EARLY SETTLERS OF RICHLAND PARISH

 

            Living near Bayou Macon in the early days of Richland Parish were Mrs. E Scott, U E Travis, Ben Spade, John Bishop, John Harris, and James Gwinn. W. T Oliver secured a post office about a mile north of Delhi called Deerfield. The post office was later discontinued when the railroad came through the parish. John W Willis Jr., the son of  John Willis sheriff of Franklin Parish was born September 25, 1853 in Franklin Parish, his mother was Catherine S Murphy. John W Willis, Jr. graduated from the University of Louisiana at New Orleans in 1876, and the same year entered into practice of law at Delhi, then removing to Winnsboro, then settling back in Rayville, La in 1888..  He was the president of the parish school board, building up the school to be one of the largest and best schools in the area. He married in 1876, Miss Rosa Berry, daughter of Col. James M Berry of Delhi, La. They raised seven children, four boys and three girls. The Willis family were members of the Presbyterian Church.

 The town of Rayville, was named for early settler named James Ray, who ran a store on the present site of the town. The post office which had been established by W T Oliver at Deerfield, was moved to Rayville when the railroad came through town. The towns of Delhi and Rayville were incorporated by act of state legislature in 1882.  The first courthouse at Rayville was a "California Plank House" that was used for several years until a two story brick building was completed. A two story brick jail house was built adjacent to the courthouse during this time with A J Lidell the sheriff and J Newts Pitts the parish clerk.

 B O Edwards was a well known and popular general merchant of Rayville, La. Mr. Edwards was born at Columbus, Mississippi on April 23, 1847. The eldest son of Joe W ( born Maryland) and Elizabeth D Riley (born S Carolina) Edwards. His father passed away in 1880. He started off as a clerk when he was 23 years old in Rayville. In 1890 he went into the Mercantile business with J D Meyers, the name being Myers & Edwards, a general merchandise firm.. In 1873, he married Miss Jennie Moore, daughter of Madison Moore of Richland Parish.

Thomas Jones was a planter of Richland Parish, he was born in Bladen County, N C August 18, 1829. He was the oldest of eight children born to Moses and Sarah Ann Hester Jones. In 1850 he married in Yazoo County, Mississippi to Miss Mary Ann Meyers, by whom he is the father of three sons. William L, Moses A, and Thomas B. He married a second time to Margaret Holdiness, resulting in the birth of six sons and two daughters. Lizzie, Lelia, his daughters, James D, Thomas, Walter J, Harvey W, John and Henry P. Jones. Lelia died without marrying, Lizzie married W G Scott. The Jones family attended the Methodist Episcopal Church. Thomas Jones Sr. served in the civil war in McNeal's regiment.

J W Simms was born February 8, 1838 in sumter county, Alabama. He was the youngest of thirteen children born to Jacob and sarah cobb simms. In the fall of 1844 they moved to Louisiana and settled in Madison parish. The father, Jacob passed away in 1856 and his wife the following year.  The older siblings of J w simms were, Henry,  Leroy, Stephen, john t, Wiley r, Jacob, may, Pamela, the others unknown.  He married first Amanda Thomason in 1867, Amanda died the following year, and he remarried in 1871 Miss alena V Kelly, neither of the unions bearing any children. J. w. Simms served a parish treasurer for Jackson Parish before the war. He served in Benton's artillery and left the army in 1864 because of ill health. He relocated after the war to Rayville, Louisiana where he engaged in the saloon business. the following years he worked as a ticket agent for the v.S & P r r railroad. In the year 1877, he was elected the parish treasurer of Richland parish, a position he held for several years. In 1880 he went into the mercantile business with c p balfour, and for six years the firm continued as simms & balfour until j.W. bought out balfour and ran the business under his name until the year of 1890. he then sold his firm to edwards & meyers to engage in the business of planting, in which he enjoyed a successful endeavor.  in the year of 1892, on January 28 his wife passed away at their home in Rayville. They were Members of the Presbyterian church after the death of his wife he reared his two adoptive children Joseph and zula.  J w Simms passed away april 14, 1923 according to the louisiana death record. His adoptive daughter zula married Thomas W newton.

robert whetstone another prominent lawyer of rayville, was born in Oct 27, 1851 in autauga,, ala. his parents were john and martha S. alexander whetstone, and he is the twelfth child of thirteen born to this family. in 1873 he married miss Mary e larkin, the daughter of robert j. and elizabeth cann larkin. in the year of 1873 robert whetstone began a career in the mercantile business in oak ridge and finally after suffering a great loss of about $ 24,000 in the year 1885 abandoned this career. in 1885 he began studying law with  hon. C Newton and D todd, a son of one of the supreme court justices. he graduated in 1887 and was admitted to the  bar at the supreme court in Shreveport. his wife and four children reside in Rayville, Louisiana and belong to the Episcopal church.

 

 

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