Among the earliest settlers who settled in the Cato area came from the Carolinas and Georgia. Some of these earliest settlers were Frank M. Martin, Johnny McIntyre, Bill Easterling, Ferdinand Dent, Allen F. Chapman, George Johnson, William Kennedy, Henry Mangum, William George and Jim Barnett. Mr. Barnett was a carpenter and built the house that became known as the Frank Little Home.
According to legend, Cato was a trading center for miles around and boasted four stores, two saloons, and a rock warehouse long before the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad ran through Rankin County.
The first merchant in Cato was Gus Martin. One of the saloons was owned by a man named Chandler and the warehouse built by Pullen and Corban was owned by Don Sandifer.
C. R. Norman was the only doctor for nearly thirty years and lived just north of where the old Cato store stood.
It is not known if Frank Martin was the first postmaster, but was certainly among the first and served as postmaster for nearly thirty years.
The first school was located in a log house and taught by Miss Ring who had moved to the area from the North. As late as 1938, you could still see where the clay dirt chimney for the house had stood. Later Dr. Gayden, Frank Martin, Silas Tucker and John Martin organized a school that held classes in the old Bell house.
Among early teachers were Abner Nash, Tom Lamb, P. B. Bridges, and William Buchanan. Mr. Buchanan taught at Cato went to Brandon to study law.
Jane Combs, October 19, 2008 ©2008 All rights reserved
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