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203 East Quitman Street, Iuka, MS 38852
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(Transcribed by RaNae Vaughn from The Vidette, Vol. XXXIX No. 48,
August 2, 1923)
The town of Iuka was named in honor of an Indian chief of that name
who so tradition says, lived at what is now known as the Brinkley
place. Long before the foot of a white man had trodden the primeval
wilderness, the mineral springs, which still constitute the greatest
attraction here, were patronized by the aborigines. The sick were
brought here for many weary miles that they might drink of the
life-giving waters, which have given Iuka a world-wide reputation.
Wigwams, occupied by Indians in search of health, were scattered
over the adjoining hills.
The building of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad (now known as
the Southern), was the direct cause of the town’s location. When the
first surveys were made there were only two families living inside
the limits of the first incorporation. These were David Hubbard, who
lived at the Brinkley place, and Lem Hubbard, who lived at the S. M.
Eastport was then the commercial metropolis of this section. It had
several hundred inhabitants and did an immense business. Situated at
the head of low water navigation on the Tennessee River, it was the
shipping and buying point for a hundred miles south. Great caravans
of wagons were plying almost incessantly during the fall and winter,
bringing cotton and carrying back goods. When the railroad surveys
were made those in charge of the enterprise made propositions to the
people of Eastport. Looking to the building of the road to that
place. They asked for a donation of $50,000 as a bonus.
The short-sighted people of that flourishing place refused to do
anything, thinking the railroad be forced to come by. After it was
too late, they saw their error and red the doom of their town. The
first train passed through Iuka in 1856. The town was not then
incorporated. Indeed, a strong effort was made to locate the depot
at Blythe’s Crossing, 1 ½ miles east of the present depot. Shelby
Ussery and his son-in-law, J. J. Blythe, lived there and were men of
influence, but the superior attraction of the mineral springs
decided the contest in favor of Iuka.
The first mayor of Iuka was named William Settle. The town grew
quite rapidly. Gradually the business men of Eastport, finding they
could not compete with steam transportation moved through business
to Iuka. Just as the town was getting on its feet, so to speak, the
Civil War came on and stopped further developments. Situated on the
border line between the contending forces, it was in the possession
of each alternately until the close of the war. An important battle
was fought two miles southwest of town on September 19, 1862,
between the Confederates under General Price and the Federals under
General Rosecrans. Both sides claimed the victory but he advantage
lay with the Confederates, though general Price was forced to
evacuate the town next morning because of a flanking force under
Gen. Grant which was advancing from Burnsville. Other historical
events connected with the war occurred in and around Iuka, but we
have not space in this article to go into details. The battlefield
is now the site of the beautiful home of Mr. R. U. Woodley, “Battle
When the war was over it left the people of this section greatly
impoverished. It was in a worse condition than many other portions
of the state because of its location on the border line of warfare.
But the recuperative powers of an indomitable race, such as the
Anglo-Saxon, are beyond calculation. The soldiers returned in rags
and penniless, and in many cases to behold the charred and blackened
ruins of what had been happy and prosperous homes, but despite the
accumulated misfortunes of war and poverty they set themselves to
work to rebuild their shattered fortunes. Gradually but surely Iuka
began to grow. Business was again opened up and the tide of commerce
and trade began to move.
The first mayor of Iuka after the war was John M. Stone, afterwards
county treasurer, state senator, and governor. The first Marshall
was J. T. Weaver, the noted scout. The first postmaster was G. P.
Hammerly. He was appointed by President Johnson and served six
The first merchants to resume business after the war were J. D.
Martin, W. T. Matthews, G. P. Hammerly, James H. Doan, and Dan
Coleman. There were three or four saloons in the town at this time,
but in 1882 they were banished after a bitter fight and no saloon
has been in the town since.
The old hotel, occupying the site of the present brick, was built
before the war and escaped destruction, although a bombshell pierced
its roof during the bombardment of the town by Rosecrans, September
20, 1862. This was opened up for business after the war by J. M. D.
and C. M. Miller. This old building was burned in 1860. The brick
building was erected by a stock company called the Southern
Cooperative Hotel Company in 1872 with R. W. Price, President, and
G. P. Hammerly, Secretary and Treasurer. The cost of the building
was $20,000. Afterward, the annex was built at an additional cost of
about $10,000. In 1870, as has been before stated, the county of
Tishomingo was divided and the county site of the new county of
Tishomingo was fixed at Iuka. This gave a great impetus to the town.
In 1883, Prof. H. A. Dean established the Normal Institute in the
Iuka Seminary building. It prospered and grew into great prominence
as an education institution. In1894, Prof. Dean purchased the
Mineral Springs Hotel property and transferred his school there
where he continued to run it until 1902, and afterward leased the
building to R. L. McKnight to run as a hotel.
As there had been considerable trouble over water privileges, or
rather the water tax imposed by the different parties into whose
hands the property had passed, a sentiment was created among the
property owners of the town that the springs and the park should be
the property of the corporation and should always be free to the
This sentiment grew and finally crystallized in the purchase of the
park by the town in 1901. The town floated bonds to the amount of
$12,000 and from the sale of the bonds purchased the park for $5,00
and expended the residue in the erection of an electric light plant.
The park with its majestic forest trees, its well kept hedge, and
its concrete walks is the beauty spot of the town, and its healing
waters are free to all the world.
Iuka has two splendid hotels where the traveling public is well
served. They are the Mineral Springs and Leatherwood. The town has a
well organized Chamber of Commerce which is ever active in promoting
its best interests. Iuka may well be called a “City of Churches,”
five denominations having houses of worship here. These are the
Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Christian, and Presbyterian. It
also has a handsome modern High School building.
The cultural atmosphere of the town is greatly enhanced by the
efficiently organized women’s clubs. Among these are the Thursday
Club, a Federated Literary Cub, a live Parent-Teacher organization,
a Civic Improvement Club, U. D. C., W. C. T. U., and active
societies in all the churches.
Notwithstanding the fact that Iuka has had several disastrous fires,
its growth has been steady, and it may be truly called an attractive
little town with its stately ante-bellum homes, its many beautiful
modern bungalows, its concrete walks, gravel streets, and up to date
Situated in a splendid agricultural and lumber section in the Muscle
Shoals district, in the Lee Highway, and having several miles of
gravel roads in every direction, no town has a brighter future.