From a Mississippi regiment’s four-legged member to millions in unpaid debt, here are ten insane events from the state’s past that you won’t find in history books.
1. Until 1972, the Mississippi State Penitentiary issued firearms to select inmates, who were otherwise known as “trusty shooters.”
These inmates acted as prison guards and assisted with controlling the other inmates on a day-to-day basis.
2. In a 2012 article in Rolling Stone, writer Alex Belth claimed that Jerry Lee Lewis was responsible for the death of his wife and that Mississippi authorities aided the famous musician in covering up the crime.
Check out Belth’s article
3. Following the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, Mississippi formed the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission.
The group claimed its goal was to “preserve a segregated society and oppose school integration;” however, in reality, the group harassed and spied on Civil Rights activists, claiming many of them were “racial agitators and communist infiltrators.” The photo above was taken by the Commission.
The “numbered” individuals were protesting the death of JSU student and Civil Rights worker Benjamin Brown.
4. During the Civil War, a camel by the name of Old Douglas was part of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment, Company A.
The camel was part of an experimental program by the United States Army, which aimed to find alternative methods of transportation. Sadly, Old Douglas was killed by a sharpshooter during the Siege of Vicksburg.
5. Since General Grant believed residents of Jewish decent were running a black market in southern cotton, he ordered the expulsion of all Jews in his military district, which was comprised of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi.
General Grant issued the order in December of 1862.
6. Two years prior to James Meredith becoming the first African American admitted to the University of Mississippi, Clennon W. King, Jr. tried to enroll in the college; however, the results were much different.
When King showed up on campus, he was met by campus police and admitted to the state psychiatric hospital in Jackson. The reasoning was that “any black in Mississippi who applied to Ole Miss must be insane.”
7. In 1841, Mississippi defaulted on $7 million worth of bonds, which the state previously borrowed from creditors in England. Rather than repay the debt, Mississippi amended its constitution – the amendment prohibited repayment in its entirety.
8. The country’s first serial killers were Micajah “Big” Harpe and Wiley “Little” Harpe. Known as the Harpe Brothers, the murderous duo was known to wreak havoc in Mississippi, especially along the Natchez Trace.
9. Although the 13th amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, was ratified in 1865, the state of Mississippi didn’t officially ratify the amendment until 2013.
After watching the movie “Lincoln,” Mississippi resident Ranjan Batra did some research, realized the state never ratified the amendment, and contacted state officials.
10. In the 1940s, Pascagoula residents were terrorized by the Phantom Barber. The infamous hairstylist would break into residents’ homes and cut their hair while they slept.
To this day, the Phantom Barber has never been identified.
What are some other lesser-known, unbelievable events that occurred in Mississippi’s past?