Claiborne Parish, Louisiana
Harris, D. W. The history of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana
: from its incorporation in 1828 to the close of the year
1885 : with sketches of pioneer life in north Louisiana, the
early settlements in the parish and its rapid progress in
wealth to 1861 : also the muster and death rolls of her sons
in the late bloody war, the rise and progress of her
different religious orders, her mineral wealth and future
New Orleans: Press of W.B. Stansbury & Co., 1886
The parish having been thus
incorporated, the paraphernalia of law and justice was put
in motion by the election and appointment of all necessary
officers. The first District Court, in all its majesty,
embodied in the person of Judge Wilson,
of Monroe, supported by Isaac McMahan as Sheriff, and
Robert Cockran as Clerk, wasconvened iu the house of John
Murrell, whose house for years was the center of all
public business for the new parish.
Here law and justice were dispensed until the police
jury, in its wisdom, selected a seat of justice.
The place selected was on the premises of
Samuel Russell, and was named Russellville, in honor
of Mr. Russell who had offered liberal inducements to the
jury for the
benefit of the parish, and because this locality had become
more central to the widely diffused population.
District Court convened at this new domicile, Judge Overton
was the presiding officer, Wm. McMahan was Clerk, and Isaac
McMahan was yet Sheriff.
Russellville remained the parish site
until 1836, when, the population having tended westward, the
seat of justice was removed to Overton, on Bayou Dorcheat,
near the place now known as Minden Lower Landing. This place
being at the head of navigation, it was believed that the
location would be permanent and a thriving commercial town
would build up.
But Overton proving to be unhealthy and subjected to
overflows, and the population having become preponderant in
the eastern portion of the parish, in 1846 the seat of
justice was removed to Athens, where it remained until the
court-house, with all the records of the parish, was
destroyed by fire - believed to have been the work of an
Then the policy jury -- for by this time the rapidly
increasing population had disseminated itself about equally
over all the parish - determined to locate the court-house
centrally and permanently.
After due investigation and proper consideration of
all claims as to locality as well as the main interests
involved, the site where Homer now stands was selected.
These lands had been entered and were owned by Allen
Harris and Tillinghast Vaughn, both of whom made liberal
concessions to the parish for the public buildings, and to
the people for schools and churches.
Frank Baughn, son of Tillinghast Vaughn, had the
honor of naming the new parish town.
The first District Court was held here in September,
1849, in a cheap board shanty erected for the purpose.
Litigants and visitors encamped around in the woods,
and when court was in session would stand at the windows and
peep through the cracks to watch the proceedings of the
august [sic] tribunal within, until fatigue or hunger or
thirst would drive them to their camps for rest, or to the
grocery for refreshments.
Roland Jones was then district Judge, Allen Harris,
Sheriff and W. C. Copes, Clerk.
But Claiborne Parish being prosperous
and her people increasing rapidly in numbers every year, it
was determined to
erect a suitable building in which justice should
preside, and to execute this laudable intent, the necessary
tax was levied, and in due time a commodius brick budding,
with all the proper offices, was erected. Jrdge Jones,
supported oy Sherift
Allen Harris and Clerk W. C. Copes, in 1850, held the
first District term in this new court-house, then the finest
structure in all North Louisiana.
Followiug the incorporation of
Claiborne Parish was a marked increase of
emigration—particularly about1835 —when steamboats,
navigating Ouachita aud Red Rivers, made access to the
country less difficult. But, from 1840 to 1860,
Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South and North
Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky aud Tennessee sent in their
sons aud daughters aud slaves by hundreds and by thousands.
In a few years roads, farms, villages, churches and
school-houses were to be found all over the parish. Every
trade and industry was represented; bountiful crops rewarded
the farmer's toil without stint, and peace anil prosperity
blessed all the people.
This remarkable influx of populaion
almost yearly demanded the formation of new
parishes: consequently, out of the
immense original Claiborne was formed, in their order
of dates, the following parishes; Bossier, in 1843; Jackson,
in 1845; Bienville, in 1848; Webster, in 1871, and Lincoln,
in 1873 -- thus reducing this once great parish to its
present metes and bouncs, to-wit: Union Parish on the east,
Arkansas on the north, Webster Parish on the west, and
Lincoln on the south, leaving her a total area o 778 square
miles, embraced in five townships and subdivided into eight
wards; Ward 1 has an area of 120 square miles; ward 2, 110;
ward 4, 72; ward 5, 72; ward 6, 83; ward 7, 104, and ward 8,
107. And yet
old Claiborne, although so reduced from the grandeur of her
original area, has not been shorn of all her glory; she yet
proudly maintains her position as the banner parish of North
Louisiana, and so she will remain, for her foundation is of
iron, and she can and will conqure all adversity.
Submitted by: Karen Seeman
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