Compiled by Brelon Waggoner
We are approaching the last days of 1989 and most of us are planning a joyful holiday season with family and friends. The church services during this season urge us to remember that time long ago when the Christ Child was born. We are reminded to remember, accept, and to follow His teachings.
There are other things we should remember in 1989. On March 13, 1893, the Louisiana Legislature created Union Parish. The first meeting of the Union Parish police jury was held near where Bayou Cornie joins Bayou D’Arbonne on May 16, 1839. When Union Parish became a separate political subdivision (separated out of Ouachita Parish) there were fewer than twenty-five hundred people within its boundaries. Several weeks before the official creation of Union Parish Governor A. B. Roman appointed a judge and a sheriff for the area. (Acts of Louisiana, January, 1839, pg 22) Soon after those appointments, the judge, John Taylor, and the sheriff, William C. Carr, together with seven prominent landholders divided Union Parish into seven wards. With the parish then divided into smaller political units, Judge Taylor announced an election to be held on May 13, 1839 for the purpose of electing representatives to the parish government, one delegate from each ward.
Three days after the election the first police jury of Union Parish met, took their oaths of office and organized themselves with a president, a clerk, and other needed personnel. That meeting was held in the private home of William Wilkerson. After organizing themselves, the next item of business was to establish a domicile for the police jury. An earlier Act of the Louisiana Legislature provided that parish government was to be domiciled within five miles of the geographical center of the parish. They determined that point to be near what is now the Liberty Hill Baptist Church. (The geographical center is different now because during 1875 part of the western portion of Union Parish, with portions of Jackson and Claiborne, were taken to form Lincoln Parish.) Since water provided the best means of transportation in those days, the jurors decided to place the parish seat approximately five miles south of the geographical center somewhere on Bayou D’Arbonne. The police jury consented to purchase from the United States government a quarter section of land for the parish seat of government and to name the Parish seat “Farmerville”, probably in honor of Mills Farmer, a respected local planter and active member of the Baptist Church.
Parish ward representatives gathered on a wooded hill a short distance north of Bayou D’Arbonne, out of danger of flood waters, in the summer of 1839 to divide into lots the ground which had been selected for the parish seat, Farmerville. They first marked off a three hundred by three hundred foot public square for the courthouse with fifty-foot wide streets intersecting at right angles at each corner of the square. They worked outwardly until they had laid out four more streets and twenty-five one hundred-foot square blocks containing about two hundred and twenty four lots of varying sizes.
The lots were laid out, a centrally located well was dug, and the lots were cleared of trees and brush. On July 15, 1839 an auction was held and eighty-two lots were sold to thirty different men for a total price of four thousand dollars. On November 4th and 5th, 1893 thirty-five more lots were sold for a gross amount of $1,406. By the end of November 1839, the town of Farmerville had been named, laid out and established as the parish seat of Union Parish, Louisiana. The town of Farmerville was officially incorporated by Louisiana Act 104 of 1842. Section one of that act contains the words: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House—that all that portion of land laid off and divided into lots by the Police Jury of Union Parish and styled Farmerville, shall continue to be known by that name and incorporated in the manner following hereafter…”
The year 1989 marks 150 years since those hardy early settlers came to this area on foot, on horse-back, and with two-wheel ox-carts, carving trails in the wilderness as they traveled. They passed over and took possession of ground that had been the home of the camel, giant armadillo, short-faced bear, long-horned bison, mastodon, and other animals that have now become extinct. Twelve thousand years ago what is now Union Parish was the home of those animals and the nomadic Paleo-Indians. When the settlers of Union Parish and Farmerville came to this area the land and forests were not greatly different from what they were twelve thousand years before. Those early settlers took charge of an ancient wilderness and created a civilization. We today enjoy that civilization. It seems proper that we should pause long enough to remember the struggle and toil of those early pioneers.