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Kaleidoscope of History
Civil War Raymond

Raymond in the Civil War

Battle of Raymond Stories

Related Civil War Stories

Moments in History

The Dabneys in Raymond

Hinds County Schools

"Raymond Years Ago"

A series of 23 articles by George Harper, 1878-1879

 

Kaleidoscope of History: Raymond

     The Kaleidoscope fascinates us all,
and we watch Ė and wait Ė sometimes holding our breath,
as the patterns of color continue to change with the passage of time.

Rebecca Blackwell Drake

     Raymond is recognized as one of the oldest towns in Mississippi, having been chartered on December 15, 1830. Before that time, plantations dotted the countryside, yielding an abundance of moneymaking crops.
     Writers and historians often project a romantic illusion of Raymond, suggesting that the town was born out of the conflict of the Civil War. To the contrary, Raymond was born a half-century prior to the war and designated to be the seat of Hinds County. A magnificent courthouse was built 1857-1859, displaying all of the elegance associated with Raymondís southern charm. Today the Smithsonian recognizes the Hinds County Courthouse in Raymond as one of the ten most perfect examples of Southern architecture in the United States.
     After Raymond was established as the county seat, large and beautiful homes were built in and around town. Although most of the homes have disappeared from the landscape, numerous structures remain to remind of us of Raymondís antebellum past: Waverly, Belcher House, Gibbs Von Seutter House, Dupree-Ratliff House, Phoenix Hall, Shelton House, Chancery Building, Southern Cedars, Cedarcrest, Futch House, and Mamieís Cottage on the grounds of the Dupree House. The Dupree House, located six miles from Raymond, is a spacious plantation house begun in the 1850s and completed in the 1870s. Presently, two antebellum houses are being moved into Raymond from nearby locations and are being restored; the Yeiser House (also known as Hiawatha) from Champion Hill that was used as a Confederate hospital, and the Porter House, once located several miles east of Raymond near or along the road to Cooperís Well. Both of these historic homes will soon be featured on Raymondís annual pilgrimage.
     The major event that molded the history of Raymond for centuries to come was the Civil War. On May 12, 1863, Union General James McPherson marched toward Raymond and encountered Confederate General John Greggís Brigade one mile south of town. A six-hour battle erupted across the banks of Fourteen-Mile Creek, resulting in one thousand combined casualties. The courthouse, churches, schools, and many of the homes in town were turned into hospitals. Responding to the tragedy, the women of Raymond nursed all of the wounded soldiers, blue and gray alike, until they were well enough to return to their homes or their regiments. A Confederate Cemetery south of town is a memorial to those who lost their lives.
     Following the war, Raymond endured hard times. All of the plantations were financially ruined, leaving the owners bankrupt. The business district was also destroyed, not only as a result of the war but also due to a fire that engulfed the town in 1858. Business owners, including the famous daguerreotype photographer, Elias Von Setter, were forced to seek their fortunes elsewhere.
     During the 1880s, as Raymond recovered from financial ruin, large and beautiful houses were built in town, all reflective of the opulence associated with the Victorian era. Many of the Victorian homes, as well as the antebellum homes, are featured during Raymondís annual pilgrimage, A Place Called Raymond.
     Following the turn of the century, Raymond was alive with the spirit of patriotism as the young men in town responded to the call of duty. Raymond sacrificed hundreds of its young men who fought and died in World War I, then, two decades later, in World War II. Times were hard in post-war Raymond as businesses struggled to recover from the economic woes of both wars.
     In 1922-23, Hinds Junior College was established in Raymond to provide an education for the young people of Hinds County, especially the rural students. Since that time, the college has grown into one of the largest community colleges in the nation.
     Today, tourists enjoy visiting Raymond and seeing the sites associated with its antebellum past: the Civil War battlefield, the Confederate Cemetery, the antebellum homes, Grantís headquarters at Waverly, St. Markís Episcopal Church, and the historic courthouse. Tourists are also enchanted by the Victorian influence that can be seen in the houses, the railroad depot, and the Catholic Church.
     Over the past few years, Raymond has a fresh and charming appearance with the addition of many colorful flowerbeds downtown and at the entrances to the town. Town square has also taken on a decorative appearance with an array of flags and banners on display around the water tower. It is the mixture of the old and the new that makes Raymond the unique town that it is today, a town where tourists love to visit and people love to live.

Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Kaleidoscope of History, 2004

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