October 5, 1939
Town Named After County In Alabama
Early Settlers Made Start At Present Site
Another one of Union Parish’s earliest settlements — Marion — was settled, named and developed by settlers from Alabama.
Working their way back from Alabama Landing and the Ouachita River, these settlers are supposed to have stopped their westward movement around the present sit of Marion as early as 1830, according to some of the town’s oldest inhabitants.
The earliest known family to settle near Marion was an Alabama immigrant, David Stewart, who raised a cabin four miles south of the town in 1832. There was also another family three miles above Alabama Landing, it is believed, when Stewart and his family settled there. This family had gone on up the river as far as Camden, Arkansas, then dropped back down the river to resettle.
Alabama Landing was named for these early settlers because a majority of them came from Alabama and this was the spot at which they disembarked to strike westward. At first the settlers grouped around the landing but soon began to move more into the interior as more and more settlers began to come into the territory.
Old Settler Recalls
One of Marion’s older present day citizens remembers tales her grandmother told her of these early settlements.
“There was a family named Whittle that used to live near Miller’s Ferry. he had a couple of negroes who whipsawed lumber for the few families in that vicinity. He is said to have been one of the first settlers.”
“One of those early families were the Repponds who settled near what is now Dean, about 1830. Another family was the Briands.”
“My grandmother used to tell me that the country here abounded with game and wild life, especially bear, which was a constant danger to the livestock. There were plenty of Indians too, but they were all friendly.”
So, gathered from this, there were settlers in the vicinity of Marion as early as 1830. But the great influx of settlers did not come into the section until the late ’30’s. The first record of a land sale in the vicinity is recorded in Union Parish land conveyance records on June 13, 1839 to Pascal B. Traylor by the United State Land Office for $397.00. This settlement was already known as Marion at that time. The records show Traylor’s grant is today almost in the center of the town.
Early Settlers Made Start At Present Site
Early records up to 1850 show early families to be Powells, Traylors, Stewarts, Repponds, Whittles, Larkins and Georges.
Jimmie Powell, Dr. John Traylor, the Greens, Lunsfords, Adams, Cooks, Dr. Sam Larkin, a Colonel Hill and Elias George were other early settlers.
Dr. Traylor is supposed to have built the first store in the settlement and Pascal Traylor the first saw mill. Mrs. S. S. Thomas, mother of the late Hon. L. E. Thomas, one of Union ‘s most distinguished sons, came to Marion in 1848.
One of the best recalled of those early settlers is Elias George, who is remembered as one of the foremost of the pioneer preachers of the town and the parish. He died in 1889 after almost a half century of service in Marion.
The robust preacher built the first large house in Marion shortly before 1850. The story goes that the preacher purchased a negro slave, an expert carpenter, for $3,000 to build the house, which in 1854, was sold to the father of the present owner, Mrs. Alice Hopkins. It was in this house that the famous song, “In the Gloaming.” was composed.
The old home, with very few alterations, stands as the old pioneer preacher built it almost 90 years ago.
Shortly before the Civil War, the people of Marion met to build a school. Work on this building was halted by the outbreak of the war, however. In the meantime, school was carried on in the partially completed structure with John Hopkins as the first teacher. The building, known as the Bell Academy, was soon torn down and the academic problems transferred to the Bell church. The Baptist church was the next place where school was the next place where school was held, with the old Union Church being used a little later. A newer and larger Baptist church in Marion was used until the erection of the first school building in 1905. This was occupied with certain alterations, until 1920, when it burned. The present main building of the school group there was built in 1922 with certain additions made during the past year.
The early settlers cleared the lands and soon the settlement was the trading center for the area. Many of the older settlers recall that wild game was abundant. These early settlers brought their slaves with them from Alabama to till the soil.
The town continued to develop and grow. The population, however, grew slowly for many of the original settlers moved away to Texas after the war. However, by the turn of the century, the town had developed nicely. Early in the 1900’s a fire gutted one side of the town and rebuilding was necessary. The first railroad was built to the town in 1904.
In the year of 1909, Marion was incorporated as a town.
The governor’s proclamation that declared it such follows:
“Whereas two-thirds of the qualified voters of the unincorporated village of Marion in the Parish of Union in this State have, in pursuance of the provisions of Section 2 of the Act No 136 of the Session Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana approved July 13, 1898, presented to me a petition setting forth the metes and bounds of the village, stating the number of inhabitants therein and praying incorporation, and,
“Whereas, I find that the same has been duly signed; that said petition has been duly promulgated as required by law and that said village contains at least 250 inhabitants:
Now, therefore, I, Jared Young Sanders, Governor of the State of Louisiana, under and by the authority vested in me by law and more especially by Act No 136 of the Acts of the General Assembly of this State, approved July 13, 1898, do hereby issue this, my proclamation, declaring the said village to be a corporation in law, with metes and bounds as follows.” (The boundaries followed)
“And, I hereby designate and fix the name of said corporation as “The Village of Marion” with power to sue and be sued, to purchase and hold real estate and real property, to purchase and hold real estate within the corporate limits for all proper municipal purposes and for parks, cemeteries, hospitals, school houses, houses of correction, water works, electric lights and sewers. To make all contracts and to do all acts relative to the property of the municipality necessary to the exercise of its corporate or administrative powers as are, or may be hereafter conferred upon it by law.”
“Witness my hand and the impress of the seal of the State of Louisiana at the State Capitol in the City Of Baton Rouge this 13th day of January, 1909, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the 133rd, and of the State of Louisiana the 97th.
By the Governor:
(Signed) J. Y. SANDERS, Eugene J. McGivney, Assistant Secretary of State.”
L W. Landers was elected first mayor.
Since the early part of this century, the town has grown considerably until today it is one of the progressive town of the parish.