“History of Copiah: Recollection of an Old Citizen”
By W.H. (attributed to William Haley)
from August 12, 1876
Submitted by Paul
Mesrs Editors – I propose to give your readers a rough
sketch of the early settlements in the old free state of Copiah.
lands included in the counties of Hinds, Rankin, Copiah, and Simpson was
purchased from the Choctaw Indians sometime in the year 1820, and were surveyed
during the year 1821, and put into the market in the fall of 1822. The land
office was located in the city of Jackson, Gideon Fitz, Register, and James C.
Dickson, Receiver. The above territory was embraced in Hinds County and
afterwards divided into 2 counties, to wit: Hinds and Copiah.
including the present territory of Hinds and Rankin, and Copiah that of Copiah
and Simpson. Subsequently those counties were divided by Pearl River, making 4
counties. At the first settling of
Copiah there was but one road for travel through the county and that was known
as Carrol’s trace, leading from Madisonville on the lake to intersect with
Natchez and Nashville trace some 12 or 15 miles north of Jackson.
road was opened by General Carrol and along which he marched his troops after
the battle of New Orleans back to the state of Tennessee. This road was opened
in the spring of 1815. The solders were only allowed to march 16 miles per day,
and it was said that the chain carriers give 5 quarters to a mile in order to
expedite the travel.
the end of every mile a box was cut in the nearest tree and the number of miles
marked thereon with red paint which remained visible for a number of years.
This road passed some four miles from Monticello, crossing the Fair River near
the Prestidge Place, thence to the Big Bahalia Creek, crossing the same at
“what is now know as the Jett place (the residence of Captain Byrd), thence on
in a north-easterly direction, crossing the line between the old and the new
purchase, striking the place now occupied by W.A. Costly on the extreme head of
Lick creek; thence in the same direction by the Brashear place, but occupied by
Jno. Coor at the first settling of the County.
place has been a regular stand on the road for the weary traveler for a number
of years. The road passed on, crossing the eastern prong of Copiah Creek a
short distance above where Bryant Keathley now resides; thence by the place now
occupied by the Charner Price (a post oak near by was marked 114 miles); thence
by the place now occupied by Dr. Smith; thence by the Cooper place, the Cammack
place, the Dr. Ratherford place, crossing the head prong of Brushy Creek near
where Benj. Harrison resided for many years; thence by Dr. Lockwoods, running
between the dwellings and the stables; thence on by the Vaughan place now known
as the Jacob Haley place (Vaughan was a half-breed Indian). This place had been
settled for many years. Near where Thomas A. Haley now resides was marked on a
pine tree “121 miles”. The road then proceeded on an around the mountain hill, where
the old county line church now stands; thence by the residence of James W.
Didlake, and the noted White Oak Spring a short distance above.
before reaching the present county line the road turned to the left across the
double branches, as they were called, which are now in Hinds County. Some few
miles above this point the road passed another settlement, made by the one of
the Vaughan’s, which gave to the little stream glowing by the name of Vaughan’s
next settlement on the road was made by a one Harris, a mail contractor, which
gave his name to the creek near by, the same place on which the lamented Roland
Johnson died, (whose father was the one of the first settlers in the Brown’s
Wells neighborhood). The road then passed on, crossing Rhodes Creek near the
residence of Molly Rhodes, (Molly was a full-blooded Choctaw Indian, had three
husbands, all white men, the 1st, McClure, the 2nd,
McDonald, the 3rd, Rhodes, a Tennessean). The road then passed on by
the Stovall place, Woodall place, the old Thomas or Miliean place in the
meantime crossing what is called the Big Creek; thence crossing Trahan’s Creek,
passing near the residence on Trahan. Trahan was a white man but had lived with
the Indians a number of years, and was a prominent man among them.
road passed on through or near Jackson, intersecting the road leading from
Nashville to Natchez near the late residence of Major David W. Haley. This road
was the usual traveled route for horse drivers and flat-boat men after selling
out their stock of horses and produce, and many a poor fellow lost his life at
the hands of robbers on suspicion of having money. The White Oak Spring before
mentioned was the place to be dreaded. About the time this place was settled
steamboats began to navigate the Mississippi River, which stopped the principal
travel on this road. Jackson was located by Gen. Hinds et al., as the seat of
government in 1821, and the early part of 1822 improvements commenced in the
city of Jackson. The Longs, the Crafts, Coffees, Belcher, Matthews, Farish,
Isler, et al. were among the first settlers. William Matthews (an uncle of the
Coors) removed from Amite or Wilkinson county, and erected the first hotel of
note, on or where the slaughter house stood in after years, consequently travel
was renewed along said road to the seat of government.
were several Indian trails something like hog paths, running from one
settlement to another. There was one running near Pearl River from Peggy’s
creek to Rhodes Creek. Peggy was a full blooded Indian, a sister of Molly
Rhodes; they had one other sister named Sally, who married a white man named
Mackey by which she has several children, two or three daughters, all fine
looking women, except as to color. Sally and Peggy lived just below Rockport
(either on Pegg’s or Indian Creek); other Indian trails ran from the various
Indian settlements in the direction of Port Gibson, (commonly called in those
days Gibson’s Port) and Natchez (commonly called Natchez Bluff). Others ran
eastward in the dirdction of Mobile.
was a noted trail leaving Carroll’s trace a few miles below Brashnear stand or
Coor Place, leading to Liberty, and was known as Liberty trace; this trace was
much traveled by horse traders or drovers as they were commonly called. The
first road opened in the eastern portion of the county was from John Coor’s in
the direction of Port Gibson (Or rather opened by chance); this road was called
the Coor Road, and traces of it can be seen yet, though it was never adopted as
a public road.
this time, 1822, a public ferry was established across the Pearl River by one
Jno. George, and a few years after the place was called Georgetown, and the
public road opened from said ferry to John Coors, at that time the county site;
which road was extended by where Gallatin was afterwards located in the
direction of Port Gibson. A few years afterward, a road was laid out and opened
through the county from Jackson to Natchez, another leading from where the
ancient city of Gallatin stands in the direction of Liberty, and other roads
were opened as public travel demanded. Some few families settled in the new
purchase as it was called in the fall of 1821, and in the early part of 1822,
there were some 150 families in the territory now comprising Copiah County. The
Copiah creek was among the first settled. John Coor, John Wilson, John
Sandifer, the father of W.T. Sandifer, Dempsey Welch, Aaron Moses, Isaac
Norman, John Guynes (the father of H.H. Guynes), John Whittington, Ealain
Whittington, John Gillespie, (a soldier of the revolution), Thos. Malican, Esq.
Middleton, Benjamin Thomas, Byrd Whittington, Jessie Scrivner, Simeon Mercer,
Isham Russell, Brightsdell Floyd, Corley’s, Fowlers, Myers, Ruckers, Cagles,
Wm. Cassity, John Watts, John Sutton, Israel Phillips, Geo. McVey, Thos.
Cottingham. John W. Cottingham, Aaron and John Miller, Hendry’s, Kelleys, Lewis
Parker, and Howel Sumrall. On Pearl River, John George, Patrick Young, Derrell
Young, James A Rhymes, Joshua Sandifer, Joseph Sandifer and some others not now