The First Settlement of Union Parish

T. A. Briceland
Farmerville Gazette
January 1, 1930

Many, in search of romance, go back to the days when “Knighthood Was in Flower” or to the days of the Pilgrim Fathers, or to the lands toward the sunset, where buffalo and antelope once roamed over unmeasured plains.  These have not learned that Louisiana is rich in the romantic.  Although few have been the poets to sing of her,  and novelists have passed over her rich mines of hidden nuggets and gone to the west in search of thrilling adventures, there is coming a day when man and women of keen imagination will bring to light these riches long hidden from the sight of the unthinking.

Possibly there is not a spot in all Louisiana that has contributed more to the moral and intellectual welfare of the state than has what is now Union Parish.  Union has contributed its host of acceptable ministers of the gospel, many prominent educators, well known professional men throughout without number, many state officials and two governors.  Union’s interest in education began in pioneer days.

Among the first settlers of Union Parish were Phillip Feazel and his brothers, John and Soloman.  Phillip Feazel was born in the year 1792, of German-Jewish parentage, in the state of Pennsylvania.  While he was still a small child his parents moved to Tennessee.  Immediately following the war of 1812, this young man, in company with several others of daring spirits, floated down the Mississippi River in a flat boat to the mouth of the Red River.  The little company, using the rudest kind of methods worked their way up the Red River to what is now Alexandria.

Shortly after making a landing, the company of homemakers met William Slayter a German school teacher and surveyor, with whom they could converse freely in the German language.  After the lapse of a year or two, Phillip Feazel was married to Nancy Slayter.  Immediately after the marriage he and his bride appeared in what is now Union Parish, half-way between where Farmerville and Downsville were later built.  There was not at that time but two other families within a radius of thirteen miles.  The rest of the company who came with the Feazels settled in South Arkansas. 

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…the logs used in the construction of that old building are still in use, but in another house, I believe. 

Mr. Feazel erected the first house ever built in Farmerville, a store building.  He did not put in a stock of goods, as he had contemplated but sold the house to a man named Schlanker.  Schlanker sold goods there for several years and finally sold out to D. Stein.  While the original house and several others have been buried on the spot, the same place of ground is still a prominent business center.  Before Farmerville was built, all supplies had to be hauled from the old Spanish fort on the Ouachita River. 

Mr. Feazel with his mixture of German and Jewish blood believed in and sought the best things for his children.  By the time he had children old enough for school, other settlers had moved in and a school was provided.  Soon there sprang up all over Union parish small settlements of enterprising farmers, such as Downsville, Marion, Oakland, Cherry Ridge, Spearsville and Shiloh.  At all of these centers schools were established which contributed to the general welfare of the country.

These were _______ pioneer days and Phillip Feazel had the true spirit of the pioneer.  He was a great hunter both from necessity and from choice.  He was compelled to fight back deer and bear from his growing crops and bear and panther constantly deprecated on his hogs and young calves.  Had he kept a record of all the bear he killed the figures would be unbelievable today.  He never kept less than 15 hounds until after the fame became scarce and never in his life did game become scarce as we know scarceness today.  Being a slave owner and freed from the necessity of laboring on his farm, he devoted practically all his time to hunting.  He was ever on friendly terms with the Indians and often had them as his hunting companions.  He lived to be the contemporary of the Declaration of Independence, dying at the age of 84.

The grandchildren of this pioneer enjoyed a privilege never to be forgotten.  He seemed never to forget anything and was an excellent story teller.  A trip to grandfather’s brought a thrill equal to the coming of a circus.  He loved children and always made it ______to go walking with them and as he went (next several lines not readable)

Union Parish got a good start.  Her first settlers wrought well.  They brought with them high ideals and lofty principles.  They instilled into the minds of their children these same worthwhile ambitions. No wonder, then, that the superstructure built by the second and third generations stood fast, having to build a foundation upon which (next two lines not readable)

Last paragraph of this article is unreadable. 

Cathy Buckley is a native of Union Parish and lifelong citizen of Shiloh. She served as Principal of Spearsville High School for many years until her retirement. Cathy is now the director of the Bernice Depot Museum and a active member of the Bernice Historical Society.


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