Claiborne Parish, Louisiana History and Genealogy
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Background: About thirty years ago your host was browsing a used book store and came
across an original book titled Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northwest
I bought it for $1.95 if memory serves me, and wanted to transcribe it. I 'm getting around to doing something about it. Spacing, format and some "clean up" was done to fit our webpage design.
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CLAIBORNE PARISH CHAPTER VII. Claiborne Parish; Natural Features; Streams, Topography
and Statistical Matter; Pioneers; Land Entries
and Old Towns; Important Acts of the Police Jury;
The Courts and Politics; Military Record; The Press; Education; Medicine; Agriculture; Railroads; Homer City; Smaller Villages of the Parish; Individual and Family Sketches.
Men married women then
Who kept their healthful bloom
By working at the churn,
And at the wheel and loom.
And women married men
Who did not shrink from toil.
But wrung with sweat their bread
From out the stubborn soil." ...R. H. Stoddard.
CLAIBORNE PARISH is decidedly rolling and even mountainous on the divide between the, D' Arbonne and Black Lakes. The soil of the uplands is from 18 to 27 inches in depth, is free from rock and may be cultivated readily. The area is 765 (corrected 778) square miles of which 60 square miles are red lands. In 1879-1880 there were 126,000 acres in cultivation of which 46,567 were in cotton; 42,920 in corn; 471 in sweet potatoes and 99 in sugar cane. The cotton acreage yielded 19,568 bales (or .42 bales per acre) 600 pounds seed cotton or 200 pounds of cotton lint. J. Y. Davidson, of Homer, placed the capacity of red lands at 1,000 pounds of seed cotton per acre of fresh land and 700 pounds per acre of ten year old land. To uplands he credited a capacity of 1,200 pounds, and after twenty years, 800 pounds of seed cotton per acre.
The population in 1880 was 18,858, 544 White and 10,314 Colored. In 1870 there were 9,630 Whites and 10,008 Colored or 20,240; and in 1860, 8,996 Whites, 7,848 slaves and 4 free Colored or 16,848. In 1850 the total population was 7,471, 2,522 slaves; in 1840, 6,185, including 2,295 slaves; and in 1830, 2,764 including 215 slaves. The population in 1890 is placed at 21,011 and the number subject to military duty at 2,831. The State census taken in June, 1890, credits the parish with 8,909 White citizens—4,500 males and 4,349 females; and 12,101 Negroes—6,108 males and 5,993 females together with 7,377 children of all colors, the Blacks showing a small majority. The total, 28,387 includes 1,111 inhabitants of Homer.
The real estate is assessed at $823,254 and the personal property at $805,415 or a total of $1,028,669. The value of live stock is placed at $341,034. The total acreage is estimated at 497,920 acres, of which 65,000 are in cultivation—27,780 under cotton, 24,400 under corn, 3,870 under oats and remainder under other crops. In 1889 there were 10,380 bales of cotton produced; 265,350 bushels of corn and 29,950 bushels of oats.
It is estimated that there are 1,500,000,000 feet of yellow pine lumber, and probably an equal amount of hardwood, including cypress, various kinds of oak, hickory, etc. There are thirty-six sawmills in the parish. The mineral interests of the parish are represented by deposits of iron ore in considerable quantities, so nearly pure ore that steel may be made from it very cheaply. During the war a Confederate officer, under instructions to search for iron ore, made a trip through this parish and reported rich deposits of lead, but the site has not since then been discovered.
The storm of April, 1880, moved the church building at Colquitt, 14 miles north of Homer, and damaged or destroyed all the small buildings in its track. In June, 1889, au alligator or gar is said to have carried off a small Colored boy, who was swimming in the Corni, near Summerfield. The boy was never heard of again. In April, 1881, a party of 300 persons went into the forest at Dyke's mills, to search for the seven-year old son of W. H. Bundle. After two days the boy was found in Dorcheat swamp, twelve miles from home.
In 1818 the only houses or cabins between Long Prairie in Arkansas Territory and the old town of Natchitoches were those just completed by a man named Bosell, who in June moved down to the Sabine River country, and another was the home of Isaac Alden and Mrs. Johnson. Both cabins were on the hunter's trail eight miles east of Minden, near the present line between Claiborne and Webster. Murrell's Cemetery was established in 1822 by the burial of one of the poor Dutch immigrants, Miller.
In 1821 John Allen and Mary Holcomb introduced matrimonial customs here; while in 1822 Jenny Long and William Crowley went down to Natchitoches to have the old, old church sanction their proposed union of hearts. In this year also John Murrell employed James Ashburner Conley to open a school, the pay being $15 per month. A Baptist society was organized by James Brinson and Arthur McFarland at John Murrell's house, and Jean B. Fashier opened a store close by as agent of Harrison & Hopkins, of Natchitoches. A year later John Murrell was appointed postmaster for the new office in Allen's settlement. In 1824 a cotton-gin was constructed by Thomas Moore for Adam Reynolds (on the present Harper farm), which became the property of Russell Jones in 1825. Lee & Killgore opened a store near Murrell's in 1825, vice Fashier, who drank heavily and fled. The preachers, Stevenson, McMahon and Ross conducted a camp-meeting near Isaac Miller's cabin in 1825, the first within the wide domain of ancient Claiborne. Shortly after the establishment of the seat of justice at Russellville, Lee & Killgore removed their store thither. In 1829 a road was opened from Russellville to Minden Lower Landing, and in 1830, $1,500 was expended on Lake Bisteneau.
At Russellville in 1835-1830 James M. McMahon was postmaster. Col. Berry thinks that L. E. Pratt was subsequently postmaster at Overton. On the removal of the parish offices to Overton Russellville was deserted as related in the sketch of that village. About 1826 the first slaves were introduced here, and the cultivation of cotton entered on extensively. Sac Pennington Gee, of Ward 6, was the largest slave owner in 1860, owning about eighty slaves. Gen. J. L. Simmons, who resided near the line of Webster Parish, claimed seventy; J. W. Andrews, T, H. Tuggle, J. C. Blackman, Horace Blackman, James Blackman, T. A. Heard, Joshua Willis, E. M. Browning, Dr. Bush, the Maddens, Wiley Thornton, G. S. Barrow, Josiah and Josephus Barrow, John Wilson (near Arkansas line), the Tigners, W. P. Moreland, James Dyer, Thompson Wood, Thomas Wafer, J. T. Wafer, W. B. Nicholson, W. A. Obier, Marshall Kina brew, Morgan Hall, G. W. Maddox, James A. Turner, Hugh Taylor, Joseph Shelton, Henry Taylor, Richard White, J. M. White, J. E. Walker, John Walker, John L. Tippitt, J. J. Duke, Harmon Patton, Jonathan Knox, Capt. Coleman, Michael L. Casson, John Murrell, Jr., Littleton Fuller, James M. Morrow, E. M. Kennon, T. H. Brown, John Cooksey, William and Allen Hill, John Kimball, Wilkes Ramsey, Gennbeth Wynne, Samuel Smith, J. L. Godley, W. W. Goodson, J. J. Blackburn, B. C. Johnson, Ephraim Pennington. J. M. Wafer, Thomas Hightower, J. S. Corry, James L. Dial, B. C. Frazier, James C. Egan, Phineas Gleason, Nathan Brown, Dinsmore Neely, John Neely, Ben Reynolds, A. E. Thompson (killed in a railroad accident in 1869 or 1870), Bryan O'Bannon (who died in 1890), D. W. Gladden, J. D. Dansby (killed in 1884), A. A. Phillips, J. M. Prestidge, the Grigsbys, Dr. T. E. Glass (moved to Texas in 1863), William McCree and others named among the early land buyers were slave owners. Hall Frazier, a slave of John Frazier, bought his freedom twice, and established a mercantile house at Minden,. and a water-mill on Cross Creek in Claiborne, and moved to Winn Parish, where he died some five years ago. So far as Mr. Ramsey remembers, he was the only free colored resident in Claiborne in 1852, and was himself a slave owner, having purchased one slave from Leatherman, who had previously sold his farm here for two slaves.
Among the ordinances of Homer, adopted in 1855, is one pointing out the duty of patrol captains. Section 3 of this ordinance ordained that each captain of patrol should cause the bell of the Homer Hotel to be rung every night at 9 o'clock to notify the Negroes to repair to their homes, and all Negroes caught out from their homes after said time without a pass from his or her owner shall be flogged by the patrol. White persons caught conversing with Negroes under suspicious circumstances, or found round kitchens or Negro quarters after the stated hour were to be brought before the mayor and fined. Groups of negroes, over three in number, found on the square on Sundays, were to be dispersed.
The first private purchasers of United States lands in Township 19, Range 6, were Arthur McFarlane and William Ashbrook on Sections 18, 19, in 1831; William Lee, P. P. Brinson and William Crowley, in 1832-33; William Hill, J. Casey, H. Barber, Robert Henderson, Alex T. Nelson, Keziah Brinson, Elias Welborne, Hardy W. Miller, William P. Robinson, James C. C. McCauley, John Browning and William Moglin, in 1835-1837. In 1836 James Dyer entered lands on Section 3 and Robert L. Killgore on Section 6 in 1837. December 4, 1830, James Lee entered for the parish of Claiborne 144,451/2 acres on the northwest quarter of Section 6; Charles Hayes on Section 8, in 1832; Jesse L. and Erastus Long, in 1833; James W. Wright, in 1836; Daniel Carragan, in 1832, and Stephen Pate on Section 9, in 1838. Francis W. Turpin, W. E. McAlpine and John Stamps located on Sections 32 and 33 in 1837, while the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 29 was entered for the town of Lexington. Township 19, Range 7, was entered on Section 4 by John Wilson in 1835. James Crow, Reuben Drake and John Bausket, Bartley M. Shelton, Jasper and Tom Gibbs, Lewis Harrison, Elizabeth Henderson, Chandler Lewis Carney Cargile Robert, Madden, Samuel G. and Daniel Graves, Tom Leatherman, T. B. Goldby, F. M. Bradley, E. H. Barrett, T. C. Scarborough and Samuel A. Kirby located lands throughout the township in 1836-37. Daniel Gray entered the first lands on Section 24 in 1832. James M. Morrow entered several tracts in Township 19, Range 8 in 1839-1840 and Richard M. Kennon in 1848.
Township 20, Range 6, was first entered by Jethro Butler on Section 22, Thomas Brown on Section 12 and John Avers on Section 14 in 1832. In 1836-1839 a number of settlers purchased lands here, among whom were John P. Smith, Samuel Clark, J. M. Bigham, Samuel Butler, Thomas Henderson, Joe and Ben Brown, John Williams, J. G. Austin, Drewry Thompson, W. A. Drake, Ransom Butler, William Dyer and Joseph Burns. In 1833 Samuel Walker located on Section 35. The first entries in Township 20, Range 7, were John Merrill or Murrell on Section 5 in 1835; W. B. Hargis, Section 12; Blakeley Edins, Section 26, and Tillinghast Vaughan on Section 36, in 1836. The entry of Township 20, Range 8, dates back to 1837, when Russell Jones, William Hobbs, Jacob Peacon, William Harkins, Quintain Dines, Ben Nugent, Jesse and Louis Nullion, James. Hiler and John Murrell entered their lands. In 1838-1839 Fred Miller, Jacob Wittle, Fred Botzong, Morris Miller, Steve Butler, J. W. Miller and W. Melton made entry.
Township 21, Range 6, was entered largely in 1836-1837. Among the buyers in the first-named year were E. L. Killgore, John Smith, Thomas Wafer, Daniel Sears, William Crowley, James Dyer, John L. Dyer and Ben Goodson. In 1837 came Volney Stamps, William C. Mylene, D. S. Humphries, Daniel McDougall, George W. Peets, William M. Givin and Caleb Goodson. The first entry was made in February, 1835, on Section 25 by Joshua Willis. In 1848-1849 William C. Moreland, Antony Pate, Martin Able, John L. Tippett, Dumas Patterson, Allen Woods, A. B. Colton, E. S. Hamilton, Thomas P. Hamilton, William Berry and W. Giles entered some lands here, while ten years before this Ben and T. W. Green entered their lands.
Township 21, Range 7, was opened for entry in 1839, when Mary and Burrey Bradley located on Section 3, George Demons and son on Section 4 and Catherine Hews on Section 27. From 1849 to 1859 immigrants flocked hither, and before the war the whole township may be said to have passed into the hands of private owners.
Township 21, Range 8, was first entered in 1838-1839 by William M. Gryder, Section 1; Silas Talbert, Section 2; Hugh and Hiram Gryder, Section 10; Martin Wood, Section 18; John Holcomb and Fred Grounds, Section 20; William Harkins, Section 27; Wash. E. Edins and Bamster Edins, Section 29; George and Conrad Grounds and George A. Bell, Section 30; Vincent Walker, Section 32, and John 13. Hendley and John Murrell, Section 36. Like the former township it was bought up principally during the antebellum decade. Township 22, Range 6, was offered for sale in 1839, when Charles Y. Long entered a tract on Section 3; Jesse Lee, Section 23; John B. Wallace, Section 24, and John Gwinn, Section 35. The township was mainly purchased within the years 1849-1858.
Township 22, Range 7 west, did not claim more than one private owner prior to 1853, when Hugh Taylor, J. F. MoGinty, John E. Weeks, Jesse Connor, Samuel Cook, George W. Fuller, Dave Cripps, James A. Turner, Isaac Oakes, E. M. Been, Jonas Short, J. J. Wise, John Herring and W. H. Brittain made their selections. In 1848 William P. Moreland entered a half section on Section 1. Between 1853 and 1858 the lands passed into the hands of private owners.
Township 22, Range 8, was sold between the years 1848 and 1859. Robert C. Russell bought on Section 1 in 1848; Miles Beaufort was a large buyer in 1850. Patrick O'Connell bought on Section 19 in 1841; John McCarty, Section 21; Jonathan Knox, S. S. C. Wilson, Section 22; Michael L. Casson, Section 32; William M. and Claiborne Gryder, Section 35 in 1839, and Silas Talbert, Section 36 in 1838. In 1850-51 a large area was purchased by residents.
Township 23, Range 6, was opened in 1839, but not until 1849 was there any impression made on this section of the wilderness by the immigrants. In July, 1839, Abram Foster entered 78.44 acres on Section 8, and here a halt was called until 1849. During the ensuing ten years the township passed from the ownership of the United States.
Township 23, Range 7 west, was first entered in November, 1838, by Joseph Copeland on Section 3, and secondly in December, 1840, on Section 34 by Franklin Short. In June, 1849, he purchased a second small tract on Section 35, and Morgan Franks on Section 12. In 1850 a large number of settlers and speculators descended upon this township.
Township 23, Range 8, was proclaimed in 1839; James Ward making the first entry on Section 10, in December of that year. Cornelius McAuley entered land on Section 31 in 1847. Isaac L. Leonard, J. C. Garlington, Peter McDonald, James C. Beck, J. W. Camp, J, P. Sale, W. T. Leonard, James C. Taylor, Redick Aycock, Lewis Moore, Joel G. Patrick, William E. Hughes, A. J. Watters and perhaps a few others located lands here during the years 1850-1850.
Russellville the second seat of justice (Murrell's being the first), was settled as early as 1825 by the Killgores and others named in the chapter of pioneers. A rude court-house and ruder jail were erected, and R. L. Killgore's store opened. The place was named in honor of Samuel Russell, who urged the location as the proper place for the seat of justice. There in 1835 the murderer Halthouser was hanged, and in the old jail several of the White and Black desperadoes of the period were confined. The only evidence of the place being ever a village is the old Killgore House, still standing in the clearing. The owner died in 1871 and his widow in 1883. On December 4, 1830, is made a record of the purchase, by James Lee for Claiborne Parish, of 144.451/2 acres on the northwest quarter of Section 6, Township 19, Range 16. In 1829 the first road was opened from Russellville to Minden Lower Landing at the head of navigation on Bayou Dorchette. About this time E. C. Killgore and James Lee moved their little stores to this point from the old Fashier store, which they occupied in 1825 near Murrell's house.
Later a water-mill was constructed on Berry Creek, and gins and horse-power mills were in use in the neighborhood. In 1836 the parish seat was removed to Overton and Russellville soon after fell into decay. In 1858 Salem Cumberland Presbyterian Church was established near the deserted town.
The history of the town of Overton is given in the pages devoted to Webster Parish. Owing to the unhealthy location and the general desire for change, Overton was deserted in 1846, and Athens selected as the official center of the parish. Athens was selected as the seat of justice in 1846. Charles L. Hay settled on the present Keener farm in 1825. Thomas Leatherman, the Butlers, Crows and others hitherto named, were identified with this section. In 1832 the first campground was established close by. In 1846 the school building and a large area of ground were donated for parish seat purposes by John Wilson.
The flowing spring was a consideration in adopting this site. Kiser kept a small general store, Saunders P. Day was tavern keeper, Arthur McFarland filled the dual position of postmaster and Baptist preacher, John Kimball lived on the Frazier lands. Col. Lewis was also here and all the parish officers. A Methodist Church, known as Ashbrooks, was erected in 1830; in 1839 the Missionary Baptists held meetings in the schoolhouse; in 1851 the first Presbyterian society of the parish was organized near here at old Midway, but soon after moved to Athens. On November 7,1849, the academy or school building, in which were the offices of the parish, was burned with all the valuable records and documents, the only things of value destroyed. In 1850 the grounds were reconveyed to Wilson, and he was also granted a sum of money in consideration for the burning of his schoolhouse. The fire was considered at the time to be carried out by conspirators, who desired the destruction of part of the records, and to carry out their desire destroyed all. New Athens is east of the old town on the Louisville & Northwestern Railroad.
The site of the town of Lexington, east half of the southeast quarter of Section 29, Township 19, Range 6, was entered in 1837. Lisbon was an important point over forty years ago. Near by, in April, 1849, at Thomas B. Wafer's house, a Methodist society was formed. The Baptists built a large meeting-house there a few years ago (1885-86). In the village and adjacent thereto, resided several pioneer families. Masonic Lodge No. 130, organized here in 1857, ceased in 1886.
Forest Grove was founded a few miles west of Lisbon, by Frank Taylor and others, such as Dr. Scaife, Milton Barnett. Prior to 1850, Contractor John C. Blackman built a Methodist church house near Maj. Dyer's house, six miles east of Homer.
This building was moved to Arizona in 1866. Scottsville stood north of Forest Grove, on the banks of the Corni, and flourished for years at the supposed head of navigation of that stream. But navigation never came. Yet such men as Maj. Browning, Dr. Bush, Thomas Hart and the Stanleys gave it life and vigor for years. Dawson Lodge No. 138, A. P. & A. M., was organized here at an early date, and ceased in 1873. Colquitt, Gordon, Haynesville, Summertield, Homer, Arizona, Tulip, Aycock, Blackburn,. Cane Ridge,
Dykesville, Holly Springs, Langstou, Millerton and Ward's mill are the centers of the old settlements of tbe parish as now constituted. Terryville was the name given to an old center existing before the war. In 1854 a Masonic lodge, No. 127, was organized there. This ceased to exist in 1861. At Holly Springs another lodge (No. 211) was chartered in 1870, and continued work until 1879, while Flat Lick, where one of the earliest church organizations took place, claimed a Masonic lodge from 1868 to 1883.
Claiborne Parish, the first subdivision of Natchitoches Parish, was established by an act of the Legislature, approved March 13, 1828. The boundaries extended from a point on the east bank of Red River, fifty miles northwest of Natchitoches village, at the northern line of Township 13; east on that line to the line between Ranges 3 and 4 west, along the range line, forming the western boundary of Ouachita Parish, to the south line of Arkansas Territory; thence west to Red River, and down the river to the place of beginning. Within the original boundaries of old Claiborne, were the parishes of Bossier, detached in 1843; Jackson, in 1845; Bienville, in 1848; Webster, in 1871, and part of Lincoln in 1874.
The police jury also organized at John Murrell's house in 1828, and held meetings at Murrell's for some time, or until the offer of Samuel Russell of a site for the seat of justice was accepted. This place was called Russellville, in honor of the donor. Chichester Chaplin was parish judge. The first court held at Russellville was presided over by Judge Overton, Isaac McMahon still being sheriff, while William McMahon, who had taken Cochran's place, was clerk.
After the removal of the great raft in 1835 the head of navigation was extended to a point near the Minden Lower Landing on Bayou Dorchette. The aspirations of the place fifty-five years ago were lofty, and, as a result, the parish seat was transferred thereto in 1836, and the name Overton conferred upon it, evidently in honor of Judge Overton. For ten years the police jury and courts met here, but owing to a desire for a more central location, and in consideration of the unhealthy character of the village in the bottoms, the offices and records were moved to Athens in 1846. In 1848 the public building and records at Athens were destroyed by fire, and the same year the seat of justice was established at Homer (named by Prank Vaughan), on lands entered by the parish or granted by Allen Harris and Tillinghast Vaughan. A very primitive board building was at once erected, and there, in September of that year, Judge Eoland Jones opened court, with Allen Harris, sheriff, and W. C. Copes, clerk. During the winter of 1849-50 a substantial brick building was erected for public purposes, and therein, in the fall of 1850, the same judge, sheriff and clerk opened court.
The oldest record of the police jury is dated November 12, 1849, tbe records of twenty-one years having been destroyed with the court-house at Athens, November 7, 1849. At this time Thomas Henderson was juror from Ward 1; John Bopp, No. 4; James B. McFarland, No. 5; Reuben D. Madden, No. 6; Silas Gamon, No. 7. F. Lyman was clerk. A copy of ordinance, published in the Minden paper shows that on July 1, 1848, the boundaries of seven wards were fixed, J. Kilborne being then president, and F. Lyman, clerk. In November, 1849, Allen Harris was collector, and on December 18, James Kilborne was appointed agent to sell lots at Homer, and in April following, the exchange of property between T. Vaughan and the parish was ratified. At this time a donation of five acres near James M. Wynne's farm was made to the town of Homer by the parish for cemetery purposes. In June, 1850, the new jury organized, with James B. McFarland, of Ward 5, president; Thomas Henderson, of No. 1, Reuben Warren, of No. 2, Joslin Jones, of No. 3, Robert C. Adams, of No. 4, Tatum M. Wafer, of No. 6 and Silas Gamon, of No. 7 being the members. The president was empowered to make a deed of one acre to each incorporated religious society at Homer. In September a reconveyance of all lots at Athens, formerly donated to the parish by John Wilsou, was ordered. Ward 8 was established in 1852. At this time James Patterson, Reuben Warren, Jackson Sikes, W. B. Scott, J. G. Barnett, James M. Dorman, Dinsmore Neely and Adolphus Johnson represented the eight wards, respectively, with William T. Hadley, clerk. James A. Millican was treasurer. In 1853 one change is noticed in the personnel of the jury. E. A. D. Brown represented Ward 5. W. B. Scott was chosen president, and N. W. Peters, clerk. In June the sum of $150 was ordered paid to John Wilson in compensation for the burning of the Claiborne Academy at Athens, which was used for court-house purposes up to November 7, 1849. In September Bonaparte T. Payne was sent as student to the Louisiana Medical College by this parish.
In January, 1854, action in re the defalcation of Allen Harris in $3,396.25 was taken, and a rigorous prosecution ordered. James B. McFarland was also censured for neglect of duty while president of the jury. The jurors in June were C. J. Thompson, James S. Brandon, Albert Wilbauks, R. C. Adams, Dinsmore Cargile, Andrew Thompson, Dinsmore Neely and A. Johnson. L. F. R. Reynolds was chosen clerk, but Peters continued in that office. Nicholas Corry was chosen medical student. In January, 1855, a committee was appointed to receive the court-house from the contractors. Cotter & Killgore, C. J. Thompson,
William P. Moreland, I. Lucius Leonard, Isaac Murrell, D. Cargile, A. E. Thompson, D. Neely and A. Thompson qualified as jurors in June, and elected B. D. Harrison clerk. T. Vaughan was then, as he had been for years, parish attorney. In 1856 Harrison resigned, and W. H. Elliott was chosen clerk, and Sheriff Warren, collector. In June W. T. Hardee took Cargile's place as juror, and B. D. Harrison was chosen clerk. The Claiborne Advocate was given the printing contract at $125 per year. In September James Kilborne represented Ward 3 and John S. Carleton Ward 6; Joseph Jones was selected medical student; T. J. Hightower was appointed treasurer, vice Millican; Syke's ferry was established, and the estimate of expenditures for 1857 placed at $8,500. In January, 1857, the act relating to the formation of school townships was passed.
In June, 1857, William McDonald, J. M. Prestidge, G. J. Wise, Isaac Murrell, W. T. Hardee, John S. Carleton, D. Neely and A. Johnson formed the jury. President, Dinsmore was authorized to subscribe for 4,000 shares ($100,000) to the stock of the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad, and levy a tax of two per cent for five years to meet this outlay. This ordinance, with the date of voting on it, was to be advertised in the Advocate and Democrat. E. B. Whitson was appointed treasurer, later B. F. Cunningham was nominated as medical student, and T. G. Warren. collector. In 1858 John R. Ramsey represented Ward 5, and Thomas D. Meadows, Ward 8, being the only changes. The Minden Bridge Company was incorporated to build a bridge at Murrell's Point, and the expenses for 1859 were estimated ($6,405). T. C. Barnett was chosen medical student in October, and at this time the courthouse was declared unsafe, and measures were taken to build a new house. In February, 1859, the question of providing shelter and attendance for smallpox patients was disposed of, and the suits against Ex-Treasurer Millican were suspended.
In January, 1860, J. E. Ramsey signs the record as clerk, G. W. Oliver was appointed parish attorney and J. R. Ramsey, treasurer. In March of that year the following names of jurors appeared: Seaborn Gray, W. L. Oakes, N. W. Peters, J. H Curry, John Kimball, D. Neely and T. D. McAdams. J. G. Warren was president. The organization of June, 1861, shows John G. Warren, president; B. D. Harrison, clerk; J. S. Bush, No. 1; W. L. Oakes, No. 2 (later J. M. Prestidge); J. W. Norton, No. 3; Isaac Murrell, No. 4; A. H. Payne, No. 5; J. A. Parker, No. 6; J. G. Warren, No. 7, and C. H. Tait, No. 8. At this time $800 was appropriated for ammunition, and Leak & Co. appointed purchasing agents; $500 was appropriated for the relief of soldiers' families; 1.5 of 1 per cent was levied for military purposes, and the appointment of I. Murrell, J. M. Morrow and E. K. W. Ross, as a sub-committee of the State Belief Association, was confirmed.
On September 3, the courthouse committee reported the building complete (the total cost being $12,304.30); scrip was ordered to be issued, and W. J. Blackburn appointed parish printer. In January, 1862, the sum of $30,000 was appropriated for defensive purposes; in March an additional sum of $10,000 was granted in bonds and $50 and $25 bounties authorized. Dr. Bush and Sheriff Kirkpatrick were appointed agents to negotiate all bonds, and it may be stated that the jurors gave up ordinary public business, as the citizens did their business, to forward the interests of the Confederate cause; military and relief measures occupied their whole attention. In June, E. A. D. Brown, of Ward 5, W. B. Gill, of Ward 7, and J. L. Williams, of Ward 8, were the new members.
John W. Hayes was appointed treasurer, and scrip of all denominations from 5 cents to $10 was ordered to be printed, the total issue not to exceed $20,000. In September the estimate for the year 1862-1863 was placed at $97,160.54, exclusive of $17,989.46, provided for. An additional issue of scrip for $40,000 was authorized and plans for a jail building adopted. In January, 1863, the war resolutions were adopted. In February scrip for $5,500 was issued, and in September the recorder and treasurer were authorized to take measures for the removal of moneys and records in case of invasion. In January, 1864, the members of the jury were Seaborn Gray, J. M. Prestidge, E. Warren, I. Murrell, J. B. McFarland, William Mitcham, W. B. Gill and J. L. Williams. The contract for building the jail was sold to J. C. Blackburn for $800, and scrip for $7,500, was ordered to be printed, B. D. Harrison agreeing to supply the paper and do the printing for $300. In June, Josiah Watts, Ward No. 5, Thomas C. Weir, No. 6, and Elijah Sparks, No. 8, appear as new jurors. In September, the bonds and scrip outstanding amounted to $52,637, against which the sum of $21,000 was on the treasurer's hands.
In July, 1865, E. A. Hargis, John Wilson, E. Warren, I. Murrell, B. C. Frazier, A. E. Thompson, J. T. Fortson and J. J. Duke were appointed police jurors by the governor. On the death of E. Warren, G. M. Elliott was elected. In September, 1866, the newly elected jury comprised J. F. Hightower, T. J. Moore (president), Jackson Sikes, J. H. Curry, T. B. Wafer, J. L. Madden, J. E. Goodson and J. J. Duke. Several acts mark this administration, such as road laws, destruction of scrip, etc. The last meeting was held June 5, 1867, and the record is signed by Burk Coleman, successor of B. D. Harrison. In June, 1869, Thomas D. Meadows presided, with E. E. Thompson, O. A. Smith, Jackson Sikes, J. H. Curry, John Kimball, W. W. Taylor and John McClish, members, and W. W. Brown, clerk.
In 1870 D. W. Harris, of Ward 7, took the place of McClish, and in 1871 B. F. Reed took Taylor's place. T. J. Hightower was treasurer and D. W. Harris, clerk. In August, 1871, the legal jurors chosen to take the places of those deposed qualified with W. C. Martin, D. Cargile, W. L. Oakes, D. W. Harris and T. D. Meadows, members, there being three wards abolished. In February, 1872, a committee was appointed to settle with the new parish of Webster; the members were James W. Wilson, W. C. Martin, W. L. Oakes and T. D. Meadows. The Webster committee comprised T. B. Neal and W. A. Drake. In June B. D. Harrison was appointed clerk and W. J. Blackburn collector. During the fall of the year this jail was destroyed by fire. In January, 1873, W. L. Oakes was chosen president, J. H. Simmons, A. C. Barber, George Shaw and J. F. Heard formed the new board. John S. Young was appointed attorney and D. W. Harris was treasurer. The jurors for 1875 elected E. W. Cox president; J. J. Glover represented Ward 1; Elliott Gray, Ward 2; J. H. Chappell, Ward 3, and E. Sparks, Ward 5. In 1875-1876 J. E. Ramsey was treasurer. On June 4, 1877, J. H. Chappell, president; J. J. Glover, W. S. Copeland, A. L. Atkins and J. F. Ford met at Homer. J. H. Simmons was appointed treasurer, D. D. Harrison clerk, W.W. Arbuckle physician, J. E. Ramsey (recorder) stray master. Later J. T. Tigner, H. A. Lewis and E. W. Cox appear as jurors. In 1878 S. E. Richardson was parish physician, and J. C. Moore treasurer. The names of Milton Hulse, A. T. Nelson, T. A. Watson, J. M. Dunn, W. G. Coleman, A. L. Harper, W.S. Copeland and J. H. Curry appear as jurors in June, 1879, but by January, 1879, E. H. Cleveland had taken Dunn's place. In June, 1880, the jurors were R. J. Hart, W.L. Cakes, W. S. Copeland, John Miller, Jr., J. W. McFarland, S. W. Howard, L. R. Lay and T. D. Meadows; J. R. Ramsey was appointed clerk. In December, 1880, the majority of voters in Wards 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8 opposed the granting of license for the sale of liquor. In January, 1883, the parish was out of debt and the tax levy reduced to 6 mills. In 1884 B. R. Neil, Shelby Baucom, E. W. Cox, J. E. Gandy, J. F. Heard, J. M. McKinzie, E. T. McClendon and S. Kerlin were members of the police jury. The members of the police jury in February, 1885, were Samuel Kerlin, B. B. Neil, No. 2 Shelby Bancom, E. W. Cox, J. E. Gaudy, J. T. Heard, J. M. McKinzie and E. T. McClendon.
In April of this year, J. W. McFarland was appointed commissioner for the parish at the New Orleans World's Fair; the purchase of lot and contract for building jail entered into by a committee of the jury were ratified. An election on the question of prohibiting the sale of liquor was ordered, and the establishment of a poor-farm authorized. On August 24, 1886, the 5 mill tax aid to the Arkansas & Louisiana Railroad Company was carried, the vote being 1,371 for, and 1,247 contra. In July, 1887, the sale of the old jail building and lot was confirmed. In July, 1888, T. A. Watson was elected president, vice J. M. McKinzie. The jury comprised the president and ex-president named T. W. O'Bannon, B. E. Neil, J. A. Aycock, T. T. Lowe, R. A. N. Wynne and B. J. Bridges. In July, 1889, the jurors considered the title of Claiborne to the old town of Lexington, and asked the representatives of the parish to introduce a bill granting the police jury power to sell the old town site.
The oldest record of the district court of Claiborne, now in possession of District Clerk Ferguson, is dated May 27, 1850, or almost twenty-two years after Judge Wilson opened the first court within the house of John Murrell (eight miles east of Minden) at the Allen settlement. Then Robert Cockran was clerk and Isaac McMahon, sheriff. In May, 1850, Charles A. Bullard, of the Sixteenth District, presided in the absence of the judge of this, then in the Seventeenth District. James Dyer, John Bopp (chief of the Dutch colony), E. Butler, Ed Duggins, R. W. Nelson, Nathan Britton, Phineas Gleason, Charles Hayes, John Kimball, W. DeMoss, John Dore, Isaac Miller, A. T. Brantley, Edwin Foster, Stephen Pate and James L. Dial were the grand jurors. William B. G. Egan was appointed district attorney, vice the absent John S. Gilbert. William C. Copes took the oath as clerk, and Waddy T. Cleveland as deputy clerk. In November, 1850, Roland Jones, of the Seventeenth District, presided. The sheriff, Allen Harris, appointed A. G. Willbanks, deputy. In May, 1851, Judge Bullard was present, William L. Burton, district attorney, being absent.
Eugene J. H. Jones was appointed, and took the old time oath which denounced in measured terms dueling and other chivalric methods of that day. A large number of civil cases and a small criminal list was the rule, up to November, 1851, when Judge Jones was present. Both lists appear large, and this ordinary business with the record of naturalization of foreigners occupied the court's attention. The grand jury's address pointed out the material growth of the parish, the zeal of citizens in bringing to justice all criminals, and the pride of the people in the new courthouse.
While gratified at all this, the jurors were severe in their references to the log hut or cabin, then forming the parish prison. In May, 1852, Judge Bullard was present, vice Jones; John Young was appointed to act as district attorney. Several indictments were returned against Giles and John Crownover For exciting insubordination; among slaves, resisting patrols and admitting Whites into Negro quarters. In November of that year Franklin Taylor was excused from jury service on the grounds that he was a school director. In September, 1853, Andrew Lawson took his seat as judge of the Seventeenth District. The admission of Alfred Goodwill to citizenship was one of his first acts.
In March, 1854, Harmon A. Drew was judge of the Seventeenth District; J. D. Watkins, district attorney, and D. Henry Dyer, clerk. A number of indictments for retailing without license were returned. In March the report of the grand jury was ordered to be published in the Claiborne Advocate. Under the system of judicial interchange, H. M. Spofford, of the Eighteenth Circuit, took Judge Drew's place here in July, and to him Chris Chaffe, a second member of the English colony at Minden, confessed his intention of becoming a citizen after four years residence at Minden. Thomas Beeves, of Homer, John C. Loye and William and Stephen Life followed this example. In March, 1855, the grand jury reported on the unsafe condition of the courthouse and the insecure state of the jail. In September Thomas T. Land, of the Eighteenth District, was present, but in January, 1856, Judge Drew resumed his place. In September, 1856, E. W. Richardson, of the Twelfth District, was present, with Reuben Warren, sheriff, and D. H. Dyer, clerk. In July, 1857, W. B. Egan was judge, and in October David Cresswell, of the Eighteenth District, presided in some special cases.
In April, 1858, John H. Cunningham was admitted to the bar, and took the customary oath. John G. Warren served as sheriff until H. W. Kirkpatrick qualified, in 1860. At this time, B. R. Coleman was district clerk and E. L. Dyer, deputy clerk. The April term of 1861 was opened by Judge W. B. Egan on the 1st and closed on the 2nd. There was another short term in October, and at that time No. 17, as applied to the district, was written 11th, to correspond with the act of the Legislature. From October 21, 1862, to April 18, 1864, there is no record of court. On April 19, 1865, Judge Egan adjourned court sine die, but on September 25 of that year Judge J. D. Watkins, of the Eleventh District, opened the fall term. John Kimball was sheriff, and M. Callahan, clerk. The latter was succeeded in 1866 by Hyder A. Kennedy, while John Kimball was succeeded by L. J. Kimball, and he, in 1867, by J. A. Witter. In October Judge Watkins received an order from W. T. Gentry, asking that the jury list be restricted to registered voters, found on tables of assessment. In 1868 S. D. Spann was clerk; J. A. Witter, sheriff, and James T. Story, successor of Beck, was recorder.
On the opening of the May term of this year, Attorney Gen. B. J. Lynch transmitted to the clerk a copy of Special Order No. 203, issued by Gen. Hancock, of the Fifth Military District. In view of this order and of a then recent decision of the Supreme Court, Judge Watkins ordered the discharge of all the jurors summoned for that term. In October court was opened and a return made of a constitutional jury. At this time S. D. Spann signed the record as clerk; A. Ragland as deputy sheriff (R. T. Dawson being sheriff); J. R. Ramsey, recorder, and N. J. Scott, parish judge, all elected that year.
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