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




        In about the year 1882 when the New Orleans & North Eastern Rail Road came through this part of the county and the town of Purvis was first established there were open saloons. They were not called "Saloons" but were called Lunch Rooms, but intoxicating liquor was sold very freely.

        During those days whiskey played an important part in politics. Tis said that the candidate who furnished the most liquor got the most votes. Drunkards swore and staggered at the public gatherings. They spent their money for drinks, thus neglecting their homes and families.

        It was in May, 1910 that Jerry Hall and Jack Bond shot and killed Charlie McMillan on the Main Street of Sumrall in front of the drug store. Killings in public were common. It was not considered safe to go out at night alone. The good citizenship were moved by the doings of the drinking class. A move was made to put restrictions upon the sale of intoxicating liquor.



         Hattiesburg Mississippi June 15, 1921 . Wrecked by some unidentified person who was familiar with the railroad operations is the verdict of railroad men and county officials. Following the crash in the ditch last night about 11:15, the Southern fast train from New Orleans to Cincinnati, about four miles south of here, in which two men met their death and four injured. One arrest has been made, not of anyone charged with the crime but of a white man named Norris, who is alleged to have said that he knew or had a hunch that train No. 42 would never reach Hattiesburg. Morris is a young man said to have been recently discharged from the Navy and officers are inclined to believe that he was hoboing his way on another train at the time that the rails were being loosened and the train wrecked.

        Killed in the wreck were engineer James B. Jackson of Meridian, Mississippi, and his fireman Frank Bigott, also of Meridian. Both were shriners, prominent in Masonic circles and carried the emblem aboard their engine. They had an enviable reputation for safety, officers of the railroad said, there was no question but that the rails of the railroad had been loosened. Passengers aboard the train found where spikes had been withdrawn.

        The locomotive, tender and first four coaches left the rail, tearing up the railroad bed for more than 3 or 4 hundred feet. All the cars were steel and did not crumble. The injured riding on the first coaches were: Phillips Cooper, a Negro hobo, both arms broken with internal injuries. Not seriously hurt were F. J. White, baggage master; U. F. White in the luggage car, severely injured.

        Those aboard the train testified that the train was on time, and was not running more than 35 miles an hour, having reached the top of the long upgrade known as the Richburg Hill.

        Blood hounds were rushed to the train but could not pick up the trail from the pinch-bar. The right of way from here to New Orleans was cleared here late this evening. The train was carrying a private car at the time of the accident, being aboard among other railroad officials S. R. Prince, council the railroad, George Felton, claim agent, and others. This other Pullman was taken safely from the wreck. Passengers from New Orleans, north bound were taken by special train on their way about three thirty this morning. Jackson is survived by his wife and several children. Bigott was also a married man and had two small children. Copied from The Free Press, June 16, 1921


        W. C. Walters, the alleged kidnapper of little Robert Dunbar was sent to Opelousas, Louisiana, on 15 February 1914, where he was to stand trial. Walters kidnapped the child from a camp in Opelousas, Louisiana During the time Walters was hiding with the child from the law, he traveled through Marion and Lamar Counties. When Walters was traveling through the central part of Lamar County he went to the home of Mrs. Fannie Blackburn in Purvis, Mississippi and asked for something to eat. When Mrs. Blackburn fed the man she did not know that he was alleged kidnapper of Little Robert Dunbar. Had she known and notified the officers she would have received the reward.


        News reached our county officers Wednesday morning from Lumberton, Mississippi, that one of the nights previous, the store of R. W. Hinton had been burglarized. From the meager information received several parties are thought to have participated in the robbery. A number of tailor made suits, cigars and $25 or $30 in cash and other articles are known to be missing. No clues to the perpetrators. Our officers are on the lookout, as they have been advised that the parties were thought coming this way. (Copied from the Columbian, 1914).


        The following was taken from Thursday's Hattiesburg Daily Program and will doubtless be news to many of our readers as Mr. Fields is known by many. News reached Hattiesburg of a desperate affray that took place in a remote part of Lamar county a couple of days ago which deputy sheriff William Fields was beaten almost to death by two Negro prisoners whom he was escorting through the county.

        The prisoners were picked up by Officer Field at South Seminary, wanted in Lamar county for theft. They had gone about nine miles and had reached a bridge crossing Bowie Creek when the Negroes suddenly attacked the officer. He was altogether unsuspecting of the onslaught and before he could recover from his astonishment he had been pulled from his horse and the Negroes were beating him over the head. They took his pistol from him and beat him over the head with it until he was almost unconscious. During the fierce struggle the combatants fell from the bridge to the ground below, a distance of about thirty feet. The fight lasted five or ten minutes.

        The officer called for help and a white boy and a Negro who were at work in a field near by heard the alarm and hurried to the scene. One of the Negroes had already fled when they arrived and the other, who had beaten the officer into insensibility, ran off as they approached. As soon as the affair was reported at Seminary posses were organized under the leading Deputy Sheriff Briton and J. L. Scott. These posses went out in different direction in the hope of capturing the murderous blacks, but although several arrests were made on suspicion none of them proved to be the right person.

        Deputy Sheriff Fields was treated by physicians who went out from Seminary. He was found exhausted and bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth, as a result of the blows administered by the Negroes.
Copied from the Columbian Thursday July 28, 1904

W. P. A. Table of Contents
James Copeland



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


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