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George Paysinger

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December 29, 2013 by elhseven

The George Paysinger Story, an incredibly gifted craftsman or as we would say now, a modern day architect and furniture designer.

There were no schools in NW LA during slavery to teach anyone of African descent how to read or write let alone provide any woodshop skills. Even after Emancipation there was no institution to provide a vocation to those that survived slavery. There were no KB Builders around, no Perry Homes yet the ancestors instinctively had the ability to plan, frame and finish houses and also built the furniture that went inside of them. They were natural architects, craftsmen, bricklayers and artisans. And these weren’t always your run of the mill log cabins they built for their families. Many of the them had pillars near the entrances, wrap around porches, extensive hallways with built in wooden stoves and detached outhouses. I remember hearing about the story of George

George Paysinger desk – This is extremely rare, federal style desk built by George Paysinger and is housed at the Bossier Historical Center. It had been previously restored by George’s great, great grandson.

Paysinger a few years ago from a gentleman name Dale Jennings from Benton, LA. Mr. Jennings knew I was interested in researching African Americans in this region and mailed an article titled “The Priceless Slave”. George, an incredibly gifted craftsman or as we would say now, a modern day architect and furniture designer, had been on the plantation inventory of John Tyler Hamiter from GA. I later came across George’s great, great grand-daughter who gave me more insight on George. In 1842, Hamiter and his brother David, accompanied by at least 25 whites and 250 slaves traveled via wagon train from Houston County, Georgia to Bossier Parish, Louisiana where they arrived on Christmas Day along with George Paysinger and his wife Malinda. George was also a bricklayer and the Hamiter’s would contract him to other slaveowners in the area for carpentry jobs. Well story has is that one day another wealthy slaveowner in the area, John Gilmer, was in the market for someone to build some components of his plantation house, Orchard Place, and got George on loan from the Hamiter’s. Realizing the quality of George’s work resembled something out of a furniture store, Gilmer decided he wanted to own George. Gilmer offered $10,000 to the Hamiter’s for George. While that amount was well above market value for a male in his age range at the time, the Hamiter’s apparently knew what they had and responded to Gilmer by saying “You’ll never have enough money to purchase George”. George was involved in building some additions at Orchard Place but eventually returned back to the Hamiter’s. Eventually George was freed and the Hamiter’s actually deeded land to him after Emancipation Proclamation and George eventually accumulated more acreage later on. George ended up being a successful farmer who also ran a pretty lucrative cotton gin which was quite an accomplishment for someone who survived slavery. The land he purchased is still in the Paysinger family today.

Source: Paysinger descendents and The Genie which is published by the Ark-La-Tex Genealogical Association


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