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General Copiah History

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

Copiah County is a county located in the state of Mississippi. As of 2000, the population is 28,757. Its county seat is Hazlehurst.

Copiah, from an Indian word meaning calling panther, was organized in 1823 as Mississippi's 18th county. It ranks seventh in land area. In the year of organization, Walter Leake served as governor and James Monroe as President of the United States.

The county is known as a tomato and cabbage producing area, and for many years was called the "Tomato Capital of the World."

Albert Gallatin Brown, the 14th governor of Mississippi, was elected from Copiah County, serving from 1844-48.

Hazlehurst began as the town of Gallatin when two lawyers and brothers-in-law named Walters and Saunders arrived from Gallatin, TN, in 1819, and built their homes on the banks of the Bayou Pierre in the western part of the county. Other settlers came with them an in 1829 the legislature incorporated the town. The incorporation charter was repealed on January 18th, 1862. November 3, 1865, Hazlehurst began with the building of the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad.

As Hazlehurst grew, Gallatin declined into just a settlement at a crossroads. In April, 1872, the legislature ordered the county board of supervisors to hold an election to decide if the county seat should moved from Gallatin to Hazlehurst. A majority voted for the change and Gallatin's old brick courthouse was torn down and reassembled in Hazlehurst. Several years later, a new courthouse replaced this building after it was ravaged by fire.

The town was named for George Hazlehurst, an engineer for the new railroad. Moses Marx was the first town merchant, and A. Mangold, who came here as a newsboy on the first train, later opened a store that became one of the largest in the county. The Merchants and Planters Bank opened in 1882, with Major R. W. Millsaps as president and I. N. Ellis as first cashier.

In 1820, the area was known as the S. K. Hawkins Plantation. Hawkins came from South Carolina and built a brick two-story home and a plantation store. In the early 1890s, this plantation became property of H. H. Barlow after Hawkins lost it to a mortgage foreclosure. A post office was opened and named Barlow. An oil mill operated in Barlow for ten years, and at one time, the town had ten stores, but most of the stores closed as Hazlehurst drained the trade.

When the railroad built through a nearby area in 1857, the settlement was called Bahala. Shortly after the Civil War, the town name was changed to Beauregard for General Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard. As a lumber town, it was listed as one of the most promising towns between New Orleans and Memphis and had state-wide notoriety for its size and number of saloons.

The tornado struck the town in 1883 leaving only three homes standing. One was the estate of Benjamin King, a lawyer from Gallatin who ran for governor on the Greenback ticket in 1880 and promoted the construction of the expensive courthouse in Gallatin to protect his property rights from the railroad-made population changes. Another house was that of Judge Harvey Thompson and the third was that of Dr. E. A. Rowan. It had 23 rooms and, in 1881, was intended for a hospital but was later made into a private home.

Four sudden deaths in the Rowan family were responsible for stories that the house was haunted. The story was expanded until it included a reward for anyone who would spend a night alone in the place. A series of regular, yet mysterious, flaggings of Illinois Central trains in front of the house in 1926 grew so annoying that special detectives were called in but they never found the cause of the flaggings.

Soon after the indians relinquished their claims to this land in 1819 and the legislature formed Copiah County in 1823, Elisha Lott, a Methodist minister who had worked among the indians, brought his family from Hancock County to the present site of Crystal Springs. Shortly after he built grist and saw mills, other settlers arrived, and the place became known as Coor Springs. Joe Moore donated land for the church and cemetery. Soon a schoolhouse was built. When the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad built in the area in 1858, a new town was created about a mile and a half west of the old settlemnt. The new settlement took the name Crystal Springs and the old settlement became Old Crystal Springs.

William J. Willing's home was the first to be built in the new town, and Jefferson Davis once made a speech from the front yard. Ozious Osborne owned the first merchandise store on a corner of his residence lot on south Jackson Street. This lot later became the Merchants Grocery Company's site.

The first church was the Methodist is 1860. It was followed by the Baptist in 1861, Presbyterian in 1870 and Trinity Episcopal in 1882.

As one of one of the largest tomato shipping centers, Crystal Springs commercial farming goes back to 1870 when the first shipment of peaches, grown by James Sturgis was shipped to New Orleans and Chicago markets. Tomatoes were still known as "love apples" when N. Pizza imported seeds from Italy, and with help from S. H. Stackhouse, began scientific cultivation of tomato plants. With the help of German immigrant Augustus Lotterhos, the industry achieved success. In 1878, Lotterhos pooled the products of a number of tomato growers and shipped the first boxcar load to Denver, Colorado.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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

Content Copyright Rob Crawford,, County Coordinator    All rights reserved.

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