HISTORY OF BOONEVILLE
Written By Marie Gullett - 1990
Booneville is located in the northeastern corner of Mississippi . It was named for the Boone family who settled here before 1859. By the year 1850, the region comprising the county has become thickly populated with an excellent class of emigrants from Virginia , the Carolinas, Tennessee , and Alabama . These settlers were mainly Anglo-Saxon or British. Minutes of old Tishomingo County , the Twelfth Administration dated 1860 states, "Booneville, a new town on the Mobil and Ohio Railroad, has been growing rapidly." Families that had settled near the Natchez Trace (The main road at that time) and on the water-ways were seeing a new and better transportation for their products. By the year 1860, Tishomingo County was one of the wealthiest counties in the South. Booneville was incorporated in 1861.
War clouds were gathering and Mississippi was the second state to secede from the Union . During the Civil War, Booneville was not left untouched . She was constantly in the path of advancing and retreating armies. Booneville was not the site of a major battle of the Civil War, but there were many skirmishes, looting, raiding and burning. 15,000 federal troops encamped near Booneville. and in 1862, 40,000 federal troops passed through Booneville going south. On June 9, 1864, General Nathan Bedford Forrest and S.C. Lee spent the night in Booneville and planned the battle of Brice's Cross Roads. At the close of the war in 1865, Booneville witnessed all the hardships of reconstruction. In 1870 Prentiss County was created principally from Tishomingo County with a part of Tippah County and a small part Itawamba County . These sturdy pioneers began to build schools, churches, and businesses. Booneville was made the county seat and immediately built a large columned courthouse costing approximately $15,000. When the courthouse burned, it was replaced with a beautiful domed structure at a cost of $35,000 in 1905. This building burned in 1924 and was replaced with the present one at the cost of $60,000. Renovation is being considered at this time (1990).
Beautiful homes began to appear in the late 1860s and early 1870s. The colonial home of Dr. William Taylor was built during the Civil War. He established scholarships at Ole Miss in memory of his son, Dr. Marcus Taylor. These funds are still available today. Many large Victorian homes were built along with white-frame cottages. The people soon showed an interest in not only their material well-being but also their educational, cultural, and spiritual welfare.
The Booneville Institute and the Booneville Normal School were early names that appeared in news clippings and the Congressional Record. In 1876 the Booneville listed the following: "Besides primary branches the courses embraced higher learning" - Higher arithmetic, algebra, Robinson's University Algebra, English, grammar, Latin, Caesar, Horace, Livy, geometry, trigonometry, astronomy, and Grecian history. The town was blessed with good newspapers, banks, schools and churches. The civic organizations and clubs have been an important part of our growth. There have been many "firsts” in Booneville. The first Miss Mississippi was a Booneville girl. The first hospital built in the nation under the Hill-Burton Plan was dedicated in 1949 in Booneville. Participating in the State Hospitality Program, Booneville won the first award to be presented in Mississippi in 1958. First place also awarded Booneville in 1955 & 1957.
The City of Hospitality as we are often called can afford to take a step back and remember the men and women of vision. The old and new are blended together to make Booneville historical as well as modern. The beautiful Northeast Mississippi Community College campus is an example of the new as is the George E. Allen Library, a beautiful and useful structure to our citizens. The George E. Allen room is filled with memorabilia of his days in Washington as advisor and friend to several Presidents. (A must to visit) The new Baptist Memorial Hospital with excellent doctors, nurses and staff is another example of the new.
Yes, we love this place called Booneville. Just ask some of the sixth generation that would never live any other place.
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