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Hiram E. Wetherbee Timeline

The Wetherbee House, built around 1873 for Hiram E. and Dora Wetherbee, is the oldest and last remaining home in downtown Greenville. Wetherbee, a Kentucky-born Union Civil War Veteran, returned to the Delta after the Civil War and founded a prosperous hardware store in Greenville. The home was added to the National Register in 1977. Today, it is under renovation to become Wetherbee’s, a retail space.

Greenville Times, October 3, 1874

1842 — Hiram E. Wetherbee is born in Boone County, Kentucky.

1860 —  Wetherbee, an 18 years-old farmer, is living in Golconda, IL along the Ohio River.  He and six siblings are in the household of his father, T. W. Wetherbee,  a wagon maker.

1862, August 16Wetherbee enlists at Golconda in 120th Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, Company E as a teamster/wagoner. A younger brother, Wesley O. Wetherbee, joined the 29th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in 1864.

1862-1865 — The 120th IL Infantry transfers to Memphis, Tennessee. The 120th participated in the siege of Vicksburg (May-June 1863) and spent time in Old Greenville.

1865, September 10 — Wetherbee is discharged from the Union Army at Memphis.

1867-1870 —  Wetherbee likely arrives in new Greenville. He initially farmed and worked as a tinsmith. In the 1870 Census, he has $1000 in real estate and $700 in personal property. His neighbor is Samuel Elliot, an Indiana-born hardware dealer who was appointed Greenville’s postmaster in 1868.

1871 — Wesley O. Wetherbee, Hiram’s younger brother and a Greenville blacksmith, marries Belle V. Elliott.

1873 — Wetherbee purchases land from Mrs. Blanton Theoblad, where he would build his home.

1874, October 3 — Advertisements for Wetherbee & Brown Hardware appear in The Greenville Times. Records suggest the hardware store was located on the now lost Mulberry Street parallel to the Mississippi River. In 1885, the store was relocated to Walnut Street.

1874, October 28 — Wetherbee weds Dora McCoy at Golconda, Illinois. The couple raise three children: Harry Lon (1875), Edna (1877), and Ethel (1895).

1878, September 30— Wesley O. Wetherbee, Hiram’s younger brother and a Greenville blacksmith since at least 1871, dies. His death coincides with the yellow fever epidemic. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

1905 — Wetherbee dies and is buried in the Greenville Cemetery. Wetherbee’s son, Harry, takes over the hardware store.

1911 — Dora Wetherbee dies and is buried in the Greenville Cemetery.

Wesley O. Wetherbee worked as a blacksmith according to this  November 4, 1874 advertisement in The Greenville Times

1950 — Wetherbee Hardware Store claims to be the oldest in the state of Mississippi.

1957 — Wetherbee Hardware Store is sold to new owners. It closed in 1966.

1973 — Ethel Wetherbee Finley is the last Wetherbee to live in the home.

1973 — The Council of Greenville Garden Clubs purchases the home. Under an architect’s supervision, the house is restored to its 1870s design and used as a clubhouse and museum.

1977 — The Wetherbee house is added to the National Register “as a rare example of the modest cottage type of domestic architecture common…in the post-Civil War decades” in Greenville.  The Wetherbee carriage house is believed to be pre-Civil War.

 

Note: In addition to the National Register nomination, Mrs. Robert M. Harding’s 1978 article, “The Historic Preservation of the Wetherbee House,” published by the Washington County Historical Society is a good source of information on the Wetherbees and the home. Other sources consulted include U.S. Census records, Greenville Times, Delta Democrat-Times, Hiram Wetherbee’s pension file at the National Archives, among others.

 



Children’s Cemetery at Lakeport Plantation

Just behind the Lakeport house is a small children’s cemetery with post-Civil War burials of Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson’s children and grandchildren. Unprotected for many years, markers had been lost–some apparently drug into the field by tractors.  Before restoration, the small crypt was the only for sure burial. Parts of four small markers were eventually discovered  and ground penetrating radar revealed that there are at least two other burials and likely a third.  

Of the four markers, only two have initials: “C.J.” for Cable Johnson (b. March 15, 1865; d. August 5, 1867) and “L.J.S.” for Lydia J. Starling (b. October 19, 1879; d. 1882). The third and fourth markers do not have any visible initials. Those markers are likely for Julia J. Johnson (b. July 12, 1860; d. November 1, 1869) and Lucie C. Worthington (b. January 8, 1880; d. June 5, 1881).

Parts of four markers were found around the children’s cemetery. Only two had any identifiable marks.

However, a recently discovered record suggests there is a fifth child buried in the cemetery.

Emma Peak and Walter Johnson married at Grand Lake, Chicot County on January 7, 1886. Emma, writing in 1937 in an unpublished memoir, stated, “Shortly afterwards we moved north to Wilton [Iowa] to be near Mr. Johnson’s business.”  In a chapter titled, “Baby John,” she writes about the loss of her first child:  “My first baby was a plump little boy with lovely large light blue eyes and red curls. A baby with lovely disposition. He loved people and would go to everybody who held out their arms to him….Little John stayed with us for fourteen months a baby loved by everyone.”

Wedding of Walter Johnson and Miss Emma Peak, Greenville Times, January 16, 1886

This ca. 1890 photograph of Emma Peak Johnson, taken in Wilton, Iowa, was found behind the drawing room mantel during restoration.

According to Iowa, County death records, 1880-1992, John P. Johnson, 13 months old, died on July 25, 1888 in Wilton Junction, Iowa. The record shows he was buried at Lakeport, Arkansas, very likely with his cousins behind the Lakeport family home.

Lycurgus and Lydia chose to bury their children who died before the Civil War in Frankfort, Kentucky and would eventually join them in 1876 and 1898.  Unlike their parents, the Johnson daughters, Annie Starling and May Worthington, as well as Emma and Walter Johnson and chose their childhood home, Lakeport, as the place to bury their children–even sending little John Peak Johnson all the way from Iowa.

Notes (updated December 12, 2018):

The cast iron fence was added around the cemetery was added in 2008. A gift of Annie Paden, a descendant of Mary (May) Johnson Worthington, the iron fence surrounded Annie Taylor Worthington Spencer’s home on the Glen Allan Plantation in Glen Allan, MS.

Lydia Starling (1879-1882) was the daughter of Annie Johnson Starling (daughter of Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson) and Charles Hensley Starling. Nine-year-old Julia J. Johnson died in November 1869 about eight months after her brother, Cable.  Lucie Worthington (1880-1881) was the daughter of Mary (May) Johnson and Isaac M. Worthington, Jr.

A copy of Emma Peak Johnson’s unpublished 1937 memoir, Growing Pains are Heaven, is on file at the Lakeport Plantation.

John P. Johnson’s death is indexed as “John P. Jackson,”https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XVQR-BM4 but it is clear in the original that it is “Johnson.”

Also see this post from 2012 —

Courthouse Records: Lycurgus Johnson to Lydia Taylor



Lakeport Legacies · September 27 · Casqui and Hernando de Soto’s Cross: Is Parkin the Place? · Dr. Jeffrey Mitchem (Arkansas Archeological Survey)

Casqui and Hernando de Soto’s Cross: Is Parkin the Place?

Dr. Jeffrey Mitchem

(Arkansas Archeological Survey-Parkin Research Station)

Thursday, September 27

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

All four de Soto narratives describe the erection of a cross on the main ceremonial mound at Casqui. The site has been a National Historic Landmark since 1964 and an Arkansas State Park since 1994. Photo courtesy The Archaeological Conservancy.

 

On July 5, 1541, the Hernando de Soto expedition erected a large wooden cross atop the main ceremonial mound at Casqui. That site is believed by archeologists to be the Parkin Site in Cross County, Arkansas.

In 1966, archeologists discovered the remains wooden post atop in the main ceremonial mound. While samples taken in 1966 dated to the post to between (1515-1663). A new excavation of the post in 2016 holds the promise of precision and a date closer to de Soto’s arrival in what is now eastern Arkansas.

 

Please Register for this FREE event.

(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 · lakeport.ar@gmail.com

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653

 



Lakeport Legacies · August 23 · Fixed and Fleeting: Some Arkansas State Symbols and Why they Matter · Dr. David Ware (Capitol Historian at Arkansas Secretary of State)

Fixed and Fleeting: Some Arkansas State Symbols and Why they Matter

Dr. David Ware (Capitol Historian at Arkansas Secretary of State)

Thursday, August 23

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

 

Dr. David War, Arkansas Capitol Historian, is the author of It’s Official!: The Real Stories behind Arkansas’s State Symbols, now in its 2nd edition.

Arkansas’s Capitol Historian, Dr. David Ware, will discuss the utility of symbols, the significance of Arkansas’s earliest adopted symbols and will conclude with some observations on the potential for using the state symbols in interpreting the state’s history, geography and even its economic profile.  And tell a couple of sea stories along the way.

 

Copies of It’s Official!: The Real Stories behind Arkansas’s State Symbols will be available for purchase for $24 each.

Please Register for this FREE event.

(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 · lakeport.ar@gmail.com

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653

 



Lakeport Legacies · June 21 · Yankee Mistress of the Old South: Plantation Life in the Arkansas Delta, 1847-1866

Yankee Mistress of the Old South: Plantation Life in the Arkansas Delta, 1847-1866

 Dr. Gary Edwards (Arkansas State University-Jonesboro)

Thursday, June 21

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

http://www.civilwar.si.edu/slavery_visit.html

Winslow Homer’s A Visit from Mistress (1876) exemplifies the tensions between former slaveholders and their former slaves in the years after the Civil War. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William T. Evans, 1909.7.28

Lakeport Legacies for June 21 will feature Dr. Gary T. Edwards. Edwards, associate professor of history at Arkansas State University, will examine the life of Amanda Trulock (1811-1891). Born and raised in Connecticut, Trulock was widowed in 1849 and found herself the mistress to 62 enslaved laborers on a plantation in Jefferson County. Letters and plantation records reveal a complicated relationship with slaves as she managed her plantation near Pine Bluff.  Edwards’ chapter on Trulock was recently published in Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times (University of Georgia Press, 2018). A limited number of copies will be available for purchase.

Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times — $35

Register for this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 · lakeport.ar@gmail.com

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653



Lakeport Legacies · Rev. Green Hill Jones: From Slavery to the State House · Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

Rev. Green Hill Jones: From Slavery to the State House

presented by

Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

Thursday, April 26

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

 

Rev. G. H. Jones served in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1885 and 1889. Courtesy of the Old State House Museum.

Rev. Green Hill Jones was one of over a dozen African-American men from southeast Arkansas who served in the Arkansas General Assembly between 1868 and 1893. Born a slave in Maury County, Tennessee in 1842, Jones was brought four years later to Kenneth Rayner’s Grand Lake cotton plantation in Chicot County, Arkansas. A young man when the Civil War began, Jones joined the Union Army at Memphis in 1863. After the Civil War, he became an ordained minister and received an education in the North. He returned to Chicot County in 1873 and was soon elected county treasurer (1874-1876), county assessor (1876-1878), and to two terms in the Arkansas House (1885, 1889).

Wintory will tell his story from church and school records, and interviews with Jones and others contained in his Civil War-era pension file.

Wintory’s talk is based on his research on Jones and Arkansas’s eighty-six other 19th century African-American legislators. His essay on the subject will be published in May 2018 in A Confused and Confusing Affair: Arkansas and Reconstruction. Edited by Mark Christ, the book will be published by Butler Center Books, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System.

Read more on Green Hill Jones: here and here

 

Register for this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 · lakeport.ar@gmail.com

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653



Washington County Courthouse’s Mysterious Belfry

Washington County Courthouse, Greenville, Miss., built 1890-91, is pictured here around 1900. The bell tower was most likely reduced in the early 1930s. Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Last year, I heard an odd story: the Washington County Courthouse’s belfry tower was originally a “hanging tower” used to hang convicted criminals. The sources were adamant but could only say they had heard it from others.

My first instinct was this was recent bunk history–people seeing an unfamiliar and altered architectural feature and drawing a wild conclusion. For a building built in 1891, this is not ancient history. If the courthouse’s tower was really a “hanging tower”–a gruesome public spectacle–there should be amble written evidence.

After researching the problem, my initial instincts proved to be correct. Newspapers from the early 20th century describe executions in the yard of the county jail behind the courthouse….and NOT in the courthouse itself. However, I was a little surprised to find one source that did describe an execution in the tower. I’ll examine that later, but first some background on the courthouse and jail

In January 1890, the Mississippi Legislature authorized the Washington County Board of Supervisors to issue bonds, not to exceed $100,000, to build a new courthouse and jail. In July, the Board selected plans for a courthouse prepared by the McDonald Brothers of Louisville, Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Board selected jail plans submitted by L. T. Noyes, an “agent for the Diebold Safe and Lock Company” (Board of Supervisor Minutes, July 12, 1890). Initially, Charles Dollman of Memphis was selected to build the courthouse and John F. Barnes of Greenville to construct the jail. Barnes would ultimately build both.

The McDonald Brothers’ plans called for an 80 x 100 foot, two-story high building including “a tower about 180 feet high with an open bell niche” (Greenville Times, July 19, 1890). We now call the courthouse’s architecture, popularized by Henry Hobson Richardson, Richardsonian Romanesque. Washington County’s courthouse is one of only two in this style in Mississippi. It also has a striking resemblance to another McDonald Brothers’ project, the 1888 Washington County Courthouse in Salem, Indiana. Today, the courthouse still has an impressive tower, but the bell niche or belfry was likely removed in 1930 when Jackson, Mississipi architect James M. Spain remodeled the building.

Washington County’s Courthouse, ca 1940, with the tower lowered and belfry removed. Unseen is the 1891 jail behind the building. Lakeport Plantation Collection.

Added to the National Register in 2014, the Washington County Courthouse is impressive public architecture to be marveled over. In contrast, the 1891 jail is, at most, an afterthought. The jail appears in Sanborn maps, but 20th-century images of the courthouse give no indication of a jail lurking behind it. [Note: there are at least two 1890s images that show the jail, they are published in Washington County, Mississippi]. In 1950, a new jail was constructed north of the 1930 Annex and, it seems, the original jail was erased from the public’s imagination.

This brings me to a 1990 article published in the Delta Democrat-Times. The article celebrates the 100th anniversary of the courthouse and coaxes the building to tell its stories through oral histories housed at the Percy Library. The author tells us several of the interviews “spoke of hangings at the Courthouse,” but “they were not viewed by the public.” However, the author cites a 1977 interview with Lille B. Parker that does mention a hanging in the courthouse. Parker attended the execution of Eddie B. Weeks on the morning of May 12, 1932 and believed it to be the last in Washington County. “They hung him down where the Court House is at, up there where a big old clock used to be,” she stated in the interview. She continued, “they was boards up there, two by fours or something—you could see it a long time. They done tore it down now.”

Washington County Courthouse and Jail, 1905 Sanborn Map, Sheet 17

Not to disparage Mrs. Parker and her memory, but her account is not supported by the written accounts of Weeks’ execution in 1932.

The DDT on May 10, 1932 wrote, “The gallows have been completed for several weeks and are located in the rear of the Washington County jail.” Two days later the paper reported, “Eddie B. Weeks…was hanged at Washington county jail here this morning…” Weeks walked “from his cell to the rear door of the county jail and ascend[ed] the stairs to the enclosed gallows that were to take him to his death….Near a thousand members of Weeks[‘] race gathered around the jail yard on all sides.”

Parker’s memory is also in conflict with a 1978 interview not mentioned in the 1990 DDT article. Leonard Brown is a solid source. He was born in 1896 and, according to the U. S. Census, was a janitor at the courthouse in 1930. In the interview, Brown recalled his duties as a cook, groundskeeper, and transporting prisoners to Jackson. When asked about hangings at the jail, he described what is most likely the 1932 execution of Weeks:

“Well, I never witnessed but one…they built a scaffold right out in the corner of the jail…the day of the hanging we wanted to go in where we could see it, but they wouldn’t let us go in. We had to stand out…we could see that afterwards…”

Earlier accounts in the Greenville Times support Brown’s memory of executions at gallows constructed in the now forgotten jail yard:

  • 1907 — private hanging — “took place in an enclosure on the west side of the county jail” — Greenville Times, Feb 16, 1907
  • 1908 — public hanging — “paid the penalty for his brutal crime on the gallows at the county jail” — Greenville Times, Feb 23, 1908
  • 1909 — public hanging — “paid the penalty with his life on the gallows…He was led onto the scaffold in the jail yard….” Greenville Times., August 21, 1909

The primary sources clearly debunk the story of the “hanging tower” at the 1891 Washington County Courthouse. While it is debunked, the story very likely has more depth than I initially anticipated. The rumors, perhaps, came to life in 1932 as Weeks’ execution intersected with the courthouse’s remodel. Accounts of the 1930 remodel by architect J. M. Spain don’t specifically mention work on the tower, however, the DDT, Dec 27, 1929, stated, “the upper floor would be repaired [and] new plans will take in the upper floor of the structure.”  Mrs. Parker’s recollection seems to mention work being done on the tower in 1932: “they was boards up there, two by fours or something—you could see it a long time. They done tore it down now.”

Mrs. Parker was one of nearly a “thousand people” gathered at the courthouse and jail that morning. Many of them, unable to see the jail yard execution in the enclosed gallows, looked up at the boxed-in tower and assumed the execution was taking place in that public, yet obfuscated spot. With the original jail replaced in 1950 and the yard paved over, the only place for people to attach memories and stories of the 1932 hanging is the mysterious and altered tower.

While people love a mystery or “hidden secrets,” there is no good reason to keep telling the story of the “hanging tower.” It is just not true nor does it lead to deeper understanding of the history of the courthouse or Greenville. Primary sources like newspapers, oral histories, and county records tell us legal hangings in Washington County, from the early 1900s through 1932, took place in gallows constructed in the jail yard behind the Washington County Courthouse.

The real mystery:

The real mystery is when exactly was the belfry removed. For such a public building, it is strange that historians and preservationists have not been able to pin down the exact date when the tower was lowered. Bill Gatlin’s 2014 National Register nomination states: “The tower was reduced from its original height in the 1930s, presumably during a renovation project led by architect James. M. Spain.” Local historian, Princella Nowell, makes the same case in an article published in Life in the Delta: [J. M. Spain’s] improvements [in 1930] included plumbing, heating and wiring. He may have been responsible for removing the bell tower.”

This 1927 flood photograph shows the Washington Courthouse’s tower still intact (left-hand corner). Courtesy of Princella W. Nowell.

The lowering of the tower can be narrowed down to around 1930 when Spain led a renovation of the courthouse. Nowell has confirmed the tower was still intact in 1927, as one photograph from the 1927 flood shows. Newspaper reports of Spain’s 1930 renovations of the courthouse and the Board of Supervisors records are vague, but a 1929 article in the DDT (cited above) mentions the work “will take in the upper floor of the structure.” Mrs. Parker’s 1977 recollection of the events in May 1932 speaks of the tower being boarded up. Finally, photo postcards ca 1940 show the courthouse’s tower reduced.

It’s hard to believe that a major alteration to such a public building went unnoticed and largely uncommented upon. If you know of primary sources that mentions or shows a change to Washington County Courthouse’s tower, send an email to lakeport.ar@gmail.com.

Sources:

Brown, Leonard. Oral History Interview, September 20, 1978, Special Collections, Percy Library, Washington County Library System [also online at MDAH].

The Daily Democrat-Times, December 27, 1929; May 10, 12 1932.

Greenville Times, February 22, July 19, 1890; February 16, 1907; February 23, 1908; August 21, 1909.

Hall, Russell S., Princella W. Nowell, and Stacy Childress. Washington County, Mississippi. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

Nowell, Princella W. Email and phone communications, April 17, 2017-February 26, 2018.

Nowell, Princella W. “Old Courthouses,” Life in the Delta [emailed to the author, February 7, 2018].

Ingram, Deborah, “If walls could only talk … Courthouse could share tales,” The Delta Democrat-Times, May 8, 1990, in “Courts,” Vertical File, Percy Library, Washington County Library System.

Parker, Lillie Belle. Oral History Interview, February 18, 1977, Special Collections, Percy Library, Washington County Library System [also online at MDAH].

Washington County Board of Supervisor Minutes, Book 4.

More pictures of the Washington County Courthouse at the turn of the century from Ann Rayburn Paper Americana Collection Postcards, Special Collections, University of Mississippi:

Thanks

Special thanks to Princella Nowell, Clinton Bagley, Bill Gatlin, Benjy Nelken, and the staff at the Percy Library for their help.

Blake Wintory
Lakeport Plantation


Rev. Green Hill Jones of Grand Lake, Arkansas

Rev. G. H. Jones served in the Arkansas General Assembly in 1885 and 1889. Courtesy of the Old State House Museum.

Few people realize that African-Americans continued to be elected in Chicot County into the early 1890s. The Rev. Green Hill Jones (1842-1924) was one of those men.

Jones had been enslaved on the Rayner Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County prior to the Civil War. Jones escaped slavery and served in the U. S. Colored Troops during the war. After the war, Jones went north to New Madrid, Missouri and Mound City, Illinois where he taught school and was ordained in the Free Will Baptist Church. From 1870 to 1873, he attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. After graduation, he taught in Paducah, Kentucky. Upon his return to Chicot County, he was elected county treasurer in 1874 and then to two terms in the Arkansas House–1885 and 1889.

The Free Baptist Cyclopaedia published a short, but fascinating biography of Rev. Jones in 1889:

Biography of Rev. Jones, published in Free Baptist Cyclopaedia (1889)

Jones, Rev. Greenleaf [sic] H., of Gr[a]nd Lake, Ark. was connected with the Cairo Mission as an ordained minister as early as 1870. The next year he attended Hillsdale College and afterwards taught among the colored people in Paducah, KY., and vicinity, where he also engaged in ministerial work. Subsequently, he secured land in Arkansas and became wealthy. He served in the Legislature of the state and held many county offices. He is at present pastor of the Rising Sun church of the Bon Eagle Q. M. (Miss.), and exerting a wide influence among his people.

Jones pastored several churches in Chicot County:

Rising [Risen] Sun at Grand Lake (1876-1877; 1889-1897; 1899)
Mt. Pisgah at Grand Lake (1898; 1903)
Mt. Olive at Grand Lake (1902)
Sweet Home at Eudora (1906-1907).

Jones died in 1924 and is buried in Mason Cemetery south of Eudora.

Also see Southeast Arkansas’s African-American Legislators, 1868-1893 and

Wintory, Blake. “African-American Legislators in the Arkansas General Assembly, 1868-1893: Another Look,” in A Confused and Confusing Affair: Arkansas and Reconstruction, ed. by Mark Christ. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2018. [expected April 2018]

Wintory, Blake J. “Green Hill Jones (1842-1924),” Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (April 2018)

 

Update February 15, 2018

It appears the Rising Sun Church was still standing as late as 2006. A 1936 Chicot County Highway Map shows a church between Eudora and Grand Lake. This church, as of 2018, still shows up in Google maps as Rising Sun Church. Google Earth’s historical imagery shows what is likely the Rising Sun Church still standing as late as 2006.

Church, now identified as Rising Sun, as shown in a 1936 Chicot County Highway Map

Rising Sun Church, Google Earth imagery, 2003

 

Close-up of 2003 image of Rising Sun Church



Lakeport Plantation to Feature Polk Family Plantations for Lakeport Legacies

George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, Rattle & Snap, near Columbia, Maury County, TN in 1845. Courtesy Library of Congress

Lakeport Plantation to Feature Polk Family Plantations

9/18//2017

LAKE VILLAGE — “The Polks’ Plantations and the Creation of Cotton Kingdom in the Old South” will be presented by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones in the latest Lakeport Legacies monthly history talk on September 28 at the Lakeport Plantation, 601 Hwy 142, in Lake Village.

The event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and conversation, and the program starts at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. For more information and to Register, contact Dr. Blake Wintory at 870-265-6031.

Jones will discuss her research on the Polk family’s extensive cotton plantations across Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The prominent family moved at the center of the historical processes that created King Cotton in the newest parts of the Old South. James K. Polk himself invested in cotton, while his relatives ran cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta. The Polks’ and their business network represent patterns of cotton investment that characterized the late 1840s and early 1850s and built the slave empire of the Old Southwest.

James K. Polk, who served as president from 1845 to 1849, purchased a plantation in Yalobusha County, Mississippi in 1834. A nephew, William Wilson Polk, owned a large plantation at Walnut Bend in Phillips County, Arkansas and financed his uncle’s presidential run. George W. Polk, a cousin of President James K. Polk, co-owned the Hilliard Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County. Polk with his brother-in-law, Isaac Hilliard, owned 151 slaves and 550 acres of improved land in 1850.  In 1845, he built a magnificent Greek Revival home near Columbia, TN he named “Rattle and Snap.”

Dr. Jones is an Assistant Professor of History at Austin Peay State University specializing in the history of slavery. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2014. Her most recent work will appear later this year in Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950, edited by Guy Lancaster.

Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk held on the last Thursday at the Lakeport Plantation during the spring and summer. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The Lakeport Plantation is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. Constructed in 1859, Lakeport is one of Arkansas’s premier historic structures and still retains many of its original finishes and architectural details.

Open to the public since 2007, Lakeport researches and interprets the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta, focusing on the Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction Periods.

Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. A-State’s Heritage Sites include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Lakeport Plantation, the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, and the Arkansas State University Museum.

 

Attached image: George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, Rattle & Snap, near Columbia, Maury County, TN in 1845.  Courtesy Library of Congress

###

Press Contact:

Blake Wintory

870.265.6031

bwintory@astate.edu

Lakeport.astate.edu



Greenville, Mississippi’s City and Telephone Directories

Greenville, Mississippi has a solid run of city directories from 1913-present, with 1918-1926 as the most significant gap.  Filled with names, businesses, addresses, and other information, directories are important resources for historians and genealogists. Directories are also a record of the town’s growth from a small county seat of under 1,000 people in 1865 to a city of over 40,000 in 1960.

The oldest directories that include Greenville are business directories along the Mississippi River. Having been rebuilt (and moved north) after the Civil War, Greenville was just a few years old in 1871, when the James’ River Guide wrote: “county seat of Washington co., Miss., is a small village. Population about 300.” While across the river, Chicot County’s more established seat, Columbia, seemed to be thriving: “IT is a very pleasant place, containing a number of stores, a court-house, and a population of about 400. Here commences the great cotton growing region, and the banks of the river are almost one succession of plantation. Just below this commences the growth of the Spanish moss.”

Map No. 12 shows Columbia and Greenville along the Mississippi River in James' River Guide (1871)

Map No. 12 shows Columbia and Greenville along the Mississippi River in James’ River Guide (1871)

Two business directories centered around Vicksburg published in 1877 and 1879  also lists Greenville as a stop along the river just above “La Grange, Miss.”

Business Directory of Vicksburg, Jackson, Meridian, and Stations on the Vicksburg & Meridian R.R. (Abel C. Tuttle, Vicksburg, Miss, 1879). Microfilm in Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Jackson.

During the last decades of the 19th century, town grew in population and modern amenities. The telegraph arrived in Greenville in 1877 and railroads crossed the town in all cardinal directions by the 1880s. Electricity came in 1888 and two years later a network of two electric streetcars was unveiled. That year the city reached a population of 7,642.

In the Lakeport Plantation Collection is a Greenville telephone directory from 1900. The directory, published by the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Company, contains 347 listings. In 1906 the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Company claimed their “Long distance lines and telephone enable you to talk almost any where in Southern Indiana, Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana.”

Greenville Daily Democrat, July 5, 1906.

[spiderpowa-pdf src=”http://lakeport.astate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/1900-Greenville-MS-telephone-directory.pdf”] click to download the 1900 Greenville MS telephone directory

In 1961, the Delta-Democrat Times (March 1, 1961) chronicled “Greenville’s 40 year evolution from town to city” by comparing a 1961 directory to a newly discovered 1920 directory. Unearthed in a demolition of an old house, the 1920 directory was in the possession of Dean Loyd of 838 Bolivar St in 1961; today its location isn’t known and no copy of a 1920 Greenville directory can be found in any archive. According to the DDT, the 1920 directory had 1,428 listings compared to more than 11,000 in the 1961 directory. In that 40 year period, Greenville’s population grew from 11,560 to 41,502.

If you have Greenville city directory or telephone directory not in any archive, tell us about it.

“Old Phone Directory Recalls Bygone Era of ‘Old Greenville’,” Delta Democrat-Times, March 1, 1961 (read the full article)

 


Where to access Greenville City Directories:

Ancestry.com has Greenville’s city directories (1913-1960) in its U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 database. Ancestry requires a monthly fee to access its databases, but many local libraries and LDS Family History Centers offer access to patrons. Ancestry’s database is part of a microfilm collection offered by the Library of Congress & the Gale Group. Microfilm copies of the Greenville’s directories, 1913-1960 can be found in a number of libraries, including the William Alexander Percy Library in Greenville.

Ancestry.com ($): 1913, 1916, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960
Delta State University/McCormick Collection: 1960-2001
Greenville History Museum:

  • city directories: 1927 [photocopy], 1929, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1976-1993, 1996, 1998, 2000
  • telephone directories: 1938, 1939, 1942, 1947, 1950, 1953

Lakeport Plantation: 1900 telephone directory
Library of Congress: 1913-1917, 1927-1940, 1946-1960 [1913, 1916, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960]

Memphis Public Library: 1918

Mississippi Department of Archives & History:

  • city directories: 1946, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003
  • telephone directories: 19721975, 1977, 19781979

St. Louis County Library: 1913-14, 1916-17, 1927-32
University of Memphis:  1918, 1975
University of Mississippi:  ca.1913, 1918, 1975
University of Southern Mississippi:  1946, 1950-51, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971-79, 1987, 1989
Washington County Courthouse:

  • Greenville: 1981, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998
  • Leland: 1973, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995

William Alexander Percy Library/Washington County: 1913-1932, 1936-1951 [microfilm]; 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 [4 others with no date in catalog] [screenshot];

  • Greenville–on shelves in Reference section: 1946; 1950-1951; 1954; 1956; 1958; 1960; 1961; 1964; 1965; 1966; 1968; 1969; 1970; 1971; 1973; 1972; 1974; 1975; 1977; 1978; 1979; 1981 [2 copies]; 1982 [2 copies]; 1983 [2 copies]; 1983 [cross reference directory]; 1984 [2 copies]; 1984 [cross reference directory] 1985 [3 copies]; 1986 [2 copies]; 1987 [2 copies]; 1989; 1990 [3 copies]; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994 [2 copies]; 1995 [2 copies]; 1996 [2 copies]; 1996 [cross reference directory] 1997 [cross reference directory]; 1998; 1999; 2000; 2001, January [2 copies];  2001, December [2 copies]; 2002; 2003; 2005 [2 copies]; 2006; 2007; 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012; 2013; 2014; 2015; 2016; 2017
  • Leland:  1966, 1968; 1975; 1978; 1980; 1983; 1988; 1989; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1995; 1996.

Works consulted:

Keating, Bern. A History of Washington County. Greenville, MS: The Greenville Junior Auxiliary, 1976.

Willis, John C. Forgotton Time: The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta after the Civil War. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000.

 



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