Early Preachers & Churches
These records are taken from Historical and Statistical Collections of Louisiana. Parish of Catahoula; DeBow's Review Vol 12, 1852.
This has a lot of wonderful facts about Catahoula Parish from the beginning, until 1852, when this was written.
But I am only picking out items that will be truly interesting --- especially the ones that contain names of early settlers.
The Methodists were the first to preach the faith of Protestants
in this section of country. The earliest preacher is said by some to be Rev.
Mr. Bowman, while others say that Rev. Randal Gibson
and ---- Blackman first passed through from Mississippi to
Alexandria in 1805. for the purpose of preaching, and laying out a circuit,
and selecting suitable places to preach at. Some of the settlers were members
of the church, and willingly lent helping hands, and for many years the
preachers held forth to their congregations in private houses.
Among the names of the early preachers the following are given-Barnes, Griffin, H-ennegar,
Shaw, Shrock, Harper, John Cotton, Owens and Nalley.
Mr. Nalley was a delicate, feeble man, and traveled on this circuit
about 1815. In the winter, while attempting to swim the Hemphill's Creek, up
near where Squire Heard now lives, he got very wet, and the
cold benumbed him so that he perished on the road-side, where he was found by
some of the neighbors. He was decently buried at old Mr. Brown's
place, near by; and every preacher since that time who fills his circuit, pays
a pilgrimage to the grave of the faithful minister who fell in his harness,
and " died at his post."
The most of the church buildings in the parish have been put up by the joint contributions of the people, irrespective of denominiational feeling, and are used by any and all ministers in good standing. There are three meeting-houses on Sicily Island, one in Harrisonburg, one in Trinity, two on Little River, and one on Black River, besides some in the pine hills —
one being at the Sulphur Springs.
The Baptists have some 11 congregations in the parish, numbering 350 members in all, many of whom are blacks. John Impson was the first Baptist preacher in the parish, about the year 1825. It is said by some, that a Mr. Bill preached here as early as 1810, although he was not ordained till many years after. Rev. John Impson and Rev. Henry Humble
constituted the first Baptist Church here, now known as the Catahoula Church, in 1826, there being then only seven members.
At this time there are five Baptist ministers in the parish, amongst whom are the Rev. T. A. Routon, and --- Lacy. The church property of this denomination is worth about $3,000. There are no other sects of religion known as a community, although there are many isolated individuals of various persuasions. Generally the people are moral, the Sabbath is more respected than in many other places where more pretensions are made to morality and enlightenment, and the criminal docket is seldom occupied by any cases.