Mississippi County, AR History
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by: Michael Brown
Date: Sep 1998
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Eastern Arkansas. Chicago:
Goodspeed Publishers, 1890.
Has scatter'd verdure o'er the land;
And smiles and fragrance rule serene,
barren wild usurp'd the scene.”
THE county of Mississippi, in Northeast Arkansas, is bounded north by Dunklin
and Pemiscot Counties in Missouri, east by the Mississippi River, which separates it from Dyer, Lauderdale and Tipton Counties
in Tennessee, south by Crittenden, and west by Poinsett and Craighead Counties in Arkansas. It has an area of about 865 square
miles, including its lake and river beds. It is watered on the east by the Mississippi and tributaries emptying therein, on
the north central by Pemiscot Bayou, and on the west by Big Lake at the northern extremity of the county; Little River, the
outlet of this lake, and by Tyronza Lake and Bayou. Besides these there are many other and smaller lakes.
As the county has been subject to overflow, its soil is composed of alluvial deposits, has great depth
and is therefore exceedingly fertile.
What is now Mississippi County once formed a part of Arkansas County, then of
Phillips and next of Crittenden, and was finally erected into a separate county by the Territorial legislature November 1,
page 446 Its original boundaries extended as far west as the St. Francis River, and embraced 1,000 square miles.
The first county seat, which was located opposite the Chickasaw Bluffs, was called Cornwall. This place was on the site of
an old Spanish encampment and has long since disappeared, and Osceola, the present county seat, was adopted soon after. The
latter was first incorporated January 12, 1843, and again October 4, 1875.
NOTE.–The above early history of Mississippi
County has been furnished by the Hon. H. M. McVeigh, of Osceola, from his manuscript history of the early settlements of Arkansas,
a work on which he has been employing his leisure hours for the last three or four years. During this time he has examined
and studied the original sources of Arkansas history, and personally interviewed all the surviving old settlers with whom
he could get an audience, writing down their recollections. His work was undertaken solely for the purpose of preserving that
valuable matter which was about to perish through the death of old settlers and loss of records.
Although this county,
from its isolated situation, and from being cut off from direct communication with the rest of the State (the sunk lands of
the St. Francis preventing communication with counties immediately adjoining it), may not be as well known as others, it nevertheless
has a history, dating as far back as the year 1541. At that time its present territory was inhabited by races of people almost
civilized, living in walled towns and cultivating immense fields of Indian corn. Of course the walls of their towns were made
of wood, and both have long since disappeared; but there remain even at this day evidences of the fact that the country was
once densely inhabited. The enormous mounds, the great amount of Indian relics of all kinds scattered over the surface of
the country, such as arrow and spear heads, pottery, etc., and human skeletons, which are continually being plowed up, amply
confirm the statements of the historians of De Soto's ill-starred expedition of the density of the population of this
The advent of De Soto is the real beginning of the history of what is now the State of Arkansas. The march of this leader
to the Mississippi River was marked by deeds of unmitigated cruelty and oppression, which can not he read even at this day
without a feeling of horror and indignation. After seven days' travel through an uninhabited desert from Alabama, the expedition
came in sight of an immense river, which is thus described by the “Gentleman of Elvas,” an eye witness and the
historian of the expedition. “The river,” says he, “was almost half a league broad. If a man stood still
on the other side, it could not be discerned whether he was a man or not. The river was of great depth and of strong current;
the water was always muddy; there came floating down continually many trees and timber which the force of the water swept
rapidly toward its mouth.”
If the reader is acquainted with the lower Mississippi, he will have conclusive proof
that these statements are not exaggerated. It stands to the credit of De Soto that he discovered the Mississippi, but such
was a mere undesigned incident of the main object of his search, namely, wealth, and to this he could not possibly lay any
Perhaps no idea was more remote from his thoughts than the credit
of having made this discovery. Seeking for gold, he would perhaps have been better pleased had the stream been a thousand
miles out of his line of march, but finding it in his way he halted his command and went into camp where the city of Memphis
now stands, and at once began preparations for crossing the river, which was appropriately given the name of Rio Grande. The
work of building flat-boats was commenced, and for nearly a month his men labored industriously, plying the axe, saw and hammer
with as little fear as at the same place in our own day, though around them were the warlike Chickasaws, and on the Arkansas
side, in plain view, thousands of menacing Indians.
At last eight scows were finished, furnished with sails and oars,
and bearing crosses. Then loading their boats, the adventurers fearlessly launched out into the stream, and bending strongly
on their oars, soon approached the shores of Arkansas, the people of which curiously noted the advancing fleet, but contrary
to expectation, permitted the flotilla to land and disembark without a fight.
Ferdinand de Soto, the first governor
of Arkansas, and his escort, landed about the latter part of May, 1541. An overwhelming weight of authority is to the effect
that he immediately ascended the Mississippi. The expedition passed through the province of Aquixo, which embraced a large
part of what is now Crittenden County.
page 447 The Indians had as a rule fled at the approach of De Soto, though a
few were killed and some taken prisoners. Three days' journey from Aquixo was the province of Casqui, included within the
limits of what is now Mississippi County. Tyronza Bayou was crossed on a bridge hastily constructed. Upon reaching the first
town of Casqui many men and women were captured, and the place plundered. There was another town a mile and a half away. [p.447]
The country round about was described as high and dry, though bordering near the river. The historian speaks of the walnut
trees, mulberry and plum trees, some red, and others of a grayish color, and that the fruit trees seemed to be planted in
orchards. The venturesome tourists traveled two days through this province of Casqui, which was filled with towns.
last they came to a large Indian village, containing more than four hundred dwellings, the name of which is unknown. Here
the Spaniards were kindly received by the inhabitants.
The Casqui Indians of that day are generally conceded to be
the Kaskaskias, afterward known as Illinois Indians. Mr. Bancroft has placed the village as high as Little Prairie, a short
distance above the Arkansas State line. Mr. Milburn, in his lecture on De Soto, locates it in the northeastern corner of Arkansas.
county seat of Pemiscot County, Mo., Caruthersville, is in Little Prairie. Guided by distances on a map it is about eighty
miles on an air line from Memphis to Little Prairie; it is really over 100 miles by any traversable land route on the west
side of the river. A command of foot soldiers encumbered as that of De Soto's evidently was might have ascended as high as
Barfield's Point, in Mississippi County, in five days' marching, a distance of about eighty-five miles from Memphis. It is
true the country is level, and fortunately for De Soto unusually dry at the time of his expedition, but the surface is in
many places wet and swampy, and everywhere, even to this day, covered with cane and undergrowth except where under cultivation.
To avoid the dense cane as much as possible De Soto would have been obliged to do what is still done by the people of this
country when traveling up and down the river by land–keep as near the banks as possible; and in following this course
Barfield might have been reached in five days; otherwise
numerous natural hindrances might have occurred.
be borne in mind that in identifying the places visited by De Soto, in the limits of what is now Mississippi County, it is
not possible to pretend to mathematical exactness. That the province of Casqui was partly, if not wholly, in Mississippi County,
is fixed beyond doubt, and it seems clear that the first large town reached, in May, 1541. was at, or near what is now known
as Barfield Point. Here, and in the surrounding country, the relics of bygone ages speak distinctly of a large and prosperous
community. Here archæology throws its light upon the narrative of the Portuguese eye-witness of De Soto's expedition. Here,
within the memory of living men of today, once stood immense mounds, encircled by trenches, but which have within the last
forty years caved into the Mississippi River. On the largest of one of these an old settler by the name of Buford had erected
his house, with a garden.
For many years hundreds of human skeletons have been lost in the Mississippi at this point,
and a short distance south, in building the State levees, human skeletons were constantly being disinterred by the workmen.
the memory of living inhabitants, this country was high, dry and less alluvial than it is now. The clearing up of the country
lying on the tributaries of the Mississippi above, the caving of the banks, and the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 have changed
it into an overflowed country. Tradition handed down by the early settlers tells that formerly this country was little subject
to inundation. This is confirmed by the large mounds still existing intact, in the overflowed and uninhabited parts of the
After recruiting themselves two days at this village of Casqui, De Soto's Spaniards proceeded to the chief
town of this people and residence of the Cacique, or chief of the province, which appears to have been situated in the same
neighborhood, or, as is believed, near Blythesville in the country known as Chickasawba, about fifteen miles west of Barfield,
on Pemiscot Bayou. The latter is an arm of the Mississippi–a broad, beautiful sheet of water.
This is still a
high, dry body of land, now inhabited by about 2,500 industrious, thrifty people. Near the bayou, and a short distance from
Blythesville, is an enormous artificial mound.
page 448 There are no hills in the river bottom below Cape Girardeau,
and if, as is highly probable, Chickasawba was the locality where the town of Casqui, chief of the Casquins was situated,
it was on the mound just mentioned where De Soto erected his great cross fifty feet in hight. As a circumstance tending to
confirm this view, Mr. Joseph Fassit, an old citizen of the county, states that a large wooden beam was taken from that mound
a few years before the late war.
that the region now being described was undoubtedly visited by De Soto; that Bancroft, the most painstaking of American historians,
locates the site of these towns in about the same region; and that William Henry Milburn fixes them in the northeast corner
of Arkansas, one will be better able to judge the facts here stated.
The Spaniards were received at this town in a
very handsome manner. The Cacique, attended by a large retinue personally, gave them a formal welcome, and then conducted
them into the town, where they were provided with good quarters and a supply of food.
It was now about the beginning
of June, and besides excessive heat the inhabitants had been afflicted by a long drought which threatened to cut off the crops.
They were an agricultural people, just as their successors of to-day, and those living there at this time have annual frights
on the subject of droughts at about the same period of the year. The church at Blythesville has often been vocal with prayers
and supplications for rain, about the 1st of June. The chief, seeing the kind of men the Spaniards were, concluded that their
God must be greater than his, and asked De Soto to petition for rain, that the crops might be saved. The Indians had been
continually engaged in prayers and incantations, but heaven seemed deaf to their entreaties. De Soto agreeing to their request,
the great cross was erected upon a high mound, and the Indians assembled around it in vast numbers, silently and reverently
gazing on the sacred symbol. Spaniards and Indians, to the number of two thousand, gathered and knelt around the cross, and
amid the forest the sublime strains of te deum ****udamus broke the stillness of that hot, dry day in June, 1541. Though not
the kind of services to which the good people of this section are now accustomed, it was Christian worship, and is strongly
suggestive of Sunday, and the religious exercises peculiar to that day.
A knowledge of the locality, the highlands
of Chickasawba, and the great mound and the broad sheet of water to the north, brings this scene of Spanish soldiers and hospitable
Indians, congregated together 348 years ago, like a picture to the mind. Soon they were breaking up and dispersing from their
religious assembly, Spaniards and Indians mingling together conversing by signs, Indian maidens and children shyly looking
at the splendid specimens of Spanish manhood, in their helmets, breast plates and arms glittering in the sun, as they sauntered
in groups through the town. No doubt there could be seen the thoughtful, uneasy looks of the old men and women of the tribe,
feeling instinctively the far reaching effects that must follow this armed invasion by a superior race from beyond the sea.
The Cacique presented two blind men to De Soto, and asked him, nothing doubting, to restore them to sight, from which circumstance
can accurately be inferred what the natives actually thought of the bold cavalier, mistaking him doubtless for something little,
if any thing, below a god. De Soto caused another cross to be made and set up in the highest part of the town, and then proceeded
to explain to the savages, the mysteries of the Christian religion. It is stated that a plentiful shower of rain soon blessed
the parched fields of these Indians.
page 449 >From the town of Casqui the Spaniards advanced to Pacaha, but a day's
march, and the limit of the journey northward. Here, on June 19, 1541, De Soto and his men found the chief town situated on
a lake, with a stream of water flowing through it, and into the Mississippi. “He lodged,” says the Portuguese
narrator, “in the town where the Cacique used to reside, which was one great, walled, and beset with towers, many loop-holes
being in the towers and walls. In the town was a great store of old maize, and quantities of new in the fields, while within
a league and a half were great towns all walled. Where the governor was lodged [p.449] was an extensive lake, that came nearly
to the walls, entering into a ditch which went round about the town, and wanting but little to completely environ it. From
the lake to the great river was made a weir, by which the fish came into it, and these the Cacique kept for his recreation
and sport. With nets that were found in the town all took as they would, and no matter what was taken, no want was perceived.
There was also a large supply of fish in many other lakes thereabout.”
Let it be remembered that this region
of country abounds in lakes, and that, on the map attached to Part II, of the Historical Collections of Louisiana, drawn and
printed at an early period during the last century, Big Lake, on the borders of Mississippi County, Ark., and Dunklin County,
Mo., are marked as the extreme northern limit of De Soto's expedition; thus the reader will have some solid reasons to believe
that the movements of De Soto in 1541, in this county, have been properly traced. The country in and around Big Lake, or Mich-i-gam-ias,
its Indian name, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, still bears upon its surface traces of a wide but now extinct
population; and precisely such a ditch as described by the Portuguese narrator can now be traced near the home of Mr. Sam
Hector, of Big Lake.
There is no doubt that the lake spoken of in the extract just quoted, is other than Big Lake,
the ancient Mich-i-gam-ias of the early French explorers. It would be tedious to give a detailed description of this locality
and of the conduct of the Spanish brigands under De Soto during their forty days' stay at this place.
and plundering the unhappy people of Pacaha, or Big Lake, they proceeded in a southwesterly course, in search of a land called
Colgoa, where gold was reported to be plenty.
After the remnants of the ill-starred expedition had effected their escape
from the limits of the present State of Arkansas, the aborigines were left to their own devices, without making even a passing
acquaintance with a single European of whom there is in any account, until in June, 1673, 130 years after the Spanish rule,
they were visited by a small party of French, led by one of the noblest and most self-sacrificing men that ever blessed by
his presence, example and teachings any people–Father James Marquette, the first explorer of the Mississippi.
first village visited by Marquette in the limits of the State, was that of the Mich-i-gam-ias. This was, it is thought, located
at or near Barfield Point.
On the autograph map of Father Marquette, on which he delineates the Mississippi as far
as he explored it (extending no farther than the village of Arkansa), this village is placed at about the same distance below
the mouth of the Ohio, that the Ohio is placed below the mouth of the Missouri. In his narrative he says he found the Ohio
about forty leagues below the mouth of the Missouri. If the distance by the river was measured he was much mistaken, for it
is 194 miles. If by an air line he was about correct, it being some 120 miles, or forty leagues. On an air line from the mouth
of the Ohio to Osceola is about 100 miles; by the river, 160. Marquette, it must be recollected, did not know but judged the
distance from his knowledge and experience in such matters, and of course could not be very exact. The village of Michigamias
was about ten leagues above Arkansa, which latter was on the east side of the river. In a foot note to Marquette's account
of the former place, the writer on the authority of Charlevoix states that the Michigamia dwelt on a lake, not far from the
St. Francis River. Big Lake is within fifteen miles of the St. Francis River, and on the ancient French map, already referred
to, it is called Lac Michagamias. The same lake is mentioned by Smyth in his tour down the Mississippi, in 1774, as Michagamias
lake or river-Marquette on his map marks this village on the west bank of the Mississippi, but shows another settlement immediately
back from the river, with the same name, and about eighteen miles west from the village on the river. It is therefore concluded
that Big Lake was the main settlement, and that the village on the river was a settlement of the same people.
450 In 1682, when La Salle came down, Arkansa was on the west bank. Marquette does not speak of [p.450] a single river below
the Ohio, though if he had passed the St. Francis or White Rivers, or seen or heard of the Arkansas, or had passed the Chickasaw
Bluffs, he would have been almost certain to have mentioned or marked them on his maps. Marquette learned from the Indians
that the Mississippi emptied into the Gulf of Mexico; such however was his strict veracity, that he would not extend on his
map the line marking the river a mile beyond what he had seen with his own eyes. As with his intelligence and learning he
would not have passed a mighty stream like the Arkansas without seeing it, especially if the village of Arkansa, as has been
assumed, was located at or near its mouth, he could not have traveled the distance between the mouth of the Ohio and that
of the Arkansas and then made the mistake of putting the Arkansa village the same distance below the Ohio, that he put the
Ohio below the Missouri.
Marquette, after preaching the gospel to the Indians in this county, on the 17th of July of
the same year, 1773, bade them an affectionate farewell, and returned to the French settlement in Illinois. The report that
he carried off his discoveries resulted in the expedition of La Salle and his faithful lieutenant, Henry De Tonti.
Salle, under the orders of Gov. Frontenac, fitted out an expedition consisting of some fifty odd French and Indians, proceeded
to explore the Mississippi to its mouth, and to take possession of the entire country in the name of the French king.
the 24th of February, 1682, he with his command threw up a fort and built a cabin, on the first Chickasaw Bluff, the present
Fort Pillow, to which he gave the name of Prudhomme, after Peter Prudhomme, one of is men, who, after being lost eleven days
while hunting, at length came up in a half starved condition and rejoined his comrades at this fort, where La Salle was awaiting
Here La Salle erected on the bluff a great cross, and the arms of France, and took possession of the country in
the name of his king. This fort was known to the French inhabitants of Louisiana as late as 1825 as Fort Prudhomme. These
men must have hunted all over the present area of Mississippi County.
During the eighteenth century there is little
or no information to give of occurrences in this locality. In the spring of 1722 the French historian, Charlevoix, passed
down the Mississippi, stopped for a while in this country, and visited the Indians. Catholic missionaries and French trappers
and traders constantly visited the country from the post on Arkansas River and carried on a lively trade with the Indians.
And here and there, there may have been a cabin home in the wilderness, but no permanent settlements of any kind were made.
Mississippi County was included in the New Madrid district until 1799. In that year New Madrid was attached to Upper Louisiana,
now the State of Missouri, and Mississippi County fell to the jurisdiction of the Spanish commandant, Don Carlos de Villemont,
at Arkansas Post, then a town of about 150 inhabitants, and protected by a garrison of Spanish soldiers. The inhabitants were
French-Canadians.–H. M. McVeigh.
In 1785 the Spanish governor at New Orleans sent an officer and a company of
men to New Madrid to take command of this section of country, which was included in his military district. The main business
of this officer was to rigorously enforce the Spanish revenue laws, in exacting tribute from all American boats descending
In the country called Canadian Reach, of which Barfield Point is the center, a few French and Spanish
traders carried on a lively trade with the Indians from the back country. There is no knowledge of a single clearing for farming
purposes owned by a white man in this country during the last century.
At the time of the cession of Louisiana by France
to the United States, in 1803, the country between the mouth of the St. Francis and the town of Cape Girardeau was occupied
by remnants of the Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Cherokees and Chickasaws, in all about 500 families. These Indians often attacked
boats descending the river, plundering them and even committing murders.† The Indian population of Mississippi County
was located about Barfield, Chickasawba, Big Lake, Little River and Shawnee Village, generally the same places where the white
settlements were first made.
page 451 The first two white settlers in this county, of whom there is any knowledge,
were a man named Carsons and William Kellums; they were hunters, and lived and hunted peaceably with the Indians. Carsons'
Lake Township and Kellums' Ridge took their names from these men, who were
here as early as 1812, at which time the country
was visited by the great earthquakes, generally known as the New Madrid earthquakes.
An Arkansas journal published
soon after this event gives the following account of how the Indians sought to avert the danger of the shocks by reviving
an almost obsolete religious rite among the aborigines, in imploring the Great Spirit to avert his wrath. These Indians lived
in the country now known as Mississippi County.
“After a general hunt had taken place to kill deer enough for
the undertaking, a small hut was built to represent a temple or place for offering sacrifice. The ceremony was introduced
by a preparatory cleansing of the body and face. After neatly skinning their deer, they suspended them by the fore feet so
that the head might be directed toward the heavens before the temple, as an offering to the Great Spirit. In this attitude
they remained for three days, which interval was devoted to such penance as consisted in absolute fasting, at night lying
on the back on fresh deer skins, turning their thoughts exclusively upon the happy prospect of immediate protection that they
might conceive dreams to that effect–the only medium of intercourse between them and the Great Spirit–and lastly,
gravely and with much apparent piety, imploring the attention of the Great Spirit to their helpless and distressed condition,
acknowledging their absolute dependence on him, entreating his regard for their wives and children, declaring the fatal consequences
that must ensue by withholding his notice, namely, the loss of their wives and children, and their total disability to master
their game, arising from their constant dread of his anger; concluded in the full assurance of asserting that their prayers
were heard. Their object was accomplished by a cessation of terrors, and game becoming again plentiful and easily overcome.
On the lapse of three days thus dedicated, believing themselves forgiven for every unwarrantable act of which they were sensible,
and that the offering was accepted, they finally began with a mutual relation of their respective dreams, and the scene is
changed to joy and congratulation, by proceeding ravenously to devour a sacrificed deer to allay their fast.”
Shawnee Village and Tyronza Bayou are localities bearing Indian names. As early as 1828 the principal white men living in
in this county were the three Brackens, father and two sons; John Troy, county judge from 1836 to 1838, and for whom Troy
Township is named; Thomas J. Mills, the first representative after the county was formed in 1833; Edwin Jones, the first county
judge; J. W. Whitworth, its first clerk; E. F. Loyd, first sheriff; S. McLung, coroner, and G. C. Barfield, its first county
surveyor, after whom Barfield Point takes its name (Mr. Barfield was a member of the Territorial council from Crittenden,
when Mississippi formed a part of Crittenden County, in 1827); John C. Bowen, who was sheriff from 1836 to 1848; James Williams,
or “Cedar Jim,” as he was called, on account of his physical endurance; Elijah Buford, from whom Buford's Lake
takes its name, and Peter G. Reeves, a once noted hunter These were here before 1828, and with the exception of Carsons and
Kellums were the earliest white people in this county of whom there is now any account. Judge Charles Bowen, who resided in
that locality at that time, still survives, a hale, hearty, vigorous old man, full of years and of honors, having been sheriff
of the county for sixteen years, a brave officer in the late war, a member of the constitutional convention of 1874, and county
judge in 1877-78.
page 452 After hunting and trapping, the principal occupation of the early pioneers was chopping
and selling cord-wood to the steamboats. The advent of the little stern-wheel steamboat, “Orleans,” in the winter
of 1812, sailing from Pittsburg to New Orleans, was the herald of the Anglo-Saxon population to Arkansas. The boat created
a demand for cord-wood, which was supplied by the first settlers. They were hardy, industrious, honest men, and soon
had their cabins on the river, surrounded [p.452] by little clearings that gradually expanded into plantations. Joseph Hearn,
who came to this county in 1834, says that from the lower end of this county to Mill Bayou there were not more than half a
dozen clearings, all on the river. He knew of no one living in what are now the back settlements. A man named Hudgens lived
where Osceola now stands, and a little above him on the river was Thomas J. Mills, the first representative. A Mr. Penny settled
on what was afterward Col. Elliot H. Fletcher's plantation, now Fletcher's Landing, on Mill Bayou.
William L. Ward, representative in 1844-45, was living in Canadian Reach, and had been there for many years. Mr. Riley Hearn,
brother of Joseph, speaks of the Indians who lived on Big Lake; he remembers Big Knife, Keshottee and Corn Meal. There were
some fifteen or twenty living on Big Lake in his recollection.
The Indians in later years remained on Big Lake, Chickasawba
and Little River. These settlements are still the frontiers of the wild hunting grounds of the sunk lands of the St. Francis.
late as 1861 Indians of different tribes continued to linger in and around Chickasawba settlement, which takes its name from
Chickasawba, an old Indian chief, well remembered by the pioneers of this county, and especially by the venerable Judge Charles
Bowen, who has seen him carrying wild honey in a skin flung across his back, tramping to Barfield to sell it. Judge Bowen
says there were about forty Indian families living in the neighborhood of Chickasawba as late as 1836. These Indians would
occasionally cultivate a little corn and a few vegetables, but depended mainly on fishing, hunting and trapping for a living.
The Judge is authority for the statement that the great mound at Barfield has caved into the river in the past forty-five
years. Here he has seen the unmistakable remains of an ancient fort. The land in this vicinity and below for four or five
miles was open, free from cane, and known as prairie. On a tree about six miles from Barfield he remembers seeing a hand carved
in the wood, well executed, and pointing directly the way to Barfield; it was supposed to be an Indian device indicating the
way to the Indian village at the mound and fort. In 1815 the famous Lorenzo Dow passed by this country on a government boat.
He claimed that this country was inhabited by Indians, and white people degenerated to their level.
Mr. Sam Hector,
a truthful, upright citizen of Big Lake, who is proud of his Indian blood, lived in 1833 at an Indian village called Chil-i-ta-caw,
the site of Kennett, Dunklin County, Mo., not far from Big Lake.
Footnote Mr. McVeigh's narrative ends here.
he settled on this lake in 1837 the Indians occupied the country, chief among whom were Corn Meal, John East, Moonshine, John
Big Knife and Chuck-a-lee. The latter killed an Indian named Keshottee on an island in Little River, still known as Keshottee's
Island. He thinks the Indians gave the name to the Bayou now called Tyronza. Corn Meal told Mr. Hector there had been an Indian
town on his (Mr. Hector's) place, and several along the banks of Little River. Where these villages were said to have been
located he has often seen apple and peach trees growing in the woods. About the year 1830, an Indian named. Little George
killed a Mrs. Burns near Jackson, Mo. The Indian was supposed to have been hired by some one interested in an estate, of which
the lady was an heir. He came to her house and asked for provisions, receiving the best she had, and when she turned from
him, he thrust a large knife to her heart, causing instant death. The assailant immediately fled. The whites proclaimed that
they would exterminate the entire Indian population if, within a certain number of days, Little George was not produced,
dead or alive. The Indians knew the whites were in earnest; they made diligent search, and at last came up with him near the
foot of Buffalo Island in Mississippi County. As he was attempting to escape, Corn Meal and Keshottee fired upon him, and
he fell; and then before he was dead, they cut off his head, and one of them, on a fleet horse, bore it night and day to the
whites at Jackson, and flung it down in their midst. Thus, the threatened extermination was prevented.*
page 453 In
and around Mr. Hector's place on Big Lake [p.453] pieces of pottery and brick ware are often plowed up. The same material
is found all along the banks of Little River, and there are everywhere through this part of Mississippi County relics of a
once dense population, which no doubt was that now known as Mound Builders.
There are no towns in Mississippi County
that can properly be so-called except Osceola, the county seat, and this pleasantly situated village, with a population at
the present time of nearly 1,000, is located on the Mississippi River, about midway between the northern and southern limits
of the county. It was one of the earliest settlements in this territory, but existed for many years as a small collection
of huts on the river bank. About 1840 J. W. DeWitt was postmaster, when he kept the affairs of his office and the mails in
a cracker box, each patron helping himself. Mr. DeWitt was also the first school teacher in this county, having his school
at a point near the northern limits of Osceola.
The first municipal election in the place was held November 20, 1875,
and resulted in the choice of the following officers: Leon Roussan, mayor; John O. Blackwood, recorder; Alex. Goodrich, Berry
Henwood, B. F. Jones, Daniel Matthews, F. M. Petty, aldermen.
On November 24 the council appointed W. M. Speed, marshal;
J. W. Clapp, treasurer.
At the date of incorporation of Osceola it contained a population of about 250 people and some
half dozen business houses. The business interests at present are represented by the following firms and business men: Physicians–H.
C. Dunavant, R. C. Prewitt, W. D. Jones, J. E. Felts; lawyers–H. M. McVeigh, Hugh McVeigh, G. W. Thomason,
S. S. Semmes; general stores–James Liston, N. L. Avery & Co., J. K. P. Hale, L. A. Morris, A. Goodrich, G. R. Brickey
& Bro., Simon & Co.; druggists–Charles H. Gaylord, Ben H. Bacchus; saddlery
and harness–N. G. Cartwright; liverymen–Borum & Bro., T. N. Tucker; blacksmith and wagon-maker–Mack
Murry; saloons –C. O. Faber, B. F. Butler, Buck Hall, James Perry; jeweler– Charles Jewell; publisher–Leon
Roussan, proprietor of the Osceola Times; shoemaker–Robert Geotz; hotel–Planters' House, Mrs. Summers, proprietrees.
is in the midst of one of the finest farming regions in the State; broad and fertile acres stretching north, south and west,
with over 10,000 acres under a high state of cultivation. The productiveness of these lands is noted, and the farms are well
supplied with improvements. Society is of a higher order than is usually found in a town of this size, and many of its citizens
are college graduates. Under these favorable conditions the county seat of Mississippi may well be pointed to with pride,
as here are centered refinement, culture, education and taste.
Its thrifty business men, taking advantage of its commercial
opportunities, have built up a large and constantly growing trade, so that it now ranks second in commercial importance among
the towns on the Mississippi River between Cairo and Memphis.
New stores and dwellings are constantly being erected,
and with good or even fair crops the present promised prosperity will more than be secured.
Osceola has a good school,
four church organizations, and several secret societies.
Blythesville, a village of about 200 population, is situated
Chickasawba Township, and in the center of what is known as Chickasawba settlement. The first postoffice was established
in 1879 with H. T. Blythe as postmaster. The business interests are represented at the present time by the following firms
and business men: General stores–L. W. Gosnell & Co., N. L. Avery & Co., H. C. Davis & Bro.; groceries and
provisions–J. M. E. Sisk; Z. T. Williams & Co., W. P. Adkins; drug stores–Dr. J. T. Jones, W. H. Oglesby;
physicians–J. T. Jones, W. H. Oglesby, E. D. Rhea, J. N. Mize; blacksmiths–A. J. Bishop, B. V. Flemens; carpenters–R.
N. Ornaby & Co., Eison & Co.; cotton gin, saw and grist mill–H. T. Blythe; postmaster–H. T. Blythe; justices
J. H. Scruggs, A. J. Moody.
page 454 Since the organization of Blythesville, in 1878, it has been rapidly advancing
and is now the second largest village in Mississippi County. It is surrounded by a beautiful country, fertile and productive,
[p.454] with about 4,500 acres under cultivation; some 1,300 acres in this community are never overflowed in any ordinary
flood. The woods are filled with valuable timber, and only await mills and transportation to become the source of great wealth.
The open land in this section is under a high state of cultivation, while thousands of acres still in the timber, now available
to settlers, are unsurpassed in the State.
The people of the township are intelligent and enterprising, and will extend
a cordial welcome to settlers from any part of the United States, possessing similar traits of character.
In the settlement
known as Cooktown is one of the largest Indian mounds in this county; it has long been known that in this vicinity was an
immense Indian population in former times, and indeed, Indians have been located here within the memory of living men. Many
curiosities and relics have been unearthed, and as the mound stands in the center of cultivated fields, it is easily accessible
to visitors, to whom it is always an object of interest and wonder.
Hickman Bend, a section of river front extending
from about three miles above Barfield to the northern border of Mississippi County, is one of the most desirable sections
hereabouts. There are about 1,300 acres of land under cultivation, and the bend is being rapidly opened and
shipping point at Brolaski has a store and post office, which give the people a convenient outlet. Too much can hardly be
said in praise of this magnificent country, as its productiveness is proverbial, a bale of cotton to the acre being a small
average yield. Settlement is greatly desired, one planter stating that he would gladly welcome fifty families, and provide
good accommodations for them all. This bend and the township in which it is located take their names from Dr. Hickman, an
old pioneer who settled at an early day, and who is still remembered for his sterling qualities, his tender-hearted kindness
Barfield, the most extensive business point in the northern part of Mississippi County, is located
in Canadian Township, on the river front. It is surrounded by a fertile country, with some 1,200 acres under cultivation.
It has two stores, and landings, and in the vicinity there are three sawmills. The lumber business of this county is in its
infancy, but the success and prosperity of these mills assure the development of great wealth from surrounding valuable timber
in the near future.
The mail for these river points is carried by boats, and Barfield has a mail daily.
is a postoffice five miles above Osceola, in Fletcher Township. It is the outlet for an excellent country, which
is being rapidly improved and settled. The Government has been making extensive improvement along the river from and in the
channel below, and this has given Elmot a rapid rise. The open land in this section is a continuation of the Osceola settlement,
extending along the river in unbroken fields of the choicest land for nearly ten miles. Within a short distance on the river
front are three stores and several landings, which have local names. Ed. Williams, proprietor of a general store, is
also postmaster of Elmot.
Nodena, a postoffice kept by Maj. Ferguson, is situated twelve miles below Osceola,
on the river front. It consists of the plantations of Maj. Ferguson and Col. Craighead, which places rank among the finest
in the county, having about 2,000 acres under a high state of cultivation.
Golden Lake, which also includes Idaho Landing,
is located eight miles above the county line. Here the postoffice is kept by J. W. Rhodes. Mr. Rhodes established this landing
in 1883, the original landing, Crowell, on which he had resided since the year 1878, having been washed away. This place is
the outlet of the Frenchman's Bayou settlement; from that source it derives a large trade.
At both landings there are
about 500 acres under cultivation, the places containing three general stores, three cotton gins and one saw-mill. From this
point there is a tramway to a saw-mill, five miles inland, owned by R. E. Lee Wilson, which ships large quantities of lumber
page 455 Pecan Point, situated in the extreme southeastern part of Mississippi County, on the river front,
embraces a rich and fertile tract of land, [p.455] with about 2,000 acres under cultivation. It occupies a commanding position
on a point, and is one of the most beautiful places on the river front.
It was originally settled and brought under
a state of cultivation by Felix Grundy, Jacob McGavock and J. M. Bass, all of Nashville, Tenn. The business and postoffice
are conducted at the present time by R. W. Friend, who has been located here a long time. He enjoys a lucrative trade, and
owns a large proportion of the cultivated land.
Frenchman's Bayou, in the southern part of the county, about twenty-five
miles southwest of Osceola, is a most attractive stretch of country, extending for about six miles, and embracing an area
of 3,500 acres, under a high state of cultivation. This locality is noted for its general condition of improvement, many of
its buildings being in advance of other sections of the county. The land has long been noted for its fertility, and the annual
crops here show in an indisputable
manner the wonderful growing qualities of the soil. The people are courteous, cultivated
and enterprising, welcoming all industries that promise to contribute to the general good. The neighboring wood-lands are
filled with valuable timber, only awaiting transportation and the saw-mill to become sources of wealth.
Along the bayou
there are five general stores, conducted by T. B. Jones, W. H. Pullen (also postmaster). Ward & Jones, F. Musick, Adams
& Co., and one drug store, by Dr. J. C. Joyner. A school, church, a Masonic lodge (Frenchman's Bayou No. 157), and McGavock
Lodge No. 2,754, Knights of Honor, are also here.
Secret societies seem to occupy public attention quite as well in
Mississippi County as elsewhere in the State. The following lodges are among the representatives of numerous fraternities
Kallorama Lodge No. 990, Knights and Ladies of Honor, of Osceola, was organized January 29, 1885, with
the following charter members: S. S. Semmes, Mrs. F. M. Semmes, Mrs. O. J. Hale, H. L. Kline, Mrs. I. H. Kline, A. J. Nolty,
Mrs. Amelia Nolty, D. A. Richardson, Mrs. M. E. Richardson, Mrs. L. A. Wynne, Mrs. J. A. Wood, P. B. Sexton, G. F. Stowell,
Mrs. M. A. Stowell, Robert Dean, W. B. Haskins, G. A. Bolick, J. O. Blackwood, T. N. Tucker, Mrs. T. F. Tucker, C. H. Gaylord,
B. O. Harrison, Mrs. Eloize Harrison, Mrs. S. B. Blackwood, G. L. Gould, E. M. Ayers, Mrs. S. F. McVeigh, W. D. Jones, Mrs.
Lizzie Conley. This association is a mutual beneficial insurance company, and its object is to promote social intercourse
among its members. The present membership
is thirty-two, with the following officers: S. S. Semmes, P. P.; Mrs. F. M. Semmes,
P.; Mrs. M. G. Morris, V. P.; Mrs Lizzie Clure, C.; C. H. Gaylord, S. and F. S.; N. L. Avery, Treas.; Mrs. L. A. Wynne, guard.;
Mrs. M. F. Avery, guide; Mrs. S. B. Price, sentinel; Mrs. O. J. Hale, S. S. Semmes, N. L. Avery, trustees; H. C. Dunavant,
Monroe Lodge No. 2,167, Knights of Honor, of Osceola, was organized April 6, 1880, with the following
charter members: J. O. Blackwood, John Mathews, John B. Driver, D. H. Lawrence, T. C. Edrington, W. M. Dunkin, J. W. Pennell,
W. J. Bowen, H. C. Dunavant, C. H. Gaylord, G. R. Brickey, John Waller, T. A. Blackwood, J. L. Edrington,
W. S. Hayes, F. B. Hale, A. Goodrich, W. F. Williams, G. F. Stowell, F. M. Tucker, Ed. H.
The object of this association is the same as that of the Knights and Ladies of Honor. It has a present membership
of twenty-seven, and is presided over by the following officers: A. Goodrich, D.; S. S. Semmes, V. D.; W. P. Hale,
A. D.; R. Goetz, C.; C. H. Gaylord, R. and F. R.; G. R. Brickey, treasurer; D. Lawrence, guide; B. F. Buller, guardian; H.
C. Dunavant, medical examiner; A. Goodrich, S. S. Semmes, G. R. Brickey, trustees.
Samaritan Lodge No. 18,
A. O. U. W., Grand Lodge of Texas, was organized in December, 1884, with a charter membership of twenty-five. It is still
in working order, with a membership of ten, C. O. Faber being M. W.; S. S. Semmes, R. and F.
page 456 Osceola Lodge
No. 27, A. F. & A. M., was organized November 6, 1867, with the following charter members: William A. Ferring, W. M.;
R. G. Hardin, S. W.; B. F. Bennett, J. W.; [p.456] B. Harris. Treas.; E. W. Rowlett, Sec.; J. F. Davies, S. D.; T. C. Morris,
J. D.; J. R. Acree, tyler. Members; J. G. Layton, W. S. Sugg, J. B. Kelley, J. W. Ozell, J. C. Clark, W. J. Kent, M. F. Warren,
J. M. Able. James Stewart.
This lodge, which has always been one of the most flourishing in the State, has a large
membership, now numbering eighty, presided over at the present time by the following officers: Benjamin H. Bacchus,
W. M.; W. F. Williams, S. W.; F. B. Hale, J. W.; R. M. Fletcher, Sec.; J.
K. P. Hale, Treas.; Elliot Williams, S. D.; S. C. Edrington, J. D.; John Barney, tyler.
The lodge is
noted for its acts of charity, and the brilliancy of its members in Masonic knowledge. From this two other lodges have originated,
No. 134 at Chickasawba, and at Frenchman's Bayou.
Osceola Royal Arch Chapter No. 57 was organized March 1, 1871, with
the following charter members: George A. Dannely, B. A. Williamson, F. C. Morris, A. K. Nash, W. A. Ferring, J. F. Davies,
J. S. Mahan, C. C. Morris, George Fafford.
The Chapter enjoys a membership of nineteen at the present time, is in good
working order, and is presided over by the following officers: J. K. P. Hale, H. P.; J. E. Felts, P.; C. Bowen,
S.; C. H. Gaylord, Sec.; W. P. Hale, Treas.
The Ladies' Aid Society of Osceola was organized for benevolent
purposes, February 20, 1882, with twenty-six active members, and a large honorary membership. The first year of its existence
its labors were directed wholly to church work, proving quite successful. This society, in January, 1883, was incorporated
by the circuit court of Mississippi County, and immediately purchased a lot and entered into contract with Capt. E. M. Ayers,
to erect a building 40×60, to cost $1,200. In October, 1883, the hall was formally opened, and from that time on, the entertainments
given under the auspices of the society have been prominent features of the social life of the community. It is claimed that
this was the first corporate body of women in the State of Arkansas.
The Ladies' Aid Society is not denominational,
the following churches being represented in its membership: Episcopal, Methodist, Catholic and Christian; neither is it a
“charity” organization, though ever eager to spend and be spent in the service of suffering humanity, whenever
The society has passed successfully into its eighth year, with Miss F. H. Fletcher,
president; Mrs. Clara A. Roussan, vice-president; Mrs. R. C. Prewitt, treasurer, and Mrs. Leon Roussan, secretary; and with
unabated zeal, will, no doubt, continue to do much to dispel the social and mental stagnation consequent upon a long residence
in a small and isolated community.
Chickasawba Lodge No. 134, A. F. & A. M., of Blythesville, was organized October
12, 1875, with the following charter members: Samuel Thompson, A. J. Bishop, T. H. Robinson, Noah Sawyer, John Long, R. D.
Almond, Martin Norman, J. F. Ruddle, T. P. Davis, W. W. Mann, R. D. Carr, R. G. Hardin,
H. T. Blythe.
This lodge is in good working order, has been constantly growing in strength, and now has a membership
of over forty. It is presided over at the present time by the following officers: J. A. Scruggs, W. M.; Reginald Archillion,
S. W.; W. R. Simpson, J. W.; B. J. Rook, S. D.; T. E. Hendricks, J. D.; A. Harris, Treas.; Rollo Archillion, Sec.; J. D. Rutledge,
Chaplain; J. W. Conley and George W. Miller, stewards; W. W. Morris, tyler.
At the commencement of the Civil War the
people of Mississippi County, though loyal and patriotic, finally decided to go with the State, and were a unit in favor of
the cause of secession. The war spirit ran high, affecting rich and poor alike. If there was any Union sentiment in the county
(and there was at first), it soon succumbed to the influences in favor of a separate Confederacy.
page 457 Three companies
of nearly 100 men each were immediately organized, being commanded by Col. Charles Bowen, Capt. Elliott H. Fletcher, and Capt.
Robert Hardin, and were at once placed in active service. Only a few of the men forming those companies were alive at the
end of the [p.457] war. Of Capt. Fletcher's company, some twelve or fourteen are now living, mostly around Chickasawba, and
all are men of character and well to-do citizens. One of these, Hon. James F. Ruddle, was representative of the county in
the legislature of 1875. Capt. Elliot H. Fletcher and his brother, Thomas, a youth of sixteen years, were killed in the battle
of Shiloh. The first lieutenant of this company, William H. Ferring, was badly wounded in the same battle. He survived the
war, and was elected county clerk in 1866-68.
After the battle of Shiloh, Capt. Bowen returned to Mississippi County
to recruit a new company, but as the Federals had taken possession of the river he found it impossible to cross his men, and
from that time on, wrought good service at home clearing the county of lawless bands of robbers.
There were no regular
battles fought in this county, though it suffered greatly from predatory raids by Federal cavalry from Missouri and Kansas.
Business of every interest was suspended, and people lived in constant apprehension of being raided, captured and killed.
1864 Col. Burris, in command of a regiment of Kansas cavalry (Federal), made a dash through this country, taking several prisoners,
among whom were Capt. Charles Bowen and Col. Elliot Fletcher. This company was pursued by Capt. McVeigh, in command of some
seventy men, but they escaped to Missouri and no engagement was fought.
This and similar marauding expeditions formed
the principal war history of Mississippi County.
The Federal troops stationed at Fort Pillow often came into Mississippi
County, and, on one occasion, supplied themselves with material for building barracks at the fort, by taking away the houses
With the general surrender of the Confederate troops, the soldiers returned from the war, and in a short
while had resumed the habits of peaceable citizens; but it was a long time before they could shake off the habits of soldiers.
It was not unusual for them to go with pistols buckled on, often to church, and it was not until the law against carrying
pistols began to be rigorously enforced, that the old soldiers found out the true meaning of the terms of the surrender.
1868 Mississippi County was under martial law, and a regiment of State militia was quartered upon the people. Upon the withdrawal
of the militia, the people again returned to their industries–though large numbers of the best citizens had fled from
the county–and again the prospects of the county began to brighten, only to be again disturbed and disorganized by an
insurrection of the blacks in 1872.
A rising of the negroes in that year was called the Blackhawk War, and was an event
of considerable importance in the history of Mississippi County.
The colored people formed into secret societies throughout
the county and often marched in armed bands to Osceola and other points, making speeches and causing a great deal of excitement,
but there was no collision between them and the whites until fall, when, during a term of court in the county, the negroes,
forming quite a formidable band, were attacked by the whites, under Capt. Charles Bowen, and immediately dispersed. Prior
to this Judge Charles Fitzpatrick, who had been appointed by Gov. Clayton as president of the board of registration of Mississippi
County, in an altercation with Sheriff Murray, killed the latter in the streets of Osceola.
This caused public sentiment
to run high, but Judge Fitzpatrick immediately gave himself up, was bound over to appear at the next term of court, and then
released. After the engagement between the whites and blacks Judge Fitzpatrick escaped. There were a good many negroes killed,
how many was never known, and a number escaped to adjoining
The first representative of Mississippi County
after the admission of Arkansas into the Union, in 1886, was P. H. Swain, from whom Swain Township received its name.
458 Crittenden and Mississippi Counties were represented in the State senate by W. D. Ferguson in 1836-37-38, and in the session
of 1840 he was still in the senate, P. H. Swain being representative [p.458] of this county. In 1842-43 A. G. Greer was the
senator and W. M. Finley the representative. In 1844-45 Peter G. Reeves, previously
mentioned as a noted hunter, represented
Mississippi and Crittenden in the State senate, and Col. William L. Ward was representative. In 1846-48-50-51 G. W. Underhill
was senator and Col. Elliot H. Fletcher representative. In 1850-53, Underhill, senator; Thomas J. Blackmore, representative;
1854-55, Thomas B. Craighead, senator; Joseph C. Harding, representative; 1856-57, T. B. Craighead, senator, Thomas M. Harding,
representative; 1858-59, T. B. Craighead, senator and T. B. Craighead, representative; 1860-62, Craighead, senator, John R.
Acres, representative; in the legislature of 1863, the county was not represented. In 1864-65, T. Lamberton, senator, no representative,
nor in the special session of that year. In 1866-67, O. R. Lyles, senator, William W. Sawyers, representative; 1868-69, D.
H. Goodman, senator, A. M. Johnson, representative; 1871-72, J. G. Frierson of Cross, senator, L. D. Rozzell, representative.
the famous legislature of 1873, which revolutionized the State government, relieving the people from disfranchisement, J.
G. Frierson was senator; and the First district, composed of Craighead. Cross, Jackson and Mississippi Counties, was represented
by Roderick Joyner of Poinsett, W. H. Cate, of Craighead, H. M. McVeigh, of Mississippi, and F. W. Lynn, of Jackson. In the
extraordinary session of 1874, Frierson was senator, and J. F. Davies was elected to fill the unexpired term of H. M. McVeigh,
who had been appointed by the governor prosecuting attorney of the Eleventh judicial district. In 1874-75, J. T. Henderson,
senator, and J. J. Ruddell of Chickasawba, representative; in 1878, Benjamin Harris, senator, J. H. Williams, representative;
in the session of 1879, B. Harris, senator, and J. O. Blackwood, representative; 1881, J. B. Driver of Mississippi, senator,
and H. M. McVeigh, representative; 1883, Driver, senator, and F. G. McGavock,
representative; 1885. John W. Stayton, senator,
and Joseph Bradford, representative; 1887, Stayton, senator, and H. T. Blythe, representative; 1889, Ben Harris. Jr., senator,
J. K. Hale, of Osceola representative.
The men who served the county as representatives from the organization in 1833
to 1889 were, in the main, persons of excellent ability, and did much toward shaping the destiny of their State. They were
not all men of education; some of them may have been very illiterate; but they were possessed of honest hearts and strong,
natural sense. Those who were members before the late Civil War experienced none of the difficulties which confronted their
successors after that conflict.
Thos. B. Craighead and Col. Elliot H. Fletcher were, perhaps, the two most brilliant
of those whom this county sent to the legislative assembly before the war–men qualified by natural ability and scholarly
attainments to fill with credit any position in the gift of the people. Craighead was an able lawyer, and a fine orator.
Fletcher was a born ruler of men, and the magnetism of his manner, the clearness and elegance of his conversation, and his
varied knowledge on all subjects,
made him a welcome companion in every circle.
The public buildings of Mississippi
County consist of a large two-story frame court-house, with the county offices in the lower and the courtroom in the upper
story, and a frame jail with iron cells, both of which are located on Broadway street, at Osceola, the county seat. The courthouse
was erected in 1882-84, under the administration of S. S. Semmes, county judge, and cost all told about $8,500.
population of the county in 1840 numbered 900 whites and 510 slaves; total, 1,410. It then contained 3,042 neat cattle, 76
sheep, 5,022 hogs, and produced 107,615 bushels of corn, 3,908 bushels of potatoes, and 22,500 pounds of cotton. It had one
store, and one school with 25 scholars. This was taught by J. W. DeWitt, who was county clerk from 1836 to 1840.
1840 to 1861 the county growth was slow and gradual. Its population in 1854 was only 2,266, of whom 541 were slaves. In that
year were produced 192,200 bushels of corn, and in 1850, 200,250 bushels of corn, 455 bales of cotton, and 21,273 pounds of
page 459 The population at the outbreak of the war had not materially increased, being in 1860 only 3,895,
and the effects of the Civil War upon the county may be judged from the fact that in the ensuing ten years the population
had decreased, being in 1870, 3,633.
But little progress in population and wealth was made until the adoption of the
constitution of 1874. From that time all restrictions upon the right of suffrage were removed, and an economic State government,
with A. H. Garland as governor, soon restored public confidence. Then the county began to grow, especially from 1877 to 1881.
The census of 1880 showed that the county had doubled its population since 1870. In the year 1877 the temperance wave struck
this locality and swept it like a whirlwind, and from Osceola the agitation spread throughout the State. Great and permanent
good was effected by the worthy movement in Mississippi County. But very little drunkenness will be observed among the people
at this time.
The only serious drawbacks to the county's prosperity in late years were the disastrous floods of 1882-83-84.
These floods checked for a while all growth and development hereabouts. Many farms were temporarily abandoned, and new clearings
were left by those who had settled on the public lands. The effects of this disaster have passed away, and the people seem
to have forgotten them. The county is now in a more prosperous condition than at any previous period in its history.
There are almost as many Northern people in the county as those of Southern origin, and they live together
upon terms of perfect peace and mutual respect. Ex-Federal and ex-Confederate soldiers may be seen together at almost any
time, apparently without a thought of the days when they met each other on opposite sides in deadly conflict.
County was organized in accordance with an act of the legislature of Arkansas, approved November 1, 1833; and the following
is a list of the names of the county and legislative officers, with the dates of their terms of service annexed, from the
organization to the present:
Judges: Edwin Jones, 1833-35; Nathan Ross, 1835-36; John Troy, 1836-38; Fred Miller, 1838-40;
Nathan Ross, 1840-42; H. A. Phillips, 1842-44; W. L. Ward, 1844-46; H. A. Phillips, 1846-48; E. M. Daniel, 1848-56; J.
H. Williams, 1856-58; J. H. McKinney, 1858-60; J. W. Alris, 1864-66; J. H. McKinney, 1866-68; C. L. Moore, 1868-72;
L. M. Carrigan, 1874-76; Charles Bowen, 1876-78; J. E. Felts, 1878-80; E. A. Garlick, 1880-82; S. S. Semmes, 1882-84; E. Bevel,
1884-86; L. D. Rozzell, present incumbent, first elected in 1886.
Clerks: J. W. Whitworth, 1833-36; J. W. DeWitt, 1836-40;
J. P. Edrington, 1840-44; A. G. Blackmore, 1844-50; H. A. Phillips, 1850-54; D. D. Dickson, 1854-58; M. W. Nanney, 1858-62;
M. W. Nanney, 1864-66; W. A. Ferring, 1866-68; J. B. Best, 1868-74; J. K. P. Hale, 1874-80; B. H. Bacchus, 1880-84;
Hugh R. McVeigh, 1884-88; J. B. Driver, present incumbent, elected in 1888.
Sheriffs: E. F. Lloyd, 1833-36; J. C. Bowen,
1836-48; Charles Bowen, 1848-62; Charles Bowen, 1864-66; John Long, 1866-68; J. B. Murray, 1868-72; J. B. Driver, 1872-78;
W. B. Haskins, 1878-86; W. S. Hayes, present incumbent, first elected in 1886.
Treasurers: Uriah Russell, 1836-38;
T. L. Daniel, 1838-42; John Gibson, 1842-50; W. C. Dillehay, 1850-54; C. W. Bush, 1854-56; D. Matthews, 1856-58; C. W. Burk,
1858-60; D. Matthews, 1860-62; H. C. Edrington, 1864-66; D. Matthews, 1866-68; J. H. Edrington, 1868-72; J. H. Sheddon, 1872
to August, 1874; J. L. Driver, August, 1874-78; J. W. Uzzell, 1878 to January, 1884; G. F. Stowell, from January, 1884; James
Liston, 1884-88; C. H. Gaylord, present incumbent, elected in 1888.
page 460 Coroners: S. McLung, 1833-36; T. L. Daniel,
1836-38; J. Williams, 1838-40; Thomas Sears, 1840-42; Richard Pearson, 1846-48; J. Cunningham, 1848-50; T. Williamson, 1850-52;
E. O. Cromwell, 1852-54; J. V. Lynch, 1854-56; W. D. W. Bond, 1858-60; L. W. D. Bond, 1860-62; D. Matthews, 1864-66; John
Pedigo, 1866-68; H. C. Rosa, 1872-74; A. W. Lucas, 1874-78; G. E. Pettey, 1878-80; J. M. Lawrence, present incumbent, [p.460]
first elected in 1880, and has served continuously since.
Surveyors: G. C. Barfield, 1833-36; J. G. Davis, 1836-38;
A. G. Blackmore, 1840-44; J. D. B. Sherman, 1846-48; G. Pendleton, 1848-50; William Dillingham, 1850-52; E. G. Sugg, 1852-54;
W. B. Wood, 1854-56; A. H. Fisher, 1856-58; A. Faucette, 1858-60; William Femsite, 1860-62; J. W. Uzzell, 1864-66; W. H. Craighead,
1866-68; J. W. Uzzell, 1868-72; F. L. James, 1872-74; J. H. Rainey, 1874-76; James Anthony, 1876-77; J. T. Burns, 1877-78;
B. H. Bacchus, 1878-80; George Benton, 1880-82; J. H. Caruthers, 1882-84; T. H. Musgrave, 1884-86; R. H. Clay, 1886-88;
Reginald Archillion, present incumbent, elected in 1888.
Assessors: H. C. Edrington, 1868-72; P. Mitchell, 1872-73;
John Rainey, 1873-74; L. Ward, 1874-76; D. D. Dickson, 1876-78; W. M. Speed, 1878-80; J. A. Lovewell, 1880-82; J. R. Riggins,
1882-86; B. L. Hill, 1886-88; T. W. Davis, present incumbent, elected in 1888.
In 1887 the National government constructed
a strong and massive levee, from Bear Bayou to Craighead Point, covering a distance of about twenty miles, and protecting
the finest section of farming country in the county. The county has now in contemplation the continuation of this levee to
its northern limit, which will immediately make available for cultivation hundreds of thousands of acres of rich and fertile
lands; it will increase the taxable property of the county, and open up large areas for settlement. Thus, with the completion
of this levee system to the southern limit of the county (which will probably be done during the next few years), Mississippi
will be thoroughly protected from the river floods, and may then expect to see the opening of an era of prosperity to which
it is justly entitled.
The enumeration of school children of Mississippi County in 1886, showed the presence of 2,582
children of school age; in 1887, 2,809. There are twenty-nine school districts in the county, and the present enumeration
would probably exceed 3,000 children of school age.
The county schools are generally in good condition, and the directors
have ample money to secure good teachers. Mr. Leon Roussan, the present county examiner, is exerting himself to raise the
grade of both teachers and schools.
There is a high school in Osceola which ranks among the substantial institutions
of the State. At Blythesville the directors are about to build a new school building, and then hope to raise the grade to
a point that the people of Chickasawba need.
School service, however, throughout the county can only be spoken of in
terms of praise, as there seems to be a feeling among the directors that the people will only be satisfied with the best,
and as they have recently voted high taxation for school purposes, this county may be expected to take a leading place in
The first Baptist Church of Mississippi County was organized in Osceola, about 1870, by Elder
H. H. Richardson, of Clear Creek Association, Illinois, acting as missionary, and was composed of the following constituted
members: J. K. P. Hale and wife, Melissa A. Hale, Charles G. Evans and wife, Martha Evans, Mrs. Rhode Housman, John E. Felts
and wife, Eliza Felts, all of whom exhibited their church letters from regular Baptist churches, and in regular form. In 1880
a substantial and ornamental building, and now have a membership of about sixty.
The Methodists have
an organization at Osceola, several churches in the southern part of the county, and four in Chickasawba Township, Blythe's
Chapel, Shady Grove, New Hope and Clear Lake.
There are four organizations of the Presbyterian denomination in Mississippi
County, all growing in strength, membership and importance. These are located at Osceola, Nodena, Pecan Point and Frenchman's
Bayou. The present pastors are Revs. Boggs and Lloyd.
The colored people have numerous organizations of various denominations
throughout the county.
page 461 The Catholic Church of Osceola, the only [p.461] church of this denomination in Mississippi
County, was built in 1879. It is a frame building, 44×24 feet, weatherboarded outside and sealed inside; it is sixteen
feet to the top of ceiling and sixty-four feet to the top of the cross; and cost, seated, $2,000. It was built with the proceeds
of a fair and by private subscription, raised through the exertion of a committee of ladies. The congregation numbers about
thirty-five communicants, who depend upon the transient visits of a priest to administer to their wants.
From the distress
and poverty entailed by the most disastrous war in modern times, Mississippi County is rapidly passing to the period when
it will become one of the most prosperous counties in the State. No one who studies the facts in the case can question this.
Here is a county “rich beyond compare;” a county with timber resources almost without limit; with agricultural
possibilities not surpassed, probably not equaled, by any other county in the State, in the production of that
product–cotton, and nowhere else can there be added to this such facilities for fruit raising, for early and late vegetables,
for the cereals and grasses, as in this favored section.
What most impresses a chance visitor to this locality is the
large number of self-made men–men who came here a short time ago with absolutely no resources, who are now, after a
few years' cultivation of this productive soil, living in comparative affluence. This is undisputed evidence that it is one
of the most promising counties for emigration that the South can show.
Mississippi County has an immense wealth of
timber awaiting the advent of capital and labor to put it in the markets of the world. All these advantages are so apparent,
that settling here has long passed the range of speculation, and success and prosperity are positive rewards of moderately
directed energy and industry.
Eary Days In Osceola