Warren County


Chapter XLVIII, pages 844-848

Warren County, one of the centers of historic interest in the Mississippi Valley of the State, was established by act of the General Assembly, December 22, 1809, which declared that “all that part of the Mississippi territory which lies north of the river Big Black, is hereby erected into a new county, which shall be hereafter called and known by the name of Warren.” It was named in honor of Gen. Joseph Warren, officer in the Continental army, who fell at the battle of Bunker Hill. It formerly included within its limits a part of old Washington and the present counties of Issaquena and Sharkey. Its last relinquishment of territory was in 1876, when Sharkey County received a contribution. The Mississippi River forms its entire western boundary, the Big Black river divides it from Claiborne County on the south and Hinds County on the east, and the Yazoo River forms part of the irregular boundary line between it and Issaquena County on the north. The northeastern boundary line between Warren and Yazoo counties was the subject of repeated legislation prior to the year 1850 (see Yazoo County) and as now established, is a jagged line connecting the Big Black and Yazoo rivers. Its present area is 572 square miles.

Warren County comprised the northernmost part of the old “Natchez District” and the whole region is replete with historic interest. As early as 1718, the Mississippi Company, chartered by France, which was then in possession of the Mississippi Valley, attempted to locate settlers on the Yazoo River by making extensive land grants along that stream. When the eighteenth century closed, a few inhabitants were distributed near the Walnut Hills, and near the Big Black River, in the present county of Warren. With the opening of the Natchez Trace a considerable emigration from the States of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and western Pennsylvania, composed of men of capital and enterprise, began to stream into the Natchez District and the settlements in the region of Warren County were largely augmented. In 1803, a land office was established at Washington in Adams County, which adjudicated private claims to a large portion of the lands within the limits of the white settlements near the Mississippi, claimed and occupied in large part by virtue of grants or titles derived through the authorities of England, Spain and the State of Georgia. The commission of the land office at Washington concluded its labors in 1807, after recording two thousand and ninety claims, and thus were settled many of the early titles along the Yazoo, Big Black and Mississippi rivers in Warren County. Until the year 1798, the Spaniards maintained a fort and garrison at the “Walnut Hills,” just north of the present city limits of Vicksburg, but never made any serious effort to colonize the region.

Some of the county officers during the years 1818-1827 were John Turnbull, Isaac Rapalje, Francis Griffin, John Jenkins, Thos. K. McElrath, John Templeton, Jacob Hyland, Justices of the Quorum; Henry D. Downs, John Dana, James Knowland, Thos. B. Tompkins, Foster Cook, Wm. Whitefield, Allen Sharkey, Chas. S. Spann, James Gibson, Jos. Templeton, Robert L. Matthews, James Bland, Alex. M. McCulloch, Ch. Gee, Ch. Henderson, Wm. B. Cook, Richard Featherston, Lewis McLemurry, Stephen Howard, Isaac W. Davis, Hartwell Cocke, Nelson Jackson, Henry Maynadier, Daniel Whittaker, Hartwell Vick, Samuel Cox, Paul C. Abney, Joseph Hough, Jas. M. Bitner, Jas. R. Blunt, John Bobb, Sinclair D. Gervais, Bennet M. Kines, Justices of the Peace; Andrew Glass, Henry D. Downs, Jr., Sheriffs; John Hyland, Tho. Evans, Jordan Gibson, Anthony Durden, Assessors and Collectors; Thos. Griffin, Andrew Haynes, Treasurers; John Blanchard, Foster Cook, County Surveyors; Benj. C. Lamdell, Inspector and Keeper of Weights and Measures; Samuel Blanchard, Jesse Barfield, Coroners; James Gibson, Judge of Probate; Robert Armstrong, Auctioneer of the County; Francis M. Beckwith, President of Selectmen, Vicksburg; Russell Smith, Wiley Bohanon, Associate Justices. Jacob Hyland, Wm. L. Sharkey, Francis Griffin and the families of Glass, Pace, Rawls, McElrath, Hicks, Griffin, Lewis and Haynes were very early settlers in the southern part of the county. In the central part is a neighborhood called the “Gibson Settlement,” settled at an early day by the Rev. Tobias Gibson, an early Methodist missionary to Mississippi, and his brother, Rev. Randall Gibson, prominent citizens and related to many of the best families of today. Near the site of the National Cemetery was an early settlement, where lived H.P. Morancy, Dr. John Jenkins, the Fergusons, Turnbulls, Throckmortons and Joseph E. Davis, brother of President Jefferson Davis. In a region, about seven miles northeast of Vicksburg was a settlement in the early days known as “Open Woods”, surveyed by Foster Cook, and entered by him for four of the Vicks and four of the Cook families. The Cook home was a stopping place for many of the distinguished men of the State. The famous “Davis Bend” plantations lie below Vicksburg.

The early county seat of Warren was at Warrenton (incorporated in 1820), 12 miles down the river from Vicksburg, which as late as 1861 had a population of six to eight hundred, but has only 40 people now.

Though an old historic fort and village, it was not until 1824 that the present city of Vicksburg was laid out and a charter obtained in 1825, and not until 1836 that the seat of justice was changed to Vicksburg by a vote of the people. The founder, Rev. Newitt Vick, gave his name to the city that was to be, but it was not surveyed into lots until after his death. Then his son-in-law, Rev. John Lane, the administrator with the will annexed, after a legal contest, carried out Mr. Vick’s intentions. The site of Vicksburg at the junction of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers, and the first high land on the east bank of the Mississippi river for over four hundred miles, was meant by nature for a large commercial center. Here has grown up a city of 18,000 people (census of 1920). It is still one of the largest manufacturing points in the State, although it has been overtaken of recent years by Jackson and Meridian. Vicksburg, Hattiesburg and Greenville are about equal in the value of the products put out by their various establishments. Vicksburg’s output was valued at $4,336,000 in 1919.

In the old days Vicksburg was a social center for the aristocracy of the State, while the many magnificent steamers, which plied the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, brought rich tribute to its port, from the fertile Yazoo-Mississippi Delta above, and from the rich alluvial lands of Louisiana on the south. The city, one of the most historic of the South, has had a stormy and checkered career. It emerged from the horrors of the long siege and bombardment in the War between the States, only to suffer a disastrous fire in 1866; a cut off by the river in 1876, a scourge of yellow fever in 1878, and another large fire in 1883, while its citizens lost more than a million dollars in the collapse of the Mississippi banks.

The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley, the Alabama & Vicksburg, and the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific railroads, together with the largest fleet of river craft south of St. Louis, provide the city with splendid shipping facilities. There are no other cities of importance in the county. The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley railroad traverses the county from north to south, and Vicksburg is the terminus of the Alabama & Vicksburg.

The topography of the county is of the most varied character, including large areas of rich alluvial lands in the Mississippi, Yazoo and Big Black bottoms, and a still larger area of uplands. These highlands attain their greatest altitude near the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers, and slope toward the Big Black, the eastern boundary of the county. The soil is of a rich brownish loam, intermixed with sea shells, and is of great fertility. At one time these hills were densely covered with immense walnut trees, from which fact the name “Walnut Hills” was derived.

Warren County stands fourth in the State as a manufacturing district, being preceded by Hinds County, with Jackson as its center, by Jones, with Laurel as its principal point, and by Lauderdale, with Meridian as its chief metropolis. In 1919, Warren County reported 46 industrial establishments, employing over 2,000 hands, distributing nearly $2,000,000 in wages and putting out products to the value of $6,368,000. On the other hand, the value of the 1919 crops raised in the county was placed at $2,209,000, while its entire farm property was estimated at $8,000,000, of which its live stock was reported at $1,664,000.

The population of Warren County has decreased somewhat within the past twenty years, being in 1920 about the same as in 1890; the last census gave it as 33,362.

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Source:  Mississippi The Heart of the South - By Dunbar Rowland, LL.D - Director of the Mississippi State Department of Archives and History.  Vol. II Illustrated.  Chicago-Jackson;  The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925. Public Domain
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