Smith County Court House
Top Photo Submitted by Jackie Rhodes as well as photo of Historical Marker

History of Smith County

Established December 23, 1833, Smith County is located in the south central part of Mississippi from the last of the land of the Choctaw Indian Cessions.  Under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, (September 27,1830), this land was divided into the following counties:  Noxubee, Kemper, Lauderdale, Clarke, Oktibbeha, Winston, Choctaw, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha, Carroll, Jasper, Neshoba, SMITH, Leake, Holmes, and Attala.  Later the counties of Bolivar and Coahoma were created.

Smith County's outline is almost a quadrangle being 30 miles north and south, and 22 miles east and west.  The area is approximately 660 square miles.  It has the following counties for boundaries:  Scott to the north, Jasper to the east, Jones and Covington to the south, and Simpson and Rankin to the west.

Major David Smith, for whom the county is named, was born in 1753 in Anson County, NC.  Smith served as a private in the battles of King's Mountain, Cowpens, and Euthaw Springs, becoming a hero of the Revolutionary War.  He first married in 1776 to Sarah Terry, and later, in 1791 married Obedience Fort.  He moved with his family to Mississippi, settling in Hinds County not long after that region was yielded by the Choctaws.  His son, Benjamin F. Smith, served as the first representative for Hinds County in the Mississippi Legislature.  Major Smith died at Jackson, Mississippi in 1834.  Aurelia Smith, his daughter, married Governor Runnels.

The first county seat located in Fairfield, just four miles to the south of Raleigh, was soon moved to Raleigh, MS.  Raleigh was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, an author and English Military and Naval Commander.  There has been four courthouses in Raleigh due to fires. After the first courthouse burned, the Old Floyd Hotel was put to use as a courthouse, only to see the same thing happen to it in 1892.  This resulted in the loss of all of the records for Smith County.  A new building was erected and again was destroyed by fire in 1912, destroying practically all of the records.  The present courthouse was built in 1912.

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Linda Sullivan-Simpson

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