"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 XVI

Weldon Brothers Build New Courthouse

The county buildings in Raymond in 1856 were quite insufficient, and really quite discreditable to a county of the intelligence, population and wealth of Hinds, and in that year, we believe it was, a vote was taken, at a general election, to determine if the people would submit to a county tax for the erection of a new court house and jail.

The Raymond Courthouse was built 1857-1859 by The Weldon Brothers of Natchez who also built the Vicksburg Courthouse in 1858. The jail can be seen to the rear of the main structure. Of the jail Harper stated: "The jail however, was badly planned and badly constructed, and has been an eyesore for years past."

With its usual public spirit and liberality, the county voted by a large majority in favor of a tax. Soon afterwards, the Board of Police contracted with the Weldons’ of Natchez for the building of the present court house and jail. The cost, first and last, about double the amount first contemplated, and the last payment upon them was not made until about four years ago. All will say today, who knows what the buildings cost, that the county paid very dear for the whistle, but at the time of completion all seemed satisfied, although a few insisted that George Weldon by all odds got the best of the bargain.

While the public buildings were in course of erection [1857-1859] “the great fire” occurred, and at once the Weldons contracted to rebuild for several parties, viz, G. W. Gibbs, J. W. Peyton, O. Y. Shearer, and perhaps one or two others, and buildings were soon erected for those gentlemen, which are now the prominent business houses of the town. The frame business house now owned by C. C. Heard, was erected at the same time by E.v. Seutter and the Scharffs, but T. I. Hunter, we think, was the contractor.

The Gibbs Building which stood on the corner of Main Street and Port Gibson Street was built by the Weldon brother following the big fire of 1858.

The Raymond court house is one of the finest public buildings in the State, and will, in all probability remain a perfect building for surging years to come. The jail, however, was badly planned and badly constructed, and has been an eyesore for years past. The probability is, we think, that it will be entirely reconstructed, or torn down, some day, and a credible jail as well as court house secured. It is a great pity that courthouses and jails are necessary. They are a great tax on the honest industry of the country. Many esteem them a luxury, perhaps, but they are a very expensive luxury, and could be entirely dispensed with if all lived strictly in conformity with the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” The time will come, no doubt in the world’s history, when they will be useless, but man must mend his ways much before that glad period can arrive, and our civilization and Christianity must be much improved.

Hinds County Poor House

Hinds county was without a Poor House for from 20 to 25 years, down to 1868, the paupers being so few in number that it was cheaper to board them out, by contract, than keep them together at the public expense. The army of paupers brought upon the county with emancipation, however, necessitated the purchase of a farm and the erection of a poor house in 1868. The poor farm is about two miles southeast of Raymond, and is conducted, we presume, with as much liberality as the public finances will permit and the ability of the tax-payers will allow. The few whites that are paupers in the South, as compared with the North, is especially the case in this county. Still our pauper list is large, and very expensive, but they are very nearly all colored, and receive as good treatment as the pauper whites at the North, notwithstanding the very great difference in the ability of the people to sustain purely philanthropic institutions.

Schools Struggle to Exists

No village ever labored harder to establish first class and permanent Academies and Institutes than Raymond has. In fact, it was a leading idea for many years with a large number of citizens, and time and money have been freely expended in behalf of various enterprises which failed just at the hour when it was though that success was achieved. A gentleman, still living in the State, expressed the opinion, we believe, that both parent and children were somewhat to blame for the failures of schools in Raymond. He related the following two accidents that occurred to his school within two weeks. The regular school house not being ready, he commenced his school in a private building, and in a day or two the house took fire, and but for timely and efficient labor, the entire building would have been destroyed. A week afterwards the school moved into the school-house, and, in a few days, that also took fire, and was nigh being destroyed. He says we have been informed that he was never assailed with fire elsewhere in all his experience in teaching. But this Raymond school was not as unfortunate as one a few miles in the country a few years ago. On one Saturday night all the children’s books were carried off; but new books were gotten the next week, and the school went on. On the next Saturday night all the seats were removed from the house and burnt; but new seats were obtained on Monday, and the young idea continued to shoot. On the next Saturday night the books, seats and school-house were all burnt; and that put an end to the jig.

The Murder of Addie Owens

The most brutal murder ever committed in Raymond or the vicinity, was that of Mrs. Addie Owens, some three miles from the village, in the month of May, 1874. And strangely enough, although committed in a very thickly settled neighborhood, and subjected to a prolonged and exhaustive investigation, the perpetrator of the great crime has never been legally reached or his guilt established.

Mr. and Mrs. Owens, and their infant child, were sleeping, in their usual room at their residence. At a late hour in the night, or towards morning, Owens, according to his statement, heard some one at his corn-crib. He jumped from his bed, seized his gun, and made for the corn-crib, which was no great distance from the residence, going from the back door of the house. While on his way, one or more men ran from the crib, passing in front of the residence, on whom Owens fired, but without effect. Soon after he entered his house, and going to his bed-room, found that, in his absence, some one had entered the room, and with an ax, split Mrs. Owens’ head wide open, and that she was dying. She died, we believe, without speaking.

Such was Owens’ statement, and at once the neighborhood, with its utmost energy, went to work to find the guilty party. Jos. Gray, as Magistrate, brought before him every party against whom even the slightest suspicion could be made to rest, among them Owens himself. The investigation continued for a number of days and the evidence covered quires of paper. But no proof of a legal character was reached, or has been reached to this day.

The next winter Owens removed to Texas, and a year or two ago was killed, according to the newspaper account, in an altercation growing out of a difficulty which had its origin about the murder of Mrs. Owens.


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