"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



Raymond Lodge No. 21

Raymond Lodge No. 21, F. and A. Masons, was chartered by the Grand Lodge of the State of Mississippi, then holding its meetings at Natchez. The Charter, which is still preserved, bears date January 10, 1883 - showing the Lodge to be 46 years old. The Charter members were Benj. Rush Wallace, Felix H. Walker and Wiley Ledbetter. J. A. Quitman was Grand Master of the State, and P. F. Nerrick, Grand Secretary. All the persons here named are now dead. Indeed, in 1844, but 11 years after the Lodge was organized, the charter members were all gone from Raymond.

Tombstone of A. J. Willis, Confederate solider, located in the Raymond Odd Fellows' Cemetery. The stone proudly displays the Masonic "square and compass" symbol.

Raymond Lodge No. 21 is the oldest Lodge in the county, save that at Clinton, which is numbered 16. And as we have before stated in our paragraphs, it made a well planned effort 20 years ago to improve the educational facilities of the town and neighborhood. Unfortunately, however, the enterprise, after costing some one thousand or fifteen hundred dollars, proved a failure. The Lodge continued in active service, holding its meetings on the Saturday of every month.

The history of the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows in Raymond dates back to about the year 1840. In that year, we believe, Ruffner Lodge, at Raymond, was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Mississippi at a session held at Natchez. Through mismanagement, however, Ruffner Lodge fell into disrepute, and soon surrendered or lost its Charter.

Odd-Fellows’ Graveyard

In 1845 Naomi Lodge No. 17, I. O. O. F., was chartered with T. I. Hunter, W. S. Ritnour, Allen Patrick, Danl. Knapp and Geo. W. Harper as charter members. This Lodge was very successful, and continued its regular meetings from 1845 until it was plundered of its furniture, jewels, books, &c., by Grant’s army in 1863, after having been burnt out in 1858. It remained suspended from 1863 until last summer, when, by dispensation, it was re-organized, with proper officers and fully re-established. About 1857 Naomi Lodge purchased from Maj. N. H. Bradley the land now known as Odd-Fellows’ Graveyard, and fencing and improving it, designed keeping up a Cemetery creditable to the town and surrounding country. The war and the utter prostration of the Lodge, however, threw the graveyard entirely into the charge of those who had buried there, and consequently the plans for a Cemetery, like all earthly things, vanished.

The Incarceration of Bolls

Away back, we cannot now say in what year, a man named Bolls was brought to Raymond for trial from Warren county. He was charged with murder, and that he had killed his man admitted of no question. Bolls was advanced in years, and the killing having occurred while he was under the influence of that, we were about to say, “Iliad of all our woes” of this character, he was extremely penitent, and enlisted A. R. Johnston and S. A. D. Greaves in his cause. Their vigilant and most determined efforts were soon directed in his behalf. The man was convicted two or three times, and on more than one occasion sentenced, we believe, but “continuances” and “reversals” by the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and new trials, came in so opportunely, under the adroit management of his attorneys, that the case was on the State Docket for years. Finally the man was acquitted. At the final trial the fact was stated, that Bolls, from his secure prison room in the second story of the old stone jail, had ate peaches sent to him by friends - he had thrown the seed out his little window - and that from these seed had grown a tree from which through the same window he had plucked and ate fruit. After his acquittal Bolls went to Louisiana, and it was reported that he committed another murder, but we do not know that the report was verified in any authentic manner.

Horrific Crimes Blamed on Whisky

That the liquor which was drank in this country in “the olden time” was an entirely different article in its effects from that now consumed, will appear evident on the statement of a fact or two. Away back 30 or 35 years ago, two opposing candidates for the Legislature in this county - one a Whig, the other a Democrat - at a regular election, both lawyers of first class ability, and devoted each to his party, made the rounds of the county riding in the same buggy. On reaching one of the precincts, and we think it was Newtown, both gentlemen proved to be so drunk that they bystanders had to help them from the buggy. They could scarcely stand, but each made a fine speech for himself and his party. But, the point we wish to make is this - that these two gentlemen, violent opponents in politics, and opposing candidates in Hinds county, made the rounds together in a buggy, both drinking more or less whisky every day, and yet neither attempted to kill the other, nor was a pistol drawn by either on the other, nor yet was an insult offered, so far as we ever heard.

Could such a canvass, with like feeling, be made now? We think not. And we ascribe the difference, not to a change so much in the habits of the people, as to the change in the quality of the whisky. The whisky of today, even if taken in homeopathic doses, brings about jarring, quarrellings, fisticuffs, pistol drawings, and murders, even among the best of friends, and so soon as the first dose is taken. Two drunken men cannot now ride a half dozen miles together without serious results of some sort, and a very young man, after smelling a bottle, will at once go out in a wild hunt after a pistol with which to shoot, perhaps, his best friend. The people have not changed. It is the whisky. It has fearfully doctored at Cincinnati.

Major John Peyton and the Willow Tree Prank

We never knew a man who enjoyed a joke more than Maj. Peyton, (when it was at another’s expense,) or who was more fond of perpetrating jokes. On one occasion he was coming from Jackson, on horseback, accompanied by a member of the Raymond bar of varied learning. They passed a very handsome willow tree on the route, where Maj. Peyton remarked that it was surprising, considering the abundance of the ordinary willow that there were no “weeping willows” about Raymond.

The lawyer regretted the absence of the “weeping willow,” paying its beauty quite a learned tribute, but suggested that he did not know why it should necessarily follow that there should be “weeping willows” because of an abundance of the ordinary willow. "Why,” responded the Major, “don’t you know from your extensive reading how the weeping willow is produced?” “No,” replied the lawyer. “Why,” continued the Major,”it is the simplest and easiest thing in the world. Any limb or switch cut from that tree (pointing to a large willow back from the road some distance) and planted with the outward extremity in the earth, will grow a WEEPING willow.” “Is that so?” said the lawyer; and instantly he called a halt, hot as the sun was - went up the willow tree - and after much labor with a pocket-knife borrowed from the Major, succeeded in getting an arm-full of switches, and limbs, which he brought safely home and planted with great care in his front yard, remembering the injunction to reverse the growth. Frequently, for a year or more, the Major would inquire how the “weeping willow” cuttings were thriving - but the subject becoming a sore one to the book farmer, it was soon dropped.



A correspondent informed us that in our Notes on Raymond we “have mentioned every town in the county except Cayuga.” This may perhaps be true, but it has not been intentional. It has so happened that we have not been in Cayuga for 26 years, but when there last it was as pleasant a village as we ever visited. We were entertained most hospitably by Peter G. Johnston, Dr. W. C. Hicks, J. M. Hooker, H. Foote, Dr. Bruce Banks, Mr. Fisher, Jeff Williams, and others, all of whom are now gone, we believe except Mr. Foote. We expect to make a narrow gauge visit to Natchez, early the coming summer, and, returning via Cayuga, will have an opportunity, as it will be a pleasure, to write up that ancient place - older, we believe, than any of the towns in this part of the country except Clinton.

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

Copyright © 2008  PattieAdams Snowball, James and Rebecca Drake