"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 VII


The Raymond & Bolton Railroad Company

When the railroad which now traverses the State from Vicksburg to Meridian was projected, it was supposed that it would pass Raymond, of course, and Raymond was on the direct mail and universally traveled route between Vicksburg and Jackson.

Andrew Jackson
 U.S. President 1829-1837

As the construction of the road, in 1838, preceded, however, it was found that it would pass eight miles north of Raymond, and that Bolton would be the nearest railroad point to Raymond, coming from Vicksburg.

At once a company was formed, with the indomitable Maj. Peyton as its president, for the construction of a railroad from Bolton to Raymond; and before the Vicksburg road was completed to Jackson, the road from Bolton to Raymond was built and running—and to Raymond President Andrew Jackson came, on his route from Vicksburg to Jackson, in 1839, and received the citizens in true democratic-republican style in the house now occupied by Edward Hill.

"Old Willie Beale place - Here lived Simon Barton, Mayor of Raymond. Here Gen. Andrew Jackson visited and spoke from the balcony about in 1844. General Pemberton (Conf. Gen.) stayed here 1862-1863."

Mrs. H. B. Gillespie

The Raymond and Bolton Railroad Co. gave way, however, at the general crash of 1839—’40, and the road had serious troubles and met with divers disasters, until 1844, when it closed operations entirely, through simple exhaustion. In 1850, however, W. Hal Smith, an enterprising citizen, became the purchaser of the franchises of the old company for twenty dollars, and re-built the road, the citizens donating largely to the enterprise and the Vicksburg Road assisting. From 1851 to 1857, Mr. Smith operated the road, and as was understood, quite profitably, but was unfortunate in other business, and in 1858 the road got into very bad order, with exhausted motive power and soon it was abandoned. The war coming on, it went to ruin, and not until about 1869 was an effort made to rebuild it.

A joint stock company then took it in hand, but from want of sufficient subscriptions of stock, inability or unwillingness on the part of the stockholders to pay, and the poverty of the contractors, disaster followed its efforts. Then came a proposition to build a road from Yazoo City to Crystal Springs, adopting the Raymond and Bolton road as a part of the route. The prospect, at one time, for the building of the road, was flattering, but the financial panic of 1873, which pervaded the whole country, utterly prostrated the enterprise. Raymond and central Hinds now cling with all remaining life to the Natchez and Jackson road, and from that quarter only is it ever to be furnished with railroad and lighting facilities. And the prospect is encouraging for the success of that enterprise.

George Harper Elected Mayor and Closes Saloons

The most spirited and closely contested town election in Raymond since 1844, was that of January, 1846. A custom then prevailed of keeping the two or three bar-rooms of town open on Sunday—at least, if the front doors were not open, the side or back doors were. There happened to be a large number of the citizens who looked upon this custom as demoralizing and hurtful, first, because it was a public desecration of the Christian Sabbath, and second, because it was in utter violation of the State And town laws, and they determined to bring out a candidate for Mayor pledged to close the saloons on Sunday. They did so, and their candidate was Geo. W. Harper.

Several very worthy gentlemen unpledged on this or any other question, were also soon brought out or announced themselves as candidates. There were too many of them, and those who were in favor of free saloons, and those who were indifferent to the question, and those who were in favor of some one else for Mayor than the one indicated by the Sabbath men, determined to hold a conference, or convention, or caucus, and indicated an opposing candidate. The conference was held, and Col. Thos. Robertson, a most estimable and worthy gentleman, a good lawyer, and an old citizen, and possibly as much opposed to keeping saloons open on Sunday as any other man, was chosen. The fight was an active one throughout, and the contest sharp over each and every voter, though perfectly gentlemanly and kind. The box counted out, at sundown, Harper 98, Robertson 90—with the statement that every qualified voter within the corporation had voted except Judge Trimble, who “was sick in bed.” And for two years the town had possibly the most indifferent Mayor it ever had, but the saloons from that day to this have not been kept open on Sunday, either at the front or the back doors.

Entertainment Leads to Chaos at the Oak Tree Ball Room

In 1841 or ’42 a slight-of-hand performer, all the way from Connecticut, arrived in Raymond. He was a genial fellow, and fell into the hands of the boys who had spare time on their hands and were sometimes found at the old Oak Tree. He was somewhat pretentions in his manner, but was indulged as he was from a great distance, from the East, where, it was cheerfully granted, the sun was in the habit of rising, and where ” the wise men” came from in the olden time.

Our slight-of–hand performer proposed to give an Entertainment in the Oak Tree Ball Room, and the proposition was seconded with the great heartiness by those with whom he had become well acquainted. An overflowing house of ladies and gentlemen was promised, and all the necessary arrangements progressed. A few hours before the time arrived, it was suggested to the performer that if he could manage to have music on the occasion, the attendance would be much larger, and the interest much increased. The performer greatly regretted his inability to furnish and orchestra, but suggested that he would employ musicians from the citizens if their services could be obtained. Just then one of the boys suggested the there was a splendid citizens’ Band in the town, and that he would guarantee that the gentlemen composing it would gladly attend the entertainment and discourse music without further remuneration than free admittance. In a few minutes the Band was conferred with, and the arrangement fully agreed upon. The Band was to be admitted free, and the token whereby the members were to be admitted was the exhibition of a musical instrument.

Night came and the doors were finally opened, and soon the rush commenced, every man (and the audience was composed exclusively of males) carrying a musical instrument or some part of a musical instrument. Here was one with a fiddle, there one with a bow, yonder one with a section of a flute, there one with a drum, yonder one with a triangle, &c. The house was full, crammed to overflowing, but the whole town had been hunted over for musical instruments and parts of musical instruments, and ever one present had either a part or a whole. The performer very soon took in the situation, but made the best of it. He went on with the gratuitous show, merely remarking, that it was “the d----st biggest Band” he had ever seen. He did not call on the Band for music, however, nor did he attempt a second entertainment.


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

Copyright © 2008  PattieAdams Snowball, James and Rebecca Drake