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John Murrell moved his family from Arkansas to the Flat Lick Bayou area about 6 miles west of present-day Homer in 1818, and they became the first known non-natives to permanently settle in Claiborne Parish. As more settlers moved into the area, the Murrell house served as a church, school and post office. When the state legislature created Claiborne Parish out of Natchitoches Parish in 1828, all governmental business, including court, began being held in the Murrell house. This continued until the new parish's police jury selected Russellville (now a ghost town located northeast of Athens) as the parish seat. As the population began swelling in what was then the western part of the parish, the seat was moved to Overton (another modern ghost town found near Minden) in 1836, because of its position at the head of the navigable portion of Dorcheat Bayou. Due to flooding and health concerns, the parish seat was moved to Athens in 1846, but an 1848 fire destroyed the courthouse and all the records in it. Soon thereafter the Claiborne Police Jury chose the present site for the parish seat, which came to be named, Homer.
John Ardis Cawthon of Louisiana Tech University studied several Claiborne Parish ghost towns in his book of local history, Ghost Towns of Old Claiborne. He recalls the words of a relative, George Washington Dance, "When the courthouse moved, the glory departed. The village is now an old worn-out field."
There were 6,270 households out of which 29.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.10% were married couples living together, 17.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.80% were non-families. 28.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the parish the population was spread out with 25.60% under the age of 18, 8.00% from 18 to 24, 26.90% from 25 to 44, 22.30% from 45 to 64, and 17.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.40 males.
The median income for a household in the parish was $25,344, and the median income for a family was $32,225. Males had a median income of $29,161 versus $20,102 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $13,825. About 21.40% of families and 26.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.30% of those under age 18 and 23.20% of those age 65 or over.
However, by 2008, U.S. SenatorJohn McCain of Arizona easily carried the parish in his losing race to Barack H. Obama. McCain polled 3,750 votes (54.8 percent) to Obama's 3,025 votes (44.2 percent). In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the parish, with 3,649 votes (54.2 percent), nearly identical to the McCain tally four years earlier. President Obama received 3,014 votes (44.8 percent), or .6 of 1 percent greater than his earlier tabulation.
T. H. Harris, pioneer educator and state education superintendent from 1908 to 1940, was born in the Arizona community in Claiborne Parish in 1869, the son of a Baptist minister. Another Claiborne Parish educator, John Sparks Patton, once ran against Harris for education superintendent and himself served on the Louisiana Public Service Commission until he was unseated in 1942 by Jimmie Davis. Patton is remembered for his crusade to establish taxpayer-funded school textbooks.
Patrick Floyd Garrett, Sheriff of Lincoln County New Mexico,and killer of Billy the Kid, lived here as a child, the family having moved from Alabama to Louisiana in late 1850s
Frederick Douglass "Fred" Lewis, resident of Lisbon, was one of the first three African-Americans elected to serve on the Claiborne Parish School Board. He was the president of the civil rights organization known as the Claiborne Parish Civic League from 1965-1973. Lewis led the organization in filing a 1972 lawsuit that improved the lives of African-Americans in Claiborne Parish. Mr. Lewis's contributions helped the Friendship CME Church of Lisbon to be listed on May 31, 2016 in the National Register of Historic Places.
Frederick "Fred" Kirkpatrick was from Haynesville. He made an impact in the United States as an athlete, educator, civil rights activist, minister, and folksinger during the 1960s and 1970s. Most notably, Rev. Kirkpatrick was co-founder of the Deacons for Defense and Justice. The Deacons protected prominent civil rights activists when they visited the South, and they protected black families during the 1960s era of cross burnings and harassment. Fred Kirkpatrick received his Bachelor's Degree from Grambling State University where he also played football.
There is a Trinity Southern Methodist Church in Homer and a Claiborne Southern Methodist congregation, a conservative theological body separate from the United Methodists, located north of Homer.
Holly Springs Baptist Church west of Homer on U.S. Highway 79 is among rural congregations in Claiborne Parish. It has maintained a small cemetery since 1952 located across the highway from the sanctuary.