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W. P. A. History of Pontotoc County, Mississippi

Chapter I: Formation

Historical Background

Pontotoc County was originally comprised in the domain of Chickasaw Indians. By four successive treaties, the Chickasaws had ceded their hunting grounds, prior to the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek in 1832.

The United States appointed General John Coffee, of Florence Alabama, as emissary to hold a pow-wow with the Chickasaws. The place selected was the house of To-pul-kah (lodging place of the host of council), southeast of the present town of Pontotoc. Here the Natchez Trace, Cotton Gin Port, and Memphis roads crossed, and here was the site of Chuckafalaiyia, ancient Chickasaw Capital. (1)

After five treaties had been drawn, Major Levi Colbert, educated leader of the Indians, stated to his white friends that he was still not satisfied , so the deed was finally taken to Washington in March, 1833, to be corrected and ratified by the President and United States Senate.

Pontotoc was proclaimed a county by the state legislature on February 9, 1836. The Mississippi legislature appointed John Bell, Samuel Watts, Robert Tenning, Robert Gordon and John Bradford commissioners to organize the county, which was approved February 14, 1836. (2) It may be noted here that in 1839 Pontotoc had fifty percent of the state's representation in the National Congress. Thomas H. Williams was in the Senate and Thomas J. Word in the House of Representatives. The immortal Sargent S. Prentiss served in the same Congress. Senator Williams, Representative Word, and Mr. Prentiss served the latter half of the session only.

Shape, Size, and Boundaries

Pontotoc County is nearly square, and is twenty-one miles north and south with the exception of an off-set in the northeast corner, by twenty four miles east and west. The area of the county is 498 square miles.

When the engineers came to survey for land offices, they desired to find the center of the Chickasaw country; this proved to be a point west of Pontotoc but undesirable, so they selected a site nearer the Indian population, where water and food were more easily procured. This place was the site of the present town of Pontotoc; at that time the county comprised the western half of Union County.

On October 26, 1866 by an act of the Legislature a part of the county from range seven to sixty one was taken off for the creation of Lee County; on July 7, 1879, another portion on the north and several sections on the upper end were taken from the county for the organization of Union.

The original Pontotoc County was bounded on the north by what is now Tippah County; on the east by the present Ittawamba; on the south by Chickasaw and on the west by Lafayette.. The original size of Pontotoc County was 900 square miles.

At present it is bounded on the north by Union on the east by Lee, on the south by Chickasaw and Calhoun, and on the west by Calhoun and Lafayette. Originally it was one of the largest counties is the state, but its area was reduced almost one-half by formation of Lee County in 1866, and Union in 1870.

(1) Byington, liberal translation.

(2) Laws of Mississippi, 1836.

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