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A series of 23 articles by George Harper, 1878-1879


Kaleidoscope of History: Raymond

     The Kaleidoscope fascinates us all,
and we watch – and wait – sometimes holding our breath,
as the patterns of color continue to change with the passage of time.

Rebecca Blackwell Drake

     Raymond is recognized as one of the oldest towns in Mississippi, having been chartered on December 15, 1830. Before that time, plantations dotted the countryside, yielding an abundance of moneymaking crops.
     Writers and historians often project a romantic illusion of Raymond, suggesting that the town was born out of the conflict of the Civil War. To the contrary, Raymond was born a half-century prior to the war and designated to be the seat of Hinds County. A magnificent courthouse was built 1857-1859, displaying all of the elegance associated with Raymond’s southern charm. Today the Smithsonian recognizes the Hinds County Courthouse in Raymond as one of the ten most perfect examples of Southern architecture in the United States.
     After Raymond was established as the county seat, large and beautiful homes were built in and around town. Although most of the homes have disappeared from the landscape, numerous structures remain to remind of us of Raymond’s antebellum past: Waverly, Belcher House, Gibbs Von Seutter House, Dupree-Ratliff House, Phoenix Hall, Shelton House, Chancery Building, Southern Cedars, Cedarcrest, Futch House, and Mamie’s Cottage on the grounds of the Dupree House. The Dupree House, located six miles from Raymond, is a spacious plantation house begun in the 1850s and completed in the 1870s. Presently, two antebellum houses are being moved into Raymond from nearby locations and are being restored; the Yeiser House (also known as Hiawatha) from Champion Hill that was used as a Confederate hospital, and the Porter House, once located several miles east of Raymond near or along the road to Cooper’s Well. Both of these historic homes will soon be featured on Raymond’s annual pilgrimage.
     The major event that molded the history of Raymond for centuries to come was the Civil War. On May 12, 1863, Union General James McPherson marched toward Raymond and encountered Confederate General John Gregg’s Brigade one mile south of town. A six-hour battle erupted across the banks of Fourteen-Mile Creek, resulting in one thousand combined casualties. The courthouse, churches, schools, and many of the homes in town were turned into hospitals. Responding to the tragedy, the women of Raymond nursed all of the wounded soldiers, blue and gray alike, until they were well enough to return to their homes or