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Monroe (north of Clay)
A History of Mississippi excerpt on Lowndes County, written in 1891.
Letter from Leon W. Cox,Somewhere in France, Nov. 23, 1918, submitted by James L. Murphy, November 2004.
A small glimpse of daily living is given by Mrs. Nancy Dilworth, written in the 1930's. Sent in By Jim Murphy.
More History of Lowndes CountyLowndes County began developing long before Mississippi became a state on December 10, 1817. The years before statehood through the treaty years were times of great change. It is entirely possible that one of your earliest ancestors was born in Georgia, lived in Alabama, and died in Mississippi - without having moved even a foot from his birthplace. Lowndes County was named after the late William Jones Lowndes, (1782-1822) he was from South Carolina and a U.S. Congressman and an earnest supporter of the War of 1812. Lowndes County in Georgia and Alabama were also named after him. Lowndes County was formed under First Constitution by act created on January 30, 1830. The population is approximately 60,823 and consists of 517 square miles.
It was the incorporation of Columbus, the county seat, in 1821 that officially marked Lowndes County's existence. Since Columbus was the social, economic, political, and legal center of the county, it was the hub around which all else revolved.
However, Columbus has a very colorful history separate and apart from that which is associated with the antebellum (pre-Civil War) era. As early as 1540, Hernando DeSoto crossed the Tombigbee River near Columbus. He led his followers through a pathless wilderness which began in Florida and extended northwestward. The only evidence of human habitation were the silent traces of Indians, predominantly of the Choctaw tribe. Tales of his exploits brought other European explorers and settlers to Mississippi.
The early settlers to Columbus were devout and God-fearing. They constructed magnificent churches and attracted many well-known evangelists.
During the Civil War, Columbus was NOT a prime military target. It served as a hospital center, an arsenal, a major food producing center, and briefly, the state capital. Though it made a viable contribution to the war effort, the town was never invaded by Federal troops.
After the war, lifestyles were drastically altered, but the magnificent homes remained -and the spirit of the people endured. The new priority was "toward the future", through youth and education and rebuilding of a once-again prosperous economy.
Lowndes County was created by an act of January 30, 1830, from the southern part of Monroe County. Its creation technically violated the constitutional provision as to the minimum size of counties, but original territory in the Choctaw Cession of 1830 and in the Chickasaw Cession of 1832 was added to it by the act of December 23, 1833.
*1Lowndes County, with Columbus as its star, has had a rich and varied history. It boasts the first free, public school in the state of Mississippi and the oldest state supported college for women in the United States. During the Civil War, Columbus served as the state capital after Jackson was captured and burned to the ground.
The men of Lowndes County have answered the call to arms in every conflict since before the War of 1812. On that fateful day in 1861, Stephen D. Lee was in charge of the Confederate cannonade which fired the first shot on Fort Sumter to officially start the Civil War. It was one of our own that delivered munitions to Teddy Roosevelt as he prepared to take San Juan hill. One of our boys helped to raised the flag at Iwo Jima - captured for posterity in that immortal photograph; and one of our boys was a crew member of the Enola Gay - the plane that carried the bomb to end WW11.
It was here in 1866 at Friendship Cemetery that the very first Decoration day was observed when local ladies put flowers from their gardens on the graves of fallen soldiers from both sides. It is a proud and heart-felt tradition which continues today.
Due in great part to the "W" (MUW = Mississippi University for Women), many noted people have resided, at least for a time, in Lowndes County - among them Eudora Welty. But by far, Lowndes' most famous native son is Tennessee Williams born here in March of 1911. His birthplace, formerly the Episcopalian parsonage, has been restored and relocated and now serves as our Welcome Center.
While Columbus is the county seat and the largest incorporated area in Lowndes, it is certainly not the only area.
Caledonia, Artesia, New Hope, Steens, Kolola Springs, Woodlawn, Lone Oak, Black Creek, Rural Hill, Mt. Vernon, McCrary, Dunbar, Forreston, Old Macon Road, McIntyre, Bent Oak, South Prairie, Billups Gate, Mayhew, Waverly, Penn Station, Crawford, Plum Grove, and Plum Nellie are names that designate specific sections of our county - even if some are only familiar to our older residents. Some of the founding towns are completely gone now; among them are Plymouth, Moore's Bluff, Union Bluff, West Port, Nashville, Cork (aka Whiskey Town), and Plantersville.
*1 John Alred