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Sheriff J. Black

The Black Family



ANNIE LAURIE SPENCER , El Dorado, Arkansas

Few families have been interwoven with the history of a county as have the Blacks of Union. The first county judge; the first sheriff; the man who surveyed the first town lots in El Dorado; one of the early county surveyors; and one of the three commissioners who located the City of El Dorado were members of this family.

From 1830 to 1880 no family worked harder for the good of the county and no family contributed more toward the establishment of Union County's government, roads, towns, schools and churches. And today there are only two known members of this family in Union County who carry the name: Mrs. Charles T. Black, 118 South Newton, El Dorado, the widow of Doctor Black, whose two sons are also doctors but live elsewhere, and Elmer Black, Strong, a descendant of Marcellus Black. These are the only two Blacks of the early Blacks in the county now, but in 1850 seventy members of this family were in it.

The early story of the Black family could be that of thousands of other families who sought new homes in the American Colonies. Robert, James, Thomas, and Samuel Black came together from Ireland in time to be established before the American Revolution. They were single men, sons of Samuel and Agnes (Glenn) Black and as Scotch as any Scotchmen could be whose family had lived in Ireland for two generations. They landed in Philadelphia, moved on to Cecile County, Maryland. There James Black married Elizabeth Rogers. With the Alexander family they moved to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Robert Black married into the Russell family and moved into South Carolina. He enlisted November 4, 1775, served in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Francis Marion. He was wounded and died July 1, 1776. James Black also served in the Revolution from North Carolina. The Blacks who came to Union County in the early years were descendants of these four Black brothers.

About 1812 the movement to Alabama from North and South Carolina was beginning and Samuel Black, a son of Robert Black, received a grant of land in Alabama on April 12, 1812. He might not have moved until several years later, but by 1820 Alabama was home to a large number of the clan who were found in Perry, Wilcox and Greene Counties. Samuel Black reared a large family and even though he died February 22, 1828  and never saw Arkansas, his widow, Isabella Johnson Black and all of his children except Mary who married William Henry Norris, and moved to Brazil to establish the Confederate Settlement there, came to Union County. The Blacks maintained the characteristics of a Scottish Clan and wrote each other and visited back and forth to North and South Carolina more than many families did.

Pioneers came from all the eastern states and a few foreign countries to Union County and among the earliest settlers we find the Blacks. Perhaps South Carolina contributed more pioneers to Union County than any other state. Many of these stopped in Alabama a few years, perhaps in Mississippi a year or two before coming to Union County.

Some of the Blacks followed this route, some members of the family moved from North Carolina to Alabama and on to Arkansas and one family moved from North Carolina to Alabama, to Illinois and then to Arkansas.

Jonathan Black, either a nephew or cousin of Samuel Black, was the first member of the family to be in Union County. By 1829 he was well established and well known and when the County was created November 2, 1829, from territory taken from Clark and Hempstead Counties he was elected county judge and his son, Jonathan Black Jr., was elected sheriff. Union County at that time embraced all of Bradley and Ouachita Counties and a part of Calhoun County.

When the first court of record was held March 12, 1830, Jonathan Black, "duly elected, qualified and commissioned judge," presided. Few items of business appear of record for that term of court. Judge Black approved Alexander Beard's bond for coroner which was signed by Beard, Charles H. Seay and Hugh Bradley and acknowledged before Dr. John T. Cabeen, clerk of the court. He also approved Thomas O'Neill's bond for county surveyor, signed by O'Neill, Bradley and James Waters.

By the April term of court the affairs of the county had increased. Judge Black opened court April 19, 1830, at the home of John Nunn which was the place designated by law for holding court. Francis C. Berry's claim for Five Dollars was approved. What service had he rendered the county? John Nunn, Samuel D. Sloan and Joseph Neely were sworn in as justices of the peace for Union County, Cote a Fabre Township and Franklin Township respectively. It was on this day that Jonathan Black, Jr., "the duly elected and commissioned sheriff of Union County," presented his bond for Six Thousand Dollars signed by Jonathan Black, Jr., John Nunn, Jacob Watkins, Samuel D. Shaw, James Williams, Benjamin Gooch and Oliver Brown

Judge Black approved the bond and also the bond of William Cornish for constable of Franklin Township which was signed by Cornish, Jonathan Black, Jr., and John Hogg.

When the citizens came to Cote a Fabre---later known as Escore Fabre and today known as Camden---to court they attended other matters. Dr. Cabeen, who lived in Pennington's settlement near Bayou Saline in what is now Bradley County, had a ward, Henry Panttz, a penniless orphan fourteen years old. During this term of court Judge Black took Henry as an apprentice for seven years to teach him "the art and mystery" of farming and to teach him reading, writing, and arithmetic including the rule of three and provide him with proper clothing, medical attention and shelter. Charles H. Seay, Thomas Hubbard and Benjamin Gooch witnessed the agreement between Dr. Cabeen and Judge Black.

With each term of court the affairs of the county were growing. Judge Black appointed Anderson Tate, James Magnes, Issac Pennington, Hawkins Patterson and John Nunn to view and mark the nearest and best way for a road leading from the house of John Nunn's at Cote a Fabre to the Louisiana State Line in a direction toward Monroe in July, 1830. This was the first of many attempts to locate the road to the Louisiana line nearest Monroe. This struggle continued and the road was not accomplished until Robert Johnson Black brought his wagon train from Alabama about six years later.

Sheriff Black presented the first tax levy for the county July 19, 1830. After the levy was approved he asked Judge Black to approve the appointment of Charles H. Seay as deputy sheriff, which Judge Black did.

The first court with a long agenda was October 19, 1830, which was held at John Nunn's with Judge Black presiding. Sheriff Black made the first settlement of moneys received in the county

His report was:

Taxes Collected

 $ 212.39


 Fines Collected






 Total Collected



 Receipts No. one to twenty-seven

 $ 145.19


 Credit of Ten per cent on Taxes



 Total Spent



 Remains in hands of said Sheriff



The report was examined and approved (20). Judge Black fined Anderson Tate, Hawkins Patterson, James Magness, and Isaac Pennington Five Dollars each for failure to perform their duties as reviewers of the road to the Louisiana Line. John Nunn, Levi A. Sloan and Jacob Watkins were appointed to carry out this task. On the same day

William Cornish was made overseer of the road leading from the gin belonging to Jonathan Black, senior, to Scarborough's Landing on the Ouachita River. Joseph Neely, esquire, was appointed to apportion the hands to work said road.

July 18, 1831, Sheriff Black made his final settlement which showed that he had used his own money to defray the county expenses. The clerk was ordered to issue to him county script in the proper amount. Charles H. Seay became sheriff. Being sheriff in those days was a hard job with little pay and few were willing to serve. Jonathan Black, Jr., served almost two years. On the same day he accepted the appointment with Anderson Tate and James Magness to view and mark a road leading from the court house to the most eligible route to the Louisiana State Line in the direction of Monroe. Anderson Tate and James Magness were two of those fined earlier for failure to view this route. Evidently Judge Black was giving them their second chance.

John Nunn had died before this July term of court, and probably no published record has ever given credit to a great pioneer. His home served as the first courthouse of Union County. He identified himself and his efforts in the building of a community. Judge Black approved the issuance of a license to Elizabeth Nunn, his widow, to continuethe operation of a ferry across the Ouachita River. Letters of administration on John Nunn's estate had been granted to Elizabeth Nunn, May 10, 183. She, who could neither read nor write, was astute in business. She saw the need for a mill and hired William H. Harrison and George W. Tate to build it for her. On November 23, 1832, she filed her contract which gave in detail the specifications for the construction of the mill. When the building was completed she paid the contractors in open court the total building cost of One Hundred Ninety-One Dollars and Fifty Cents (28). January 30, 1834, she married William L. Bradley who became active in the affairs of the county and was at one time county clerk. They deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church the land "fronting Van Buren Street and on the East Side of Harrison Street in Camden" on September 28, 1842. This family, early associates of the Black family and probably from South Carolina, contributed much to the development of that part of Union County which later became Ouachita County.

Levi C. French's Schoolhouse was where an election was held in 1831. This is the first reference to any school in the records and it was evidently located at the present City of Camden because it was in the "Township of Cote a Fabre ." Two other townships were mentioned in connection with that election. These were Franklin and Pennington. Thus the three early townships, Cote a Fabre, Franklin and Pennington are now in Ouachita, Union and Bradley Counties respectively.

Jonathan Black, Jr., reported in October, 1831, that the road to the Louisiana State Line had been reviewed and
marked. This was the first report made on the road after three attempts to have it marked. In the same term of court. Pennington Township was dividend and all that part "west of range line of Fifteen and east of the Ouachita River" was established as Core A Fabre Township.

Judge Black had two other magistrates, David Rupel and Thomas Franklin, commissioned to hold court at the July 16, 1832 court which met at the home of Elizabeth Nunn. In the years following, the affairs of the county court became more and more routine.

A post office was established in January 1831, at Corea Fabre with Benjamin Gooch postmaster. This route started from Washington, Hempstead County. An act had been passed November 21, 1829, for the opening of a road from Washington to Cote Fabre in Union County. The following spring another mail route was announced. This was from Villemont on the Mississippi River in Chicot County via Cabeen's in Union County to Pine Bluff. The Arkansas Gazette, June 13, 1832, carried the announcement, "It gives us much pleasure to announce to our readers that the mail route from this place via Pine Bluff in Jefferson County, Cabeen's in Union County, Bayou Bertelemi, and Old River to the Mississippi River at Villemont in Chicot County may now be considered as permanently established and the public may hereafter expect a regular weekly mail on this route. This is an important route affording as it does our only direct channel of communication with Chicot and intermediate community.

Soon Dr. John T. Cabeen was appointed postmaster at Cabeen's. This mail route was approved by congress and extended to Little Rock. By 1833 another route had been established. Mail from Hempstead Courthouse by Corea Fabre to Black's in Union County ninety miles away came on a regular schedule each two weeks.

The schedule was leaving Hempstead Courthouse every other Monday at 6 a.m., and arriving at Black's the next Wednesday by 8 p. m., and then returning from Black's every other Thursday at 6 a.m., and arriving at Hempstead Courthouse the next Saturday at 6 p.m. It was over this route that James Black, who had established a blacksmith shop at Washington, must have traveled. When James Bowie went through Washington on his way to Texas, he went to the blacksmith shop to have a knife made, from a design he had. When the knife was finished and he came to the shop for it, James Black showed Bowie one that he became involved with three desperadoes and was able to kill them with his knife. Orders came to James Black for knives "like Bowie's" and the "Bowie was found in his hand and his body was surrounded by dead Mexicans at the Alamo in San Antonio in March, 1836. James Black was known as a cousin of the Union County family and was probably a grandson of either Thomas or Samuel Black,

Judge Black was responsible for all of the Black's moving to Union County. He wrote accounts of the country to his relatives and his cousin, William Russell Black, came to Arkansas to visit about 1832 or 3.

William Russell Black, born in Alabama, November 29, 1816, the son of Samuel and Isabella Johnson Black, left his home in Wilcox County for Mobile where he visited Lillian Black and her family. From Mobile he went by boat to New Orleans and from there up the Mississippi River. Whether he came on up the Red and Ouachita Rivers or whether he came by stage over the route from Villemont is not known, but he did spend several months with Jonathan Black's family, who lived west of the present Village of Lisbon on the old Camden-Champagnolle road.

The only land owned by him found in the records of Union County was in Section Three, Township Seventeen South, Range Seventeen West. When William Russell Black returned to Alabama, he related that Arkansas was the richest land he had ever seen. Land was to be had for the asking, wild game of all kinds was plentiful and the sweetest water he had ever tasted came from the wells. His enthusiasm was contagious and soon Robert Johnson Black, his brother born May 20, 1800, was thinking about Arkansas. He consulted members of the family and they decided to take their slaves and move. The zeal of the Black family for coming to Arkansas interested many others in the venture and before the wagon train left there was assembled for the journey to Arkansas not only the Black clan, but the Perrys, the Wallaces, the Connors, the Rayfords, the Munfords and the Davises. Dr. Thomas Reed Williams, William Carter, and Sanders Norris were three of the young men who joined the wagon train.

The Blacks who made this journey were Robert Johnson Black, the oldest man in the family and leader of the group; Isabella Johnson Black, his mother; Araminta Mathilda and Oliver Hazard Perry Black, his two children; William Russell and Samuel Frank Black, his only two brothers; Catherine S., Rebecca, Isabella, and Martha Black, his sisters; William S. Black, James M. Black, John C. Black, J. F. Black and Francis P. Black, all relatives. Among the Connors were Charles Frank and Jane (Black) Connor with their children, Simon F. Connor and perhaps the babies of the family Narcissa L. Connor, born April 22, 1835, and Charles S. Connor born March 7, 1838. It has been impossible to determine the exact year they came. They were in Alabama in 1833 and they were in Arkansas in 1839.

The wagon train moved slowly, but smoothly until it reached Farmerville, Louisiana. There the road stopped and to go further was impossible. The woods loomed before them in all of its virgin splendor, broken only by dim paths that could have been made by Indians, wild animals or lone huntsmen, but never had a wagon been over that route. The train stopped; slaves rapidly built cabins; and the group made temporary homes. It was early in the year, perhaps not later than the first of April, there was plenty of land, many slaves and still time to make a crop. What did the delay of one year mean to these pioneers?

During the summer months when the crop was laid by Robert Johnson Black with the men and their slaves cut the wagon road from Farmerville through the place that was later known as Oakland, Union Parish, Louisiana, on the Arkansas-Louisiana line, across Big Lapile Creek in Arkansas to the land that he had selected about three miles East of the place that was later known as New London. Since 1830 efforts had been made to get this road cut and laid out "nearest to Monroe." Each year the county court had appointed persons to cut this road and after Jonathan Black, Jr., reported that the route had been marked, the marks could not be found a short time later. The road that Robert Johnson Black built was shown on the early maps as "Black's Road," and it led to his house. Later it was cut to Beeson's Landing on the Ouachita River.

They spent almost a year in Farmerville which was a small settlement with few families. Friendships formed during that year endured and were passed on and today there are ties of friendships that date back to that time. Dr. Williams fell in love and later married Jane Underwood whom he met in Farmerville. She died of tuberculosis soon after coming to Union County and he later married Mary Connor and reared a large family.

When they arrived in Union County a few trappers were living on the Ouachita River in the extreme eastern part of the county. William Burke was operating a ferry on the Ouachita perhaps at the place later known as Careyville in 1839. At the crossroads where New London was later established a trapper named Hughes lived. But there was no sign of development in that area of the county and the task in clearing the land, building homes and in establishing roads was the task of every person who chose the life of a pioneer. The first year was hard, but each year brought into the community new families and the settlement grew. Robert Johnson Black built a large log house. It had to be large because he, his children, his mother and sisters and brothers lived together, and it was probably of cypress because the records show that cypress logs were desired by the pioneers of Union County. Jesse Phelps, Rural Route, Strong, now owns the old Black place, and lives there. A cypress log which had been hollowed was used to curb the first dug well for the new log house. Colonel John Logan Black, a graduate of West Point and a colonel in the War Between the States, made the trip from Blacksburg, South Carolina, to Union County in 1850 to visit his cousin.

He wanted to move to Arkansas, but the girl he loved in South Carolina would not come to the "Arkansas Wilderness"---she had never seen Arkansas. He went back to Blackburg, married his sweetheart, and spent the remainder of his life telling about the wonderful country on the Ouachita River, and about the sweet water that came from the dug well with the cypress log curbing. In 1940 his daughter, Mrs. John B. Palmer, Ridgeway, South Carolina, remembered the story of the well and asked about it.

Robert Johnson Black, at the age of twenty, married his cousin, Mary Black, born in 1802 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Robert and Mathilda Alexander Black, and the granddaughter of James and Elizabeth (Rogers) Black who married in Maryland.

Robert Johnson and Mary (Black) Black's son, Oliver Hazard Perry, was born August 24, 1821, and two years later to the day their frail and premature daughter Araminta Matilda was born. Mary Black died the next day. Her mother who was en route by horseback from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, with her son, Robert Wilkinson Black, had planned to be in Perry County, Alabama, with her daughter when her grandchild was born. She did not know of her daughter's death until she reached Alabama.

After Mary Black's death in 1823 her husband devoted the rest of his life to the service of his family and his community. He had attended private schools in South Carolina before he moved to Alabama and was probably sent back there to college. Mary Black had been reared in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and did not live in Alabama until she married. Evidently, Robert Johnson Black visited and kept in touch with all of his relatives and distances meant nothing to him. He was a tall blonde who had inherited more physical characteristics from his Scotch father than from his Irish mother. However, he was fun loving and had the Irish wit, but he had only one love in his life and he never remarried nor showed any interest in remarrying.

Letters from Robert Johnson Black began to reach North and South Carolina which told of the wonderful country in Union County. These letters brought other members to Arkansas. Robert Wilkinson Black came with his family and widowed mother, Mathilda Alexander Black, and settled on the Ouachita River near Careyville. Today a high knoll, the final resting place of this family, known as Black's burying ground is the only evidence that the Blacks lived there. Mathilda Alexander Black was a member of the Alexander family famous for their patriotic activities in North Carolina during the Revolution. Six members of this family signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. She remembered the Revolution and told many stories about it.

When she died in 1860, at almost a hundred years old, it was during a flood and they could not bring her to the regular cemetery north of New London and she was the first person to be buried on the knoll overlooking the Ouachita River.

Marcellus Black, son of Robert and Mathilda Alexander Black, journeyed farther to reach Arkansas than any other member of the family. The Blacks were a restless family and Marcellus, after leaving Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, probably lived several places before he reached Illinois, near Carthage, where he was an active member of the Masonic Lodge. It was there that the Mormons, under the leadership of Joseph Smith, began practicing polygamy, which aroused the Masons to action to stop it. Marcellus Black found himself in the middle of the fight and with William Vorheas, a young single man, and other Masons went to Carthage for Joseph Smith. There was trouble and William Vorheas always thought his shot was the fatal one to the founder of the Mormon Church. Marcellus Black decided soon after this to come to Arkansas and William Vorheas came with him. The members of Marcellus Black's family were his wife, his daughters, Isabella H., Elizabeth, Margarett E., Susan, and his son Marcellus Augustus Black. His children all married and reared families in Union County. William Vorheas married Black's oldest daughter, Isabella, 26 November, 1848. Marcellus Black died March 7, 1849, but in the few years he lived in Union County he was active in public affairs.

Nancy Ritchie Black, the widow of Christopher Columbus Black a brother of Robert Wilkinson Black, came to Union County with her daughter Ellen who had married Jesse Perdue. Nancy Black's only other child, Mary, married John J. Cooper. Both of these daughters of Christopher Columbus Black had large families and many descendants are now living in Union County.

Alex Black was added to the tax roll in 1845. J. W. Black and James J. Black were on the tax roll in 1848 and Adam D. Black and W. W. Black were added to the tax roll for 1851. All of these men had families. All of the Blacks lived north and east of Strong, east of New London and west of the Ouachita River with the exception of Jonathan Black and Ezekial Black.

Little is known of the activities of Judge Jonathan Black after he left the county judge's office. The earliest tax books list him with a family and six slaves and a total taxable worth of Nineteen Hundred Dollars. He was listed in the tax books for many years. He ran his gin and attended to his own affairs. Hadn't he started the government of Union County? Was he longer needed? Couldn't others take over? His interest in public affairs continued and he served in any way that he was needed. In 1844 he aided in the establishment of a school by William Hogg. He with E. W. Wright, and Samuel Tuley was appointed to view and mark changes in the road from Smackover Bridge to Champagnolle in February, 1845. Perhaps Captain L. A. Black who joined the Presbyterian Church at Mt. Holly in 1870 and became an elder in 1871 was a member of this family. But today near Lisborn, Union County, is a site known as the Old Black place, and if any descendant of Jonathan Black is in Union County, he has not been known.

When Robert Johnson Black came to Union County, he became interested in the affairs of the county and started using his energies for the general improvement of the community. The first recorded appearance Robert Johnson Black made in the affairs of the county was in January, 1843, when a review of Black's Road to the Louisiana line was given by George Perry, John Jones, and James Burke. The court appointed Robert Johnson Black, James Hughes, and George Perry overseers of the road.

Robert Johnson Black, William Cornish, Jr., and Thomas Durrett were election judges of Van Buren Township.

A petition was filed by the citizens of Union County in County Court July, 1843, asking for the removal of the county site from Champagnolle on the Ouachita River to a more centrally located place. The County Judge ordered an election to select three commissioners to choose a new location. The election was held and the report was given in court Tuesday, October 10, 1843, that Robert Johnson Black, John R. Hampton, and John Reynolds had been elected.

On the same day Robert Johnson Black and John R. Hampton came into open court and reported that they had selected "that portion of the county lying in the vicinity of the center, upon the South Quarter of Section 28, Township 17 South, Range 15 West as being the best located place to promote the convenience and interest of the majority of the inhabitants of said county." John Reynolds did not sign the report and asked to be relieved of his duty. Why? The records fail to give the answer. Green Newton was appointed to take his place.

Mathew F. Rainey deeded the quarter section selected as the center by the commission on December 2, 1843, to Green Newton, John R. Hampton, and Robert J. Black, "commissioners elected and appointed to locate the courthouse in Union County" for the consideration of four acres of land run off and set apart for the use of Mathew F. Rainey where his cabin is located. A. T. Rainey and C. C. Rainey witnessed the deed.

The court had instructed Robert Johnson Black and John R. Hampton in October-1843-term to have the Hundred and Sixty acres divided into lots and to have a new courthouse built at El Dorado and ready for use, and to remove all records from Champagnolle to El Dorado.

All judges' seats, benches and chairs were to be removed to El Dorado and Six Dollars was allowed for the purchase of six new chairs for the courthouse. This was the first time the name El Dorado appeared in the records and there is no indication of why this name was chosen. El Dorado Landing, near the present town of Calion, was on the Ouachita River, but there is nothing in the records of Union County about El Dorado Landing prior to the report given in 1843 calling the new location for a county site, El Dorado.

Robert Johnson Black, John R. Hampton, and Green Newton reported in County Court April 8, 1844, that they had advertised and let the contract for the surveying of a portion of the Town of El Dorado at a sum of Sixty Dollars to Marcellus Black and that they had on January 13, 1844, sold a public action nine of the said lots, two of which were purchased by James R. Moore who had died and the bonds and notes in the sale had to be executed. The other seven lots sold for the aggregate sum of Six Hundred and Fifty-four Dollars on credit of one, two and three years. They also reported that they had made a contract with John A. Mitchell who was the lowest bidder to build a courthouse for the total sum of Two Hundred Dollars payable January 1, 1845, and that the house was completed and had been delivered to the commissioners. They asked for permission to have the windows completed with glass. The action of the commission was approved and they were ordered to employ a carpenter of the highest type to put in the glass in the windows and to remove the benches and the judge's seats from Champagnolle. There was a controversy going on in the county about the removal of the courthouse from Champagnolle and the commission asked that the court suggest the proper time to remove the seats and judge's stands from the old to the new courthouse. They were ordered to do so at the earliest possible time.

Albert Rust protested in Court April 9, 1844, the moving of the judge's seats from the old courthouse and asked the court to delay the removal of the county records.

Albert Rust was in business at Champagnolle and he was a very rich man, but not the County's largest slave owner. Many stories have been handed down about the removal of the records from Champagnolle. It has been told that the citizens of Champagnolle stole the records from the courthouse and hid them and that part of the records were never recovered. Another story is that the men took the records and dared anyone to come for them. If this happened it is not recorded and the only evidence that there was opposition was the commissioners' asking repeatedly about moving the records and Albert Rust's protest over the removal.

After Rust had finished, Judge Zera Wakefield ordered the commissioners to have the seats removed to the new courthouse. At the same time he appointed Captain Richard Andrews with John McLemore, F. C. Leseuer, and A. T. Rainey assistants to patrol Jackson Township at or near the Town of El Dorado.

In the same term of court Robert Johnson Black, Woodruff Norsworthy, and Hosea George were appointed election judges of Harrison Township for a term of two years.

El Dorado Township was established at the July Term of Court, 1844, which was the last term of county court held at Champagnolle.

October 14, 1844. Union County Court was held in El Dorado for the first time and this was a formal affair. Even the writing of the recorder was more carefully executed which show as that he felt the importance of the occasion. He took a new page to begin the records instead of filling the half page left after the last term of court as had been his custom. Judge Zera Wakefield was the presiding judge with Jarvis Lanford and Richard Wright, associate justices. The sheriff read the proclamation opening court and the order of business was formally attended to.

John R. Hampton who lived about five miles north of El Dorado near the Robert Goodwin place was appointed road overseer of El Dorado Township.

The commissioners reported that the lots bought by James R. Moore who had since died had been sold to others and asked approval for such sale which was granted. Marcellus Black, Seaborn I. Sharpley, and Jarvis Mills were appointed to view a road in Harrison Township commencing at William's Store and running South and East and intersecting the Black Road at the Northwest corner of Section 19. Township 18 South, Range 11 West, the three to meet at Woodruff Norsworthy's to be sworn in on the last Monday in November.

Robert Johnson Black was paid Fifteen Dollars for his services to the county as Commissioner elected to locate the county seat of Union County. John R. Hampton was paid Fourteen Dollars and Green Newton was paid Ten Dollars.

Roads had been playing an ever increasing part in the records of the county court during the establishment of the county seat in El Dorado Roads had to be built in all directions to reach the new county courthouse. The Ouachita River had been the means of transportation to Champagnolle and to Camden when county court had been held there, but those who did not live on the river found travel to the county seat difficult then. Now, that El Dorado was the new county seat and located about ten miles from the River, the only means of reaching it was by roads.

John R. Beeson, who operated a ferry on the Ouachita River asked in January, 1811 that Wiley Underwood be appointed overseer in Franklin Township of Black's Road from Beeson Landing to the Louisiana line: that Isa Hill be overseer on said road from Franklin Township line to Big Lapile; and that Morris McDonald be overseer from Big Lapile to the Louisiana line. The following April he asked that an overseer be named to replace Wiley Underwood who had removed from Arkansas.

John Towns was appointed in his place and William Davis was named to replace Isa Hill who no longer lived in the Township of Harrison since it was formed from Franklin .

Robert Johnson Black was elected surveyor of Union County, October 7, 1844, and filed his bond signed by himself, T. Reed Williams, and Woodruff Norsworthy on December 4, 1844. He served in this office the remaining years of his life, and this was the office that he loved. He enjoyed the outdoors and he went over the entire county as county surveyor. He made trails, marked lines, laid out roads and worked untiringly the remainder of his life to carve a civilization from a wilderness. Union County had Smackover, Big and Little Lapile, Caney Creeks, Corney and Saline Bayous and the Ouachita River that went out of bounds during heavy rains. He waded streams, swam his horse and never spared himself in any task that needed to be done in connection his work. Whether his interest in surveying was inspired by his admiration for George Washington, or by the necessity for running accurate lines on the vast tracts of undeveloped land is not known. He was student of President Washington and his library contained many books about Washington, among them a set of Jared Sparks, Washington's Writings in twelve volumes, published 1840. These books have notes written by Robert Johnson Black as he studied them.

January 15, 1845, Green Newton resigned and William G. Gresham was appointed to take his place on the commission  on which Robert Johnson Black and John R. Hampton were still serving. The court ordered them to select and set aside certain lots in the city of El Dorado for churches, to draft a plan for a jail, and to lay off a graveyard of ample dimensions, to purchase a stove of convenient size for the courthouse, to select a location for a school house and to dig a public well.

It was in this January term of court, 1845, that the commissioners filed their first complete statement of moneys received.

This report on the first sales of lots in El Dorado and the expense of establishing a courthouse and a town is given in detail and is copied as it appears on the record.

 Lots Sold January 13, 144 (Previously reported)

 $ 856.47

 Lots Sold December 25, 1844


 Total Amount Sold to Date


On credits of one, two and three years.


 Cash from sale January 13, 1844


 Cash from sale December 25, 1844


 Total amount received in cash


 Amounts paid out:


John A. Mitchell for building courthouse, Judges stands, window sashes in full


 B. R. Matthews for clearing square


 Paid on account to Marcellus Black for survey


 Green Newton's services to date, 8 days


 John R. Hampton's services to date, 8 days


 Expended for paper, bonds, notes


 Total amounts paid out


 Leaving in hands of commissioners in cash


 Yet due and unpaid on January 13 sales


 Yet due and unpaid on December 25 sales


 There remains to be paid to Mr. Black for surveying


lots, $40, and a bill for printing amount unknown, and


the amount $155.16 will be received at an early date


which added to the cash balance will make a total of


 Deduct Mr. Black's and printing bill


 There will yet remain


  Due on January 1, 1846


 Due on January 1, 1847


 Due on January 1, 1848


 This report was approved (96).


Those who bought lots January 13, in addition to Mr. Moore who died were J. L. Parrington, (Pennington?), Peter D. Goodwin, M. W. Bledsoe, J. H. Cornish and--------Hill (Torn and cannot be read.) Among those who bought lots on the Christmas Day sale were John McLemore, Martin and Utely, J. A. Mitchell, J. L. Parrington, (Pennington?), E. P. Tatum, C. B. Goode, C. C. Rainey, W. C. Brown, R. Andrews, H. D. Marr, A. P. Farris, Martha Coleman, E. Rogers, J. M. Hudson and M. P. Mize. There was a demand for another sale because all lots offered had been sold and the commissioners asked for further instructions. The commission also reported that there was now enough money to pay the government the pre-emption price for the quarter section of land on which El Dorado is located .

On January 13, 1845, Jonathan Black, Samuel P. Sealey, and E. M. Wright were appointed to view and mark out changes in the road from the house of George W. Gill, to the corner of David Coulter's field. These men reported on April 14, 1845, that the change had been marked out and it was necessary and of great convenience.

Robert Johnson Black was allowed Four Dollars for Blank Books for the office of County Surveyor of which Two Dollars and A Half was paid to W. C. Lucus for same. On April 15, 1845, Benjamin C. Williams was appointed overseer on the road leading from James Burk's Landing to Robert Johnson Black's and Joshua Stephens was made overseer from Black's to the said corner of said section. On the same day Marcellus Black and S. J. Sharpless reported that their work in reviewing and marking out a road from Williams' Store to the Northwest Corner of said section 19 had been done.

Robert Johnson Black, James Taylor, and Woodruff Norsworthy were appointed July, 1845 to review a road beginning at the Northeast Quarter of Section Seven, Township Eighteen South, Range Twelve West, thence to the Northeast Quarter of Section Thirty-six to Williams' Store. A restraining order had been filed to prevent this road from being a public road and the court asked these men to examine the road. In the same court Robert Johnson Black was allowed Two Dollars and a Half for bringing up the poll books of the presidential election in the year 1844 from Harrison Township and a warrant was issued for the amount due.

In the October Term of County Court, 1845, Robert Johnson Black, Woodruff Norsworthy, and James Taylor were appointed to view changes in the Magnolia Road leading to and intersecting Burk's Landing Road by Esquire Howard's to the Louisiana Line. This Magnolia was a community which has disappeared, but it was in Union County and is not the City of Magnolia in Columbia County. On the same day Robert Johnson Black with James Taylor and John Bradley was appointed to view and mark a road from R. M. Wallace's to Burk's Landing. The same day the court allowed Robert Johnson Black, Six Dollars for his services as county surveyor in running a road from Magnolia to El Dorado. The Six Dollars was paid to W. C. Lucas, who signed as assistant to the surveyor.

In January, 1846, Robert Johnson Black and Woodruff Norsworthy, viewers, reported on the road known as Williams' Road leading from Magnolia to Esquire Howard's on the Louisiana Line. They asked that said road be made a public road which was done. On the same day Robert Johnson Black, John A. Bradley, and James H. Taylor reported that they had viewed and marked out a road leading from Wallace's to Watt's Landing and had found the nearest and best route to be crossing Caney Bayou at a bridge, which report was approved, and R. M. Wallace was made overseer on said road. Robert Johnson Black received Three Dollars for viewing the road.

Marcellus Black was allowed Two Dollars for reviewing the road from Williams' Store. Oliver Hazard Perry Black was appointed road overseer with Milton Keesse, John Hodge and John A. Bradley on the road from Louisiana Line across Big Lapile to Robert Johnson Black's and on the Watt's Landing. This was the first appearance of the name of Robert Johnson Black's son in the records of Union County. In the same court Joel Kelly and Ezekiel Black were made overseers of Luter Road.

The commissioners who had selected the new Town of El Dorado filed their report of money received and paid out. Robert Johnson Black had been paid to date for work as commissioner Twenty-Eight Dollars and Seventy-Five Cents. John R. Hampton had received to Twenty-three Dollars. Marcellus Black had received Forty Dollars for the additional survey. The other items were in part a duplication of the earlier report. This was examined and approved in the January term, 1846.

Robert Johnson Black, John R. Hamton, and William G. Gresham, commissioners elected to select and locate a county seat of Union County, filed their resignations on July 15, 1846, which were accepted and Robert M. Hardy, William Davis, and Richard Lyon were appointed commissioners in succession. This ended the services of Black and Hampton who served since the commission had been created three years earlier. But were their services needed longer ? Wasn't El Dorado established? Wasn't the town growing? They had other work to do. Black who had been county surveyor for two years was still serving in that office and wasn't that work more important to a hardy pioneer? Hampton had others things to do. He served in the legislature and served his county in tasks at hand. But this day marked the end of a close association of two great friends. They had worked unselfishly for the establishment of a county seat in the center of the county. Was that the reason John Reynolds resigned when the site was chosen? They lived twenty-six miles apart and their visits could not be as often.

After Robert Johnson Black's duties as commissioner to establish a county seat were over, he devoted his entire time to the office of county surveyor. Often W. C. Lucas helped him and was paid as assistant. Many of the records show that "Robert J. Black allowed fees as county sur-paid to W. C. Lucas." Black was re-elected county surveyor August 3, 1846, and filed his bond November 16, 1846, with himself, John R. Beeson and John H. Cornish as bondsmen. He was re-elected August 7, 1848, and filed his bond signed by himself, Charles Smith, and Robert G. Gill on January 1, 1849 . Again on August 5, 1850, Black was re-elected surveyor and filed his bond, signed by himself, Arch C. Watts, Rubeun H. Christian, and O. H. P. Black on November 18, 1850 (121). In the elections of 1852, 1854, and 1856 Robert J. Black was re-elected county surveyor.

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