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God Bless America

Copiah County once boasted of 49 towns

By O. Happyland
(Note: This appeared in the 'The Meteor' on February 28, 2000.)

The information in this article was taken from the subject file on Copiah County in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

When most people thing of the towns in Copiah County, Hazlehurst, Crystal Springs, and Wesson immediately come to mind. These are the main three towns but 49 towns once existed in Copiah County. Some of these towns are still with us, in one way or another.

Copiah County was charted in 1823. The first county seat was Coar's Springs, five miles east of Hazlehurst. Coar's Springs, was founded in 1819 by the Coar Family. By 1829 Gallatin had been named the county seat. Coar's Springs became Coarsville. It did not last much longer.

Gallatin, four miles west of Hazlehurst, was settled in 1819. Two lawyers named Walker and Sanders founded the town. They were from Gallatin Tenn., and named their new town after their hometown. Gallatin had the reputation of having a killing every week, and the courthouse saw much legal action. Gallatin was incorporated in 1829. The arrival of the railroad spelled its doom. Hazlehurst, which had gotten the railroad, also got the county seat. The courthouse at Gallatin was dismantled and rebuilt in Hazlehurst. It served for a number of years.

Gallatin's charter was revoked in 1862. Hazlehurst was incorporated in 1865. In 1872, the election was ordered by the legislation to declare a new county seat. Hazlehurst won.The railroad had given Hazlehurst its birth. It was named after a railroad engineer, George Hazlehurst.

Not much information is available on some of the other old Copiah county towns. The other towns include Allen, which was 15 miles southwest of Hazlehurst and Ashley, seven and one half miles southwest of Hazlehurst.

Barlow is about 15 miles west of Hazlehurst. In 1820, it was known as the S.K. Hawkins Plantation. H.H. Barlow became the owner of Hawkins store in the 1890's. He established a post office which took his name.

Beauregard, which is two miles north of Wesson, was on the railroad when it was built. It was known as Bahala in 1857. After the Civil War, it was renamed to honor Confederate General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard. It was once listed as one of the most promising places in Mississippi. It gained notoriety for the number of saloons for a town of its size.

In 1883, a tornado ripped through the town and left only three houses standing. These houses belonged to Benjamin King, Judge Harvey Thompson and Dr. E. A. Rowan. The Rowan home has 23 rooms. In 1881, it was intended for use as a hospital, with the town destroyed, it because a private home. With many sudden deaths in the home gave it a reputation as a haunted house. Reportedly, a reward was offered to anyone brave enough to spend the night there. Another legend said series of mysterious flaggings of Illinois Central trains took place in front of the house. In 1926, Illinois Central had detectives look into the case without success.

Beech Grove was two miles south of Gatesville. It was settled by G. W. Douglas in 1826. He named it for a grove of trees that stood along the bank of Hickam Creek. When the railroad came through Gatesville, Beech Grove merged into Gatesville. Although a town called Bethel existed in Copiah County, facts are unknown about its existence.

Bowerton was 16 miles southwest of Hazlehurst. It was settled by Williams and Millsaps in 1823. They called it Pine Grove but the name was changed in 1896. Bridgeville was located 10 miles west of Hazlehurst. It was the home of Dr. Richardson, who settled there in the early 1800's. When the railroad came though Gatesville, the townspeople of Bridgeville moved there.

Brown Wells was a mineral resort operated by William Brown. Carpenter is in the extreme northwest corner of Copiah County. It was named for J.N. Carpenter, president of the Natchez, Jackson and Columbia Railroad. Noel N. McKay opened a store there in 1880 and John B. Williams opened a store in 1882,

Coaler was located one mile southwest of Georgetown. It was a watering place and had a coal pile for the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad. Conn was 11 miles northwest of Barlow, and it was never more than voting precinct. Cowansville was once 15 miles southwest of Hazlehurst.

Crystal Springs began as soon as the land in Copiah County had been secured from the Indians. Methodist minister Elisha Lott moved his family from Hancock County. He built a grist mill and a sawmill, and he was joined by other settlers. When the railroad came through, the town moved to its present location. The original settlement became Old Crystal Springs, and the new town began to grow. William J. Willing built the first house in town on South Jackson Street. Jefferson Davis Addressed a large crowd on the lawn of the Willing House.

Dentville was an Indian Village known as Pine bluff. It was named for a huge pine tree standing near Bayou Pierre. When the town Wanted a post office, there was another town named Pine Bluff. They named the town Dentville after the landowner who is taken over claims from the Indians, opened the first store and served as the first postmaster.

The origins of Dillard and Galilee are unknown and Egypt Hill was 12 miles from Hazlehurst. Gallman was named for Baptist minister W. B. Gallman, who was also a schoolteacher and farmer. It became a slag stop on the railroad in 1858, but it did not get a depot until the 1880s. One of the churches in Gallman was called the Who'd've Thought It Church. The congregation was given money to build the church from someone they did not expect to give.

Gatesville was founded in 1907. Its founder, D. W. Gates, used it as a shipping point for lumber. There was an earlier settlement there. Mr. G.L. Manning operated a store there.

Georgetown began a mile from the present town. It was an Indian trading post operated on the Pearl River by Dr. George. He arrived in the early 1880s and operated a ferry. Federal troops burned Georgetown in 1863. It was rebuilt, but destroyed by a tornado in 1883. In 1908, the railroad came through a mile from Georgetown and the town moved to the railroad.

Glancy was first called Center Point, nine miles west of Hazlehurst. Indians never left the district. A tribe lived there as late as 1900. The town was once a major slave market. It became known as Glancy when the post office was established. The origins of Harmony are unknown and Hoodtown is 13 1/2 miles north of Hazlehurst.

Hopewell was originally called Ruby. It settled in 1830. Albert Gates opened a store and named the place for his daughter. The town moved one mile to the east when the railroad came through, taking the name of Hopewell.

The community It was founded in about 1912, "This is It," was declared by either Mr. Cox or Mr. Butler.

Jack was located 14 miles northwest of Hazlehurst. Meadow's store was located 16 1/2 miles west of Hazlehurst, and the origins of Midway are unknown. Martinsville took its name from Major B.F. Martin, postmaster.

Mizpah is extinct now, but it was named after a newspaper serial. It was located on the banks of Foster Creek, 16 miles west of Hazlehurst.

Myles Station was on the land of Dr. Robert Myles plantation in the northwest corner of the county. Peetsville was 12 miles southwest of Hazlehurst, and Rockport is 16 miles northeast of Wesson. The history of Nannye, Perks, Union, and Ruby is unknown.

Sand Hill and Sardis are close neighbors, six miles southwest of Hazlehurst. Shady Grove is three miles northwest of Hazlehurst. Smyrna is six miles of Hazlehurst. Strong Hope is ten miles southeast of Hazlehurst. Tillman is three miles northwest of Hazlehurst. Willing was 13 miles north of Hazlehurst.

Wesson was not really in Copiah County until Col. J.M. Wesson established his sawmill, cotton and woolen mills there. He wanted his town to be in a dry county, and Lincoln County was wet. He ask the legislature to grant a square mile as part of Copiah County. The southern boundary of Copiah County dips down into Lincoln County.


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