Life in small town Mississippi is pretty ordinary. However, every once in a while, whether due to tragedy or triumph, one of the state’s more obscure towns is thrust into the national spotlight; here are 10 of those times.
This small town made a huge contribution during World War II, sending more men to serve in the war than any other town of its size. To put it into perspective, 38% of the town’s men went off to war, an act that earned D’Lo a feature in Life Magazine.
On October 20, 1977, this unincorporated community in Amite County was the site of the infamous Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash. The twin engine plane that was transporting the group crash landed in a swamp, killing three band members, a tour manager, and both pilots immediately.
Now an unincorporated community, Dockery Farms was at one of the most important plantations in the Delta, and even included its own elementary school, churches, post office, railroad depot, and more. Many of the men who worked at the farm, including blues legend Charley Patton, would spend their downtime playing music, resulting in what came to be known as the blues.
4. Mississippi City
The world’s first modern heavyweight championship fight took place in Mississippi City. The term “knock-out” was actually coined during the fight when, after eight rounds, John L. Sullivan defeated Paddy Ryan.
In August of 1955, 14 year old Emmett Till was visiting family in Money when he was reportedly seen flirting with a white woman - an act that would result in his brutal slaying. While horrendous, the murder of the young teenager galvanized the emerging Civil Rights Movement.
It was in this small town that railroad engineer Casey Jones lost his life when the train he was traveling in collided with another that was stalled on the tracks. The horrific accident and Jones’ heroic efforts that day have been immortalized in songs by several artists, including Furry Lewis and Mississippi John Hurt.
The country’s only nuclear tests east of the Rocky Mountains took place in Lamar County at Salmon Site, a 1,470-acre tract of land located over a geological formation known as the Tatum Salt Dome. The nuclear testing was performed in October of 1964, and as records indicate, nearby residents felt three different shocks, the soil rose and moved like waves in the ocean, dogs howled, and pecans fell from trees. Two years after the initial nuclear test, another was conducted in the same location.
8. Port Gibson
The 1863 Battle of Port Gibson was an essential part of the Vicksburg Campaign as well as a turning point for the Confederacy. The Union’s victory meant that occupying Vicksburg was a viable option, and it also signified the Confederate’s inability to defend the Mississippi River. Resulting in over 200 deaths of both Union and Confederate soldiers, the Port Gibson Battlefield is an important reminder of the sacrifices made during war.
Jim Henson may have been born in Greenville, but his lovable green creation was born in the small town of Leland. And to commemorate America’s most beloved muppet, the Chamber of Commerce has an exhibit dedicated to Henson, Kermit the Frog, and the rest of the gang.
In 1834, Captain Isaac Ross freed slaves from his Lorman plantation and made arrangements for them to return to Africa. It was this group of slaves who founded Liberia. Ross’ kindness hasn’t been forgotten as Liberian representatives have since visited his grave.
Were you already aware of the things listed above? What are some other small Mississippi towns where really memorable events occurred? Share your thoughts below.