"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 IX


Rev. Fisk's Biology Class

About the year 1849 Rev. Theophilus Fisk, of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, &c., came South, on a lecturing tour. He had character at home as a writer, lecturer and politician. Had had charge of sundry leading Democratic papers, and had, we believe, occupied pulpits in some of the free-thinking churches of his native region. He turned up in Raymond as a lecturer on and instructor in Biology, a science which, he contended, was then in its infancy, but into the mysteries of which he was prepared to initiate a class of 20 at $20 each in 10 lectures to be completed in 5 days. We never heard how it happened that Dr. Fisk, on leaving the large northern cities, should have wended his way directly to Raymond, but suppose he deemed it a good point from which to start in order to envelope the entire southwest in the interesting and highly important science of Biology.

The class of 20 was speedily made up, and embraced decidedly the learning of the occupations and callings. Lecture No. 1 was free to every body—and the attendance and interest was large and intense. BIOLOGY was explained to be the science of reading letters while tightly sealed and the contents utterly unknown, on holding them between the open hands, with the assistance of a round copper plate about the size and appearance of a silver dollar, which copper piece of battery was to be held in the mouth, from whence would flow a continuous line of electricity, &c. Dr. Fisk supplied the little round batteries, and without the little round batteries and Dr. Fisk’s 10 lectures, in 5 days, at $20 in advance for each pupil, the thrilling and highly important science to Biology could not go on.

The free lecture brought multitudes to the front, and the Dr. at once became a lion—was wined, was dined, was toasted. BIOLOGY filled the air, took entire possession of the town, and the few who DOUBTED, for there were a few, were subjects of pity rather than of contempt. The Hinds County Gazette, we remember, took no stock, in BIOLOGY—none in Fisk; but, when threatened by a young’un that a Biology ticket would be brought out at the next election, was disposed to be as conservative as the nature of the case would allow.

Dr. Fisk Charged with Fraud

Well, Biology went on, and Fisk went on for 5 days, to a large class of our first men, each one having received a battery, i.e. one of the little copper pieces. What took place in the private lecture room we never heard, but there was ample proof, and that Fisk received $20 in advance from each member of the class was beyond question. But, a blanker looking set of men we never beheld, than were those 25 or 30 Biology men when they came out from the closing lecture. Each one had a little copper piece, and that was about all, as afterwards appeared, that each had received in exchange for the $20. There was, in a word, great dissatisfaction, and threats were indulged. That a great fraud had been perpetrated, the Biology men at once charged, and before Fisk get out of town the next morning, the necessary affidavit was made before D. J. Brown, then Mayor of the town, he was arrested, charged with obtaining money under false pretenses.

The case came to trial before the Mayor—T. J. Wharton appearing for the citizens, and John I. Guion for Fisk. After an exhaustive examination the Mayor bound Fisk over, in the sum of $500, to appear at the next term of the Circuit Court. Fisk counted down $500 in gold to Judge Guion, and that gentleman kindly attached his name as surety on the bond. Fisk, however, upon some affidavit made, (fearing, perhaps, to remain around Raymond much longer), had his case made returnable inst. before Judge P. W. Tompkins, at Cooper’s Well. The papers were carried out there, and thither went the case as witnesses, and there also appeared the counsel on either side.

From some cause or other, however, the Judge adjourned the case to Vicksburg, a week in advance—and then to Vicksburg the parties repaired, and there the case, after proper attention, was adjudicated. We cannot now give the language or the spirit of Judge Tompkins’ decision; but its import we can give, and it was about this: that when a community find they have been humbugged by a traveling mountebank, they had better pay the bill, and keep a sharper look out next time. Raymond came home from Vicksburg, on this occasion, thoroughly worsted—out, indeed, horse, foot and dragoons; and for months afterwards any of the Thomases could get a fight by calling for a sight of one of the copper batteries or intimating that $20 was too much to pay for a toy of that description. Fisk did not attempt a course of lectures in the south on Biology after getting through with Raymond—and hence it may be inferred that Raymond killed Biology in this region if not elsewhere.

For many years previous to the Fisk trial, Tompkins had been one of the most popular men in this part of the State in Raymond. For Congress, and again for Circuit Judge, he not only carried every Whig vote, but made large inroads on the Democratic vote, regardless of party machinery. He was a magnificent lawyer before a Hinds county jury—was a splendid political speaker on the Whig side—could tell good anecdotes, and in good style, and to better advantage, and more of them, than any man we ever knew. In his private intercourse with men, he was really captivating, and never failed to capture as a friend whoever he wanted. He lost ground, however, after the Fisk trial, and not long afterwards moved to California, where he soon died. In 1846 or ’47 as a widower he married Miss Mary Covington, of Raymond, a reigning Belle of the place, and one of the finest educated, best read, and most intellectual ladies we ever knew. She is still living, we think, in California. Nature was profuse in adorning both Mrs. Tompkins and her distinguished husband with endowments, and especially with the power to please.

Judge John I. Guion
Counsel for the defense in the Fisk trial

Judge Guion and Gen. Wharton, the counsel in the Fisk case, were well matched, and managed the case most adroitly, and to the entire satisfaction of those who retained them. Judge Guion died a few years afterwards, at his residence in Jackson. Gen. Wharton, then a citizen of Raymond, removed form Raymond to Jackson about 1850, and soon became Attorney-General of the State, which office he filled with distinguished ability. He continues the practice of his profession in the courts at Jackson, and to-day stands, most deservedly, in the front rank as a lawyer, while as a citizen and gentleman he has few equals, and no superiors. Long may he live to enjoy a reputation which has been well earned, and which will, undoubtedly, follow him to this grave.

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

Copyright © 2008  PattieAdams Snowball, James and Rebecca Drake