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How Brooklyn Got It's Name

Contributed by Mahlon I. Martin

There are as many stories of how Brooklyn got its name, as there are old timers in Brooklyn. The most common story is that it was named after one of the railroad engineers that helped build the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad through the town. That would seem unlikely since it would be very unusual for a person to be named Brooklyn. The only other possibility would be if the engineer was from Brooklyn (as in New York). The book, Hometown, Mississippi, carries this version. I believe this to be incorrect.

While recently doing research at the University Of Southern Mississippi, I came across a copy of The WPA Guide to Forrest County, which was compiled during the depression. I own a copy of The WPA Guide to Mississippibut it does not cover detailed town histories. The WPA Guide to Forrest County contains the most believable story of how Brooklyn got its name. What follows is a word for word quote from this book:

"BROOKLYN is one of the largest communities or towns in Forrest County with the exception of Hattiesburg. It is located in the southeastern part of the county on the Illinois Central Railroad, formerly known as the Gulf and Ship Island, but a specific name had to be chosen for it, and the origin of it is very interesting."

"It is said that back in the early days of this section, or in the early days of the white man's possession, that a man by the name of Griffin settled in what was then Perry County and brought with him a large number of slaves. The slaves lived in an excluded division of the plantation, and the owner and others would speak of the colored quarters as New York, because of the extra size of it. As long as any colored people lived in that vicinity, it was called New York. When the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad was established and a sufficient number of people moved to the site now known as Brooklyn to justify naming it, someone suggested Brooklyn, because of its proximity to New York. When the Government granted permission to establish a post office at the place, it was called Brooklyn for the above-mentioned reason."

This is the oldest documentation I have found on the origin of the name of Brooklyn. It is also the most official documentation, being written by the Works Progress Administration. The WPA writers were divided into teams and each team given an assignment to write the history of a specific area of interest such as geographic, transportation, watershed, local government, agriculture, town histories, etc. The above is probably the true story of how Brooklyn got it's name.

Page last Modified: Tuesday, 07-Nov-2017 15:50:03 EST