The following information is based on excerpts from the "History
Co, Vol I" published by the Chickasaw Co Historical and Genealogical
Copyright 1985. Reprints of this book and Vol II may still be
If interested in purchasing one of these volumes, contact the Chickasaw
Co Historical and Genealogical Society, P. O. Box 42, Houston, MS 38851.
Chickasaw Co is located in the northeast area of the state.
of five counties link with Chickasaw Co. These counties are: Pontotoc,
Lee, Montgomery, Clay, Webster, and Calhoun. Some or part of these
were formed from land originally a part of Chickasaw Co.
This history of Chickasaw Co was written by Harley Hill Floyd and
for publication in Vol I of the History of Chickasaw Co.
story of Chickasaw Co is the story of the people who have
or settled and made their homes in this small area of northeast MS.
group of people have been a varied group of many races and creeds who
given their allegiance to five flags.
people originated in other areas and came to the area looking
for new opportunities and a better way of life. All have played their
in the existence of Chickasaw Co.
Long before the county was formed a type of Paleo-Indian people,
as the Hopewells, lived here. At first, they were nomadic and
traders, but eventually became more settled into their lifestyle and
more permanent villages and practiced a primitive form of agriculture.
Traces of these people might be found a few miles northeast of the
of Houston (county seat of Chickasaw Co) on the Natchez Trace at a
place called Bynum Mounds.
The Hopewell people were fascinated with death and
to the manner of burial. Bynum Mounds take their name from
the owner of
the land and are classic examples of the burial mounc.
In time, the Hopewells disappeared from the area and
were in all
absorbed by the later groups of people who moved into the area.
The Chickasaw people, for
whom the county is named,
left marks on the
that endure to this day The word "Chickasaw" means
and is supposedly a derivative of the name of the Indian leader,
Chisca and his brother, Chocta, were among the band of Indians
have descended, or at least are related to the Toltecs of Mexico. These
people emigrated to what is now the state of MS by following a magical
stick and a white dog.
According to oral Chickasaw tradition, which is a mixture of fact
these Indian people left their homeland because of oppression. They
north and east and after each day's journey, they would "plant" the
in the ground by the campfire. Upon arising the next morning, they
travel in the direction that the stick was leaning. The white dog
the group, guiding them around natural barriers that they encountered.
This procession was led by the "bone barriers" who carried the
of their ancestors so that they could be buried in their new homeland.
After reaching the area which is now Winston Co, the stick no
after being "planted" by the campfire. It was here that the ancestral
were buried in the huge burial mound known as Nanih Waiya.
There are several accounts on the brothers Chisca and Chocta and
respective followers on their parting of ways. One is that they had a
Another story is told of a small pox epidemic originating with the bone
barriers. Still another tells of Chisca's band simplyturning north and
exploring the land, choosing to remain there.
In fact, there is solid evidence that this group moved as far
as the TN River in AL. Later, they returned to the Tombigbee area,
locating primarily in an area which today includes Lee, Pontotoc and
The Chickasaw Indians practiced a monotheistic religion and worshiped
god, Ababinili, atop ceremonial mounds. Owl Creek mounds to
Davis Lake in the Natchez Trace Game area are examples of this type of
The Chickasaw Indians became known as one of the Five Civilized
They describe themselves as the "undefeated". Historians of the period
tell that the original Chickasaw Indians were tall, well built people
reddish brown skin, raven black hair, large dark eyes and moved with a
superior and independent air.
The first white men to come to the area were Spaniards led by
de Soto. This expedition originated on the Atlantic coast of FL and
across the southeastern part of what is now the United States and
the Tombigbee River near present day Aberdeen.
Their first penetration of the Chickasaw Co was near the area of
now know as Egypt, MS. They moved on north and east, crossing
Creek and finally stopped at a Chickasaw town called Chicaca. The
Indians were hospitable and the Spaniards spent the winter of 1540-51
In March, 1541, DeSoto and his men prepared to leave the area, but
ensued when he demanded that two hundred men be provided him as
The Chickasaw Indians refused, set fire to the Spanish dwellings and
the soldiers as they fled the flames. At least twelve Spaniards were
and large numbers of livestock and supplies were destroyed.
By the latter part of the 17th century, much of what is now
was in the hands of the French. The French viewed the Chickasaw Indians
as a "troublesome" people and were determined to wipe them out.
their efforts failed and resulted in three decisive defeats at the
of the Indians.
As a result of these defeats, eight hundred French soldiers, five
of them led by D'Artagnette from a post in IL and three hundred under
leadership of Bienville, moved up the Tombigbee River from the coast.
proposed to meet and end the Chickasaw "problem" forever.
D'Artagnette and his group arrived at the proposed meeting place and
not to wait for Bienville and his men. His army was defeated and
was burned at the stake. Beinville was defeated at the Battle of Akia,
fought on the site of present day North MS Medical Center.
Another twenty years passed and another Frenchman, Vandruil,
to crush the Chickasaw nation. His forces were also defeated, though
were superior in arms and numbers to the Chickasaw braves.
After the treaty was signed in Paris at the close of the French
War, the land of the Chickasaws was passed from the French to the
Two efforts were made by the British to improve the government of the
nation. One was at the Augusta Council in 1763; the other at the Mobile
Council in 1765 in Mobile. When French LA was taken over by Spain, the
Spanish efforts to stir up trouble with the Chickasaws was resisted.
The Chickasaw tribe remained friendly with the British throughout
Revolution. The British directed a Mr. Stuart, superintendent of Indian
affairs south of the Ohio River, to "rally the Chickasaws and other
to take arms against His Majesty's enemies".
The only actual fighting in which the Chickasaws took part during
period was against General George Rogers Clark in 1780, defeating
In 1786 the Chickasaws, under Chief Peopenzo, signed the Treaty of
with the new United States government and declared themselves at peace
with the United States and under her protection.
The Hopewell Treaty became the first in a series that diminished
of the Chickasaw people. White settlers arriving in Chickasaw
from the north and east were hungry for land. As more and more white
arrived, the struggle for land intensified. This struggle was peaceful,
but not pretty.
Under the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the Indians were finally
from Chickasaw Co. Jackson passed through the area on his return from
Battle of New Orleans in Feb 1813. According to local tradition, he
near the present day Webster/Chickasaw Co line and continued north
Chickasaw Co on the Natchez Trace.
Local Indians were friendly. Later, during the Creek War, the
refused to join with the other southeastern tribes. Instead, they
themselves without eh Americans under the command of General Jackson.
the Trail of Tears was their ultimate reward.
The treaty of Pontotoc opened the door to land companies and the
of Chickasaw Co. Land was bought from the Indians and resold to the
at a higher price than was paid to the Indians.
Before 1830, most white men coming into this area were explorers,
and traders. Around 1830, the typical immigrant was a family man
to establish a hoe. Most were of Anglo-Saxon stock from the eastern
states of VA, the Carolinas, GA, or from the westerns states of TN and
The law creating Chickasaw Co was passed by the MS legislature on
1836. A second law passed five days later named John Defacement,
Elliot, Thomas Ivy, Thomas Gates and Benjamin Anderson as commissioners
for the purpose of organizing the county.
These men met near Old Houlka at the home of Malcolm Magee, a
Indian. At this meeting they ordered an election for the purpose of
a Board of Police which would serve in the capacity similar to present
day's Board of Supervisors. Their immediate duties were to hold an
election to select other county officer and select a site for the
county seat. election to
The first Board of Police consisted of Littlebury Gilliam, Thomas
Thomas D. Wooldridge, Benjamin Bugg and Asa H. Braddock who were
in an election held Apr 23, 1836.
Other county officers were selected on May 6 & 7, 1836. Those
in this election were: Richard L. Aycock, sheriff; George Hoyle, judge
of probate; Charles Graeff, clerk of probate and police court; Hezekiah
Goode, clerk of Circuit Court; Gilbert Anderson, tax assessor and
Claiborne Williams, coroner; William Kreider, county treasurer and
Williams, county surveyor. Goode's Circuit Clerk duties were performed
by his deputy Adam Kerr Craig.
On June 20, 1836 the board met again at the Indian house near Old
north of present day Houston, to select a site for the county seat. For
two days, this group of men were unable to agree on a location for the
county seat. Finally a site offered by Joel Pinson, a private
was agreed upon and on July 8, 1836, the Chickasaw Co Board of Police
that the county seat be located on "Sections 4 and 5 in Township 14,
3 East. The new county seat was named Houston in honor of the TX hero
General Sam Houston, a close friend of Pinson's.
In Aug 1836 a survey was conducted and lots in the new town sold
and enough money was made available for the construction of a brick
house on the town square and a jail to be located one block to the
Houston was incorporated on May 9, 1837 and its first post office
Dec 5, 1837 and the Postmaster was Henry R. Carter.
Rev. James Loughridge built a hotel from the timber that was cut
court house square and this was probably one of the first buildings
in Houston. the first mercantile firm was founded by W. L. Dogan; but
moved the business to Pontotoc soon afterward.
A more enduring business was established by Charles Dibrell and
was still active in 1860. Simon Myers and James Simonton also had an
These "general stores" sold a wide variety of goods including
shoes, hardware, cutlery, saddles, piece goods, bonnets, jewelry and
In the fall, a farmer might sell his crop at the same place where he
Houston also had several drug stores. These stores sold medicines;
also carried a wide variety of alcoholic beverages.
Early "cottage" type industries included boot and show making and
of buggies and wagons, tinware, coffins and furniture.
Early newspapers included "The Houston State Advocate", the first
paper. It was owned and run by a Mr. Lancaster who later sold it
to Thomas N. Martin. Martin renamed the paper "The
and in 1854, the paper's name was changed again to " The Southern
by its new owner, Jehu A. Orr.
Another newspaper, "The Houston Petrel" was established by B. F.
1857. All of these newspapers were strong Democrat party supporters.
"Chickasaw Banner" a Whig paper was published by D. H. Lindsay
F. L. Denison. "The Chickasaw Republican" was edited by D. C.
However, both of these newspapers were short-lived.
The new town of Houston was well supplied with professional men;
thirteen doctors and twenty-three lawyers in 1860.>
In 1845, the town of Okolona was established, located in the
part of the county. It was first known as Rose Hill, but renamed
when it was discovered that there was already another town in MS known
as Rose Hill and the original Rose Hill had already been granted a post
office under that name.
Okolona was incorporated in 1850 and by 1859 had three hotels, six
goods stores, two drug stores, a jewelry store, two livery stables, a
parlor, candy, toy and liquor establishments. There were six lawyers
six doctors in the town. Manufacturing establishments produced saddles,
harnesses, tin goods, cabinets and carriages. The local newspaper, "The
Prairie News", was forced to cease publication during the War Between
States, but resumed publication soon after the war. The newspaper was
Houlka, originally an Indian village, is Chickasaw Co's oldest
is located ten miles north of Houston and dates its history from 1836
the Harrell brothers, William and Warren, bought a large tract of land
from its Indian owner. Several stores and a post office were
and the little town thrived. With the coming of the Gulf, Mobile and
Railroad in 1905, the town moved from its original site approximately a
mile to the west.
Other early towns in the county have declined in importance, but
early days of the county, they filled a significance place. Some of
towns were: Buena Vista, originally known as Monterey, was established
in 1847 on the Houston/Aberdeen Road and was a center of culture and
Egypt was located on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, south of Okolona,
was an important trade center in the 1850s.
Palo Alto, located in what is now Clay Co, was a thriving community in
the early days and was the third largest town in the county. At the
of navigation on the Chuquantonchee Creek, it was an important port for
the shipping of agricultural products to the port of Mobile. Palo Alto
declined following the War Between the States. Much of its trade had
taken over by West Point and its male population was decimated by the
Between 1840 and 1850, the white population of Chickasaw Co grew
to 9,887. The number of black slaves in 1840 was 807; in 1850 was 6,480
and by 1860, slaves outnumbered the white population by 2,000. A very
percentage of the white population were slave owners. The average slave
owner owned eight slaves; but the larger slave holders owned between
and one hundred slaves. The agricultural economy with cotton as the big
money crop was based firmly on the institution of slavery.
During the 1840s, the rich prairie lands had been settled and
and the plantation system was well established. Cotton was the main
but corn was grown as food for both man and beast. Other train crops
various legumes were also grown. Hogs were raised and was a primary
Cattle, mostly a tough breed known as Opelousas, were unsuitable
and were used primarily for dairy purposes. Sheep was raised for the
and every farm had a flock of chickens and many orchards were found on
During the pre-war period only about one-third of the MS
affiliated with a church or religion. Nevertheless, Chickasaw Co had a
number of churches. The county's first church was a Baptist church
in 1835 in the southwestern part of the county by the Rev. James
Rev. Martin later built another church about three miles of Houston.
Pinson donated a plot of ground to each of the four denominations
in Houston at its founding. Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian
were eventually built on these plots. Denominations represented in
during this period were Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian,
Cumberland Presbyterian and Roman Catholic.
Provisions for public school funding was not made until the
the common school fund in 1846. Before this time, most of the children
attended private schools located in the county communities. The first
these private schools was established in Houston around 1842 by Aaron
In 1849 this school was named "Houston Female Academy" and was run as a
girls' school by Mrs. D. E. Turman. The "Houston Male Academy" was
in 1844. T. Z. Carothers, a graduate of Princeton, C. P. Ray and A. J.
Jamison were closely identified with this school.
"Okolona Male Academy" was founded in 1852 by William f. Tucker.
Female Academy" was established in 1854 by Jonathon B. T. Smith, an
clergyman. Later this school was taken over by the Grace Episcopal
and renamed "Rose Gate College".
A co-educational academy was established about 1850 by Dr. Hugh
Palo Alto. the Concord Academy was founded by G. S. Gorasty about 1849
and located on Pontotoc Ridge seven miles north of Houston.
These schools offered a wide variety of subjects including the
philosophy, Greek and Latin. Because of the poor quality and short
of the public schools; most of the youth who had a desire to attend a
or university found it almost a necessity to attend a private school or
By the time Chickasaw Co was organized, the well traveled Indian
such as the Natchez Trace and Gaines Trace were in disrepair. One of
first roads constructed in the new county was between Houston and
Hopewell now being an extinct town located in what is now Calhoun Co.
other early roads, one between Houston and Pontotoc and another that
Houston and Aberdeen were built. The Birney Road ran from Buena Vista
Pontotoc and Cotton Gin Port in Monroe Co to Okolona were developed
old Indian Trails. Later a road was built from Houston to Starkville
the Houston/Hopewell Road was extended to Grenada.
Travel across the bottom lands of Houlka and Chuquantonchee Creeks
very difficult and sometimes impossible during the rainy season.
were built across these and other bottom lands and some corderoy roads
were constructed in swampy places. Turnpikes and corderoy roads were
by the tolls they charged, from ten cents a head for stock to one
for a four to six horse or ox wagon.
The county was served by several stage lines with rented hacks and
in the early days. The hacks and carriages were available in Houston
Okolona to take travelers to other areas. Soon the stage coaches
the horse and rider as the carrier of the mail.
In 1859, the Mobile and Ohio Railroad came through the county
Okolona and Egypt. The leading citizens of Houston made several
to get a railroad through the town, but were unsuccessful until 1905.
soon became an important shipping center for the cotton growers and
Houston as a center of commerce.>
As with other areas, the question of slavery and states rights
and politics in Chickasaw Co became heated. Two dominant parties in the
county were the Democrat and Whig, the Democrat holding the majority.
a national level, Democrat candidates consistently carried the county,
but it was not unusual for a popular Whig to win in a sate or local
Anti-slavery agitation in the north Chickasaw Co voters, in both
began to grow around the late 1840s. In 1850 a coalition of six
and six Whigs met at the courthouse in Houston and drafted a set of
After declaring allegiance to the Union, the group went on to support
in the event that agitation against slavery continued and if the
government denied the right of citizens south of the Mason-Dixon line
The slavery issue significantly changed both parties and
the Whig party. Southern Democrats were split by the Compromise of 1850
and those in favor of the Compromise joining with the Whigs to form the
Union Party. Those opposed to the Compromise became known as States
In the beginning, the Chickasaw Co voters chose to preserve the
They elected J. T Griffin and T. S. Evans, Whigs who had ron on the
party ticket, as delegates to a state convention held in Jackson to
grievances". When Jefferson Davis resigned from the U. S. Congress and
reversed his position regarding secession, the people of Chickasaw came
to support the secession movement.
In 1853, the Democrats split in earnest at their state convention.
from the northern counties that were created from the Chickasaw lands
that the Congressional candidate be chosen from their section. In 1856
when the newly formed Republican party came on strongly with an
plank, state Democrats forgot their differences.
Whigs were faced with the choice of joining with the Democrats or
formed American Party. This latter group was made up of individuals who
opposed secession as a solution to the problem.
When Abraham Lincoln was elected president, the county became
favor of secession. Jehu Orr, a States Right Democrat, and Cyrus B.
an old line Whig, were sent from Chickasaw Co to the convention in
for the purpose of deciding the future course of MS. These two men were
of one mind, casting their votes in favor of secession.
On Jan 5, 1861, MS became the second state to secede from the
the stars and bars became the fifth flag to fly over Chickasaw Co. A
and tragic chapter in the history of Chickasaw Co began.
In April 1861, Confederate guns opened fire on Ft. Sumpter, SC and
War Between the States began.
In Chickasaw Co, patriotism quickly reached a high pitch. Fifteen
of Infantry and Calvary, a total of 1,875 men, were furnished the
by the county.
Communities of the county often raised their own units, such as
Vista Rifles and the Spartan Band, and these small units were assigned
as needed throughout the Confederate Army to become part of larger
such as the Army of the TN and the Army of Northern VA. Chickasaw Co
served in every theater of the war and hardly a significant battle was
fought in which Chickasaw Co soldiers were not a part.
One outstanding general officer, William Feimster Tucker, was
He entered the service as a captain with the Chickasaw Guards, Co H,
Infantry; the company being mustered at Houston on Mar 9, 1861. In
Tucker was commissioned colonel and was named Brigadier General in
He was seriously wounded twice, but lived through the war and returned
to serve his native state in the Legislature. His most significant
as a legislator was his service on the committee responsible for the
of the hated Reconstruction governor, Adelbert Ames.
The war years were particularly bitter ones for the people of
Co. Though the county was spared the constant presence of hostilities,
the county was the scene of several clashes between the Union and
There were several partially successful attempts throughout the
destroy the M & O Railroad in Chickasaw Co. The first attempt in
1862 was largely unopposed. Coming from Tupelo under the command of
Coon to a point south of Okolona, the Union forces inflicted little
damage. The second try at the railroad was made in conjunction with
Raid in April 1863. This invasion was a part of the campaign against
Colonel Grierson and his Second Iowa Regiment camped overnight in
Co at Dr. Benjamin Kilgore's plantation.
On Apr 20th, 1863 some of the Federal troops entered Houston and
at this time that the records of Chickasaw Co were burned. Soldiers
a wagon loaded with the county record books at a point on the
Road, a short distance from the Houston Cemetery. The troops seized and
burned the books on the spot. Two volumes that were overlooked when the
records were loaded from the court house are all that remain.
When Grierson left the Kilgore plantation, he sent a detachment
command of Colonel Hatch to destroy the railroad. However, they
Confederate troops at Palo alto and the Union forces were turned north
toward Okolona. In Okolona, the Federal soldiers burned the depot and
Gate College, which was being used by the Confederate government as a
In Feb 1864, the most damaging raid in the county took place.
Smith was ordered to move from LaGrange, TN and rendezvous with his
General Sherman for an attack on the Confederate arsenal at Selma, AL.
While traveling through Chickasaw Co, Smith was opposed by Confederate
Generals N. B. Forrest and Chalmers. General Chalmers stopped Smith at
the Houlka bottom north of Houston and caused him to move east to
The brother of General N. B. Forrest, Colonel Jeffrey Forrest,
contact with the large force of northern troops as they moved to the
The Union forces were destroying vast stores of grain which had
along the railroad as they went. West of the town of West Point,
N. B. Forrest's troops fired on some scouts from Smith's command.
that he was facing a much larger force, Smith retreated toward Okolona
where he made a stand. the Confederates broke through Smith's forces
moved about five miles west of the town where they made another stand.
Again Smith's troops broke and the Federal troops retreated to TN.
In Dec 1864, a final effort against the railroad pitted the troops
Grierson against Confederate General Gholson at the Battle of Egypt.
troops were captured almost to a man. However, this last raid of the
in Chickasaw Co resulted in the loss of a large quantity of supplies.
The four raids caused only moderate casualties on both sides; but
and the Confederacy suffered heavy losses of supplies. Also a number of
private homes and public buildings were destroyed and many families
stock, food and valuables.
With most of the county's able bodied men gone in the war, the day
responsibilities fell to the old men, women, children and slaves. The
on the smaller farms, who were likely to have worked with the master
his sons, remained faithful to their owners. However, the slaves from
larger plantations who had been mistreated by their often left with the
Federal troops. Approximately 3,000 blacks, with an equal number of
were with General Smith when he invaded the county in Feb 1864.
At the end of the war and the beginning of the Reconstruction
bands of wandering blacks became the rule.
The Federal blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf ports dried up
for cotton and other agricultural products and the people of Chickasaw
Co suffered. The typical Chickasaw Co family found it necessary to be
sustaining now, more than ever. If an item could not be produced on the
farm, it simply was not had.
At the end of the war and the beginning of the Reconstruction,
made by parching potato skins and other similar substances. For the
of dying cloth and to use as medicine, bark, berries and other
The officials of Chickasaw Co attempted to levy funds for the
wives and widows and the children of the soldiers. But as time passed
the situation worsened, relief of the destitute became an
After the surrender of Lee, the soldiers returned home to
to almost unbelievable disaster. Economy was in a state of collapse;
prosperous farms and plantations lay in ruins; crops had been destroyed
and most of the stock had been stolen or driven away.
Returning soldiers were dispirited by defeat and broken in mind
But, as has been the case throughout the history of the world, these
of a conquered land set about putting their lives back together.
Chickasaw Co, as other counties throughout the south, was under
rule and the existing governemt was under martial law and enforced by
The plight of the newly freed blacks was more serious than that of
county's white citizens. They were unaccustomed to assuming
for their simplest needs and was faced with the same basic problem as
former owner; a lack of life's necessities. The freed blacks were also
handicapped by their lack of skills and the knowledge to get on his
In addition, the freed blacks usually possessed nothing of material
With the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the weakness of his
Andrew Johnson; tragic consequences existed for the Southerners.
led by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Thaddeus Stevens gained
of the Republican party and the Congress. It was their purpose to
punish the South.
President Johnson appointed William Sharkey, a former supreme
as governor of MS. Sharkey was well respected in the state and his
was well received by the citizens of Chickasaw Co. Gov. Sharkey ordered
a constitutional convention called and Chickasaw Co proceeded to elect
However, the radicals who dominated Congress disapproved of the
reconstruction Plan and passed legislation that completely did away
it. All officials that had been elected under the Johnson plan were
and the county returned to military rule. Gen. Ord, commanding the
district ordered another constitutional convention in Dec 1867. A
was eventually written and a state government was formed with blacks
most of the offices.
Confederate soldiers and officials at first were denied the vote
blacks had a clear majority and elected black candidates to public
These officials were ill equipped to fill their positions.
In Chickasaw Co, political parties were operating through clubs.
Clubs which were controlled by the Freedman's Bureau and others
former slaves as members. Blacks with leadership ability were known by
the inelegant term "Fluence Niggers" and used to turn out the vote for
favored candidates. The Democrat Clubs were made up of native white
and clashes between the two groups were frequently violent, especially
at election time.
Before their voting rights could be restored, men who had served
Confederate army or had held any official position in the government of
the Confederacy were required to take an oath of loyalty to the United
States. Each former Confederate state was also required to ratify the
Amendment of the Constitution which stated that an individual might not
be denied the vote because of race, creed, color or previous condition
of servitude. Until this requirement was met, Southern states had no
State Senatorial districts were gerrymandered to favor black
where possible and black districts were in the majority in MS.
and Monroe Counties each formed one of these black districts.
Although it was not as active in Chickasaw Co as in other
Klu Klux Klan was organized and in operation during the Reconstruction
period. The Klan was originally begun as a means of restoring
but soon evolved into a political tool...terrorizing blacks in an
to prevent their votes.
To avoid exposure, Klan leaders from Okolona would conduct their
in West Chickasaw Co and their Houston neighbors would cross the creek
when called upon to return the favor in the eastern section of the
Although most of the Klan
activity in Chickasaw Co was directed
the blacks, sometimes whites were also targeted. A young Scotsman who
trying to start a school for former slaves at Sparta was one of the
of the time.
White land owners also successfully applied economic pressure by
to employ blacks who voted, or who voted Republican. After the 1875
in which the Republicans throughout the state were defeated; the losers
requested Federal troops to put them in office. This request was
and this date is generally taken as the end of Reconstruction in
Co, as well as other parts of MS.
Reconstruction left scars on the blacks and whites alike. In
Co the economic picture was drastically changed. As a whole, the
system in the county was gone. Farming operations were smaller and a
system known as share-cropping came into being.
In 1872, one hundred and ninety square miles of land was taken
Co to create part of the counties of Colfax (present day Clay) and
Counties. These re-drawn boundaries are those of present day Chickasaw
During this period, in 1866, the formation of a second Judicial
was formed in Okolona. As one of the few practical actions of the
period, this move established Chickasaw Co as one of the few counties
the nation with two county seats.
As late as the 1880s, blacks were serving in the state
passage of laws favoring white supremacy, along with economic pressure,
eroded their participation in the electoral process. It would be during
the 1960s before the blacks would recover their participation in the
During the latter part of the 19th century, rebuilding began for
Co. Most families in the county had suffered losses of loved ones and
goods during the war and Reconstruction. Some of the families left the
area completely and others moved to town to try their hand at
other than farming. As the political climate became more favorable to
white Southerner, those who had lost land for failure to pay taxes were
now able to buy back all or part of what they had previously owned.
was located on the county's only railroad and became the county's
More profound changes occurred in the county during the first
of the twentieth century. In a few short years, the county moved from
ox-cart to the automobile to the airplane. Candles, kerosene lamps and
gas lights were replaced by electric lights and old out houses were
by flushing toilets. Shortly after the turn of the century, both
and Okolona had telephone systems.
However, the streets of both towns became a "sea of mud" during
seasons and "miniature dust bowls" during the dry seasons. County roads
were still crude and inadequate. Still, Houston did not have a
Before the War Between the States, a road bed for a spur line from
to Houston had been built. In 1904, the spur was completed linking
with the M & O Railroad which had been rebuilt. The line was
to Calhoun City and operated into the 1930s; the last few years as a
In 1905 the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad came to Houston.
ran from Mobile to Jackson, TN; and connected in Jackson, MS to a line
going to New Orleans.
Chickasaw Co citizens struggled to continue the education of their
during the war years and afterward. In Okolona, Rose Gate College
through the war years and the Male Academy conducted school until the
fighting began in the area. There was a primary school for boys
in the basement of Okolona Presbyterian Church. In 1870, a brick
to house this school was built. In 1877 a private school for girls was
opened. In 1850, the Okolona Female College opened its doors and
operation through the war.
In 1888, the Okolona City Council and a citizens' group began work
high standard male and female college. A brick building was built where
the present day Okolona Elementary School is located and continued
through the early part of the twentieth century.
Wallace A. Battle founded Okolona College, a black institution in
This was a high standard school and combined academics with industrial
training and was the alma mater of most of the black leaders of the
It was taken over in 1933 by the Episcopal church and continued
In 1888, the MS Normal College was established and soon became one
leading institutions in the area. Professor Hosea B. Abernathy and his
wife, Sallie Garrett Abernethy conducted the school. The school was
founded as the MS Normal High School at Troy, Pontotoc Co, in 1884.
citizens of Chickasaw Co persuaded him to move the school to Houston.
In Houston, the school was located on the northwest corner of
and Starkville Rd. Another building was built to house an elementary
of the Houston Municipal system and was located on the southeast corner
of Madison and Starkville. This school served both male and female
from grade one to college. In 1894, the enrollment was 451 and five
states and forty MS counties were represented in the student body.
Also in operation at the end of the nineteenth century and
the twentieth century was the Buena Vista Normal College, chartered in
The state legislature passed a law authorizing an agricultural
in each county in 1908. Several communities vied for this school in
Co; including Buena Vista, Houlka, Woodland, Parkersburg, and Van
Buena Vista was chosen and the Chickasaw Co. Agricultural High School
a very important part in the life of the county from its founding until
it was closed during the Depression in the 1930s.
During the War Between the States, all industry in Chickasaw Co
out. Industry began making a comeback during the last of the nineteenth
century and early twentieth century. During this period, almost all
was agriculturally related: gins, compresses, sawmills, handle
stave factories, oil mills and such.
Chickasaw Co residents realized that in order to thrive, their
methods must be modernized. Crops must be diversified with less
on cotton and more emphasis on animal husbandry. In 1910, a small
from Mexico appeared for the first time in Chickasaw Co and this small
insect, the boll weevil would force diversification.
During the early twentieth century canals were constructed to
drainage and make the county's rich bottom land available for
Citizen committees were formed to promote the construction of gravel
roads throughout the county.
In 1907 bids were let for the construction of a new courthouse in
This building, still in use today, was opened for county business in
Superintendent of Houston High School, L. B. Reid, was
securing the state's first Carnegie Library in 1909.
Around this time, a high moral tone was characteristic of the
Temperance societies were formed throughout the county and lecturers
brought in to lecture on the evils of strong drink. Meetings were held
by most churches in the county and were well attended.
Dr. Charles Davis of McCondy opened the county's first hospital
Houston in 1914. The hospital was located on the second floor of a
store building located on the northwest corner of Jackson and Madison.
During the six year existence of the hospital, it served more than
A group of Houston civic leaders formed a corporation in 1919 to
larger and more modern hospital. In July 1920, the new hospital was
and located on the northeast corner of N. Jackson and Depot Streets;
site of the old Jamison home. Dr. V. B. Philot was the surgeon in
The old ante-bellum home was extensively renovated and added to,
in a fine, well equipped hospital and was open to all the doctors in
area. In 1943, this institution was sold to Dr. John D. Dyer and
as a locally owned hospital until 1980 when it was sold to Brookwood
Management Corporation of Birmingham. The hospital moved to a new and
building in 1957 and soon afterward the old building was torn down.
In 1915, the United States Congress passed the 19th Amendment,
the right to vote. Although this amendment was not ratified
law until Aug 26, 1920; one of the first instances of women voting took
place in Houlka, Chickasaw Co.
One Saturday in July, the ladies of Houlka were allowed to
in a "straw vote" for he office of governor of MS. Other parts of the
were not so quick to approve female suffrage. Newspaper stories
opposed and the state of MS never ratified the amendment.
In the early 1900s, automobiles were a familiar site in the
stations as such were yet to be and fuel for automobiles was bought at
the local drug stores. The rationale behind this was that the first
were doctors who frequently made the drug store their headquarters
Red Harrell Reid, editor of the "Hummer" a county newspaper wrote
1915: "There is a strange looking object looming up on the agricultural
horizon -- a sort of geared grasshopper, an aluminum, camel humped ...
denuded motor equipped with one or more big treadmill wheels that
and snorts, puffs and waggles across the fields with multiple plows
on afterwards. This ladies and gentlemen, is caressingly termed -- a
The editor went on to predict this invention would make "the dealer a
prince, the farmer an engineer and the plow boy, a mechanic."
A generation passed before farming in Chickasaw Co ws fully
, but agricultural practices had undergone great changes.
The raising of beef cattle and dairying were coming into greater
The presence of A & M College (now MS State at nearby Starkville)
scientific agricultural information within the reach of any Chickasaw
farmer who wanted it. The Agricultural High School at Buena Vista
sponsored programs on farm topics that were open to the public.
In Nov 1915, Walter Chandler and J. L. Jogoe of Okolona; Barry
Woodland; O. M. Harrell of Houlka and L. T. Fox and W. E. Scott of
met to study the possibility of securing a "federal expert
agent" for the county. Within two years, an agent was sent to the
During these years, before federal grants and government
people had rebuilt their county. Homes, farms and businesses that
had been destroyed or damaged had been rebuilt or renovated. The state
of MS and the county of Chickasaw did not achieve the wealth and
that they had enjoyed before the war, but they had begun to prosper
Presumably some men from Chickasaw Co served in the
in 1896, but no casualties are listed and no records of Chickasaw
participation are available.
Residents of Chickasaw Co watched very closely as the war in
in 1914 and escalated. When the United States declared war against
and her allies on April 4, 1917, Chickasaw Co was ready. The MS
scheduled to celebrate the state's 100th anniversary were immediately
On June 5, 1917; all men in the county between the ages of 21 and
of age were required to register for the draft. In the "first call"
Chickasaw Co there were two hundred and ninety-four and many young men
did not wait to be drafted. The first contingent leaving from Houston
all volunteers and was made up of individuals from all parts of the
D. D. Dendy of the board of Supervisors; R. S. Mitchell, County
George D. Riley, County Superintendent of Education formed a committee
and met in Houston to select a Council of Defense to promote the war
Their first effort was to organize the farmers to achieve the highest
The ladies promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds and worked with the
preparing "comfort bags" for the departing men and knitting socks and
Knitting instructions were printed in the local newspapers.
Young men returning from World War I found a booming economy. In
business was good. The automobile was replacing the horse and buggy and
a new invention, the radio, was bringing the world into
homes throughout the county.
The war had encouraged more agricultural productivity and more
methods of cultivation had been introduced. Around this time, oil was
in Chickasaw Co. Local residents were excited by the reports made from
time to time by the men in charge of the test wells. Several wells were
drilled in the northwestern part of the county, but were later capped
In 1930, a record breaking drought gripped the entire nation and
one of the grimmest periods in the history of Chickasaw Co. The Great
had been building since the crash of the stock market in 1929 and now
In Sept 1930, the rains finally came but were too late. A shortage of
did not bring the price of cotton up; but prices dropped steadily,
dropping to below nine cents a pound.
Also in 1930, Federal assistance in the form of reduced freight
emergency shipments of food and other relief to the needy began.
After a two or three day "run" on the Okolona Banking Company in
the bank closed its doors. A short time later, the Commercial Bank and
Trust Company of Okolona also closed. Other county banks managed to
After 1930, money was tight and government at all levels sought
to the problem. On the federal level the Congress established the
Finance Corporation. The MS Senate passed a bill calling for a three
sales tax and abolished ad valorem taxes.
A petition was circulated in Chickasaw Co to re-establish the
County Agent that had been abolished previously as an economic measure.
This failed by eight votes.
Schools went from nine month terms to eight months in an effort to
expenses. The Board of Supervisors cut taxes; but people were still
to pay their taxes and lists of property being sold to pay the taxes
A county welfare program was established to aid the unemployed and
regardless of race, creed or color. Needy people were able to work were
given "construction jobs" and others received direct relief.
When Franklin Roosevelt took office as president in 1933,
was instituted to make money more plentiful. Most businessmen in
and Okolona signed up for the National Recovery Act agreeing to pay a
wage, set specific business hours, etc. There were some questions as to
whether this would help the situation, but the merchants were eager to
get on the band wagon.
A number of agricultural programs were created at the national
programs were designed to raise the price of cotton and other farm
by lowering the amount of production.
The Public Works Administration changed the face of Chickasaw Co.
buildings and other public buildings were improved. By the end of the
Houston and Okolona boasted of paved streets in the downtown areas and
all main roads in the county were paved, with the exception of Hwy. 8.
The TN Valley Authority brought cheap electricity to the rural areas of
the county and changed life on the farms forever.
In addition to the government assistance, private charity work was
done. The Chamber of Commerce in Okolona and the American Legion in
declared that no child in the county would miss "Santa Claus".
Christmas trees were sponsored in these two towns throughout the 1930s.
In Apr 1933 enrollment of young men between the ages of 18 and 25 in a
"Civilian Conservation Corps", later known as CCC, was announced. This
organization provided employment to a number of young men in the
One of the projects constructed by the young men of CCC was the Natchez
Trace Game Area.
In 1934, things were looking up in Chickasaw Co; but the effects
Depression still lingered among the residents until the beginning of
Since the turn of the century, Chickasaw Co farmers had
away from cotton as a single money making crop and had been more
in their operations. This trend intensified during World War II when
county farmers responded to the war effort by adopting a number of
to increase their production.
In the 1940s, dairying grew in importance. Both Houston and
a creamery and a cheese plant and a number of farmers "milked cows".
the demand for milk needed for soldiers stationed at Camp McCain in
necessitated the creation of Grade A dairies. As a result, dairying
an important industry in the county during World War II.
The neighboring town of Vardaman in Calhoun Co. claims the title
Potato Capitol of the World", but the farmers of Chickasaw County's
country found that the country was fit for growing a great deal more
timber and providing pastureland for stock. The sweet potato industry
begun in the 1930s, but increased greatly during the war years.
1939 was a poor crop year and the county found itself deeply in
Senator R. H. Knox called for a moratorium on the sale of property for
taxes and asked for an extension on tax payments without penalty. Bonds
floated to repay county indebtedness did not find buyers. It was then
that taxes be raised.
Instead of raising taxes, a contract was let to pave Hwy 8 between
and Vardaman. This was the only major highway through the county that
not been paved during the 1930s.
In 1941, war clouds darkened and preparations for defense began in
early in the year. All citizens between the ages of 16 and 65 were
to report to the schools and voting precincts to register for service
case of emergency. Over 9,000 Chickasaw Co citizens, male and female,
to this request; all being volunteers.
Very few people who lived through World War II are unable to
he or she was or what they were doing when word came on Sunday, Dec 7,
1941 that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor.
Because of the massive mobilization of manpower, there was hardly
in Chickasaw Co that did not have some family member serving in the
White rectangular banners trimmed with red bands were hung in windows
the county with a blue star representing each serviceman from that
The blue star would be changed to a gold star when the husband, son,
or brother had made the supreme sacrifice. Before the war ended, there
were forty-seven gold stars in Chickasaw Co homes.
Civil defense was taken seriously, first aid classes were
the county and black-outs were practiced in various communities. To
electricity, "brown-outs" were a regular practice. Limited number of
lights in each community were burned at one time and local users were
urged to practice conversation in their electrical use in businesses
Seven War Bond drives were held during the four year period of
School children collected newspapers, scrap metal, tin cans and
for refugees. Churches, civic clubs, home demonstration cubs and
citizens participated in activities to help in the war effort.
Before the war's end, almost everything was rationed -- sugar,
canned goods, gasoline, tires, shoes, etc. Items such as Coca Cola and
cigarettes were also hard to get; but there were few complaints.
A number of people worked at the Gulf Ordnance Plant located at
in Monroe Co. The location of the plant was ideal to attract personnel
from Okolona, Houston and other smaller communities in Chickasaw Co as
well as Aberdeen, West Point and other nearby communities. To enable
workers from Houston and west Chickasaw Co to get to work easier, Hwy 8
was paved from Houston to Hwy 45 Alternate at Gibson. Eventually the
from Gibson to Hwy 45 at Aberdeen was paved.
The citizens of Chickasaw Co waited eagerly for news of the
the European continent. The local churches planned a community wide
service which was to commence when word was received that the troops
hit the beaches. The old Methodist Church bell was to be rung as a
for all the people to gather for the prayer service. As it turned out,
the invasion began at 3:00 AM Houston time and almost everyone slept
the ringing of the bell. The prayer service was held later in the day
a more convenient time.
There was great rejoicing when news of the victory in Europe was
and V-J Day was an even more joyous occasion.
Only five years passed between the end of World War II and the
of the Korean Conflict. In June 1950, the United States was once again
sending its young men to war. By Sept 1950, Houston's newly formed
Guard had been activated and was on its way to Camp McCoy, WI for
training before going overseas. Others soon joined them. The war lasted
only three years, but twenty-one of Chickasaw County's men gave their
in this conflict.
Ten more years passed before Chickasaw Co was again sending young
to southeast Asia. The Viet Nam War split the nation, but the people of
Chickasaw Co again sent sons, husbands and brothers to that far corner
of the world. The death toll for Chickasaw Co during the Viet Nam War
Probably no period in the county's history produced more changes
1960s and 1970s. A cultural revolution was taking place across the
nation. Although no comparison can be made between the young people of
Chickasaw Co and those of the urban areas of the northeast and west
repercussions were felt here. Chickasaw Co experienced a drug problem
its young people. The national moral decline never reached full
in the county, but its effects filtered into the area.
The generations, races and Chickasaw Countians from all walks of
together in 1976 for the nation's Bi-Centennial festivities. A
of the event was the presence and participation of Overton James,
of the Chickasaw nation, and his family. Later the Chickasaw people
the county's hospitality by inviting a group from Chickasaw, Pontotoc
Lee counties to participate in the Chickasaw nation's Silver Centennial
and dedication of the Chickasaw Nation Memorial Gardens on the campus
Murray State College in Tishomingo, OK.
On Feb 9, 1986 Chickasaw Co celebrated her 159th anniversary. As
hundred and fiftieth year drew near, it ws noted that this five hundred
and seven square miles of northeast MS has endured and often prospered
through a variety of upheavals.
Chickasaw Co Index
created July 31, 2004
by Jackie Rhodes
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