The News Star
July 30, 2016
Editor’s note: One in a series of history pieces published in conjunction with The News-Star’s 125th anniversary. This story by Glenda Mitchelloriginally ran in July 1976 and has been edited.
The Territory of Orleans — now the State of Louisiana — was divided into 19 parishes, the most northerly of which was Ouachita Parish when the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. In 1839, Union Parish was created out of the northern part of Ouachita Parish; Farmerville was made the parish seat.
The early settlers in Union Parish were first concerned with securing food, keeping “bone and body” together and making homes of the wilderness for the first 50 years after John Honeycutt, with traps slung over his shoulder and his flintlock firmly grasped in the crook of his elbow, made his way into the territory in 1790.
Tradition has it that Honeycutt learned from the Native Americans that a family of white people, the Feazels, had settled on Corney Bayou. Honeycutt married one of the Feazel daughters.
Immigrants from the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi followed Honeycutt into this area, fleeing from the revolution on the eastern seaboard. This group primarily hunted and trapped for a living.
In 1825, descendants of wealthy families from the Carolinas. Tennessee and Virginia, spurred on by dreams of large tracts of land, moved into this sector. They primarily farmed and settled along bayous D’Arbonne, Corney and DeLoutre.
Early settlers pushed up those bayous and the Ouachita River into the wilderness by means of steamboats and river packets.
One of the first settlements In the parish was Lock Lomond on the west bank of the Ouachita River. Alabama Landing and Ouachita City became two ports that flourished and grew into thriving settlements.
On boat days, the streets filled and the busy little communities grew. Each had stables, hotels, general stores, saloons, post offices, churches and cemeteries.
With the coming of the railroads and faster transportation, these ports began to decentralize and today they are ghost towns, marked by a few stately old trees that once shaded stores or dwellings.
On May 16, 1839, the parish was organized and a parish seat selected. It was named Farmerville, after W. W. Farmer, a prominent man of the area, who later became lieutenant governor of the state.
One of the earliest acts of the Union Parish Police Jury was the appointment of education commissioners — John N. Farmer, John H. Feazel, W. C. Carr and Wiley Underwood.
In the early 1840s the Union Male and Female Academy was constructed but foreclosed 1850.
Concord Institute founded at Old Shiloh by J. P. Everett in 1875 exerted a great influence over the lives of the young people in the parish.
Most of these schools charged tuition, about $5 a month. In addition to the public schools many families had private tutors from the East for their children.
The pioneers of Union Parish were mostly Baptist and Wesleyan Methodist. Old records indicate that they held services out of doors, in homes, at the courthouse and in lodge halls.
Liberty Hill, a Primitive Baptist Church, was formed in 1820.
Old Shiloh, which burned in 1937, was a beacon in the Baptist community for 75 years. Among its members were the Herds, Fullers and Millers.
The Baptist Convention met at Shiloh in 1868,1878 and 1889, and the church sent the first Baptist missionary to Brazil, the Rev. John Tullian.
For several years, the Methodists worshiped in the Baptist church. A Methodist church was built north of D’Arbonne in 1850.
Union Parish was the site of the first telephone lines constructed in the entire South. Col. Daniel Stein brought three telephones back from a trip to New York. He constructed lines from his store at Stein’s Bluff to Farmerville.