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HISTORY OF SUMNER, MISSISSIPPI

Tallahatchie County MSGenWeb Project

Sumner Courthouse

1873 - Land cleared for townsite
1885 - First store built
1891 - Post Office established
1900- Sumner incorporated
1902 - Sumner became county seat for west district
1902 - Courthouse built
1908 - Courthouse burned
1908 - First newspaper published
1909 - Courthouse rebuilt


Sumner Courthouse, Tallahatchie County


The heavily wooded swamp that became Sumner was part of the Choctaw Nation before being settled by the Sumners, Fergusons, McGlauns, Wades,  Jenkins, and Webbs.  Sumner was covered by trees, vines, and underbrush in 1873 when the men of the community began clearing the land.  

Cassidy Bayou, named after Wiley B. Cassidy,  a timberman who lived in the vicinity of the bayou in 1839, runs through Sumner and flows southward.  It is the longest stream in Mississippi because it is so crooked.  1882, 1883, and 1884 brought disastrous overflows, and residents were compelled to go in dugouts to Webb for their supplies.   1927 and 1932 brought more floods causing many on the eastside of the bayou  to move out of their homes.  In 1932, A.J. Sumner, Sergeant of Weights and Measures for the State Penitentiary at Parchman, brought a number of prisoners to Sumner and built a levee completely surrounding the Sumner High School. This levee was removed in 1947.  The first school was a frame building in the north part of town.  A two-story frame building was built in 1904 and was replaced by a brick building in 1917 on Jennings street.  This building burned down in 1925 but was promptly replaced.

The first general store was built in 1885 by Joseph Burton Sumner. Captain Jennings and Mr. Flautt soon built other stores.  In 1891 a post office was established and shared space in the general store with Mr. Sumner serving as the first postmaster.

The Masonic Lodge used the upper story of the Union church between Sumner and Webb for meetings and later it was used for the Woodmen of the World meetings.   The Baptist Church erected in 1917, used the pews from the old Baptist church which were slid across the bayou on ice.  The Presbyterian church, designed after a church in Paris, was finished in 1920.  The Methodist church was completed in 1940.

Sumner was incorporated in 1900 and was named after its founder and first mayor, J.B. Sumner.  In 1902 the county was divided into two districts, with Sumner as the county seat of the west district. The courthouse was built in 1902 on a lot donated by Mr. Sumner, who also donated the lot for the jail.  Unfortunately for genealogist the courthouse burned in 1908, but was rebuilt in 1909.  In 1909 the entire business section  and part of the residential section was burned.   These buildings were replace by brick buildings.

In September, 1908 Mr. A.L. Whitten began publishing the first newspaper, "The Herald Progress".  The Herald Progress was later replaced by The  Sumner Sentinel which was bought by Bob and C.G. Brown in 1916.  .  It was operated by Bob Brown, editor, and his sisters, Bert and Pearle Brown , associate editor, and business manager until it was sold to W.M. Simpson, Jr. who took charge on February 1, 1950.

Much of this information came from an article published in the Sumner Sentinel on June 24, 1954 written by Smith Murphey, Jr. for a requirement of the Boy Scout merit badge, "Citizenship in the Community" and "A history of Tallahatchie County" compiled by Lillie Neely Henry.

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Tuesday, 28-Jul-1998 14:26:46 MDT

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This page was updated on July 28, 1997.