"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 V


The 1844 Presidential Election: Clay and Polk

In 1844, James K. Polk defeated Henry Clay to become the 11th President of the United States

We were waiting for the evening Raymond hack—there being but one trip a day between Raymond and the railroad—and spent the 4th of November, 1844 at Edwards Depot. The presidential election was proceeding between Clay and Polk, that being the second day, (our elections then were all held two days.) Mayfield Johnston was the only active man about the polls, and he was for Clay, but there were no voters there who could be influenced by any one. Each and all stepped up without molestation and voted their sentiments. Late in the evening Mayfield asserted that every voter belonging to the precinct had except one. The box gave a majority for Mr. Clay.

Local Elections of 1845

The first election that we witnessed in Raymond, was the State and county election of 1845. There was little political feeling, but there was very spirited and determined contest for the offices of Probate Judge, between H. G. Johnston and A. R. Johnston; and for Sheriff, between Daniel Thomas and J. P. Oldham; and for probate Clerk, between W. H. Hampton and Jos. W. Stewart. The gentlemen here named were unquestionably the most popular men, personally, in the county, and for capacity for the faithful performance of the duties attaching to the offices, superior men could not have been found in any county in the State. Hampton and Stewart were young men—and for natural affability, and true politeness, and irreproachable morality, and genuine nobility of nature, they were the equals of any men we have ever known. They were well matched, but not a whit more so than were the others we named.

The Wigs, who were in a small majority in the county, held a county convention. It would not nominate for the Judgeship, as that was deemed a non-political office, and the two Johnstons, both Whigs, were allowed to run the race alone, as either could distance any man in the county for that particular office. For Sheriff, everybody outside of the city of Jackson wanted Daniel Thomas, Democrat, while nearly everybody in Jackson was for Oldham, Whig, who was then Mayor of that city. The Whig Convention nominated Oldham. For Clerk, Stewart and Hampton were equally popular with both parties, but Hampton was nominated by the Whigs, and Stewart, Democrat, ran without a nomination. The Convention system was then very unpopular in the county, and especially among the Whigs. After one of the most spirited, but entirely gentlemanly and friendly canvasses known to the county, the entire Whig nominated ticket, below the candidates for the Legislature, was defeated—Stewart beating Hampton just EIGHT votes in a poll of 1700. A. R. Johnston was elected, and so was Daniel Thomas—but by what majorities we do not now remember.

While the Whigs, as a party, had great personal regard for and confidence in the Democratic county officers, elected in 1845, they sympathized deeply with their men who were defeated, and determined to endorse them fully at another election. And, prompt enough, H. G. Johnston was elected to the Legislature and Hampton, Probate Clerk, at the next election—and by overwhelming majorities; and in 1849, and again in 1852, Oldham was elected Sheriff, in both instances by large majorities. H. G. Johnston died a few years ago; Oldham died in this town in 1853; Hampton died with yellow fever in 1854, Stewart’s death will form a paragraph here after.

Raymond Recognized as a Literary Town

Raymond has always had a number of first class writers, both male and female, of prose and poetry, purely literary and elaborately political. Many of them have contributed largely not only to the local but to the distant press, and their writings have been received with uniform commendation and pleasure. The best and most effective political sheet ever published in the State, was the Snag Boat, a campaign paper issued for six months in the year 1840, advocating the election of Gen. Harrison. Thousands upon thousands of them were scattered over the State, and undoubtedly, they did much in carrying the electoral vote of Mississippi for its candidate. Then there was the Southwestern Farmer—published from 1841 until 1844—which was, we think, by all odds, the best agricultural journal ever issued from the press of the State. It had a large circulation—was edited with marked ability—was printed in the best style—and its teachings are not yet forgotten by many of our old and substantial farmers. Then, in 1840, we had for a few months The Comet, a Democratic paper of rare ability.

But, with all its talent and ready use of the pen, Raymond has sent forth to the world but one book, and a copy of that now lies before us. It is in two Volumes, 717 pages in all, and entitled Texas and the Texans. It was from the pen of Gen. H. S. Foote, then a member of the Hinds county bar, and since Governor of the State and United States Senator for six years. The preface bears this date, “Raymond, Miss., Jan. 5, 1841.” The book was printed at the Collins house, in Philadelphia, and whether a source of profit or loss to the author, we have never heard. Gen. Foote then lived in the house now occupied by J. A. Heard. He moved from Raymond to Jackson in 1842, but when he went to California in 1854, his family returned to Raymond for a couple of years, occupying the property now owned by Dr. R. L. Bogle.


The Raymond home of Henry Foote. now extinct, was located on
Main Street between the Catholic church and the "Little J" railroad.

Homes and Businesses Destroyed by Fire

Raymond has suffered severely by fires since 1844. A beautiful residence was built by Dr. W. Rossman, in 1847, where Dr. Latimer’s house now stands. It afterwards passed into the hands of W. Hal Smith, and was lost by fire about 1855. A very large 2-story residence, belonging to F. A. R. Wharton, and standing on the lot now occupied by that gentleman, was destroyed about 1855. A fine 2-story residence, built by Mrs. A. H. Bankston, but then owned by Amos R. Johnston, standing where Geo. W. Harper’s residence now stands, was destroyed in 1857. A very handsome residence, standing where Mrs. Belcher’s house now stands, and which was owned by the late Alex. Belcher, was destroyed about 1859. A new and elegant, residence, just completed, and owned by Hamilton Sivley, (near where the steam gin now stands,) was destroyed in 1862. The “great Raymond fire,” which destroyed twenty-one buildings in the heart of the business part of the town, occurred Dec. 8, 1858. A block of business houses on the north side of the public square, was destroyed in 1864. While three business houses were lost a day or two before the presidential election of 1876.

In 1844 there was rather a strange looking building, erected at an early period, on the lot just north of the present residence of Capt. Willis, where there is now a frame office. It was a 2-story building, but the first story was of brick, while the 2d was frame. Mr. Vanderpool then had a store in the lower room, while the upper rooms were occupied by the Southwestern Farmer printing office. E. v.[sic] Seutter subsequently became the owner of the property, and in his hands it went down in the great conflagration of Dec. 8, 1858.

The building in which the county offices were kept, and, we believe, the courts held, until the old courthouse was first occupied, continued to stand until the “big fire,” although it had been somewhat improved. It was a small frame, with a gallery in front, on Port Gibson street, and on a part of the lot now occupied by Mr. Gibbs’ store.

Old Log Jail

The first county jail in Raymond was a log structure—but had entirely disappeared when we came to the town in1844. It stood in the now vacant lot between the Methodist church and the residence of Mrs. King. This log jail, with log flooring, was used from the establishment of the county seat until the now old stone jail was built.


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

Copyright © 2008  PattieAdams Snowball, James and Rebecca Drake