The Gillespie Collection
Kaleidoscope of History
Civil War Raymond
Raymond in the Civil War
Battle of Raymond Stories
Related Civil War Stories
Moments in History
The Dabneys in Raymond
Hinds County Schools
"Raymond Years Ago"
A series of 23 articles by George Harper, 1878-1879
Kaleidoscope of History: Raymond
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
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
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
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
their regiments. A Confederate Cemetery south of town is a memorial to
those who lost their lives.
Following the war, Raymond endured hard times. All of
the plantations were financially ruined, leaving the owners bankrupt.
The business district was also destroyed, not only as a result of the
war but also due to a fire that engulfed the town in 1858. Business
owners, including the famous daguerreotype photographer, Elias Von
Setter, were forced to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
During the 1880s, as Raymond recovered from financial
ruin, large and beautiful houses were built in town, all reflective of
the opulence associated with the Victorian era. Many of the Victorian
homes, as well as the antebellum homes, are featured during Raymond’s
annual pilgrimage, A Place Called Raymond.
Following the turn of the century, Raymond was alive
with the spirit of patriotism as the young men in town responded to the
call of duty. Raymond sacrificed hundreds of its young men who fought
and died in World War I, then, two decades later, in World War II. Times
were hard in post-war Raymond as businesses struggled to recover from
the economic woes of both wars.
In 1922-23, Hinds Junior College was established in
Raymond to provide an education for the young people of Hinds County,
especially the rural students. Since that time, the college has grown
into one of the largest community colleges in the nation.
Today, tourists enjoy visiting Raymond and seeing the
sites associated with its antebellum past: the Civil War battlefield,
the Confederate Cemetery, the antebellum homes, Grant’s headquarters at
Waverly, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and the historic courthouse.
Tourists are also enchanted by the Victorian influence that can be seen
in the houses, the railroad depot, and the Catholic Church.
Over the past few years, Raymond has a fresh and
charming appearance with the addition of many colorful flowerbeds
downtown and at the entrances to the town. Town square has also taken on
a decorative appearance with an array of flags and banners on display
around the water tower. It is the mixture of the old and the new that
makes Raymond the unique town that it is today, a town where tourists
love to visit and people love to live.
Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Kaleidoscope of History, 2004