accompaniment and Mr. Keener's fiddling brought down the house. The Old Maid's Convention, with C. O. Ferguson as "Professor Makeover", was a great success. The professor had the power to change an old maid into anybody she wished to be; all that was necessary was to place her in a large wooden box and turn a crank. Miss May Ragland's lines were: "Backward, turn backward, O time in thy flight, make me a child again, just for tonight."

 

At school.

 

     In the late 1880's, Mrs. Outlaw taught the first reader class in the old red brick, Grecian type, school building. The reader used was Swinton's First Reader. One page of lesson one read: "The pig puts his nose in the dish and eats all the bread and milk. What a funny pig."

 

     The only heat available was furnished from a wood burning fireplace. This did not give sufficient heat to warm the large classroom and as a, result, many pupils suffered through the winter months with frost bitten heels. Above the mantel, over the fireplace, in a semi-circle of black lettering on the white plastered walls were these lines: "Honor and shame from one condition rise; act well your part, there all the honor lies."

 

     Several water wells were dug on the spacious school grounds, but the water was distasteful, and the water from a brick walled cistern was unsatisfactory, also. Older pupils carrying buckets were sent to a spring that was near - where the swimming pool is today. All Pupils drank from the same tin dipper.

 

Did You Know That...

 

     The Court House originally was of red brick with white columns and green blinds at the windows on the lower floor. The windows were larger than those now in the building and the panes of glass were smaller. The original windows were replaced by the smaller ones with four large panes. Cut-outs in the original window frames show where the blinds were hung.

 

.....High-topped shoes made cf soft vici-kid had thin leather soles and shoes for the right and left feet were identical. The most popular size was a three, E width.

 

.....During the oil-boom of 1918, the light plant was taxed to capacity. Lights were turned off at 12 midnight. Coal oil lamps and candles were again in use.

 

.....A cook was paid $2.00 a month for milking a cow and cooking three meals a day. A house, wood, and coal oil were provided and her family was fed from the kitchen in which she worked.

 

Early Transport Service and An Old Cemetery

 

By Gilbert C. Owens

 

Early transport service.

 

     Hardy Christian leaders weathered much hardship and suffered many disappointments as they came west in covered wagons from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. They cleared out the wilderness, built log homes and churches, and helped to lay a foundation for a better way of life for all.

 

     Grandfather Owens drove an ox-team in a covered wagon train that hauled cotton from the Arcadia, Tulip. and Aycock areas. There were several trains that hauled to Shreve Landing (Shreveport) west and Trenton (Monroe) east. They would bring back freight to these communities. When Dorcheat was full of water there was a boat landing at Overton, south of Minden. At one time this community was in what was then Claiborne Parish, and it was the parish seat. Captain Miller, and the father of Prescott and Eustis Smith each operated a train. The oxen could pull much more than horses could, over the mud and boggy trails or roads. There was a real problem west of Overton in the fall, when hauling was heavy and when there was much rain, The Shed Road, a toll road, was built to keep the road dry for many miles. I have heard Grandfather tell of some of the troubles of that day. There was a camp site about half way along the Shed Road where the trains could pass. The road itself was not wide enough to permit passing. Some of the wagon masters would not wait and when two trains met and the ground was wet and boggy, trouble would start. It would take several days for a bogged-down train to get back on the road. Pack horses and saddle horses were important, too; they were used by doctors and preachers and for carrying mail.

 

     Uncle Tom A. Owens, when a young man, rode mail from Arcadia north to Aycock and other stops. I have heard him tell of many interesting experiences in his early life. One such experience was at the age of seven when he started to school in the Sugar Creek area. The teacher was Monroe Baker, who believed in children obeying his orders. Now Uncle Tom had never seen a stage coach and the school was on or near the stage road. He heard hollering and the cracking of whips as the stage climbed the hill near by. He left his seat and started to the door, not heeding the teacher's stern order to return to his seat. He got to see the stage coach but he got a real whipping, too. He said he would always remember his first stage coach and where he saw it.

 

An old cemetery.

 

     The Indian Trail from Natchitoches to Chicago passed where I now live - on the line of Ward 6 and 7, north and south. Less than a mile from where I grew up and attended a one-room school known as Walnut Grove School is located an old cemetery which was used as a place of rest for Indians, whites, Civil War soldiers, and Negroes - some slave and some free. I have two relatives of the Crossland family, resting there. When a small boy I would go there with my Grandmother Owens. We would carry flowers, clean off the graves, and place the flowers on them. She would tell me of the history of the old cemetery and her experiences as a young child. The Civil War dead that rest in this old cemetery were once prisoners or sick or wounded. They had been brought to a hospital and prison camp located here, far away from the battle grounds, and disease took a heavy toll. I have visited this cemetery many times; now it is unknown to most of the people of this parish.

 

Old Cemetery, Homer

 

By Ladelle Duke

 

     The Old Cemetery, which one passes coming into Homer on West Third, is almost as old as the town itself. Behind its low iron fence rests a quiet area of great oaks, ancient cedars, beautiful magnolias, and stately pines. Within it can be found much of the history of a century.

 

     One of the first tombstones encountered by the visitor and the tallest in the cemetery is that which marks the graves of a mother and her twin children. The stone is in the form of a woman with a child on each arm; the inscription tells of the death of the three.

 

     The old grave markers and tombstones tell many stories of the past. Some who are buried here died from the effects of tragedy, epidemics, and war. The markers reflect the courage and bravery of a pioneer people settling in a new land. Here history can be seen and it assumes a reality of which we may not be aware elsewhere. On many markers the place of birth is given and thus we have an index of the origin of those who came to Homer and Claiborne Parish to settle and develop it. A complete census of the cemetery is yet to be made, and to name some who have been buried there would mean that many were omitted, but from a walk through the grounds it is evident that the oldest markers date back to 1858. Many are not readable. There are more than a dozen brick vaults, with marble slabs. The inscriptions on these are read with difficulty but they probably bear later dates.

 

     Many of the graves are a century old, but attracting attention at this time is a new tombstone the inscription of which reads: Robert Tillinghast Vaughn, born March 21, 1845 - died October 12, 1879. He was a descendant of Tillinghast Vaughn who contributed and sold land in this area and whose son Frank named the town.

 

     The cemetery still sees occasional burials, mostly in old family plots. The forebears of many prominent families in Homer are buried there. In its shaded quiet is the final resting place of a people who came here to live and to build a town.

 

                                                               

 

A Sampling of Claiborne Genealogy

 

By Alma Green Blanton

 

     John Wise, I, born in 1617 at Devenshire, England, came to Virginia in 1635. During the years 1640 to 1781, these generations followed: John Wise II, III, IV, V, and James Wise. James Wise, 1781- 1858, married Amelia Miller in 1807 and some years later moved, by way of Mississippi, with their nineteen children to Gordon. (1) One of their sons, Ambrose (1820-1895) married Mahanah O'Bannon in 1840, near Lisbon, at the home of Hahanah's sister, Mrs. A. S. Nolan. (2) To this union, eleven children were born. One of these children was Nathanial who married Louise Cargille. They had three children, one of whom was Lillian, (3) who married Jessie William Green in 1888 at Sharon community, near Lisbon. (4) They reared seven children, the eldest of whom was Alma Lucille, who in 1909 married William Albert Blanton.

 

     It was in the home of James Wise that the Friendship Baptist Church, the first Baptist Church in Gordon, was organized. Ambrose and Mahanah Wise were charter members of Rocky Springs Church and Sharon Church. They purchased and donated the land on which today stands Sharon Church and its cemetery. Ambrose Wise owned the first cotton gin in the Sharon community. Nathaniel Wise owned the first cotton gin in the Summerfield community. Lillian Wise Green attended Keatchie College, a forerunner of Louisiana College. "Aunt Lillian" as she was affectionately known, was a life member of Sharon Church.

 

1. James and Amelia Wise are buried at Gordon.

2. Ambrose and Mahannah Wise are buried at Sharon.

3. Nathaniel Wise is buried at Houston, Texas; Louise Wise is buried at Hebron

4. Jessie W. and Lillian Green are buried at Sharon.

 

{Also see "Page 113-Homer Department Club" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

GONE ARE THE DAYS

 

By Mary Land Hodges

 

     On what we used to call "Ferguson Hill" the old home stands out in my memory as if it was only yesterday. This home, built before the Civil War, had a huge cellar where sweet potatoes were stored, and because of the many legends of hidden treasure we kids in the neighborhood used to dig constantly with no tangible results.

 

     There was at one time a big peach orchard, and when I was very small my mother used to pin notes on me saying "Do not let little Mary eat any bananas", but Uncle Drew would take me out to the orchard and I would eat as many peaches as I could hold - which probably saved my life.

 

     For so long I did not really like domesticated meat or fowl, because the clients my father had would just come in the night and leave a possum, coon or ducks on the door-step. He was never any good at collecting fees, but good at collecting friends.

 

     I always say the only law I know was through absorption for I was forced to sit in the court room from three years upward.

 

     At this time Lucy West used to work for us, and always after dinner my father would provoke an argument on law. Lucy would then run in the front room and say "Mister Tom, you want I would get out the Silver Goud" – of course meaning the Civil Code.

 

     The only real spanking I ever had was when I took off my shoes (against orders), and walked up to McCaslands through the sand. Mr. McCasland washed my feet but when I got home the sand still showed.

 

     The next trouble I got in was that all the family were watching a circus parade from the foot of "Ferguson Hill", and when they saw me bringing up the rear of the parade on foot I really caught it.

 

     The biggest thrill in life was to go to the Fair Grounds, and what with peanuts in hand see all the side shows.

 

     In these days we did not have too much of everything as we have today so life was wonderful with simple things - as it always should be – for champagne every day will soon lose it's flavor.

 

The Kinard House in Summerfield

 

By Lois L. Kinard

 

     This house is over one hundred years old. The lumber in it is still in good condition. It consists of four rooms and an open hall. On one of the mantels "WELCOME" is printed and on another "HOME SWEET HOME."

 

     The design on one of the ceilings is reproduced here. Ceilings are twelve feet high. The rooms are eighteen feet square. The door of the room with the heavenly ceiling is 36 inches by 82 inches. The four windows in the room consist of 12 panes each; each pane is 12 by 18 inches.

 

     The house was built by the Chandlers. Reverend C. P. Kinard bought it when he moved to this community from Arkansas. It is still in use as a home.

 

{Also see "Page 115-Kinard House Ceiling Design" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

First Woman to Vote in Claiborne Parish

 

     When Mrs. Callie Akin of Haynesville was given special permission to vote on the stock law around 1897 she became the first woman to vote in Claiborne Parish.

 

     Mrs. Akin, at that time was Mrs. Callie Hearn, widow of Flavius Josephus Hearn. As a livelihood for herself and small child she lived on and managed a farm two miles west of Haynesville. At that time there was no stock law and all stock ran out. This of course necessitated fencing in the crops. The issue of the stock law was to keep the stock fenced up and leave the fields unfenced.

 

     Due to the heavy cost imposed on her of keeping up long lanes of split rail fences she asked for and received permission from the Police Jury to vote for the stock law. This she did and the law was passed in approximately 1897.

 

                                                               

 

{Also see "Page 117-Promissory Note", "Page 118-Nationality Report of 1875", and "Page 120-Herbert Smith Ford" in the corresponding photo album located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parish History: Historic Claiborne '69, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

Submitter: Claiborne Parish Historical Association

File Preparer:  Jerry Gallagher

 

USGenWeb NOTICE: Libraries and individual researchers may download this file for personal,  non-commercial use only.  Any other use requires written permission from the transcriber. The submitter has given permission to the USGenWeb Archives to store the file permanently for free access.

 

                         Historic Claiborne '69

 

The Fourth Publication of

The Claiborne Parish Historical Association

 

The Claiborne Parish Historical Association

Homer, Louisiana

1969

 

{Also see "Frontispiece" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

Claiborne Parish Sketches     1956

Historic Claiborne            1962

Historic Claiborne '65        1965

Historic Claiborne '69        1969

 

The Haynesville News, printers

Haynesville, Louisiana

                               

PREFACE

 

Historic Claiborne '69 is the fourth publication of our Association. Again we express our thanks to those who have contributed articles and pictures and to those who in other ways have encouraged our Association's efforts in the preservation of the past. Some have called to our attention suitable materials; others have assured us that our earlier publications are well received and are serving their purpose. As proof of the generosity of our contributors there are already in Association files some materials for a fifth publication-items which we could not include in Historic Claiborne '69 since there must be a reasonable limit to the volume's size. Our thanks to these contributors for their understanding. It is hoped that the authors will find acceptable any editing which has been necessitated by one of the several considerations under which the editor must work and the editor appreciates their acceptance of responsibility for accuracy in the materials they submit.

 

Our special thanks to our printer whose patience and tolerance have been considerable.

 

                                        Henry A. Smith, president, Claiborne

                                             Parish Historical Association

 

                                        Sue Hefley, editor

                               

                     William Charles Cole Claiborne

 

"Claiborne is one of the oldest parishes, having been organized in 1828, and was named for Mr. W. C. C. Claiborne, our first governor." The Haynesville News, April 28, 1938.

 

(Editor's note;  The following account, with slight rearrangement of the text, is taken with permission from William C. C. Claiborne, by Elizabeth Kell, a booklet prepared and distributed commemorating the opening of the Governor Claiborne Office, National American Bank of New Orleans, November 30, 1982. Portions taken directly from the booklet have been enclosed in quotation marks. Other portions are to be considered editorial additions.)

 

     "Claiborne was born in Sussex County, Virginia, in 1775, of a family which had helped form the new Republic. After brief years at Richmond Academy and William and Mary College, his father sent him out at the age of 15 to make his own way, with only $50 to his name. The young man went to New York City, at that time the nation's capital, where he copied bills and resolutions of Congress and its committees. When the capital moved to Philadelphia, Claiborne went with it, He served as a clerk, closely associated with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and John Sevier, congressman, Territory of Southern Ohio (Tennessee). He later went to Richmond, where he studied law, then moved to Tennessee. Now the Governor of Tennessee, Sevier first appointed Claiborne justice of the state supreme court, and later, Congressman. Claiborne was only 22 at the time.

 

     "It was Claiborne who cast the deciding vote for Jefferson for president and Jefferson, in turn, appointed him Governor of the Territory of Mississippi in 1801. During his tenure in Mississippi Claiborne founded Jefferson College, negotiated Indian treaties, built roads, organized the militia, set up legal codes and incorporated the city of Natchez."

 

    Claiborne served as a commissioner to receive Louisiana from France. The transfer took place in the Cabildo, the Place d'Armes in New Orleans on December 20, 1803. On March 26, 1804, Congress established the territory of Orleans and on October 2, 1804 Claiborne was sworn in as territorial governor. The 33d parallel marked the northern boundary of the territory; it now marks the northern boundary of the state of Louisiana.

 

    "When Claiborne arrived in New Orleans to take possession of Louisiana, he found a city of 10,000 who, despite Spanish domination since 1764, were almost wholly French in temperament, race, and speech. It included 11 squares of city proper, plantations up and down the river, indigo planting which was gradually giving way to sugar, and a port which was even then a great funnel of commerce for the Mississippi Valley . . . His appointment as territorial governor gave him civil, judicial, and military powers . . . He immediately set to work and established courts, a City Council, a police force and a militia. He formed the parishes (1) and appointed commandants, sheriffs, marshals, and judges for the parishes. He dreamed of a public school in every parish and in 1811 urged that a surplus fund in the Treasury be appropriated for education of the youth of Louisiana.

 

    In addition to furthering education, Claiborne saw to the establishment of a Chamber of Commerce, a Marine hospital, a quarantine station, a Board of Health, the disposal of sewage far out in the River, enlargement of Charity Hospital, work for jail prisoners, and mail routes to Natchez. He urged the use of steam for sugar factories after the first steamboat came to New Orleans in 1812 and was one of the early conservationists, advocating preservation of the State's great forests for ship-building.

 

    "It is no wonder, then, that the hard-working Claiborne was the people's choice for Governor when, in 1812, the Territory became a State. Although by law Claiborne could not be elected to again succeed himself as Governor, Louisiana was not willing to let him retire from public life and in 1817 elected him U.S. Senator . .  But Claiborne did not live to assume his duties as senator. Just two weeks after leaving the Governor's office, he died. The L'AMI DES LOIS reported it as follows:

 

     Monday, November 24, 1817-Died last night at half past eight o'clock, the honorable William Charles Cole Claiborne, formerly Governor of this State and when he died, Senator in the Congress of the United States. His funeral will proceed from the Government House this day, at 4 o'clock, P.M. He expired last night at 8:30 following a long and painful malady. He was beloved by all his neighbors and was hospitable until he was obliged to be carried to town by the progress of the malady which took him to the tomb . . . The regrets which his passing  occasions are shared by those who were on many occasions his political enemies but who appreciate none the less his probity, his patriotism and his brilliance.

 

"Claiborne was buried in the grounds of Christ Episcopal Church. of which he was a member . . . Later, his body was moved to St. Louis No. I Cemetery, and finally to Metairie Cemetery, where his descendents rest.

 

   "While he climbed the heights in his public life, Claiborne's personal life was beset with tragedies. He lost his first two wives and his first child from yellow fever. He himself almost died of the dread disease. . .

 

   "Meticulous with public and personal finances, Claiborne found New Orleans far beyond his means with his $400 a month salary as Territorial Governor. . .In 1804 he wrote that 'necessary private expenditures far exceed my salary; am in debt $1,200 with only $150 in the house and not a cent due me from the U.S. . . . and unless my successor should be a man of fortune, I will predict his bankruptcy in about three or four years.'

 

   "A letter to his brother, Colonel Ferdinand L. Claiborne, speaker of the House of Representatives, Mississippi Territory, revealed the following personal financial plight:

 

     The cotton you sent me sometime since was sold at the highest  market price and the net proceeds were 525 dollars and 46 cents. It results that there is still due me on account of the carriage and horses sold you $521.24, and for the payment I must request you to make me a  emittance of cotton. I wish this the more, since the carriage ordered for Mrs. Claiborne arrived and costs me $700, of which $300 remains unpaid. I have also to pay $400 for a pair of horses which I have purchased, and really without your assistance I shall feel great difficulty in meeting my engagements. I will sell your cotton for the highest price and will give you credit for what it will bring. My dear Clarice sends her affectionate wishes to yourself and family. May God bless you and yours.

 

   "Claiborne had married his third wife, Suzette Bosque, November 8, 1812, following his election as Governor of the new State. Their children were: Charles, who never married, and Sophronia, who married Mandeville de Marigny . . . According to the genealogical records, Sophronia's three children left no heirs. However, Claiborne's son, William, by his second wife, had seven sons and three daughters and it is from his sons that are descended the generations of Claibornes who have played an important role in the social and civic life of New Orleans. Of the three daughters, Marie died as a child and Lucie and Clarisse never married.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1. Editor's note: 'The first act passed at the second session of the first legislature,. approved March 31, 1807, divided the territory into nineteen parishes: Ascension, Assumption, Atakapas, Avoyelles, Baton Rouge, Concordia,Iberville, Lafourche, Interior, Natchitoches, Orleans, Ouachita, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupe, Rapides, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James. St. John the Baptist, and St Landry. . ."  The Story of Louisiana  by Edwin Adams Davis, Hyer Publishing Co., 1960, Vol 1

 

{Also see "Page 3-Receipt" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

                  Revolutionary War (1775-1783) Soldiers

                    Spend Their Last Days in Claiborne

                     Research by Margueritte G. Nation

 

   The 1840 United States census of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana gives the names of two South Carolina Revolutionary War veterans who migrated to this parish during the 1820-1830 period.

 

   JETHRO BUTLER born 1761 in Bertie Co. N. C., moved to South Carolina at an early age. He was living in Salem District when he enlisted in the army and served as a Private, Spy and Fifer to 1779 with the South Carolina troops under Capts. James McDanile, Daniel Maysick, Cols. Motte Oree, Hunger and Francis Marion. He reinlisted in South Carolina and served to the end of the war being in the battles of Fort Johnson, Fort Moultree, Stoner Ferry, siege of Savannah, Georgia, Monk's Corner and Quinby's Bridge. Later he went with Gen. Howe on an expedition to East Florida, where he was taken prisoner by the British and held three months in a dungeon at St. Augustine, Florida. He was commissioned a Captain of a company of Militia in the Western Regiment Charleston Dist. South Carolina, called the Four Hole Company.

 

   At the close of the Revolutionary War the state of South Carolina had no money with which to pay her soldiers, they were given Bounty Lands for their services, Jethro Butler drew 350 acres.

 

   After the war Jethro Butler, his wife (name not found) whom he had married in South Carolina and several children joined the great migration west. They went first to the state of Georgia where they remained a few years, then on to Mississippi.

 

   Always there was the urge among our pioneers to move further west, so when lands in newly formed Claiborne Parish, Louisiana became available Jethro Butler and his tribe left their homes in Mississippi and settled farms in Sections 22 and 23 Township 20 Range 6 of Claiborne Parish.

 

   In 1835 Jethro Butler applied to the United States Government for a Revolutionary War Soldier's pension, which was granted and paid to him at the Louisiana Agency.

 

   The Louisiana Pension Agency Book which is in the National Archives Washington D. C., shows that Jethro Butler died April 9, 1841 and his only heirs were: Ramson, Britton, Wm.R., Issac, Samuel and Richmond Butler. Mary, Eliza and Ann Butler who lived in Claiborne, Bienville and Ouachita Parishes, Louisiana.

 

References: Revolutionary War Pension Application records. National Archives, Washington, D. C. 1830-1840 United States Census Records, Claiborne  Parish, La Claiborne Parish, La. Courthouse records.

 

   BENJAMINE GOODSON, Revolutionary War soldier was born 1750 about 30 miles below Compden (Camden?) on Lynches Creek, S. C.

 

   He first served in the war as a substitute for Jesse Merun and was captured when Charleston, South Carolina fell to the British. He was placed in prison and when released joined the Army under Gen. Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox) with whom he served to the end of the war. He was engaged in the battle against the Tories on Little Pee Dee river near Smith's Mill, against the British on the Big Santee river in South Carolina and in most all the expeditions and marches made by General Marion from the time he entered the Army until discharged.

 

   Soon after the close of the war Benjamine Goodson went to the state of Georgia for a few years, then removed to Franklin Co. Miss. He was married March 21, 1809 to Dorothy ___ (her last name and the location not found).

 

   John Ratcliff, James Cain and John Hughes a clergyman, swore to a character reference for Benjamine Goodson a minister when he applied for a soldier's pension in 1831. The pension was granted in the amount of $60.00 per year and paid by the United States agencies at Natchez and Jackson, Mississippi.

 

   About 1835 Benjamine Goodson and his family came to Claiborne Parish and entered land in Township 21 Range 6. He died May 26, 1851 being a little over one hundred years old, survived by his wife Dorothy and possibly descendants. In 1854 Dorothy Goodson applied for Bounty Land in Claiborne Parish due her as the widow of a Revolutionary war soldier.

 

Reference:     Revolutionary War Pension Application records.

     National Archives, Washington, D. C.

     United States Census records Mississippi 1820

     United States Census records Claiborne Parish, La, 1840-1850

                               

                          Teapot with a History

                         By Nancy Meadors Hawkins

 

   This silver teapot was originally owned by Martha Hanna Norwood White, born April 12, 1829. She was the wife of Daniel White whose brother Clement White was married to Martha Todd, sister of Mary Todd, wife of Abraham Lincoln. On various occasions tea from this pot was served to President Lincoln and his wife.

 

   In Irving Stone's biographical novel* about Mary Todd, reference is made to"her sister Martha and husband, also living in Alabama" and again to "her sister Martha, married to Captain White of Alabama with whom Mary Todd Lincoln's mother lived."

 

   Martha and Daniel lived in Mabama, then moved to Orlando, Florida where she was widowed. After three successive freezes she lost her orange groves and then moved to Arkansas where she made her home with her niece, Martha Powell Atkins at Parkdale. Subsequently she moved to Claihorne Parish, making her home with her sister Margaret King Norwood Blackman, near Arizona. When Tqar-garet broke up housekeeping, the two went to live with Margaret's daughter, Iola Grigsby Blackman Brown, in Junction City, where Martha is buried.

 

   The teapot is now in the possession of Margaret Louise Collman Keel, of El Dorado, Arkansas, who is the great-great niece of its first owner.

 

*Love is Eternal, by Irving Stone. Doubleday 1954

 

{Also see "Page 9-Teapot" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                    Letters of A North Louisiana Private

                           to His Wife, 1862-1865

 

Editor's note.  These letters, as edited by John A. Cawthon, appeared in The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, March 1944. The Review is no longer published and the copynght for Review material is held by the organization American Historians which has given permission for reprinting.  Dr. Cawthon editor of the letters, first called to our attention their suitability for our publication.  Space will not permit the inclusion here of all the letters. The date and place of writing, the recounting of details which show conditions of the time, and the specific mention of Claihorne have determined selection. Also because of space limitations, it has been recessary to omit almost all of Dr. Cawthon's excellent docmentation.

 

Dr. Cawthon says that "Henry T. Morgan, who wrote the letters, lived in Claiborne Parish, near Shongaloo, and the longing for home was always for Claiborne." As an introduction to the letters as they appeared in the Review, Dr. Cawthon comments:

 

     "The original series contains twenty-three letters by Private Morgan, 31st Louisiana Infantry, Confederate States Army, and two letters by his wife, Ellen Elliot Morgan, who was at home in charge of a pine woods farm on Indian Creek in the north-western section of hilly Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. The letters are in the possession of Mary Lou Morgan Carraway, Sarepta, Louisiana, daughter of the writer. . .Henry's own unique spelling has been retained. Morgan's reports indicate that the following conditions were prevalent in Confederate camps: (1) private soldiers were homesick and weary of war; (2) men were inclined to be religious; (3) food and clothing were scarce; (4) there was a decline of morale during the last months of the war."

 

THE LETTERS:

 

                                                  Monroe, La. Aug 21 1862

My Dear Baptist. . .

 

     I take this opportunity in droping you a few lines to let you no that i am not well yet but i hope that when these few lines comes to hand they will find you all well. Tobe still has the fever. He has had a fever 7 or 8 days. He is very sick. I dont no whether he is any better or not. Ellen i will send you 20 dollards by Mr. Marshal and i want you to give it to Pop to take care of it fore you. Dont spend it foolishly fore it is preshes. Wee havnt got a dime yet fore our services. Ellen i was perfectly thunder struck when I heered that you had joined the Baptist and i havent got over it yet. I dont believe that you wood have joined the Baptist if i had been at home, but you must act fore your self in this case. You said that you wished that i was at home to join the church. Have you forgotten that I belong to the Methodis?  Or do you call that a  church? You have woonded my fealings very much in the way you have acted. Eflen live a christian life and it dont matter so much about the church. I will quit this subject as it dont suit you as you are a Baptist and i am a Methodis. Ellen I had a hard time of it gitting away from the Yankees. I was sick and very weak but i got threw safe. I lost nothing but my big knife and haversack, but I suffered death almost. I was plum exhausted and i havent got over it yet. Several bums flew clost to me and bursted. Ed Sanders and Calven Sanders is I expect taken prisonders. I havent heared from them yet. I dont no that anybody was kild. Wee warent able to fight them. Our men was most all sick but i believe that wee will give them fits yet. I remain yourse untill death. Good by Baptist. Bee a good girl. Live in the faith of Christ and meat me in Heaven.

 

                                                  Henry T. Morgan.

 

     I want some shirts very bad or i will be without soon. If you have any cloth or can git any make me some and send the first good chance as i don’t expect to come home soon. I would like to come home and see my Baptist very bad but i cant come yet. Home sweet home i long to bee there. Have you made any corn any potaties or anything at all to eat? Tell me all about it in the next letter. I want to no how you are gitting along. Good by Ellen and children. Have you got the wheat thrashed? How much did you make?    H. T. M.

 

                                                  Oct Delhi La Oct 23 1862

 

My Dear Ellen

 

     I have got the gandes.(1) I feel very bad . . . I got your letter that you sent by Capt Baucum this morning and the vest. I wish you had put sleeves to it. Ellen i have lost one of my new shirts. I give it to a negro to wash and he lost it. Tobe got hear yesterday. He had a light chill last night . .  Ellen wee have a hard time hear. Beef and bread is our diet. I dont no what i wood give fore a mess of bacon and collards ore something else, i dont care what so it aint beef. . .We have got our muskets and wee have to send our shot guns home. Me and Tobe will send our guns to Wiseville by R. Cump. He Will leave tomorow. Tell Pop to go and git them. I have lost James Matthes gun but i think i will git pay fore it. I dont no when. Ellen tell Mahala that J. W. Sims is well. Dock is well. Watt is well. Will you hug and kiss the sweet babes fore me? I think you will as i cant have that pleasure. I want to see you all very bad and the old mans folks and the neighborhood generally. No more at present .  . Good by      Ellen and children.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan

 

                                                  Trinton La November the 2 1862

 

My Dear Companion. . .

 

     wee have got back to Trinton. Wee got hear on the 20th day of Oct . . I am taken medisen every day. I am gittin tired of taken medisen. I have taken medisen from eight different doctors since i have been sick. Bill is gone to vicksburg. I havent seen him in a long time. He past our camp last Friday night about eleven o'clock. I have been tole he went off sick. I wood like to see him but he is gone maybe never to return but i hope that wee all may return home some day to our wives and children and fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and be a happy peopel again . . . Our officers is very tite on us. No furlows is granted now. We have got cloath to make our uniforms. I dont no how wee will git it made yet. Some say that there will be details made to carry cloath home to have it made. If that be the case i hope that i will be one of them . . . If you want to come to see me come. You know the road and distance.

 

Bee Good.

                                                  H. T. M.

 

                                                  Miss vicksburg Dee the 3 1862

 

Dear Ellen. . .

 

     i expect wee will stay hear all winter if the yankeys dont whip us out. Wee have had a hard time for the last 2 weeks moveing about the cars running off the tracks. She run off three times with us. It was a serious time. Ed Sanders got his thy broke. I believe nobody else was bad hert. Ellen wee have been 175 miles in Miss and i tell you that i liked to frozed to death  . . I saw Brother William yesterday. He is in a hospital hear . . . He is the porest human you ever saw but he says he is gittin better. I give him ten dollars and Tohe give him ten. He has had pneumoney . . . Wee are campt between 2 very high hills. Ellen thare is about 10 thousand soldiers hear. Wee expect a battle hear before long. Wee have a hard time in the ware. I do wish that the ware wood come to a close but the prospect is very gloomy. Ellen i heared from your Pa the other day. He is well. Ellen i got your letters that you sent by Pete and Gladden. (2) I was glad to hear from you all and to see Loo's hand marked off but i wood be a heap gladder to see her. You dont no how bad i want to see you and the children and the folks generally on Indian Creek . . . all the pleasure i have in camps is when i git a letter to read. Tell John and Mary and the old folks to write . . . Direct letters to Vicksburg. Good by

 

                                                  H.T.M.

 

                                                  Vicksburg Miss Dee 23 1862

 

My Dear Ellen. . .

 

     My health is very good except a bad cold and the ich . . . I have been vaccinated and my arm is very soar and Tobe's too and a heap of others in the same fix. Ellen i dont no a thing to write that is worth a sent. I hear a heap but it is most all storys and i dont wish to tell you a ly. Ellen my over shirt is worth 10 dollars. It is splendid and my blanket keeps me warm of a night. I hate to ware my shirt as Tobe hante gote one. He wants one very bad. I wish you had made him one too. The boys says i have got the best shirt in camps and that makes it splendid. Wimmin is the best things on earth hante they? Yes i say they are the best on earth. Ellen the watter hear is very bad; the beef is pore. Ellen Christmas is all most hear. What will you do that day? I wish i cold go with you and the children anywhere you want to go. Some of the boys is going to have a nog. I think they will pay dear for it. Eggs worth 5 dollars a dozen and whiskey 16 dollars a gelen. I expect they will have a lively time of it. I hope you may enjoy yourself that day and all other days. I will try to do the same but cant enjoy myself hear. Write often. Good by Ellen.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

                                                  Vicksburg Miss Jan the 4 1863

 

My Dear Ellen. . .

 

     I have no good news to write onely wee have had a battel hear and whipt the Yankees. I was not in the battle. I was sick at the time but i went and stayed on the battel field one day and night and we had a time of it. It rained very hard and the hills was very slick and the way wee fell down the hills and rold in the mud and water was not slow. Ellen i cant tell much about the battle as I was not tkere at the time. I think Tobe has wrote and he can tell more about it than i can as he was in the battel . . . The boys fought well. The 31st stood firm like tigers and herows. Ellen wee have got cabbens to stay in . . . I have no idey of home untell the ware closes and i think it will close in the spring. I hope so at least and the peopel hear think so to. My prayer to God is that wee may git home safe to our familys. Do you all pray for us? We pray fore you and you ought to doo the same. I must come to a close. I remain yours truley until death. May the God of Pease be with you all is my prayer.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

Ellen good by fore a while. Loo and Coon good by. Good by children. Write soon and often.

 

 

                                                  Vicksburg Miss Feb the 20 1863

 

Dear Ellen. . .

 

     You ought to see me now. I have got to be a man at last. My clothing is all too small. I weigh about 160 pounds . . . You said that John wanted to by a shoat. If it is Brother John that wants a shoat let him have it. I dont no what they are worth. Let him have one anyway. Tobe is well and sassy. I went to see Bill a few days ago and found him sick with pheymony. Ellen i must tell you what wee have to eat: Bread and mush and beef. The beef is too pore to eat. The boys sais that they die faster than the butcher can git them to us. Anuff of this subject . . . war . . . war . . . a dreadful sound. Wee are a-looking for a big batel hear every day. The yankeys bummed Vicksburg yesterday and day before but dident hurt us bad. One man in our regiment got his arm shot of. I expect you heared the cannons. It was wors than a thunder storm. I dont beleive they can take this place. They may shoote it down. We have many thousands of men hear. . .Ellen thare has too gun boats past hear and i heared this morning that wee had taken them. I dont no how true it is. Ellen i believe the war will close some time. If it ever does it is a long road that never turns. I want to see the old Baptist and the children once more. May the God of Pease be with you all is my prayer.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.1863

 

                                                  Vicksburg Miss March 28 1863

 

Dear Ellen. . .

 

     We are looking fore a big batel every day hear. Ellen i thought a while that the war wood end this spring. But i have give that out It looks like the pease maker is dead and war continued. Lord send us pease is my cry and let us go home and live with our familys. Ellen i hope the ware will end this year. If it dont i think wee will starve out. I cant tell how bad wee fair but bad anuff to eat all the rats wee can git. This looks hard but they eat very well. Man will eat most anything before he Will starve . . . You ought to hear the cannon shots. You wood think the earth had bursted if you could hear them but you need not want to hear them. Ellen wee are going to have hog meat fore dinner today. You ought to see us eat in a few minutes. I am very sorey to hear of the stock dying in Claiborne. Ellen flour is worth one hundred and thirty dollars a barel hear and pork one dollar a pound, lard 2 dollars, eggs 2 dollars a dozen, chickens 2 and 3 dollars, turkeys 5 dollars, butter 2 dollars, corn 2 dollars. Ellen i want to be at home today plowing. It is a beautiful day and the birds sing on the bush so pirty it makes me want to be thare. But the ware is on hand and it holds me fast. I learned that wee have whipt the Yankeys at Port Hudson .

 

  Good by my dear darling.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

                                                  Vicksburg Miss April 4 1863

 

Dear Ellen. . .

 

     You wrote that you heard we had a big fite and that Vicksburg was burnt up. It is not so. I think our generals wood see these hills running down with blood before they will give it up. Ellen you say that i ought to be at home to see you work. I wood like to be thare very well but  there is no chance.I am glad you are such a good hand to work. I expect that you will have to do it all when i git home. If i ever git home i will he too lazy to doo anything at all. You said that you had been droping corn. That is all rite. Go it like a white head. Ellen i want you to make all the corn and potatoes you can and slop the pigs. Well, I think wee will ship the yankeys if wee can get plenty to eat. And then we will have a glorius nation. This is all that prompts me to action. I have a litel hope yet. Ellen wee are liveing better than wee have hear to for, tho our fair is bad. I saw Bill and your Pa the other day. They was well. Thare is a heap of sick soldiers but that is all wais the case whare thare is such a large army as thare is here. Thare is thousands and thousands of men hear all the time. Ellen will send you a ring in this letter, one of my own make. It hante a very nice one. You wont have no idy what it is maid of. No more at present, onley i remain yours as ever. Hug the children for me and hug yourself for me. Good by Ellen and babes.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan

 

(P. S. to letter of April 4, 1863)

 

     Ellen i have jest eat dinner. Wee had a fine mess of fritters.  Now i will finish my letter. Capt. Baucum will start home in the morning. I want you all to write and send letters back by him ... I think will get Bill in our Company before long. He wants to Come very bad and i am going to do my best fore him. Ellen tell Pap and mother that i wood write to them today but it is too coald and Tobe is writing  to them and that will doo at the present . . . You all meet and helt prayer fore the soaldiers and fore pease. It is a good thing no dot. You may help end the war by so doing. Ellen i want to come home very bad but I cant come yet.. I hope that the time will soon come when we can all go home and stay thare, the balance of our lives. Home is the best place of all. Ellen write how much meat you have kild. Tell me all the poticlars about your affairs at home. I want you all to write often. Show this to Pap and Mother. No more at present, onely i remain your truley untell death. May the God of Peas be with you all is my prayer and that the war will soon close. Ellen, Loo and Coon. Goodby for the present.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

                                                  (NO HEADING)

 

Ellen

 

     you said that you hadent had no wood nore pine this winter and it looked like that nobody cared fore you. This is the misfortune of the Baptist. Whi don’t you hyer some body to cut and hall wood? Ellen i want some milk and butter and hog meat mity bad. Wee (manage) by some little tricks hear to eat and it cost very hi. We cant hardly git anything to eat fore love nore money. This is the life of a soldier but i hope wee will have better time after a while. Ellen I want you to have some corn made if you can and potatoes in abundance. Live at home if you can. I no not when i will git home ore whether i will ever ore not. I fear that there is yet a heap of bones to be scattered and blood to be spilt yet. Ellen i must close. Write and i will doo the same. I remain yours as ever, strong Methodis as ever. Kiss the children fore me.   Good by Ellen, Loo and Cooney. My hart is with you all.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan

 

                                                  Alexandria Jan the 14 1865

 

Dear Ellen

 

     I seat myself to drop you a few to let you no that i am yet a live. I have a cold. I have no news to write of interest. I don't know what punishment is to be put on us yet. We had a bad time of it coming hear and they put us at work the first day and wee leave ben at it every day sense. The officers is very tite on us. Thare was one man shot hear yesterday and too more coart marshalled. Ellen wee git bread and bread ruff at that. Ellen thare is about 19 thousond troops and the worst whipt set i ever saw. The river is very hy but no prospect of a fight yet. Ellen i dont no what to write that will interest you. I want to see you all very bad. Ellen we have prayer meetings every night and that is very interesting to me as i am determined to try to live and dye  a Christian. I do earnestly ask your prayers and all other Christians to bare me up. I want you to pray fore me and if i never see you and the children in this world I want to meat you in heaven whare parting will be no more. Ellen to a close i remain yours as ever until death. I want you to write to me as often as you can. J. W. Simms has the chills. Ellen i will write more the next time. I have a bad chance to write tonight. I can see the lines. The health of the boys is tolarabel good hear. Tell the connections all to write to me and i will doo the same. Good by Ellen, Loo. Cooney, and Charley my dear babe.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

                                                  Alexandria Jan. the 24 1865

 

Dear Ellen

 

     This leaves me well and i hope that it will find you all well, Ellen don’t no what to write as i cant hear from home. This is the third ore forth letter I have wrote and i havent got no answer yet. Will you let me hear from you soon? I thought that i wood git a letter by Wingfield but i failed. Ellen i have got no news to write onely that wee have hard times hear but no prospect of a fight hear yet. The Armey hear is very much demoralized. I dont believe that the men will fight much hear. Ellen i stood guard last night and i liked to froased and i am very sleepy this morning. Tobe and Bill is abel fore duty. J. W. Simms hase the chills yet. John Camel is very sick and no hope fore him. Ellen i want you to write how much the hogs waid and how you are getting along generally. Ellen I will send you one dozen hair pins in this letter. Thar is strong talk of pease hear with the soaldiers and officers.  Ellen the prisoners hear is treated bad, that is brought in by the cavilery. Wee dont no what punishment will be put on us yet. I am anctious to no my doom, good or bad. Ellen wee are drawing pork at the present time but wee have to pay transportation on it ourselves. I am so sleepy and coald that i cant write a sent. So no more at present only i remain your most affectionate husban untill death. May the grace of God be with you all. Goodby to all. Write soon.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

Ellen i wont send the hair pins this time. I will wait fore a better chance.

 

                                                  Alexandria Jan the 31 1865

 

Dear Ellen

 

     I seat myself to inform you that i am well at present and i hope that these few lines will find you all well. Ellen i have no news to write onlv that the regment is in better health than i ever saw it. The boys is in hy spirits. The general talk is that wee will have pease by the first of March. I think it very unsartin myself. I bear talk of an armistice fore sixty days. Ellen i am on extra duty for thirty days and have worked out eleven of them. Wee have had a had spell of weather hear and it is raining today.  Ellen i havent got no letter vet. I want to hear from you verry bad. This is the forth letter i have wrote. Ellen if you need aney money let me no and i will send you some the first chance. I have drew 44 dollars. Ellen i will send this by Capt. Baucum if he gits his furlow. He will start tomorrow and i want you to send a letter bv him when he comes back to camp. Goodby. Ellen if the ware dont close thare will be no chance fore me to come home in twelve months and i want you to doo the best you can, and i want you to send me something to eat if you have the chance. We are nearly threw with what we brought from home and then wee will fair badly. I hope the ware will end soon. The boys is praying fore it in camps and all about in the woods and wee see them nelt down all about in the woods praying for pease. Ellen if the Capt. goes home i will send you some hair pins. I cant write you a letter till i hear from you. Doo you write or not i cant hear from you. We have prayer meeting every night in the company. So no more at present onley I remain your husband as ever. Write soon and often. Give me all the news you can. Ellen if we never meat no more on earth let us try to meat in Heaven whare wee will part no more. May the grace of God be with you all is my prayer. Ellen, Loo, Cooney, and Charley, Goodby.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

Camp near Cotile Byow on the west side of the river, 20 miles above Alexandria Feb 19 1865

 

Dear Ellen

 

     I seat myself this morning to answer your letters that you sent by Mr. Gladney and Alison. I was glad to hear from you. Ellen this leaves me in febal health . . . I hope this may find you all well. Ellen have no news to write and 1 dont feeld like writing. The boys is in hy spirits about pease. Doctor Wise says he is satisfide that wee will have pease in too months. I hope it may be so but i cant believe it. Ellen wee live hard hear. Unceal David Adams keeps our mess in honey. Thare is a heap of wild bees hear. Ellen i hear bad news from Claiborne. I heared it read in a letter that religion is dying in Claiborne Parish. Dont let this be the case with you for if thare ever was a time that peopal needed religion it is now. Ellen wee have prayer meeting in our tent every night. Ellen my extra duty is nearly out. Then i will have more time to write. I was sorry to hear that the cavilary has taken Starling Cook off. Ellen thare was a very interesting debate got up in this company on the 17th of the month. It was on the subject of baptist and clost communion. The scripuers was perused fore proof of the doctrine. The Baptist was as completly wound up as I ever saw in my life. This debate lasted 3 or 4 hours. It wound up by the Baptist saying that wee dident look at the Scripuers right. Ellen dont take no exception to this. Read for yourself. No more at present onely i remain yours as ever.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

Goodby. Write every chance you have.

 

 

 

 

(P.S. to letter dated February 19, 1865)

 

     Ellen i got a mess of butter that was sent to Billar McDonald. Ellen send me something to eat by Capt. Baucum if he will bring it and send a letter too and tell me what land you are going to tend and be saving with your corn. Do the best you can. Bill is now siftering sour meal for diner. The beef is so poar that wee cant eat it all and we dont git meal anuff but after all most of the officers will say that wee git plenty. Ellen thare was six men shot in Alexandria last Friday. It seams that wee have got too many men. They want to kill some of them off. Ellen wee are campt in a nice dry place and have a good spring. Tobe thinks it hard that nobody wont write to him. Ellen i sent you half paper of pens by Mr. Word. I give 5 dollars for them. Write me what you receive from me. Ellen tell pap i want him to spaid my shoots. Ellen i want to come home very bad but i have no idy that i will come till this ware closes. I want to git among them eggs and butter that you started to send me very bad. I think that I cold eat them all at one mess. This is my notion now. Ellen by corn from Andy Dyke if you can. Ellen i want to no wheather or not you have aney preacher ore paster fore Pilgrim Rest Church (3) this year. Ellen diner is now ready and I must stop. This is Sunday. Wee are dooing nothing today, tho this is not common in camps. David Adams is going to cut a bee tree. Bee good. Goodby Ellen, Loo, and Cooney and Charley. May the grace of God he with you all is my prayer.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan.

 

(P.SS. to a letter dated March 9, 1865) Camp near Cotile Bayough

 

     Ellen i dont no what to write that wood interest you. I can onely say that . . . my hope is as strong and as good fore heaven as they was ever. Ellen I earnestly ask your prayer in my behalf and you may rest assured that i wilt not forgit you and the children. This should be a time of prayer. Wee have prayer meetings hear every night at our tent. A litel good news reached my years this moment. We hear that pease is actually made but i dont give it much credit but I pray that it may be so. Wee no that it must come some time. Wee cant tell when. I hope it wont be long. Ellen you talk like coming to see me. If you start you must think of a long journey. I want to see you and the children very had but thare is no hopes of me ever gittin home as long at this Ware lasts. Ellen try to have a good gardin and potatoe patch. Live at home if you can. I must bring these few lines to a close. So no more at present. Onely i remain your trew husband untiell death. Write as often as you can. I was well pleased with your last letter. Do so again if you please. May the God of Pease be with you all is lay prayer. Give my best respects to all of the peopal at home I saw James Mathews day before yesterday and Dr. Wise. They was well. Jim thinks he will git a furlow soon. Goodby Ellen, Lou, Cooney, and Charley.

 

                                                  H. T. Morgan. Write Soon.

 

                                                  March the 11 1865

 

Dear Ellen

 

     I seat myself this morning to let you no that i am well and i hope this will find you  well. Ellen i have no news to write. I got a letter from your Mother a few days ago. They are all well. Ellen i thought that i wood send this by Mr. Strickling but i will send it by Mr. Nations as he will go nearer home.

 

Ellen i was on guard last night and it was cold and i dident sleep much and I feald verry drousey this morning. Ellen you dont no what i would give to be at home today. 0, Shucks, troubel, troubel, troubel, o when will it end? God onely nos when, i dont. Some say that we will have pease soon but i fear it will be a long time a-coming but i hope and pray to God that wee will have a speedy pease and let us all git home once more alive. Ellen diner is most ready and i will tell you some of the varitys wee have . . . bread, bread, and bread alone. This is very good, hante it?  Yes, yes. Ellen wee drill twice a day. Company drill in the morning and batalion drill in the evening. Ellen tell me what J. L. I is doing. Tell him and Uncle Will to write to me and tell me all about the Ware and his fine girl and all the rest of his family. Tell Pap and Mother that i wold write to them but you call tell them all that i can write. Red River is very hy and still rising. I dont no what is the reasen the yankeys dont come if they want too. The River is plenty hy fore gun boats to come. I hope they will not come at all. Ellen if reports be trew the other side of the river is about gone up. No more at present onely i remain yours as ever. Goodby Ellen. Dont forget to pray. Live a Christian and let David Wise tend to his own bisness and let mine alone. Write soon and often.

 

                                                  H.T. Morgan.

 

                                                  April 1 1865 (4)

 

Dear Henry

 

     I seat myself this evening to let you know that wee ar well and I hope this will find you enjoying the same blessing. Henry i got the letter you sent by Dr. Wise last Saturday knight. I dident git the letter you sent by Mr. (not legible) till after he had gone back. Henry i have nothing to write only wee hear pease talk on every side. I hope and pray to God that it may bee so, Henry. I have no idey of coming down thair now. Henry our corn is as clean as it can be, Henry you (don't) need to think that I dont think of you when i am eating for you are never off my mind. Henry I am glad to send you something to eat when Mr. Mathew goes back if i dont come myself. I dont know whether I will come or not. I will come if i can arrange things right. Henry I wish you was hear to knight. I have a churn of buter milk and a fine chance buter and too hundrad eggs. I git a hundrad a week. I have a bushel of potatoes yet. I intend you shall have some of them. Henry if it had been in my pour you wood have had something to eat long ago. I think of you all day and dream of you at knight. Henry your wheat is find. Your oates is tolerbel. Your hogs has quit covering up regularly. Your Pa spaid your shoats yesterday. Henry i fead the hogs every knight. I went up to Pa's last week. I heared whear Pa was. He is doing fine making a hunadard dollars a month. I will tell you whear he is when i see you. Henry i bout Haley's bee gum and give twenty dolars for it. Henry you ought to see Charley walking. He lockes so sweet a-walking. Henry thar is a heap of sickness here. I will tell you ho is sick: Efey Margaret Burns, old Man Doyel wife and oldist dauter, and most of them has got the tiford fever, and that bad. I sat up at Efey's a-Friday knight. Henry, Haley is coming down hear today to fixe to go see Jim whether anybody else goes or not. Henry i have an idey of having the potatoe patch whear wee had it year bee fore last. Henry, Charley has got the ich and you better no he is a troublessum boy. I cant git sulfer to core him. Henry i wish you was hear today. It is a-Sunday and i am at home by myself. I think it would be a happy day with mee if you was hear. May the God of Pease be with you is my prayer.  Right soon and often. No more at present onely i remain your trew and affectionate wife untill death.

 

                                                  E. P. Morgan.

 

                                                  April 16 1865

 

Dear Henry

 

     I seat myself to let you know that i am not well at this time. I am afraid that i am going to have the fever. I feal so bad i havnt been abel to do much this week. I am abel to be up. Charley fell out doars yesterday and like to kild him. He has bin fretful every sens. Loo and Coon is well. I hope this will find you well. Henry i hante got much to right. I sent a letter by Mr. Cleaverbury. I had too swarms of bees yesterday. Wee got them in the gums and they staid in them about an our and then come out. One swarm went off and i got the others to settle in a oak tree by the well and your Pa cut it down and got them in the gum, but i dont know how long they will stay thair. The gums is mity sory. Nety the read sow and the gincy sow has eight piegs between them. Henry i cant tell which is which for they all suck both sows. Henry the balence of your stock is doing fine. Henry, Bill got home this morning to stay till next saturday. He said he is going to plant some corn next week. Sterling Cook has got a fur. (lough) till the last Company goes across the river. Henry, Cait Baker has got a hefer with her first calf about three weeks old. He says i may have her for a hundard dolars and i have a idey of gitting her, I have money anuff' to git her. Bill says he wood git her if he was mee. Henry Jim Mathes is going to start in the morning. Henry got a mule from Mr. Mack Camel and Mr, Wise said we cod have his wagon and then we didnt have no driver, and i waited till the last to see if your Pa wood doo eney thing and he dident try to doo a thing. If i had a new that he wodent get a driver i wood have got one if i had bin abel to ride. Henry i wish that all of the men that dont try to git you boys eney thing to eat was thair and had to stay thair till the war ended, that dont care nothing for you all nor your familys. Henry have no idey you can git anything to eat without I bring it to you. Henry you dont know how bad it hurts me to think you are thar and cant git anuff to eat when you have got plenty at home. Henry wheat is heading out. Henry you never saw such corn in your life. It has rained so much the corn has turned right yeler. Henry i got the letter you sent by Mr. Sanders today. I was glad to hear that you was enjoying good helth. Henry i got the letter back today that i sent to Cleaver and I wilI send them all together by Mother. Henry i will tell you one thing sartin. I want you to come home without fail. Henry i will bring this to a close fore i have got tothake and, i cant send you nothing to eat. I feald mad anuff about not being abel to send you something to eat thai i could whip every man in the Confederacy. Henry i will sen you 5 twists of tobacco. Goodby dear man. I hope wee meat again soon.

 

                                                  E. Morgan

 

                         Dr. Cawthon's comment:

 

   As soon as Henry was released he hurried to Claibirne Parish. leaving his friends and relatives, Tobe, Bill, J. W. Simms. Mat Burns, and others at Alexandria. Upon arriving at Indian Creek, he passed through the woods and reached his own house, where, strangely enough, everything was quiet. Believing that Ellen and the children were at "Pap's and Mother's," he hastened to join them there. After greeting Loo and Cooney, who met him at the gate, he inquired about Ellen.

 

   "But dident you know?" the "old folks" questioned. "Dident Mahala Simms tell you? She left hear day bee fore yesterday. She was going to camp to see J. W. and was taking Charley to you."

 

   And then he knew. "Was it the fever?" he stammered.

 

   "Seven days ago," his Mother said. (5)

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1  Jaundice.

2  Editor's note: See The Gladden and Todd Families Serve Their Country.

3  The  Baptist church on the highway between Haynesville in Claiborne Psrish and Shongaloo in Webster Parish is now called  "The Sexton Memorial church."

4  Only two of Ellen's letters are extant.

5  Mrs. Nancy Emily Beene Hampden Matthews, 76-year old Sarepta resident, who formerly lived in the Indian Creek neighborhood (James Mathes, whom Henry mentioned, was her father-in-law), says that the story of Henry's return seven days after his wife's death was one of the community's best-known legends. She was a small child at the time, but she remembers having heard the story many times. Henry married again, and named his oldest child by his second wife, "Ellen."  Mahala and Charley. it might be added, were safe. Mahala and Henry had missed each other en route.

                               

                    Walton Wilson to Sicily A. Wilson

                             -a Letter, 1863

 

Editor's note: This letter is made available for publication by Lorene Dean Owens.)

 

                                                  August 10th A.D. 1863

 

Camp Near Rapadan Station Northern Va

Mrs. Sicily A. Wilson

 

Dear wife

 

     It is with the greatest pleasure that I seat my self to drop you a few lines to let you no that I am still in the land of the living and injoying good helth for which I am truly thankful to Almighty God. Also to inform you that I received yours of the 2nd of July which I was truly glad to receive And I hope these few lines may reach you and find you all injoying they same blessing

 

     Sicily I have been in two fights sense that of Fredericksburg tho I never got hert in neither of them the first was Winchester Va there we lost one man kild and two wonded the captain was one who was wounded badly in the knee and ankle of the left leg so that it had to he taken off above his knee the last account we had of him he was nearly well it was fought on the 13th and 14th of June the next was on the 1st 2nd 3 and 4th of July at Gettysburg Pennsylvania there we lost two men kild and 8 wounded our 1st Lieutenant was shot through the left Lung and other fellow hy the name of Johnson got his wright shot off by a grape shot all of the rest will soon be able for duty Those that was kild was named as follows James A. Stuart Winchester lived near Teryille L. B. Benard and D. L. More I doant no where they lived they was both kild at Gettysburg with Grapeshot they are a Cast Iron bait a bought the size of a hen egg. When we went to leave there we had to do some of the heardest marching ever was nearly we stoped at Hagers town Myreland and offered them a fight a gain and they wouldant attact us it was a draw battle at Gettysburg we marched 2 hundred miles in ten Days we have had some of the hotest wether I nearly ever saw in my life tho it has been raining for some several days and the air has become some Cooler we have been a resting now for some several days in Camps we have to drill twiste a day one hour each time tho that is very light our camp duty at this time in fact it has been ever sense I have been at the Regiment well Sicily you say you want to see me very bad I doant think you can want to see me mutch more than I do you. you also wrote that you had lots of watermelons a coming on and that you would like for me to be there to help you eat them I would like mighta well to be there my self I would like to have some watermelons to eat the- I would like mutch better to whether (?) I could get any watermelons to eat or anything of the sort Tho I doant no whether I ever will be ther are gain for I doant no whether there will ever be peace or not tho I think there is something at work towards peace for they say every one of they leading men in the Confederacy is in Richmond and the Vice President made a speech to the people a few days and told them if we didant go back to the Union that there soon wouldant be Confederacy nor United States he said it would all be long to England and France and I bleave that my self I never heard of so many Soldear a deserting before as it is at this time the North Carolina troops are deserting by the hundred the North Carolina brigade in our division held a convension the other day and to see who was for the Union and who wasant and they all voted for peace let it come as it would that is for the Union if it would bring a bought peace they all voted that ticket but one Regiment and they was for victory or death Sicily I hear a heap of talk of Govner moor a Calling on France for protection tho I doant no whether it is so or not tho they say that it is published in the Richmond papers if he has I think we will get to come hoam this winter I want you to write me whether there any such talk through or not and if so whether the people thinks it is so or not for my part I had ruther go under French Government than old Lincon for l had ruther die than to go back in the Union and I think all other true Southerner had so no more at this time but give my best love and respects to all inquireing frends write to me on the reception of this and give me all of the nuse May God blefs you and comfort is my prear I am your most affectionate husband till Death kiss the baby for me and tell hir I said so

 

                                             Walton Wilson to Sicily A. Wilson

 

Hamil and Simmons ar well

                               

                       William G. Coleman and the War with Mexico

 

(Editor's note:  The diary from which excerpts have been taken for publication here was made available by T. E (Gene) Coleman. He also made available the letter of William G. Coleman to Colonel Coffee, given here, in which reference is made to the diary.)

 

Biographical information about William G. Coleman, from THE HISTORY OF CLAIBORNE PARISH by D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse, 1886":

 

     "But here comes another character before us, with head gray but not bowed, and eye flashing as ever-Capt. W. G. Coleman. Genial in manner, with a good word for all, be was and is yet a son of Carolina. An ardent subscriber to the Calhoun school of politics, in his early manhood he was an outspoken nullifier, and in older years a bold and defiant secessionist. His first taste of war was as a volunteer, under Captain Jarnigham, in the Creek War of 1837. Returning to Carolina he married, and in his native State remained till the death of his wife. The charms of old Carolina now became dimmed to his eyes, and with his four children he emigrated in 1844 to Perry County, Alabama. Here he contracted a second marriage, and this wife, who has borne him eight children, is yet with him. In 1846, when Mexico declared war against the United States, he was one of the first to respond to his country's call, at the head of one hundred gallant men, known as the Perry Rangers. He joined Col. Coffee's regiment of Alabama volunteers, and with that regiment for twelve months, was engaged in all its marches, hardships and battles. And here let us not fail to recall the name of his faithful body servant, Sep.  Although in a free country and other servants fleeing to the Mexican lines, Sep stood fast by his master, nursed him in sickness, faithfully administered to his wants when worn down with fatigue and exposure, and not only to him but to others of the company when he possibly could. He had the good will and confidence of all the men,  became the custodian of their little treasures and never betrayed a trust. Returning home with his master, he died in his arms, and as his glazing eyes looked up into that kind master's face for the last time, that master's striken heart blessed the faithful Afric son. In 1850, Capt. Coleman moved to Claiborne Parish, and being fond of the chase greatly enjoyed the rare sports of the day. In 1854, he with Col. J. W. McDonald, in a hotly contested campaign, as the Democratic candidates, gained a signal victory over the then rampant Know Nothing party.  He has refused all political preferment since. When the war of secession was about to commence he, being too old to serve, drilled several volunteer companies previous to their march to the front.

 

     Capt. Coleman joined the Missionary Baptist Church at Lisbon in 1854, and was elected clerk of the church. For twenty-three years he has as promptly taken his seat at the desk as he did at the head of his company when the long roll called it to arms on the arid plains of Mexico. Always fond of company, always a good neighbor, his friends are many. Having ever been temperate in his habits, he now, although in his 80th year, writes a clear and even hand, and can yet bring down his bird on the wing as often as the best shots among our young men. Without enemies, with hosts of friends, he now serene and happy, awaits the bidding of the Master, summoning him to the great church above."

 

A letter from W. G. Coleman to Col. John R. Coffee:

 

                                             Aycock, P. 0. Claiborne Parish, La

                                             June 1884

 

Col. Jno. R. Coffee, Fackler, Ala.

 

               Dr. Friend and Comrade

 

     I received your very welcome message of June 2, and I assure you it was as astonishing as it was agreeably surprising. for I had "long since mourned your death" and proud indeed was I to learn of your prolonged existence, and I am sure of your valuable usefulness to your country and friends--in this scroll I can only express my feelngs towards you as one holding a long lost friend and a page will have to suffice for the sudden emotion--and as our shadows lengthen we can write often and be closer together by frequent communication. I will give you some of my experiences since the Mexican war. I returned to my farm in 1847 and remained in Alabama until 1850, when I purchased land and moved to to this Parish North La. where I have resided since.

 

     This country was comparatively new when I moved here, land was good and productive, plenty of game and inviting, and until the War we were doing well, successfully planting with a good society built up in 1856 and 1857. I was elected to the legislature with large majority, served that term out, have filled all the positions I would accept until I got too old-and feeble--since I had the mumps in Mexico T have been afflicted with Hydrocile, and as I get older locomotion is more difficult and riding painful. I have raised 11 grown children seven living-all married but one son, all possessed of good sense and energy to make a living above want. My boys entered the army early (except my eldest who was clerk of the court and exempted) passed through the terrible strugggle and God spared them all to get home alive and honorable. The wreck swept all the property we possessed except our homes which we went to work with willing hands to make our living-with all our negro property suddenly freed-in their brazen effrontery and stupidity backed up by U. S. muskets and carpet baggers over us far a long time, I actually got to hating the Government for which we had borne the Stars and Stripes on the arid plains of Mexico-and to tell the truth I have but little respect for it as administered since the war.

 

     There is five of my old Company live near me moved to this country with me-and four more of our old regiment living near by. They seem to venerate our old Campaign and the lengthening of our shadows brings us into closer order. I trust Col. Coffee I have made peace with a merciful God whose a you have so kindly invited me to. I joined the Baptist Church in ________ and have been constantly striving to be ready for inspection, at Resurrection. I hope we will pass muster on that Great day.

 

     You speak of being fearful of worrying me by the length of your letter  far from that. I could have read a book through written by you-now as we have the road blazed out lets keep up the communication. I frequently refer to my old Diary that I kept every day during the 12 months. I know you would love to read it. You speak of what we injoined on each other at Veny, Ariz. I remember it well. I will never forget either those days that we were making history and fame for an ungrateful country  that leaves us poor old veterans without a mere stipendiary to supply the ordinary demands of life. Now I am done-no.1-and ask you to answer immediately-and then we can go into a communication of detail. I have the good luck and honor of having the company of my careful good wife down the declivity of life who with the balance of mv fomily and old soldiers join me in love abundant to you and your family. God bless you

 

                                                  W. G. Coleman

 

Excerpts from the diary (There are daily entries in the original. but space forhids including the diary in its entirety--Spelling and punctuation have heen left as found in the copy made available)

 

                         Dairy for the Year 1846

 

     Commencing on the 11th June left Perryville at 3 oclock P.M. with the Perry Company Independent Rangers under my command. Was escorted into Selma by Rangers, was furnished a supper by the inhabitants of Selma

 

JUNE l2th --Took passage on the Steamboat Bradstreet for Mobile

 

18th-In camps Company received $36.42 in full payment for 12 months clothing.

 

24th-In camps. nothing doing but office seeking, measles in camps, very hot.

 

25th-In camps, settle rank of Captains and their positions in line. got letter from wife.

 

26th-In camps. election ordered for field officers to command the 1st Regiment Ala. volunteers.

 

27th-In camps, election came off, the following gentlemen were elected, John R. Coffey Col. commandant of 1st Regiment Volunteers Ala..

 

28th-Sunday in camps, received orders to take up the line of march to the Rio Grande.

 

29th-The Regiment took transports on the steam vessels Fashion & Telegraph for the seat of war. We had a magnificent set off from the wharfs at Mobile.

 

JULY 2d-On sea nearly all hands sick, sea quite rough.

 

4th-Saturday landed on the Island Santiago near the mouth of the Rio Grande pitched tents on a disagreeable sand bank.

 

8th-In camps, very dry and always windy on this island, the sun quite hot, went over to Point Isabel, wrote two letters, one to Father and Mother in South Carolina the other to my Dear Jane and Father and Mother in Ala.

 

17th-In camps, still dry. Water about to fail entirely. Bailey quite sick. Today we had on the Island a good rain.

 

JULY 19th-Sunday In camps, cloudy and windy, no news from the War, nor none from home and a long time to be deprived of so good a pleasure, the rain descended in such torrents as to completely inundate our whole camp from three to ten inches deep, a bad time for poor soldiers. Several fellows very sick.

 

20th-Still raining, and the whole Island on which we are incamped is covered in water. This evening our Regiment left for the mouth of the Rio Grande. Sick.

 

2lth  In camps at the mouth Rio Grande, quite sick, several cases measles in our camp many sick with diarrhea

 

25th-Left the mouth Rio Grands on an old steam boat (Troy) lay out about 2 miles from where we started.

 

26th-Sunday on our way up the River Rio Grande arrived at our new camp opposite Burrita felt better than I have for the last 10 days.

 

31st-In camps, doing but little, very warm where we are now stationed.

 

Aug. 3d-In camps. Cloudy and pleasant. had an election for 3d Lt. John B. Fuller was chosen.

 

4th  In camps, rainy, bad sleeping on the ground. where the water is running under a blanket, the only bedding a sodier has.

 

5th-In camps, rec'd orders to leave for Carmargo, warm weather. some fever in camps, rainy.

 

11th-In camps, felt very much like resigning my captaincy in consequence of dear manifest ill feeling entertained by some of the company for me, not well. Helped to inspect the muskets, cartridge boxes, scabbards, knapsacks, canteens and haversacks. Condemned all in the Regiment except muskets. 2 months since I left home. Resolved never more to take the name of God in vain.

 

12th  In camps at nothing, and nothing to do, but to eat pickle pork and old hard crackers.

 

15th-In camps, nothing doing, weather cooler, more like fall much sickness in camps. the men have to wade waist deep to get to the river for all the water that is used for cooking and drinking it will certainly make all hands sick. Went on a visit to Matamoras spent the time more pleasantly than I expected to do. Staid at the American hotel kept by an old South Carolinian, Mrs. Winfield clean and warm. Went to theatre and circus.

 

16th  In the town of Matamoras spent my time in looking about amongst the Mexicans, they have no plank floors, scarcely no chairs, no beds and no tables. When the women sit down to work they set flat on the ground.

 

20th-In camps, preparing to move on to the seat of war, Camargo, clear and warm, the health of the Regiment is not very good, my health fine.

 

25th-In camps, doing nothing, there has been 53 men discharged, and 27 died up to this date, hot indeed. Left Camp Ala. for Camargo on the Steamer Troy.

 

29th-Still on board the Troy saw . . . little farm houses last evening within 400 yds, fifty four children, the country here is very rich, but desirable only for cultivation, no resident situations, hot day again, rain every day for several past, this day passed by Renoso a handsome little town on the west side of the Rio Grande, above I saw the first table lands, it would have been quite a treat if I had been well enough to have enjoyed it, but I was not. At 8 o'clock P.M. stuck fast on a sand bar, said to have been done purposely by the pilot.

 

30th-The Virginian tried to pull the Troy out of the mud, but failed to do so. To our great surprise the Troy got off the sand bar at half past 5 o'clock.

 

31st  Still on the old Troy going on to the seat of war. From the mouth Rio Grande to Matamoroas by land 30 miles by water 100 from thence to Reneso by land . . . by water 170 miles to old Renoso by land 42 miles by water 25 from old Renoso to Camargo by land 40 miles by water 55 (or 35) the greater part of the latter . . . poor and marshy. I saw in passing up the river wild vines, water melons, pumpikins, goards and many other domestic vegetables, such as pamer christals, sun flowers, etc.

 

SEPT. 1st-Arrived at Camargo at 1 o'clock P.M. found the place to be rather a disagreeable one. Our mess all split in two, no disadvantage to me-the town of Camargo is a bad looking place, the location is good enough, the high water washed down all the houses of any importance which ruined the appearance of the place.

 

3rd-In camps at Carmago, Mexico, dry and hot, turned over some surplus guns, knapsacks, cartridge boxes  scabbards, etc, quite sick at night, the troops leaving for Monterey.

 

9th-In camps, cleaning up a parade ground, wrote home, clear and very hot. Unwell myself also several of the company. The encampment alarmed by no fighting. My whole company detailed on detached service to guard the Majr. General Patterson

 

10th-In camps, moving and fixing up for a fight, clear and a little cooler.

 

11th-In camps everything in commotion about moving, and fighting Mexicans, this day three months ago we all left our sweet  homes and families to take upon ourselves the most miserable and unpleasant life that white men ever lived. Clear, hot and dry. exchanged off cartridge boxes, bayonet scabbards and belts, some appearance of rain. but none of fighting to my view, very sick at night.

 

22nd-(A margin note: Battle commenced at Monterey on 21st and ended on the 24th) Expecting to hear from Monterey constantly, no news officially from Monterey, rainy. the boys all getting in better health.

 

23rd-In camps doing nothing but drilling a little  foggy, very warm Indeed. All the sick seem to be improving a little. news came into town stating that Canales was killing all sick on the road from here to Monterey. and that he has under his command 500 men.

 

26th  In camps I am still sitting as a member of the Court Martial, just through exam1ning wit nesses in the 1st case that Capt McMahan of the Geo. troops for drunkeness and assault on Col. Baker of the Illinois Troops. My friend Jas. F. Bailey became hurt with me for that which I did not intend to be understand as he construed it. I am sorry but cannot satisgy him. Some of the field officers became quite enraged with me but I stuck close to my point and was sustained by my Col.

 

27th-Sunday, clear and warm. done nothing still anxiousiy waiting  to hear something from Genl. Taylor, the news came in that  Genl. Taylor has taken Monterey and lost 500 men and that there was an Armistice signed by Taylor and Ampudia for eight weeks, bad arrangement I fear. It is said that Ampudia was allowed to leave town with the honour of War and with colors flying.

 

29th-In camps drilling and preparing to meet the Mexicans between Monterey and Saltillo.

 

OCT. 2nd-In camps; adjourned the Court Martial sine die. Sick with jaundice. Dispatch from Genl. Taylor stating that Santana was fortifying at Saltillo with 20,000 fresh troops.

 

5th-Cot. Coffee expressed so much friendship for me and in such a manner that I could scarcely keep from shedding a tear of joy.

 

OCT. 7th-In camps preparing to go to Monterey. Genl. Patterson complimented our Reg. as highly as language could do it. He said our improvement was super human, it was magical and surpass'd anything of his knowledge.

 

8th-In camps preparing to march to Monterey. W.M. Ford returned Ala. by him I got direct information from my Dear Wife who sent me many things which she thought I needed and among all the rest some buiscut. God bless her.

 

9th  In camps, preparing to march to Monterey. Got information from Genl. Pillow that the Mexican Government had refused disdainfully to treat with our Government on our present difficulties with the Nation. Col. Coffey sick.

 

11th-In camps, this day four months we left Perryville in high and low spirits. R.T. Girce came into our camps from Monterey he states that the contest between Taylor and Ampulia was severe that Taylors loss of killed and wounded must have been some seven or eight hundred, and the Mexicans much greater. he was in the engagement, he had with him a Mexican sword, a gun and a lance.

 

22nd  In camps, doing but little except quarreling among ourselves, Alas, we have come to a low ebb for their is but little good order Is regards

punctuality.

 

23rd-In camps, drilling four times per day. preparing to meet Old Santa Anna in Dec.

 

24th-Two companies of our Reg't rec'd orders to march to Monterey. Heard from my Dear Wife and Son, learned that Benjamin had joined the Church in Alabama.

 

25th-Sunday, sick bad head ache, two companies started to Monterey, and then ordered back and some of Kentuckians sent off instead of Alabaman's. Some of the officers held a meeting to remonstrate against the way the reg't had been treated.

 

NOV. 2d  In camps. very busy making our Muster Rolls for the purpose of payment. Commenced firing at targets.

 

12th-In camps doing but little. Clear. dry, and hot. D.N Sent to the guard by Lt, Col. Carl, better known in camps by the name of Canallies. the noted Mexican

robber.

 

l6th-In camps. drilling and preparing to go on to the seat of War. Orders came in to our camps from the Genl. in command  for the Rolls of each company to he called everv two hours, health improving in my Company, bad behavior in part of our Regiment this evening, disrespect shown to our Brig. Genl.

 

17th-In camps Genl. Pillow addressed our Regiment in quite a respectful manner-on the treatment he received from it yesterday

 

21st-In camps, sick with cold and sun pain in my eyes Oh'. God how I have suffered. this forenoon I eat one of the biscuit my dear Wife sent me which was baked in Ala two months and a day. News reached our camp officially that Tampico had been taken possession of by our Navy

 

23rd-In camps at night 9 o'clock I received orders to embark on the steamboat Col Cross bound for the mouth of the Rio Grande which was to leave by sunrise on the following morning, we immediately went to work and set up all night preparing to meet the order punctually.

 

28th-Still on board the Col. Cross arrived at the mouth of the river of all confusion that I have ever witnessed in my life was in taking off our equipage and placing it upon another boat.

 

29th-Sunday on our way from the mouth of the Rio Grande landed at Brazos Santiago at 10 o'clock A.M, then again confusion took place. Oh! My God how gladly I would be if I could go on home from here in a right and proper manner

 

DEC. 2d-Got over from the Point, preparing to leave for Tempico, drew stationary for 3 months beginning on the December 1846 to Feby 28th 1847

 

4th-On Brasos orders reached us to remain here until further orders, sorrowful indeed

 

7th-In camps, on Brasos Island, doing nothing but lying in the sand, up to our flees. Mr. Snead took leave of us all for Ala. OH! how glad I would be if I was going myself in a right manner.

 

11th-Still on Brasos preparing to go to Tampico. Steamship Sea wrecked and entirely lost.

 

12th-Got on board the Steamship Virginia for Tampico. The sickest set of men I ever saw in my life. W. Liles went to Point Isabel, sick.

 

17th-On board the Virginia at day light in sight of land, arrive at Tampico at 4 o'clock P.M. Found it to be a beautiful town handsomely laid off and a great deal of neatness displayed in the arrangement of this place. the citizens look more like civilized because there are many foreigners located here in business who has I learn much influence on the natives. All hands so soon as they left the Gulf got well of their Sea Sickness.

 

18th-Lying a little below town cleaning up guns and preparing; to fight for this is a place that all hands received us with cordiality. they are expecting an attack from a part of Old Santa Troops constantly.

 

23rd-In camps doing nothing but fortifying the town of Tempico 25th-Christmas Day Clear and very warm all hands idle or free today except the guard.

 

27th-In camps at Fort Atlamira doing nothing. weather having very much the appearance of summer. Strange for an Alahamin to see at Christmas green corn, snap beans, green tomatoes, and all kinds or vegetables. Have the jaw ache. Very bad abcess forming on my jaw----had my jaw lanced at 12 P.M.

 

JAN. 2nd 1847-In camps went hunting with a Creole from New Orleans, he has been here six years at Tampico. I killed a wolf. Had measure taken to make white linen round coat.

 

4th-In camps I have either the mumps or the glands enlarged which gives me much pain. Bot fine French gun, paid for it $55.

 

9th-In camps preparing to march from Tampico on some unknown expedition, pressing horses, mules and jacks into the service of the U.S. Richard Heard went to hospital.

 

11th-Marched 10 miles from town and was ordered back to Tampico. I with the mumps

 

19th-In camps preparing to leave Tampico taking Muster Rolls. Sick myself with chills a very cold day, what is called here a Norther.

 

21st-The Company was paid off today for the first time since entering the service.

 

23th-Still sick and very bad, at night Bledsoe and Vance both got shot by being out at an improper time at night by their own sentinel, truly sorry I am to learn the fact.

 

25th-Still sick and confined to my pallet. My friend J.F. Bailey drew for me my pay up to the 31st Dec. 1846, amount $611.85 deduct from that one months pay which I drew from Majr. Burns $521.35 this drawn from Majr. Bennett. Goal. Patterson, Geal. Twiggs and Genl. Quitman all arrived here with their commands of about 4000 men.

 

FEB. 7th-Still improving in health, feel able now for duty. Saw the flashing of powder along the coast south of us. Supposed to be the fighting of some shipwrecked soldiers from Louisiana and the Mexicans.

 

FEB. 12th   Doing nothing but waiting for Genl. Scott to say what we shall do.

 

25th-In camps quite busy making preparations for to embark for Vera Crus. Drew pay for the month of February $87.50

 

26th-In camps, bot for my Dear Wife a Chinese Shawl* (fine) gave thirty five dollars for it

 

27th-Bot some little shoes for Willie and Buddy and a bridle for Ben gave for them $13.25

 

MARCH 6th  Embarked on board of Steamship New Orleans for Vera Cruz. Steamer very crowded 900 men on board.

 

9th-All hands went ashore and a more magnificent sight I never saw in my life, 11,500 troops were landed on the beach about 6 miles below Vera Cruz in surf boats prepared for that purpose.

 

10th-Then line of march was taken up. General Worth (?) with his division took his position on the right under a severe fire from the Castle San Juan do Ullen (?) and three other points in town, next Genl. Patterson's division commenced taking position under a heavy and constant fire of cannon, some shirmish fighting. Met with several of my old friends and acquaintances from E.D.S.C,

 

11th-Second day of the siege. Three Americans killed and 10 wounded.

 

15th-Sixth day of the siege. I with my company on Pickett guard. Genl. Quitman came to inform me of the battle fought between Genl. Santa Anna and Taylor and the victory of the latter. Mexican forces not less than 20,000 of which 4000 was left dead, and wounded, on the field of battle. American forces 5009 of which 709 was killed, and wounded, all Volunteers except three companies. Our Col. manifested signs of fear, I think. Cold and rainy.

 

17th-Eighth day of the seige. Troops in fine spirits generally. A salute was fired from the Navy in honor of the Victory achieved by Genl. Taylor over Santa Anna. Took up a man bearing dispatches from Genl. Moralles to the Governor of Vera Cruz regarding men and provisions to he forced across our line into his assistance.

 

19th-Tenth day of the siege. One man's suspenders shot off of him

 

2lth-Twelfth day of the siege. Not much sickness among the troops except those who seem disposed to keep themselves out of the dangers of battle.

 

23rd-Fourteenth day of the siege, our cannon attack is something like ornamental colours added to a perfect figure or picture which cant be bettered by the operation, Al I conclude of no avail Our Navy driven by the enemy from the Castle. ward, marched about one mile and encamped for the night with Arms in hand expecting an attack from Santa Anna, in the rear with 5.000 (?) troops. Genl. Scott was advised of this move by a prisoner taken much damage said to have been done town by our guns. Mexican guns all silenced.

 

26th-Seventeenth day of the siege. Capitulation proposed by the Mexicans. Firing ceased on both sides.

 

27th-Eighteenth day of the seige, Commissioners appointed by both parties to negotiate a peace, or rather a surrender of Vera Cruz which was agreed to on both sides. Terms are unconditional surrender of both Town and Castle, to lay down all public property, and leave on a paroll of honor.

 

29th-Received orders to march on tomorrow to Alverado a dis-tance of about fifty miles from Vera Cruz S.East. The American Flags was raised on the great Castle San Juan Do UIIoa (?) at 2 o'clock, and on the forts and walls of the City Vera Cruz. The soldiers much wrathy in consequence of not having had the privilege granted to them of visiting the town.

 

31st-Took up the line of march at 8 o'clock A.M. crossed the river following the beach and hard marching indeed. much fatigue and feet blistered at night. Encamped in a beautiful grove of Pallmetto. Saw the greatest curiosity and beauty imaginable a banyan tree.

 

APRIL lst-Took the line of march at 8 o'clock A.M. Georgia Regiment leading by the left flank in formation came to us that Alvarado had surrendered, traveled hard, men much fatigued and feet blistered.

 

2nd-Marched into the town, Alvarado at 4 o'dock P.M. Found no Mexicans in the place, a very pretty little town, the population of the place is said to be about 2500 inhabitants, so soon as we arrived I was with my company detailed for Police up all night, I was sick of fatigue and sore feet; extremely hot.

 

3rd-In town all day busy keeping order and then did not do it, visited the church the best and finest building that I have seen in Mexico, received orders to take up the line of march back to Vera Cruz tomorrow, extremely hot, sand flies, mosquitoes and gnats in abundance.

 

6th-Took up the line of march at 7 o'clock. Arrived in town at 12 o'clock, orders issued for the Army to march in a few days to Jalapa.

 

7th  In camps near Vera Cruz, very hot indeed, made a visit to the Castle San Wan and indeed it is a strong place surely, one hundred and thirty guns and five large mortars mounted and two hondrred more which was not mounted. The Castle I cannot begin to describe, it was commenced in 1602.

 

8th-In camps near Vera Cruz.

 

l1th-Sunday in camps, tours more pleasant than common, visited the Cathedral, it is a fine church truly, and had seven different characters to worship by these people Mexicans.

 

12th  In camps, drew 33 haversacks and 26 canteens under orders to take up the line of march towards the Cityof Mexico. Got letter from Joseph Heard.

 

15th-In camps doing nothing, hot, had coat tail cut off, expecting constantly when we will take up the line of march to reinforce the Army now at the National Bridge.

 

l8th-Took up the line of march at 9 o'clock A.M. Marched over some heavy sand, saw some fine old built Spanish bridges, march in much confusion, Encamped after a few fires frcm the enemy at a fine running stream of water about 15 miles from Vera Cruz.

 

19th-Report reached us that the army was routed by our troops, our loss considerable. Saw Santa Anna's favorite residence, it is a fine looking

establishment, Elected one 4th Sgt. and one corp 2nd

 

2Oth-Took up the line of march at sunrise. Marched 18 miles cross several of the best stone bridges I ever saw, encamued at at the National bridge on the Qntijua River, a strong place,  both by nature  and by art, Genl. Quitman reported to me the result of the battle fought between Santa Ann and Genl. Scott on the 16th Inst.  Our loss 200. Mexican less 2000 killed 4000 prisoners 10,000 stand of small arms, and 23 guns, several officers prisoners of which Lavaga and Herrera (?) were two. Saw them on their way to the states as prisoners of war.

 

22nd-Took up the line of march at 1 o'clock, passed the battle ground and stronger position for defense certainly cannot be Mexico there I saw more dead men, horses, mules, and wounded men than I have ever before seen, it a picturesque and magnificent scenery I never have seen, a fine paved road and plenty of water, our army took a great number of guns, small arms, waggons, mules and ammunition. Battle ground Sierra Gorda. Saw Genl. Shields he is very low having been shot through with a grape shot, the mountain pass where the battle was fought is at the head of a deep ravine which runs southeast and is not more than fifty yards wide. Encamped on a little mountain stream of pure cool free stone water, have crossed thirteen stone bridges, have marched in sight of a mountain peak (the Orizaba) on our left from Vera Cruz. It had a fine

appearance.

 

23rd-Arrived at Jalapa at 10 o'clock A.M. it is a splendid looking town, closely built in the edge of the mountains, it contains a dense population of fashionable people of the Castilian stock, encamped two miles north of town on a small stream near a cotton factory, built in good style.

 

27th-In camps doing nothing but eating poor beef and cold water dow cake made of flour, both without salt.

 

MAY 2nd-In camps  preparing to take up the line of march, still further into the interior. Got shoes for self and J.P.B. some captured Mexican clothing sent into camps to be divided among the soldiers.

 

5th In camps waiting for the return train from Vera Cruz to escort it back to Vera Cruz where we will take transportation to the City of New Orleans and U.S.A. to be discharged from the service of the U.S. Received orders to march to Vera Cruz to start on the morning of 7th inst. Friday morning.

 

7th-Took up the line of march for Vera Cruz, Georgia leading. I very sick all day, was conveyed on a spring waggon encamped at Los Reo only 9 miles from Jalapa.

 

11th-Arrived at Vera Cruz at 8 o'clock and encamped at Twiggs old camp ground. Volunteers embarking for New York.

 

12th-Embarked on board the transport steamer Fashion with Genl. Patterson bound for New Orleans. Left my company at Vera Cruz, quite to my reluctance, quite unwell.

 

13th-On board the Fashion, quite pleasant, still sick, arrived at Tampico at 3 o'clock P.M. making the run in 24 hours.

 

14th-On board the Fashion, very sick all day, gave Capt. P.S. Brook Santa Anna's Cock gaffs for T. G. Bascom (?) Dr. Davis gave me medicine.

 

17th-Still on board the Fashion, arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi at 10 o'clock A.M. and well pleased I was to see land belonging to my own Government past a small town name unknown near the mouth. Getting much better, begin to feel well to what I have felt, I hope soon to meet my Dear Wife, children, Parents, relatives and friends after pasing the mouth of the river 35 miles I reached a beautiful construction, Fort, called Fort Jackson standing on both sides of the river, well built. At sun set was 40 miles below New Orleans, saw no more of the country. Some fine sugar plantations below New Orleans, arrived at the great city N.O. at 1 o'clock A.M. on the morning of the 18th.

 

18th-Found myself in the magnificent Hotel St. Charles, took breakfast, paid my bill and left the St, Charles and sought out a private boarding house, found a good house and that is well kept by Mrs. Luck, bot me a coat and pants put on some clean clothes after taking a bath.

 

19th-In New Orleans, awaiting the arrival of my company. Bot some beautiful things for my Dear Wife, Dress, bonnet and shoes, hose, handkerchief and gloves for $37.00 Bot Will a pr. of boots, and half hose, sent Tommy and Frank a whip each. Sick.

 

20th-In New Orleans, making out Discharge Muster Rolls, to have my company discharged as soon as it arrive here. Visited the N.O. grave yard, it covers about 11 acres of land, it is a splendid fitted up place, finest kind of family vaults, handsomely decorated with wreaths and flowers of every description. Sick.

 

21st-In New Orleans, making discharge rolls completed them 4 in number. Got letter from my Dear Wife written on the 15th inst. Oh!. my Dear God, how bad I feel that I can't go directly to her.

 

22nd-In New Orleans still waiting the arrival of my company, went up stairs on the St. Charles spire to take a view of the city went up 220 steps 8 inches each step, New Orleans is a fine large and handsome city. Clear and hot, sick.

 

23rd-in New Orleans anxiously waiting the arrival of my company went to market, early saw a great variety of everything to eat, visited in the afternoon a little village place Carolton where I saw the finest garden that I have ever before seen, a curiosity in a water fountain which kept up all the time a brass ball. Col. Coffee Lt. Col. Earl arrived in N. Orleans. Had chill.

 

26th-In New Orleans. My Company arrived in New Orleans some of the men, and my friends quite sick.

 

27th-In New Orleans, very sick, my Company was mustered out of the service of the United States, and paid off. Clear and warm, had a bad spell of cramps pleurisy or something else that I thought would almost kill me suffered much, taken again at night 10 o'clock bad all night.

 

28th-In New Orleans, very sick all day. Left New Orleans at five o'clock on board the packet Mobile for Mobile. James F. Bailey, John G. Heard, and myself.

 

29th-Arrived at Mobile at one o'clock P.M. met with my old friend R.G. Cook, left Mobile on the steamboat Amasanth at 7 o'clock bound for Selma.

 

3lst-Still on board the Amasanth beating along against the current of the Ala. river very slowly, and quite sick.

 

JUNE 1st-Arrived at Selma at ½ past one o'clock A.M. There to my great joy met with many of my friends, which was a meeting long to be remembered by me with feelings of the greatest satisfaction. Got my horse and set out on my way homeward, after having traveled some 12 miles I met through the goodness of God my Dear Wife and children how to contain myself the ballance of the day I knew not, Oh, what a day for me, arrived at home at 9 o'clock A.M. and found things in a much better condition than I expected to have done. Capt. James B. Harrison sent a team to carry my things home which was quite a favour to me, lest my writing and many little valuable things to me.

 

                                 The End

 

*Editor's Note: This shawl is owned by a member of the family.

 

{Also see "Page 24-Mexican War" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                      From Louisiana to Texas in the

                              Early 1870's

                            By Lena Langford

 

(Editor's note: This is from a letter written by the author in 1928 and given to Addle Whitby Olney who gives permission for its inclusion here. Mrs. Olney is the great-granddaughter of the John Richard Whitby mentioned in the letter. She adds that Lena Langford is the daughter of William Hemphill Langford, born Nov. 13, 1947 in Macon Georgia, died Feb, 23. 1894, buried in Ranger. Texas. And Martha Ann Whitby., born Oct. 23. 1853 in Homer., and died May 8, 1937. also buried in Ranger. Lena Langford died June 10, 1969 in Amarillo, Texas.)

 

   John Richard Whitby had three or four brothers and two sisters, Susan and Nancy (I think). He was raised by an uncle near Memphis, Tenn., as their parents died when he was small. He became a cabinet maker, went to Homer, Louisiana where he met and married Harriet Newel Moody, Jan. 1, 1852. One pine chest owned by his son J. Mr. Whitby, is his only work in the family. This was made soon after he was married. They moved from Homer to Atlanta, Ark., awhile before the Civil War. He went to war early, was captured at  ______2nd battle in Tenn., taken to Springfield, Ill. where be died of pmeumonia,Mar. to, 1862. The prisoners were taken by boat to Springfield and not allowed any fire on the way. Many of them had frozen fingers and toes. (1)

 

   He made a picket fence for a garden soon after he was married and as he had no nails he bored holes with a gimlet and drove in pegs made of chinquapin instead of nails. He helped to build the first house in Homer. It was his ambition to educate his children but after his death his wife who was never strong was overtaxed trying to furnish the barest nocessities for her children of whom the 2 youngest died young. Soon after the close of the Civil War Harriet Newel (Moody) Whitby moved near Minden, La. near hor step-father, Solomon . . . lived there a year or two, then moved to Homer. There about two years then to Ark. on Cornie about 20 miles from Homer, lived there about a year where her daughter Martha Ann married William Hemphill Langford who had moved there from Macon, Ga. This was Sept. 1870. They moved that winter to Summerfield, La. Where they lived one year, then in company with Henry Langford and wife Florence and her sisters Rosie and India and brother Gill, they moved to Sabine Co, Texas.

 

   Thirteen days on the way, bad roads, much rain, sleet, etc,, caused a hard trip in wagons. William Langford and wife and Harriet N. Whitby and son S. W. in one wagon with a pair of small mules pulling it. Going from Ringo (sic) toward Grantico (sic) one day they got only six miles, camped in open country on Red River. Clear when they camped. Bought two chickens, grandma-Mrs, Whitby-cleaned them for breakfast. Rained and froze during the nite. Grandma and India cooked breakfast next A.M. under an umbrella to keep camp fire from being rained out. That day six miles again, crossed Red River a mile or two below Grantico as crossing there was washed too bad to cross, had a hard time getting up the bank where they did cross as it was so steep, doubled teams, etc. The women walked to some bales of cotton for protection from the wind. There they saw grass burs for the first time, went out a few miles where they camped in woods where trees were breaking from ice.

 

   Uncle Henry lived in Ark. By letter they agreed to meet in Minden, La. Uncle Henry went through Minden and camped in the edge. William and family passed him not knowing they were there so traveled nearly a day trying to catch him then J. W. rode back to find him. My mother, Mrs, Martha Ann, walked quite a lot and bad put on new wool stockings-hand knitted, of course-to start with. They scratched her so she told them the first camp she must have cotton ones it the wagons had to be unloaded. She never wore wool ones any more. I have seen my grandmother pick cotton, then pick out seeds by hand, card and spin it into yarn, then knit stockings of it. . .

 

   They camped in the piney woods one nite in La. and raked big piles of pine needles for beds. Said they were fine with a bed (quilt?) put on them. They were so heavily loaded they hired part of the load hauled from Grantico on to Milam, Texas where they rented land on the Davis plantation. They made one crop I think there and I was born there Jan.22, 1872...

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1.   Later John Richard Whitby wrote: "The Yankee boys do try to be good to us but they just don't have the provisions to work with."  A.W. Olney

                               

                       The Old Military Road in Old

                            Claiborne Parish

                            By David Lee Fry

 

(Editor's note:  This paper was prepared by the author when he was studying under Morgan Peoples at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, It  is printed here with the permission of the author and the instructor.

 

   In 1827 and 1828, the United States Army constructed a road through the wilderness to connect Fort Jessup on the lower Red River near Natchitoches with Fort Towson on the upper Red River in Oklahoma. This Military Road was used to carry supplies from Fort Jessup to Fort Towson. Natchitoches was the head of navigation on the Red River at that time and goods had to be carried overland from there to Fort  Towson. This was the first road to be cut through what is now Claiborne Parish. The road ran by the home of John Murrell, who was the first settler in what is now Claiborne Parish. Early settlers recalled that soldiers and recruits passing to and from Fort Towson stole every thing of small value that they could lay their hands on such as bells,whetstones, chickens, geese, and even a pet deer from John Murrell's yard. Old Claiborne Parish was created in 1828 out of Northern Natchitoches Parish and was bounded by Ouachita Parish on the east, by the Red River on the west, by the Arkansas Territory on the north, and on the south by a line dividing townships 13 and 14 crossing the old Military Road at what was then Boggy Branch and touching the Red River at or near East Point. (1)

 

   Between 1830 and 1838 another road was built branching off the Military Road at Dixie Bayou in Northern Claiborne Parish and ran southwest through what became Blackburn, Germantown, and on to reach Dorcheat Bayou at Overton, which was near what is Minden today. In 1846, a small settlement sprung up near Dixie Bayou at the junction of the Military Road and the road leading to Overton. In 1848, a young Georgian named James C. Taylor settled there, opened a store and dug a public water well. The community then came to be known as Taylor's Store. The name of the town was later changed to Haynesville. This town or "Old Haynesville" was about one mile south of the present town of Haynesville which was created about 1898 when the railroad came through. The Military Road formed the north-south main street of "Old Haynesville". (2) There are few signs of "Old Haynesville" left today consisting of the cemetery, the private Taylor cemetery, two houses, and a small stream which was once Dixie Bayou- The deep roadcuts of the Old Military Road and the Overton Road are still visible in the undergrowth nearby. (3)

 

   The Hammack House, a hewn log structure, stood for more than a century and was exactly on the state line between Louisiana and Arkansas in both Claiborne Parish and Columbia County. The house was built on the Military Road between Haynesville, Louisiana, and Magnolia, Arkansas. The house was built between 1838 and 1840 by William Hammack. Hammack owned land on both sides of the state line and so decided to build his house exactly on the state line. The family said "We eat in Louisiana and sleep in Arkansas." This could be said because the house was separated by a hall with the kitchen in Louisiana and the bed rooms in Arkansas. The house was surrounded by a beautiful tree-studded park with half in Louisiana and half in Arkansas. Hammack was a successful trader of livestock and often bragged of his abilities as a "boss trader." The marriage of his daughter, Catherine, to William Joel Rushton in 1855 was talked about for a generation afterward. Hammack planned the wedding which lasted for three days with 300 guests, festivities, barbecued beef, mutton, venison. wild turkey, and other refreshments. This was one of the largest weddings ever held in the locality. In 1861, Hammaek sold his house and property, gave part of the money to his three daughters.. joined the Union Army and was never heard from again.

 

   In 1863, Rev. Samuel Beckett, a Methodist Minister, was deeded the house from J. M. Holland, who who had acquired it from Hammack in 1861. For many years young couples from Louisiana would come to the house to be married in the Arkansas side of the house by Rev. Beckett because at that time, Arkansas did not require a marriage license for a couple to be wed, Rev. Beckett's  descendants occupied the house until 1950 when it was torn down. (4) Little or no sign remains of the house today but the cut of the Old Military Road can still be seen.

 

   Other sites which were on or near the Old Military Road and were visited in the search for material to use in this paper were the old town of Langston which no longer exists and Holly Springs Baptist Church which is nearly a century old. The deep cut of the Old Military Road is visible in nearly all of these spots even though it is not in use anymore and has usually grown up so thick that one has to be right on it before realizing that it is even there. (5) The Old Military Road has played its part in North Louisiana history and especially Claiborne Parish history and has now settled to rest in the seclusion of the North Louisiana piney woods.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1  D. W. Harris and B.M. Hulse, Ths History of Claiborne Parish Louisiana, New Oreans, 1886, p.55.

2  Margueritte Garland Nation. "Old Haynesville Town." Historic Claiborne 1962, Claiborne Parish Historical  Association - 1962), p. 62-69.

3  Visit made by author of this paper to site.

4  Margueritte Garland Nation. ''The State Line House and the Marrying Parson." Historic Claiborne, 1965   Claiborne Parish Historical Association, 1965,  p. 54-95

5  Visit made by author of this paper to site.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Harris, D. W. and Hulse, B. M., The History of Claiborne Parish Louisiana. New Orleans:   W. B. Stanshury and Co., 1886.

 

Nation, Margueritte Garland, "Old Haynesville Town," Historic Claiborne 1962

Homer, Louisiana:  Claiborne Parish Historical Association, 1962.

 

Nation, Margueritte Garland, "The State Line House and the Marrying Parson,' Historic Claiborne, 1965.  Homer, Louisiana:  Claiborne Parish Historical Association. 1965.

                               

                     The Claiborne Parish Court House

                           By Lloyd C. Sims, Jr.

 

Editor's note:  This paper was prepared when the author was a student at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute under Morgan Peoples.  Appreciation is here by expressed to the author and to Mr. Peoples for making it available for publication.

 

   "The Board then proceeded to take up the subject of building a new Court House, the present one having been previously condemned by the public." (1) From this Police Jury meeting on Monday, October 4, 1858 plans were made which ultimately led to the construction of the present facility known as the Claiborne Parish Court House. Little did this body assembled realize the contribution they were making to the parish for generations to come.

 

Creation of Claiborne Parish

 

   The Parish of Natchitoches was one of the original seventeen governmental subdivisions established by Act No. 1 of the Louisiana General Assembly for the year 1807. It comprised substantially all of Northwest Louisiana. In 1828 the  parish of Claiborne was created out of what was then Natchitoches Parish. (2) The parish boundaries were set as follows: "That all that portion of territory beginning on the East bank of the Red River about 50 miles Northwest of the town of Natchitoches, at the Northern boundary of Township 12, thence East to the dividing line between Ranges 3 and 4 West, thence along said line which shall form the Western boundary of the parish of Ouachita, North to the Arkansas territory, thence West to the main branch of the Red River, and descending the same to beginning, is erected into a new parish to be called the parish of Claiborne." (3)

 

Early Government

 

   The parish named in honor of William Charles Cole Claiborne, the first governor of the State of Louisiana, administered its first parochial government from the home of John Murrell, one of the early settlers. Murrell's house was constructed the same year that the parish was created, and it stood on the old military road which passed through Claiborne Parish. (4)

 

   Russellville, located about a mile north of the present village of Athens, became the second seat of justice as the arrangement at Murrell's home was only temporary. A rude court house and ruder jail were erected, and in the old jail several of the white and black desperadoes of the period were confined. In 1836 the parish seat was moved to Overton, and Russeliville soon after fell into decay. Overton was the setllement for a port or landing on Bayou Dorcheat near the present city of Minden. (5)

 

   When the first three seats of government were established, Claiborne Parish then included all of the present parishes of Bienville, Bossier, and Webster, and sections of Jackson, Lincoln, and Red River Parishes. The year 1843 brought the creation of Bossier Parish from Claiborne Parish, and following similarly in 1845, the Parish of Jackson was carved out of Claiborne. (6)

 

   Owing to unhealthy location and the general desire for change, Overton was deserted in 1846, and Old Athens selected as the official center of the parish. Reducing the size of Claiborne considerably was the formation of the parish of Bienville in 1848. A fire probably of incendiary origin consumed the public building and records at Old Athens during the night of November 6, 1849. This suspicion becomes more meaningful when one learns that on September 1, 1849, just two months and five days before the fire, the parish of Claiborne had obtained a patent from the United States covering 120 acres of land on which was subsequently located the county seat and town of Homer. (7)

 

   The same year the seat of justice was established at Homer. A very primitive board building was at once erected, and there, in September, of that year, Judge Roland Jones opened court, with Allen Harris, sheriff, and W. C. Copes, clerk. During the winter of 1849-50 a substantial brick building was erected for public purposes, and there-in, in the fall of 1850, the same judge, sheriff, and clerk opened court. Therefore, the oldest record of the police jury is dated November 12, 1849, since the records of the previous twenty-one years had been destroyed with the court house at Old Athens during the fire on November 6, 1849. (8)

 

   Soon afterward, the parish seat was moved to its present location of Homer approximately ten miles northward from the fire-consumed structure at Old Athens. The Town of Homer was incorporated in the year 1850. Messrs. Cotter and Kiligore, contractors, commenced the construction of a new court house. In January, 1855, a committee was appointed to receive the court house from the contractors. Authorization of the final payment took place on June 5, 1855. (9)

 

   About the year 1857, this court house which had been built at so much cost, for a new country, began to show signs of decay. Huge cracks opened in the walls, giving sure indication of an impending disaster. The police jury saw the danger, and the people being able and willing, the building was taken down, and with its remains were built a strong fire-proof office. (10)

 

   The committee appointed on January 5, 1858, to employ someone to repair the building had reported that the court house could not be adequately repaired and had, therefore, been condemned in the ordinance of October 4, 1858. This same ordinance also authorized the letting of bids for a new court house, and it is particularly interesting because the detailed specifications it contained were not in the least bit followed in the erection.

 

Specifications far the Court House

 

   Some of the specifications were brought out in the records of this October 4, 1858, meeting. Act. No. 1 stated, "A wood Court-House, framed, forty-two feet wide by fifty-two feet long; ten feet for gallery and stairway added on the North end, making the entire building sixty-two feet; the foundation to be that of the old Court-House, and the first floor to be about as high as the present window sills; the court room to be on the first floor, which room is to be sixteen feet between floor and ceiling and circled inside with draped ceiling; the second story to be divided into four rooms, with two passages ten feet wide, running east and west and north and south, and eleven feet between floors; the front to he finished with four columns and stairway complete; the roof hipped and covered with heart-pine shingles." (11)

 

   Two additional buildings were mentioned in later specificatiohs as one was to house the book recorder's office and the other was to be a brick Clerk's office. Both were to be fireproof so the parish records could be saved in ease of another fire. (12)

 

   A committee composed of D. Neely, the president, Isaac Murrell,J. R. Ramsey, and J. M. Prestidge, all members of the police jury, was appointed to contract and let out the building of the Court House and two fireproof offices, and to superintend the building of the same. This was Act No.6 of the following day, October 5, 1858 B. D. Harrison attested with his signature as clerk of court. (13)

 

   W. C. Crutcher, a local contractor, was employed for the purpose of building these facilities. However, politics entered into the picture then as it does today because, in the year 1860, a new police jury was installed, and the original building committee was succeeded by a new committee composed of J. G. Warren, the president, Seaborn Gray, N. W. Peters, and W. L. Oaks, all members of the police jury J. R. Ramsey, one of the members of the original committee to build a new court house, was now clerk, and he attested to this Act. No. 10 of the police jury session on June 4, 1860. (14)

 

   On July 20,1861, a report was rendered by the building committee which stated that the keys to the building had been accepted and the contractor relieved of any further responsibility. The police jury session of September 3rd. of that year made a detailed settlement with W. C.Crutcher, the contractor. This settlement showed that the original contract price of the court house was $11,445.00, but that changes and alterations in the original plans had raised the final cost to the sum of $12,304.30. A few of the changes which caused the cost to be somewhat higher included, "Four extra columns, hauling dirt and cleaning of yard, two door shutters, graining and painting same, hinges and butts for same, hanging window blinds, three seats in court room. and the interest on the first as well as the second draft to date." Recorded also in the same police jury meeting was that the account and accompanying account was to be received and approved and published with the proceedings of this meeting. (15)

 

   During the conclusion of this meeting, Act. No. 12 of the session was passed. It stated, "The President was authorized to advertise and let out at the lowest bidder the enclosing of the Court House with a fence like the original one, and all the railing and steps fit for use in the old fence to be used in the new one." (16)

 

   Since the court house has been in continuous service with verv few major repairs except during the first few months of 1964, it has served its parish well in excess of 106 years. This may well be considered one of the best investments in the history of the parish.

 

The Actual Building

 

   Descriptions of the court house vary according to the way one views the building. Local public minded leaders remind one that the center of Homer is dominated by the beautiful court house, seat of Claiborne Parish government since 1860, and one of the oldest public buildings in continuous use in the State. To these interested citizens this antebellum edifice is a classic example of Greek revival architecture and is a symbol of the town and parish. (17) Parish officials proclaim the present substantial and classic building is one of the most impressive antebellum public buildings in the entire state, A square brick edifice, two stories high with a wide surrounding colonade supported by twenty massive columns, was considered, at the time it was built, the finest structure in all North Louisiana. (18)

 

   The first project of the Claiborne Parish Historical Association was to place a state historic marker on the court house ground. This marker, erected by the Department of Commerce and Industry in 1957, presents another description:

 

                      CLAIBORNE PARISH COURT HOUSE

 

          Built in 1860, this antebellum building was the point of departure for Confederate Troops during the War Between the States. It is one of the finest examples of Southern expression of Greek Architectural style.

 

   Historians have revealed the fact that the court house did not always appear originally the way opinion has had it. The fact was that the court house was of red brick with white columns and green blinds at the windows on the lower floor. The windows were larger than those now in the building, and the panes of glass were smaller. The original windows were replaced by the smaller ones with four large panes. Cut-outs in the original window frames show where the blinds were hung. (20)

 

   No matter how one describes this structure, it is a classic example of Greek revival architecture, and this remains the dominant factor in the characteristics of the court house today. More especially it is one of the finest remaining evidences of the Southern expression of this architectural movement. (21)

 

   The lines of the building and floor plans originally designed are remarkably simple and utilitarian.

 

   The lower floor, was originally divided into four corner rooms by crossing hallways running north and south and east and west. Arranging the building in this manner with the substantial overhang of the roof made for maximum coolness which was particularly needed during the summer months which are often long, hot, and dry. Recent years have brought about the sealing of the east-west hallway preceeding the 1964 renovation which closed up the north-south hallway. Accordingly, this has detracted from the original beauty and symmetry of the building, but modernization efforts to make the building still useful and more comfortable have to be considered in order to keep the governmental offices at this location.

 

   The district court had use of the second floor exclusively, which contained a large courtroom covering approximately three forths of the entire floor space. An office for the district judge, a hallway, and a jury room spanned the portion of this floor facing northward. One gained entrance to the upper floor by the use of stairways on the north and south sides. (22)

 

   Surmounted by an old belfry which was used in former times to signal the meetings of court and other activities of community importance, the design was completed. Fearing that decay of the timbers which supported it would cause the bell to fall through to the floor beneath, it was removed many years ago, ending an era of calling the inhabitants of the surrounding countryside. A memory in the minds of older citizens is the only trace this worthy custom has left. (23)

 

   The base appears to be a perfect square, but in actuality it is a rectangle. North and south measures 63 feet in comparison to 53 feet east and west. Twenty massive columns support the roof overhang of approximately 12½ feet in each direction. The spacing of these columns is slightly closer together on the north and south sides than on the east and west sides thus creating the illusion of a square.

 

   Columns and walls of the structure were constructed of bricks manufactured in kilns located nearby. The timbers, as legend has it, are said to have been hewn from trees felled in Middlefork Bottom, some eight or nine miles north of Homer.(24)

 

   In the beginning the court house lawn included forty feet more in all directions than it does now. With the growth of the city, the widening of the main streets for easier traffic circulation and better parking spaces have reduced the size of the lawn tremendously. Mak-ing the appearance of the court house "square,' more complete are the old picturesque oak trees surrounding it and enhancing its beauty. Renovation also has altered these trees to some extent, but the faithful gray squirrels which make these trees their home continue to exist as the progeny of three pairs of these animals, whose ancestors' were presented by the Parish of Caddo to Claiborne Parish. (25)

 

The 1964 Renovation

 

   The Claiborne Parish Police Jury after much deliberation and consideration decided in the year 1963 for a total renovation of the court house. On June 5th. of that year, a Uniform Contract for Architectural and Engineering Service was provided upon the request of the Police Jury by Scott Yeager and Associates, 201 Lee Street, Alexandria, Louisiana. Titled, "RENOVATIONS AND REPAIRS, CLAIBORNE PARISH COURTHOUSE, HOMER, LOUISIANA," the estimated construction cost was $106,607.88, which included the 10% to be paid to the  architect engineer. Bids were taken after this date by the Police jury. In the first round the bids were all too high, but a second round produced one which was accepted. Frank C. Barron, General Contractor. P 0. Box 189, Farmerville, Louisiana, was the winning bidder.

 

   On January 15, 1964, a contract was drawn up tifled, "SPECIFICATIONS FOR ALTERATIONS  AND  ADDITIONS  TO  CLAIBORNE PARISH COURT HOUSE, HOMER, LOUISIANA." The contract called for completion of the work within 180 consecutive days with a $25.00 a day penalty for delayed work. Signing the contract with Frank C Barron was Efliot O'Rear, president of the Police Jury, and represent of that body. Total cost read $118,219.00

 

   Approved May 14, 1964, was Change Order Number One (No. 1) which included:

 

          No. 1  2" Empty Conduit for Sheriff's Office     $   88.00

          No. 2  Toilet Rooms on Lower Level outside.       2,800.00

          No. 3  Second floor Aprilair Humidifier             195.00

          No 4  Benches for Second floor Courtroom          1.858.93

                                                            ________

                                                           $4,941.93

 

This change added to the contract price of $118,249.00, increased the renovation and repair cost to the total of $123.162.93. over ten times the cost of building the original structure.

 

   During the summer months of 1964, as the completition of tht court house took place, the various offices housed in the present structure moved back to their remodeled homes. On september 9, 1964. the Police Jury record reads, "Upon motion, duly seconded and seconded, the Police Jury accepted the renovation of the Claiborne Parish Court House as substantially complete and authorized its presidend Mr. Elliot O'Rear,  to sign the acceptance.

 

   In general, the style of the court house was preserved as well as could be expected for the building to remain adequate far the main governmental offices of the parish. Southern expression of the Greek revival architectural movement can still he captured with a glance at the renovated court house.

 

Renovations and Repairs

 

   The lower floor which had originally consisted of four corner rooms and later changed with the closing of the east and west hallway, again was revised with the north and south hallway closed by double doors at each end. The west side of this floor was made into the offices of the parish sheriff. One large room for general office duties such as the paying of taxes and selling hunting licenses was created. In the center of these offices is the radio room which houses equipment for communications. A small interrogation room is connected by a hallway to the sheriff's private office in back.

 

   Opposite this hallway are the offices of the registrar of voters and the tax assessor. Facilities for maintainence of the building are in the dividing room on this east side.

 

   The upper floor still contains the district court and its large courtroom which has been cut down somewhat by making an entrance room into it from the south side. This allows for the court proceedings to continue and not be constantly interrupted by those entering from the outside stairways on the south while court is in session. The benches now have replaced the old theater-type seats and this makes for a more pleasing appearance. Although definitely making for a more attractive courtroom, the former seating capacity was greater than it is now. Everything is of a new and modern nature including red carpeting and white louvered shutters in the windows which particularly enhance the benches with their dark wood. This elegance has been carried out to such an extent that one would hardly realize that the outer shell of the original building has stood the test of time.

 

   The northern one-fourth of this floor still provides office space for the district judge, a small library, and a hallway leading into a room where awaiting prisoners are held. Stairs on both north and south ends have always been steep, narrow, and wooden steps, and one felt after climbing them, almost straight up. These have been replaced by wider steps with a landing about half way for a "rest period" if one requires it to finish the task remaining.

 

   From the numerous changes that have taken place, it is easy to see that the entire body of the old court house was destroyed, and only the shell of the original building left standing, Cleaning down to the original bricks and plaster took place not only on the walls of the building but also on the columns. As for the roof, the first beams were checked and replaced only if there was an unrepairable damage. Otherwise smaller repairs were made, and a new roof was added. Full window-length black shutters were placed on the outside windows of both floors which completes the graceful picture.

 

   The lawn surrounding the court house has also been improved to make for a more imposing scene. The oak trees have been trimmed of their overhanging branches, but the squirrels have reappeared to their former homes after an exodus in early 1964. The air conditioning unit on the north side of the square was enclosed in a brick wall of white so as not to detract any more than necessary. A water sprinkling system in the yard itself helps the custodian to keep green grass without natural rain. New and wider sidewalks with proper drainage lead out from all directions to keep traffic from moving on the grass, and a wide sidewalk enveloping the entire outer lawn prevents parking motorists from stepping on the grass as they place their money in the new parking meters. Four large spotlights on the sides make the scene at night quite impressive.

 

   Viewing the court house from the south or east, one still notes the statue to the Confederate soldiers from the parish, while the historical marker attracts interest to the north or west side.

 

   The look has been changed quite drastically in comparison with the originally designed structure, but the sentimentality will always remain. Truly a historic landmark in Louisiana, the court house will continue to bring curious and interested visitors to inspect the past, living today. If history will have it as such, this court house must long be preserved not only for its entrinsic beauty, but also for the cherished tradition which future generations surely will enjoy as past ones have, and the present one does.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1.   Claiborne Parish Police Jury Record Bock No. 1, p. 108.

2.   Act. No. 42 of the Louisiana General Assembly, 1828.

3.   Ibid.

4.   The Southern Publishing Company Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, p. 382.

5.   Ibid., p. 383.

6.   Ibid., p. 384.

7.   J. Fair Hardin, Northwestern Louisiana, a History of the Water Shed of the Red River 1714 to 1937, p. 96.

8.   The Southern Publishing Company.  bc. cit.

9.   Ibid., p. 385.

10.  D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse, The History of Claiborne Parish, p. 42.

11.  Claihorne Parish Police Jury Record Book No, 1, p. 108.

12.  Ibid., p. 109.

13.  Ibid., p. 110.

14.  Ibid., p. 131.

15,  Ibid., p. 149.

16.  Ibid., p. 150.

17.  Homer Chamber of Commerce. "Presenting Facts oi Homer, Louisiana." p. 1.

18.  Claiborne Par Planning Board, Claiborne Par Resources and Facilities, p  8.

19.  The North La Historical Association, "Newsletter, November, 1964." p. 2.

20.  Claiborne Parish Historical Association. Historic Claiborne. p. 108.

21.  Claiborne Parish Historical Association. Claiborne Parish Sketches, p. 14.

22.  Ibid.

23.  Ibid., p. 15

24.  Ibid.

25.  Ibid.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Barber, Howard I. Personal Interview, Homer, Louisiana. February 6, 1968.

 

Claiborne Parish Historical Association. Claiborne Parish Sketches, Homer, Louisiana, 1956.

 

___________________________  Historic Claiborne, Homer, Louisiana, 1962.

 

Claiborne Parish Planning Board. Claiborne Parish Resources and Facilities, April 1, 1948.

 

Claiborne Parish Police Jury Record Book No  1, Homer, Louisiana, 1858.

 

Hardin, S. Fair. Northwestern Louisiana, a Histiory of the Water Shed of the Red River 1714 to 1937, The Historical Record Association. Shreveport, 1939.

 

Harris, D. W. and Hulse, B. M. The History of Claiborne Perish, Press of W. B. Stanshury & Co., New Orleans, 1886.

 

Homer Chamber of Commerce, "Presenting Fact.' of Homer, Louisiana." 1968.

 

The Northwest Louisiana Historical Association, "Newsletter, November, 1964," Volume 5, Number 1.

 

The Southern Publishing Company. Memoirs of Northwest Louisiana, Nashville. 1890.

 

{Also see "Page 43-Courthouse" and "Page 46-Clerk of Court" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                            Proud Inheritance

                             By Jane Tenery

 

Editor's note:  This article first appeared in the North Louisiana Historical Association's NEWSLETTER, vol. 8 no. 4, Midsummer Bonus Issue, 1968. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author and of the NEWSLETTER.

 

   In the spring of 1818 John Murrell, his wife Margaret, and their six children left Tennessee with a hundred dollars in cash and a few household goods, moving west in search of a new home. They settled on land later organized as Claiborne Parish in 1828. John Murrell was the first white man to settle permanently in this area of Louisiana.

 

   Their first stop was at Long Prairie in Arkansas Territory. On a trip into Louisiana a short time later to buy cattle, John Murrell met the Isaac Aldens, a pioneer couple, who urged Murrell to bring his family and settle in an empty cabin near them.

 

   Upon returning to his camp on the Red River with his newly acquired stock, Murrell found his family sick with fever. He decided to move to a healthier climate as soon as the children were able to travel, The deserted cabin on the Natchitoches trail, suggested by the Aldens, proved to be the place in which he finally made his home in 1819.

 

   The original homeplace of the Murrells was a 320 acre tract of land. It remains intact today, passed down to the fourth and fifth generations.

 

   There were three John Murrells in the family. The pioneer settler, John Murrell Senior had six children. One was John Junior, who was six years old when his father brought him to Louisiana. John Junior had five children, including John III, and William Columbus. William Columbus had four daughters. Two of his children, Mrs. Bessie Gray and Mrs. Albert Allen, live today in Homer, Louisiana. It is from their letters, newspaper clippings, and personal memories that the following is written.

 

   John Murrell's home was the center of all early activity in northwest Louisiana. The first church, a Baptist denomination was organized there by James Brison from Ouachita Parish in 1822. (1) He was assisted by Arthur McFarland. Thereafter monthly services were conducted. The first election held in the area was also conducted there, and the first court session in the Claiborne area was held in the Murrell Housu in 1828. (2)

 

   The first post office was placed here, and John was appointed the first postmaster by Postmaster General John McLean in 1827. (3)

 

   This famous old house was constructed hand-hewn logs, dove-tailed to fit (and so) free from nails that would later rust in the humid climate. It was never painted throughout its long and fruitful existence. Legends have grown up about it through the years. Many of them pertain to the activity of Confederate soldiers who hid from Union patrols during the Civil War. The basement concealed many of the Johnny Rebs, cared for and hidden by the master and mistress of the Murrell house.

 

   Slowly, through the years after the War Between the States, the new generation of Murrells left the homestead to establish homes of their own and eventually the house was abandoned. It was occupied from time to time by Negro tenants who usually removed as soon as they could find new quarters because they  could not stand living "where them soldier 'hants' keep marching through." (4)

 

   Today the cellar is all that remains of the old Murrell homeplace. Mrs. Bessie Murrell Gray and Mrs. Maude Murrell Allen, the daughters of William Columbus Murrell, rcmember the house as it was when they were children, for it was a second home to them then. Mrs. Allen describes the house:

 

     "It was a two-story structure with eighteen rooms. They were rather small. On each side of the house were chimneys for the fireplaces on both floors. The chimneys were native stone; some of the rocks are now in the fireplace at the Homer American Legion Hut. Long porches reached all the way across the front, upstairs and down." (5)

 

   The year 1896 was an election year at the National level. Like most North Louisianians, the Murrells took their politics seriously, but an event occurred which to them overshadowed the screaming of politicians declaring the United States must stop the flow of gold from the country. (6) That was the year William Columbus lost the solid gold watch which had belonged to his brothers. He always wore the watch with its heavy gold chain across the front of his vest from one pocket to the other. Always, that is, until this day in 1896 when he decided to take the girls to the fair. The train ran from Homer to Gibsiand, and then to Shreveport. Somewhere out of Gibsiand he discovered that a pick-pocket had stolen his watch. The thief probably never knew the great loss his nimble fingers caused the family to suffer, The story of that gold watch began during the War Between the States.

 

   Ed Merritt, a young colored slave, was sent to war with John III and Perry, sons of John Murrell Junior, to look after them. Early in September, 1862, all three of them were in Maryland when the battle of Sharpsburg, known in the North as Antietam, began on the 16th and lasted through the l7th. (7) On the morning of the 17th, when the brothers were preparing to leave camp to move to Sharpsburg, one of them (in later years Ed could not remember which one) gave the slave the watch and told him, "Take this home to Papa; I feel we will not be back."

 

   That night, after the battle, Ed went onto the field and turned over hundreds of dead in order to see their faces, but he was not able to find his young masters. He then trudged slowly homeward, taking the better part of a year to arrive there. (8)

 

   A letter from R. A. Smith, a cousin who went to war with John and Perry, tells in very vivid language the story of what happened after they left Ed that morning:

 

          "Little John Murrell, Perry's brother was killed at Sharpsburg, Pa. (Md?) Sept. 7, 1862 (He is mistaken about the date.) Perry was wounded in the face having one eye blinded in the same battle. Ed could not find either of them....gathered up our things and come (sic) home. So we three were at home in the Spring of 1863 . . .(9)

 

          The last we beard of Perry was when he crossed the stone fence about Cemetery Ridge (Gettysburg, July 3, 1863) in charge of Picket's Bregade . . . After the war, cousin John Murrell took Ed Merritt and they went North to every cemetery and every hospital they could find, but they never got any trace of either of the boys, Perry or John Murrell." (10)

 

   The New Orleans CRESCENT, on July 20, 1866, printed a list of the Louisiana dead at the Batfle of Sharpsburg. The artile was a request for families to go for bodies of their sons so the land could be cultivated.

 

          "The owners Of the land cannot be prevented from plowing over them. This they have done, and committed outrages of which I dare not write. In the fall, all of the bodies will be removed from the battlefield, and buried in a general cemetery, After they have been removed, it will be impossible to identify the bodies, so all who wish their dead must take them at once." (11)

 

   Perry Murrell, as well as his brother John, was listed as one of those whose graves were located. How happy it must have made John Junior to think that he had at least an opportunity to bury his boys. What disappointment he must have suffered shortly, when he received a reply to his letter, from a Mr. Aaron Good, in September, 1866. Mr. Good explained that he had given the list of the wounded as well as the dead to a Mary McKenzie of Charleston, South Carolina. She had erred in having both lists published as dead. He did not know the whereabouts of Perry's body.

 

   In closing, Mr. Good wrote, "I think it almost impossible to buy a piece of ground where they are hurried (sic) as it belongs to minor Heirs (sic)." (12)

 

   Education was important to all the Murrells. In 1822. John hired the first school teacher. James Ashburner, at a salary of fifteen dollars a month, to teach in his home in Claiborne Parish. (13) John Murrell was determined to provide ample schooling for his children, an opportunity not enjoyed by his wife Margaret. When she signed the first deed on record in the parish it was necessary for her to sign with an "X". But the tradition which her husband began was to be followed faithfully. When John Junior fell out with the Baptist Church and joined the Christian Church, he sent his son William Columbus to a school in Arkansas operated by the Disciples of Christ. William Columbus was so named by  his father, "In order to give him a good name, in case he never makes one for himself." William's wife, Eliza Bridgeman, also had the very best education available. She and her brother first went to the Arizona Seminary, a fine school in Claiborne Parish, to the famous Louisiana educator, James W. Nicholson. After the Homer Masonic Female Institute was founded, she was able to return there, where she had another well-known educator T S. Sligh as a professor.

 

   Self-reliance and independence of action characterized Bessie Murrell even as a child. Those were the days when to educate children properly, parents had to board them out in a town with a school. Usually, they could go home for the week-end, and usually they kept a horse in town to ride home, or a servant would bring the buggy for them.

 

   Although the parish public school system developed during the 1890's, it was still necessary for the young Murrell girls to live in town during the week. Bess smiled rather ruefully while recalling some of their experiences. "We usually had to board at a different home every year because I was such a terror," she said.

 

   Summer never meant an end to school. Not all of the families in the community could afferd the expense or necessary loss of labor to send their children to town. Therefore, they made up a collection to hire a teacher for two months during the summer. Barefooted, and wearing loose, light cotton dresses, running and chasing one another to wherever school was being held, the Murrell sisters continued their education. At times it was across Cyprus Creek, at other times it was in the Curry Community. At Curry's, later changed to Bethlehem Church, Bessie remembers one teacher especially well:

 

          "Miss Willie Camp, from Old Haynesville, used to take us outside to a branch under the hill for our geography lessons. There we made peninsulas, islands, and the shape of the continents of the earth. Those lessons have stayed with me to this day." (15)

 

   In 1896 Louisiana's Governor was Murphy J. Foster, the only man except for its present Governor John MeKeithen to serve two successive terms of office. In New Orleans the Choctaw Club or "Old Regulars" was formed to control politics under the leadership of Martin Behrman. In Winn Parish the Populist Party began as a reform movement with a "radical" platform which included woman's suffrage, an income tax, and an eight-hour day. The Populists joined with the Democrats to nominate William Jennings Bryan as their candidate for the presidency.

 

   Free and unlimited coinage of silver was one of the main planks in the Democratic platform. In Homer, J. W. Smith began publication of THE CLIPPER. As editor and publisher in his first issue of the newspaper he deplored the steady decline of silver since the Civil War, and he took a strong stand for William Jennings Bryan, as opposed to Marcus Hanna, "the William McKinley organ grinder", who with the "Palmer monkey" was grinding out salmon-colored songs. (17)

 

   To add to the economic worries of the citizens of Homer, Louisiana, two large banks in New Orleans failed when their officers embezzled funds. Extreme drought and antipathy toward government aid intensified the election issues. Miss Grace McFarland, a former Homerite and great granddaughter of Arthur McFarland, was asked if she recalled the drought of 1896 and she replied:

 

          "Recall it, I guess I do! But it was more like '95 and '96. The people in the state of Iowa, I think it was,    sent us a train car load of corn. Major Beardsly had built a railroad from up in Arkansas to Natchitoches-I remember that too. Brother was thirteen or fourteen and he would take buttermilk down and sell it to the men working on the railroad. About the I stood and watched Major Beardsly take out eighteen barrels of it to pay for the shipping osts on his line. We'd always been used to white corn and this was yellow-how we hated it-but we ate that yellow meal. Of course we've found out since it is better for us. I guess that what we hated most of all was not being able to do for ourselves. Southern people have always been stuck up and proud." (18)

 

Reports of attempts to control the elections were widely circulated. The CLIPPER continued to contain tirades against the opposition:

 

          "If McKinleyism predominates in this campaign, it is folly for the people to expect to get relief even through the ballot box. There is no mistaking the fact that the people have the greatest leader known in the whole history (Bryan) or that is likely ever to be known, and if with him we fail to win we had better lay our voting armor down." (19)

 

   Advocates for the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to 1 decided to promote a parade to higlight the campaign in Homer. Sixteen young ladies were diosen to wear white dresses, to represent the silver, but no one was willing for a parade to be tainted with the "Capitalist McKinley Crowd" by wearing a gold dress. With emotions at such a high pitch, it is easy to understand why a refined young lady would hestitate to represent the gold. But if there was to be a parade, someone had to do it. A courageous and high-spirited young lady of twelve, Bessie Murrell, agreed. The dress she wore was not really gold; it was of yeflow material and made on the style of a mother hubbard, very similar to some of the dresses worn by young girls today. (20)

 

   Before moving into town in 1909, the family of William Columbus Murrell attended church at Coal Springs. It was a Baptist Church named for a spring which gushed from a bed of coal in the hil upon which it stood, After services, while their elders visited in the church yard, the children would amuse themselves by climbing the hill and pulling out layers of the coal to throw at one another. Among Bessie's family papers is an incomplete history of the church, written by an Aunt Mollie Ford. The following are only a few of her many lively reminiscences:

 

          "Among the fast growing pines of the forest in a partially obscured portion of Claiborne Parish there stands a lonely deserted baptist meeting house. This house was built in 1874, now (1914) 38 years ago. The church was organized in 1862 and was first called Bethel. . .In 1865 the name was changed to Coal Springs; because there was thought to be a vein of coal in the nearby hills from which runs the little spring branch that filled the pool that was used for baptizing.

 

          "There were about 190 baptisms on record and 75 exclusions. There were many restorations, but it was so often the same person in and out-in and out that we couldn't tell gain or loss.

 

          "The last sermon that was preached in the old house was on the last day of the meeting of the last month of the year 1876. J. W. Melton preached (from the) text: "The harvest is passed, summer is ended and I am not saved." Then the heavy snow crushed the old building to the ground 2 weeks later.

 

          "Once during a regular church conference, the subject of paying the pastor was being discussed. One brother said that six bits a day is what he bad to pay a hired hand to work and that he thought six bits a day would do for the preacher." (21)

 

   The yellowed, tattered pages are numbered and end abruptly at page ten.

 

   On a cold but sunny afternoon in December, Bessie took her neighbor to see the old Murrell graveyard, the first in the parish. It is about six miles west of Homer on the Germantown Road. In 1958. the Homer Chapter of the Claiborne Parish Historical Association placed a mrker by the side of this road.

 

   To the left of the marker is a road which leads to the cemetery. Enclosed by a fence of barbed wire, loose and in some places broken, are the graves of the Murrells who first made this land their home, John Senior and his wife Margaret. The graves are mounded to a height of about four feet and covered with native rock. Two large stones originally at the front have fallen and are partly buried in the earth. Three tablets of marble still remain as reminders that other Murrells lie there; one is black and broken but still readable. "Sacred to the memory of John Murrell Sr. Who died Jan. 25th, 1847. Age 63 year's and 5 days. His creed was, Faith, Hope and Charity."

 

   The graves of the Murrells are surrounded by those of Negroes's, some of whom were slaves and some of whom have died in recent years. Many of these have white-washed concrete or marble tombstones that stand out in stark relief compared to the bleakness of their surroundings within the cemetery.

 

   Bessie explained the Negro graves in the Murrell burial ground in these words: "When the War ended, Grandfather (John, Junior) gave each of his former slaves forty acres and a cabin. Most of I them took the name ''White'' and they have prosspered."  John Junior also gave his former slaves and their descendants the right to he buried in the family plot.

 

   Scattered bunches of artificial flowers and bits of glass, an old lamp base and a broken pitcher were the only signs of care. The weeds were high and dry; the thin wire and the road were al1 that was holding back the forest growth.

 

   As shadows from the tall cedars began to creep over the graves of John and Margaret, Bessie paused to look at them once more, Beggar lice and sand thistles clung to her bright red coat. She was heedless of them in her despair over the condition of the graves. "Gone and forgotten," she remarked.

 

   The past and the present merged as the shadows they cast lengthened into one. The words of the preacher seemed to hang in the air: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be bath already been."

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1.   D. W. Harris and B. M. Hulse, The History of Claiborne Parish, La, p. 52

2.   Ibid.. p. 56.

3.   The Claiborne Par Historical Association, Historic Claiborne, '65, p.31.

4.   Personal Interview, Mrs. Albert Allen, Homer, La, December 27, 1967.

5.   Personal Interview, Mrs. Bessie Murrell Gray, December 27, 1967.

6.   Porter and Johnson, National Party Platforms, p. 103.

7.   Frances W. Palfrey, The Antietam and Fredericksburg, p 50.

8.   Personal Interview, Mrs. Bessie Murrell Gray, January 2. 1968.

9    Undoubtedly he means that the slave Ed, Perry, and he were home in the spring.

10.  R. A Smith to Mrs. J. D. Harper March 13. 1922, The Claiborne Parish Historical Association, Historic Claiborne '65, p. 83.

11   The New Orleans Daily Crescent, July 20, 1866.

12.  Aaron Good, to John Murrell. September 5,1866 in possession of Mrs. Bessie Murrell Gray.  Homer. Louisiana.

13   James A. Cawthorn, Ghost Towns of Old Claiborne. pg, 394.

15.  Personal Interview. Mrs. Bessie Russell Gray, December 27, 1967

17.  Homer, (La,) The Clipper, September 9, 1896, p. 2.

18.  Personal Interview, Miss Grace McFarland, Gladewater, Texas. Dec 30. 1967.

19.  Homer, (La.), The Clipper, October 7, 1896, p. 2.

20.  Personal Interview, Mrs. Bessie Murrell Gray, Homer, La., Dec 10, 1967.

21.  Mollie Ford, History of Coal Springs Baptist Church, unpublished manuscript in Bessie Gray's papers,

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

                                  Books

 

Buchanan. Scott, ed. The Portable Plato. New York: The Viking Press, 1948

Cawthon, James Artia. Ghost Towns of Old Claiborne. Reprinted from Journal or Louisiana History, the Louisiana Historical Society XXIX, Number 4, nd]:.

MeGinty, Garnie William. A History of Louisiana, New York: Exposition Press, 1951.

Palfrey. Francis Winthrop. The Antietam and Fredericksburg. New York: The Blue and Gray Press, 1882

Porter. Kirk H. and Johnson, Donald Bruce. National Party Platforms: 1840-1960. 2nd. ed. Urbana. Illinois: The University of Illinois Press, 1961

 

                               Newspapers

 

The Clipper. (Homer, La.) 1896

New Orleans Crescent, July 20. 1866

 

                           Oriqinal Manuscripts

 

Letter.   Aaron Good to John Murrell, Sharpsburg. Md. Sept. 5th, 1866 in possesion or Mrs. Beasie Murrell Gray. Homer, Louisiana.

Unpublished records or coal Springs Baptist Church by Mollie Ford

 

                          Personal Interviews

 

Personal iniersiew, Mrs. Albert Allen, Homer, Louisiana

Personal Interview, Mrs. Bessie Gray, Homer, Louisiana

Personal interview, Miss Grace McFarland, Gladewater, Texas

 

 

{Also see "Page 55-John Murrell, Sr.," "Page 57-Murrell Markers," and "Page 61-Murrell House Marker" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

 

 

 

 

 

                               

 

 

                             Early Arizona

                        by Vesta Robinson Cook

 

(Editors note:  This is a portion of a paper read October 16, 1966 by the author on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Methodist Church in Arizona.  Joshua Willis, ahout whom the author writes, donated the land for the church. The author is a direct descendent of Joshua Willis,)

 

 

   It is of Joshua and Barbara Willis and of principal events occuring in their long and useful lives that we wish to speak today. Joshua Willis was born in Culpepper County, Virginia, on March 29, 1796. He saw service in the War of 1812, volunteering in Virginia in 1814 at the age of 18. He was discharged in 1815.

 

   Little is known of his life during the next few years except that he kept store for an older brother, Robert or Benjamin, in Louisa County. It was while working there that he met and married Barbara Winston. They were married April 24,1817. Three children were born to Joshua and Barbara in Virginia: Mary, Barbara (Patsy Ann) and John. Later they moved to Georgia and seven other children were born. I will mention the names of the ten, since almost everyone here is a descendent of one of the ten.

 

     Mary Johnson, married Eli Harris

     Barbara Garnett "Patsy Ann" married James Madison Thomason

     John Winston, married Cecily Ann Nicholson

     Annie Thornton "Nannie", married William C. Moreland

     Thomas Norseworthy, married Nancy Davis

     James Overton "Gee"

     Americanus "Babe" married Martha Ann MeRee

     Sarah Alexander "Sallie", married John Edward Birch

     Lenora Marie "Dink", married Matt Malone

     Joshua, Jr., died in 1852-

 

   My immediate family is descended from Barbara, born in Virginia. Joshua Willis is my great-great-grandfather.

 

   Joshua and Barbara were of the Church of England or the Episcopal Church in Virginia. There was no church of this faith in Georgia where they lived, so they united with the Methodist. They took their religion seriously. Joshua conducted prayer meeting and often took the minister's place.

 

   Joshua and Barbara came to Louisiana in 1848, and upon reaching Claiborne Parish, bought several hundred acres of land six or seven miles east of Homer and built their home, "Forest Grove." Soon there was a Post Office, a schoolhouse and other public buildings. A cemetery was set aside on the land be had purchased and one of the first to be buried in it was Joshua Willis, Jr., in 1852. Forest Grove later merged with another village and became known as Arizona where a new school, a church, and later the Cotton Factory were built on land donated by Joshua Willis, who built a new home in Arizona.

 

   Before the Civil War the Arizona neighborhood was one of the wealthiest and most important in Claiborne Parish. It was a community of  farmers who owned and worked slaves, and because of the cheap labor, accumulated wealth. It was a typical southern community of that day where ease and luxury abounded and things went well for the master and his family. Children were sent to the best colleges and universities where they received classical education. Then came a period in which the system of slavery was questioned, condemned, and finally decided against through an armed conflict. After the conflict there was a period of Reconstruction and adjustment to new conditions.

 

   The South was greatly in need of many things  cotton goods being one so with cotton in abundance a cotton factory naturally suggested  itself. It also promised a livelihood for members of the community. A group of well-to-do farmers organized and put up $200,000.00. Others worked on the building and hauled brick with which to construct the three-story building. Machinery was purchased in Chicago and men were brought from England to teach the people to operate the machines. But lack of adequate transportation defeated the effort to make the factory a success. The finished product must be hauled to Dorcheat Bayou to be shipped north or to the Ouachita River to be shipped to England. The factory could not compete with others that had more immediate access to essential transportation. The owners were forced to discontinue operations and the plant was later sold to John Scaife for $5,000.00. The land on which the factory stood was sold to Dr. J. C. Calhoun. It was later resold, but one acre was reserved and on this acre the factory chimney still stands.

 

   It was necessary for the members of the Arizona community in provide an education for their children which would he less expensive than sending them away to college or university. The people therefore, organized a school unit, erected a school building, and employed the best teacher that could be had.  The school began under the leadership of Professor J, W. Nicholson.  While Professor Nicholson was teaching at this school he wrote the Nicholson Arithmetic and Algebra. My dad, H. A. Robinson, Jr., was one of the fortunate students who studied under him.

 

   The Arizona community has been responsible for furnishing many outstanding educators and leaders throughout the state. Among those receiving a portion of their education at this old Arizona school were Judge J. C. Palmer. Judge W. C. Barnette, Professor Tom H. Harris, State Superintendent of Education. Rev, Hyder B Thomason. There were many others. These men were all classmates of my father and often returned in their retirement years to visit our home, reminiscing by gone days, and walking down to D'Arbonne Creek to see the "old swimming hole".

 

{Also see "Page 64-Joshua Willis" and "Page 66-Cotton Factory" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                      Claiborne through the Heart and Mind of a Child

                       Willie Lee Pace Dillon

 

 

Excerpts from the memoirs of Willie Lee Pace Dillon who was born Jan. 31, 1885, the fourth of twelve children of William Henry and Rebecca Frances Pace, in their home not far from the Homer-Arcadia road. She lives now in Athens and all of her life has been spent in this environment. These memoirs were written in 1956.

 

   Papa and Mama married October 2, 1877. He was nearly 21 years of age and Mama was nearly 15. They first lived in a log house on the  Homer-Arcadia road two and three-fourths miles southeast of Athens. But they soon moved to Arcadia where he and his brother, Jeff Pace, ran a blacksmith shop. Horace was born there. My parents moved back to the log house and bought a farm from a Mr. Crayton. Annie was born here May 21, 1881.

 

   One day when Papa was clearing new ground and splitting rails his axe missed, cutting through his shoe and almost severing a big toe. Only a small portion of skin held it on. He walked nearly a mile home where he applied chimney soot to stop the bleeding and hound it up with clean old strips of cloth, He left it thus for two weeks or more. When the bandages were removed his toe had grown back.

 

   Papa and Mama attended church services at Tulip, a Methodist Church about three miles northeast of his home. He had a one-horse wagon and carried anyone who lived along the way that wished to go. Mama's people were Presbyterian and worshipped at Salem near Athens. Rev. George Clampitt was pastor at the time of my parents' wedding and he performed the ceremony.

 

   In 1884 Papa bought his first sawmill from a Mr. Aubrey. He built a large house about 200 yards north of the log house and nearer the  Homer-Arcadia road. Here I was horn on January 31, 1885, the fourth child ...  I remember going to Grandma's several times. For 7 years before her death she was ill with rheumatism and had to be lifted onto a chair and back to bed. I can remember the two long sticks that two persons had to use in lifting her, slipping them underneath a cushion. I remember a storm that occurred in the spring of 1887, when large virgin pine trees two and three feet in diameter blew down criss-cross near our home. Mama had gone in a one-horse buggy to meet with a few other ladies to be instructed in dressmaking by a lady demonstrating a new chart. This chart consisted of the basic patterns of a basque front and  back and sleeves. The basque, tight fitting at the waist-line and pointed in front and back, was the popular style of that period, In the chart, made of rather heavy slick cardboard, were perforations to indicate darts and seams. Mama's always hung behind the door. After the storm was over Mama had to lead the horse home, leaving the buggy until later, as so many trees had blown down across the road,

 

   Annie and a neighbor girl had gone to school and were the only ones to arrive before the storm hit. A large tree fell alongside the school  house. This was about one and one-half miles from home. The teacher, Miss Stella Walker, and a number of the school children were caught in a wooden section, but none was injured. I remember climbing over the fallen trees near our home, I was so small, and they seemed huge. Large clay-imbedded roots of these fallen trees are yet mute evidence of that storm.

 

   Our parents must have had great confidence in all of us children, for we were given quite heavy responsibilities. We strived hard not to disappoint them. When Horace was eleven years old Papa left him one day with instructions to run the sawmill carriage. This is the large machinery that runs hack and forth, with log thereon, alongside the large circular saw that cuts the desired widths and thicknesses of lumber. The carriage and saw have individual controls, handled by one man. Others handle the cut lumber and haul it to the drying kilns before planing a few weeks later. A Negro usually fired the boiler at Papa's mill, but as soon as Dallas was old enough this job was often given to him.

 

   We spent the Christmas of 1884 in the first new home Papa built. This was after he bought a sawmill and before we moved to Athens in early 1890. Rubie was born August 23, 1888, also at this first new house on the farm. She was the baby when Papa bought a drug store in Athens in partnership with Uncle Jeff Pace. New Athens was just beginning to develop due to a new railroad passing through from Homer to Gibsland, ten miles north and ten miles south connecting with the V.S. and P. which ran east and west. The post office, courthouse, churches and stores were two and one-half miles west of the railroad and this settlement became known as Old Athens, the highest point of elevation in the state of Louisiana. Little by little most of the business places and residents moved to New Athens. Papa also decided to move from the farm to town.

 

   In 1889 he built another new home-a six-room square top house. The dining room and kitchen were set off about ten feet from the main part of the house, as was the custom of older houses. Two long board walks joined these to the living quarters.

 

   Mr. Tom Baker who did general merchandising in Old Athens moved his store to the new town near the railroad. He rented our new house for one year while he built himself a large two-story house with an upper and lower portico, then the best house in town. Papa built a rough lumber, box house, now known as the Howard Bailey house, for us to live in while Mr. Baker built his own. It was at this house, at the Christmas of 1890, that Santa Claus brought me the only bought doll I ever had. It had china head, arms and legs and was about seven inches tall. Its body was cloth stuffed with saw-dust. The knees were tacked together to prevent the legs from dangling together and breaking. I was very proud of this doll and never greatly desired another.

 

   Sometime during the year 1889 a photographer, Mr. Davis, came to Athens and put up a small tent near the railroad. Mama sent Dallas and me all primped and primed to have our pictures made. Dallas was wearing a white ruffled blouse and a striped black velvet skirt such as little boys then wore until they reached the age of four. I wore a print linsey dress and my hair was shingled more like a boy's haircut. Mama also had pictures made. She was wearing a velvet basque buttoned down the front, with mandarin collar that lapped and was pinned with a large round pin, cameo type, encircled with gold. This was a gift from Papa on his return from a trip to New Orleans. Her soft brown hair was shingled and parted on the right side.

 

   A rather wealthy man, Mr. Cliff Frazier, who lived near our farm, died and most of his household goods were sold. Papa bought several items. One was their parlor wall-to-wall carpet which was pretty badly worn about the fireplace and in the doorway, but it was laid in our "front room". Papa also bought a lounge that had a high back and could be opened to make a full-sized bed. There was also a bed, and a center table with oil burning lamp, glass chimney, and the latching family album on it. This was filled with all our photographs, including relatives and friends.

 

   As stock laws were not known in this section in 1890, all cattle and hogs roamed over the woods freely. Very few farms had pastures, but all fields, yards, and gardens were fenced in. Split pine rails were used for field fencing, split palings for gardens, and sawed pine pickets 1" square were used for better yards. A cheaper kind was made by nailing 6" planks horizontally to posts. Mama loved flowers, so a picket fence enclosed her yard. We had a method for closing the gate automatically. A post was set in the ground about five feet away from the gate at one side with a trace chain fastened to it and to the gate. A heavy weight strung onto the chain would pull the gate shut whenever it was opened. Palings on the garden fence were high enough to prevent chickens from flying over and field fences were built zigzag about five feet high to keep all animals out. Mama had roses, cape jasmine, sweet shrub, petunias, zinnias, and hollyhocks.

 

   About this time, 1891, a few families agreed on building a Methodist Church. We had been uniting with the Salem Presbyterian congregation in Sunday school and church services at the present location of Salem cemetery. Land had been donated by a Mr. Kilgore for a church, cemetery and school where I first went to school. Since Papa had a sawmill, he furnished lumber at a nominal cost, gave some lumber and also the land for this new church. The church was dedicated in 1893 and was named Foster's Chapel for our first pastor, the Reverend John F. Foster, Mama's eighth child, Louie Foster, was born on December 4, 1892. He was named for this first pastor. This church was later sold and remodeled into a home. It was demolished in 1952 and the lumber was used to build a house in Homer. It was said that most of the lumber in it was in a good state of preservation. It came from virgin timber and was cut when only the heart of trees was used. Square iron nails were used for building then. Only a few years later round wire nails became popular, so it is only in very old houses that square nails can be found today.

 

   The twelve charter members of Foster's Chapel were: J. T. Baker, Mrs. Victoria J. Baker, Miss Jennie Watson, W. H. Pace, Mrs. Rebecca F. Pace, S. E. Stone, J. H. WaIlhall, W. R. Bridges, Mrs. W. H. Bridges, Miss L. Nora Bridges, Miss Eufrazier Bridges, and Miss Izora B. Bridges. This roll of the church organized on November 22, 1891, represented only six families with 25 children, four of which were included in the charter membership.

 

   Mr. Baker and Papa took yearly turns as superintendent of the Sunday School. By the time these two families assembled there was a fair attendance. Revivals were usually held in the summer when crops were laid by and there was plenty of hot weather. During a revival in 1898 I joined the church while Rev. J. H. Brown was pastor.

 

   Mama did not often attend Sunday School, but did attend the once-a-month services at Foster's Chapel. I remember once when I was the one to stay home with the baby and the next smallest child while she went to church. I was then eight years of age. She was wearing a rather long black skirt and a white blouse of that period's fashion. Over her shoulders she wore a lovely black cape like garment with front and back fitted panels extending to the shoulders and below the waistline, heavily embroidered with jet beads and with a heavy mesh section over the arms. A jet spangled fringe encircled the whole cape edge. Many incidents of these early remembrances prove my early appreciation of lovely clothes and dress materials.

 

   The first wedding at Foster's Chapel was Miss Lula McFarland and Mr. Eugene Walker, a member at Old Athens. At the time of this wedding I was about ten years old and it was my first to witness. My two older sisters, Annie and Jessie, married also in this church-Annie Jewel Pace and Jerry E. Volentine on January 7, 1903 and Jessie Pace and Eustis E. Smith on December 30, 1903.1 was Annie's attendant, and the groom's best man was Floyd Dillon, whom I later married on December 8, 1904.

 

   By 1900 the members of Foster's Chapel had begun to realize the need of a larger and more modern church, including Sunday School rooms. They longed for the nice triangular plot near town where two main streets came together just at the town site. By 1910 it was purchased and the new church was built. There were some folks who were concerned about adequate hitching posts, as those who lived farther than walking distance came horseback, in wagons and buggies. Cars were in their infancy. I had only seen one at a distance in Shreveport the Christmas of 1903 when Dallas, Perry Dillon and I went to visit Uncle Jeff Pace and his family. I was told that this car belonged to a local physician, Dr. Clint Willis, Sr. By the time we needed more parking space, cars had become more plentiful and practical and hitching posts were "out" for good.

 

   It was in the year 1892 that I began to notice that each year was numbered. This was when I was seven.  Aunt Mellie Pace, widow of Papa's M.D. brother Jimmie, lived with her five children at Mt. Lebanon about 12 miles south of Athens.  Papa, Mama and I went in a wagon one day to deliver a barrel of flour and numerous other items from Papa's general merchandise store, that she desired.  We left the store at about 3 PM and after passing through Gibsland we arrived at Mt. Lebanon a while after nightfall.  As we started for home the next morning we were able to see the old town of Mt. Lebanon.  My attention was drawn to the old Baptist College grounds.  Papa pointed with his driving whip stock, leaving an indelible picture of the college on my young mind.  It was a huge two-story wooden building with many windows.  Mt. Lebanon was founded long before the Vicksburg- Shreveport and Pacific railroad was built, which by-passed it by two miles. The V.S. and P. did the same thing to Mt. Lebanon that the L & NW (Louisiana and Northwest) did to old Athens.  The college was rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in its early history, and in 1903 it merged with Keatchie College to become Louisiana Baptist College at Pineville.  The buildings were razed and the lumber used for other purposes.

 

   My mental picture of the college did not include the bell tower, but later photographs show it.  The bell itself has played an important role in Baptist education.  It was ruined when fire destroyed the college, but the salvaged metal was recast in 1887 in Ohio, and it is claimed to produce the exact pitch of tone as the first bell.  It remained at Mt. Lebanon almost forgotten until the old college was razed. About 1930 it was removed to Dodd College in Shreveport.  TN 1943 this college came into the possession of Centenary College, a Methodist college nearby, through the generosity of the late W. A. Haynes, a Shreveport oil man, and was used as a Veterans Administration center.  There was little use for the bell there, so a few friends of Mt. Lebanon College requested that they be allowed to reclaim it and install it in the projected memorial tower of Louisiana College at Pineville. Permission was granted.  It took four men no less than eight hours to lower the 1,000-pound bell from its tower

 

   Annie, the eldest daughter, began helping Mama with the family sewing when she was about 12 years old.  I remember Mama going to Papa's store and bringing home a number of pieces of calico, at 10c a yard, each a different pattern and color.   There were also several spools of thread and rice buttons.  Rice buttons were a sort of milk glass and about the size of present-day shirt buttons.  They were sewed on a long royal blue card with at least six dozen buttons to a card, costing TOe a card.  These buttons could easily be broken in the family wash, as we were then using a "battling block and stick" to remove excess dirt before boiling the clothes in a large outdoor three-legged black wash pot with fire underneath.  The "battling block" was a large sawed tree block standing upright near the tubs.  Well-soaped wet garments were placed on it one at a time and "battled" with a paddle-like stock, forcing out the dirt and spattering the "battler" with dirty water. Usually I was the "battler" while my two sisters tended the tub and pot.

 

   I also tended the pot fire,  The clothes were boiled in the pot and required frequent punching down with a stick.  Then they were lifted into a tub full of clean water and rinsed through two other large wooden tubs of water before hanging them on the wire line and back-yard fences. We used our first rub-board in the early 1890's.

 

   Usually Mama kept two garden plots-one planted early and another later for year-round vegetables.  Turnips, cabbage, collard and tomato seed were planted and then later transplanted.  Lettuce, squash, butterbeans, snap beans, English peas, peppers and onions were the main vegetables, and there was a bunch of "catnip" for the babies' tea,  Sage for seasoning sausage grew in the corner of the garden.  The sage leaves were picked while green and dried before storing for use at "hog killing time."  The boys usually plowed the garden, but the younger children kept weeds and grass out of the rows.

 

   In 1891, started to school at the little one-room school near Salem Church where Mr. Davies was the teacher for all ages.  We drank water from the spring nearby that originated in a deep ravine.  All the pupils used the "blue-back" Speller, starting with the ABC's and simple two-letter words and continuing to hard words like com-press-i-bil-i-ty.

 

   When I was eight I learned to milk well and was permitted to go to the cowpen alone to milk the one cow that we had then. Usually we kept two cows and Mama and Jessie did the milking. I was the helper and "roper." The calves were allowed to suckle first to cause a quick milk "come down" and then were pulled away and tied to the fence. The milkers usually held the bucket with the left bend and milked with the right hand, reserving one teat for the calf's portion. Cows were unimproved in those days and gave less than one gallon of milk daily. Papa began to Lear about jersey cows that gave more and richer milk by using better feed than just raw cotton seed,  Also he read about dipping vats to rid cattle of ticks. All of this finally reached our section and it was a great improvement over poor cattle, poor pastures, if any, and poor feed. Dipping was a real boon to the cattle industry and doom to the ticks.

 

   Papa did most of the hair-cutting in our family. After I was ten years old my hair was not cut any more until 1924 when ladies were wearing a "Gracie Moore" bob. My hair grew long to my waistline and I took much pride in combing, brushing, and plaiting it in one long braid.  Sometimes I would make two braids to hang down my back until I considered myself grown at 18.  Then I began to make a loose coil on top of my head. In the 1909's girls wore the much talked-of "pompadour" in front with a round roll called a "rat" worn underneath the hair.

 

   Dallas and I drove the cows to pasture and back in the afternoon. The pasture was several yards from the cowpen and extended on back to a quarter mile or more. Ticks were plentiful and attached themselves to the cows, mainly between their hind legs and on the back of the udder. We would use our driving stick to punch off one at a time. Cows liked this and would  stand still as long as we would scratch them.  A seed tick is quite small when first it is brushed from the bushes onto a cow, but it sucks the blood from the cow as soon as it is securely attached and will soon swell to the size of the end of one's little finger.  Imagine a hundred or two ticks on one cow!  Now and then they would cause tick fever and many cows died before the use of the dipping vats.

 

   We left the calves in the cowpen during the day, but turned them outside at night.  They would not go very far from their mothers and grazed nearby.  We churned at our house each day; thus we had plenty of butter for hot biscuits and buttermilk for cooking biscuits and egg bread. We enjoyed hot egg bread crumbled into a glass of sweet milk for supper. We were never very choosey about our food but ate almost anything placed before us and thrived on it.

 

   Mama had a side-saddle, as many other women of the 1880's had when they rode horseback.  It was unheard of for ladies to ride astride a horse.  Rather they had this special leather saddle with only one stirrup on the left side and two differently shaped horns on the front one over which to hook the right knee and the other to hang a hand satchel onto. This left one hand free and the other guided the horse by holding the reins of the bridle.  A lady usually wore a long riding skirt over her good skirt for protection from soiling and removed it upon arriving at her destination.  To hold the saddle securely on the horse a girth attached to the saddle was drawn tightly around the horse's middle and fastened on the opposite side.  The saddle seat was usually covered with built in gaily colored wool carpeting.  A child could ride behind and hold onto the front rider by encircling her waist with its arms.  If a boy, he was allowed to ride astride, but a girl astride-no.

 

   Almost all old homes had a horse block for easier mounting.  It was constructed by placing two or three large sawed blocks of graduated lengths upend in step-like fashion.  By leading the saddled horse alongside the tallest block one could walk up and hop onto the saddle. Usually the horse block was set out in front of the residence.

 

   Because Papa's several interests- the store, farm, sawmill. cotton gin, and grist mill-were widely separated, he often just closed the store and attended to business here and there.  We kept one key to the store at home and needed supplies would be gotten by us children.

 

   Sugar, flour, vinegar, crackers and apples were shipped by freight to retail stores in large wooden barrels.  The only kind of cheese was hoop cheese, fifty pounds, aged in round wooden boxes. Ice was shipped to Athens from Homer ten miles away in gunny sacks packed with saw-dust and shavings from sawmills to prevent too rapid melting.

 

   When a snow fell it made the whole world look clean, new and enchanting. Almost all of us children were housed in for a few days. The older ones had shoes to wear, but some of the smaller ones went "barefooted" all winter as well as in summer.  These shut-in days must have been very trying on Mama, but I have no recollection of anything but "bliss".  More often than not our snows were less than 12 inches deep in this part of North Louisiana. Usually they were only three or four inches and lasted no longer than two or three days.  I recall a few deep snows with such cold temperature that they lasted for three weeks. This could become very tiresome.  Outdoor stock had to be fed and sheltered, outdoor laundry had to be done, and stove wood would run low and become a problem.

 

   I could not fail to mention our experience with cockle burrs that grew on the weeds of varying heights according to the fertility of the soil. These little green burrs less than an inch long were no trouble until they ripened in the fall of the year and turned brown.  Then the little spurs Could cling to anything that brushed against the bushes, for this was nature's way of scattering the many small seed inside each burr. They were pesky about getting in the long hairs at the end of the cows' tails, horses' manes, wooly sheep's backs, and in our clothing. One day Dallas, Rubie, and I were playing in the plot of ground next to the house where Irish potatoes had been harvested and then it was left uncultivated. This made an ideal place for cockle burrs to grow. We had played there before, but now the burrs were ripe and they clung to our clothes before we realized it. It tickled us, so we decided to see how many we could force to stick to us.  We deliberately rubbed against the burrs until our clothes were stiff and heavy with them. It was quite a lark, we thought. I suspect Mama just burned the whole pile of clothes for the burrs were too difficult to pick out.

 

   There was a small home-made table in the corner of Mama's room near Papa's fireside chair that held an oil lamp, Papa's Bible, Bible dictionary, Webster's Dictionary, and a large doctor book.  The latter had most of the diseases and ailments of the 1880's through the 1890's listed with prescribed treatments. When one of us became ill Papa found a suitable treatment to follow.

 

   Tidy housekeepers of the 1890's and early 1900's kept their front and back yards clean by using dog-wood brush brooms every week. This was a regular Saturday chore, making ready for Sunday, a day of rest.  Not a sprig of grass or weeds was allowed inside the yard fences. Shrubs such as roses, cape jasmine, lavender, sweet shrub, and any number of other kinds, were available from different friends or neighbors.  No one had all kinds of shrubs, but all the housewives were willing to share what they did have. Usually the shrubs were set here and there over the front yard, and must be swept around.

 

   Yard brooms were usually made with dogwood limbs with the leaves stripped off and several tied together with strings from our left-over dress scraps. The close fibered dogwood was not too plentiful in our section, but, being tough, a broom would last several weeks. A tree was rarely cut down as only the limbs were needed, but someone would climb the tree and chop off the needed limbs with an axe.

 

   On one occasion I was making one of those periodical visits from two to four weeks-with Uncle Tillman and Aunt Lela Howard when one Sunday they decided to spend the day with one of her brothers, Felix Pate, and his family.  They lived about three and a half miles away, so we went in their wagon with two horses hitched to it. On returning home that afternoon we had gone but a short distance when the horses became frightened and "ran away," striking a tree.  They became unhitched, and the wagon overturned, throwing all three of us onto the ground. The most frightened horse ran on home. We were three miles from home and the day was far spent, but there was no way of getting home but to walk and lead the other horse. That was a long walk for anyone.  I was only about five years old. It was dark when we reached home. There stood the frightened horse at the horse lot gate.  Uncle Tillman went back the next day, uprighted the wagon, mended the harness and brought the wagon back home.

 

   Now and then relatives or neighbors spent all day Sunday with each other. There was always a good mid-day dinner prepared by the hostess with the visiting lady's help. As they busied around in the kitchen they enjoyed chatting about the various subjects which only women understand. The men also had a chance to air their views concerning elections, crops, and news in general. It was truly a day of rest and relaxation:

 

   Another experience I recall that Dallas and I had was toasting small crayfish tails.  fly wading in shallow water we caught several crayfish with our hands. They were just like shrimp, only smaller, having two large forelegs with pincers on each.  When they were disturbed they would shoot backwards swiftly – hence the expression "crawfish" when a person withdraws from an agreement. We knew that their long tails were good to eat, so we promptly shelled off the covering and stuck the white fish-like meat on a sharp stick.  As boys nearly always carried a few matches in their pockets, it was no trouble to build a fire quickly and roast the crawfish tails.  No shrimp cocktail ever tasted better!

 

   A long new one-room school house was built nearer town in 1892 on the ground of the present school building. School hours were from 8 AM to 4 PM. Mr. C. C. Kennedy was the principal and taught the older pupils, while an assistant taught the younger ones.  Miss Minnie Walker and Miss Vanessa Walker, cousins, were two of the first assistants. Later Miss Minnie Ward from Homer was a beloved teacher

for young children.

 

   Sometimes we had a two-months public school in the summertime. Gnats would swarm everywhere, buzzing around our ears and settling near the eyes. Sore eyes and leg sores that lasted till frost were common ailments. Also itch and head lice could be caught from school associations.

 

   Some of us usually attended school sessions, though we went rarely all in at the same time. There was never a complaint about the food in our school lunches. From 7 o'clock breakfast to noon was a long time to wait to eat, and much energy was consumed walking to school and playing at recess. So anything tasted good to us. My best liked subjects were reading (from MeGuffey's Reader) spelling, and geography. Often on Fridays we had cross spellings with every-one taking part. The leaders would choose sides and the teacher alternated giving out words first to one side, then the other. When all on one side had missed or "spelled down". the remaining ones on the other side won the match.

 

   Before the organization of Fosters Chapel, while we were still attending Salem Presbyterian Church, I remember our using hymn books that had a thick cardboard back and were only 3½ by 5½ inches in size. They did not have the music written-only the number, title, and words of the verses. Some of the song leaders may have had books with notes, but it was still the custom for the pastor to quote two lines at a time, and the congregation would sing them. Of course, he had to "hist" the tune too, and it would often be pitched too high or too low.

 

   When I was about six years old I remember going with Papa and Mama and Mr. Tom Baker to Tulip Methodist Church one day during a revival. We went in a two-horse wagon with Papa driving. Mama sat beside him on a spring seat, while Mr. Baker and I sat in straight chairs just behind them. I dearly remember the beautiful hanging oil lamps in the church with lovely crystal prisms all around the four small coaloil lamps in each section.

 

   There is a large cemetery near the Tulip Church where most of the citizens of the surrounding territory lie in their silent tombs with their names, dates of births and deaths inscribed on marble monuments. Tulip community is situated about four miles northeast of New Athens. Its residents included fairly well-to-do families such as Marsalis, White, Coleman, Knox, Watson and Averett. At different times Professors Nelson, Leslie, and Walker taught at the school there. Some of the pastors for Tulip Methodist Church were: T. J. Upton, J. L. P. Sheppard, R. T. Parish, J. L. Wright, F. B. Galloway, Robert Parvin, and J. F. Foster.

 

   This church was built about 1860 at a time when men and boys sat on one side of the church and the women and girls on the opposite side. It had two double front doors and an aisle down each side, with the built-up divisions from the floor to the height of the pew backs in the middle section to separate the men from the women. Like most churches of that period it had two "Amen" corners- three long pews on each side near and facing the pulpit. These were reserved for grandparents, mothers with small children on one side and fathers who took care of small sons on the other. People always came to spend several hours at church, and mothers brought a quilt to lay small sleeping children on the floor. Sermons were one and a half hours long; in addition to the singing and prayers. This church stands today (1956) in fairly good condition. No one seems to know what became of the lovely hanging lamps that were eventually replaced by electricity. No services except funerals have been held there for a long time. A very large cemetery is still kept up.

 

   Since each farmer raised most of his needs there were few trips to town. Some men went weekly; others only once a month. Most ladies went to town only twice a year-in the spring and fall. They often bought whole bolts of calico and made all the little girls dresses from the same piece. The more financially able bought silks, velvets and lovely hats.

 

   The Tulip school was situated on a knoll near the church. It was a two-story structure with a Masonic Lodge on the second floor. A good spring of ever-flowing water was nearby. Here fellow Masons washed their little white aprons. Another wonderful spring of water was on the farm home site where Aunt Lela and Uncle Tillman Howard lived. It bubbles out of clean white sand and is just as plentiful today as it was when I was a child, more than seventy years ago. The family wash was done here. They also carried some of this clear, coal, soft water home for use there. Papa had his sawmill near this spring and piped it hydraulically to use at the mill. One exceedingly cold winter the mill was closed down for a few weeks. The water kept running from the pipe and freezing at 4 degrees until an icicle seven feet long and a foot through was formed. There is a "dripping" spring less than a mile away in another direction where water is constantly dripping from shale rock and gray clay from what is apparently a perfect perpendicular height of about six feet. The water a]almost covers a surface five feet in width.

 

   Most families bad a spare room which some called the parlor, but we called ours "the front room." This room was kept quite orderly with the doors and windows closed except when afternoon visitors called or when we had overnight guests. The room had a bed, sofa, and table with an oil lamp and the family album, a few chairs, ruffled curtains and wall-to-wall carpet. This carpet was taken outdoors once a year and given a good dusting by spreading it right side down   on a raised scaffolding. When we flailed it with a broom the dust would fall from the pile of the carpet unto the ground, leaving it bright as new. Housewives observed spring and fall house-cleaning. The spring cleaning was usually after all the pollen had fallen and in the fall it was to clear the house of summer dust.

 

   Chattie Lane (Chat) was born May 6, 1895, the third child to be born in the "square top" house in Athens. She was Mama's ninth child and was named for Miss Chattie Vaughn whose home was in Homer but who lived in the Baker home in Athens and taught their children music. She was the sister of Rev. R. W. Vaughn, Superintendent of the Methodist Orphanage in Ruston for many years, Miss Chattie was a kind and lovely lady.

 

   Micagah Pace and his wife Eliza Ann McKibbens lived at Cedartown, Georgia, when the Civil War broke out. They had five sons,: James F., William Henry (my father), Jefferson Davis, Buddie and Bennie. Papa's father was a blacksmith by trade, so during the time he served in the war he kept the horses in his company well shod. As the army moved from place to place he finally found himself in central Louisiana. His wife and sons followed and settled near Natchitoches. In some way she let him know her location. Flies, mosquitoes, and typhoid fever were prevalent as there were marshlands all about. My grandfather so greatly desired to visit his family that one night his commanding officer, unbeknown to the other soldiers, allowed him a six-hour leave, warning him not to let anyone see him en route home and back. It required two hours by foot to reach home, two hours to visit, and two hours to return to camp. After visiting a few minutes, he requested that his wife bring Buddie from his bed so he could see him. She had to tell him that Buddie had died only a short time ago from fever. Then he asked to see Bennie, the next younger. He too had died, this was the last time his family saw my grandfather. He supposedly was killed shortly afterwards in the service of the Confederacy and was buried near Natchitoches. The hardships of this brave family were typical of the sufferings during the Civil War. Grandmother Pace took her three remaining sons and returned to her native home in Georgia. There the boys found small work. When my father was about 14 years old my Grandmother returned to Louisiana and settled near what is now New Athens. They lived in the log house where my parents first lived after they were married in 1876. One of the sons, Jimmy went away to study medicine and settled at Old Athens on his return, papa and his younger brother Jeff cleared new land and farmed near the log house.  Jeff did not like farming and he  shortly left home. Grandma washed and prepared his little bundle of clothes, including Papa's extra pair of pants, and gave him her blessing. He went to Tulip and hired out for day labor. A few years later he married and lived nearby.

 

   I remember when Papa bought a corn sheller. Heretofore corn had to be shelled by hand rubbing two ears together. This was hard on the hands and a slow process. But with this new device which was a box-like contraption on four legs we could help the boys shell corn. After the ears were shucked they were placed one at a time in a receptacle where cogs caught the ear when the large hand wheel was turned. The shelled kernels fell into a peck measure beneath while the empty cobs passed out in another direction. The cobs were then burned in the fireplace.

 

   Sometimes corn and other farm products had to be taken for debts. No corn meal was sold at the stores until the late 1880's. By owning a grist mill either meal or unground corn could be taken for toll. Every Saturday afternoon folks from the surounding area brought their corn to the mill to be ground for next week's bread. We always had plenty from the toll to eat, to feed chickens and to sprinkle on cotton seed for cowfeed. Cotton seed were almost worthless then, and farmers often left them at the gin for anyone who would to haul away. Wagon-loads were dumped in piles in the fields. But by the late 1880's it was discovered that the oil in the seed which they thought worthless was a valuable by-product. Special machinery was made to press the oil out of the cotton seed to use it for cooking purposes where lard was formerly used. Cotton seed meal and hulls were sacked separately and sold for better cowfeed. Some meal was used as fertilizer. Before the discovery of the value in cotton seed oil, a 500-pound bale of cotton was worth about $20.00 with $2.50 as the cost of ginning. Thereafter prices rose.

 

   Coffee was bought in the green bean stage and parched in the cookstove oven, filling the whole house-yea, the whole neighborhood -with its aroma. Then a little at a time, as it was needed, was ground in the coffee mill that hung on the kitchen wall. Only Mama drank coffee at our house, but when company came for dinner, especially the preacher,coffee was served in large cups. Mama bought a mustache cup to use on occasion.

 

   Papa was Justice of the Peace, and I had heard him talk about whipping an offender of the law. This was a common practice then. Cities had jails, but as yet Athens had no calaboose in which to confine a prisoner. Roadwork was not yet required and offenders had no cash to pay fines, so lashes were meted out with a four-plait leather coach whip. Lashes were given according to the seriousness of the crime. Forty lashes was considered quite bad.

 

   We moved back to the farm in early 1896. I was an adolescent and things about me were taking on a new importance. Family ties were more real. Many evenings were spent with the family sitting around the open fireplace after supper with the daily chores all done, the mules fed, cows milked, eggs gathered, firewood on the shelf, supper dishes washed. Papa would be home from the store reading the twice-a-week newspaper. Or this would be the time he mended and half-soled our shoes with the help of the shoe last which could be found in nearly every home. Mama would be counting the knitting stitches or rocking and nursing the baby. One by one the younger children were led away to bed each by one of the older children. Only the eldest children remained for family prayer and scripture reading.

 

   When a cow became ill she was invariably treated for "hollow horn" by boring small holes on the underside of each horn. The horns of our cows then were about 12 inches long. By the late l890's, jersey cows were becoming better known, and their horns were only 6 to 8 inches long. But by then de-horning with special clippers used on yearlings was customary. It was much later when they began to touch the horn buds of young calves with acid.

 

   Bonnie Bell (Dot) was the only child born at the new farm house. She was a crying baby. None of the remedies seemed to help--catnip tea, Mama's breast, or the wet nurse (a colored woman with a baby the same age as Dot). But some months later she began to be a good baby. If I am not mistaken, asafoetida tea was also given to Dot. It was an old woman's remedy-not a doctor's prescription-a foul-smelling lump made into a liquid that was bought at drug stores. The most common doctor's prescriptions were calomel or quinine. Grove's Chill Tonic was one of the first patent medicines I remember seeing advertised. It had a happy child's likeness on the bottle which claimed "I like Grove's Chill Tonic" even though it was bitter quinine in a thick sugar mixture.

 

   A few families in the surrounding community near our farm home, having several children each, built a small log school house which was about one and a half miles east of us. Some of the family names were: Bickham, Baker, Craighead, Pace, Wood, Chandler, Kelly. Kilpatrick, Pate. Miss Susie Baker was one of the teachers. There were schools at both Salem and Tulip about three miles away in different directions, but this was too far for small children to walk. Some of the parents decided that the little school house should be used every Sunday for Bible study and this was done. The school house was built of split logs notched near the ends to be fitted over each half log at the corners, leaving cracks between the logs. The smoother side of t{O split logs we- on the inside, and all rounded sides on the outside. Sometimes leg houses had wet clay chinked in the cracks to keep out cold air, but these were left open for light as school sessions were usually held in the warm months. There was a large stick and dirt chimney. Wet clay was mixed by hand with grass and formed into long roUs called "cats" which were placed between and over the sticks in the whole wooden chimney frame. The' seats were also made of split logs with two legs at each end made by boring auger holes in which to insert the round legs. A door was at one side of the one large room. This was known as "Smut Bye" school. Horace was not old enough to attend day school here, but he did go to Sunday School with Papa.

 

   A friend of Papa's needed some lumber, so he inquired if Papa would be interested in exchanging some for a flock of geese. It was agreed upon. and so geese were added to the farm. Our geese were picked were picked every six weeks except during cold weather or when they were setting. On the afternoon before the day set for picking all the geese were rounded up and penned for the night. We would start the job early the next morning. One grown person could manage alone to pick a goose. but it was a difficult operation. A goose was turned on us back across the hip with its head tucked under the left arm and pressed tightly to one's ribs and the feet held firmly with the left hand. One would begin picking near the neck, catching only a few feathers with the right hand picking quickly and placing each few plucked feathers into a loosely covered barrel or basket. If a picker was not large enough to hold a  goose alone while picking it, two smaller children were required to help. The plucked feathers were left to dry out thoroughly. Then new pillows or a new feather bed mattress was made. If moths were kept out these feathers were long lasting and easily fluffed up each day. I have some pillows made from the very feathers we picked when I was only thirteen or fourteen years of age.

 

   When a farmer needed more land to cultivate he usually had wooded sections that had never been cleared.  A plot that promised fertile soil was chosen and by hard labor and sweat of the brow he would start clearing it. Usually several months were required.  Some days a neighbor helped and the larger trees were felled by the two, using a cross-cut saw. The brush and small trees were piled in heaps here and there over the plot and left until early spring to dry well enough to burn.  On the burning-off day several hands were required for each heap had to be re-heaped as it burned.  This newly cleared plot called the "new ground" was pretty rugged to cultivate with so many stumps, roots and trees to plow arsund.  But it produced a good crop with less cultivation because of its fresh fertility.  Corn was usually planted on new ground.

 

   Most farmers had what was called "log rolling day" when all the men came to work and a few invited women to help prepare the noon meal.  A lot of food was required but this was only once a year and was happily anticipated since this was the biggest get together of the year.  On the day set all the men came armed with adzes, cross-cut saws, and logging poles--adzes to cut away any remaining limbs on fallen trees; saws to cut fallen trees into short pieces so that four men could slip logging poles underneath each end. Two men to each pole would lift and carry the log to a selected spot usually where one large tree had fallen.  They would make great piles of logs to burn that day.  The large quantity of food prepared for that day inspired the saying "enough food for a log rolling."

 

   New land was usually cleared in the summer after crops were "laid by" while they were waiting for fall harvesting.  In the great heaps of brush piled over the new ground birds roosted for safety and protection against the cold.  After supper on long winter nights we liked to go "bird thrashing." All of the children old enough for night walking would arm ourselves with good flailing brushes and a few would carry long pine torches.  A vigorous shake would be given a brush heap, awakening and flushing the birds roosting therein. They would fly out wildly while we stood ready with our flailing brushes.  A lot of thrashing about went on for a few minutes and some birds were killed.  These birds were not carried home,  It was customary to kill enough for each child to have one bird.  We would build a fire, and each person would pick and dress his own bird, washing it in a nearby stream of water.  Then we would place it on a long sharpened stick and hold it over the fire to cook.  The bird was not always thoroughly done, but a good time was had by all, even if the toasted birds were quite well smoked by the blaze.

 

   We liked fishing in McCleish creek one half mile north of our farm home. There were "red horse" and catfish to be caught in March.  Later we caught perch and jackfish.  Each fisherman would seek a deep murky hole of water, preferably near a tree where the roots extended into the water or a fallen log caught drift such as dry limbs and leaves. A place where the water was foamy on top was another chosen spot. After a time with no catch, one was just about ready to go home hot and sweaty, gnats buzzing in your eyes and ears, when a sudden bobbing of the cork would encourage the fisherman for another hour.

 

   Our school days were probably our best.  The lunch that we carried usually consisted of biscuit, boiled egg, fried half-moon apple pies, fried biscuit puffs, and a small bottle of syrup or jelly.  Often school lasted for only two months, but we began having nine month sessions in 1898 or 1899. Parents had to buy all the needed books, pencils, and slates.  When Rev. J. S. Howard, a retired Presbyterian minister and professor, came with his wife to serve as principal and assistant, they encouraged using paper tablets instead of slates. At first our parents thought this was a waste and expense. After all, a slate could be used over and over by wetting it (usually with a bit of spittle) and rubbing out with a dry cloth such as the girls kept for this purpose, or with the back of the fist, as the boys did. Both the pencils (also made of slate) and the slates were easily broken.  Little by little, slates became fewer and fewer until paper took their place. Little sanitation was known in the 1890's. A few people began to brush their teeth then.  Many women and girls dipped snuff with a twig chewed at one end, and men and boys chewed tobacco or smoked a pipe. Papa and Mama used neither.

 

   Somehow we learned to make a "dew glass" by digging a small hole in the ground and placing several colors of flowers on the bottom. We would cover it with a piece of window pane, sprinkle sand on top and let it stay overnight. The warm earth would cause dew to form underneath the glass and magnify the colors when we brushed the sand aside.  What a pleasant surprise it was!  We would recover it and admire it for several days.

 

   Papa owned a gin in connection with his sawmill; a grist mill for grinding corn to make meal; a planing mill for dressing dried rough lumber.  Later he added a shingle mill that cut a board quickly, 5" by 14", ½" thick at one end and tapering to 1/8" thick.  These were cut from specially sawed blocks and were used to cover better homes. This was an innovation over former coverings which were pine tree blocks split by hand with an axe and wooden maul.  These blocks were 6" by 22".  Sometimes Dallas and I stacked shingles in a special receptacle that held 100.  We laid all the thick ends at outside ends of the box, lapping the thin ends at the center. Stacking shingles was pleasant and easy employment for children our ages.

 

   There was a family of Swiss descent living near our farm consisting of mother and father, two daughters and several sons. Two of the boys were extraordinary yodelers.  We were so accustomed to hearing their fine yodeling that maybe it was not fully appreciated but taken for granted as though everybody had the same privilege.

 

   Most families used gourd dippers in the kitchen and some used them at the back porch water shelf, although we had a tin dipper there We liked the long handled gourds for our kitchen.  Gourd seed were usually planted by the garden fence so that the vine could grow onto the palings and cause the little gourds to hang downward as they grew, thus making them more uniform and with straighter handles.  After frost the choice ones were selected, scraped well, emptied of seed, and boiled in the wash pot to remove all stains and bitterness. Usually several were made at one time, for some cracked and were useless. Before my time large round gourds were used for storing flour, lard, sugar, and meal, as well as dried fruits and peas.

 

   We had a few bee hives to furnish honey for our own use.  Whenever they became too crowded after a new colony hatched the bees would "Swarm" or settle in a large mass on a nearby tree limb.  If no one hived them, they would fly away and find a large hollow green pine tree where a small hole allowed entrance to build a wax comb filled with honey.  It was quite a delight to find a "bee tree" and cut it down for the honey it contained.

 

   When a sweet gum tree was deadened by chopping a circle around it with an axe sap would soon begin to run from it down the trunk. Within a year's time this sap would harden enough to pick for chewing.  We had to be sure it had properly hardened or it would stick to our teeth causing an unpleasant condition and bad flavor to our food until it wore off in a few days.  We mixed this sweet gum with stretch berry pulp--a small black berry that grew on vines along streams. The inside white covering over the two small seed would make our gum just as good as present-day bubble gum.

 

   Farm workers wore 'brogan" shoes and carried a gallon baked clay jug of drinking water to the fields far from home.  At morning and noon a short rope was knotted through the jug handle and hung on the harness hames for the plow animal to carry while the worker rode astride.  The water kept cool in the thick jug.  A cork or corn cob stopper was used.

 

   Flies were everywhere in the summertime and no one knew what to do about them.  Windows were raised high and doors opened wide to have the benefit of any breeze.  Only palmetto hand fans were used. About 1899 sticky sheets of paper called "Tangle Foot" were being used to catch houseflies. These sticky sheets were spread about the house, and many flies were caught.  But more and more hatched and followed their noses towards where food was found.  Papa made a large fan-like contraption and nailed it to the ceiling over the dining table. Someone had to operate an attached lever and fan away the flies while the rest enjoyed the noon meal. In early 1900 the idea of screening doors and windows solved the fly problem in homes.  Papa's brother Jeff Pace was the first person to screen his house in Shreveport.  Our first window screens were adjustable and fit any width window, resting on top of the screen, and could be removed easily.

 

   Papa built his last home in Athens from virgin timber  cut from the neighboring B. C. Frazier place and sawed at his own mill.

 

   Syrup-making time came in the fall of the year.  There was very little suitable land on our place for growing sugar cane, which requires fertile lowland soil with lots of moisture.  But Papa did raise sorghum cane. This is similar to sugar cane but grows on poorer soil. He had his own cane mill for making syrup.  He ground and cooked his own sorghum. A few friends from the surrounding territory hauled their sugar cane to Papa's mill, giving one gallon out of each five gallons of syrup as toll.  This usually supplied our family with its lighter color and more mild and pleasing flavor, sugar cane syrup was delicious to eat with hot biscuits and butter. Sorghum is palatable to those who do not mind its darker color and twangy flavor.

 

   Anyone could feed the cane mill which consisted of two large rollers turning toward each other and catching several stalks of cane as fast as two persons could feed them.  These rollers pressed the stalks flat, and the juice ran out into a barrel set at one side, while the flat pulp dropped out at the opposite side. Sometimes Dallas and I fed the mill while an older person pulled the pulp away from the mill.  This is not easily disposed of, because it will not rot easily.

 

   The large cooking vat-sometimes called the pan-is made of retinned metal and has several parallel cross sections, each with a small opening where juice runs through at various stages of the cooking process.  It runs out at the far end at just the right consistency for finished syrup. The vat is set on top of a furnace built usually out of native stone and mortar, leaving one end open through which to push long sticks of firewood.  A smoke stack is at the opposite end.

 

   Roads in the 1880's were winding, one-way narrow lanes made by the early settlers who lived here and there.  Once or twice each year a road-working day was set, and every man on a given section of land was notified to meet at a certain place. All brought implements suitable for road-working, such as spades, hoes, and axes.  Everyone traveled by foot, horse-hack, buggy or wagon.  Very few had a carriage.  There was little passing, so it was news when anyone came along.  Whenever folks met it was generally understood that each gave half of the road.  Now and then travelers passed along going quite a distance and becoming thirsty they would stop and ask for a drink of water. This was a customary courtesy for anyone to respond to such a simple and essential need. We took great pride in keeping our cedar water bucket well scrubbed and the brass hoops brightly shined,

 

   Up to the 1900's almost everyone saved his own garden and field seed from the previous year. The best plants were selected and marked so they would be left alone to maturity for the seeds to ripen. These were carefully shelled and tied up in small cloth bags.  Mama maintained quite a large vegetable garden.  The plowing was done by the men folks, but it was our responsibility to plant the seed, re-set plants, and keep the rows free of grass and weeds by hoeing.  Irish and sweet potatoes were grown outside the garden, as were watermelons and cantaloupes.  Pumpkins and kershaws were planted among the field corn.  Herbs were set in the garden corner near the gate--sage, thyme, horse radish, garlic. and catnip.  In the middle of the garden, from the gate to the outdoor  privy on the back side, Mama made a walk with all kinds of flowers on each side.  We all enjoyed this and all visitors were shown this lovely walk to admire and were given a few blossoms or seed.

 

   Summertime was canning time. We canned peaches, dewberries. blackberries, and huckleberries in glass jars.  Preserves were made from pears, figs, peaches, and some watermelon rinds.  We also pickled peaches, pears, and cucumbers.  Apples were dried by peeling and slicing by hand, then placing on long wide boards on top of barrels set inside the garden for drying. This required several days of hot sunshine.  They were covered at night so that dew would not darken them or bugs damage. They were tied up in large cloth bags and kept for winter use.Stored cotton seed are rather warm, so we tucked our glass jars of preserved fruits underneath the seed to prevent freezing during extreme winter weather.

 

   Wild muscadines ripened in July, growing on large vines that climbed high trees or along fences and low saplings near streams of water.  They are purple when ripe and grow singly over the vine instead of in clusters like grapes. We used muscadines only for eating. Jelly could be made from them, but it was usually very dark in color and had a nippy flavor.

 

   Scuppernong vines, which produced a greenish-brown fruit similar to grapes, were set out near homes usually in the backyard and trained to grow on an arbor-like scaffold for shade and easy picking. These were milder and more pleasingly-flavored than wild muscadines.

 

   Lye soap was usually made in the winter and late spring when good oak or hickory wood ashes from the fireplace were plentiful, as well as surplus hog greases and bones. An ash hopper was constructed by placing split boards on a plank fence two feet from the ground, slanting downward and resting on a brace, then setting a bottomless barrel onto the boards. This was filled with ashes and clear water was poured into a basin-like hole at the top in the ashes. The water passed through the ashes, separating the invisible lye which would drain into a vessel at the bottom of the hopper. Usually I was the one assigned the duty of pouring on the water and emptying the dripped lye into the large pot for making the soap. By mixing and heating the lye and greases a cheap, good laundry soap would be made. The soap was dipped from the pot while it was hot and poured into a non leaking barrel to be used as needed after it cooled.

 

   As soon as soap-making was finished it was time to make a washpot batch of hominy. Using about one gallon of dry shelled corn, we would pour in the last drippings of lye water and boil slowly for about three hours. Then the corn was rinsed well, put back in the pot, covered with clear water and boiled again until the grains were fluffy and tender. This made a delicious addition to the meal when seasoned with salt and bacon gravy.

 

   Sauerkraut was made when the cabbages were well headed by cutting them into small pieces and pouring by buckets-full into a barrel and adding a cup of salt each time. It was packed thoroughly with a large pestle or maul and weighed down with rocks on top of small boards with a cover over the barrel. Kraut was a welcome change of greens in the winter. Surplus salt could easily be soaked out or removed by changing the boiling water a few times in meal preparation.

 

   It was hard to bake more potatoes than were needed for dinner for our large family. Sometimes late in the afternoon a few were roasted beneath the ashes in the fireplace. These had a flavor different from those baked in the oven. We knew they were well done when the skins would burst open. Eggs could also he roasted beneath the ashes. They nearly always popped out of the ashes. How good those tasted sitting around the fireplace hearth. We also had a potato baker resembling a large skillet except it had a fitted lid and three 4 inch legs so that a fire could be made on top and underneath. Usually red hot coals were piled on top where a rim held them in place. Originally they were used in colonial kitchens where all the cooking was done on large fireplaces and wide hearths. We had neither; therefore it was not too practical, but potatoes baked in it were delicious. Corn cobs mode good smokeless fuel for heat and were often used for cooking other foods in the potato baker, such as pound cakes egg bread, biscuits, and lightbread.

 

   The utensils that came with new stoves included two one-gallon pots, two skillets, two flat bakers, one tea kettle,all of cast iron; a five-gallon tinned wash boiler, two pie pans, and two tin lids for the pots.

 

   As soon as crops were gathered in the fall there was a great deal of moving about, especially among share-croppers who drifted here and there among farm owner. Like "the rolling stone that gathers no moss," these folks were always poor. There were those who worked toward a goal of buying a farm of their own, and usually this caused them to move. There were also those moving from rural areas to town or from town back to the farm. Moving any place was quite a deal! All household goods, chickens, cows or what-have-you had to he moved, and the wife must be able to furnish three meals a day regardless of the distance and turmoil. To anyone watching movers go by, with wagons loaded high, it was almost comparable to a show  especially to children. There would be chair legs sticking out on the sides, odd pieces of furniture here and there, with mattresses on top, tubs fastened on the side. A chicken coop with the flock of chickens was tied securely to the back end, a cow or two with perhaps a calf following behind, someone walking behind these to prevent their straying, and usually a cur dog in close contact with the whole procession.

 

   In 1898 Papa bought Horace a new 12-guage shotgun. This was a great innovation over the old muzzle-loader that had to be loaded by pouring gunpowder and shot down the barrel with wads of paper in-between and on top. This was jammed tightly with a gun stick, and a firing cap was inserted near the trigger. This new gun used all brass shells that could be refilled over and over with a cap placed at one end. It was about the same as reloading the old gun barrel, but the great advantage of the new one was that one could reload as many shells as he thought would be needed on an afternoon hunt and carry along in a gun sack over his shoulder: whereas, the old gun had to be reloaded on the spot as soon as it was empty.

 

   The oxen that Papa used at the sawmill were interesting animals. A pair usually worked together, and a strong shaped yoke was placed on top of their necks with an inserted wooden bow extending around each neck and pressing against the front of their shoulders-the seat of their pulling power. They were slow motion, but fairly strong animals. Corn was their favorite food although grass or hay supplied roughage, Papa used them chiefly for hauling logs from the woods to the sawmill, A large two-wheel cart was used for this, fastening on log at a time with a large double hook around it and dragging the other end on the ground. The driver could easily walk beside them, as they walk so slowly. Once in a long time an ox would die and was replaced at a nominal cost. Sometimes their horns were boiled, scraped and polished to make a hunting or dinner horn. With the old muzzle-loading gun, hunters had to carry their gunpowder and shot along with them for reloading. They generally used cow horns prepared like the dinner horns except the large end was closed with a fitted wooden piece nailed inside, and the powder or shot was poured out from the small end where a cork stopper was used.

 

   Reverend McClamrock and Will Barksdale demonstrated the first phonograph or talking machine in Athens in 1897. We lived on the farm nearly three miles away and went by wagon to listen over this wonderful machine. One at a time listened by placing a tube in each ear and paying a small fee for the entertainment.

 

   Every farmer in the l890's raised his own meat and lard by keeping enough hogs to supply his family's needs. There are few meats as appetizing as hickory smoked country ham and sausage. In the early fall the hogs that were to be killed that winter were placed in a small, strong pen to fatten by giving them all the corn they could eat, as well as any other scraps and "slop" from the kitchen. By the time of the first cold spell one hog was killed to furnish a boiled ham for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the neighbors who didn't kill we shared some sausage, spare ribs, backbone, souse meat or chitterlings. The shoulders and middlings were salted down, but used up by Christmas, for the other hogs were rapidly fattening for the big kill in January or February when the weather was very cold. This cold was necessary to chill the fresh killed meat thoroughly for safe keeping. A 400 pound hog would produce two 18 or 20-pound hams which were quite thick and it was a serious matter to find these spoiled from improper curing.

 

   The men did all the killing and dressing, cutting up and spreading the pieces inside the smoke house to chill overnight before it was salted down in large wooden boxes for at least six weeks. Then all the hams, shoulders and middlings were washed to remove the surplus salt before they were hung high in the smoke house to dry out over a hickory or oak wood fire burning slowly to produce more smoke and give the meat that delicious smoked flavor. We girls took charge of all trimmings of meat and parts of the middlings to grind into sausage. We also rendered the lard by cooking the fat in the washpot outdoors. After just the right cooking period the browned cracklings which floated on top of the clear lard were lifted out, and the hot lard was strained into large tin cans. The finished product, when it cooled overnight, was a hard white  shortening. When all the sausage were stuffed we hung them also in the smoke house. I was usually assigned the job of keeping a good smoke underneath. If the wood burned too fast making a blaze, I would pile dirt on to make smoke.

 

   Papa had induced several farmers to enter into truck farming. This necessitated early plantings to get better prices, so hot-beds were built to grow early plants for resetting in the fields after the danger of cold and frost was past. A tunnel was dug and the plant bed was made over it with a plank frame built around higher on the north side than on the south side. It was covered with a cloth to keep the cold out and the heat inside. A wood fire was kept burning day and night in the tunnel underneath. The smoke escaped through a stack at the opposite end from the fire. A lot of water was required for moisture in the plant bed.

 

   All of Papa's plants froze during the severe cold of 1898 (12 degrees and nine inches of snow) except those where the hot-bed cover was pressed onto them by the weight of the snow like a veritable blanket. More seed for cabbage and tomatoes were planted in the hot-bed, and English peas were planted directly in the fields. A fair crop was made. We children worked hard, helping with the resetting and gathering. The plans were to ship all the fresh vegetables to St. Louis. This was before refrigerator cars, and it would have been bad enough if they could have shipped on a direct route, but several changes had to be made before the produce reached its destination. When the first car-load was opened every pea was covered with a fuzzy mold, making them unfit for table use. Freight had to he paid and other losses were involved. This was the end of trucking for us. There were no home refrigerators either, so a lot of vegetables were to waste in the fields.

 

   On occasion Papa would extract aching molars with his self-made "pullekins." They were very much like modern wire pliers, made of iron and fashioned in his own blacksmith shop. No pain-killer what-ever was used on the grateful person. Tichenor's antiseptic was freely used in the cavity to counteract bleeding and infection.

 

   When Horace was nearing young manhood (21 was considered grown up) Papa bought for him his first full suitcoat, vest, one pair of pants, a new hat, a cravat, and a white pleated bosom shirt with studs down the front and separate collar and cuffs starched very stiff. Of course, there was the long one-piece knit underwear too with long sleeves and legs. The socks were pulled up over these long legs and high-top lace shoes were worn. The collars and cuffs soiled more readily than the shirt and therefore had to be laundered more often. Later celluloid ones were on the market which could be brushed clean with a damp cloth easily. Then came suits with two pairs of pants and striped or figured shirts with attached collar and cuffs.

 

   Papa had a blacksmith shop near the mill to do any necessary repair work on wagons and for shoeing the mules. The mules and horses' feet became sore and tender if they were not kept well shod. New shoes had to be attached with special horse shoe nails every six or eight weeks. Papa made most of the needed shoes from iron in his shop. A large furnace with a coal-burning fire and a large bellows overhead were used to heat the metal red hot for hammering into any desired shape. Often the metal had to be reheated several times and hammered again and again.

 

   The bellows had a long handle for blowing air onto the fire to produce a quick heat. When the metal was red hot it was put onto the anvil with large tongs for holding it securely and turning it as the hammering went on. This made red hot sparks fly in all directions. When the metal was hammered into the desired shape it was dipped quickly into a tub of cold water to temper it for a harder consistency. Anyone could operate the bellows, and I especially liked to pull the long handle. Sometimes the metal rim on a wagon wheel ran off and had to he put back on immediately to prevent destruction of the whole wheel. Being too large to put onto the furnace, the rim was put on the ground outside and a fire was built all around it. It would shrink when it was replaced on the wheel and water poured thereon. Plow stocks and plow points were  also mended or sharpened at the black- smith shop as well as other metal instruments.

 

   Cotton had to carded by hand to remove all the hard lumps and trash. The carding implements were two 6" x 12" wood pieces with handles and covered with tiny upright wires, slightly bent at the top By pulling in opposite directions the cotton was carded. Then by pulling back and forth with the handles on the same side a light roll would be formed. These rolls were all placed in a pile until a desired number was made. Then by taking one at a time we placed them on one end of the spindle point of the spinning wheel, turned the large wheel and twisted the small roll of cotton into a long thread. Another roll was added just before the preceding one was twisted tip entirely, and a special spool was attached to the wheel for winding the thread on as it was twisted to the proper size. This was later unwound and made into a large ball of thread ready for knitting socks and stockings all creamy and white. Our spun thread was not very smooth but somewhat bumpy like threads in tweedy material. We could have become more perfect had it been necessary, but by then cotton mills produced better thread in abundance.

 

William Henry Pace (1856-1933) married Rebecca Frances Pate (1863-1904)

     Horace Payton Pace (1878-    ) m Mary Walthall

     Annie Jewel Pace (1881-1965) m Jerry Volentine

     Jessie Pace (1883-   ) m. Eustis Smith

     Willie Lee Pace (1885-    ) m. Floyd Rice Dillon

     Dallas Head Pace (1886-1957) m Etta Hightower

     Rubie Pace (1888-    ) m. Perry Wideman Dillon

     McCaga Lamar Pace (1890-1958) m Myrtle New

     Louie Foster Pace (1892-    ) m Nona Levins

     Chattie Lane Pace (1895-    ) m. Robert Clark

     Bonnie Belle (Dot) Pace (1898-    ) m Robert Lee Goodson

     Dimple Pace (1901-  ) m. Gordon Jennings

     Gaye Rebecca Pace (1903- ) m. Waldo Bruce Huggins

 

{Also see "Page 68-Will Pace Home" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

 

 

                               

                              "New" Athens

                       by Willie Lee Pace Dillon

 

   The townspeople in 1890 were mostly long-time residents of Old Athens, two and one-half miles west of New Athens. Prior to 1890 Old Athens was a thriving town and had been the seat of justice for the parish since 1846 when it was moved from Overton, later called Minden Lower Landing, on Bayou Dorcheat. Russellville, one mile north of the New Athens town site had been the seat of justice prior to Overton, from 1836. Main Street, now running east and west through New Athens, was a well-established road in 1885.

 

   There were dense woods on both sides of the road. There was tall virgin pine, oak, hickory, and sweet-gum and sassafras. The Louisiana and Northwest Railroad was built from Gibsland to Athens--a distance of 10 miles-in 1887 and was extended to Homer another 10 miles in 1888. At Gibsland connection was made with the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Pacific Railroad, running east and west.

 

   Only a few families were living in the area now called New Athens, but in the surrounding territory were many farming folk who had migrated from Georgia and Alabama in the period from 1850 to 1861. Some family names of early residents in New Athens and within a six-mile radius were Jim and Tom Aubrey, Tom Baker. Bill Beauchamp, Will and Jeff Pace (and later Jim Pace, M. D.) Will and Jeff Hill, Jess Ford, Billie Barnes, Brownfield, John Carr, Green Walker Berry, Andrew Pate, Sr., Mosley, Dance, Volentine, Bailey, Atkins. Mullenix, Cobb, Bridges, McCleish, DeLoach, McFarland, and the Rev erend Stone, a retired Methodist minister who kept the Post Office and whose son later practiced medicine in the Athens area. As some moved away or died, new family names appeared. Some were Whittington, Culpepper, Luke New, Johnson, Cravens, Howard. Ward, Weston, Moody, Sims, Greer, Mosley, Morris, Youngblood, Mabrey, Abney, John Dillon, Willett, DeLoney, Pittman.

 

   More and more land was cleared of virgin growth and homes were built as the town population increased. The accompanying scene of Main Street New Athens, looking east from the Railroad track crossing was made one Saturday afternoon in early summer  1900 when the countrymen from the surrounding area came to town to purchase the next weeks supplies. Some came just to relax or to get the latest news and to watch the train go by. When the train whistled and the bell started ringing to clear the track at the street crossing before stopping  at the  Depot many rushed onto the platform, getting a closer look  at this new steam-operated monster and hearing the conductor say "Athens!" A few passengers would get off or on. Then "All aboard!" was shouted and the train would proceed on its north-south daily schedule. Freight trains made a bigger show but passengers produced more interest. They were alive!

 

   Country folk came by mule-drawn wagon, buggy, horse-back, or walking. Some came after a hard working week, staying all day, now and then being invited to dinner by a store-keeper who closed his doors at noon for an hour. The store owners provided "hitching racks" or posts in front of the larger stores for hitching the steeds. If trees were nearby some were hitched there for shade. Where horses pawed the tree roots from impatience or from thirst, some trees died. Town officials finally dug two water wells in mid-street to accommodate man and beast. The top of one well is visible in the accompanying picture.

 

   Soon the once "New" Athens became "Athens" and the original "Athens" became "Old" Athens. Numerous homes were built by Johnson Lumber Company for employees and their families. Some of these homes still stand. One is the former home of Johnson and his family. The only Johnson daughter married Harvey Couch who then (1900) passed through Athens twice daily as he worked on the L and NW as baggage master. Later he became a philanthropist and a well known national figure. The Couch home was at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and they had a fine family of boys and one daughter.

 

   In 1900 a Tennesseean, Sid Crump, married the eldest daughter of Millard W. Atkins who was well known in state and parish affairs. Crump published the ATHENIAN NEWS for a few years before moving to Shreveport. Once in a long while a circus came to town, traveling from town to town by the open road-Haag's Mighty Show and Clyde Beatty's. Young and old came to witness the big l p.m. parade, made up of caged animals, clowns, elephants and Shetland ponies, with the steam pipes or reeds on the wonderful music-making Calliope loudly playing. Many attended the 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows. There were clowns and trapeze artists "flying through the air, with the greatest of ease."

 

   In 1897 Reverend MeClamrock, a local ministerial student, presented a benefit performance one night in a store, using an early gramophone with hearing tubes for individual listening. Charges were 5c for a few minutes. One group came from three miles away, riding in a wagon, and felt it was well worth the effort.

 

   One of the oldest homes in Athens was built in 1886 for Mrs. Cordelia Atkins Barnes with money inherited from her father, Bleuf Atkins, who died in 1884. The land upon which it stood was on the north edge of Athens Main Street, up a hill overlooking Athens proper, extending westward a half-mile and northward about one mile, probably 40 acres in all. The "Billy" Barnes lived there until 1898, selling to Bob Cooper, who in turn sold to Mr. Mabrey of Haynesville, who sold to J. R. Dillon in 1901. Dillon went into general merchandising with H. D. Martin, who had married one of Green Walker's daughters. The Dillon and Martin partnership was dissolved in 1905 upon Dillon's death. The family continued to live at the "Barnes" house until 1925 when it was sold to J. E. Volentine. The house burned down in 1926. The Volentines built a modern home on the same site.

 

   In 1905 the first Masonic frame building was under construction, when a near cyclonic wind blew the nearly completed framing down. A two-story brick Masonic building was built later, the corner-stone being laid in 1927.

 

   Ed Watson built a large home on 3rd south which burned in 1950. Another fine home was built on the east side by Dr. C. C. Craighead and was sold to R. W. Baker in 1906. Yet it stands and is owned by Sim's heirs. The Fletcher Marsalis home is a well preserved two-story house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Aub Atkins, living there some 25 years.

 

   Dr. C. A. Bailey moved his office to town from near his east-side residence in 1895, using log rollers and mule-power. The new location was about a half-mile from the old. The new location was later the site of the Gaddis Speer Barber Shop.

 

   A black-smith shop was first owned and operated by Lum Mosley, 1885-1890.  It was sold to Ed Bridges, a former resident of Old Athens. Anvil "clinkings" were heard there, and horses were shod and wagons mended. The shop was directly across from the Dr. Bailey Drug Store. Clyde Simon's service station now occupies the same location.

 

   After Tom Baker moved his general store to Athens from Old Athens, be needed a house for his family, so he rented Will Pace's new home which had been built for his own family. Baker built a large two-story house with upper and lower porticos, and Pace, owning a saw-mill, quickly built another house for his family. It is now known as the  Iva Lee Bailey home". Tom Mullenix was the efficient carpenter of that period. The larger home rented by Baker originally was square roofed over four large rooms, with dining-room and kitchen off-set, and walk-ways-an old custom. This house was built in 1889 and is yet standing.

 

   Ed Bridges, blacksmith, bought a few acres some 100 yards west of the depot in 1896, near the Woodmen of the World building, which was quite near a rather difficult and upsetting stream. During the rainy season it occasionally over-flowed and caused much trouble. Because all hillsides two miles upstream drained into this stream, with a few hours of heavy rain the swollen stream could wash away fences, chicken coops and sometimes small bridges. There would be a mighty roaring of water, subsiding in a few hours. Finally a concave concrete bridge with culverts beneath solved the problem for 25 years after which broken and clogged culverts gave way. A larger and heavier bridge replaced the old in 1960. At one time a car and a driver and at another a horse and rider were swept below the old bridge.

 

   The church nearest to Athens, other than that at Tulip, was Salem Presbyterian-North, built in 1858. In 1891 with only 12 families banded together, a Methodist church was built. A Baptist church was built in 1903 and was located near town. Only one old building yet remains at Old Athens; more than 100 years it has served the Baptists of that section. Two cemeteries are near.

 

   Parents of the area became more and more concerned about educating their children. First there was a one-room school on the same plot as Salem Church and Cemetery, near Russelville, and donated by Judge R. L. Kilgore. In 1891, a larger two-room school was built on a new site and centrally located, where the present modern plant now stands. The early school-terms were of short duration, two or three months, and tuition was paid for each child.

 

   Rural Free Delivery mail service was started in 1905. Originally there were two routes but with better roads and automobiles, they were consolidated into one route.

 

   Some older citizens remember a severe drouth of 1896, from April to December, that caused a great loss, especially to farmers. That year cotton was almost a total failure. On an average year cotton stalks on ordinary land measure about four feet tall and across and well filled with bolls of white fleece, but that year stalks only 6 or 8 inches tall produced only one or two bolls. Folks learned by experience that other crops as well as cotton could be advantageous for cash and home use. Corn and oats for feed and winter gazing, peas, sweet and Irish potatoes and home gardens supplied the family. Dried fruits  and "Mason" jar canning were essential. Sorgum and sugar cane syrup served as sweets. It took some time for farmers to rely on crops other than cotton. Wagons loaded with 700 to 800 pounds of seed cotton continually passed along roads leading to town where two gins operated. The finished bale of about 400 pounds was sold and rolled onto a special platform for shipping. Cotton was 6c a pound in 1912 and 6000 bales were processed by one gin. Corn was 25c a bushel.

 

   At first all stock ran at large; later each farmer enclosed cattle-proof pastures for year-round grazing on bermuda. Milk cows of better breeding were now being used. Whereas in earlier years each family kept one to three cows to give sufficient milk, later they learned that one well-fed Jersey or Holstein was more economical. Cow-pens and barn lots bred many flies which migrated into homes by the millions~ Window and door screens were unknown before the 1890's.

 

   In 1898 a corporate group of townsmen agreed to invest in a "canning factory" including box-making machinery for canned tomato shipping. This project failed after three years-probably due to inefficient handling and unskilled labor.

 

   Will Pace owned several plots of town land and built a two and a half story hotel with 15 rooms to ccommodate traveling salesmen. It was leased to Mr. And Mrs. Alec Caldwell who charged 25c for a meal and 25c for an overnight room. This project proved well worth the investment.

 

   Law and order must be observed and Athens at first administered the customary whiplashing to offenders-one to forty lashes according to the seriousness of the crime. Two offenders were hanged in Athens, one for burning down a home and one for molesting a man's wife. Later a "calaboose", 8'x8', was built. The worst offenders were taken to the jail in Homer, the parish seat. Later offenders were sentenced to cut weeds on streets, clear ditches, or perform any necessary town service as payment for the fine. Little was known about directed or supervised recreation before 1900, but there was a base-ball field in the 1890's on second street East, where the Baptist Church and the Volentine, Neel, and Duke homes now stand.

 

   Early doctors of New Athens were Jim Pace, Culpepper, C. A. Bailey, Jim Simpson, C. C. Craighead, and Wilson. Doctors visited in homes, but this, too, changed.

 

   Now in 1968 most fields are fenced since cattle raising is the main "crop" for this area, and Athens continues to progress, but probably no such crowd as that shown in the accompanying picture could be "mustered" today.

 

 

{Also see "Page 94-Athens Main Street" and "Page 96-Rufus Sims Home" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                            Sand Hill School

                            By Jay New Baker

 

   We who enjoy all the conveniences of our modern schools cannot imagine or truly appreciate the struggles that have made possible our present educational system.

 

   Sand Hill School was the first scbool I was told about and since both my father (Alfred Barto New) and my mother (Allie Dillon) attended Sand Hill it became very special to me. It was located in ward 5 of Claiborne Parish, 3 miles north of Old Athens and east of the present highway between what are known as the Billy Capps and Johnny Baker places. No landmarks remain, gravel having been dug obliterating all traces of the site where once Sand Hill stood.

 

   Oft times I visited in the bome of my Aunt (Dora New Capps) whose residence was only a few yards from the school site. To get her daughter Vera and me from underfoot we were allowed to play in the now abandoned school house. Sometimes we carried our lunch and went to the nearby spring for water and we were thrilled to feel so grown up and important.

 

   Years passed. George Capps tore down the badly deteriorated building using the material salvaged to erect a barn.

 

   After I married Erby Baker we lived only a short distance from the old school site and I frequently visited it. The memory of it was so realistic I wasn't satisfied to have Sand Hill School pass into oblivion. I began digging into the past. Luckily I found a souvenir and picture of Sand Hill among my mother's school day treasures. From a few remaining pupils of the school-Henry New of Harris, Mrs. Ninie Willett of Athens, Mrs. Jessie Myers, Minden, and my mother, Mrs Allie New, Athens - I gathered information which I pieced together jigsaw fashion.

 

   In the year 1888 my grandparents Eli Crawford New and Sarah Angeline Huckaby moved to Claiborne Parish from Lookout Mountain, DeKalb County, Alabama, enrolling their children Alfred Barto, Ninie, and Henry Crawford at Sand Hill School. The building was of a large rectangular shape, having one side door and one door in the end of the structure. The side door was used exclusively by the girls when the need arose to be excused; nature provided the only place of recluse.

 

   Two desks reaching across the room were 6 feet wide with partition dividing each; girls sat on one side of the desk, boys on the other. Seats were bare planks 20 feet long with no backs except two near the wall occupied by the grown boys. A heater in each end of the building provided warmth. The boys gathered lighterknots from the surrounding wooded area to keep the fires burning.

 

   A nearby Spring-more often than not inhabited by crawfish, frogs, and an occasional turtle or snake-furnished the school water supply. The older boys fetched the water from the spring in buckets; a dipper (tin or gourd) from which everyone drank was standard equipment.

 

   Teachers remembered were Miss Fannie Beauchamp who taught several sessions, Miss Azalee Dance who opened school each morning with prayer, Miss Sudie Boyd who taught one day, Mr. Barksdale and Miss Julia Webb. The souvenir of the school which I have mentioned was given by Miss Julia Webb to Allie Dillon, a member of Miss Julia's class in 1898.

 

   Parents hired the teachers to tutor their children. Many parents had little  or no formal education themselves. Pupils walked to school; some had to trudge many miles. Lunches were carried in slit baskets-group lunches where several members of the same family attended school. Nails driven into the wall were used to hold the baskets. Pupils were instructed to use the same nail for their lunch baskets every day. Each pupil was required to buy slate, pencil and his own books (The "Blue Back Speller" was one.) Each sat in the same place every day and all were in the same class for teaching.

 

   Henry New, now residing in the Harris community tells of some of his experiences as a beginner. "Miss Fannie" gave the class an assignment and since he could neither read nor write and didn't know his ABC's he wasn't allowed to carry his book home. He was a bit perplexed about the whole matter; nevertheless, he continued going to school. For punishment, the teacher set aside a corner of the room known as "the penitentiary" for those who became unruly. On one occasion Miller New was sent to "the penitentiary". Some time elapsed and Miller wanting attention asked Miss Fannie what A-Y-T-C-H spelled. She answered, the letter H. Uncle Henry states that this was the first thing he learned at school. On another occasion when he was asked to tell what the letter "J" looked like, Earie Gandy replied "Two bluejays tied together."

 

   At Sand Hill Friday was "cross spelling" time. Two students-my uncle remembers Jessie Baker and Ninnie New were often the two-"Chose sides." After an equal number of students had been chosen the "sides" would line up against opposite walls. The teacher then gave out words to be spelled. When a pupil missed a word the one on the opposite side was given a chance to spell it. A pupil misspelling a word had to sit down. The procedure was followed until one student remained standing. I'm told that Jessie Baker usually was the best speller.

 

   After a while a school more centrally located was needed so Rocky Ridge School was built. Information available at the School Board Office indicates that Rocky Ridge was built in 1898 and about that time Sand Hill was consolidated with it. Sand Hill had been built many years prior. The average number of pupils attending at the time of consolidation was about 32. The school was in session three or four months in each year. If patrons wanted a longer session, each paid 5.00 on the teacher's salary.

 

   John Charping built Rocky Ridge School. Billy Ward and John Dillon gave the land on which it was built. The expense of building was borne by citizens who gave 10.00 or the equivalent in helping with construction. Rocky Ridge was consolidated with the Athens school in 1920.

 

{Also see "Page 100-Sand Hill School" and "Page 102-Rocky Ridge School" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                   The Lady Photographer of Athens

                       By John Ardis Cawthon

 

   Shortly after the death of Daguerre in 1851, his daguerreotypes had found their way into the frontier regions of North Louisiana. (1) Mathew Brady further perfected the process of photography during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods, (2) and by the turn of the century numerous photographers had set up studios in practically all American cities.

 

   It remained, however, for a "lady photographer," Miss Lela Rogers, of Athens, Louisiana, to become the best known picture-taker in North Louisiana. Her major activities centered around her home at Athens, but according to her brother, Mr. Wirt Rogers, "We drove our buggy all over North Louisiana." (3) Accompanying Mr. Rogers, then a lad of about 12 or 14 years, were his sisters, Miss Lela, the photographer, and Mrs. Wilite Rogers Brice. At times they would be gone from Athens one or two weeks.

 

   Mr. Rogers recalled:

 

      We'd drive up to a house and mention pictures. They'd get real interested and would all line up to have their pictures made, either individual, group, or cabinet. Groups sold for $6.00 for ½ dozen. After the family had had their pictures taken, they'd call in the field hand-Negroes-and they'd line up for their pictures, too.

 

      We'd get the camera out, tack up the background, put up the tripod and screw in the camera. People having their pictures taken would stand real still in front of the background.

 

   Mr. Rogers remembered that his sister had one "enlarged" camera and one "penny" camera which took 1" x 1½" pictures in a row which had to be cut apart.

 

   The Rogers family knew the Dances-Gibb, Warren, Bob, Gus, and George and the Volentines who were kinfolks. "Quite a connection of them," said Mr. Rogers. They took pictures of Buckners beyond Old Athens and of Greens at Antioch.

 

   Miss Lela Rogers was nearly 80 when she died. She left a trunk full of pictures which her family burned. They have one picture of Miss Lela and two pictures which they cannot identify. On the back of one is written, "Josephine, age 7 mos., is 10 mos. now."

 

   Among the pictures in the album which belonged to Annis Kilgore Dance are numerous pictures of the Dance family which, according to Mrs. Maggie Dance Cawthon, were made by "Miss Lela." At the age of 90, Mrs. Cawthon reported, "Miss Lela was not a mere photographer; she was an artist. I should know because, you know, I studied art at the academy in Athens. She made my picture, back in the 1890's-the one with the flowers in my hair. She made Papa's picture. She made pictures of three generations of our family. Why, you should remember her;" she said, "she made your picture-the one in the beautiful dress that I made for you especially to have your baby picture made in." (4)

 

   There was elegance in the chairs and backdrops which Miss Rogers used. She provided a proper setting for old people, for young ladies and their beaux, for babies, for family groups. Miss Lela Rogers deserved the title of "The Lady Photographer of Athens" at the turn of the century.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1  In the possession of the author are two daguerreotypes of his grandmother, Ella Caroline Kolb Cawthon, which were made at Ringgold during the early 1850's. Reproduced in The Inevitable Guest (Naylor Company. 1965) is an excellent group picture of Dr. A. J. Kolb and his family, also made in Ringgold in 1920.

2. Horan, James D., Mathew Brady, Historian with a Camera. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1955.

3. Interview between Mrs. Jane Tenery and Mr, Clifford Rogers, son of Mr. Wirt Rogers, Homer, Louisiana, February 24, 1968, and reported in a letter to John A. Cawthon.

4  Interview with Mrs. Maggie Dance Cawthon, age 90, February, 1968, The author of this sketch could hardly be expected to recall Miss Rogers, however, as the picture was made in 1907 when he was less than a year old.

 

{Also see "Page 104-Lady Photographer" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                        Small Town Dressmaker

                      By Willie Lee Pace Dillon

 

   There have been many days, yea years, since I have experienced a many carefree leisurely days as in this July of 1966. There have been 48 years of dressmaking and thousands of frocks made for the elite lady who desired special custom-made clothes, and expert alterations on ready-mades for some fastidious customers.

 

   In 1918 sidewalks led to my house in Athens, but by 1930 automobiles were being freely used by women and on week days rarely could I look out my front window without seeing a car being driven up. Many times I would hear the dull thump of a car door closing and soon a lady was knocking on my door, holding a box or a store-wrapped bundle containing one, two, three, or maybe six pieces of material for dresses, a suit, or a coat, to be fashioned to her own taste with help from me and my favorite Vogue Pattern Book. Some, especially college students, planned for a whole season at one time. A few customers have come to me for as long as 20 or 30 years and after marriage have started bringing their own little girls.

 

   The materials which gave me the greatest delight were nylon net, laces, tulle, silks, and sheer woolens. I made one banquet gown in 1955, using 20 yards of pink nylon net, 72 inches wide (equal to 40 yards of 36 inch material.) At the skirt's edge 20 yards of headed ruffled net were used, ruffle stitched upon ruffle-edge to the waistline. Hoops were worn beneath two net drop skirts and one of taffeta. Very full skirts were worn in the 1950's. Most formals were floor length. Skirts of street dresses were pleated or gathered, full and wide.

 

   My most outstanding job was a wedding gown for a local girl in 1957. It consisted of 6 yards of organza at 3.00 per yard, 11 yards or 40 inch chantilly lace at 8.00 per yard, and the two nylon net drop-skirts and one taffeta-each 7 to 10 yards at the hem. Hoops were worn underneath. I copied a 250.00 dress, using my own basic patterns; I was always able to devise and cut any needed patterns. I also fashioned the bride's pearl bead-studded head piece and waist length veil, as well as costumes for several of the bridesmaids.

 

   Ladies from Homer, 10 miles away, hearing about my nominal charges and proficiency brought their bundles of material. Usually I could finish a garment in one day. As prices on all commodities rose I began to regard my Services as being more deserving, so I gradually raised my charges. I never ate much "idle bread." As many as 8 or 10 pieces of material were often left on my shelves over the week-end. On one occasion there were 39 pieces., but I cleared my shelves in three weeks and was ready to accommodate others who came in the meantime. I saved time when possible for instance, I used pins instead of basting. I felt that a telephone would hinder rather than help and I did not have one installed until the late l940's.

 

   Those were strenuous but happy days. I could not afford a maid and had only two young sons to help with household chores which including milking two cows and looking after them in general, but by determination and because I was willing and had good health, I never gave in to difficulties which included our house burning down one morning in February, 1922. All household goods and the dress materials on hand were saved. Athens had no water system, but the time of day was in our favor and we had the help of townfolk, especially members of the senior class in our school.

 

   In June of 1947, my daughter was a bride. Her gown was of white satin, with a slim skirt and a short train, The bodice had a chantilly lace yoke in floral pattern outlined with seed pearls, applied by hand. The sleeves were long and pointed over the hand. In one day, and by 8 P.M. I finished the whole gown.

 

   The word NO was not in my vocabulary. I accepted all comers, any type of material, and any kind of sewing - drapes, slip covers, furs to be remodeled-among others.

 

   I have preserved many of the clothes that I made for myself or my daughter, along with near 100 of our hats-some bought, some made or remodeled by me; a few have been donated. I have a small museum in my home and it includes among many other items  more than 59 handbags for ladies, acquired between 1920 and 1065.

 

   I began to "sew for pay" early in 1918, but this did not begin my years of sewing. When I was 18 in February, 1904, our mother died, leaving the nine youngest Pace children at home. I was the oldest so the responsibility of the home was mine. It wasn't easy to stitch up jeans, pants, and coats and gingham shirts for the three small boys and dresses for myself and the five little girls, but I managed. In December, 1904 I married so then I had another family-my husband's -for whom I could help with sewing, and later I had my own family. 1 have really known 62 years of dressmaking, from 1904 to 1966. As near as I can estimate, I have made 12,000 dresses for pay. On many days I have cut and finished one or more per day. Charges in 1918 were 1.00, gradually increasing to 6.00 or 10.00. Only one-a wedding gown was 25.00 plus 5.00 for a pearl-studded headpiece. These have been glorious years in spite of one case of typhoid fever, one case of polio, and three deaths in the family.

 

{Also see "Page 106-Dressmaker" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                  Haynesville: Oil Boom and Tornado

                       By Agnes Caston Ware

 

   "Giddap, you __  _____ mules. Heyohi! Gadap."

 

   These were the first words I remember hearing spoken as we were moving to Haynesville, and they were yelled by a woman standing in hip boots, almost covered by mud. She was popping a long, black snake whip over the heads of eight huge, equally muddy mules, straining at a wagon loaded with oil field equipment.

 

   Like so many boys reared on a farm my dad, Van Caston, had been lured from the back-breaking labor of farm work for practically no pay to working for wages drilling oil wells around Coushatta in 1915, where he worked until going overseas during World War I. When the war was over he went back into oil field work moving from Harmon to Haynesville, which was still booming after the first well was brought in during 1921.

 

   The first night in Haynesville was spent in a rooming house, upstairs, close to where the present Hotel stands. Mom said the stairs were on the outside, and as screens were practically non-existent in those days she and Dad sat up all night burning rags to keep mosquitoes off us kids. That day Dad rented a small, three-room, shot-gun, furnished house, quite near the Taylor No. 1. the first well brought in. After a few days Granpa Caston arrived bringing our furniture in a wagon, so Dad bought an ell-shaped, three-room house, about a quarter of a mile closer to town, for $75.00. Although these were typical oil field houses my Mother cried for weeks, as we had lived in a really nice company house in Harmon.  But Mom became adjusted, for the roads were so muddy that people mostly associated with their neighbors, all in similar circumstances-young, making good money, and enjoying spending it.

 

   Because Dad was a real fiddler, playing the guitar, mandolin, bass violin,and almost any other kind of stringed instrument, there were always get-togethers at our house, some playing music, some playing cards, and nearly always some one dancing, as well.

 

   Because these oil field "shacks" were built of shingle walls and floors on land leased by the oil companies the land was rent free. Oil field work was a transient thing so walls were not papered and there was little painting done inside or outside the house, since the owner felt he might be transferred at any time. However, most of the oil field workers had gardens, cows, chickens and even pigs. It was in the days before wage and hour laws so the men worked long, hard hours-up to twelve a day seven days a week-for about $3.00 a day.

 

   The women did most of their housework, hiring colored women to wash and iron, usually at their homes where a fire was built around the big iron wash pot early in the morning and the white clothes boiled, "battened" down with a long paddle. As this was before any kind of washing powder either yellow Oxydol or P and G soap was used. Some still made their own soap.

 

   A long bench held four No. 3 galvanized wash tubs, which held about twenty-five gallons of water each. In the first tub the clothes were scrubbed on a washboard until clean, after being dipped out of the boiling water with the wooden paddle. They were then rinsed twice in cold water and then through the last tub, to which bluing had been added from a stick of blue. Then they were hung on the line with wooden pins. Since people washed clothes only once a week it took from daylight till right about noon. By the time one hung the last overalls out the hands were skinned from using strong soap in hot water, the abrasion of rubbing on a metal wash-board, not to mention the coarseness of some of the fabric itself. In the hot summer it didn't take long for the clothes to dry. Then they had to be taken down, folded and put away.

 

   Starch was made in a big dish-pan of dry starch made by Argo. Some of the older women could make it out of flour, but the younger ones felt lucky to make it without lumps with a bought product. The clothes to he starched (and this was most of the wearing apparel of the whole family, since it was believed that clothing didn't wilt as  quickly when starched and that heavily starched material repelled dirt more readily) were wrung out of the starch. Some people also added bluing to a separate pan of starch for the white clothing, especially men's dress shirts.

 

   Since Monday was wash day, most of the ironing was done on Tuesday. Again a fire was built around the place that the wash pot was put the day before and two smoothing irons, ironically called "Sad" irons set on their heels facing the fire, Since the handle was iron it was necessary to use a thick rag to get it out of the fire and use it. The clothes were sprinkled and wrapped in something heavy to he taken out one at a time for ironing.

 

   The ironing board was literally a board slung between two cane-bottom chairs and padded with used sheets or old quilts or blankets. Some people used old waxed paper to smooth the iron on between strokes, some had paraffin, and others broke off a sprig of green cedar to smooth the iron and impart a pleasant smell to the clothing.

 

   The women of the "Oil Patch" had their day made when the dishes were washed after the noon meal. Since the men worked on shifts one could nearly always find another family to go fishing, play cards, play music or just visit. Within calling distance of our house were over thirty children, so we could play football, baseball, house, or any of the games children played then  such as "Annie Over," "Hide and seek," "In and Out the Window" "Run Sheep, Run." And "Statue's"  The older children took care or the smaller ones.

 

   We went to school in town by bus then called a "school truck" but our lives were centered in our own communities. Nearby grocery stores run by Sam Litton and Robert Ragland, contained most of the necessities's and the roads were so bad one went to town only in case of real need.

 

   As children we knew little about the traditional boom-town rough stuff. Our parents kept us near home under a watchful eye, and about the only recollection I have of anything unusual is of the pile of flavoring bottles behind the neighborhood grocery store, the contents of which the men apparently drank for the alcohol therein. Another thing I remember about those days is that one often found money, even bills, along the roads.

 

   These were exciting days. Rigs were wooden structures, apt to catch on fire and burn with a strange beauty, flames licking up to a hundred and twenty feet in the air, for there were no fire hydrants in the oil fields and by the time a fire truck from town arrived it was usually too late. I remember, also, seeing an oil tank blazing with thousands of gallons of stored oil, while weary fire-fighters tried to keep it from spreading to other tanks on the "tank farm," located at that time on the Magnolia Road, now Highway 79, about where Santiam Plywood Factory is now.

 

   Once we went to the scene of an accident, where the gang (four men) had been pulling tubing from the ground and the motor, running full speed, had suddenly locked, so that the huge fly-wheels burst into great projectiles flying over the men's beads to be driven deep into the ground or through the monstrous floor boards and 16 inch square sills into the dirt several feet under the derrick. A Mr. Bob Fitzgerald was killed when a large fragment flew into him, breaking his back. His brother-in-law, H. F. Kellum, now runs a drug store in Haynesville. There were so many accidents that the oil companies in those days sponsored first aid crews who went about the country staging contests and teaching safety measures. My Dad belonged to such a crew and this training often came in handy since it was not easy to get a doctor in an emergency.

 

   On Thanksgiving Eve, 1926, Mother was already in bed and Dad was working evening tower." We children had put the card table in line with all the straight chairs, covered them with newspapers and crawled through the "tunnel." When the wind began to blow I called Mom to bring the flashlight, and then I dragged the baby's highchair from room to room to turn off the gas-lights. (Oh, those mantels that broke each time we slammed a door!) I also turned off the gas heaters.

 

   Thus we were all huddled together somewhere around the "tunnel" in the living room, with Mom trying to put her arms around all five of us at the same time, when the storm struck. Sounding like a disintegrating freight train descending upon us, a cyclone hit the house, picked it up, and set it back down, minus the roof. Almost by the time it settled, Daddy came running up. Standing near a tank about a quarter of a mile away he had watched the cyclone hit our house. Simultaneously, neighbors began to arrive, those whose houses had not been hit coming to see about those who had had damage. I remember Mom kept telling us not to shine the flashlight on her, for she was still in her flannel nightgown.

 

   As soon as they got us bedded down, the men wanted to know if we minded staying alone, for they wanted to see if there was anything they could do in other areas where the damage was severe. Some of them went to Roxana Camp, where most of the houses were destroyed and later we saw giant steel derricks twisted and crumpled as if they were tissue paper. Even now one can see pieces of tin up in trees where this cyclone hit.

 

   Years later, when I had been married to E. Jack Ware for some time I thought to ask Daddy where he did go that night, for I always remembered that he had gone to the Ware's Chapel community and would rarely talk about the terrible things he had seen. Imagine our surprise to learn that he went to the very house where my husband was reared, that of Mr. Charlie Smith.

 

                From THE HAYNESVILLE NEWS December 2, 1926:

 

     Storm's toll is 7 dead and 12 seriously injured. Thirteen homes are swept away. Property damage is near a million dollars. The cyclone struck at a point north of Baucum's Spur, continued in a northeasterly direction. Those killed were Doy Crump, 22 years of age; (1) Mr. and Mrs. Dalton Smith, ages 23 and 21; Curtis and David Eugene Smith; (2) Mrs. Frances Jenkins, all of the Ware's Chapel community; and D.  L. Flora, of Roxana Camp. Mrs. D. W. Stewart, her sister-in-law, Miss Mabel Stewart, and daughter Ouida were injured and hospitalized. There was a great deal of damage at Roxana Camp. (3) Mrs. Fannie Festervan's home completely swept away. No one at home. (4) Several oil derricks destroyed at Baucum Spur. Jessie Smith home and Charlie Smith homes demolished. (5)

 

This issue of THE HAYNESVILLE NEWS contained pictures of Roxana Camp, the Jessie Smith home site, and a derrick. It gave lists of names of those who contributed to a fund which quickly reached $6,000. Homer sent large contributions to this fund. The December 9, 1926 issue of the NEWS contained more pictures of the cyclone's damage and information concerning it. One of the pictures was of a freight car, overturned at Baucum Spur, containing 80,000 pounds of gas engines.

 

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1. A brother of the author's husband's step-mother, Mrs. Emma Crump ware

2. Sons of the late Mr. Jessie Smith and Mrs. Angie Smith, now a resident of Heritage Manor, Haynesville

3. Where employees of Roxana Oil Co., lived, on the Springhill Road

4. Mrs. Festervan has told the author that they had gone to a movie – her husband and all of the children. A searcher in the debris which had once been their home came upon a doll which bad been a Christmas gift to one of the girls. When the doll was disturbed in the search, it cried "Mama" and the searcher hurriedly left the vicinity.

5. Dalton Smith had a new car which was the only thing unblemished. it was picked up. carried about sixty feet and deposited among some trees. "Uncle Charlie" Smith was blown against a tree and his wife, "Aunt Dutch" (Mittie Ware) blown into the top of a huge pecan tree where she hung for several hours before being rescued  "Uncle Charlie" died some three years later at the height of another storm and "Aunt Dutch" died many years later.

 

{Also see "Page 110-Oil Boom" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                       History of Haynesville

                        By Mary Aycock Green

 

Editors note:  This is a portion of a paper prepared by the author as a student of Dr. R. 0. Trout, Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, 1964)

 

   "Historical records reveal the earliest settler in the Haynesville community to be a Widow Long who established a residence in l818, hut she moved very shortly to Arkansas. (1) It was some twenty-five or thirty years later that there was a tidal wave of immigration into this area.  In 1844, J. C. Wasson and L. S. Fuller came,  Hiram Brown came in 1845. Miles Buford and Samuel Boyd settled in 1846.

 

   "Haynesville, in the early days of the settlement of northern Louisiana was known as "Taylor Store." The founding of the "Taylor Store" community, later to become Haynesville, was largely through the efforts of J. C. Taylor and his brother, Henry Taylor. The Taylor brothers came to northern Louisiana around the year 1849. They brought with them from South Carolina several hundred slaves. With such a supply of farm hands they were able to undertake farming tin a large scale.

 

   They purchased several hundred acres of land from the government at a price of $.75 per acre and began clearing this land for cultivation. The Taylor farm, and even more important, the general store established by the Taylors gradually became the center of a small community of farmers. J. C. Taylor was apparently a frugal and hardworking man who was quick to see opportunities to broaden his business interests. He purchased more land, built a cotton gin, and established a blacksmith shop.  This nucleus of business establishments became the center of the "Taylor Store Community" which in 1898 was a village of around 250 people. The village covered an area of approximately one square mile, The government of the village consisted of a constable and a justice of the peace who held court occasionally. This very loose government structure was all that was needed for the relatively few families residing there. (2)

 

   The Old Town (Taylor's Store Community) had several other businesses. One was a drug store owned by Sam Kirkpatrick and Dr, Wroton. A jewelry shop was operated by a Mr. Wood. Mr. Ray made coffins.  Captain Maddox, John Brooks  and Lindsey Mosely owned general stores. The community grew steadily.

 

   In 1898 it was a thriving village with some 250 people, covering mile square, and serving families within a ten mile radius. This community was eventually named Haynesville for a Captain Haynes who lived there temporarily.

 

   The traveling ministers visited Haynesville as they did the rest of the parish in those days. Some of the early ministers in Haynesville were Tom Brasher, Rufus Neal, Hollis, Idson, and M. C. Parker.

 

   Old Town was never incorporated.  In 1849 Haynesville had its first post office.  The mail was brought from Homer and placed in a showcase of Brown Brothers' store.  Haynesville's first newspaper was a political paper, the Greenback Dollar. John Warren and J.M.  Hendry were the editors. It was printed until 1889 when J. M. Hendry took over editorship of the Haynesville Star. Phillip Gibson headed a Normal Institute for teacher training in Haynesville from 1887 to 1893.

 

   "Great was the excitement in 1898 when the news spread that a rail road would be built connecting this community with the town of Homer, fourteen miles south, and that a site had been selected for a new town, two miles north of Old Town. In order to establish the town at this point, the citizens bought 300 acres of land and gave it to Major Beardsley, the owner of the railroad.  Two hundred acres were bought from C. A. Bridgeman at $6.25 per acre: and forty acres from G. B. Sherman at S7.50 per acre: and sixty acres from Jos.W. Camp at $10.00 per acre. Mr. Beardsley had the tract surveyed and blocked selling the lots to get money to finish his railroad." (3)

 

   "Within a few years Old Town ceased to exist and new businesses were brought in as well as old businesses relocated, Jo Greer and George Sherman built the first store in August, 1898. The first depot was a box car which was used for three or more years. T.W .(Tom) Camp was the new town's first barber. Shortly afterwards John Sale begun to burn brick kilns; W . A. Waters and Hugh Miller built the first brick stores; T. U. Norton, Tom Sale and S. B. Baucom followed with brick establishments. When Haynesville was incorporated around 1899 frame buildings were outlawed. In 1904 John Henry was elected the new towns first mayor and S. E. Rankin was made its first marshall. (4)

 

   Jos. W. Camp built the first dwelling in 1898 and 1899.  Judge Rankin installed the first telephone. L. C. Bolin was the first to install electric lights and running water in his home.  The first person to own a car was Dr. Crate Kennedy.

 

   The land around Haynesville was suitable for growing all sorts of fruits vegetables, and farm products. The general occupation was farming and the chief crop was cotton.  The first cotton gin was hand-fed. It took all day to gin 4 hales of cotton.  Located several yards from the gin-house was the press. The compress was operated by mule-power. The mules were hitched to a lever and they pulled the lever around and around until the bales were of a proper measure.

 

   "A Resident, Jos. W. Camp, who came from Georgia in 1855, entered a section of land and built his home . . .  In 1877 Mr. Camp realized the need of a community school. So he built a one-room log school house near where the Ray Greenwell residence now is located. He also built a one-room house with a shed-room for the home of the first teacher". (5)

 

   Almost overnight, early in 1921, Haynesville was turned into a boom town. The Community grew from a mere 1,000 inhabitants to a busy oil center of 10,000 people or more. There was no census taken, but some estimate the population ran as high as 20,000, although this would seem rather high. Tents, shacks, and lean-tos were thrown up to provide lodging and food for both workers and oil speculators. Liquid gold rushed forth on March 30, 1921, bringing in untold wealth which was followed by a building boom for new residences and business establishments, churches and school buildings.  This increased wealth was reflected in the construction of a new Presbyterian Church in 1921; one year later the Methodist Episcopal Church was built. The financial condition of the town also improved. A municipal sewerage system was installed, and a law passed making it compulsory that all take advantage of these modern facilities.

 

   "The condition of the roads and streets during the oil boom is vividly recalled by those who lived through the boom. A mule drowning in mud and slush on Main Street was a topic for conversation for many days during this time. The same is true for the youngster, a very enterprising young business man who took advantage of the situation, placed "2x12's" on blocks across the street and charged five cents to walk across. Rural mail carriers resorted to horseback to get the mail to its proper destination." (6)

 

   In 1922, the wooden school building was destroyed by fire. Work was started immediately on a new brick building which was completed in 1924. Electric power lines were installed throughout the town, streets were paved, and gas lines were laid. It seemed that oil had become a godfather to Haynesville and that all who wished to work could reap the benefits.

 

   The oil boom did not last, and by the spring of 1925 oil field activity settled down into regular routine operations. The oil land had been put under lease and temporary oil workers began to leave the area. The permanent citizens resumed their normal life and activity. Fortunately, many modern and permanent improvements to the town had been made.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

1  Claiborne Parish Historical Association, Homer, Louisiana, "Historic Claiborne", 1962, p  24

2. Haynesville, Louisiana, Population and Economy, ( Don S. Martin and Associates, Inc., 1960) p.4

3. Mrs. Ruth Tait Keener, personal interview

4. Claiborne Parish Historical Association, Homer, La. "Historic Claiborne" 1962, p. 25

5. Mrs. Ruth Tait Keener

6. Claiborne Parish Historical  Association,  Homer,  La.,  "Historic Claiborne." 1962, p. 25.

 

{Also see "Page 115-Haynesville School" in the corresponding photo album, "Historic Claiborne '69," located in the Claiborne Parish LA GenWeb Archives.}

                               

                               Haynesville

                            by Juanita Pickens

 

(Editor's note:  This paper was prepared by the author while a student at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, 1967, under the direction of Morgan Peoples. The paper is based largely upon material which has previously appeared in publications of the Association, but since these earlier books are very nearly out of print, we feel that publication here of this paper is appropriate.)

 

Early settlement

 

   Old Haynesville, a thriving town from 1843-1898, was located in northwest Claiborne Parish, twelve miles north of Homer. To the south of the town flowed the well-watered Dixie Bayou, used by the farmers and cattlemen to water their stock  At one time an industrious farmer tried raising rice on the low banks which overflowed. Evidently, the venture was unsuccessful because the experiment was not continued.

 

   The only historical records available today reveal the earliest settler was a Widow Long and her son Davis Long who built a cabin on the north side of Dixie Bayou in 1818. They were not pleased so they moved to Arkansas a short time later. (1)  The pioneers came slowly at first. Samuel Russell stated that there were only eighteen families in this part of the parish when he came in 1822. By 1898 the community had grown to a village of some 250 people, covering one mile square, and serving many families within a ten mile radius. (2)

 

   During this era there were no roads in Claiborne Parish. The families who moved into this section traveled the two hunter or Indian trails. One of these led from Mt. Prairie, Arkansas to Natchitoches, and the other from Long Prairie, Arkansas to "Washita", now Monroe in Ouachita Parish. (3) In 1874 the United States Government, under the administration of President U. S. Grant, built a military plank road to transport supplies to the troops at Camp Salubrity at Grand Ecore. It entered Louisiana at what is known as the State Line just north of Haynesville and went to Overton on Dorcheat Bayou, south of Minden. (4) This apparently was the first road cut through the wilderness and fed to the early settlement of this area. It was over these routes that the prospectors came, stopped, and decided to stay. Many established themselves at a location suitable to their needs and liking before applying for a land entry from the government.

 

   The earliest land entries in this area appear to have been in 1848. But the land hungry Georgians and Alabamians did not find this land until 1850. It was then the land rush  began. Most of the purchases of lands were made during the ten year period of 1850-1860. Much of the land was also given to veterans of the Mexican War. (5)

 

   A young man from Georgia, J. C. Taylor, arrived in 1848 and bought 160 acres of land at 75 cents an acre from the government. He established a small country store, dug a public well, and the community became known as Taylor's Store.  He expanded his business enterprises and later donated land for the first Methodist Church, cemetery, and school house bu