A History of Prentiss County

Transcribed from microfilm of 1937 copies of The Booneville Banner



Transcribed by Booneville Middle School STEP Students
Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth grade

Benjamin Burns, Britney Dodson, Anna England, Montana Hill, Matthew Ridge, Tyler Storey, Cortnie Tidwell, Carter Bray, Cody Grisham Carter Holley, Warren Jumper, Jeremy Owens,
Brice McElroy, Kenney Turner, Tyler Wilson, Kitty Wood, Jordan Coats,  Zac Cox, Andrea Hawkins, Colby Langston, Josh Martin, Trevor McCreary, Tyler Sparks, Jessi Palmer, Katy Dimos, Cinda Carey, Sarah Dickerson, Farris Green, Robert Taylor,  Maria Goldman


     We are coming now directly to Prentiss county and its historical developments You will remember that the old county of Tishomingo was divided into three counties, Alcorn, Prentiss, and Tishomingo on April 15th, 1870.  Some of the old Tippah county territory was added to Alcorn county and a strip six miles long and one mile wide was added to Prentiss from Tippah and 30 sections of old Itawamba was added to Prentiss on the southeast and a three mile strip of Itawamba to Tishomingo.  The present county of Tishomingo is nearly forty miles from north to south and narrow from east to west.

    Prentiss County came into life when the state was still torn with the agonies of reconstruction.  Our people took a very active part in restoring good government to the state.  The great change was brought by the elections of 1875 and in 1876 the Governor and Lieutenant governor were forced from their positions and one of our men, John M. Stone, by virtue of his position as president of the senate, became governor and made one of the most loved governors the state has ever had.

    Our citizens have had a great deal to do with the state government. Governor Robert Lowery was one time in his early childhood a citizen of Prentiss County and his father died here in 1880.  Private John Allen, one of the most renowned congressmen from Mississippi spent much of his life in and around Baldwyn.

    Hugh M. Street, a member of a pioneer Prentiss county family was elected speaker of the House of Representatives in 1872 to 1874. He succeeded a Negro, John R. Lynch and was succeeded by another Negro, I. D. Shadd.  Col. Street was elected speaker again from 1876 to 1878.  He then moved to Meridian and on being elected a representative from Lauderdale county was speaker  from 1892 to 1894 and again speaker from 1908 to 1912, serving four terms in this most important place.  No man did more to shape legislation than Col. Street.  No other man has served as long as Col. Street did.

    Hons A.J. McIntyre, Allen Cox and J. E. Friday of Prentiss County served as Chancery judge of the first district.  Judge Allen Cox is now serving as Federal Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi and is making a splendid record.  This position carries lifetime tenure.  His father, Judge W. M. Cox, of Baldwyn, served for a few months as a member of the State Supreme Court.
 Prentiss county has furnished three district attorneys: Geo. H. Strange, Julius E. Berry and Floyd W. Cunningham.  W. H. Tison, of Baldwyn, Lee County was a speaker of the house of representatives.  He formerly lived in old Tishomingo County and Col. W. M. Inge, of Corinth was also a speaker of the House of Representatives.  You see this section has fared well along these lines and had much to do in forming legislation.

    A Prentiss county boy, J. S. Vandiver, is now State Superintendent of Education and Prof. R. E. L. Sutherland served two years as President of Mississippi State College for Women.
 The first set of county officers was appointed by Governor Alcorn and confirmed by the State Senate on July 19th, 1870 and the Board of Supervisors met on July 25, 1870, and elected John R. Moore as the first president.  The other members were J. M. Moore, A. Bowdry, Joe Rogers, and M. L. Martin.  Henry C. Fields was called on by the board to act as temporary sheriff at the organization of the board.  The following were sworn in as county officials:  W. H. Walton, Chancery Clerk; R. B. Henderson, Circuit clerk; L. W. Redus, Sheriff; P. R. Hoyle, Treasurer; L. L. Brown, Tax Assessor; Calvin Lacy, Coroner; David Hodges, Surveyor; Justices of the Peace: S. V. Enis, Gilbert .P. Howell, J. P. Carraway, James Junkin; Constables: J. C. Fields, P. I. Farmer, J. Newt Moore, John P. Burge, Robert True, and J. A. Holley.  W. G. C. Greshem was mayor of Booneville and T. G. Stocks, mayor of Baldwyn.

    The board faced many difficulties.  There was no courthouse or meeting place and rented a store building belonging to Peter W. Nash and Mary C. Fields as a temporary courthouse.  They paid $25.00 per month rent.  They had tables and shelving installed and wwere faced with the erection of a courthouse and jail.  The appointed a committee consisting of J. F. Gresham, G. W. Patrick, Richard Smith, John Taylor and H. M. Street to collect plans and location for a court house.  They made a report, which was adopted.

    They appointed school directors and overseers for the poor.  The records show that county warrants were issued to several in 1870 who were classed as paupers.
 The following places were selected as voting places: Booneville; residence of A. Bowdry; Baldwyn; Marietta; residence of S. Moore; residence of J. B. Wade and the Cheves School house.
 It was necessary to have records of Old Tishomingo county pertaining to Prentiss County, transcribed and filed in the office of the Chancery Clerk.  P.W. Nash was selected to make the transcriptions and was paid the sum of ten cents per hundred words.  This was slow and tedious work and required much more care in copying and it was some time before this work could be completed.

    These were many applicants for licenses to sell whiskey and other intoxicating liquors in less than one-gallon lots. A bond of two hundred dollars was required for these licenses. Applications were received from Booneville and Marietta within a few weeks after the board took charge.

    Roads were requiring much attention. Petitions for the laying out of new roads; for changes in roads; for the reassignment of hands; for the building of bridges. On petition that part of the Old Natchez Trace from the Tishomingo county line to William Allen's home was discontinued and thus this old road began to go out of use, as it lead in the wrong direction for much travel.

    There were 82 marriage licenses issued in 1870. The first was issued to John Phillips and Miss Elizabeth L. Holms on July 25 and the wedding was solemnized on July 30, 1870. 88 licenses were issued in 1871.

    The committee's report on were adopted and it was order plans for the new court housed that publication be made in the Prentiss Recorder for bids for its erection. Block 6 of the Williams Survey of the town of Booneville was selected as the location and proper Jeeds were made from the Mobile and Ohio R.R. who owned a one -third interest and C.W. Williams who owned two-thirds interest for a consideration of $800.00. Mr. Williams donated $200.00 to its purchase although it was not the location he suggested. The Board entered a resolution of thanks to Mr. Williams for the donation.

    The bid of J. F. Gresham and G. W. Patrick for the erection of the courthouse for the sum of  $15,850.00 was accepted, tho the beginning of the building was held up for some time because of some objections that had been filed.

    In February 1873, M.  Files Circuit Clerk resigned and an election was held later, and J. W. Smith elected to fill the vacancy.

    Work on the courthouse was progressing nicely: some of the rooms have been completed and a drastic order was passed, directing the sheriff not to allow any one to sleep in or use any of these rooms in any way.

    A garden fence was built at the jail and seats were made for the courthouse and J. C. Carter was awarded the contract to build a yard fence around the courthouse for the sum of $150.00.

    A scholarship at the State University was awarded by Alcorn and Prentiss Counties and Prentiss county paid $50.00 of the expense. J. W. Kilpatrick won the prize. In July 1873, the Prentiss Recorder was again made the official organ for the county. Hon. B. A. P. Selman was chosen as Attorney for the Board.

    At the regular election in November 1973 the following officers were elected; Sheriff, John M. Walker: Chancery Clerk, P. W. Noah: Circuit Clerk J. W. Smith: Tax Assessor, W. S. Allen ; Treasurer, G. T. Milllean; Coroner, W. C. Pitts; Justices of the Peace, F. T. Smith, John C. Davis, James Junkins, T. J. Gahagan, G. Howell, A. S. Williams, T. L. Brown, H.B. Barker, and H. C. Parker; Constables: A. J. Dalton, M. C. Wooldruff, S. F. Yocum, W. D. Dalton, E. Whitley.

    In the Circuit Court held April 1872, John Taylor was foreman of the grand jury and special rules of procedure were placed in record.

    A second venire was drawn in case of Henderson Woodard charged the murder of Henrietta Woodard. This case was brought here on a charge of venue from Lee County. The case was continued again on account of absent witness, who was fined $100.00. In the third setting of the case attorneys Green and Pickens were appointed to defend Woodard. He went to trial and was found guilty and was sentenced to life term in the penitentiary.

    William Shinault was indicated for murder and released under a $20,000.00 bond which was made at once in the court room. Later the case was called and noble processed. J. W. Gresham , H. C. Parker, William Fulghum, James Ellott, were grand jurors from the first district and were among the best citizens in the county. J. F. Gresham was foreman of the grand jury. John A. Blair was district attorney. J. M. Files, Circuit Clerk, resigned and P. W. Nash, Jr., succeeded him by appointment and served until J. W. Smith was elected to fill the vacancy in November 1873.

    At the January 1871 term, a number of men had been indicted for riot and were fined $5.00 each. There are no details on file, but the case evidently grew out of reconstruction troubles. There were several retail saloons in town, but a prominent citizen had eight true bills returnedagainst him for selling liquor without license. He plead guilty and was fined twenty-five dollars and costs in each case, which amounted to more than the $200.00 license. Charles B. Martin was admitted to the bar as a practicing attorney.

    In the Chancery Court to the main entries deal with the settlement of estates and like matters. There were only a few divorce cases, mainly on charges of desertion, or adultery. In 1876 Edwin F. Flippin sued for Rosenn Flippin for divorce. She filled a crossbill and was awarded the custody of their two children and given an allmony of $3600.00 to be made in two equal payments.

    Chancellor Arthur E. Reynolds retired and was succeeded by J. D. Barton, who was succeeded by O. H. Whitfield, who was succeeded by L. Haughton.

     In October 1877, John Burkridge, a citizen of Great Britain, appeared before the Chancellor, renounced his allegiance to Great Britain and took the necessary oaths to become an American citizen. This was the first case of this kind in the country and perhaps the last one. The Will Record is very interesting. The first will record was that of C. W. Collins, Sr. This will was made October 11,1870, and filed for record November 9,1870 and the next was that of Joseph Bynum, filed February 6,1871.

    One of the most interesting wills is that of Joel H. Berry, who was the father of the late Rev. J. S. Berry of Baldwyn, and Rev. William Edwin Berry of Blue Mountain. This was written July 7, 1874 and recorded May 12,1875.A council was added to this will changing one of the bequests made in the first will. Rev. Jeff Rogers of Amory, who was a young lad at the time, was one of the beneficiaries named in this will. Rev. J.S. and W.F. Berry was the executor named in the will.

    Next week, we go back to the Board of Supervisors for 1874-1876.A new board was elected, but they had many of the name troubles as the old board. The new courthouse will be completed and the county officers will soon occupy their perspective office rooms and this will help the dispatch of business.

    In reading the old minutes of the Board of Supervisors you are surprised at the amount of space given to roads.  A change in a road or a new road would be desired, a petition was presented to the board asking for a jury of review: this jury would inspect the road and make their report: the hands subject to road duty would be allotted to links of road and an overseer was appointed; if a bridge was desired, it went through the same procedure; the records were not clear as to how much was paid for these bridges. The rights of way were usually donated.

    As we begin 1874, we find a newly elected Board of Supervisors: John A. Lowery, J. A. Jumper, W. C. Lary, and Jordan Rees. These names are getting more familiar and bring the knowledge that many of their descendants are still Prentiss County citizens W. C. Lacy was the father of Charles Lacy, and John Lowery was a brother of Robert Lowery, who afterwards became governor, P. W. Nash who was a Chancery Clerk and J.M. Walker who was  Sheriff.

    John Fulgham was awarded the contract in 1874 for keeping the county home and was paid nine dollars for inmates. He was given the work again in 1875 and the following were were the conditions of the clothing. 1 winter set of jeans. 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of wool socks, 4 shirts, 2 pairs of drawers, 2 pairs of pants, and a wool hat, For the women, 2 cotton dresses, 2 domestic chemises, 3 brown cotton underskirts, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs woolen hose, 2 calico sun-bonnets. They were to have good, wholesome, food and be treated humanely. A man applied for license to "peddle and hawk" goods in a 2-horse wagon and paid fifty dollars privilege license.

     Grand Jurors for the July term of the Circuit Court were appointed by the board at its April meeting. It seems that there was no newspaper in Booneville in 1871 and the county printing was given to Mississippi common-wealth, published at Corinth, by J. H. Miller, editor. A disagreement came up over the contract and their account for printing was disallowed.

    A constable got in bad in some way and his bondsmen turned him up to the Board and the constable refusing or failing to make a new bond, the office declared vacant and an election held to fill the vacancy. A justice died and another resigned and new elections were held for their successors.

    The board equalized the assessment rolls and this brought on a lot of work. Their decision was final. The roll did not have to be approved by the State Tax Commission as now.  Although the jail was new, it was declared unsafe and this brought on a lot of repair or extra work.

    Joe N. Wilson filed a petition to be allowed to creet a little gristmill on Little Brown Creek, in section 4, t 6, r 9, where the Natchez Trace crossed the Little Brown. A committee of review was appointed to determine the damage that would be done the cultivatable land in the bottom and to see if there was any menace to health in the building of the necessary dam.

    Circuit Court met in January 1975, with judge B. B. Brown presiding and John M. Allen, District attorney, Mr. Allen later served for many years as Congressmen from the first district of Mississippi. J. V. Alexander was foreman of the Grand Jury. Several justices of the peace and a constable were brought before the court on some charges that were dismissed. In July 1875 J. W. Morris was foreman of the grand jury.

    Along about this time a large number of indictments were returned for different violations of the whiskey sale laws. Some had sold without license and one indictment was for knowingly selling whiskey to a habitual drunkard. There were perhaps a dozen indictments against one man for different violations. The whiskey problem is not new, and it would be very difficult estimate the amount that its illegal sale has cost Prentiss County.

    In January 1876, A. W. Petty was foreman of the grand jury. On the first day of the term the death of Hon. John B. Sale, a prominent attorney of Aberdeen, was announced and the court was adjourned for the day and on Tuesday a committee composed of Hons, John M. Allen P. M. Savery and W. P. Curlee presented resolutions of respect for Mr. Sale and after discussion they were spread on minutes.

     It became a custom about this time for the member of the Board from the first, second, and third districts to appoint a Negro to serve on each grand jury. There were no Negroes in the forth and fifth districts. Anthony James from the first, Ned Jumper from the second, and Peter Bryson from the third were the first Negroes selected for a jury in 1878.

    The new board installed in 1878 were A. J. Dalton, President; T. W. Jones, J.  W. Youngblood, T. J. Gihngan and W. C. Lacy.  John M. Allen was allowed four dollars for making a coffin for a pauper. The salaries for teachers were fixed at $30.00 for an average of 25 and 6 cents per day where the average was less. The pay for keeping paupers was fixed at $1.98 for those over ten years of age and $3.32 for those under ten.

    The clothing prescribed for the paupers was as follows: Men: one winter suit, coat, pants of all-wool filling jeans" four shirts of heavy brown domestic, 3 yards to shirt, 2 pairs of draws made of drilling, 2 1/2 yards to pair: one wool hat, 2 pair heavy brogan shoes, 2 pairs of summer pants of denim, 3 yards to pair and 2 pair wool sox. Women: One heavy linsey, all wool underskirt, 3 yards of one yard wide material, 2 cotton check or homemade dresses with 8 yard stores, one yard wide: 2 brown domestic chemises, 3 yards of material, one yard wide to each: 2 brown domestic cotton underskirts with 3 1/2 yards to skirt: 2 pairs ladies' heavy brogan shoes; two calico sunbonnets and 2 pair wool home knit stockings.

    Along about this time M. Surrant became county superintendent at a salary of $26.25 per three months. The following text books were selected and adopted for use in the schools. Webster's Blue Back Spellers and Dictionaries: Watson's series of Readers:  Montheith's  Geographics:  Davica's series of Arithmetics:  Butler's Grammars and Barnes' Histories.
 John a. Roach, jailer made a report of the property on hand to John C. Hodges, Sheriff as follows:  4 mattresses, 27 blankets, 5 slop jars, 2 tin buckets, 7 tin plates.  Arrangements were made to hire out the prisoners to private persons, who worked them on their farms.  It was usually for so much per month and there were certain conditions to he met.  The jailer was paid 30 cents per day for feeding the prisoners in jail.

    A county heard of health was appointed as follows:  First district, Dr. W. A. Taylor:  Second, Dr. J. H. P. Stephensson:  Third, Dr. F. A. Cox:  Fourth, Dr. W. J. Roders:  Fifth, Dr. Robert G. Smith.  Later Dr. Taylor resigned and Dr. D. T. Price was selected in his stead.
 An outstanding event of 1878-79 was the taking steps to drain, clean out and streighten the channel of town Creek, just north of Baldwyn.  The ditch cut was about 965 rods in length and one of the pleas made was improvement of health.  Some of this land belonged to John M. Allen and Robert Lowry.  This is the first attempt for community drainage in the county.  Later all of the leading bottoms of the county have been drain in a similar manner, except that bonds were issued to pay the drainage costs.

    Officers elected in 1877 were as follows:  J. W. Smith, Circuit Clerk:  John C. Hodges, Sheriff:  T. F. Morton, Tax Assessor:  W. H. Collins, Surveyor and John Bane, Coroner and Ranger:  Supervisors :  A. J. Dalton  T. W. Jones, J. W. Youngblood, T. J. Gahagan, W. C. Lacey.  Justices of the peace:  H. C. Parker, D. T. Beall, L. M. Rhine.
John R. Strange, James Junkins, John D. Norman, W. H. Cunningham, G. L. Stennett, John J. Smith and E. Alexander.

    Constables: A. J. Davis, J. E. Basden, R. T. Sykes, J.K. P. Vandevander.  Sheriff John C. Hodges died early in the year and a special election was held when Robert Davenport was elected Sheriff J.P. and W. S. Povall, owners and operators of a printing plant protested against an excessive acessment and it was reduced.

    Officers for 1880:  Robert Davenport, Sherriff; J. W. Smith, Circuit Clerk;  J. C. Carter, Treasurer;  T. F. Morton, Tax Assessor;  Jeff Smith, Surveyor and John Bane, Coroner and Ranger.
 Supervisors: A. J. Daiton, T. W. Jones, J. W. Youngblood, T. J. Gahagan, J. M. Lenth.
 Justices of the Peace: B. J. Kizer , J. N. Wilson, H. J. Jones, W. Marion Young, H. C. Parker, James Junkins, W. L. Thomas, W. H. Cunningham, G. Howell and T. D. Falls.
 Constables: J.S. Thompson, J. T. Ward, A. B. Woodruff and A. J. Davis.

    We find that Chancery and Circuit Clerks were elected to serve four year terms and the regularly elected chancery clerks in the county: P. W. Nash from 1872 to 1884; W. H. Reen from 1884 to 1896; B. McEullar from 1896 to 1908; Charles R. Lacy from 1908 to 1924; H.C. Williams from 1924 to 1936 and Frank Felker is now serving.

    In November 1881 the following were elected to serve from 1882 to 1884: P.M. Walker, Sheriff ;J.C.  Carter, Treasurer; W. W. Cunningham,Tax Assessor ; John Bane, Coroner and Ranger;Jeff Smith, Surveyer ;Supervisors : G. W. Patrick, T. W. Jones,  J. W. Youngblood,  W. H. Cunningham, A. B. Woodruff; Justice of the Peace: J. F. Huffman, W. W. Furtick, G. C. Walters, H. H. Wells, James Junkins, W. L. Thomas, E. Alexander, A. S. Williams, J. W. Smith, P. W. Patterson: Constables: Chas. Burt, J. H. Robertson, T. W. Ledbetter, B.F. Michael, W. H. Gaten, G. H. Brumley.

    In 1883, the election resulted as followed: W. H. Rees, Chancery Clerk; P.M. Walker, Sheriff; J.C. Carter, Treasurer; W. W. Cunningham, Tax Assessor; John Rane, Coroner and Ranger; Jeff Smith, Surveyor. Supervisors: G. W. Patrick, B.F. Cambell, W. L. Tomas, C.C. Hare, B. J. KIzer. JustIces: W. L. Owens, J. N. Harris, John A. Lytnl, J.J. Smith, C.B. Martin, J.D. Norman, F. S. Yocum, W. B. Pollard, L. W. Shackelford. Constables: A.J. Grisham, J.F. Davis, M. D. L. Tyra, J. E. Lacy.

    In 1885 the following were elected to serve from 1886 to 1888: W.W. Cunningham, Sheriff; M. L. Burns, Treasurer; J.C. Garrison, Coroner and Ranger; J.D. Chase, Surveyor; W. B. Pollard, Tax Assessor. Supervisors: L.C. Howswer, J.H. Gardner, J. W. Lytal, R. J. Kizer, and A. B. Woodruff. Justices of the peace: J. L. Gover, J.F. Huffman, J.S. Medford, F. P. Smith, James Junkins, C. J. Tdwell, G.L. Stennett, A.S. Williams, E. A. Howell, A. G. Smith, J. M. Burcham, John Wilson. Constables: J. E. Davis, J. F. Putt, W. H. Gates, M. D. L. Tyra, G. A. Burcham.
 Charles R. Lacy was appointed County Superintendent. He was re-appointed at the close of the first term.

    The officers chosen in November 1887 to serve from 1888 to 1890 were: W. H. Rees, Chancery Clerk; R. M. Hale, Circuit Clerk; A. J. Dalton, Sheriff; G. W. Plaxco, Treasurer; W. P. Pollard, Tax Assessor; John Bane, Coroner and Ranger; J.D. Chase, Surveyor.  Supervisors:  L. G. Howser,  J.F. H. Carpenter,   J.B. Floyd,  M. D. L. Tyra,  J. Q. Melton, Justices of the Peace: T. W. Leadbetter, H. R. Green, S. S. Park, R. G. Garrison, J. L. Surrat, W. T. Ivoy,  J. J. Smith, R. D. Holly, G. L. Stennett.  Constables: D. F. Fulghum, D. W. Barlet, W. H. Gates, J. W. Green, J. M. Wilson.
  Of the officers serving up to 1890, we find J. H. Gardner, Chan, R. Lacy, J. W. Green, D. W. Barlett and G. H. Brumley still living.
 

    From 1890 to 1895 there were no happenings of more than routine interest. The time of the board was taken up to a great extent with changes of roads, laying on new roads, building bridges levees  and such like.  It would become necessary to re-allot the hands assigned on the roads. It was supposed that every able bodied man under 50 years of age and over 18 was liable  to 12 days of work on the roads under the direction of an overseer and he got credit for carrying his plow and mule.

      Another matter that caused a lot of discussion and careful management was the establishing  of the stock law.  There were commissioners who had charge of the line finances, the gates, the carring out of orders to keep the stock up. An election was held in December ,1894, when 204 votes were cast for stock law and 63 votes against it. This took in the western half of the country and caused a fence to be built between the two territories. There were some county line fences built and this cost quite a bit of money. Gates were erected at the road crossings.

    The following officers were elected in 1800: W. W. Cunningham, Sheriff: M. L. Burns, Treasurer: J. O. Whitley, Tax Assessor:  John Bane, Coroner and Ranger: R. J. Moore, Survivor: John B. Sanders, County Superintendent: L. C. Howser, Cotton Weigher. Supervisors: Robert Devenport, J. F. H. Carpenter, J. B. Floyd, S. T.  McWhorter, J. Q.  Melton, president. Justices of the Peace: T. W.  Ledbetter, L. C.  Butler, Ed Flanagan, S. S. Park, John W. Lytal, W. M. Crawford, T. E. Riddle, G. L. Stennett, M. W. Browning and F. M. Murphy. Constables: D. F.  Fulghum, D. W. Bartlett, W. H. Gates, J. W. Green, J. M. Wilson.

    The greatest event of this period was the Constitutional Convention of 1890.The main idea was the franchise conditions that should be put into effect, for since the close of the Civil War, the Negro had been allowed to cast his vote the same as the white man. The convention called a number of the very best citizens of the state all together to consider the different questions submitted. Perhaps the greatest man in the convention was James Z. George, the "Great Commoner "and the chapter on franchise adopted has been assailed in every court, but has stood the test and as a result that are fewer colored voters in Mississippi than any of the Southern States.  The conditions adopted referred to both races and the colored man can cast his vote.  If he qualifies himself to meet the conditions laid down.
 
 

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