On March 30, 1871 the Louisiana General Assembly passed an act to create Vernon Parish by taking territory from the parishes of Sabine, Natchitoches, and Rapides. On April 11 of the same year a legislative act laid out sixteen sections that organized parish government.


Section Three gave the governor power with the approval of the senate to appoint a parish government consisting of a parish-wide judge, sheriff, clerk, recorder, and assessor plus officials that may be necessary.

At the ward level (Section Four established six wards) six justices and six constables were appointed.  

The first parish judge was Nathan Hunt Bray who was born in Peterborough, England on April 20, 1803.

He arrived in New Orleans in the 1830s and moved to Sabine Parish in the 1840s.  Judge Bray was also a leader in establishing Baptist churches and Masonic lodges. He died on February 18, 1875 and is buried in Old Anacoco Cemetery.

The first sheriff was John Irvin Kirk.

Kirk was born in Pike County, Mississippi in June of 1846. He served as sheriff 1871-1874 and 1887-1888.

He moved to Provencal in Natchitoches Parish and became a merchant in a general merchandise store until he died on November 24, 1932. He is buried in Provencal Cemetery.

The first clerk was Isaac Otis Winfree. At the time Winfree, born March 3, 1842, was the only parish-wide official born in Louisiana. He married Lou Smart, daughter of John Smart.
Winfree served as clerk 1871-1877 and then returned to finish the term of Hugh L. Sanders, according to some records. He died on October 12, 1902 and is buried in Old Leesville Cemetery.

The first recorder was John Cornelius Munday. He was born in Laurence County, Tennessee on March 14, 1845.

On July 27, 1865 Munday married Louisa Smart, daughter of Nathan P. Smart.
Munday became a doctor of allopathic medicine. He died in San Antonio, Texas in 1922 and  is buried in City Cemetery # Four. His ex-wife Louisa died in 1886 and is buried in Lake Charles City Cemetery.

The first assessor was Joseph William Moore. He was born in Ireland on September 29, 1835.  Moore arrived in New Orleans in 1853 or 1855. In 1857 he married Eliza B. Cavanaugh, daughter of John C. Cavanaugh, who was also born in Ireland.
Joseph died on January 24, 1914 and is buried in New Campground Cemetery in Beauregard Parish with his first wife.

The remaining parish-wide officials, Recorder Zachary Craft, Surveyor Francis Fuller, Coroner Nathan Smart, School Director Major Stanly (not superintendent), and thirteen bondsmen will be covered next week in part two.