Marion, Union Parish, Louisiana

Page Updated 8 Apr 2012

Sarah E. J. Rochelle Ross took her family, including widowed sister Mary Bryant, from southeast Perry Co., AL, to Marion in northern Union Parish, LA, when she married Elias George, after the deaths of her husband James Whitaker Ross and Elias's wife Ann Bass. Sarah consented to the marriage on condition that her widowed sister Mary Rochelle Bryant, their families, servants and possessions accompany her. They made the move in a 40-wagon train overland to the Alabama or Tombigbee River, downriver by boat to Mobile, across the Gulf to the Ouichita (Washita) River, and then upriver to Alabama Landing, LA.

The Reverend Elias George obtained Federal land patents in Union Parish, LA, beginning Aug 1844 (signed by President Andrew Jackson). He and his family, and other Alabama families, moved together to Union Parish in the spring of 1848. by 1844, when he obtained several patents for land. He had a country home nearer to Alabama Landing, and since there were no schools, hired tutors for his children. Evidently his fortunes prospered because sometime during this period he built a striking town house in Marion -- named no doubt for the seat of Perry Co., AL -- for his growing family so the children could go to school in town. The story includes the fact that he paid $3000 for a negro slave skilled as a carpenter to construct the house.

Elias Edward George (Sr.) was born 13 Jul 1806 in Putnam Co., GA, and died 1 May 1890 in Union Par., LA. He married Ann Bass 18 Jan 1828 in Perry Co., AL. Their eight children were born in Perry Co.

On 15 Nov 1830 he received the first of several Federal Land Office patents in Perry Co., for 160.07 acres in Twp. 18N, Range 9E, Section 8.

On 13 Mar 1832 he received another 160-acre patents, this one in Twp. 16N, Range 9E, Section 35.

On 21 Jan 1834 he patented 80 acres in Twp. 16N, Range 9E, Section 35; and on Oct 1834 40 acres in Twp. 16N, Range 9E, Section 9. This totalled 440 acres patented and probably several more that he purchased by deed.



On 1 Aug 1844, Elias George patented five parcels of land in Union Parish, LA, totalling almost 4,000 acres in Twp. 23 N, Range 2E, Sections 24 and 25. In 1846, he moved his family from Perry Co., AL, with a large group, to Union Parish. They disembarked at Alabama Landing on the Washita River.

 Union Parish, 905 sq. miles of which 28 are water

Map by David Dawkins,

See  Changing parish maps of Louisiana over time


Known today as Hopkins House, The house is the oldest and grandest in the small town of Marion. When his children became old enough for college, he sent them back to Perry Co., AL -- the boys back to a military academy, and the girls to a young ladies' finishing school.



 Note location of Marion, and abt 8 mi. due east, Alabama Landing on the Ouchita River. Elias George's land in Twp. 23N, Sections 24 and 25 on Pierre Creek -- near the border with Union Co., AR. Across the River is Morehouse Parish, LA

Photograph of Alabama Landing, copyright by Bruce Odom

 House built by Elias George in 1850 is the largest house in Marion, to which Sarah E. J. Rochelle Ross came in 1851 as a 2nd-time bride. Note the remaining trees of 150-year-old cedar-bordered path. 

In Perry Co., AL, Elias George had U.S. land patents in 1830, 1832, 1833, and 1834 at the Cahaba Land Office, St. Stephens Meridian, for 160.7, 160, 80, and 40 acres in Twp. 18N, Range 9E, Sections 9 and 35.

In Union Par., LA, he had five U.S. patents on 1 Aug 1844, totalling 400 ac, in 78.3 in Twp. 23N, Range 2E, W1/2 NE 1/4, 78.3 in W 1.2 SE 1/4, and 78.3 in E 1/2 SE 1/4 of Sect. 25; 77.63 ac in E 1/2 SE 1/4 and 77.62 ac in E 1/2 of NW 1/4 of Sect. 24. From 1852-1882, he got fourteen additional patents in Sects. 18, 19, 28-33, and 36.



Original furniture in large parlor was purchased in New Orleans


 BRICK handmade on the property

See 1950's photo of room at right ==> 

 One of several original beds still in use

Sarah's stepdaughter Louisa George Tompkins wrote a fascinating first-hand account of both families' move from Perry Co., AL, to Union Parish. A large group of Alabamans from Perry Co. moved there via land and river to Alabama Landing on the Ouachita River. Excerpts at RossFamily2. Or, Memoirs in full at Union Parish GenWeb.

In his will, James W. Ross named as executors his wife Sarah, his brothers John Alfred and William E. Ross, and his trusty friend Elias George. He gave permission, if he had not removed to the State of Louisiana at the time of his death, for his widow and children to do so -- so apparently they had planned to go with a large contingent of Perry County Alabamans to Union Par., LA.

James W. Ross's "trusty friend" Elias George, a Missionary Baptist minister and plantation owner, moved there in 1848. After James's death, his widow Sarah E. J. Rochelle Ross md. widower Elias George, whose daughter Louisa George described their home in Alabama and their move to Louisiana:

(excerpts used by permission of members of George family -- full text at: Memoirs of Louisa George Tompkins:

I was born on a farm near Hamburg, Perry County, Alabama, in 1842. Elias George and mother, Ann Bass George, were the parents of nine children -- four sons and five daughters, of whom I was third from the youngest. All lived to maturity, married and raised families, except one brother, "Jeffy," two years my senior, who at the age of eight years was thrown from a runaway horse.

My parents were missionary Baptists, and we were early taught to reverence the name of Jesus, respect the Sabbath day, be kind and charitable to the poor, to servants, and to animals. There was family worship every night before retiring, and my mother would have the servants come in and to join us at such times. We were a happy family because children and servants were taught obedience to those who ruled them. We loved our servants and they loved us.

My father, being a slaveholder, had a large plantation on which many supplies for home consumption were raised, such as corn, cotton, potatoes, barley, and peas. The home was a large, rambling two-storied building, and each of the various rooms had a fireplace. But the room that charmed me most was the nursery -- a large room with windows facing southward, overlooking the pasture, and in the springtime there was much interest in the horses and the little lambs as they chased each other and gamboled in the field.

Our black mammy Chloe, was installed as guardian and caretaker of the nursery. Its inmates included three children, from one to five years old and two nurse girls, Mariah and Harriet, who were ten and eleven years old. The girls, under the supervision of mammy Chloe, would see to our bathing, dressing, and feeding. When the weather permitted, we were kept out doors in the sunshine and although the girls ran and played with us, our black mammy was ever near and watchful that no harm befell us.

It is difficult to make it understood what love we had for Mammy and the girls. This attachment lasted even to old age. Mammy died just a few years .. (original sheet cut off).
I would not have one think that our precious mother neglected her little children under these conditions and surroundings. She had duties devolving upon her, which could not be done by others. There were nine children to clothe and feed. While she had servants who cooked, washed, ironed and sewed, she supervised each department. There were no sewing machines nor ready-made clothing. We were strangers to most of the conveniences in common use today. Even soap and candles were made at the plantation. My father raised everything possible at home and a yearly trip to New Orleans resulted in the equivalent of a carload of provisions, dress goods from England or New England and many other things needed for the plantation. Oranges, apples, dried fruits, and candy were bought by the barrel.

How well do I remember the picturesque surroundings of our home. There was a long sloping hill to the rear of the house, at the foot of which was a cold, gushing spring, and directed channels went forth to the house lot, chicken yard, and other needed places. A milk house was built over this spring, the floor of which was laid of large, flat rocks, so arranged that the stream was conducted over a channel two or three inches lower than the floor and wide enough to hold several pans of milk and butter. Our home was surrounded with mockingbirds, swamp sparrows, field larks, whip-poor-wills, blue jays, and cardinals. They were never disturbed and consequently, many became quite tame, often feeding with the chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, and peafowls. The whip-poor-wills could be heard at night in the swamp below, sometimes coming into the garden as though they wanted to serenade us from the branch of an oak tree near the house. I recall an evening twilight when one ventured on the lawn near the house-steps and called lustily "Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!" and after satisfying himself, he flew to his companions in the swamp and soon the air was filled with their "Whip-poor-will! and "whip-will, the widow!" Their concert lasted through the night, interrupted occasionally by the deep, sonorous voice of an owl loudly calling, "WHO! WHO! WHO! WHO! WHO! ARE YOU!" The loud laugh of another owl answered, "WAH! WAH! WAH!"

. . . It is needless to say that the dear old home where my mother and father had lived since their marriage and which had been the birthplace of their nine children, was doomed. Also, a beautiful new home near Marion, Alabama, was being completed. This was a large, two-story house, quite modern in all its appointments (for that time). The inside work was superior to anything of its kind today; the plastering was very hard and glazed. The parlor and hall were heavily frescoed around the edges of the ceiling, with a large wreath of flowers in the center of each for the chandeliers. My older sisters and brothers were at the age when they needed to be in college, as they had outgrown the country school. To educate them had been the incentive for building in Marion, as it was a residential city of schools and churches.

But to my father, nothing was too great a sacrifice for [Louisiana] this "Land of Paradise" -- not even the many friends and relatives with their earnest protests, or his popularity as a minister of the gospel. Nothing could outweigh his desire to possess a home in this unexplored wilderness---a venture of toil, self-denial, hardships, and untried experiences. Without taking it to the Lord in prayer, and seeking divine guidance of Him whom he served, he straightway sold his valuable plantation and lovely new home at a sacrifice, and was soon in readiness for the journey by caravan. Early in the spring of 1848, the day for departure arrived. Three or four families decided to cast their lot with us in going west, which at that time was as far distant as is California now. The trip had to be made in private conveyances, drawn by horses and mules, and it would take weeks to reach our destination. Besides this, my father was taking with him 400 Durham cattle which were to be driven by herdsmen.

The caravan included about 50 covered wagons, carriages, carry-alls, and buggies. These and the horseback riders assembled at our home, and many friends came to bid us "un bon voyage". How well do I remember that first day, which to me seemed a gala affair with many more to follow. I was too young (six years) to realize what it meant to those on whom the burden fell, nor what awaited us in the future. The morning was bright and beautiful, and although the sun gladdened the earth, it was unable to penetrate the gloom which hung like a pall of dark foreboding in the hearts of some who reluctantly bade a last farewell to loved ones.

My mother rode in a carriage with four of her young children; a brother older and a sister and brother younger than I. The driver's seat was high in front, and in the style of the period, the nurse's seat was in the rear. This was supplied with a step or foot rest and arms, as with an armchair. The first day being cold and crisp, mother had the driver stop at a store as we passed through Greensborough, and bought us children beautiful wool hoods and each a tin cup, painted red and blue, with "Boy" or "Girl" stamped on it. These were suspended from our necks with ribbons.

The caravan necessarily traveled slowly and when we children were tired of riding, mother would let us get out and walk, always attended by the nurse . . . Long before night, the captain (father) always went ahead to find and arrange for a suitable camp ground where wood and water could be obtained, for provisions also to be made for the cattle as well as the teams of mules and horses. Having found such a place, he would wait for the crowd.

The camp ground reached, the overseer of the negroes superintended the location of wagons, tents, and animals. The negroes' tents were grouped by themselves and the white families were in a different location. Each family of negroes had its separate tent; each woman cooking for her own family, while the men got the wood, attended to the feeding and caring for the stock and pitched the tents. There were log fires in front of family tents, and after all were fed and the little children were in bed, the white families would visit each other,---sit around and exchange experiences and jokes till nine or ten o'clock. The negroes would have their social time until the gong sounded for retiring; after which quiet soon reigned, except for the occasional lowing or neighing of an animal. At five o'clock, the gong again sounded and all were up and hustling with preparations to travel. Then at noon, a stop for a couple of hours was made, with rest and lunch for man and beast.

We had to cross the Tombigbee River in Alabama which we found to be a half-mile wide from recent rains. It took two or three days to make the crossing, for the cattle had to be ferried across. Upon taking one load, the cattle became frightened and stampeded, and several leaped from the flat-boat and were carried by the swift current down stream, and two or three of these were never recovered.

Having surmounted this obstacle, we proceeded on our journey with nothing of importance to note except that one night we camped in a lovely grove of oak trees enclosed with a rail or worm fence. A railroad track ran along the outside of this enclosure, and we were warned not to cross the fence; that a train would pass by very soon. We hadn't waited long when a shrill whistle heralded its approach. We all stopped and gazed at the wonderful monster, as it seemed to me, for in those days, railroads were rare to country people.

At last we reached the Mississippi, which we crossed at Vicksburg on a ferry . . . We finally reached our destination which was a beautiful grove of oak trees, in the midst of which was an eight-roomed cottage. Also, there was a summer-house covered with coral honeysuckle and woodbine and in the yard there was an abundance of flowers.

My father had purchased this farm with 600 acres of improved land and under cultivation, to serve as a temporary home until there were further developments. This home was three miles from Marion, a village in north Louisiana, in Union Parish. It was settled and named for Marion, Alabama by its earliest settlers who had come from that place. Father had bought 4,000 acres of timbered land within four miles of Marion, which was to be cleared and converted into a plantation -- with cottages for the negroes, a dwelling for the overseer, and with gardens and outhouses. This kept all hands busy for the first year, with only time enough to cultivate the 600 acres of the home place. [There was a virulent fever epidemic and her mother, Ann Bass George] . . . had been for the last time to see her sick servants. She found the maid dead and the cook in a dying condition. Mother prayed with her and comforted her as best she could. Upon leaving, Julia put her arms around mother's neck and said, "Miss Ann, meet me in heaven".

The next day mother was not feeling well, but did not go to bed. That night, she had a congestive chill, and at four a.m., she went to meet Julia in heaven. Her death was so sudden and unexpected, that father was beside himself with grief and for several months the physicians were afraid he would lose his mind.

We three children were now wholly dependant on relatives, friends and servants. Although mother died in a room across the hall from where we were, we knew nothing of her death till three weeks later. The first thing that seemed to call me back to consciousness was brother Elias crying and begging for mother. Father was holding him on his lap and when he continued to plead, father burst into tears and told him mother had gone to be with God in heaven . . .

After the death of my mother, father seemed so disconsolate and broken I spirit, that his friends and older children encouraged him to find a companion for himself and a mother for his children. He finally wrote to Mrs. Ross, a very excellent lady of character, culture, and refinement, reared and educated in Richmond, Virginia and who was then living on a plantation that adjoined our former home in Alabama. This lady and her sister, Sarah and Mary, were both widows; Mr. Bryant, husband of Mary, had died soon after moving to Alabama, and Mr. Ross, Sarah's husband, died not long after we came to Louisiana.

It was satisfactorily arranged between my father and Mrs. Ross, and the following spring (1852), father went back to Alabama and they were married. It took two or three months to arrange her affairs and get all things in order for the moving to Louisiana. As the sisters would not be separated, transportation for the two families had to be made and each had many slaves and several children. It was a big responsibility but it effectuality diverted father's mind from his own personal grief.

Finally, the second caravan left the same neighborhood for Louisiana, similar to the first which had gone four years before, with many vehicles and covered wagons. All arrangements for homes and land had been made previously and were awaiting their arrival.

One afternoon, when Sue, Jane, and I were attending school, a handsome youth, about 18 years old, came into the classroom and asked for the George sisters,---introducing himself as Jim Ross, our stepbrother. On looking out of the window, we were surprised to find the street lined with carriages, buggies, wagons, and horses. The young people had come in advance of the wagons, while my father's wife and her sister were in a carriage to the rear. My father was on horseback and there were several others . . .

Our teacher excused us and we went out to meet our new relatives who insisted that we go home with them, which we were only too delighted to do. We didn't even ask permission of our aunt, with whom we were boarding, but sent word where we were.

Father was so busy seeing that the negroes were settled, that he did not know until that night that we had come home with the crowd. When he finally came into the house, three eager girls unexpectedly threw their arms around him. Imagine our amazement when he did not respond, but seemed dismayed at our presence. He said that we must return to school early in the morning, because there was cholera among the negroes, contracted while passing through the Mississippi swamps. A negro woman had died of it that night just as the wagon in which she rode, stopped at the gate. The next morning before breakfast, a girl 12 years old, came in and said she was sick. Father examined her and gave her the cholera remedy, but at noon she was dead. The place was immediately quarantined. In two weeks 16 negroes had succumbed.

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