History of Mississippi - Itawamba County

Donated by Denise Wells

Source: Lowry, Robert and McCardle, William H. A History of Mississippi, from the Discovery of the Great River by Hernando DeSoto, Including the Earliest Settlement Made by the French Under Iberville, to the Death of Jefferson Davis [1541-1889]. Jackson, Miss.: R. H. Henry & Co., 1891. Pages 493-495.


The county of Itawamba, in the northeastern portion of the State, was established in 1836. The name is of Indian origin, and was given in honor of an Indian Chief, Ita-Wam-Ba, whose real name was Levi Colbert, a Frenchman by descent, who was chief counsellor of the Chickasaw Nation. It was said to be the custom of the Choctaws and Chickasaws, when one of their number performed a meritorious act for the good of the nation, to call a council to which all the circumstances of the act were stated, and if approved, a circle was formed by chiefs and warriors, a wreath placed on the head of the one performing the service and a new name given him. When Levi Colbert was a young man, some Indians of another tribe (probably the Creeks), organized a plan to take the country occupied by the Chickasaws from them. It was during the hunting season in the fall of the year when the Chickasaw warriors were absent that the hostile band set out on their mission. Young Colbert received news of their intention, and learning that they were on the advance he immediately gathered together as many of the young men as he could of those who were at home, and securing such arms as were obtainable, went forward to meet their enemies, who were surprised and routed, and had more killed and wounded than the little band of Colbert numbered. After the return of the Chickasaws from their hunt a council of the nation was called, and for his brave and successful act Levi Colbert was given a new name. Instead of sitting flat upon the ground, as had been the custom, he was furnished a bench or stool on which to sit during the ceremony, and being crowned with a wreath, he was declared "Ita-Wam-Ba-Mingo," or "Bench Chief." This was some years prior to 1827, but the exact date is not known.

After the treaty with the United States in 1832, Colbert, who was much dissatisfied with the treaty, started in company with others of his tribe for Washington, to prevent a ratification by the Senate. He, however, went no further than the residence of his son-in-law, Kilpatrick Carter, at Buzzard Roost, west of Tuscumbia, where he was taken sick and died of the flux, in the winter of 1832. This statement is made by Stephen Doggett, a subscribing witness to the treaty between the Chickasaws and the United States in that year.

Among the early settlers in Itawamba county was Hugh Rogers, who settled in 1834 about twenty miles north of where Fulton was afterwards located. In 1835 came John and Reuben Warren, John Dulaney, Elijah Franks, John W. Clifton, B. G. Moore, Isaac Edwards and Harvey Jamison. In 1836 M. C. Cummings, Joshua Toomer, Wm. Toomer, Joshua Barnard and Jesse McWilliams settled at or near Fulton. In 1837 there was quite an influx of settlers in the town and county. Among them were Alonzo Elkin, Jno. R. Wren, Reuben adn Alfred Strygh, Joseph G. Connille [sic. - should be Conwill], E. G. Thomas, Russell O. Beene, Alfred Senter, and soon afterwards Jeptha Robins, D. N. Cayce, Wm. McFadden, John Elliott, Uriah Nausly, Sr., W. D. Clifton and Malcolm Graham. About the same time Samuel Bell, Stephen Smith, Jonathan Woodward and Wm. Bedford. In 1838 and 1839, Stephen Owen, John Gilstrap, Manly and David Files, Judge Jas. A. Bonsland [sic. - Bourland], Jas. Keyes, Jas. Whitesides, Robert Shannon, Delmirth Stone, Elijah Spearman, John Spearman, Josiah Lindsey, Stephen and John R. Gilmore. These families were located in different portions of the county.

Fulton, the county site, which has about four hundred inhabitants, is the only town in the county, though there are numerous country stores in nearly every section of the county. Until the establishment of Lee county in 1866, the towns of Baldwyn, Guntown, Saltillo, Verona and Shannon belonged to Itawamba.

There are no railraods through the county, but the Tombgibee river, running north to south, furnishes a means of transportation in the late fall and spring of the year. Other smaller streams are Bull Mountain, Bogue Folia [sic. - usually Bogue Fala], Bogue Regaby, Cummings, Gum and Panther Creeks.

Itawamba county has 30,799 acres of cleared land; average value, as rendered to the assessor, being $5.72 per acre. Total value of cleared lands, including incorporated towns, is $193,764.

The population of this county, as shown by the census report of 1890: Whites, 10,695, colored, 1,013; total, 11,708.


1837 - John Bell.
1838-39 - John Bell.
1840 - John Bell.
1841 - William H. Duke.
1842 - John H. Miller.
1843 - John H. Miller.
1844 - Russell O. Beene.
1846 - Russell O. Beene.
1848 - Russell O. Beene.
1850 - Russell O. Beene.
1852 - Russell O. Beene.
1854 - Russell O. Beene.
1856 - Russell O. Beene.
1857 - William Beene.
1858 - William Beene.
1859 - J. M. Simonton.
1860-61 - J. M. Simonton.
1861-62 - M. C. Cummings.
1865-66-67 - J. M. Simonton.
1870-71 - J. M. Stone.
1872-73 - R. H. Allen.
1874-75-76 - R. H. Allen.
1877-78 - R. H. Allen.
1880-82 - David Johnson.
1884 - R. O. Reynolds, John M. Simonton.
1886 - R. O. Reynolds, John M. Simonton.
1888 - J. C. Burdine, J. L. Turnage.
1890 - J. C. Burdine, J. L. Turnage.


1838-39 - Alfred G. Lane.
1840 - William M. Owen.
1841 - William M. Owen.
1844 - A. G. Lane, J. Lindsay, Charles Warren.
1846 - Wm. Beene, J. C. Hinds, Wm. C. Cypert.
1848 - A. J. McWilliams, J. C. Hinds, William C. Cypert.
1850 - Wm. Beene, J. C. Hinds, H. M. Rogers.
1852 - C. Hodges, C. Devours, Sam. M. Vernon.
1854 - Chas. Hodges, J. W. Downs, D. W. Owen.
1856 - J. W. Downs, T. A. Carter, Jas. S. Clayton.
1857 - J. S. Clayton, Wm. Downs, T. A. Carter.
1858 - G. W. Stoval [sic. - Stovall], P. Evans, J. C. Gilstrap.
1859 - J. Barden, W. Davis, J. Walker, J. C. Gilstrap.
1860-61 - J. Barden, J. C. Gilstrap, J. Walker.
1861-62 - W. B. Shelby, J. P. Barton, J. Barden, J. G. Nelson.
1865-66-67 - H. K. Martin, M. Pound, J. D. Williams, J. D. Gilstrap.
1870-71 - Eli Phillips.
1872-73 - _______ Baldridge.
1874-75-76 - David Johnson.
1877-78 - David Johnson.
1880-82 - W. A. Nabers.
1884 - W. A. Nabers.
1886 - J. M. Weaver.
1888 - W. P. Reeves.
1890 - Wm. A. Hartsfield.