Grant Parish, Louisiana History and Genealogy
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Grant Parish includes a small section of the Red River bottom or 50 square miles, and of the central prairie region, 110 square miles; White the long-leaf pine hills embrace 482 square miles. The total area is 642 square miles. The cultivated area in 1880 was 24,094 acres, of which 11,155 acres were in cotton, yielding 5,158 bales; 657 pounds of seed cotton or 219 pounds of cotton lint; 8,177 acres in corn, and 22 in sweet potatoes. The years later, 1890, the cultivated area is found to be extended twenty per cent, and the production of staple crops increased in proportion. The garden lands of Red River Valley are found here. From a point above Colfax, extending thirteen miles down the river, the land was never submerged. The uplands show several fine farms, while the greater part of the parish, now clothed in pine or hardwood, is capable of producing the grains of Louisiana in large quantities. Even the great pine forest is yet awaiting the lumbermen to yield up its wealth of timber.
The population in 1870 was 4,515, made up of 2,101 Caucasian and 2,414 Africans. In 1880 the total number of inhabitants was 6,188, or 3,320 Caucasians, and 2,868 Africans. In May, 1890, Assessor M. E. Swafford made the following statistical review: "White males, 2,359; White females, 2,348; Colored males, 1,631; Colored females, 1,581; Indian males, 4; Indian females, 4; making the total population of the parish 7,928. There are 837 White voters, and 556 Colored voters. The total number of school-able children is found to be 2,329, of whom 1,447 are White, and 882 Colored. The population of the town of Colfax numbers 152, and that of Montgomery 168. The United States census returns published in October, 1890, places the population at 8,532.
In March, 1887, a number of Indian relics, such as flints, pottery, etc., was unearthed on the main street of Colfax, by Lindsey, who was excavating a ditch. Among the old Creoles and their slaves, a belief existed that Spanish treasure was buried in Indian Hill, two miles east of the present town of Colfax, and in another hill three miles north of the town. R. C. Cameron, who gave the subject some attention, writes, in February, 1887, that indications of old placer mines existed here, the waters of Rocky Bayou and Bayou Darro being used for washing. Indeed, Mr. Cameron round what he termed gold, but the discovery was ridiculed until April, 1887, when Claussen & Lynch, assayers, of New Orleans, showed $19.80 in silver and $179.84 in gold per ton of sand. In 1830 a Spaniard, named Raphael, told Edourd Gillard that there was gold in the hills. Both went thither, and collecting a small quantity of earth and rocks, shipped it to Washington, D. C. for assay. The report was not favorable, and the mine was abandoned. Mrs. Cora Lacour recollects hearing her father and others speak of this venture.
The storm of May 7, 1882, crossed Red River at Capt. Sharp's plantation, carrying away a section of the roof of his house, blew away Mrs. Walter's house, at Bell's sawmill and destroyed one or more other houses. Mrs. Walter's three year old child and Mrs. William Carter's ten year old daughter, were killed. The hailstorm of April, 1883 destroyed the cotton and corn around Colfax. In April, 1885, a windstorm destroyed property in this vicinity.
The smallpox epidemic of October, 1883, extended to sixty persons in Grant Parish, of whom nine died.
In October, 1813, Placide Bossier related the story of the purchase by Louis C. de Blanc, for Colin Lacour, from the Pascagoula Indians, below the mouth of Rigolet du Bon Dieu; Philip Green settled on Catahoula Prairie. Thomas Hubbs, John Hebert, Jr., Marshall Jones, Hugh Mulholland, William Miller, Alexander Fulton, and Benjamin Ritchey came in during the first few years of this century. In 1803, the Appalaches, then residing twenty-five miles above the Rapides (Alexandria), were induced by Col. Fulton and William Miller to sell their lands for $3,000. In 1814 this sum was still unpaid, and the two speculators made an attempt to prove that the deed was given for debts contracted by the Coushatta tribe. There were twenty-five lodges of Appalaches in 1814.
The act establishing Grant Parish was approved March 4, 1869. In March, 1877, E. J. Barrett, of Rapides, introduced a bill to extend the lines of this parish so as to include Pineville. Robert Hunter, alias "Ten Mile Bob," another representative of Rapides, aided this proposition, and the "Rump House" passed the bill by a vote of 59 against 2. Col. E. G. Randolph opposed the measure, and the attempt never succeeded. The original bill was introduced by W. S. Calhoun, then a representative, S. C. Cuney (Colored) and Henry Lott (Colored), representatives, and Senator George Y. Kelson assisted by Mr. Calhoun in pushing forward the bill in the House and Senate.
The officers appointed in March, 1869, by Warmoth, were W. B. Philips, parish judge; D. W. White, sheriff; Robert C. Register, clerk; Robert Morris, recorded; S. B. Shackelford, assessor; O. T. Batier, surveyor; G. J. Chevallier, Samuel Cuney, S. Williams, Ralph Wells, and Thomas L. Smothers, justices of the peace and five constables. The police jurors were L. H. Levy, Sheppard Williams, T. M. Wells, A. V. Ragan, and M. H. Griffin. Before the middle of April, Sheriff White was ordered to leave the parish, and the era of strife was introduced.
In 1870, the parish judge, sheriff, and clerk were elected, with F. E. Layssard, recorder. Representative henry Kerson and Senator Alexander represented the parish at this time.
In October, 1871, the deputy sheriff, Shelby, and Rufus K. Houston were arrested at Colfax, charged with being connected with the death of Capt. White, who was killed at Rock Island by a mob. Capt. Ward, a Negro from Ohio, commanded the militia, and assisted in abducting the prisoners, in opposition to Judge Osborn's wishes and those of Thomas C. Manning, the attorney for the prisoners.
Daniel Shaw was appointed sheriff and Phillips register, and Layssard, re-elected. W. Ward, a Colored man, was representative and Alexander, senator, in 1872, but the officers elected were C. C. Nash, sheriff; R. B. Walker, clerk; Charles Smith, recorder and A. Cazabat, parish judge. Thomas Johnson (Colored) was then juror from Ward 1. Shep. Williams was the Republican appointee for parish judge.
The terrible riot of April 13, 1873 (Easter Sunday), will never be forgotten. It originated in the fact that Gov. Kellogg appointed two sets of officials with the view, it is alleged, of bringing about just such a result. On April 1, a meeting of Caucasians was called to consider their condition. On that morning, 200 armed Negroes came into town, and the Caucasians did not meet. The White officers held the courthouse, but were soon driven off by the Radicals, who installed their set of officials. During the succeeding five days Colfax was filled by Negroes, who threatened to kill the White males and hold the White females for the purpose of creating a new race. The Whites fled and the work of rapine began. In the house of Judge Rutland the Negroes round a coffin containing the remains of his child, which they cast out of the house. On April 5, a body of 200 White men from adjoining parishes encamped within two miles of Colfax, and sent a demand for the surrender of the courthouse and offices, but this demand was refused and the Negroes entered at once on the construction of a line of defenses. Capt. C. C. Nash, the sheriff-elect, and leader of the Whites, repeatedly told them that they should surrender or they would be attacked, and the climax was reached on the 13th, when the Colored women and children were removed and the black warriors manned the works.
At 10 A.M., that Sunday, 125 Whites opened the attack on the fort, then held by 250 Negroes, twenty-five White men held the horses. Skirmishing continued until 3 p. m. when thirty men, led by James A. Daniels, crept up behind the works and opened fire, the main body attacking in front. The Negroes fled, 100 took refuge in the brick stable, then used for courthouse purposes, and kept up a fire on their assailants. The only approach to this was from one end, and even then there was no opening. Five White men were already wounded, Hadnot, Moses, and Harris seriously. The Whites made a torch which they placed in the hands of a Negro prisoner to set fire to the eaves of the roof. The flames spread, the Negroes desired to surrender, and the men named rushed up to make terms of capitulation quickly. They were shot down. The enraged Whites then killed each Negro as he rushed from the burning building, while fugitives were ridden down and killed. Forty Negroes were made prisoners and protected until night, when twenty of them were killed, making a total of Negroes killed, ninety-five.
The battle was over at 4 o'clock P.M. The year 1873 was given up to political warfare and dreadful riots. Two sets of parish officials were deliberately commissioned by Gov. Kellogg with the object of creating the very troubles which disgraced that Easter day of 1873, and gave to Louisiana its darkest historical page. The state officials did not try to mete out justice, but by wholesale arrest essayed to scare the people into subjection, but their plans were faulty, for the first man arrested, Gen. Cosgrove, of Natchitoches, had nothing to do with the riot. In 1874 W. R. Rutland was parish judge with register clerk J. O. Grayson collector, and Layssard recorder. The new judge abandoned the Republican party after the riot and became a Democrat. The seventeen days' trial of the Grant County prisoners (ninety-eight were indicted), Dumas, Lemoine, P. Lemoine, Thomas Hickman, Alfred Lewis, and T. Gibbons, in the United States Court and under the Kuklux law, ended March 20, 1874. The jury disagreed, but the prisoners were refused liberty on bail. A second trial resulted in the conviction of W. J. Cruikshank, John Hadnot, and William Irwin, and even this verdict was set aside by Justice Bradley. This ended the prosecution but not the tribulations of the people, for troops were within calling distance to enforce the mandates of the oppressor and assist in the extortion of exorbitant taxes.
In 1876 Thomas Allison was president of the police jury; Thomas Johnson, W. B. Richardson, N. P. Hawthorne and S. C. Cuney were jurors. In August of this year, S. B. Shackelford was appointed treasurer, vice W. L. Richardson, deposed. The latter succeeded C. H. Mumford, who succeeded F. E. Layssard. A. V. Ragan was surveyor; A. Lemee, clerk; Daniel Fletcher, sheriff; Alfred Shelby, coroner, and Capt. A. D. Ward, supervisor of registration. On January 9, 1877, M. N. Swafford and James Daniels qualified as jurors, and on January 22, C. W. Fitz and Randolph Rives qualified. W. L. Richardson was appointed attorney; A. Lemee, clerk; A. L. Grow, treasurer, and James Daniels, president. In February W. J. Tison qualified as juror, and C. C. Nash was tax collector. In May, 1877, t he new or Nichols school board was appointed. C. C. Dunn was president; J. W. Odum, secretary, with Joshua Kemp, J. B. Eagles, A. L. Grow, J. P. Lincecum, and C. W. Gillett, members. In June, George H. Ropes was appointed parish attorney.
In July, F. L. Craig and Matthew Nugent, Jr. presented their commissions as jurors and R. S. Cameron was appointed clerk, vice A. Lemee. A good deal of attention was given to financial affairs; some questionable claims against the parish were held over and nothing but current debts paid from taxes. Later that year the question of removing the seat of justice from Colfax was seriously considered, although the Calhoun donation of twenty-one acres of land for courthouse purposes, within the town was an established fact. On June 2, 1878, the temporary courthouse (the Shackelford store, where McNeely's stable now is), was burned, with all the records. Courts were then held in what is now the Union store. A statement of parish collections was presented in 1878, showing that Bullitt, the Republican tax collector in 1871, paid in $300; Grayson (Democrat), in 1872, $7,500; Wells (Republican), in 1873, nothing; Radetzhe (Republican), in 1876, $863; Mumford (Democrat) in 1873, $6,800; Gray (Republican), in 1876, $863; and Nash (Democrat), in 1877, $7,307. In November, the following named jurors were elected: Thomas Johnson, J. B. Lewis, Joshua Kemp, M. Nugent, Jr., J. M. Brian, B. Chellette, and S. C. Cuney. The latter was chosen president in January, 1879; A. Cazabat, attorney; R. S. Cameron, clerk, and S. B. Shackelford, treasurer. On June 2, 1878, the courthouse was burned, with the dwelling, store, billiard room, and saloon of L. E. Toorey. All the public records were destroyed.
In April, 1880, the following named police jurors were appointed: A. L. Grow, W. J. Tison, Joshua Kemp, Matthew Nugent, I. M. Brian, F. M. Sharp, and S. C. Curry. Thomas Hickman was assessor. M. F. Machen was chosen clerk and attorney.
In May, 1880, the question of establishing the parish seat near the mouth of Bayou Nantachie was suggested. In November, 1880, Mrs. M. A. Lane donated to the town and parish all of Block 11, between D and E and Second and Third Streets, the condition being that the seat of justice be continued at Colfax. The donation was accepted on January 3, 1881. In April, 1881, S. B. Shackelford was elected treasurer, and the contract for building a courthouse was sold to H. McKnight for $2,500. S. C. Curry was president in 1881, R. O. Kelly took the place of M. Nugent, and a petition to suspend work on the courthouse building was received, but not granted. In November, 1881, the compromise with Contractor McKnight was effected; George W. Lane offered lots in the town for sale, and the returns of the election on the question of prohibiting the sale of liquor were canvassed, showing 143 votes for and 167 against prohibition, Wards 2, 3, 4, voting for; Wards 1, 6, and 7 against; Ward 5 not voting. On January 4, 1882, the courthouse was received by the police jury and the offices moved to the new building on January 5.
In February, 1883, Judge A. V. Ragan was commissioned assessor, vice Hickman, resigned. S. C. Curry presided over the jury, with M. F. Machen, clerk, and W. L. Richardson, treasurer. On April 3, Messrs. Curry, J. B. Welmut, C. C. Nash, A. L. Grow, and W. L. Richardson, the committee appointed in April, 1881, to superintend the building of a courthouse reported the work acceptable to them, and recommended the acceptance of the building by the police jury. At this time the jail building was ordered to be moved to the southeastern corner of the square.
In 1882, the assessment was $484,646.35, increased to $721,493.48 in 1883. The latter sum embraced $126,526, the assessed value of the New Orleans & Pacific Railroad in this parish. The tax levy for parish purposes was 10 mills. Juror M. E. Swafford presented his commission in July. In January, 1884, Messrs. Curry, A. L. Grow, W. J. Tison, M. E. Swafford, Robert Kent and F. M. Sharp, formed the jury; R. O. Kelly was reported deceased.
In April, 1884, John A. Hargis was chosen clerk; W. L. Richardson, treasurer; H. McKnight, parish commissioner to New Orleans Exposition. In June, 1884, the governor appointed the following named police jurors: E. G. Randolph, D. R. Norris, J. E. Smith, Matthew Nugent, Jr., M. E. Swafford, J. T. Wilson, and J. W. Land. Thomas Hickman subsequently was chosen to represent Ward 1, and W. J. Tison, A. L. Grow was elected president in July. W. B. Garrett was assessor and registrar. In August the following citizens were commissioned members of the school board: W. B. Hickman, W. D. Irwin, N. L. Robertson M. Nugent, David Bass, J. T. Wilson, C. C. Nash, J. W. Land, and W. G. Deal. On August 23, 1884, there were 235 votes cast for license and 372 against, and the police jury proclaimed prohibition in Wards 1, 6, and 7. Assessor Ragan placed the value of real estate, personal property and railroad property at $781,337.
In July, 1885, A. P. Collins and W. N. Creed were members of the jury, and John P. Hadnot, clerk. The total assessment, as reported by Assessor Garrett, amounted to $658,500. M. F. Machen and H. P. Gray were members in April, 1888. In June of this year, jurors' commissions were issued to C. C. Nash, W. D. Irwin, B. F. Moore, H. M. Hutson, W. H. Matthews, Seneca Bloxom, and H. V. McCain; C. C. Nash was chosen president and W. C. Roberts, clerk. In November, 1889, G. S. Johnson resigned the office of surveyor and G. H. McKnight was appointed.
In November, 1876, a Democratic majority vote was cast for J. B. Boatner, senator; E. G. Randolph, representative; W. F. Blackman, district judge; E. G. Hunter, district attorney; A. V. Ragan, parish judge; C. R. Nugent, sheriff; H. C. Walker, district clerk; W. H. Hadnot, recorder (H. McKnight, the former recorder, refused to recognize Hadnot), and Dr. P.Goode, coroner. Companies C and I, of the Third United States Infantry, under Major Bolger, garrisoned Colfax during the election.
In October, 1878, the first gathering of Colored men, to listen to Democratic orators, was held at Raven Camp.
The elections of 1878, in Grant, show majorities for Dr. Kelly, senator; James C. Neely, representative; A. V. Ragan, parish judge; H. M. Jeter, sheriff; Philip Goode, coroner.
In February, 1879, a jury confirmed Judge Ragan's title against the claim of McKnight, while the second jury declared Fletcher (Rep.) sheriff, vice Jeter (Dem.), but Fletcher never qualified.
In 1879, B. F. Brian (Ind.) was elected Senator; H. V. McCain, representative; Aristide Barbin, district judge; E. G. Hunter, district attorney; S. B. Shackelford, district clerk; C. H. Teal, sheriff, and Dr. P. Goode, coroner.
The elections of May, 1884, show 1,315 votes for George A. Kelly, 1,220 for C. H. Teal, 656 for R. B. Walters, and 403 for B. F. Brian, candidates for senator in the district comprising Grant, Winn, and Catahoula. W. P. Guynes received 396, H. G. Goodwyn 367, and J. B. Lewis 257 votes for representative of Grant Parish. W. F. Blackman received a majority in Grant, Rapides, and Avoyelles for judge of the Twelfth District. H. L. Daigre was elected attorney; S. B. Shackelford, clerk; Philip Goode, Sheriff, and W. T. Williams, coroner. On the night of the election the clerk's office was entered, the ballot boxes broken open, and the ballots burned, the peculiar method of voting on the proposed constitutional amendments being assigned as the cause for the outrage. On May 7 H. G. Goodwyn notified W. P. Guynes that he would contest his claims as representative.
The elections of 1888 show 2,451 votes for J. B. Boatner, 1,333 for Brian, and 232 for Prichard, in Grant, Winn, and Catahoula, forming the Twenty-fourth Senatorial District. C. C. Dunn (Dem.) was elected representative for Grant, receiving 529 votes against 425 recorded for W. P. Guynes (Rep); W. F. Blackman (Dem.) was elected judge of the Twelfth District; James Andrews, district attorney; S. B. Shackelford (Ind.) clerk; M. A. Dunn (Dem.) coroner, and Joshua Kemp, Jr. (Dem.), sheriff. Nicholls received 582 and Warmoth 418 votes for governor.
In 1876 there were 514 votes cast for Nicholls (Dem.) and 1,449 for Packard (Rep.) In 1879, Wiltz (Dem.) received 351 and Beattie (Rep.) 106 votes. In 1 884, McEnery (Dem.) received 508 and Stevenson (Rep.) 636; while in 1888 Nicholls (Dem.) received 582 and Warmoth (Rep.) 402 votes. There were 1,283 registered voters, 722 being White. Of the Whites 254 could not write their names, and of the Africans, only 414 failed in being able to write their names.
The first court was opened in the fall of 1869, with Judge Osburn presiding. The bar was represented by W. L. Richarson, W. R. Rutland, and Rufus Houston, with a number of lawyers from adjoining parishes. In 1877 Judge Blackman was district judge; M. F. Machen was then a resident lawyer. A few years later Thomas Thorp and J. C. Wickliff were enrolled as resident lawyers. Judge Aristide Barbin presided here in 1882, and that year Judge Blackman was appointed additional judge of the Twelfth District.
In 1884 Judge Overton succeeded Judge Barbin, while Judge Blackman was elected and re-elected in 1888. A. V. Coco was elected additional judge in 1888.
This parish was placed in the Fourth District in 1890 with Jackson, Winn, and Caldwell. B. M. Hulse was admitted to the bar in 1887, but returned to Homer the following year. The present parish bar comprises W. L. Richardson, Andrew Thorp, W. C. Roberts, and M. F. Machen.
The contract to build the new brick jail from Grant Parish was awarded to Messrs. William Skeeles and J. C. Fletcher, for the sum of $2,975, in September, 1890. The building is to be 24 x 38 feet, with three rooms below and one above, and the walls are to be thirteen inches thick.
In August, 1876, Sheriff D. C. Paul arrested Richard Owens for the murder of William Bascus, June 7, 1875, and Elias Grinstead , for that of A. J. Tracy, in December, 1871. The former was captured in Scott County and the latter in Lawrence County, Miss.
J. H. Ransdall, clerk of the district court, was fired upon by Rolla Maddox (September, 1876), in the hall of the courthouse. Early in October, Frank Biossat, of Cotille, was killed by the Lightfoot brothers, during a dispute over a store account. In October, 1880, the mulatto, C. Renden, was hanged by a mob for assaulting and killing his half-sister. In September, 1880, a body of Regulators fired into the cottonseed store of Israel Smith, a Negro, located five miles south of Colfax. A boy eighteen years old was killed there; thence the party proceeded to the seed store of Torrey & LaCroix, and fired several shots into the building. In December, 1880, the same gang burned the Smith store.
In September, 1881, A. Shelby, one time Republican sheriff of Grant, assaulted Judge Barbin in the court. The Judge beat off his assailant, fined him $50, and continued the business of the court as if there was no disturbance.
Wilson Saunders, who murdered Frank H. Page (White), May 7, 1884, was hanged at Colfax, July 11, 1884, by Sheriff Goode. Rev. Felix Boyd, a Colored preacher, accompanied the murderer to the place of execution. This was the first legal execution in Grant Parish. When the River Bank at Rock Island caved in, in January, 1885, the grave and bones of Page disappeared with it.
There were five petitions for divorce presented at the May term of the district court, a greater number, it is said, than marks the history of the court for the decade before.
Near Colfax in April, 1864, a detachment of De Polignac's command under Capt. Bradford fired on the retreating Federal transport from a masked battery, blowing off the steam cap, and scalding to death 130 Negroes and one White man. The transport was captured, and every possible aid given to the unfortunate me, but all died. Next day a second transport was captured at this point, one of the crew was killed and the pilot wounded.
The pioneer journal of Grant Parish, The Colfax Chronicle, was issued July 8, 1876, by J. M. Sweeney. in his salutatory he asks the question, "Are the people here the first, or will they be the last, who will suffer at the hands of their fellowman? The Chronicle is an independent paper, owing no allegiance to any political party." A notice of preparations in the Democratic and Republican camps appears, and the flattering statement made that there was not then, or for two months before, a prisoner in the parish jail. On November 9, 1877, Ragan and Nash appear as owners and H. G. Goodwyn, publisher, they having purchased the office from Mr. Sweeney.
The People was established at Colfax by T. M. Wells in August, 1884. It advocated the election of Blaine for President and Blanchard for congressman. The material was formerly used in the office of We the People at Alexandria. The People's Banner, the McEnery organ in Grant Parish, was issued in the fall of 1887, at Ada, by G. H. Harvill. It continued publication for about one year. The enrollment of White pupils in Grant for the years 1877 to 1887 inclusive is as follows: 717, 848, 506, 433, 708, 704, 476, 588, 925, 696, and 821. The Colored enrollment for the same years show: 159, 226, 270, 116, 315, 290, 163, 489, 319, 418, and 313. In 1888 there were 876 children attending public schools, and in 1889 there were 854.
The Educational Society of Grant was organized in October, 1885, with Major H. V. McCain, president; Mrs. Josie Ragan and Prof. Caloit, secretaries.
The Co-operative Farmers' Union of New Hope, a branch of Texas Alliance, was organized in February, 1887, with A. G. O'Neal, president; H. R. O'Neal, vice-president; Henry Trussell, secretary, and J. W. Neal, treasurer. Headquarters were at Montgomery. Prior to June, 1887, there were eight lodges organized by A. G. O'Neal , and on May 28, the Parish Union was formed with Rev. J. B. Wood, representing Montgomery Union; A. G., H. R. and W. W. O'Neal and Q. A. Hargis, New Hope Union; J. W. Land and M. L. Spikes, Shady Grove Union; J. T. Wilson, G. W. Hadnot, and G. G. Fletcher, Summerfield Union; G. H. Harvill and W. D. Irwin, Ada Union; I. N. Folden, S. C. Harvil, and -Jackson, Beulah Union; Rev. J. B. Wood was chosen president; W. L. Richardson, vice-president; A. G. O'Neal, secretary, and J. W. Land, treasurer. In April, 1889, G. W. Bruce was elected president; W. P. Guynes, secretary, and R. A. Brooks, treasurer.
The Colored Farmers' National Alliance and Cooperative Union was organized October 26, 1889 with J. A. Woodard, superintendent; C. Mills, clerk, and John Harrison, treasurer.
The physicians of the parish who registered under the act of 1882 on the strength of long-time practice were Charles R. Nugeht, Colfax; Uriah Riley, Big Creek; William B. Buckelew, Iatt; Robert M. Deen, Iatt; Quincy A. Hargis, Montgomery, and Christopher C. Thompson, Fishville. The physicians who filed abstract of diplomas are William G. Deal, Milton A. Dunn, Thomas J. Harrison, William T. Williams, William B. Stallings, John A. Hamilton, Philip Goode, Robert L. Randolph and Henry H. McCain.
The first important land transaction on the part of Negroes in Grant Parish was that of November, 1880, when H. McKnight paid $2,000 for 285 acres. he was associated with Jesse Fredrick, W. J. Matthews, Sandy Wilkins, Andy Harris, William Allen, Andy Nelson, and William Brown. In January, 1881, six Negroes purchased 585 acres of the Patrovitch lands for $2,500.
A Negro woman died on the T. K. Smith plantation in January, 1884. Her name was Elsey, formerly a slave belonging to Capt. J. D. Allen. She was a girl when the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed.
The explosion of the Meredith Calhouns gin, owned by John McNeely, three miles south of Colfax, on December 5, 1889, resulted in the death of eight persons, namely: Boatswain Wallace, aged sixty; Tom Givens, sixty; Violet White, Colored, sixty; Easter White, Colored, eighteen; Washington Jones, nineteen; George Miles, twenty; Clarence Smith, seventeen; and Robert Robinson, twenty-four years, all Colored. There were thirteen wounded or scalded. The boiler sheds and gin house were dismantled. The boiler was in use before the war in the Calhoun gin house.
In March, 1889, Emanuel White and his wife, Nancy, old Colored persons, residing at Cypress Grove, five miles from Colfax, were burned up in their cabin.
In November, 1878, at the bursting of the steam gin at Aug. Keller's, seven miles below Colfax, Tenny Lewis was cut in two, and Engineer Jackson's head blown off.
Colfax is located on the right bank of the ancient Rigloet du Bon Dieu, which, in 1836, robbed the old channel of its waters and became itself the bed of Red River. The population in May, 1890, was 152, according to the assessor's returns, but the United States enumerators are said to have credited the town with a much larger number of inhabitants. The valley above and below Colfax is one of the most productive in the country, and becomes still more valuable, in that it lies far above the highest water mark recorded.
The first postmaster at Colfax was S. E. Cuney. He was followed by Peter Boland. C. H. Mumford was postmaster from 1874 to 1880; Arthur Simonin served from 1880 to June, 1885, when Mrs. A. L. Grow was appointed.
The first was opened at Colfax by W. S. Calhoun, in 1867, using the front of the brick building erected in 1858, for the purpose. S. B. Shackelford built his store in 1868, the same which was used for courthouse purposes from 1873 to 1878, when it was burned. L. H. Levy opened the third store in 1869, in a brick stable built by Meredith Calhoun, which was burned in 1873, while used for courthouse purposes. S. B. Shackelford, L. H. Levy, and Mrs. Mary H. Calhoun, were joint owners of the fourth store, as successors of S. B. Shackelford. Peter Boland, a Negro, built the fifth store house and continued business there until April, 1873. S. C. Cuney opened a store south of Colfax. C. H. Mumford established a store in what is now part of the Calhoun warehouse; A. A. Dean, now of Fairmont, opened a store in 1877; C. C. Nash, C. H. Teal, John H. McNeely, Joshua Kemp, Lewis & Price, J. V. LeSage, LaCroix & Price, and Mrs. Mary I. Grow, followed in the order named. There are no failures in fact.
The Casey store was established in 1878, but some time afterward L. A. Torry entered the mercantile circles. In 1870 A. L. Grow and Nash & Hoyne, had stores at Rock Island below Colfax, and subsequently the Wilson store was established there. Opposite Colfax were the mercantile houses referred to in the history of Rapides and Natchitoches.
Charles Thomas, the Colored representative, introduced a bill in April, 1877, for the incorporation of the town of Colfax; but the Packard House did not consider the question. Col. Randolph, however, had the bill passed in the Nichols House. The commissions issued to the mayor and councilmen of Colfax, arrived March 19, 1878. Previously S. B. Shackelford, was chosen mayor; Judge W. L. Richardson, Dr. Phillip Goode, C. H. Mumford, A. A. Dean, and H. G. Goodwyn, councilmen. On March 23, this council elected C. H. Mumford, secretary and treasurer, and H. M. Jeter, marshal. The latter resigned in October, and Samuel LaCroix was appointed. In December, 1878, A. Simonin and W. S. Calhoun presented their commissions as councilmen. In September, 1880, H. McKnight was mayor, C. C. Nash, W. L. Richardson, and R. S. Cameron councilmen, and H. G. Goodwyn, marshal. W. L. Richardson was mayor in 1881, with Messrs. Nash, McNeely, Shackelford, Mumford, and Dr. Deal, councilmen. In November, 1882, the mayor was re-elected, with C. C. Nash, J. H. McNeely, L. McNeely, J. B. Wilmot, and H. McKnight, councilmen. In November, 1884, James B. Tucker, was elected mayor; J. Kemp Jr., William Knotzsch, James M. Rhorer, Dr. D. A. Smith, N. C. McNeely, councilmen. All were young men, and to them some of the older inhabitants gave the title, " The Kid Council." W. L. Richardson was elected mayor in November, 1886, with J. H. McNeely, C. H. Teal, C. C. Nash, Robert LeSage, and H. G. Goodwyn, councilmen. C. C. Nash was chosen mayor in 1888, with J. H. McNeely, J. V. LeSage, H. G. Goodwyn, and C. H. Teal, councilmen. George H. McKnight is treasurer of the town. J. P. Lewis succeeded Lofton as marshal.
The Southwestern Loan & Building Association of Colfax was organized in October, 1890, with J. Kemp, Jr., president; H. G. Goodwyn, vice-president, R. S. Cameron, secretary and treasurer; W. C. Roberts, attorney; C. H. Teal, R. R. Jeter, A. Gros, Dr. A. L. Johnson and Henry Thompson, directors. Mr. Goodwyn was chosen as local agent.
In February, 1883, Contractor O. A. Bullock began the erection of the public school at Colfax, on lands donated by the Methodist Society or part of Block 15, purchased previously for their church building. Cloutierville Lodge No. 103 was moved to the mouth of Cane River in 1868, and thence to Colfax in 1876. Dr. S. O. Scruggs was the first master after the first removal, and S. B. Shackelford, second master. A. L. Grow was presiding at the time of the removal to Colfax. The charter was surrendered in 1882, owing to politics and miscegenation among members, and it has never been restored.
The Methodist Episcopal Church South of Colfax was organized December 5, 1881, by Rev. S. H. Whatley, with the following named members: Howard G. and Luella D. Goodwyn, Wilson L. Richardson, wife and daughter, Mrs. Asenath Richardson, M. F. Machen, Mrs. F. F. Dean, Mrs. Elizabeth McKnight, Mrs. Mattie M. Duffy, Mrs. Dollie D. Hargis, Mrs. Rebecca Jeter, Mrs. Annie R. Machen, and Mrs. Tettie Torrey. Three members were received in 1882; four in 1883; one in 1884; fourteen in 1889 and twenty-five in 1890. In 1884 Rev. R. A. Davis was pastor; in 1887 J. I. Hoffpauir and in 1890 Rev. R. M. Walker. The church lot, east of the Goodwyn property, was purchased in 1890 from H. G. Goodwyn for the nominal sum of $50. J. H. McNeely, A. A. Dean, W. L. Richardson and H. G. Goodwyn were appointed a building committee; C. E. Kimber was appointed builder, and on October 12, 1890, the first church building in the town was completed and dedicated. The total cost, including furnishings and organ, was $2,021.50, all of which was paid before the dedication.
St. Luke's English Protestant Episcopal Mission at Colfax was founded October 30, 1881. In April, 1882, Mrs. Lane donated five acres for church purposes. On July 1, 1882, services were discontinued on account of the society not building.
In August, 1890, the Catholic congregation of Colfax placed in the LeSage's Hall a neat altar and eighteen pews to be used during religious services until the completion of their church building. Father Maynard visits Colfax monthly. Among the families forming the congregation are the Shackelfords, Teals, LeSages, Ferraldos, Valleys, St. Germain, Moreaus, and Gavanovitchs.
The Catholic Church, near the Hickman plantation, located on lands donated by the Citizens' Bank of New Orleans in 1869, is attended from St. Francis Xavier's Church of Alexandria. The Hickman, Bush, Rohrer, Brownell, Layssard, and Lacour families being among the old members of the congregation.
The Summerfield Baptist Church was organized July 24, 1886, by Rev. A. J. O'Quinn. A. Bloxom was elected clerk and J. W. Dean and Senica Bloxom, deacons. There were ten members at organization, to which number sixteen additions were made on July 28.
Montgomery may be said to be the oldest village in the parish. In 1866 Major H. V. McCain established his mercantile house here, now the house of McCain & Brother. The fire of February 7, 1888, destroyed the stores and stocks of A. W. Bells, Philip Bernstein, and J. W. Etheridge. The total loss was $5,000. No insurance was carried. Montgomery Lodge No. 168, F. & A. M. claimed the following named officers in 1884: W. A. Strong, J. H. Williams, B. E. Woods, J. M. McCain, H. V. McCain, Marion Shumate, R. W. Horn and Samuel Holloway. This lodge was chartered in 1861. Corner Stone Lodge No. 213, of Lewisville, was organized in 1871, and continued to 1885. A lodge of the same name, but numbered 204, is in existence at Gansville, Winn Parish.
The Protestant Methodist Society, of Mount Zion Church, six miles from Montgomery, in Winn Parish, was an important local organization in 1878. Rev. H. M. Ragan, the circuit preacher, was succeeded that year by Mr. Morrison. There is a college at that point, presided over by Mr. Harris. Allison's Chapel (Methodist Episcopal), six miles east of Colfax, was established in September, 1879. The Montgomery Academy was established in November, 1883, with W. J. Calvit, principal, and Mrs. Josie Ragan, assistant.
Fairmount post office was established in April, 1879, with George W. Hickman, master; while at the same time Dr. R. M. Dean was appointed master of the Big Creek office. In August, 1883, the Nantachie post office was suspended, and a new office established at J. C. Calhoun's plantation. Hadnot office was established in 1886, and in January, 1887, Mrs. L. A. Hadnot was appointed post mistress.
In the history of Rapides and Natchitoches, the pioneer period of what now constitutes the parish is fully noticed, the claims of early settlers defined, the wanderings of Red River set forth, and some notes on its navigation given, such as the burning of the "Southwestern," in March, 1874, and the opening of the Rigloet du Bon Dieu.
In the first half of this century the era of great plantations was introduced here. Meredith Calhoun claimed 1,000 slaves. He owned lands with a river frontage of seven miles, extending back so as to embrace 14,000 acres, of which 5,000 acres were in cultivation; the Baldwins, opposite Cotile Landing; the Layssards, the Gillards, Thomas and Peter Hickman were also large planters. The Hickmans were the former owners of the greater part of lands purchased in 1840 by Calhoun. The present brick store (McNeely's) was built for warehouse purposes in 1858, by W. S. Calhoun.
The war changed the manners and customs of the people, and for years large
areas were allowed to lie fallow. In later days a desire to bring the old plantations
into use has been manifested, and by degrees, the forests, which have grown up
since 1863, are being cut down to make way for great cotton fields.
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Typing and Format by C. W. Barnum