"Raymond Years Ago"

By George W. Harper

Journalist - Editor - Owner Of Hinds County Gazette 1845-1883

A Series Published in the Hinds County Gazette, 1878-1879

From the Gillespie Collections edited by Pattie Adams Snowball and Rebecca Blackwell Drake


History Home Page

"Raymond Years Ago"

Home Page

Part I

Harper Arrives in Mississippi

Vicksburg & Meridian RR

Businesses in 1844

The Raymond Bar

Early Merchants

Part II

1844 Businesses

Seat of Justice

Cotton Industry

Early Churches

Part III

Establishment of Schools

John B. Peyton

Raymond Area Homes

Medicinal Resorts & Spas

Part IV

The Mexican War

Early Churches

Early Schools

Raymond Female Institute

Raymond Military Institute

McNutt-Foote Debate

Part V

1844 Presidential Election

Local Elections of 1845

Literary Raymond

Raymond Fires

Old Log Jail

Part VI

Death of Jos. Stewart

Murder of Benj. Sims

Duel Ends in Death

Part VII

Raymond & Bolton RR

Harper Elected Mayor

Chaos at Oak Tree Hotel


Great Fire of 1858

Early Area Settlements

  • Amsterdam

  • Yeizer's Store

  • Newtown

  • Meridian Springs

  • Sturgiss Store

  • Dry Grove

  • County Line

Part IX

Rev. Fisk's Biology Class

Fisk Charged with Fraud

Part X

Fleetwood Tragedy

Local Racetracks

Dignitaries Visit Raymond

Winning the Lottery

Fire Company No. 1

Part XI

"Devoted & Valued Friend"

Tribute to Amos Johnson

Part XII

Yellow Fever Strikes Raymond

Doctors Treating Victims

Cooper's Well

Mississippi Springs


Newspaper Entrepreneurs

Yankees Sack Gazette Office

Fate of Editorial Giants

Part XIV

Henry Clay Defeated in 1844

Stray Cats in Raymond

"A Remarkable Occurrence"

Blow That Punky Bell to Hell"

Isom Bldgs Destroyed

Part XV

1851 Gubernatorial Election

Union Ticket Sweeps State

Part XVI

New Raymond Courthouse

Gibbs Building Rebuilt

Hinds Co. Poor House

Schools Struggle

Murder of Addie Owens


War comes to Raymond

The Battle of Raymond

Willie Foote Captured

Make-shift Hospitals

Yankees Occupy Raymond


Raymond Lodge No. 21

Odd-Fellows' Graveyard

Bolls Incarceration

Crimes Blamed on Whisky

Peyton's Willow Tree Prank

Part XIX

Politics in Raymond

Presidential Election 1860

Hinds Co. for Succession

Raymond Fencibles Organized

Churches Reorganize

Part XX

The Clinton Riot of 1875

Why the Great Uneasiness?

Deaths of Sivley & Thomson

"Kill the Raymond Men"

Part XXI

Harrison Election

Political Gatherings

Event at Dupree's Grove

Presidential Election 1876


Governor Ames Impeached

Great Wrongs Investigated

Fight the Devil with Fire


Reconstruction Era

Harper Ends with Poetic Vision



Part I

George Harper Arrives in Mississippi, 1844

The rugged and precipitous mountains of Western Virginia were covered with a beautiful mantle of snow on the morning of the 15th of October, 1844, and the air was pure and frosty. The sun rose clear, bright and beautiful and as its first rays kissed the mountain’s side, the sparkling was not unlike that which would have been reflected by the most precious diamonds.

A full-grown boy, inexperienced and without means - indeed, like Noah Webster’s first Dictionary, without the backing of money, credit or friends - was about to leave the haunts of his youth to find a home among strangers in a distant state. He had neither purse nor scrip, nor had he credentials or letters recommendatory.

The Vicksburg & Meridian Railroad

There were then no railroads in all the now mighty West - no railroads then in all that vast region which is now like one beautiful garden, and fairly a network of railroads. Hence, a steamer was the conveyance for the boy traveler, and after something over two weeks of running in the Champion, one of the best boats of the period, he was landed at Vicksburg, at 10 o’clock at night, on the second day of November, which was the first day of the presidential election of that year, at which Mr. Clay and Mr. Polk were the opposing candidates. Each party was having a rousing meeting, and a torch-light procession in the city, amid beating of drums, waving of banners, and firing of cannon. Sergeant S. Prentiss was the orator for the Whigs, and Robt. J. Walker for the Democrats. Both were northern born and raised men yet each was the idol of his party.

The boy traveler remained aboard the boat until daylight and then found his way to the railroad depot (for the V. & M. R. R. was then completed to Jackson) and bought a ticket for Edwards, which was then the R. R. station for Raymond, and which was just then swallowing up the grand emporium known in history as Amsterdam. Our traveler reached Raymond at nightfall and it was a calm, charming evening with a moon as soft and lovely as that which mantles in grandeur Italy’s beautiful scenery. The boy traveler had reached the locality for which he had embarked. He had arrived at Raymond.

Old Courthouse, Stone Jail and Businesses

The old brick court-house stood on what is known as the public square. It was a strangely constructed building with a spire running heavenward, covered with bright tin, which sparkled as it caught the rays of the sun, and fairly dimmed the eye that rested upon it. A “Whig Pole,” from which floated in grandeur the American flag, inscribed with the name of Harry [sic] Clay, was in front of the edifice and many noble heads often turned in admiration to it. The pole firmly remained in place, and the flag continued proudly to flutter in the breeze, until sometime in December, when they were removed by those who had placed them in position.

The old stone jail was then the jail of the whole county of Hinds, and it was in charge of Lemuel Edmonson, Deputy Sheriff, who was one of the characters of the town and who died many years ago. Daniel Thomas, (the honored father of our present Sheriff,) was the Sheriff of the county; Henry G. Johnston, of Clinton, was Probate Judge; R. N. Downing was Circuit Clerk; Henry Smith was Probate Clerk; Joshua Mullins, was Ranger; D. P. Harrison was postmaster; and W. G. Jennings was Mayor of the town. All these parties are now dead, but many of them have relatives among us.

Oak Tree Hotel


The Oak Tree was then the fashionable hotel of the town, and was kept by Mrs. Thomas Robinson, the mother of the late Col. T. A. Mellon. Mrs. D. J. Johnston kept what is now known as the City Hotel, but it was rather a boarding house than a hotel.

There was then but one church in Raymond, the Methodist, and the Rev. P. Cooper, of Cooper’s Well fame, was the pastor.

The physicians of the town were four in number: N. W. Vallandigham, A Patton, J. R. Dougherty and D. M Dancy, all of whom are still living save Dr. Vallandigham but long ago removed to other points.

The Raymond Bar

Philip Augustine Lee (A. L.) Dabney

The Bar of Raymond was then much stronger in number than now. We had Judge Trimble, W. E. Rives, S. C. Barton, A. L. Dabney, A. R. Johnston, T. J. Wharton, J. J. Davenport, D. C. Briggs, Thos. Robinson, and J. N. Mitchell who were regarded as older members: with F. A. R. Wharton, E. W. F. Sloan, John Shelton, R. H. Brigg, S.A.D. Graves, J. H. Stewart, and others who were styled “the young members.” Of the sixteen, T. J. Wharton, A. R. Johnston, J. J. Deavenport, F. A. R. Wharton, John Shelton and S. A. D. Graves (six) are the only ones who survive; while John Shelton and F. A. R. Wharton, who were young men in 1844 are the only ones who are not citizens of the town; both, we are happy to say, enjoy the unlimited confidence of the community in which they have lived so long and served so faithfully and successfully.

The South-Western Farmer was then the only paper in Raymond with King & North as publishers, and North and Phillips as editors. Dr. Phillips now resides at Oxford - the others are dead.



Early Merchants

The merchants of the town were O. V. Shearer, G. W. Gibbs, Danl. Black, G. W. Osborn, Daugherty & Seaton, E. H. Watson, Thomas Mount, D. M. Johnson, and A. Casper.

Messrs. Gibbs, Black and Casper still survive and are yet citizens of the county. Raymond was then supplied with a mail from Edwards - a hack running between the two points as now between Raymond and Bolton. There was no town nor post office then at Bolton, and Edwards had but a single store and dwelling house.

On the road from Bolton to Raymond, there was then not a house until Col. Isom’s was reached, two miles from Raymond, (now known as the Waddill or Harper place.). Then came the county poor-house, which was located near where V. J. Waddill now lives, one mile from Raymond. The house now occupied by Mrs. Downing, was then vacant and so, also, we believe, were the now beautiful premises of John Shelton; but a house stood on the opposite side of the road from Mr. Shelton’s, which was occupied by Daniel Thomas; while near where C. C. Heard’s residence now stands stood a house which was then occupied by A. J. Chapman.

Raymond then had a much larger white population than now. There were then, or a year or two afterwards, 188 voters polled during town election. There are not now half that number of white votes within the corporation limits.

The money in circulation in this part of Mississippi was then almost exclusively gold and silver - the gold being English sovereigns and the silver, French five franc pieces. The cotton buyers at New Orleans paid out this money, and it was sent directly inland to the producer, the rule then being not to consume the crop in supplies before it was made.

Good cotton then sold in Raymond at 4 and 5 cents; corn at 40 cents; potatoes at 37 ½ cents; wood at $2.50 a cord; and newspapers at $3 a year. And the people were all making money and recovering rapidly from the financial disasters of ’39, ’40 and ’41.


All photographs and illustrations were edited into the series by Pattie Snowball and Rebecca Drake.

Copyright © 2008  PattieAdams Snowball, James and Rebecca Drake