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



        (This section of the microfilm at Cook Library at the University of Southern Mississippi is virtually illegible. At least eleven pages were completely unreadable and would not print at all. The pages that I could read are out of order, so I have tried to put them into some sensible order and have transcribed the material to the best of my ability, but I am sure there are mistakes. Perhaps someone out there has access to a better copy of the history and would kindly copy and send me these pages?)

There are 2,729 Negroes in Lamar County. 58 of them own average size farms and between 50 and 75 rent farms in the county.
        These Negro farmers make a fairly good living. They are doing much better than the average Negro, who lives in the quarters in town and depend on a little work and begging for a livelihood. Most of them own a cow, a few chickens and hogs.
        Peter Rich is considered a good farmer around Purvis. Silas Weston of Sumrall, Tom Sharp of Purvis and Mary Nealy and a few other of Lumberton have finished college and taught school for years.
        Other than these there seem to be no outstanding Negroes in Lamar County, of the past or present.


        Tom Sharp was born in Lauderdale December 16, 1868. The first school that he attended was a private school on the plantation, taught by a white teacher, Miss Maggie Moseberry. He was reared on the Bennett Plantation. He states that the Bennets were always kind to their negroes. Mrs. Bennett would hold prayer meetings for colored folks on the plantation once a week. Tom finished 8th grade at Waveland University in 1886 in Meridian, completed the 11th grade in this university. He majored History and Rhetoric. He used to speak in campaigns for politicians. Tom taught for three years at White Oak, Lauderdale County, at a salary of $20 per month. He married at the age of 21 and reared a family of 12 children. He has been in Lamar County for 44 years, owns his farm and is actiive in the Purvis Quarters. He has a state life time license to teach. Taught an adult class on the W. P. A. project in Purvis Quarters and Tatum's Camp in the winter of 1935.


        The Negroes in Lumberton are divided into three districts: Big Quarters, Love Quarters and Wells Quarters. In these quarters are quite a number of progressive Negroes who are trying to better the conditions of their people.

        There are four merchants, doing fairly well in their line of business, namely: W. M. McCelland, Fletcher Watson, Dock Long, Charlie Viviens. Two restaurants owned by Herbert Powe and Tom Page; one Barber Shop and a Pressing Shop.

        The Negroes in Sumrall came there when it was a successful saw mill town and are stranded there. Out from Sumrall about twelve miles is a colony of Negroes on Little River who are very progressive farmers. They have their own church and school.

        Within the city limits of Sumrall the Negroes have one Pressing Shop.

        There are a good many Negroes in Purvis. Some have been there for years. They are not so prosperous, mostly farmers. Some work on the Rail Road. They have a very good grammar school and two churches.


        The Lumberton Negroes think much of their education. They have a High and Grammar school and music is taught by Miss Darius Alexander. The teachers are Rebecca Green, Annabel Stevenson, Mary Neely, Pearl Peters, Anna Snoddy, Geraldine Weary, Ernestine Weary, Lester Bell Mundy. The Professor is C. F. Edwards; he and Professor Percy C. Bailey are graduates of Alcorn College. Although none of the others in the quarters have completed their college work they all have higher education than the average Negro and are doing much to eliminate illiteracy among their people.

        Sumrall has one teacher, Silas Weston, who has six years college work and forty years teaching experience.

        Purvis has one educated Negro, Tom Sharp, who has six years college work and forty years teaching experience.

        The Negroes of Lamar County came with the sawmills and the majority left with the sawmills. The ones who remained are the illiterate who are stranded. The better educated Negroes went north.


        Most Negroes have a love for music and singing. A good deal of talent in this line is to be found in Lumberton. There is a Quartet, widely known in this state, with the following singers: Alphonse Parker, Clifton Parker, Albert Nobles, Willie Harris. They go to different places and sing. Three outstanding singers who are now in the C. C. C. camps are John H. Snoddy, A. B. Curry and Eugene Thomas. They have and still do travel to many states and sing as a trio or in group singing. Geraldine Weary and Lillian Snoddy are excellent piano players.

        Purvis also has a Quartet composed of the Grey family. Socially the Negroes in Lumberton are quite active. They have eight churches in these three quarters with pastors for each church. There are many local preachers. They have organized clubs and societies. Some of these are Women's Home Missionary Society, The Happy Helpers Club--Sponsors all social entertainments, picnics, plays, etc., Pastors Aid Club--looks after the needs of their pastors, Y. W. A. and Starlight Band, sponsored by the Baptist Church, Epworth League and Ladies Aid, both of the Methodist Church.


To be a Negro in a day like this
        Demands forgiveness. Bruised with blow on blow,
Betrayed, like him whose (illegible) dimmed eyes gave bliss,
        Still one must succor those who brought one low,
To be a Negro on a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
        Demands rare patience--patience that can wait
In utter darkness. Tis the path to (illegible)
        And knock, unheeded, at an iron gate,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
        Demands strange loyalty. (Illegible) flag
Which is to white freedom's
        Ah! One must love when Truth and Justice lag,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this--
        Alas! Lord God, what evil hath been done?
Still shines the gate, all gold and amethyst,
        But I pass by, the glorious goal unwon,
"Merely a Negro"-- in a day like this!

by James D. Carrothers
of Cass County, Michigan


W. P. A. Table of Contents
Colored Schools


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


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