Extraordinary Events 1873 Union Parish Louisiana

Dr. Tim Hudson

In 1873, several unusual events occurred across Union Parish, beginning in the early fall. Although newspapers in Louisiana and across the Deep South viewed the topic as too indecent to print, Northern newspapers gleefully reported that “Another wild woman with nothing to wear frequents the forest” outside Farmerville. A Connecticut editor wryly remarked that the woman supposedly escaped from some fashionable watering place, while a Richmond, Virginia wrote, “A mysterious and not over-dressed wild woman is roaming about the woods of Union Parish, La.” Another wrote, “A woman with nothing to wear, and wearing it lavishingly, is roaming about the woods of Union Parish La., and the people of the locality are discussing the question of whether she is crazy or merely going to a continual evening party.” We have no information on what became of the woman.

On Wednesday night, 8 October 1873, the Farmerville Cornet Band held a concert in town. A large audience attended, with people sitting on the gallery in front of the building, listening to the music. Among the young men sitting on the gallery was Andrew A. Cooper, a single man of about thirty years of age. He was a native of Farmerville, the son of early pioneer William B. Cooper, one of the Alabama immigrants who settled about six miles east of town along the Wards Chapel Road in the latter 1830s.

At the precise instant when the band reached the climax of one of their numbers, the moment when the music achieved its greatest intensity and the band’s volume the loudest, Cooper dropped his pistol. As it fell, the hammer struck the edge of the gallery, causing the pistol to discharge. The sharp report of the pistol and a cry of agony startled the audience and created a few minutes of wild excitement, as it first appeared that someone intentionally fired the pistol. Unfortunately for Mr. Cooper, the pistol discharged into his stomach, causing almost instant death.

John T. Thomas was born about 1826 in Georgia. In the latter 1850s, he married Lucinda and they lived with their eldest child in Leake County, Mississippi in 1860. After service in the Confederate Cavalry during the War, John and Lucinda moved to Union Parish and settled on a farm near Ouachita City, on the road leading from that village to Farmerville. By 1873, John and Lucinda had five children.

About dusk on Christmas day of 1873, someone came to their front gate and called for Mr. Thomas. When John inquired from inside who was asking, the person replied that it was John Bullin, a well-known, young black farmer in the region, saying that he had a letter to deliver to him. Thomas walked out of the house towards the gate to retrieve the letter, followed by his fourteen-year-old son, Daniel. As Thomas approached the gate, someone behind the fence fired on John Thomas, killing him instantly.

Afraid for their lives, Lucinda and the children quickly fled the house through the back door and ran towards the road. As they reached the road, a man on horseback rushed away from the front of their house down the road past them, his horse at a full gallop. He was a white man, not John Bullin, and he had a gun in his hand.

Locals of the Ouachita City vicinity described Thomas as “a quiet, inoffensive citizen,” and stated that the murder was ‘most unprovoked.” Although his wife could not clearly identify the man rushing down the road with a gun, acquaintances apparently had a few suspicions. There is no indication that anyone was ever charged with Thomas’ murder.

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Dr. Tim Hudson is the mathematics department head at Southeastern Louisiana and an avid historian on Union Parish. Hudson is a Union Parish native and graduate of Farmerville High School.

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