MAGNOLIA; Raglands, Smiths were early settlers

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By Navisha Collins

The Ragland name is one that you hear often in LaRue County. But few people know how deep those roots grow.

Gideon Ragland relocated to Center Point, what is now Magnolia from Virginia in December 1808. He purchased 1,000 acres of land for $1,000 partly with monies from a Revolutionary War grant. This was the same month that Thomas Lincoln purchased the farm at Sinking Springs, mere months before the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Ragland built his farm north of where Magnolia was eventually established. It was on that farm that he and his wife brought into the world 10 children, all of who had large families. Because of this, it is fairly certain that most, if not all, Raglands in LaRue County are descendants of Gideon Ragland.  

Howard Ragland has lived his entire life in the area. His father, Roy Ragland, bought farmland in 1925 and today the family owns most of what is believed to be the original 1,000 acres that Gideon had purchased when settling; however, the original property markers have long since disappeared with time.

“The deed to the original land had trees marking the original boundaries, and it said that it ran from the head waters of Bacon Creek to the Nolynn River,” said Howard.

Monuments mark the original gravesite of Gideon Ragland, Nancy Clopton and Tom Jackson. The bodies have been relocated to the Magnolia Cemetery and the original grave markers that had once been battered by cattle were relocated as well. Now a monument to the first Ragland in the area and one of the first settlers of what is now Magnolia marks the spot, fenced off from possible disruption.

The property was named Shady Rest Farms, where the family is bringing up the 10th generation to descend from Gideon Ragland. For them, farming is a way of life. They support their families and those of their employees with what they do.

Another of the first settlers was A.F Smith. He built the first house in Magnolia in 1850. J.C Abney later tore it down in 1880 to make room for another house, which burned to the ground 14 years later.

The Smiths settled on what is Lawrence Lane. There were once three grave stones on the old home stead. They too have been relocated in the Magnolia Cemetery.

Smith had five grandsons take part in the Civil War. Two of the five were killed at the Battle of Perryville. They were Elbert and Aaron Abney. It is told that the father of the boys traveled to Perryville in a wagon to retrieve their bodies to be buried near home. They are buried now in the Magnolia Cemetery.

Six soldiers from Magnolia fought in the Civil War and are now buried in the cemetery. Three of them were killed during the war, the others died at a later date.

The third of the soldiers was William Harrison Ragland, a Union soldier and great grandson of Gideon. He came across a woman selling pies and was poisoned. It was learned that she had favored the Confederacy.