"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 X


A Tragedy at Fleetwood

We departed slightly from “the text,” a week or two ago, and described several localities that were once points of interest in the county, but which are now unknown - having passed from the map and almost from the mind of the oldest inhabitant. Unintentionally we omitted a settlement which was quite well known 40 to 45 years ago, and which figured in a tragedy which caused much remark at the time. Fleetwood had a postoffice, and a tavern, and was on the much traveled road from the Yazoo and Madison country to Vicksburg; or to be more specific, its location was between Brownsville and Edwards, near Queen’s Hill. Such was the travel along the road that often, so we have been informed, there were dozens of wagons and hundreds of travelers at the Fleetwood Inn night after night and, besides, being a postoffice and cross-roads, the people of the neighborhood made it a point of frequent social resort.

Pat Sharkey, a very intelligent, substantial and determined man, lived on his plantation near Fleetwood. He was a Magistrate, and it was the period of the threatened insurrection, headed by the Murrell gang, when every man looked upon every other man with suspicion. Men had been arrested, as suspicious characters, and, no evidence appearing to Squire Sharkey’s satisfaction had been discharged by him. This displeased a Vigilance Committee in Madison county, and they threatened to visit Sharkey and punish him for dereliction of duty. They came down in a body towards Sharkey’s place, but he stepped over to Fleetwood, preferring to receive his visitors there than at home. He thoroughly armed himself, and retired to a room in the Fleetwood Inn, and fastened the doors quite securely. He witnessed their approach. When they attempted to break into his room, he commenced firing. The leader of the party fell dead, and some others were wounded. Sharkey, also, was severely wounded in the wrist. The committee returned to Madison without arresting Sharkey. As far back as 1855 not a trace of Fleetwood was visible save the gentle eminence on which the Inn stood. Indeed, it was then the centre of a large cotton field about midway between the then residences of Dr. Catchings and Mr. Reynolds, and a few miles from the now prosperous town of Bolton.

Peyton and Dillon Racetracks

At an early period after Raymond was settled, a race course was laid out on what has long been known as The Prairie, on Maj. Peyton’s land, adjoining the town. Many of the finest horses of the Southwest appeared on the track while it was in use, and large numbers of sporting men were in the habit of attending. About 1840 or ’41, however, a horse fell, while running, and broke his neck - and that catastrophe, we believe, broke up racing on the Raymond course. The prairie was afterwards sodded with Bermuda by Maj. Peyton, encircled with a Cherokee hedge, and used as a pasture until the war. The hedge having been destroyed during the war, the Prairie has since remained “out.”

The Cherokee Rose

While the Raymond Race Course was in use there was also another six miles southwest of the town, on Col. Dillon’s land, known as the Oakland Course. We do not know that an accident of any kind ever occurred at Oakland but it ceased to be used for racing with the fall of 1844. The Fairs of the State having pretty generally been turned into horse shows, have to a great extent superseded the race track of the olden time. Whether the public morals and horse flesh have been improved or injured by the change, it is not necessary for us to inquire, but it must be conceded that we now see few fine horses in this part of the county.

Dignitaries Visit Raymond

Sergeant Prentiss, orator and statesman, won fame in law and politics and served in the Mississippi Legislature and U.S. Congress.

Raymond has been visited in its time by many of the most noted men of the southwest. Gen. Jackson and his army from Tennessee, on their way to meet Packingham, at New Orleans, passed within sight of the ridge on which the town now stands. After the building of the town, Geo. Poindexter and Robt. J. Walker met in discussion here, and here Sergeant S. Prentiss made his first speech in that memorable canvass which gave him a world-wide reputation, and brought to him the eyes and sympathies of the nation. McNutt often addressed the people here, and Gov. A. G. Brown and P. W. Tompkins, and Gov. H. S. Foote, and Col. Jeff Davis, and Judge Sharkey, and F. E. Plummer, and A. K. McClung; and here we heard Gen. Sam Houston for the first time, soon after Texas had been annexed, and when he was beating about for a healthy immigration. And here Gen. Andrew Jackson, in the evening of his days, met our citizens and took them by the hand with all the cordiality of a father welcoming his children. The pulpit of Raymond, too, has been graced at sundry times with the most noted Divines, of all the denominations known to Mississippi and the southwest.

Winning the Lottery

We have never regarded Raymond as “a lucky town,” as that term is usually applied. Indeed, in looking back at its history for 35 years, we cannot but say that it has been rather as unlucky place -a village of calamities, rather than a village of good fortune. It is true, it has been peculiarly blessed by Providence with uniform good health, with exemption from epidemics, with enterprising business men, with intelligent and industrious working men - but Providence has not often smiled bountifully on their efforts and labors. With all the zeal of the citizens in behalf of many good and laudable enterprises, calamity has often come at the moment that success seemed within reach, and to the ground have been dashed the fondest hopes and the most cherished desires. Private as well as public enterprises have appeared to share a common fate, and failure has so often followed upon failure, and disaster upon disaster, that there are many among us who are ready to write FAILURE upon any undertaking whatsoever before its design and scope is fairly unfolded. We can now call to mind, running back over thirty-five years, but a single instance of good fortune befalling any of our citizens although doubtless, many others have occurred of which we have not heard, or having heard, have forgotten.

In the year 1857, A. R. Johnston, Jos. Gray, B. F. Edwards, and the Gazette printing office, invested $60.00 in a package of tickets in Swan’s Georgia Lottery - Johnston advancing $30, and Gray, Edwards, and the Gazette office $20 each. In due time the returns of the drawing came, when it appeared that the package of tickets had drawn $17.50. The $17.50 was reinvested in the next scheme. Presently returns came from that, and the $17.50 had produced $2.50. The $2.50 as before was instantly reinvested, and in a few days came the news that the $2.50 had drawn one-fourth of the $40,000 prize, that is to say $10,000. The ticket was at once sent to Brown & Johnston, the then bankers of Vicksburg, with instructions to collect immediately in American Gold. Prizes were payable in that lottery after sixty days, and very soon after the expiration of that period, Brown & Johnston sent to Raymond, in $20 gold pieces, $5,000 for Amos R. Johnston, and $1,666.66 for Jos. Gray, B. F. Edwards and the Gazette office, less 2 per cent, the charge for collecting and forwarding funds. None of the gentlemen named would now, perhaps think of investing a dollar in a lottery. At that period, however, much money was thus sent abroad annually, and the above was, to the best of our knowledge, the total sum returned. At this day but few of our people have money that they could spare for such a purpose, but if per chance they should ever have, they will allow us to suggest, that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, and that as unlucky a town as Raymond need not expect ever again to beat a Lottery; and further, that Josh Billings, an eminent philosopher, was no doubt correct when he declared that he “would never purchase lottery tickets so long as he could hire a man to rob him at reasonable wages.”

Raymond Fire Company No. 1

But one effort has ever been made in Raymond, so far as we know, to organize a Fire Company. That was in 1858 or 1859, after the burning, we believe, of Alex. Belcher’s house, and which came nigh destroying the buildings adjacent. A company was immediately formed - splendidly officered - and the subscriptions for the purchase of apparatus were munificent, many of the citizens contributing $25.00 each. Huge ladders were bought, iron hooks with long handles were supplied, 50 to 100 leather buckets were received from the north, light carriages were provided for the rapid transportation of the machinery, and a house was built in which to keep the carriages and machinery.

We do not remember that the company ever turned out even for a fancy parade or drill, but we do know that in less time than a man could have earned the money invested, the apparatus, and machinery, leather buckets and all, became scattered, and at the big fire of 1858 the company and its arrangements were not seen or heard of. When last we saw the house which was built to contain the implements, it had been converted into a wood shed, and the fire of Oct. 1863 consumed it. And that was the end of Raymond Fire Company No. 1, though its motto, “Rough and Ready,” which was to be emblazoned upon every article of its property, will no doubt live forever.


The following notice by George Harper was featured in the next issue of the Gazette, January 23, 1879, regarding the "Lottery in Raymond."



Squire Gray thinks more of the details of “the $10,000 lottery” affair should be published, than were given in our narrative last week, and hence writes the following for publication:

Raymond, Jan. 23, 1879
To the Editors of the Gazette:

In the Gazette of the 22d I notice under the head of “Raymond Years Ago, No. 10,” mention made of a transaction which occurred in Raymond, as stated, in 1857, and which has slept from public view till now; in the particulars whereof I think your memory is slightly at fault. Since then this matter has been made public, allow me to “vindicate the truth of his story” by assisting you in the narrative. In this I shall go more into detail. The proposition came from myself to purchase a package of tickets, costing $60. Johnston took a half interest, Edwards one-third of the other half, Gray a third, and the Gazette office the remaining third. Gray was requested to make purchase of the tickets, which he did of an agent in Vicksburg. Your statement of the result of the several drawings, are about correct, with this omission, viz: that in each case the report of the drawings came to Gray as an individual—not as a member of a company; that the other members of the company were not known in the transaction outside of the said company; and that the other members knew nothing about it except as reported by Gray. With respect to the collection of the prizes it was substantially thus: Johnston seemed to entertain doubt as to the fact that we had drawn so large a prize—asked me for the ticket—took it and was off to Vicksburg next day. On his return he reported to me it was a fact, we had drawn the $10,000, and had employed Brown & Johnston to collect the money for us, &c. Whether any one or more of the parties got his share in gold, I know not, but I know that I got my share in paper, with the loss of thirty odd dollars which they claimed as commissions for sending our money to Corning & Co., New York, without authority, and making us pay for it. You err in the several amounts paid in by parties at the start. I will give the rue figures: Johnston paid $30, Edwards $10, Gray $10, Gazette Office $10. I do not object to the publicity of this matter myself, and should not have appeared in print in relation to it, but for being made to occupy (what I conceive to represent) the position of “a side show” arrangement in a circus wherein I was “ringmaster” in fact.

Jos. Gray

Historic note: In the margin of the clippings, Mrs. H. B. Gillespie wrote that Amos R. Johnston died in Cincinnati, Ohio, June, 1897.


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

Copyright © 2008  Pattie Adams Snowball, James and Rebecca Drake