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County Origins - "The Beginning"

The Chickasaw Indians lived as early as 1772 and hunted in the northeast Mississippi section, later known as the Chickasaw Nation. The Third Article of the Hopewell Treaty, concluded January 10, 1876, granted the Chickasaw Nation the area around the Tennessee, Cumberland, and Mississippi rivers. This territory was allocated to the Chickasaws to live and hunt on as they pleased. The Territory of Mississippi which had been organized April 7, 1798, embraced most of this vast area. In March, 1817, this territory was divided into the Alabama Territory (the eastern part) and later in that year the western part was admitted to the Union as a state. As early as 1818 the Chickasaw Indian's rights were under the strict observation of the white settlers and to avoid a long and troublesome controversy, the Indians relinquished their title and claim to all lands within the bounds of Tennessee, by the Treaty of 1818. According to one of the earliest writers (Adair) the Choctaws and Chickasaws were descendants of a tribe called Chickernilaws. The Pontotoc Treaty between the government and the Chickasaws, concluded October 22, 1832, gave the Chickasaws a reservation west of the Mississippi River. In 1832 a land office was set up at Pontotoc, Mississippi, and in the winter of 1833 white settlers came into the northern part of this territory, making preparations for permanent homes. Immediately following the Pontotoc Treaty the state legislature enacted a law calling for the division of the lands ceded to the government by the Chickasaws. This enactment came about February 9, 1836, and the part of the Chickasaw Nation lying in Mississippi was divided into ten counties. These counties were Tishomingo, Itawamba, DeSoto, Marshall, Chickasaw, Tunica, Panola, Tippah, Pontotoc and Lafayette, Tishomingo County was referred to as the Free State of Tishomingo, or sometimes as Old State of Tishomingo, due to its enormous size. The Old Tishomingo County embraced all of the present Alcorn, Prentiss and Tishomingo Counties and was the largest county ever in the state. The total area of the county was 923,040 acres. The act to organize Old Tishomingo County

On April 15, 1870, the legislature divided Old Tishomingo County and eighty-six sections of land were taken from Tippah County and added to these counties

Prentiss County, which is located in the Northeastern corner of the state, was created at the same time as Alcorn, on April 15, 1870, during the administration of Governor Alcorn, and received its name in honor of Sargent Smith Prentiss, the gifted statesman, jurist and orator.

Prentiss County has a land surface of 418 square miles[2]. Prentiss County lies in the so-called rotten limestone or black prairie belt, and is joined by Alcorn County on the north, Tishomingo County on the cast, and Itawamba and Lee counties on the south, and Union and Tippah counties on the west.

Governor Alcorn appointed county officers called for in the act which created the new county. The board of supervisors consisted of John R. Moore, president, Alonzo Bowdry, Joseph Rodgers, M. L. Martin, Henry C. Fields, sheriff, W. A. Watson, clerk of the chancery court and of the board of supervisors. I. M. Stone became the first state senator for the county and Hugh M. Street, elected speaker of the house in 1873 - 74, was the first representative in the lower house of the legislature.

The area that eventually became Prentiss was settled by 1850 with an excellent class of emigrants from Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and the northern part of Alabama. Many of the best settlers of the other counties of the state removed to Prentiss County and like most all other counties of the state the people were Anglo-Saxon or British[3].

The United States Census for Mississippi gives the population of Prentiss County in 1870 as 9,348.

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MSGenWeb Tishomingo Co. Coordinator: Jeff Kemp


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