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Chalybeate, Mississippi

    Chalybeate, Mississippi is located in the northern part of Tippah County just east of Walnut on Highway 354.  The small town was first called Chalybeate Springs because of an iron enriched spring located there.  The word "chalybeate" is Latin and means full of iron.  From the very beginning the water from the springs was considered to be beneficial to health, and the community was considered a heath resort at one time.  Chalybeate's beginning stemmed from the community of Jonesborough, which was founded prior to 1840.  Jonesborough became extinct shortly after the Civil War when the merchants in the town were unable to compete with newer and larger stores located a short distance away in Chalybeate.
    Chalybeate has always been known for the excellent education it provides for it's residents and surrounding communities.  The first school was founded in 1889, when  J. Finch Ray, recognized a need for a school in the area and set out to obtain excellent teachers.  He and other town leaders developed a stock company and sold shares to finance the school.  The school was named Chalybeate Springs Institute and operated under that name until 1900, when it became Chalybeate Springs High School.  In 1957, Chalybeate school consolidated with Walnut and today it only serves ages kindergarten through the eighth grade, however, it is still considered to be one of the best in the county.
    The town was a thriving community for years, and at one time had a boarding house for teachers of the school and for persons wanting to drink the spring water. It was operated by Mr. and Mrs. D. B. Bobo and later by Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Bobo.
    A mercantile firm of McBride and Wiggs (January 1899-1928) built up a big business.  Later, another firm, Clemmer and son, had a good business also. Later another mercantile firm was owned and operated by R. L. Clemmer and W. A. Bobo.
    J. F. Ray had a saddle and harness shop at the place where Chalybeate Baptist Church is now located, and he had a tan yard back of what is now the school gymnasium.
    Henry Luftenberg operated the harness and saddle shop and Alexandria McKenzie the tan yard.   For many years the village operated a sawmill when lumber was plentiful: and a cotton gin did a big business for years.
    Chalybeate Bank operated for a number of years under the presidency of W. E. Clemmer.  It had to close down during the depression following World War I.
    Early Physicians in Jonesborough and Chalybeate were Dr. A. W. Whitten, Dr. A. J. Whitner, Dr. Hughey Giles, Dr. G. W. Scalley, Dr. E. J. Green and Dr. J. W. McIntyre.
    Many of the early settlers came from the Carolinas and were the Whittens, Rays, Powells, Hollis, Garretts, Bobos, Hortons, Wilbanks, Gibbs, Richardsons, and Clemmers.
    Today, although the school and churches still thrive in Chalybeate, the town itself is a grouping of empty buildings, some of which just recently burned.  A gas station, a small store are all that remains in operation in the business district.  Several old 2 story homes and a beautiful church remain near the town center demonstrating the prosperity of the past.

Related Links:
History of Chalybeate Baptist Church
Chalybeate Presbyterian Church Records
Chalybeate High School Graduation Picture - 1933
Downtown Chalybeate circa 1902

(Information for this article came from Chalybeate School Cookbook,  Tippah County Heritage, Vol. I, and personal knowledge of the community)

Melissa McCoy-Bell
Tippah County MSGENWEB Coordinator

©  2004-2006,  by Melissa McCoy-Bell.  All rights reserved.