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Coor Springs, the first county seat

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05/30/14 was the last day I modified this page.

Submitted by Charlotte Ramsay , great great granddaughter of Ann Jemima Coor Welch and great great great granddaughter of John Coor.

The Clarion Ledger Jackson Daily News, Sunday, January 28, 1973.



By Dorothy Alford

IIf one were to travel south on Thomas Road from Crystal Springs and take the left at the sign pointing toward Bethesda Church, he would pass the cemetery and the small church then the old Bridges home, and would suddenly see on his right a large gate with a sign saying "Coor Springs." The traveler has arrived at the site of a prosperous village of old; but entering the gate and wandering through the pines, one no longer finds the stores and the large hotel that were once there.

Exploring, the lover of old days long past will come to an imposing monument in an otherwise pastoral setting. He will also find that the soil is sodden with the waters of many springs. Once this lovely wooded area was a very popular health resort, a "watering place" that was much sought by people of Mississippi and of bordering states.

But more intriguing is the fact revealed by the monument:  when Copiah County was organized on January 23, 1823, Coor Springs was its first seat of justice. The first probate court and the first orphan's court were held on this spot by Judge Barnabas Allen. Even the first courthouse was erected on this site.

The late Robert H. Thompson of Jackson wrote in 1922:  "Before the creation of Simpson County, Copiah County had built a courthouse and administered county affairs at Coor Springs." Family tradition had informed Judge Thompson that his grandfather, who had settled "somewhere near and west of Pearl River," had taken the contract for building the courthouse though he was not a builder and had to depend upon the skill of one of his gifted slaves.

Further proof of the early existence of this seat of government is found in the record of the act of January 21, 1823, which gives the official boundaries of the new county of Copiah and further states:  "...the courts for said county shall be holden at the house of John Core..."

The name, Coor, was spelled variously; sometimes it appeared as Core; sometimes, as Coar; and sometimes, even as Coon. But the proper spelling of Coor is maintained by descendants.

John Coor, the first sheriff of Copiah County and the grandfather of Tim Ervin Cooper who served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Mississippi, was a very prominent man. One of the few places of holding elections in the county was "at the residence of John Core."

But the seat of government of the county did not remain at Coor Springs very long. When Simpson County was formed from a part of Copiah in 1824, county business was moved to Gallatin, west of the site of Hazelhurst. According to historians, Coor Springs could have occupied its important position legally only one year and two days.

For many years Coor Springs had been a neglected place when Jack P. Lawson of Hazelhurst became much interested in its past glory. Since it truly represented the origin of Copiah County, he felt it should receive proper recognition. Mr. Lawson worked untiringly on his project. He investigated records, appealed to relatives of the Coor family and to other interested citizens, cleared the grounds, had a road cut, planted Magnolias, and even poured the concrete for the base of a suitable marker.

On October 9, 1966, Dr. William McCain delivered a speech of dedication at Coor Springs as a fitting historical marker was set as a memorial to the founders of Copiah County and to the site of its first government.

Many from Dr. McCain's audience were interested to learn that the area was probably occupied first by the Natchez Indians who, after the massacre of Fort Rosealie, were driven across the Mississippi and almost exterminated. But it was the Choctaws who lived on the soil for many years and left countless proofs of their occupancy.

The white man had not really been free to settle there until the Treaty of Doak's Stand, October 18, 1820. It was then that Pushmataha, the great Chieftain of the Choctaws, was finally persuaded by Andrew Jackson and Thomas Hinds to agree to exchanging the Big Black River country for land in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Among the early settlers were John Coor and his family. Other prominent families in the vicinity during the early days were those of John Kethley, John Mathis, and Seth Granberry. Surnames frequently mentioned in the early history, include Welch, Norman, Howell, Sexton, and Sandifer.

Approximately one thousand people gathered at Coor Springs for the dedication of the marker. They found the only sign of the occupants of the past to be a small neglected cemetery. The number of tiny graves grouped about mothers and fathers spoke mutely of the tragedy of the high rate of infant mortality. All the records available from these moss-grown stones were, some years ago, carefully copied by Miss Fanny Cook and incorporated into a book.

Many descendants of the Coor family were present at the dedicatory services. Among these were Mrs. Margaret Coor Slaton, Albert Coor, Harry Coor, Babs Coor, Mrs. Lula May Coor Tillman, and Mrs. Mary Jean Coor of Jackson; Mrs. Polly Coor of Osyka; Mrs. Helen Slay Moore of Winnsboro, Louisiana; Miss Kate Sexton of New Orleans; and Earl Alford of Crystal Springs.

Two descendants of Copiah County's first officiating judge, Barnabas Allen, were also present; Mrs. Blair Catchings (I cannot read the remainder)

Coor's Springs 1823

05/30/14 was the last day I modified this page.

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