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History of the Town of Tishomingo

Established 1908

 

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the town of Tishomingo, Mississippi, welcomes people of all ages with a friendly small town atmosphere.  Tishomingo is inside a triangle created by the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, Bay Springs Lake on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, and Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee River.  To the east is the unique Tishomingo State Park with rock climbing and canoeing and to the west the Crow's Neck Environmental Center focuses on the beautiful flora of the area.  It is a historic area within a lovely natural setting teeming with opportunities for exploration, education, and recreation.

 

The Town of Tishomingo was actually begun by the Tishomingo Township Company, which purchased the land, drew the town map, and began to advertise and sell lots.  The City was chartered July 6, 1908, by an official act of Mississippi Governor E. F. Noel.  The town was named for the Chickasaw Indian Chief Tishomingo.  He was an important Chief whose image is today prominent on the flag of the Chickasaw Nation.  George Washington commissioned him during the American Revolution, and he served his country until his death on the march to Oklahoma.  There is a Tishomingo, Oklahoma, also named for the chief.

 

Tishomingo was also the camping ground of General Andrew Jackson on his way to fight the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.  He stayed two weeks to rest his troops and drink the water from what was called “Good Springs” and what would afterwards be called Jackson Springs.  The spring still supplies most of the water for the town today.

 

The railroad was built in 1906, and the first train passed through in 1907.  This was a special occasion, and the tracks were lined with people to see this first train.

 

The first Post Office was built in 1906.  The mail came in each day on the train.

 

The first school was built in 1908 in the area of today’s field house.  The well used by the school remains.

 

In March 1913, a tornado destroyed most of the six store buildings in the town and heavily damaged those that remained standing.  The school was picked up and turned over, but no children were seriously hurt.

 

In July 1916, the Town Board issued bonds to build a public school building.  This became the Tishomingo Agricultural High School.  It was a boarding school, and students came from great distances to attend classes here.  The present classroom buildings were constructed in 1946 and 1959.

 

In 1915, Tishomingo had a cotton gin.  Street lights were installed in 1927.  The Tishomingo Bank opened in 1945.  In 1953, Blue Bell Manufacturing opened a factory that employed several hundred people.  (This was the original “Wrangler” jeans company before several name changes.)  In 1960, Mid-South Telephone went into operation, and in 1964, a sewage lagoon was built and sewer lines were installed.

 

The first church in Tishomingo, Old Neblets Chapel, was built about 1909.  The building was torn down, and the material used to build the present Methodist Parsonage.  The land for the present Methodist Church was sold to the church on November 12, 1915, by the Tishomingo Townsite Company for $50.00.

 

The old Tishomingo Baptist Church was destroyed in 1913 by the tornado.  It was rebuilt in 1916 and remained until the present church facility was built in 1966.

 

The Tishomingo Church of Christ held its first meetings in a brush arbor on what is now the high school campus.  Soon after the tornado of 1913, the first building was constructed.

 

In 1970, William H. Burcham started having services in a store building, and about one year later built the Gospel Lighthouse Pentecostal Church.

 

Many houses dating to the early days of the town remain today.  They are as follows:

 

         The A. C. Gardner house on North Street is currently owned by Barbara Grisham.  Mr. Gardner had the first store in town.

         The N. C. Waldrep house on Madison Street, currently owned by Vivian Wells, was supplied with running water from a spring under the hill adjacent to the house.

         The Burns house at the corner of Madison and 3rd Avenue was built in 1904; it is owned by Jim Burns.

         The J. O. Looney house has undergone extensive renovations; it is currently owned by Jerry Hollingsworth.  Mr. Looney was the first superintendent of the Tishomingo High School.

         The Harvey house on Trace Street (behind the Sunflower Grocery Store) was built by the Rev. Will Whitener family.

         The Long House on Trace Street survived the tornado of 1913.  The house can be seen on pictures of the tornado damage to the town.  It is currently owned by Mary Ann Long.

         The Blissit House on North Street was built in 1914.  It is owned by Janet and John Savoy.

         The McDougal House, located on 2nd Avenue and Madison, is also visible in tornado pictures.  Dewayne and Sherry Kay own it.

         The Rushing house at Highway 25 and North Street survived the tornado.  It is owned by Hal Crandal.

         The house at the end of Madison on the west side of Highway 25 was pushed off its foundation by the tornado.  A cable was attached to the tree in the yard, run through the house, and anchored on the other side to keep the house stable.  The cable is still there.

         The principal’s house on the school campus was originally a boarding house.  It was rocked with Tishomingo Stone by the Depression organization, Youth Administration, which allowed students to work for their school tuition.

         The W. H. Fairless house at Natchez and 3rd Avenue is currently owned by James Fairless Tennyson.  W. C. Hundley built the first hardware store in Tishomingo and then shortly after sold it to Mr. Fairless.

         The Dean house on Natchez Street was at one time a hotel.  It is owned by Richard and Betty Dean Pharr.

 

Many of the homes mentioned above are named as they are currently known; however, in a few cases, others originally built the house.

 

In 1916, a songwriter named Spencer Williams wrote “Tishomingo Blues” after passing through and spending some time in Tishomingo.  The song became well known and is heard today as the opening theme music to Garrison Kellior’s “Prairie Home Companion” that is heard on the National Public Radio.  In spite of the name, it is not a traditional blues song, but instead is a jazz number.  “Tishomingo Blues” was also the name of a novel by Elmore Leonard although the story is not set in Tishomingo.  At one time, Mr. Leonard had a picture of himself at the city limits sign just outside of town posted on his Web site.

 

Contributed by Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical

 

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MSGenWeb Tishomingo Co. Coordinator: Jeff Kemp

 

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