Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Yazoo City, MS
Yazoo City is a city in Yazoo County, Mississippi, United States. It was named after the Yazoo River, which, in turn was named by the French explorer Robert La Salle. "Yazoo" is said to be of Native American origin, meaning "River of Death". It is the county seat of Yazoo County and the principal city of the Yazoo City Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Jackson–Yazoo City Combined Statistical Area. According to the 2000 census, the population was 14,550.
Triangle Cultural Center
This tour enables your group the opportunity to stretch their legs, use the bathroom facilities, or perhaps eat a donut. The museums will be open for their touring if they so desire, or they may just sit in the auditorium and listen to some beautiful music. We will have staff available to answer any questions and let them know a little about this unique community called "Yazoo".
Welcome to Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
Fishing on Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Holly Cook, USFWS
... one of seven refuges in the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Established in 1978, Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 38,697 acres. Included in those acres is one of the largest blocks (21,000 acres) of bottomland forest in the lower Mississippi River alluvial floodplain. In addition to providing resting and feeding areas for over 100,000 wintering waterfowl annually, the refuge also provides habitat for 200 species of neotropical migratory songbirds. Resident species making their home among the woodlands, sloughs, and reforested areas include the American alligator, whitetail deer, swamp rabbit, wild turkey, squirrel, and various small fur-bearers.
Yazoo City is located 40 miles northwest of Jackson, Mississippi at the junctions of US Highways 49, 49E, and 49W, and MS Highways 3, 16, and 149, on the banks of the Yazoo River, near the Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
Historic District Walking Tour
US 49W provides a fairly direct link between Yazoo City and Belzoni. The old highway segment has been renamed MS 149. MS 149 passes through Panther Creek Swamp NWR and the communities of Louise and Midnight before it reconnects with the new US 49W at Silver City, 7 miles south of Belzoni. The new highway makes the town of Carter so near that it might be considered for annexation by Yazoo City in a few years. There are now two bridges across the Yazoo River at Yazoo City.
Yazoo City Bridge Over The Yazoo River
The section of MS 3 in Yazoo City is called Haley Barbour Parkway. Haley Barbour, the current governor of Mississippi, grew up in Yazoo City and has a home on Wolf Lake, a lake north of Yazoo City. US Highway 49 (part of which was formerly US 49E) through Yazoo City is named Jerry Clower Boulevard, after the famous comedian, a former resident of Yazoo City.
Yazoo City is also known as the "Gateway to the Delta" due to its location on the transition between the two great landforms that characterize the geography of Mississippi (the western part of town lies in the Mississippi delta and the eastern part lies in the loess bluffs that characterize most of eastern Mississippi). It is also known as the Couth and Cultural Center of the Southeastern United States.
The community now known as Yazoo City was founded in 1824, originally with the name Hannan's Bluff. The town was later renamed Manchester then changed to Yazoo City in 1839. Yazoo City became the Yazoo County seat in 1849.
A Yellow Fever epidemic struck Yazoo City in 1853.
During the American Civil War, a makeshift shipyard was established on the Yazoo River at Yazoo City after the Confederate loss of New Orleans. The shipyard was destroyed by Union forces in 1863, then Yazoo City fell back into Confederate hands. Union forces retook the city the following year and burned most of the buildings in the city.
Yellow Fever returned to take more victims in 1878.
In 1904 a fire destroyed much of central Yazoo City. According to local legend, this fire was the result of a witch avenging her death. In actuality, a boy accidentally set a house ablaze while playing with matches. Three-fourths of the town was destroyed, including almost all the houses, as the fire quickly spread due to high winds that day. The fire stopped at a canal , sparing the courthouse (built in 1872) and ten antebellum homes located behind it. The town was rebuilt within two years.
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 did much damage to the entire Delta, but Yazoo City was restored and is now protected by an effective flood prevention system.
Yazoo City is the childhood home of:
Blues musician Tommy McClennan
Tommy McClennan (April 8, 1908 - 1962?) was a delta blues singer and guitarist.
McClennan was born on a farm near Yazoo City, Mississippi and grew up in the town. He played and sang blues in a rough, energetic style.
He made a series of recordings for Bluebird Records from 1939 through 1942 and regularly played with his friend Robert Petway. He can be heard shouting in the background on Petway's 1942 recording "Boogie Woogie Woman".
McClennan made an immediate impact in 1940 with his recordings of "Shake 'Em On Down", "Bottle It Up and Go" and "New Highway No.51".
He left a powerful legacy that included "Bottle It Up and Go," "Cross Cut Saw Blues" (covered by Albert King), "Deep Blue Sea Blues" (aka "Catfish Blues"), and others whose lasting power has been evidenced through the repertoires and re-recordings of other artists.
Although nothing is known of what happened to Petway, McClennan was occasionally seen in Chicago with Elmore James and Little Walter, two other artists who came from the Delta. McClennan is reported to have died from alcoholism in poverty in Chicago, Illinois, in 1962
N. A. "Bubba" Mott, Former editor Owner Yazoo City Herald;
Writer Willie Morris,
William Weaks "Willie" Morris (November 29, 1934 — August 2, 1999), was an American writer and editor born in Jackson, Mississippi, though his family later moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, which he immortalized in his works of prose. Morris' trademark was his lyrical prose style and reflections on the American South, particularly the Mississippi Delta. In 1967 he became the youngest editor of Harper's Magazine. He wrote several works of fiction and non-fiction, including his seminal book North Toward Home.
My Dog Skip is an autobiographical book by Willie Morris. The story is about 10-year-old Willie growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, a tale of a boy and his dog in a small Southern town that teaches us about family, friendship, love, devotion and bravery. Willie and Skip's relationship goes beyond that of owner and dog, but is a relationship recognized and celebrated by the entire town. Excerpt:
You could talk to him as well as you could to many human beings, and much better than you could to some. He would sit down and look you straight in the eye, a long, mesmerizing gaze, and when he understood what you were saying he would turn his head sideways, back and forth, oscillating his whole body like the pendulum on a clock.
In 2000, the book was made into the film My Dog Skip. A number of Jack Russell terriers were used in filming, one of which was Moose, who portrayed Eddie on NBC's sitcom Frasier. The dog used in the film was trained by Mathilde DeCagny.
And inspirational speaker, Zig Ziglar.
Jerry Clower, born and raised in Liberty, Mississippi, became famous while a resident of Yazoo City.
One of the most highly acclaimed country comedians and a member of the Grand Ole Opry from 1973 until his death in 1998, recording artist, writer, and “racoonteur” Jerry Clower could be heard spinning tales for the public about his Mississippi roots for more than a quarter of a century.
He was born September 28, 1926, in Liberty, Mississippi. The day after he finished high school, he joined the Navy and served on the aircraft carrier Bennington in the Pacific during World War II. When he returned to Mississippi after the war, he attended college on football scholarships at Southwest Mississippi Junior College and Mississippi State University, where he received a degree in agriculture.
He served as an assistant county agent in Oxford, Mississippi, for a couple of years. Then, maintaining his close ties with the soil, he took a job in Yazoo City as a fertilizer salesman for the Mississippi Chemical Corporation, a manufacturer of chemical plant foods, where he stayed for 18 years and eventually rose to the position of director of field services. In the process of making sales, he began telling prospective customers humorous stories about his childhood to improve sales. Eventually, a friend taped one of his talks and sent it to MCA Records in Nashville. The result was his first comedy album in 1970, Jerry Clower from Yazoo City, Mississippi Talkin’. Within a month, the album had achieved gold status, selling more than 500,000 copies.
He first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 1973 and continued to tour extensively and record. A staple of his comedy is the Ledbetter clan, a fictional family whose humorous antics are more than funny; they chronicle life in the rural South of the 20th century. Undergirding his comedy is Clower’s strong religious beliefs. A Southern Baptist, Clower has served as a lay minister and as a deacon in his hometown church, and he has hosted a Christian radio show and syndicated television show. He is married to the former Homerline Wells, his childhood sweetheart, and they have four children.
In addition to his live performances, Clower has also published four best-selling books. Ain’t God Good came out in 1975 and was the basis and title for a documentary film which won an award from the New York International Film Festival in the category of Ethics and Religion. It was followed by Let the Hammer Down! in 1979 and Life Everlaughter in 1987. In 1992, the University Press of Mississippi published his most recent book, Stories from Home, a collection of his best tales and a serious look at the man behind the persona.
In the foreword to Stories from Home, fellow Mississippi writer Willie Morris wrote that Clower’s comic art demonstrates the richness of the spoken language of the South “in all its inwardness and nuance and sweep — the extravagant country talk, as lyrical as much of southern literature, and in the lineal ancestry of southern writing.” He concludes that Jerry Clower’s humor is “rooted in a region, but is not regional.” Laughter is the force that connects people from all regions in his work of art.
Clower died in Jackson, Mississippi, on August 24, 1998, five days after undergoing heart bypass surgery. He was 71 years old.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour,
Barbour, the youngest of three sons, was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he was raised, to Jeptha Fowlkes Barbour, Jr. (1913 – 1950) and wife Grace LeFlore Johnson (1918 – 1973). His father, a lawyer, died when Barbour was two years old. He attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, but skipped the first semester of his senior year to work on Richard Nixon's 1968 election campaign. He never earned a bachelor's degree. At the age of twenty-two, he ran the 1970 census for the state of Mississippi. He enrolled at the University of Mississippi Law School, receiving a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1972. Subsequently he joined his father's law firm in Yazoo City.
James Robert Simmons,
Thea Bowman, Roman Catholic sister, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration,
Tommy McClennan, blues musician,
Della Reese, jazz singer.
Della Reese (born Delloreese Patricia Early on July 6, 1931), is an American actress and singer. She started her career in the late 1950s as a jazz singer, best known for her 1959 hit single "Don't You Know". She subsequently became an actress, best known as playing Tess on the television show Touched by an Angel. Today, she is also an ordained New Thought minister in the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church in Los Angeles, California. She is of half African-American and half Cherokee descent.
Robert Tannock, philosopher, minister.
Michael Passons, contemporary Christian artist, former member of Christian music group Avalon.
Michael Passons (b. October 29, 1965), a native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, is the founding member of the Christian band Avalon. After moving to Nashville in 1990, he began to meet and collaborate with friends in the music industry which ultimately led to him receiving an offer to help assemble a band with Sparrow Records (EMI) in 1995. The band made their debut November 1995 in San Jose, California at the start of the multi-city arena tour "The Young Messiah" alongside such legendary artists as Steven Curtis Chapman, CeCe Winans, and Michael W. Smith.
This proved to be an excellent launching pad for the foursome who later garnered two gold records, countless number one hits, 6 GMA awards, 3 GRAMMY nominations, a 2003 American Music Award for "Favorite Artist Contemporary Inspiration", and their hit song "Testify to Love" would eventually be named one of the top gospel songs of all time.
After eight years with Avalon, Passons departed to seek out a new path in his music career which has included an opening spot on tour with Christian super group Point of Grace. With the departure of Heather Payne, Shelley Breen has noted some of the group's traditional older four-part harmonies are being rearranged so when Passons is touring with the now-trio, he will fill in the fourth part, as Mrs. Breen noted, "Most of the time when it's four part (harmony), one part is doubled in octaves, so we just drop one of the octaves, or we have Michael sing it!"
Passons has on many occasions led worship at Clearview Baptist Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Point of Grace member Leigh Cappillino has also helped lead worship at the church alongside Passons.
And Ed Cortright.
The area which is now Yazoo County was acquired by the State of Mississippi from the Choctaw Indians in 1820. Yazoo County was established on January 21, 1823. It was the 19th county established in the State of Mississippi, and remains the largest in area. The first county seat was at Beattie's Bluff, Mississippi. In 1829 the county seat was moved to Benton. In 1849 the county seat was moved once again, to Yazoo City where it remains.
Yazoo County was a battlefield in 1863 and 1864 during the American Civil War.
The famous railroad disaster which killed engineer Casey Jones took place in Yazoo County, just north of Vaughan, Mississippi, in 1900.
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 did much damage in Yazoo County.
Comedian Jerry Clower was a native of Liberty, Mississippi, who immortalized the fictitious Ledbetter Amite County family (based on his memories of real people) with his comedy sketches. His humor was always gentle, upbeat, and deeply based on his Christian faith. Jerry attended Mississippi State University, and was employed by the Mississippi Chemical Company of Yazoo City. He died shortly after building a new home in his native Amite County
Greg Harkins Woodworks
Greg Harkins is a Chairmaker who uses work techniques passed down from the mid 1800's. He has made chairs for 20 years, three of these as an apprentice under a Master Chairmaker. Greg is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Psychology. He is a Member and sits on the Board of Directors for the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi. In addition, he is a member of the American Craft Council and the Louisiana Craft Council.
Greg has preserved a once dying craft by hand turning parts and using techniques to make extremely durable and fine quality chairs. Each piece is dated and hand signed by Greg and guaranteed for life. Greg hand picks each tree for lumber sawed to his specifications to make chair parts. Each chair takes approximately 25 hours to make. The backs and bottoms of each chair are also woven by hand.
This year Greg is also working on a new line of "Natural" furniture made from hickory trees and branches which are selected for their particular shapes and burls. Each piece is hand-stripped and chair bottoms are hand woven from the bark from the same tree. This can only be done in the spring time when the sap is rising. Consequently, large amounts of time is spent in the woods collecting materials to last the entire year.
Greg is world renown for his craft. His creations are in 20 countries and in the homes of many famous people such as President Bill Clinton: Former Presidents George Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter; Former Vice President Dan Quayle, Paul Harvey, Bob Hope, George Burns, Pope John Paul II, John Glenn, and many others. In addition, his famous "Plantation Rocker" was presented to all the Southern Governors at the Southeastern Governor's Conference in 1990.