A Kaleidoscope of History
 
A series on the history of Raymond by Rebecca B. Drake,
originally published in the Hinds County Gazette

Raymond in the 1840s and 1850s
 

The decision had been made as to "where" to build the new town - Raymond - the town that would become the county seat for Hinds County. Big plans were laid and the building began immediately. At this point in the history of Raymond we see two of Raymond's earliest settlers, James Callahan and William S. Little, arriving in town. The two men formed a building company and records show that many of Raymond's earliest buildings were built by this company. The first two buildings to be erected in town were essential ones - the jail and the courthouse.

The jail was built of logs and located next to the site of the present Methodist Church. This jail was later replaced by a stone jail near the Town Square and was used by all of Hinds County. The first courthouse was built in 1827 by Little & Callahan. From all accounts it must have been a rather strange looking building. George Harper, first owner and editor of the Raymond Gazette - as well as mayor of the town - described his first impressions of the Raymond Courthouse... "When I arrived in Raymond in 1844 one of the first things I saw was the old brick courthouse. It was a strangely constructed building with a spire running Heavenward, with a bright tin roof that sparkled in the sun and fairly dimmed the eyes of those beholding it." (History of Raymond, Beth Ferguson).

Try to imagine what Raymond must have looked like during these formative years! A small and newly built town located on a dirt road that ran from Clinton toward Utica. The Natchez Trace ran about two miles from the center of town. Stagecoaches passed thru town daily on a regular basis and horses were changed at the top of the hill - near the present location of the water tower. Large and beautiful homes were being built! In 1948 the Hinds County Gazette published a portion of a letter written by an early citizen, Mrs. Eggleston, in regard to her mother's pioneer days in Hinds County... "When the first families came and made their homes in Hinds County, which was then called "The New Purchase", they did not come exactly as the usual pioneers. They brought their servants, their carriages, and those things which make life comfortable, even in a new country. They built good homes, some of them exact replicas of the Old Virginia or South Carolina homes that they had left behind. They set up a standard of living and society that was second to none. Raymond, at one time, was larger and more sophisticated than Jackson." (History of Raymond, Jane Brent).

As for the town itself most of the activity was centered around the area of the old Hinds County Gazette Building. Behind this building - facing the Clinton Road - was the Post Office. Next was a long building with a wide porch which was known as "Professional Row". This building housed the offices of the town's doctors, lawyers and dentists. This vivid description of "early Raymond town" was given in a Raymond Gazette newspaper dated August 16, 1871. (researched by Beth Ferguson).

One of the first large homes built in Raymond was the "Beale Home". It was a large two story home located across the street from "Professional Row". (Presently the lot just below the hill from what was Farr Animal Hospital). Some massive old trees still mark the spot. "The last owner to live in the Old Beale Home was a descendant, Miss Willie Beale. She was a member of the Raymond Methodist Church who lived there alone with her relics of the past. During the last years of her life she was cared for by members of the church. Some church members were thoughtful enough to bring enough food for her as well as her many beloved cats." (History of Raymond, Jane Brent).

Even now, for those with a creative imagination, it's fun to look around the town square - stop a minute - and visualize what life must have been like back during those early days - the days before electricity - the days before the Civil War.

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