Lamar County, Mississippi Genealogy and History


Pamela J. Gibbs County Coordinator

Lori Thornton,  State Coordinator
Deb Haines
, Assistant State Coordinator



WPA History of Lamar County, Mississippi


        Mississippi was under French Dominion from 1730 to 1763 and under English dominion from 1763 to 1781, but it was a Spanish Province from 1781 until 1798, when it became a part of the United States.

        The Spanish authorities were greatly disturbed by the action of the Georgia Legislature in the year 1785 in establishing the county of Bourbon in what Georgia claimed to be her territory. This county of Bourbon was established with the following well defined boundaries: "Beginning at the mouth of the Yazoo River, where it empties into the Mississippi River, thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude; South by a line to be drawn due east from the determination of the line last mentioned in the latitude of thirty one degrees north of the equator as far as the land reach, which, in that district have at any time been relinquished by the Indians; thence along the line of said relinquishment to the said river Yazoo; thence down the said river to the beginning; and the said county shall comprehend and include lands and waters within the said description."

        The county of Bourbon comprehended all the territory embraced in the present counties of Warren, Claiborne, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, and Wilkinson. Spain claimed to own the disputed territory by virtue of her treaties with France and England, while the native Indians, the Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws claimed it by right of inheritance. But the Indians were powerless and looked upon the struggle for their God-given heritage with stoical indifference.

        The purchasers of these lands, alarmed by the numerous adverse claims and the opposition of the United States and the Indian Tribes and the Spanish authorities, refused to meet their payments and the legislature rescinded the contracts. Georgia was annoyed, irritated, and disgusted by this constantly recurring interference with her boundaries, as well as with her title, and determined to demonstrate not only her confidence in the assertion of her rights, but to remove the obstacle to the settlement of her territory. With this purpose in view the legislature, on the 7th of February, 1795, passed an act by which for the sum of $5,000,000 she sold twenty one million hundred thousand acres to four companies composed chiefly of her own citizens. Anticipating, it would seem, the howl of opposition this measure would arouse, the act of sale had a preamble which contained a declaration of the rights of Georgia in the premises. In this preamble it is declared:

        "That by the Articles of Confederation each state was to retain its own territory. That by the treaty of 1783, commonly called the Treaty of Paris, the boundaries of Georgia and of the other states were confirmed. That they were consistent with all the former legislation of Georgia, and with the action of the Convention between Georgia and South Carolina in 1787. That the State had the right of redemption and full territorial jurisdiction. That the treaty made between the president and McGilvray was in contravention of the rights of Georgia and that guarantees made by the president to the Indians were without authority and invalid, and that Georgia had the fee simple in and to all her lands and would dispose of them to individuals or companies at her own pleasure."

        Nicholas Long, Thomas Cumming, A. Gordon, Thomas Glascock and others formed another company and for one hundred and fifty five thousand dollars these gentlemen bought all the land comprised within the territorial limits of Greene, Perry, Marion, Pike, Amite, Wilkinson, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Copiah, Simpson, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, Lauderdale, Newton, Scott, Rankin, Hinds, Warren, and Claiborne counties in Mississippi with a small slice of three counties in Alabama.

        The act was repealed as the "Yazoo Fraud" in 1796.

        "All these proceedings," says Claiborne, referring to them, "directly affected the Spanish authorities of Louisiana. The state of Georgia had sold the very ground occupied by her garrisons on the Mississippi. The companies who bought would bring in thousands of colonists with arms in their hands. The president had brought the matter before Congress, and plainly manifested a disposition to occupy the country. An agent of Georgia, General Mathews, protected by the usages of diplomacy, had arrived in Natchez to reassert the claim of that state. Badgered and worried at every point, Spain, proverbially dilatory, obstinate, and punctilious, at length gave way and on the 27th day of October, 1795, a treaty was signed at Madrid by which it was agreed that the southern boundary of the United States should be the line of the thirty first degree of north latitude from the Mississippi to the Chattahoochie; thence down the middle of the river to its junction with the Flint; thence to the head of St. Mary's river; thence down that river to the Atlantic; that all Spanish posts north of this line should be removed within six months; and American posts and inhabitants living south of it should be removed within the same period; that the navigation of the Mississippi should through its whole length be free for the commerce of both nations; that both would cooperate to cultivate peace with the Indians and that before six months expired a joint commission should run out the line of the boundary under the protection of the two powers."

        Under the stipulations of the treaty, by which Spain ceded to the United States a large portion of the territory now included within the limits of Mississippi and Alabama, it was provided that the southern boundary between Spain and the United States should be established by a joint commission composed of representatives of each government within the period of six months, Spain in the meantime retaining possession until the boundary line should be formally established. Under this provision Andrew Ellicot, a native of Pennsylvania and an astronomer of some repute, was appointed on the part of the United States to perform this duty. But it was not until February 24, 1797 that Mr. Ellicot arrived at Natchez with his twenty five woodsmen.

        Captain Guion says in a letter to a personal friend in North Carolina, "On the 30th of March, 1798, the Spanish garrison evacuated the fort (Natchez), nothing having occurred since my arrival to interrupt our friendly relations."

        A few days after the Spanish forces evacuated Natchez the same ceremony was performed at Walnut Hills, (now Vicksburg), where Fort Nogales was turned over to Major Kersey, who with a detachment of United States troops took immediate possession.

        The work of establishing the boundary line between the possessions of Spain and the United States, was, after the retirement of Gayoso, on the part of Spain, conducted by Don Stephen Minor, as commissioner and Sir William Dunbar as astronomer, with a surveyor and a military guard. The American part of the commission consisted of Andrew Ellicot as astronomer, Major Thomas Freeman as surveyor, the necessary axmen and a military guard under the command of Lieutenant McCleary of the United States Army.

        On April 7, 1798 the Mississippi Territory was established by an act of Congress.

W.P.A. Table of Contents

Formation of Lamar County


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  by Pamela J. Gibbs except where otherwise noted.


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