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Rankin County History

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Rankin County History

Rankin County was formed on  February 4, 1828, from the portion of Hinds County lying east of the Pearl River, and was named in honor of Christopher Rankin, congressman from Mississippi. Rankin county forms a large triangular area of land near the center of the state. Surrounding counties are  Madison County on the north,  Scott and Smith counties on the east, Simpson County on the south  and Hinds and Madison counties on the west.

One of the oldest settlements in the county was located at Richmond, on the east side of Pearl River.Prominent citizens were John Long, Henry White, James Howard, William Howard, and Simpson Cooper. The old town has disappeared and the site is now under cultivation.

The county seat is at Brandon, named for Gov. Gerard C. Brandon. Brandon is located twelve miles east of Jackson. Brandon was at one time the most important trading point in this part of MS. The population of Brandon in the 2000 census was 16,436. Mary Ann Mobley, beauty queen and actress, is listed as a well known resident of Rankin County; though she was born in Biloxi. Mary Ann was voted into the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame along with fellow Mississipian William Faulkner. Mary Ann was the first woman to be so honored.

The Brandon Male and Female Academy, was reorganized in 1849, as Brandon College by well known educator, Dr. Thornton and later as the Brandon Female College. Miss Frank Johnson was the principal of this famous school from the time of its founding until 1897 when her noble life and career was ended in death.

There are no very large towns or villages in the county. The ones usually referred to are:
Florence with a population in the 2000 census of  2,396 is the home of Wesley College. There is also a branch library located at 104 W Main St.

Flowood is shown in the 2000 census with a population of 4,750. The G. Chastaine Flynt Memorial Library, a branch library, is located at 103 Winner's Circle.  Although her official biography lists Leeann Rimes as being born in Jackson, she is listed as one of Flowood's famous residents.

Pearl has a population in the 2000 census listed as 21,961. The Pearl Municipal Library is located at 3470 Hwy 80 East. There is also a Hinds Co campus for Hinds Community College. In June the Pearl Day Festival is held. Information on exact dates can be found on the Pearl, MS web site.

Pelahatchie derives its name from Choctaw for "hurricane stream". Population per the 2000 census was 1,461. Football player Frank (Bruiser) Kinard is listed as one of Pelahatchie's famous residents.  The Muscadine Festival is held in September. The Pelahatchie Public Library is located at 603 Hwy 80 East.

Piney Woods is the home of the Piney Woods Country Life School which was founded in 1909 by Dr. Lawrence Jones as a rural school for the education of African American students. Today this facility sits on a 2,000 acre pastoral setting. The facility provides a well rounded education for students in the seventh through the twelvth grades.  The Aunt Lunky Souvenir and Thrift Store is also located on these grounds.

Puckett is a small community with the population listed in the 2000 census as 354. The Puckett Public Library is located on Cemetery Road.

Richland's population listed in the 2002 census is 6,027. Richland is located on the Pearl River and holds their Richland Day Festival in September. The Richland Public Library is located at 370 Scarbrough St. Richland claims Elmore James, blues guitarist, as one of its one time famous residents.

Star is a small community in Rankin County. Star's claim to fame is probably the fact that Country Music Star Faith Hill was born in Star.

The home of the McLaurins, Lowrys, Henrys and others too numerous to mention, it has always made itself felt in State affairs.

In considering the changes in the population of Rankin County, the census figures indicate a falling off in population during only two periods, 1860-70 and 1910-20. In the 2002 census, the population was 115,327.

Some of the above information taken from Mississippi The Heart of the South - By Dunbar Rowland, LL.D - Director of the Mississippi State Department of Archives and History.  Vol. II Illustrated.  Chicago-Jackson;  The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925. Public Domain.


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