"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



Great Raymond Fire of 1858

The “Great Raymond Fire” has been heretofore referred to, but incidentally only. It occurred just before day-break on the morning of the 8th December, 1858. It originated in the dry goods store of Thomas Mount, which stood where the grocery department of Gibb’s block now stands. The weather was very wet, and the streets terribly muddy, still the fire spread with remarkable rapidity, enveloping the entire business part of the town.

Every thing was burned from where Buckley’s saloon now stands south and around the corner west to the Florin house; and crossing the street, destroyed everything from the (now) City Hotel east and around the corner to the Willis property. There were 21 tenements destroyed (all frame buildings but one,) involving a loss, as was estimated at the time, of about $200,000. It was decidedly the severest shock Raymond ever received, and from which it had not entirely recovered when the war came on in 1861.

The chief sufferers by the disaster were stated at the time as follows: G. W. Gibbs, Thos. Mount, Jos. Gray, D. J. Johnson, J. W. Peyton, Mrs. Epperson, Casper & Roux, T. L. Hunter, D. C. Lyles, W. G. Moore, C. Vanderpool, Genl. W. Harper, O. V. Shearer, E.v.Seutter & c. As in the fire of 1876, a rain came up while it was in progress, and no doubt assisted much in arresting its work of destruction. The old court house was then standing, and for some days after the fire was filled with dry goods and groceries saved from the conflagration. The Gazette building being among those destroyed, the office was moved to the Episcopal church, then uncompleted, where the paper was printed (for two or three weeks) until a room could be fitted up elsewhere. But two dwelling houses, we believe, were destroyed, Mrs. Epperson’s and Mr. Seutter’s.

Early Area Settlements

There were many prominent localities in the county, from 1838 to 1848 and later that are not now known to the map or to the present generation.

Foote toasts Amsterdam as Mississippi's
"Seat of Commerce"

There was Amsterdam, for instance, which was a business place of considerable importance - possibly of equal importance with the town of Edwards of the present day. It stretched out along a good landing on the Big Black river, a mile or two from Edwards. Steamers loaded there to deliver their cargoes in New Orleans, while others again were freighted at New Orleans for Amsterdam, Hinds county, Mississippi.

Not a house now stands to show where Amsterdam stood, and but seldom is it that the valley of Big Black now echoes to the shrilYl sound of the steamer’s whistle. Then there was, in the same section of the county, Yeizer’s [sic] store. There was an election precinct, with from 300 - 400 voters - a post office, a saloon, and all the other pomp and circumstance there of a cross-roads town. If a house, if a chimney, even, of what was known as Yeizer’s [sic] store, now stands to mark the spot, we are not aware of it. We think it has all passed away, the neighborhood now making Edwards, Bolton and Brownsville their trading and mail towns.

Then there was Newtown, a point about midway between Raymond and the present town of Terry. From that point, for many years, were dated important political letters and communications from the always popular wide-awake and earnest A. G. Brown, then U. S. Senator, and decidedly the most influential Democrat in the State of Mississippi. His plantation was near Newtown, and that was his post office and voting place, and perhaps he and his family there did their trading at the small store of our old and ever-companionable friend, John Coon, who, after working at house building in Raymond for many years, became the merchant prince at Newtown, and subsequently still, a business man of fortune at Byram. When we last passed the locality once occupied by Newtown, the remains of the store-house were there, but the platform from which we had more than once appealed to “the sovereigns” in behalf of the “glorious old Whig party and its nominees,” was gone, and waving corn and tall green cotton were growing beautifully around under the old-fashioned worn fence. The trade of the town, with the post-office, went to Terry; John Coon, however, went to Byram, where he died, some years after the war, leaving to his widow and children a $10,000 insurance on his life. Gov. Brown changed his post-office and voting place to Terry, and his phillipics [sic] are no longer termed “Newtown Pippins.”

Then, there was a Meridian Springs, a locality that was lost to Hinds when the “two lost townships” were lost - when they were, without the consent of Hinds, wrested from her and presented as a gift to Madison county by a thoughtless Legislature, and perhaps for a partizan [sic] political purpose. We do not know what has become of Meridian Springs, under the patronage of the Madisonians, but we incline to believe that its light, as a postoffice, a voting place, and a trading point, has passed away.

Then there was Sturgiss store - the old “Gibraltar of Whiggery” - the precinct that uniformly gave about 85 votes for the Whig ticket, and never more than from 5 to 9 for the Democratic ticket. It was the heaviest cotton-raising, tax-paying and slave-holding precinct in the county, in proportion to white population, and ever remained steadfast in its integrity. “There’s nothing in a name,,” and we are glad to say that the old Whig Gibraltar stands to-day as immovable as the rock in the Mediterranean which has withstood the assaults of unnumbered ages, and still stands in all its strength and grandeur.

In 1835 Thomas S. Dabney, a Virginian, along with his family and 600 slaves, moved to Dry Grove. There he established Burleigh a plantation of consisting of 4,000 acres.

In an evil day its name was changed to Dry Grove -  but, whether known as Sturgiss store or Dry Grove, there the village stands, and its history, from the very earliest period to the present moment, we point to with pride and pleasure. In ’75, again in ’76, and again in the railroad contest of ’78, Dry Grove proved itself entirely worth of the Sturgiss store of ’40, of ’44, of ’48 and of ’51.

The Dabneys, the Moncures, the Smiths, the Williamses, the Cokers, the Wests, the Parsonses, the Carrways, and a host of other just such men, running through two or three generations, have all been men as true as steel, as true as the needle to the pole, in hospitality, liberality, generosity and patriotism. The sun, moon and stars my forsake the path of duty, but Dry Grove - the ever faithful and bold old Sturgis store, never will.

County Line was the name of another settlement known to the olden times. It was situated on what is now known as the Crystal Springs road, about 20 miles south of Raymond, and on or near the dividing line between Hinds and Copiah counties. There was a post-office there, a store kept by Mr. Mims, a church, a blacksmith shop, and several other buildings. The neighborhood was highly intelligent and wealthy, embracing the Popes, the Stackhouses, the Ervins, and other equally reputable, patriotic citizens. The church remains and the grave yard, but everything else of the Line Store of thirty years ago has passed away - the people removing their post office to Dry Grove, Terry or Crystal Springs.


Harper's note of correction attached to Part XII which applies to the content of the above text.

Mr. W. W. Cockerham, of the Terry neighborhood, calls our attention to the fact that we located Newtown “about half way between Raymond and Terry,” whereas the town stood but three miles west of Terry. He also reminds us that the original Sturgiss Store stood two miles from the present Dry Grove, a fact that had escaped our memory - but, if we remember rightly, the present Dry Grove was known as Sturgiss Store for some time after the store and postoffice were removed there and after Mr. Sturgiss had removed from the county.

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