Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Albany, MS



New Albany is a city in Union County, Mississippi, United States. New Albany is northwest of the much larger city of Tupelo. The population was 7,607 at the 2000 census. New Albany is the county seat of Union County.

Northeast Mississippi has long been renowned as a region rich with literary culture, architectural treasures, and some of the kindest folks you’ll encounter. Positioned right in the geographical center and thriving with the lifeblood of a quaint small town, New Albany is the heart of the Mississippi Hills region.



New Albany is a city of distinction. A place to experience an old-fashioned livestock auction just a stone’s throw away from a high-tech robotics plant. Where quiet, shady streets complement bustling shopping centers, busy rail yards, and booming factories.

New Albany is a city for visitors. A place to tour historic buildings, stroll scenic nature trails, take in a baseball game or visit a museum dedicated to one of the world’s most acclaimed writers, William Faulkner.
Come see us and share a tall glass of friendship!

City Hall

Located in Historic Downtown on the corner of Bankhead Street and Railroad Avenue. The building was constructed as the Bank of Commerce in 1921. The building was converted to City Hall in 1977.

Cooper Park

A part of history gained after another was lost.

In early 2001, a downtown anchor was lost in an early morning fire. Van-Atkins Department Store had been a New Albany fixture since 1959 with the building dating from before 1913. After the smoke settled and the debris cleared, a vintage Coca-Cola mural dating to the early 1900’s was uncovered on the adjacent building.

The mural has been carefully restored and the area where the department store once stood has been transformed into a tranquil downtown park with the support of many including Van-Atkins’ owners, the Cooper family. The park was formally dedicated in 2002 and named Cooper Park in honor of the family’s contribution.

Park Along the River

The Park Along the River and Nature Trail, located in downtown New Albany near the Tallahatchie River, is recognized as a Mississippi Statewide Arboretum. The Katherine Dye Nature Trail is named in honor of Mrs. Katherine Dye because of her dedication, creativity, and extensive efforts to make the Park Along the River a reality. The Park also has a pavillion, picnic tables and two playground areas for family enjoyment. Entrances are lcoated on Main Street and Carter Avenue.

The Park Along the River is also an entrance to the Tallahatchie Trails, a 1.5 mile walking and biking trail that connects the downtown area to the 70-acre City of New Albany Sportsplex.

Park Along the River

Entrance to the Park Along the River from Main Street.

Sportsplex

The City of New Albany Sportsplex,

located at 1165 Bratton Road, was founded in 1990 and started operation in 1993. The 70-acre complex, located in the heart of the city, boasts 10 softball/baseball fields and 2 soccer/football fields. The Sportsplex hosts numerous games from T-Ball, Coach-Pitch, and Little League, Soccer to High School and Legion Level softball and baseball tournaments. In addition to the regular programs offered by the New Albany Park Commission, the complex is used by local companies, businesses and by the city and county school districts for various functions throughout the year. It is estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 people pass through the Sportsplex gates each year.

Tallahatchie Trails

Tallahatchie Bridge connecting the Park Along the River to the Tallahatchie Trails.

The Tallahatchie Trails are 1.5 miles of biking and walking trails through scenic forest land along the river with periodic picnic areas. The trails connect the Park Along the River to the 70-acre New Albany Sportsplex.

The Union County Heritage Museum

View intrepretive exhibits featuring New Albany’s native son and Nobel Prize winning author, William Faulkner; legendary international sportsman and local symbol of America’s Gilded Age, Paul Rainey; extinct creatures from the Cretaceous Period to the Ice Age; North Mississippi’s multi-million dollar furniture industry; and a host of other exceptional exhibits - inside and outside.

William Faulkner

Historic marker noting the location of Nobel Prize Winning author William Faulkner’s birthplace at the corner of Jefferson and Cleveland Streets. The nearby Union County Heritage museum features exhibits on the author.

William Faulkner Garden

Located at the Union County Heritage Museum on 114 Cleveland Street.

Experience the lemony "odor of verbena", reminiscent of Drucilla in Faulkner’s The Unvanquished, and enjoy other floral delights at the Union County Heritage Museum’s Faulkner Garden.

The garden, complete with a curving path and colorful plant species from the southern garden, offers visitors a deeper look at the fiction of William Faulkner. His use of plants in his landscape reflects another way that Faulkner used this culture and landscape in the creation of his works according to Jill N. Smith, museum director. “In many ways it is easy to connect the people and places of Faulkner’s work to real people of the area. Now we’ve connected his work to the plant life. Many, many people travel to Mississippi to learn more about the 20th century’s greatest writer. They visit New Albany, Ripley and Oxford. This garden near his birthplace in New Albany is another place on the landscape for this learning to take place.”

The garden is the result of a vision and work of the New Albany Garden Club for the museum. Garden Club members consulted with landscape designer Sam Creekmore to find the best design for this literary garden.

Faulkner scholar Angie Quinn, whose master’s degree’s work features Faulkner’s use of the landscape, researched and isolated many plant species for use in the garden. The next step was pairing the plants with the Faulkner quotes.

Featuring quotations from Faulkner’s works, paired with plants from his fiction, visitors can enjoy a walk in the Faulkner Garden while they glimpse Yoknapatawpha, his fictional county. Some of the garden is reminiscent of a grandmother’s garden and the "no frills" way of gardening while at the same time meeting the human need of supplying beauty about homesteads of the past.

“She had returned from time to time during the spring to work the flower beds so that they bloomed as usual – the hardy blatant blooms loved of her and his race: prince’s feather and sunflower, canna and hollyhock…” from Go Down Moses. This is one example of Faulkner’s many uses of the plants of the landscape.

“This brings a bit of Faulkner’s work to life here next to his birthplace,” Smith said.

The Faulkner Garden is located at 114 Cleveland Street, New Albany, one block from his birthplace. For more information about the garden the dedication, and brick sponsorship, contact the Museum at 662-538-0014 or email jills@ucheritagemuseum.com.

Historic Downtown

Listed on the National Register, our downtown district features a historic courthouse, many unique shops, antique dealers and eateries.

Magnolia Civic Center

Located in historic downtown New Albany, the Magnolia frequently hosts productions by the community led theatre group, the Tallahatchie River Players, community musical productions, business events, wedding receptions and seminars.



Union County Development Association Office (Former Post Office Building)
This building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, served the city well as a Post Office for over 60 years.

The historic struture, located at 135 East Banhkead Street, is now occupied by the Union County Development Association. The building serves as the official Welcome Center for New Albany and Union County.

Union County Courthouse

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this building was completed on June 2, 1909. Located at 116 East Bankhead Street.

Year-round attractions and special events make life in New Albany not only fun, but informative. From historic buildings to festivals, you’ll find plenty to do and see.

Celebrated author William Faulkner’s birthplace is designated by a historic marker, and his life and work are commemorated in the collections of the Union County Heritage Museum, located near the actual birthplace.

South of New Albany, a marker commemorates the life of Ishtehotapah, the last king of the Chickasaw nation and a signer of the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek, which opened North Mississippi for settlement. In nearby Ingomar stands the largest Native American mound in North Mississippi - a silent testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of the region’s earliest residents.

Anchoring an entire block of the city’s business district is the Union County Courthouse complex. Built in 1909, the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby, the old City Hall bears a unique seal that recognizes the Chickasaw Indians who once inhabited the forests of present-day Union County.

Colorful Festivals and special events are also a part of New Albany and Union County’s attractions. The Tallahatchie RiverFest, the 4th of July Freedom Celebration, as well as the Union County Fair and Livestock Show provide great entertainment for both young and old.

In a throwback to bygone days, the New Albany Stockyards are home to regular livestock auctions.

Christmas is a special time for community get-togethers such as the city’s annual Christmas Parade. And if that’s not enough, New Albany is host to Holiday Street, a fall workshop that includes live demonstrations of food, decorating, and craft ideas for Christmas.

Ingomar Indian Mounds

Middle Woodland Site

Union County

While people first entered what is now Mississippi about 12,000 years ago, the construction of mounds began approximately 2,000 years ago. The period from 100 *B.C. to* 400 A.D. is known as the Middle Woodland
Period. During this time in what is now Union County early inhabitants constructed mounds using simple stone age tools and baskets for carrying the dirt. A major complex, Ingomar Mounds, was composed of a large flat-topped, ramped mound and surrounded by 11 to 13 conical mounds. Only one is highly visible today. This ceremonial and burial complex has been one of considerable interest since first recorded in 1885 by the Smithsonian Institution. Evidence from construction and unearthed objects including bones, pottery, points, beads, glass and silver indicate that this Middle Woodland complex was used for centuries.

Directions to Ingomar Indian Mound

From U.S. Hwy. 78/Miss. Hwy. 15 interchange (Exit 64),
Travel south (toward Pontotoc) on Miss. Hwy. 15 for approximately 5 miles to Union County Road 96 on right,
Turn right onto Union County Road 96,
Travel west approximately two miles on Union County Road 96,
Union County Road 96 makes sharp right angle turn to the right (north),
Continue on Union County Road 96 and Ingomar Indian Mound will be visible in open
field to the right.

Though a vibrant and forward-moving community, New Albany continues to value the traditions which have shaped its quality of life throughout its history. As the birthplace of celebrated author William Faulkner and as the adopted home of Morris Futorian, father of the Northeast Mississippi furniture industry, New Albany’s industrious and enthusiastic spirit has cultivated and nurtured a variety of local talents.

Organized in 1840 at the site of a grist mill and a saw mill on the Tallahatchie River near the intersection of two historic Chickasaw Indian trade trails, the town developed as a river port and as a regional center for agriculture and commerce. The Civil War interrupted this progress, however, as Union troops swept through the city and burned all but a few buildings.

Known for its resiliency, the community rallied, and Union County was formed from parts of neighboring Lee, Pontotoc, and Tippah Counties in 1870, with New Albany designated as county seat. The city’s new role as a center of government led to renewed economic activity. Citizens’ efforts in the late 1880’s to secure a railroad through New Albany were rewarded with two railroads connecting the community to points north, south, east and west. Interestingly, depot clerk for one of the railroads was none other than the father of William Faulkner. Born in 1897 in a single-story clapboard house, Faulkner went on to write 19 novels and 75 short stories, winning the coveted Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize twice for his work.

In 1909, the Union County Courthouse was completed, and highway growth during the 20th century assured the community’s status as an important point on the Mid-South’s transportation and trade routes. In 1946, the Union County Development Association was formed, and in 1948, Russian emigrant Morris Futorian built the first assembly-line furniture plant, shaping North Mississippi’s meteoric furniture industry growth that has continued today. Industrial development and diversification efforts have resulted in the recruitment of companies beyond furniture manufacturing, and today includes approximately 30 industries that produce everything from medical uniforms to automobile engine parts to high-tech industrial equipment. New Albany has also emerged as a regional healthcare provider with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County, a modern medical facility which continues to expand its services and physician base.



Unlike many communities its size, New Albany is fortunate to have modern health care facilities with Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County. At a time when many community hospitals are closing their doors, Baptist continues to expand its range of services, specialties, and physician base.

Founded in 1966 as Union County General Hospital with a 65-bed capacity, the Baptist complex has subsequently grown to a 153-bed facility featuring 24-hour emergency services, a state-of-the-art surgical unit, comprehensive and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic services, a Women’s Center, pediatric services, outpatient surgery, and more.

The Emergency Room treats over 18,000 people annually, and includes trauma and cardiac rooms. A Women’s Center was completed in the early 1990’s and provides the latest in birthing techniques such as labor/delivery/recovery suites, private labor rooms, Cesarean delivery suites, postpartum recovery, nursery and waiting room.
Each year, over 1,000 babies are born at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County offers a comprehensive range of services including CT, MRI, mammography, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, laboratory services, general and laser surgery, orthopedic surgery, rehabilitation services, respiratory services, and an intensive care unit.



Baptist also boasts a Transitional Care Center, which provides care for patients requiring additional rehabilitation and treatment; The Multi-Speciality Clinic provides local access to specialities such as oncology/hematology and neurology; and The Sleep Disorders Center can help identify and treat those with sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea.

And given state-of-the-art technological capabilities, many procedures that once required extensive hospital stay can now be performed as outpatient, such as gall bladder, hernia, breast biopsy, and tonsillectomy surgeries.

New in 2006, the hospital has added wellness to its scope of services with the addition of the Baptist Healthplex (formerly the Healthtrax). The Baptist Healthplex features over 33,900 sq. ft. of wellness and fitness in addition to over 4,200 sq. ft. of Outpatient Rehabilitation services.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County is a part of the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, named one of the Top 100 Integrated Health Care Systems in the country. If referrals are necessary, other hospitals in the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, especially nearby Oxford and Memphis, are readily available.

North Mississippi Medical Center:

North Mississippi Medical Center (NMMC), a 650-bed regional referral center, is located about 25 miles from New Albany in Tupelo. It is the largest non-metropolitan hospital in America with over 40 medical specialties represented on the staff. It is designated as a Level II trauma center by the Mississippi State Department of Health. North Mississippi operates a system of medical clinics including one in New Albany. NMMC won the 2006 Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.



Downtown is the heart of our community. Every downtown has some aspect that makes them stand out from the rest. Ours happens to be the fact that parking in the middle of the street is a common occurrence. In a time where online shopping is the quick fix to the fast paced lifestyle that we all live, the Downtown Shopping District is the better answer. All the stores in the district are locally owned and operated and most of the time the owner is the one that is going to greet you at the door. With a cup of coffee, easy chatter, and a smile, you will get unparalleled personal service every time.



Downtown enhances the culture and quality of life in New Albany and is the location for annual events including the Easter Egg Hunt, Tallahatchie RiverFest, Trick or Treat Downtown, and the Holiday Open House. These events are a great opportunity for the people of New Albany to get together with friends and see what their little town has to offer.

Downtown is also home to several parks, including Cooper Park. In early 2001, a downtown anchor was lost in an early morning fire. Van-Atkins Department Store had been a New Albany fixture since 1959 with the building dating from before 1913. After the smoke settled and the debris cleared, a vintage Coca-Cola mural dating to the early 1900s was uncovered on the adjacent building.

The mural has been carefully restored and the area where the department store once stood has been transformed into a tranquil downtown park with the support of many including Van-Atkins’ owners, the Cooper family. The park was formally dedicated in 2002 and named Cooper Park in honor of the family’s contribution.

Shop, Dine, & Stroll New Albany
Take a stroll in Historic Downtown New Albany enjoy shopping in one-of-a-kind shops featuring selections of jewelry, antiques, pottery, furniture, children’s, women’s, and men’s clothing.

Worked up an appeittie? Enjoy a delicous lunch at Tallahatchie Gourmet with specials daily including shrimp and grits. Nichol’s Deli offers spectacular sandwiches to get you back on track. Vainisi offers lunch and dinner with a variety of sandwiches, salads, pasta, and Italian pizza.

Relax for a bit in Cooper Park.

It’s time for Sugaree’s Bakery! You will be captive to the aroma of sugar and spice as you enter the front door. The bakery offers old-fashioned southern recipes with a gourmet twist.

A unique tradition in Historic Downtown New Albany is the middle of the street parking on Bankhead Street in our historic downtown.

COME SEE WHO WE ARE!


Tall Corn: Agriculture in Union County was the bedrock of commerce in the early days.


Mayes Hospital, located on Main Street in New Albany, later became Shands Hospital and from this Union County Hospital was organized in the early 1960s.


The restaurant of The Rainey Hotel, a world class hotel built by millionaire Paul Rainey in 1904.

Home Ice Company

William Faulkner

From New Albany to Yoknapatawpha

Arthur F. Kinnney, scholar - "In the past few years, critical work on Faulkner has exceeded that of any other author in English save Shakespeare". This self proclaimed "country man" or "farmer" just happened to be born in New
Albany, Mississippi . .

Birthplace of William Faulkner

The coming of the railroads was an important event in the history of Union County. The first east-west line crossed the tracks December 2, 1886, followed by the Gulf & Ship Island, a narrow gauge railroad built by Col. W. C Falkner and his partner Richard J. Thurmond of Ripley Mississippi. It was this desire of Col. Falkner’s to build a railroad to link Ripley with Chicago and the Gulf of Mexico that resulted in William Faulkner, considered by many critics to be America’s greatest writer of the 20th century, being born in New Albany, Mississippi. The track though New Albany was completed in August 1887.



William Cuthbert Falkner (he later added the “u”to the spelling of his name) was born in New Albany on September 25, 1897. When he was born, his parents, Murry and Maud Falkner lived in a simple frame house on the corner of Jefferson and Cleveland Streets, a few blocks from the railroad. It has been said the house was one of the first built on the North side of town.

At that time Murry Falkner was working as a clerk at the depot of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad. By this time his father, John W. T. Falkner owned a majority interest in the company.

Of the Fallkner’s time in New Albany, Joseph Blotner, in Faulkner - A Biography, states that William was a colicky baby. He further writes “In the heat of the insect-loud September and October darkness he would keep his mother awake almost every night. She would rock him steadily, the tiny woman in her kitchen chair. According to family lore, it was a straight chair, and with each forward notion the front legs would strike the floor with a sharp report that echoed through the open windows. She and her husband had lived in New Albany for almost a year now, but they did not know many people. They were stand-offish, thought some of the neighbors.” The family lived in New Albany approximately fourteen months before moving to Ripley, then to Oxford.

Visitors to New Albany interested in Faulkner often inquire about the family’s move to Oxford. In an article for the New Albany Gazette, February 27, 1976, W. O. Rutledge, Jr, owner and editor, refers to the circumstances leading up to the decision of the Murry Falkners to move to Oxford with considerably different details than that given by Faulkner researcher, Robert Coghlin, in his book, The Private World of William Falkner in which he muses on the importance to literary circles and history that the change of residence of the family did take place, otherwise, presumably “the Jefferson of the stories would resemble New Albany and would be populated by a different cast of characters - forms still another saga of the Sartoris-Falkner derring-do.”

As to the events leading up to the family’s decision to move from New Albany -primarily the decision of “Miss Maud”, mother of the author - the Rutledge relates his authenticated story with minor variations within the realm of possibility follows: "Living across the street from the Murry Falkners was a prominent druggist of New Albany, Will A. Bratton. Living with the Murry Falkner family at the time was his unmarried sister, who was generally called “Auntee” and who was quite popular with the young men her age. Mr. Falkner was said to have heard that Mr. Bratton had made a slurring remark about his sister’s character and vowed to have his young sister’s honor defended.

One late afternoon after supper on a long summer day soon after he had heard of the remark, Murry told his wife, Maud, he was going downtown, only a couple of blocks away, and “Have it out with Will Bratton.” Somehow, Bratton got wind of his neighbor’s threat and prepared himself for the upcoming visit from Falkner. When Falkner entered Bratton’s drugstore, the druggist reached under the counter, picked up his pistol and fired point blank at Falkner, wounding him slightly in the hand, but sufficiently to remove any thoughts of further gunplay. As soon as Murry was able to travel, “Miss Maud” announced to him and the family that they were moving to Oxford before Murry had another chance to get himself killed and so they did.”

"Miss Maud" and William

Blotner further related the actual move. “Murry Falkner had every reason to be satisfied with the Gulf & Chicago (formerly Gulf & Ship Island ). At New Albany, a town of 548 inhabitants, he had served as general passenger agent. In November 1898 he was appointed auditor and treasurer and placed in charge of the Traffic and Freight Claim Departments. That December, or shortly thereafter, Murry moved his family to Ripley, where he would be discharging his new responsibilities. On September 22, 1902, the Falkners left Ripley. Symbolically, the three little boys (brothers John and Jack had been born by then) left with their mother, riding the line their father had served to New Albany, where Willie had first seen the light of day. From there they rode (another line) to Holly Springs, and then completed their two-day journey on the cars of the Illinois Central into Oxford” - and William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha.

Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County primarily focuses on life in Lafayette County, Mississippi, and his hometown of Oxford, the source of much of Faulkner’s fiction. The stories he heard, the experiences he encountered, and the people with whom he associated in and around this area were also an important source. In north Mississippi, his native soil reached into Union, Tippah and Marshall counties. Could it not be that New Albany, the town where he was born, “located 40 miles from the University” actually be his “Jefferson” just filled with the town folk of Oxford and all the other surrounding communities?

A published report by the Mississippi Library Commission states that Faulkner’s stature as a major writer, perhaps the best that America has produced, is assured. He was always a private man, a local man, rooted in Mississippi for all that he was worth, but out of his “postage stamp of native soil” he shaped a universe so rich with life that it can never be exhausted. All that remains is to read him.



A Jefferson Peace Medal was found about three miles south of New Albany in the early 20th century by a farmer plowing his field. A rare object, a colloector, the late Will Ticer acquired the medal and later donated it to the University of Mississippi Archives. It was later repatriated to the Chickasaw Nation. Believed to have been brought to what later became Union County by Merriweather Lewis on his final journey across the country. He was traveling from St. Louis to Washington DC in 1809. In traveling by land, part of this journey took him to the King’ homesite newr Ingomar in Union County. It is thought that he gave this medal to the King of the Chickasaw, possibly named Chinubby. A reproduction is now on exhibit at the Union County Heritage Museum along with other objects from the era.

Downtown Streets



The signing of the Pontotoc Creek Treaty is depicted ini this painting by Ann Sheffield of Pontotoc County, Mississippi. The Chickasaw Indian tribe of North Mississippi ceded more than 6 million acres of their tribal lands to the US government in 1832, thus opening the area to pioneer settlers.



Summer of 1942 was a busy one for First Baptist Church in New Albany during Vacation Bible School.



The Shadows was one of several garage bands from New Albany during the 1960s. the late James Murphy and Nicky Hall are two of these band members.



Zack Stewart, museum volunteer, demonostrates the shaving horse to students from Union County Schools during Heritage Pioneer Days at the Museum, held annually during the third weekend in September.

Mosley and Johnson Blues Band from Union County are shown in a performance at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in the 1980s. Sam Mosely and the late Robert Johnson are noted song writers from New Albany. The band is still rockin’.



Award winning Union County dog trainer Clyde Morton is shown on the Paul Rainey estate training dogs to hunt bears for the Rainey Kennels. He was also instrumental in training the famous hunter’s dogs to hunt lions in Africa. Morton’s record for training winning bird dogs has never been beaten. Morton was born in Myrtle, Mississippi.



Gayle Kirkpatrick, New Albany Fashion Designer was part of the great cultural shift of the 1960s. He grew up and was educated in New Albany as well as the Memphis Academy of Art. From there he went to New York and made a place for himself in the word of fashion. He designed for Faye Dunaway, Raquel Welch, Julie Christie, Elizabeth Taylor, Candice Bergan, Sandy Duncan, Cybil Shepard and many others. He helped usher in the era of the mini skirt, made sportwear a household word and designed clothing that remains timeless. He was awarded the Coty Award for Fashion in 1965 and represented the United States in the world of fashion in Mexico and Japan in the 60s. The Society houses a collection of garments, sketches, objects and photographs in the Gayle Kirkpatrick Collection.

Worth Savoring Cookbook

"Literary, Visual and Culinary Creations from the Hilss of North Mississippi"
Created by the Union County Historical Society, this cookbook is not only culinary but also literary, with stories and anecdotes from the a wide variety of individuals such as Senator Thad Cochran and Willie Morris; Jerry Clower and Laurie Parker and many more. But what would you expect from the birthplace of William Faulkner?

Union County is one of the hill counties in North Mississippi from which William Faulkner created his fictional country Yoknapatawpha. The creative spirit of our region is captured in this book through special foods, interesting histories and photographs, lasting traditions and fond memories all - Worth Savoring...

Home in New Albany

New Albany Parade Float

Rainey Hotel

Commissioned built by J. Paul Rainey to house the overflow of guests that he entertained out at his 10,000 acre hunting lodge in Cotton Plant. The Rainey Hotel was quite a large and elegant building by north Mississippi standards. Intending to mimic hotels in New York and Europe, he decorated it on a grand scale including imported Italian marble for the floors. A European chef was brought in to prepare meals for the guests. At this time, it was one of the most luxurious hotels in Mississippi. The hotel was later destroyed by fire.

Rainey Hotel Postcard

Tippah Lodge

Paul J. Rainey Estate -Tippah Lodge

In 1901, after attending the National Bird Dog Field Trials near Grand Junction, TN, millionaire playboy Paul J. Rainey, began to assemble an estate near Cotton Plant, in the southern part of Tippah County. His goal, it would seem, was to provide him and his peers with a superior hunting facility. Within a few years he had acquired 10,000 acres of land, all except a few hundred acres being in Tippah County. He enlarged and remodeled an existing home that became known as Tippah Lodge.

The lodge stood on one of his earlier purchases, about a mile north of the community of Cotton Plant. After remodeling was completed the lodge contained twelve bedrooms and included among other features a game and billiard room decorated with trophies from his hunts, and a indoor heated swimming pool. The surrounding area contained among other things a sunken garden, paved roads, a dog food kitchen, and a large round brick polo barn equipped to hold 50 horses. His passion was hunting with dogs, and he raised several breeds of hunting dogs on the grounds and was known to keep two live bears on the property that were used to train the dogs.

The Rainey Lodge

The Rainey Estate provided jobs in the area at a time when they were desperately needed. Rainey was known to hunt with the locals and socialized with the leaders of the larger nearby towns of New Albany and Memphis. When Rainey was in residence it was the scene of some lavish entertaining, for which he liked to bring out from Memphis the famous band of W. C. Handy. The railroad built a siding opposite the lodge and it was not unusual for guests to arrive in Pullman Cars. The Rainey parties were rather exclusive events, except for the picnic he gave annually on the Fourth of July, to which everyone white and black, was invited. He had The Rainey Hotel built in nearby New Albany to catch the lodge overflow and to provide him and his guests a nice place to stay if they had to overnight there before traveling to the estate. The hotel was modeled after European hotels and included marble floors and a European chef . Upon completion, the hotel was known to be one of the best of it's kind in Mississippi.


Hunters on the steps of Tippah Lodge

Rainey traveled extensively, including Europe, Africa, Russia, China and the Arctic, and was an avid sportsman and photographer. Rainey was not allowed to serve in the military during World War I, due to some health problems. Refusing to be left out of the war, he bought and outfitted an ambulance and drove it in France during the conflict there, later he became a photographer for the Red Cross. After World War I ended, Rainey began spending most of his time in Africa. He purchased a plantation near Nairobi, British East Africa, in a region which was said to contain more game than any other area on the continent. In 1923, he organized an expedition to hunt the area, and sat sail from Southampton to Cape Town. On the voyage, he died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried at sea on September 18, 1923. He was 46 years old when he died.


A hunting party near his farm in Africa
This picture and caption appeared in the Southern Sentinel around the time of the Rainey Sale and Auction.

Rainey left his estate in the care of his sister Grace Rainey Rogers, and the contents of his house in Cotton Plant were kept relatively as is until after her death in the late 1950's. Grace gave several hundred acres to Mrs. May Graham, a good friend and romantic interest of the late Rainey. Most of the remaining land was sold into farming parcels during the 1940's, except for several hundred acres surrounding the lodge. His game trophies were donated to the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis and became known as the "Rainey Collection." The estate was sold, and the contents auctioned off in a well attended sale on the grounds in the 1960's. Later, the rambling old house was torn down except for the game room and the round polo barn. Both were restored and a new plantation style house was built on the original lodge site. Entrance posts still remain along with a double line of cedar trees that surround the walkway that lead up to the front doors of the estate house.


Tippah Lodge Today
(2003)

Paul J. Rainey is still remembered by what he accomplished in his short life. He was first to produce films of wildlife hunts in Africa and they were shown in movie theaters in New York City and other places. One of his films was entitled "Paul J. Rainey's African Hunt." It is not known if those films still exist. Some film clips by Rainey are in the collection of the Library of Congress and a video of those is in the collection of Ripley Public Library in Tippah County. Rainey raised and trained hounds at Tippah Lodge which were carried to Africa for the hunting of lions. Hunting lions on horseback using hounds had not been done before. He wrote an account of life in Russia shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, where he filmed prisoners and the last residence of Czar Nicholas II. In 1934, the Paul J. Rainey Memorial Gate was erected at the Bronx Zoo, given by his sister, Grace Rainey Rogers. On a trip to the Arctic, Rainey had captured and donated a polar bear to the Bronx Zoo which was given the name "Silver King." At other times he had provided the zoo with animals from Africa.

Following his death, his sister, Grace Rainey Rogers, was persuaded to donate 26,000 acres of marshland that he owned on the Gulf of Mexico in Perry, Louisiana to the Audubon Society. The Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary was a prize beginning for Audubon's system at a time when waterfowl of all kinds were under intense hunting pressure. The Audubon Society refers to Rainey as "a high living young man whose escapades made him notable even in the "Roaring Twenties." Among his dubious exploits were hunting African lions from horseback with hounds, and returning home from another trip with a live polar bear he had lassoed on the Arctic ice."

The Amazing Paul J. Rainey
by Danny Murry

In 1900, a legend which centered around an amazing multimillionaire adventurer, hunter, and playboy, developed in North Mississippi when Paul J. Rainey settled in Tippah County at the turn of the century.

Paul was born on September 18, 1877, the son of William J. and Eleanor Rainey. The Raineys came from the British Isles and settled in Belmont County, Ohio in 1796.

Here William, his father, founded the William J. Rainey Inc., which is still one of the leading coke and coal producers. He was a ruthless man who prided himself at being title "The Coke Baron" and "The Coal King." He also owned a ship line and several plantations throughout the country.

Rainey's mother was a strict Presbyterian, who was so frugal that she made her children's socks from the wool of sheep that grazed on their fabulous estate in Cleveland, Ohio. She made the socks black with white bottoms so that she could tell when they needed changing.

Although Paul's father left approximately forty million dollars, his family spoke of his as "Poor Paul" because he was not given as much as the other children because of his reckless habits. His kinsmen were conservative, and his brother Roy never owned an automobile. He went everywhere on a bicycle.

The South was in the last phases of reconstruction when the eminent Dr. F. H. Rogers of New Albany introduced Paul to the gentle rolling hills of North Mississippi. Dr. Rogers and Mr. Rainey became first acquainted at the famous National Field Trials held annually in Grand Junction, Tennessee, and Rainey liked the land so much that he decided to move to this area. Tippah County was the nearest place where he could acquire the amount of land he wanted.

The first recorded deed to Mr. Rainey was from H. M. Ratliff dated January 11, 1904. On January 27, 1905, he bought from W. P. Wiseman a lot on which he located his large store that served the people around Cotton Plant.

He took the small Ratliff home and converted it into one of the most beautiful estates in the South. On one end of the house he built an indoor heated swimming pool at a time when other families in the area did not even have running water. At the other end of the house he added on a trophy room, which is actually a building in itself, for it is practically as large as a small house of today. The trophy room was filled with trophies collected on hunts throughout the world.

Between the pool and the trophy room were the nine bedrooms, kitchens, and enormous dining and living rooms. The surrounding estate consisted of a splendidly landscaped lawn, complete with a sunken garden and numerous fish ponds.

He had a private electric plant on the estate or "lodge", as it was known, that provided lights and electricity for the house. A water tower gave pressure for the system and kept the swimming pool filled with filtered water, and provided the water needed for the numerous tiled baths.

If he needed ice for his many parties, he merely sent to his own ice plant. If he wanted soft drinks he went to his bottling works in New Albany. The "lodge" boasted paved roads, steam heat, sidewalks, a blacksmith shop, dog food oven, and a perfectly round polo barn, which housed some fifty horses.

He also maintained his own private railroad siding, where his private railroad car would deposit him from his trips throughout the world, or where his party guests would arrive from across the nation-Chicago, New York, California, or Pennsylvania.

In addition to the lodge and his thirty-thousand acres of Tippah and Union County land, Mr. Rainey owned a large plantation in Africa, known as "Forest Glenn", Near Nairobi. He had a duck preserve in Vermilion, Louisiana, which after his death was given to the National Audubon Society. This consisted of twenty-three thousand acres. He owned a racing stable on Long Island, and his horses competed in major events in America and England.

Before he built his private railroad siding, Mr. Rainey would come from the East to Memphis and then to New Albany by train. Then he had an overnight wait until he could catch a train for the ten miles to his estate. In New Albany he spent the night in a boarding house, and the conditions were not to his liking. So one day he called one of his men and said, "Build me a hotel in New Albany."

When the fellow asked what kind of hotel Rainey replied, "I stay in good hotels in New York, in Paris, and in London. I want a hotel like those."

The Rainey hotel must have been a fabulous building, especially for its then remote location. Italian marble was imported for the floors, and a chef was brought to America to provide the meals for its guests. At this time, the turn of the century, it was one of the three most luxurious hotels in Mississippi. Although the original hotel was destroyed by fire, it was rebuilt after Rainey's death and named in his honor.

With his abundance of wealth, he had the world at his command; and he dabbled in anything he could find to amuse himself. He was a member of the American Geographical Society, American Museum of Natural History, the Zoological Society of New York, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Institute of Social Sciences. He was president of Westchester Racing Association, a member of the New York Chamber of Commerce, the Racquet and Tennis Lawyers Club, New York Yachting Societies and the Travelers Club of Paris. He was president of the National Fox hunt which later bore his name.

Paul Rainey was something of a paradox. People either flocked to him as a friend or had little to do with him. A great many people did not like him because he had too many peculiarities. His most outstanding peculiarity was an extreme determination. He was a man who, when he set out to do a thing, was not happy until it was finished well. He wanted to accomplish his undertakings as well as anyone in the world could.

He gave much of his money to charities but was cautious to see that his money was a good investment. He offered to build a school at Cotton Plant on his polo field and supply the needed teachers himself, but when the board of trustees wanted a deed for the school, he immediately dropped the project. He received pleas from throughout the world for financial aid to charities and schools. In one case he was asked to found a boys school in Paris but refused for undisclosed reasons.

Socially his name was to be ranked with that of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Although he maintained three or four houses throughout the country and Europe, his "lodge" was considered his home for this is where his heart was. The rambling fifteen room house was the scene for many gala parties that were the talk of the country side for many years.

When Paul Rainey invited guests to dine and dance with him, he intended for the m to do just that. The guests might come from all over the nation. They would usually come by special railroad cars.

Their dinner was catered by a famous Memphis restaurant and some elite Memphis nightclub would be without music for that night: its band would be playing at the Rainey farm. The world famous W.C. Handy's band played at many of his parties.

His abundance of wealth and power made him an international playboy by the time he was twenty-one. Two of the most famous women in his life were the noted actress Elsie Jancie and Mrs. Mary Peters Graham. The latter was the wife of Dr. Graham of Memphis, and she first met Rainey at a ball given in their home in Memphis.

Then a strange thing happened. Dr. Graham fell in love with Mrs. Graham's maid, and Mr. and Mrs. Graham were divorced. Mrs. Graham went to a party given at the "lodge" and stayed on with Paul even thought there were never married.

Another popular legend tells about one of their arguments. They fought once in London, and she left and went to Paris and on to Russia. He finally caught up with her and barged into her hotel room with several dozen red roses and a magnificent ruby and diamond bracelet. She always got what she wanted and was pampered luxuriously by Rainey.

After his death she lived in hotel rooms in New York, but she wanted to get closer to the home and land that he loved, so she moved into his servants quarters during World War II. In 1945 Mrs. Graham moved into her own home, "South Wind", which was built on land given to her by Rainey's sister. Mrs. Graham died in 1956 and was buried with a locket containing Paul's picture and a lock of his hair.

Tippah Lodge was more than just a place for his hunting expeditions. He raised his famous Trigg hounds at the lodge and sometimes had as many as two hundred and thirty dogs in the kennels. Once he had seventy-five foxhounds, twenty bear dogs, thirty-five beagles, one hundred bird dogs, and numerous Airedales.

The Rainey Gates at the New York Zoo

The trophy room was more like a museum than part of a home. It contained splendid skins from the world over and a collection of ivory from China and India. In the parlor was a musk-ox, a very rare animal, which he had killed in Greenland. He possessed among the finest gun and mounted head collection in the United States. Most of his mounted head collection in the United States. Most of his specimens were later given to the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis.

Rainey went to Greenland for polar bears, to Mexico for the thrill of jaguars, to the American Rockies for grizzlies, to Texas for coyotes, and to Tennessee for the adventure of wild boar.

Silver king at Time Of Capture

Rainey's eleven thousand acres directly around the lodge were turned into a game preserve. He brought over a British gamekeeper to raise pheasants and to breed mallard ducks for his lakes. Sheep, bear, and deer roamed the land at will and pigeon roosts were placed around the lodge.

The thirty-thousand acres which comprised his entire estate in North Mississippi presented some of the best fox hunting action in North America and in 1923 Rainey played host to the National Fox Hunt Club's annual fox hunt. During the hunt, George Morris of the News Scimitar presented a typical view of life of the sportsmen on the hunt. It began:

Rainey Barn

The prizes offered are the richest ever. Paul Rainey is providing the ideal host, but for once Tippah lodge is taxed to its capacity. More than one hundred hunters and all the dogs are entertained at the lodge, while fifty or more go out by train every morning form New Albany to Cotton Plant and make it back every evening for a few hour of the comforts of home. The kennels are estimated at containing from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars worth of dogs. Wednesday evening Rainey will show the motion pictures made on his African hunts and Thursday evening the hunters will take off their boots and put on pumps and the tuxedo will replace the sweater for it is the evening of the dance, the social event of the meet.

When Rainey lost interest in the "lodge", he went of Africa to hunt lions. The old hunters laughed and called him a fool when he told them of his plans to hunt lions with hounds and horses. From his ranch in Nairobi he brought back excellent specimens of wild life to be hung in the trophy room of his lodge. He also took and developed the first pictures of big game in Africa. When he decided to make these pictures he took off from his hunt until he had completely mastered the art of photography and then resumed his hunt.

An old Kenya settler attributed to Paul Rainey more than to others far better known than he the honor of opening up of East Africa. He Said:

He brought back the first motion pictures of African big game, took the first major safari into the wild Northern District, and his hunts attracted international notice.

Only by paying fantastic wages did Rainey find a hunter with enough fortitude to act as his guide to hunt with hounds and horses. The natives thought this impossible for there were many ant bear holes and gullies that dotted the Kenyan landscape. But to the amazement of the natives and settlers, Rainey was very successful on his hunts and he gained the respect and admiration of the white villagers and natives. A white hunter with Rainey commented: "He was the only man I've seen who was completely without fear." Rainey kept up his reckless horseback dashes for lions at breakneck speeds for six consecutive years. Finally the British government set up laws limiting to four a year the number of lions he could kill.

An angry mob of ostrich raisers marched on the capitol in protest of the passage of these laws because Rainey had been protecting their farms from lions. The government rescinded the restriction and permitted Rainey to hunt within the boundaries of a private ranch. And since some of the ranches were fifty-thousand acres, he still had plenty of room for his hunts. But somehow the hunts were never the same and he returned to the "lodge".

Rainey's adventuresome and roving instincts led him all over the world in search of some kind of contentment that he seemed never to find. He pioneered the field of motion pictures in Africa and some of his pictures were used in early movies about Africa. His stories and pictures appeared in many notable magazines in the early 1900's. He was the first man to build a railroad in Africa. The natives loved him and called him "The White God". He was the first man ever to go among some of the fiercest tribes in Africa.

An interesting sidelight to his hunting in Kenya, he played a crucial part in preventing Kenya from being Governed by the Germans. Because he resented the German raids that were interfering with his hunting sport, he sent to America for bloodhounds to track down the Germans that were mining the Kenya railroads. He did such a thorough job of it that the Germans finally relinquished their hold on Kenya. He was captured twice by the Germans and twice he escaped.

Because he was not accepted for military service in World War I, he bought an ambulance, outfitted himself, and drove it himself in France. Later on in the war he became the official photographer for the Red Cross.

In his search for adventure he followed the trail of Captain Cook and went as far north as the Cook expedition when they discovered the North Pole. On an expedition with Harry Whitney tot he Arctic he brought back "Silver King", the great polar bear donated by him to the Bronx Zoo.

He was an active enthusiast in such sports as track car racing, steeple chase riding, polo, and yachting. Polo especially caught his attention, and he was a member of the first American team ever to defeat the British. He was presented tot he King and Queen of England and awarded a silver serving tray for his efforts.

He built a large polo field and for the benefit of the South brought the famous Long Island team to play. Rainey devoted this entire life to sports, an d the more dangerous the sport, the better he like it.

In 1923, Rainey went to England, got together a new pack of dogs, and took passage for Capetown on the first leg of his journey, planning to do some hunting in South Africa before going to India to hunt tigers with his hounds. He never reached Capetown, for he died and was buried at sea. An old legend retold in True Magazine tolls of his death:

One of Rainey's fellow passengers was a dark-skinned, oriental gentleman, immaculate in dress and manner, about whom there was an aura of mystery. It was rumored that this man possessed strange powers and was an ardent student of the occult. One evening in the ships lounge, Rainey saw the dark oriental dancing with a lovely white woman. Rainey had lived in Mississippi and in Kenya and in both places the color line is sharply drawn. Breaking in on the couple, he snapped, "No black man is going to dance with a white woman while I'm around." The oriental left without comment. At the lounge door he turned and said quietly, "You will not live to see the sun go down on your next birthday." Rainey roared with amusement. "You don't know it, but tomorrow is my birthday. I'm not going to die before then." The next day, Rainey was in fine spirits. He gave a big party in the lounge but toward the end he complained of dizziness. Then he collapsed. The ship's doctor was unable to save him, and he died that night. He was forty-six years old.

Other legends sprang up that he only faked death to escape the clutches of Mrs. Graham. But still others have a less dramatic theory of his death. Shelly says that she feels he died of over drinking. He could only hold one drink because of a head injury received in a steeple chase ride.

When the news of his death came back to Cotton Plant, the people were shocked, amazed, and disbelieving. Many of the Negro servants refused to believe his death for many years. For years afterwards when a black limousine pulled up to the lodge, they thought that it was the master returning home. And when a plane's engine was heard the Negroes scurried about to ready the "lodge" for its master.

From September 18, 1877, to September 18, 1923, Paul Rainey put his marks on the world and a mark on Tippah and Union County legends that will be remembered for countless generations.

Shelly said this of Mr. Rainey:

I was sorry to see him go. With his brains, his money, and his courage, there was nothing he couldn't have done if he'd put his mind to it. But the greatest joy he could find in life was riding full tilt after the hounds. Somehow that gave him the thrill and satisfaction that he found nowhere else in the world.

Cannan School

1913 or 1914
(Located in Northeast Benton County, MS)

Teacher is Miss Pearl Talbert Crawford (standing extreme left)
Back row is graduating class
Back row left to right: Henry Carroll, Ernest Anderson, Annie Aldridge (Middleton), Earl Bynum, Bula Sorrell (Pulliam), Clinton R. Middleton, Betty Fortner, Luther Sorrell, Doss Carrell
Second Row Left to Right: Alva Sorrell, Vernon Rowland, Alfred Doyle, Lonnie Sorrell, Maynard Bynum,
Mary Lydia Fortner, Lonnie Doyle
Front Row Seated Left to Right: Arley Doyle, Lillie Mae Bogard (Pankey), Glendale Leath, Blanch Sorrell, Wayne McKenzie, Raymond Rowland, Euna Leath (Crenshaw), Rubye Aldridge (Jordan),
Standing: Bynum Bogard

This list was identified by Euna Leath Crenshaw in Augutst of 1991 --at that time only 3 pictured were living:
Lillie Mae Bogard Pankey, Raymond Rowland and Euna Leath (Crenshaw)



Ashland High School Seniors
1937

Old School in Benton County around 1910



Left to right:
Front row: Velma Kimery, Willard Kimery, Evie Umbarger, Norine Kimery, Lillian Riley, Nathan Umbarger, Th(can't read) Finley, Addie Gross.
Second Row: Nannie Kimery, Ida Riley, Myrtle Umbarger, Annie Gross, Mable Finley, Dewey Finley, Tom Brown, Jim Brown, Nathan Umbarger.
Third Row: Jim (James Franklin) Kimery (trustee), Millie Kimery, Sam Umbarger, Mellie Umbarger, Will Umbarger, Annie Kimery, Dee Umbarger, Ethel Umbarger, Leonard Kimery, Bluford Lane, (Can't read) Kimery, Lee Lane, Mr. Will Finley (teacher).
Back Row: Ellis Lane, Jim Nunley(?).

Notable people:

William Faulkner, Nobel Prize winning author.

William Faulkner (born William Cuthbert Falkner), (September 25, 1897–July 6, 1962) was an American author. One of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, he was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. His reputation is based on his novels, novellas, and short stories. However, he was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.

Most of Faulkner's works are set in his native state of Mississippi, and he is considered one of the most important "Southern writers," along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams. While his work was published regularly starting in the mid 1920s, he was relatively unknown before receiving the Nobel Prize. He is now deemed among the greatest American writers of all time.


William Faulkner's Underwood Universal Portable typewriter in his office at Rowan Oak, which is now maintained by the University of Mississippi in Oxford as a museum.

Faulkner was born William Cuthbert Falkner in New Albany, Mississippi. He was raised in and heavily influenced by the state of Mississippi, as well as by the history and culture of the South as a whole. When he was four years old, his entire family moved to the nearby town of Oxford, where he lived on and off for the rest of his life. Oxford is the model for the town of "Jefferson" in his fiction, and Lafayette County, Mississippi, which contains the town of Oxford, is the model for his fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Faulkner's great-grandfather, William Clark Falkner, was an important figure in northern Mississippi who served as a colonel in the Confederate Army, founded a railroad, and gave his name to the town of Falkner in nearby Tippah County. He also wrote several novels and other works, establishing a literary tradition in the family. Colonel Falkner served as the model for Colonel John Sartoris in his great-grandson's writing.

The older Falkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which they lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of blacks and whites, his characterization of Southern characters and timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the fa├žades of good old boys and simpletons. Unable to join the United States Army because of his height, (he was 5' 5½"), Faulkner first joined the Canadian and then the British Royal Air Force, yet did not see any World War I wartime action.

The definitive reason for Faulkner's change in the spelling of his last name is still unknown. Faulkner himself may have made the change in 1918 upon joining the Air Force or, according to one story, a careless typesetter simply made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of Faulkner's first book and the author was asked about it, he supposedly replied, "Either way suits me."

Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was living in New Orleans in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers' Pay, after being influenced by Sherwood Anderson to try fiction. The small house at 624 Pirate's Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral, is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, and also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society.

Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia from 1957 until his death at Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi of a heart attack at the age of 64.

Hubert D. Stephens, U.S. Senator from Mississippi.

Hubert Durett Stephens (July 2, 1875–March 14, 1946) was an American politician who served as a Democratic United States Senator from Mississippi from 1923 until 1935.

Stephens was born in New Albany, Mississippi. He graduated from the University of Mississippi law school and soon began to practice law in New Albany.

Stephens served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1911 to 1921; in his final term he did not run for re-election, but he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1922. In 1934, he was defeated by Theodore Bilbo in the primary.

Stephens was the director of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation from 1935 to 1936. After that, he practiced law in Washington, D.C. before retiring to his Mississippi farm in 1941.

Eli Whiteside, catcher for the Baltimore Orioles.

Dustin Eli Whiteside (born October 22, 1979 in New Albany, Mississippi) is a catcher for the San Francisco Giants organization of Major League Baseball. He played previously for the Baltimore Orioles, making his big-league debut in 2005.

Bettie Wilson, woman lived to 115,

Bettie Wilson

Bettie Rutherford Wilson (September 13, 1890 – February 13, 2006)[17] became the oldest verified living person in the United States with the death of fellow 114-year-old Emma Verona Johnston on December 1, 2004. She lost this designation when the age of Elizabeth Bolden was verified in April 2005. Both were born in the rural South—where they lived less than 100 miles apart.

Born of freed slaves, she is the oldest resident of the state of Mississippi ever recorded (the previous record was 113 years and 12 days set in 1994). Her oldest son, Will Rogers, was said to be born October 27, 1909—making him 96 years old himself at the time (although the 1930 census lists him as 19 years old in April 1930, indicating that he was 95 instead). In late April 2005, Mrs. Wilson moved into a new home funded by donations.

Wilson celebrated her 115th birthday in September 2005, at which time she ranked as the third-oldest living person in the world.

Wilson died at her New Albany home on February 13, 2006, aged 115 years and 153 days. She was survived by the aforementioned son, five grandchildren, 46 great-grandchildren, 95 great-great-grandchildren and 38 great-great-great grandchildren.

As of June 2008, Wilson is listed as one of the 20 longest lived people ever.


New Albany, Mississippi (upper left) is northwest of Tupelo, via Highway 78.

Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site commemorates the Battle of Brice's Crossroads, in which the Confederate army, under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, defeated a much larger Union force on June 10, 1864, to ultimately secure supply lines between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Memorial at Brices Cross Roads NBS

The site, in extreme northern Lee County, preserves only one acre of the much larger historic battlefield (which extended northward into southwestern Prentiss County). This is the spot where the Brice family house once stood. It is located about 6 miles (10 km) west of Baldwyn, Mississippi, on Mississippi Highway 370. The site features a memorial erected soon after the site's establishment in 1929. In addition, on June 11, 2005, a second memorial was dedicated to Confederate Capt. John W. Morton, Chief of Artillery, and his battery. Brices Cross Roads is the only National Battlefield Site in the United States National Park System.

The modern Bethany Presbyterian Church sits on the southeast side of the crossroads. At the time of the battle this congregation's meeting house was located further south along the Baldwyn Road. However, the Bethany Cemetery adjacent to the Park Service site predates the Civil War. Many of the area's earliest settlers are buried here. The graves of more than 90 Confederate soldiers killed in the battle are also located in this cemetery. Union dead from the battle were buried in common graves on the battlefield, but were later reinterred in Memphis National Cemetery at Memphis, Tennessee.

The Brice's Crossroads Visitor Center is located Baldwyn. It is owned and operated by a public commission. Brice's Crossroads National Battlefield Commission, Inc., formed in 1994 by concerned local citizens, is also involved in protecting the greater battlefield, which is considered one of the most beautiful preserved battlefields of the Civil War. With assistance from the Civil War Preservation Trust (formerly the APCWS and the Civil War Trust), and the support of federal, state, and local governments, the commission has purchased for preservation over 800 acres (3.2 km2) of the original battlefield.