(An early settlement history of over 3300 places in the state)

by James F. Brieger

[Selected Excerpts Concerning Several Community Names in Calhoun County.]




Located eight miles north of Bruce, Banner is one of the oldest existing places in the county, being settled by the Finn family from Ireland in 1840.

Several large planters and slave owners ere permanently settled here before the Civil War, and the town as known as a social as well as an educat­ional center. A college as established in 1889 which offered commercial and music courses, but with the establishment of public schools the college became extinct.

The story is told, that Uncle Mickey Finn gave his reason for coming to America as the fact that land as so high in his native Ireland that he could not afford to buy a burial plot for his family. Then he bought his land here and gave it the name, Banner, he immediately built a house, then he marked off a family burying ground.




The origin of its name is not known, but Benela was established eight miles southeast of Pittsboro in 1840. There were settlers here in the early 1830's, but Benela was not founded until 1840’s when Hugh Gaston came here with several others to establish business enterprises.

In 1853, Dr. S.T. Buchanan, Captain Enoch, Wiley and Austin Woodward settled here and Benela soon became a thriving trade center. In 1865 the town boasted six stores, two saloons, a large water mill and manufacturing plant. Being located on the Yalobusha River, cotton was transported to Greenwood by keelboat, bringing back supplies on their return trip. Lumber was also ship­ped down the river in rafts until the railroad was built to Calhoun City in 1905.

The growth of Benela was impeded by the fact that the railroad missed the town.



Bentley, located ten miles southeast of Calhoun City, was established in 1844 by Jesse H. Bentley, the first settler, who erected a water mill on nearby ear Creek. The town was incorporated in 1911.



Big Creek was founded eight miles west of Calhoun City in the 1840's. The first settlers were R. Chruthird and Abram Sellers in the early1840's, being joined by other pioneers between 1845 and 1855. At this time Big Creek was located two miles north of its present location and was the distributing point for the sale of whiskey, with a wholesale house having been opened here.

Being so far from the railroad, the growth of the town was slow but with the building of the highway, two miles to the south, Big Creek was moved to its present location near the highway in 1920 with more stores being added and a post office being established.



About 1824, J.R. Bounds, a cattleman, settled almost midway between the Skuna and Yalobusha Rivers, about eight miles west of present day Pittsboro. His brother, Henry Bounds, joined him in 1828 and they found an ideal cattle range between the two streams.

The two brothers rented this land from an Indian sub-chief named Bob Cole during their first two years of settlement, but later bought the land.



Bruce was founded in 1927 when the E.L. Bruce Lumber Company purchased a vast acreage in this section, four miles north of Pittsboro and established their large mill three miles north of Pittsboro in the Skuna Valley. The company purchased the Thurman Barton farm, which became the home of George Rogers, Superintendent of the Bruce interests.



Busyton was established about 1865, four miles south of Sarepta, and at one time a post office was located two miles to the southeast, but it was dis­continued in 1905.  Sometime after 1905, when State Highway 9 was improved, J.T. Ivy built a store on the highway and called it Busyton.




In 1905, upon learning of the railroad to be built from Okolona to Calhoun City Frank Burkett and J.S. Rowe immediately made plans for the establishment of a town in the vicinity of Calhoun City.

Just one mile east, lived J.M. Smith and Dr. S.H. Lawrence who also pro­posed to build a depot and town. Heated controversy resulted in a court decis­ion in favor of both places, and soon there sprang up two rival towns. It is said that in time, Captain Burkett and Dr, Lawrence, both Civil War Veterans, were able to ease the friction between the two towns to a large extent.

During the early history of the town, Derma enjoyed gradual growth, which continued until the depression of 1929, at which time the town began to dec­line. The town also suffered several disastrous fires from which it never recovered, but at its peak, Derma boasted two churches, fourteen stores, and an Agricultural High School.



Located six miles northwest of Pittsboro.



Settlers first came to this site, three miles north of Vardaman, in the 1840's, and called the settlement Cherry Hill. The place was later named Ellzey, supposedly for B.M. Ellzey an early merchant.

A post office was established here in the mid 1850's and was in operation until 1905.



Hardin Town was established and named by Johnnie Hardin who came to this site, four miles east of Calhoun City, in 1845. The place also seems to have been known as Hopewell, since the post office, which was in operation from 1880 until 1903, and the school was known as Hopewell.

Hardin Town was never much more than a one store settlement, and that became extinct during the depression of 1929.




Prior to 1860, Alexander Hollis and his brother, Marvin V. Hollis settled in this locality, three miles east of Derma and the place was named for these two brothers.

Hollis was no more than a rural community until the building of the rail­road in 1905, and it became a flag station. At that time a post office was opened and the town became incorporated in 1910. Hollis prospered for a few years but when the post office was discontinued in 1922 it began to decline.



Located eight miles east of Pittsboro, the name origin is uncertain, but it is known that the community was settled before 1860.

A post office was established at Loyd following the Civil War and in 1900 there were three stores in operation the post office was discontinued in 1910 and mail was received from Vardaman.



Mabry was a railroad switch located a short distance west of the depot at Derma. The switch served a large planing mill operated by C. C. and I. Mabry of Derma.  Mabry became extinct with the abolishment of the switch in 1939.



Located seven and one-half miles west of Pittsboro.



Pittman was established as a flag station on the Mississippi and Skuna Valley Railroad, twelve miles west of Bruce. The station was named for Sam Pittman who owned the land where the station was located before it was sold to the Bruce Lumber Company.



It is thought that Young Phillips, who arrived here about 1850, was the first settler in this section, nine miles north of Vardaman. Other early sett­lers included the Hardings, Campbell’s, Morgan’s, and the Reid family, for whom the town was named.

A post office had been in operation for several years when a store was opened by Tom Phillips in 1880. Three other stores were eventually built, and Reid enjoyed good business activity until the building of a railroad to the south in 1904. At that time the population began to shift to the railroad, business started to decline, and in 1910, the post office was discontinued.



About 1890, Stewart Warner opened a merchantile store near his home, ten miles northwest of Calhoun City, and in time, the settlement gained a post office which was named Retreat. Within a few years the post office was discon­tinued, and at that time the business of Stewart Warner was closed and Warner moved to Big Creek.



This settlement, located eleven miles southwest of Calhoun City, was first known as Davis Town, for J.W. Davis, who settled near here in the 1830's. About 1880 when a post office was granted, the community was given the name, Sabougla for the creek on which it is located.



Located eleven miles northeast of Bruce, it is thought that John Hellum was the first settler, coming in 1836 from Tennessee and acquired land a few miles north of the present site of Sarepta. Dr. Andrew Roane, son of Governor Archibald Roane of Tennessee, settled here in 1840 and at that time there was one store, which was operated by a man named McLarty.



Located three and one-half miles northwest of Pittsboro



Located six and one-half miles west of Pittsboro.




This small community, located twelve miles northwest of Sarepta, falls just within the county line.

A store, in which was housed the post office, was given the name Trusty, for a local resident. The store as well as the post office have been discon­tinued, the Trusty family along with other residents have moved away, and little now remains to mark the site of the settlement.



Now listed as being extinct, Vance was located about two miles east of Slate Springs, being named for William Vance, who in 1837 was e first settler. After building a log cabin in 1337, Vance established a water mill on Shulis-pear Creek for the purpose of grinding grain. In 1844, Vance cleared a plot of ground about 300 yards from his mill on which to erect a larger home He died before the home was built, and on being buried in the clearing, the spot came to be known as the Vance Graveyard, being used by the community which later sprang up.

After William Vance1s death his son operated the mill for a few years, and then it was sold and operated under the new owners until it was discontinued in 1914.



This settlement, four miles east of Derma, was originally known as Ticky Bin, and several stories have been told as to how the name originated. In those days the cattle grazed in the bottomlands where ticks were found, not only on the cattle but on the grass and trees as well.

In 1872 a store was opened by Tom Richardson, but the chief industry in this section, especially from 1895 until 1903, was the stave industry. Hand-hewn staves were made all up and down the Yalobusha and Skuna Rivers, and at the time of the Paris World1s Fair, several staves were sent to the fair and recei­ved first prize.

By 1904 the community of Ticky Bin had increased in population and the need of a post office was realized by the citizens. The long hoped for railroad had been surveyed so a petition was sent to President Theodore Roosevelt for the establishment of a post office to be named Vardaman, in honor of James K. Vardaman. The office was granted but was named Timberville instead of Vardaman as proposed.

As the town grew, business firms, schools, and churches were established. The citizens, never satisfied with the name, Timberville, requested and was granted the name change to Vardaman.