Thursday, April 14, 2005


From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

A readable story of early Holly Springs

(Editor’s Note: Tom Stewart, formerly of Holly Springs, sent a continuing saga of early Holly Springs. The series concluded the week before Pilgrimage began and is running in its entirety on our website [www.south] the week of the Pilgrimage.)

Did you ever look around and wonder how the towns of North Mississippi came to be? They defy every law or normal city location – they are not usually on rivers or major intersections. There doesn’t seem to be any natural reason – yet, in a relatively short time, most, such as Holly Springs, sprang forth and made “Boom Town” seem like understatement personified. It often seems that apparently unrelated and unimportant events somehow triggered historically important developments.

Such is the case in the early days of our town. There are many fascinating stories of her conception, birth, and youth. They are scattered and often unrecorded but they are important in understanding who we are and – “From Whence We Came.”

Where shall we begin? Holly Springs was incorporated in 1836 - shall we begin here? No, to understand the story we must back up more than one hundred years to 1715 in Scotland. The English were violently suppressing the Jacobite Rebellion and Highland Scots were starting a mass migration to America.

Among the many passenger ships to make the journey was “The Prince of Wales” which landed in Darien, Georgia on January 10, 1736. Its passenger manifest contained many Scottish names such as John McIntosh and Lachlan McGillivray both of whom played important roles in early American history.

However, the passenger who most piques our interest was a little known teenager named James Logan Colbert. Though not officially recorded in the census, his family records indicate that he came from Inverness, Scotland and did not have another relative aboard when he landed in the new world.

In that time it was a common sight to see native Americans in the coastal area bartering with the locals for things they wished to carry back to their tribal lands in the West. Remember, in those days Alabama and Mississippi were “the West.” Colbert apparently made the acquaintance of some of the Chickasaws and, having nothing better to do, accompanied them when they returned to their lands - the northern third of Mississippi.

Some historians record that the Indians usually told stories of vast land, abundant game and pretty Indian maidens at their homes. There is little doubt that Colbert would have been influenced by these tales and probably followed the Tennessee River until he hit Chickasaw territory at the north- east corner and made his way inland. He must have liked what he saw among the maidens, as about 1750, he married his first.

The Chickasaws were polygamists and, shortly afterward, he added two more wives to the household which probably was located in one of the villages that existed near Pontotoc and Lee counties.

The first wife bore a daughter and the second five sons. The third bore another son and another daughter. ‘The first daughter’s name is lost and she may not have lived. The sons, William, George, Levi, Samual, Joseph and James were given Colbert’s Scottish public education - they could write - they could read - and they knew some math. By Indian standards, they were highly educated “men of letters.”

Four became tribal district chiefs and the others went into the trading business. No other group of half-breeds had as much influence on an Indian nation or on early American history as the sons of James L. Colbert. Some carried on extensive trade with the British and joined them in 1776 in the American revolution.

One son, James, was primarily responsible for the meeting in Augusta between the British and most tribes that resulted in the first Intertribal Conference and the end of most hostilities between tribes.

Besides the villages, there were scattered farms and small settlements in our part of the area.

The Davis family built a plantation in the Pontotoc area and had a first generation young fellow who was theoretically a slave but was, in fact, the plantation foreman. He had been contacted by Scottish Presbyterian missionaries and converted to Christianity before he left Africa. Because he implored Mr. Davis to contact the church in America, the Presbyterian Church sent representatives (namely, Rev. Thomas Stuart, believe it or not) here and established schools such as Martin Mission in Pigeon Roast Bottom.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the quality of life among the Chickasaws deteriorated somewhat because of low-class traders that introduced bad rum and venereal disease to the Indian. The greatest change to their lives was, however, yet to come - the Choctaw and Chickasaw land cessions.

To understand what was about to happen, it must be fully understood that the Indian tribes made no claim to individual land ownership - this is an Anglo-Saxon concept. The Indian said that the land belonged to the gods and he lived here or there and, as there was so much land and so few Indians, there was no such thing as a land dispute.

The Colbert boys, however, understood what their father had taught them about Title and Land Transfer and they were aware of the mess that the Choctaws had made to the south. In the early 1800s, the Choctaws had tried to sell their land to the U.S. Government with individuals trading on a one-on-one basis with Indians who had no idea of owning it in the first place.

The same piece of land was often sold more than once, the money squandered and the settlers moved into what they thought was good bottom land only to discover the next spring that they were in the Mississippi River flood plain.

When the U.S. Government approached the Chickasaws, they had the Colbert boys to deal with and their Scottish blood (and knowledge of the Choctaw mess) dictated that they have an iron clad deal with no loose ends. The treaty specified several important points: (1) that the Army Corp of Engineers survey the land and divide it into the sections, town-ships, and ranges that we use today, and that they be accompanied by professional realtors to establish property values; (2) that an agent, namely Benjamin Reynolds, obtain a census of the Chickasaw; (3) that the land be assigned to the Indians following a formula that usually assigned three sections per family; and (4) finally that the money be deposited to a common tribal treasury to purchase lands in the West.

Each sale was to be a normal deed, a statement of approval by a committee of chiefs or trusted white men, and an approval by Reynolds. These three-part deeds can be found in most old court- houses in the area. However, by 1833, white intervention into the Chickasaw territory following the Pontotoc treaty (their agreement) became quite a problem for the Colberts.

The white intervention that most interests us is that of two men that are the main founders of the town. They were Samuel McCorkle and Wm. Randolph (whose real name was Whitmel Sephus Randolph). Both men knew that they were looking for high, rolling land with native hardwood to build with and an ample water supply. They found it in “Section 6, Township IV, Range II West” - the heart of old Holly Springs.

It is not known which first saw the land. McCorkle, who was the realtor, accompanied the survey crew and noted several cabins in the area. McCorkle’s arraignment with the government was that he got “pick of the litter.” Someone observed that letting the realtor value the land that he had the choice of was like sending the “fox to inventory the hen-house.”

The surveyors made two trips; one to establish the main township and range lines and the second to lay out the interior section corners. The head of the survey was John Bell and, on the final draft of the map, he noted a cabin by the creek just south of the town and labeled it “Randolph’s.”

Randolph was a surveyor by profession and it is probable that he was already laying out the town and some of the existing cabins belonged to people helping with the task as well as some early traders and/or speculators. Their existence, however, was a thorn in the side of the Colberts and they wrote a bitter letter to Washington complaining of the “extensive and illegal white intrusion into our land - particularly thriving communities such as Holly Springs, Chulahoma, Mount Pleasant, Waterford, Lamar, Hudsonville, Salem, etc. There are even two United States Post Offices operating in Chickasaw Territory - one at Chulahoma and another at Pontotoc!” (no mention was made that the Postmaster at Chulahoma was James’ son-in-law).

An almost comical side effect is that on the official survey, the locations of these towns are blank! The deception was exposed, however, when Bell approved a map by Henry M. Lusher, a map-maker, in 1833 on which the towns are clearly located and a copy of it is in the state archives.

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

The Boom!

Randolph formed a partnership with McCorkle, T.D. Hend-erson, David S. Greer, John Hardin, and several others to sell the lots in the new town. They obtained the money through connections in New York via the New York & Mississippi Land Co.

It might be noted that when the dust of the survey settled, besides the town, they had their names on 72.76 square miles of land! McCorkle was from Paris, Tenn. and Randolph from Henderson County, Tenn. McCorkle had been happily trading land along the Obian River for several years before the Chickasaw Cession. Whether he or Randolph first saw the town site for Holly Springs is unclear. Randolph’s cabin is noted on the final survey map but is not in McCorkle’s notes though several others are.

This would seem to indicate that Randolph was the first here; however, in McCorkle’s papers was a map (located in Marshall County Museum) of the area drawn by Erasmus P. McDowell, a map-maker in the Pontotoc land office.

While McDowell was in the employment of the government, he sent information to McCorkle often enough that he was included in later land deals. In those days, there was no “conflict of interest” concept. There are many cryptic marks on the map but the most interesting is a blackened dot in the wooded hills near the springs located at S6,T4,R2W - the sight of Holly Springs. Did McCorkle mark the map to show Randolph or did McDowell mark it to show McCorkle where Randolph was? We may never know ...

A deed recorded in Book D, page 258, of the Marshall County Chancery Clerk’s office clearly spells out the details of the partnership. It also indicates that the section had been assigned to Delila Moore, native wife of John B. Moore and, as one might expect, relative of the Colberts.

While Randolph was busy designing the town and laying out its major features, McCorkle was distributing flyers and handbills in Tennessee, the Virginias and the Carolinas advertising “great tracts of land to be had almost for the asking.” The deed also indicates that they had set up Clayborn Kile and Beverly Mitchell to act as their agents in the Land Office building known as the Yellow Fever House on the corner of Memphis Street and Gholson Ave.

The first takers to come in were men of some quality and foresight. They were mostly lawyers, educators, doctors and tradesmen. Alexander’s Tavern was the first commercial structure. It was on Spring Street on the lot now occupied by Bell Telephone. It was described as a two story log structure with three rooms downstairs and two up. The main room downstairs served as a meeting place for the Police Board as the first City/County government was called. It was in this building that the No. 1 minute book was started. The book is currently in the board room of the court house.

This book also clarifies another misconception - the naming of the town. Some have tried to credit the name, Holly Springs, as a descriptive address for Robert B. Alexander’s trading post which was located near the large spring that existed in Spring Hollow. (Some legends have said that Alexander McEwen also used the address, however McEwen only stayed in the trading post business a short time before embarking in the Bank of McEwen, King & Company.)

Several names were suggested - McCorkle wanted to call it Paris for his home and others vied for Clarendon. Randolph’s personal papers indicate that the name Holly Springs was proposed by him as a memorial to the home and burial place of his parents - a place known to the residents of Henderson County as “The Holly Springs.” The Minute Book verifies this.

(Mrs. Olga Reed Pruit gave credence to the address theory in her book, “It Happened Here.” She quoted “Hamilton’s Thesis” as her source. Hamilton references a newspaper article by Mr. John Mickle who quotes Mrs. Pruit. Get the picture?)

This book also spells out how our present form of county government got started and shows how much it has changed. There was, in the beginning, one city/county government known as the Police Board.

It was a committee of prominent men who elected a chairman from within their ranks. In their minutes, they authorized large land owners to “supervise the maintenance of roads on their lands in lieu of taxes.” That is all they were supposed to do! One can only leave to conjecture how that system metamorphosed to general road supervisor, and then to county governing body.

Randolph started building a home at the intersection of Randolph Street and the road to Salem. As it was the nearest town to the northeast, he probably thought it would be the main thoroughfare into town and he would be able to watch the people come and go from his front porch. Remember that Highway 78 did not yet exist nor did Highway 7. Salem Road ran in the approximate direction of Highway 4.

It must have been a prominent house as it took almost two years to build. He also had it completed before his family moved down. Randolph was content here until the house burned in 1858 and he did something that seems unthinkable today, but in those days was probably not unusual - he abandoned the property and moved with his family to Sardis where he went into the newspaper business.

When the War Between the States broke out, he was so incensed by the “Northern aggression” that he joined an active fighting unit with all his sons until his health failed and he was brought back home. William, Jr. described his father as “being of a fiery and impetuous temperament.”

When he died, because of bad weather, he was buried at the house site in Panola County. It is ironic that the man who designed the town and was probably most responsible for its location left neither a picture of himself or an easily located burial place for a memorial.

Sam McCorkle was another story. This interesting character left his mark on many ventures. One of the most interesting was his solution for realty investors that were a bit short of cash. He started his own bank known as The Real Estate Banking Company and printed his own money! (Remember that in those days banking was not government regulated and there was no common currency.) When asked what backed the currency, he would say that it was based on the value of the real estate. That is, it was based on McCorkle’s declared value, not the $1.25 per acre that he paid for it - the bank was a balloon.

In the late 1840s, newspaper ads stated that McCorkle money was being accepted at a considerable discount against other moneys and, finally, the bank failed. (A list of depositors is in the Bank of Holly Springs today). He turned over all his business to his attorney, Henry Craft and retired to his spacious residence known today as “Crump Place.” His daughter, Kate, married a young Cavalry officer named Nelms.

Capt. Nelms, unfortunately, got himself killed and his brother took her in as was the custom of the day. Among the last papers in McCorkle’s files was an invoice for the massive monument that marks his grave today. It is marked “paid by Kate.” Kate later married Dr. Butler and their daughter married a Rather and is their ancestor.

The Northern Bank was incorporated in 1837. It had a capital stock of $250,000 and was the only one to last until the war. The founders of this bank were A.C. McEwen, Byrd Hill, Spearman Holland, James Hill, W.H. Whitfield, F.W. Huling, T.D. Henderson, William Cain and Pleasant Mosly.

By 1839, Walter Goodman was cashier, and the board of directors was composed of Sam McCorkle, A.M. Clayton, Holland, Williams, and Whitfield.

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

Educational and legal matters in earlier days

Because of the make-up of the early settlers, much attention was given to educational and legal matters. The first court house in North Mississippi attracted some 40 attorneys in the first five years.

These were men like Roger Barton, Alex B. Bradford, J.W. Chalmers, A.M. Clayton, Parry Humphreys, and A.H. Powell. Although lots were not supposed to be legally sold until January, 1836, the Minute Book of the Franklin Female Academy indicates that its board was meeting to hire teachers, establish salaries, purchase supplies and transact other routine business during that very month. It is seriously doubtful that these prominent men were meeting in a sage field to educate young ladies that were not already here.

The makeup, intelligence, and character of the original settlers has long been a subject of speculation. Some have said that it has been glamorized.

In truth, the original settlers of Holly Springs were an extraordinary group of people characterized by an equally extraordinary quality. They were hand picked as a people who could not only afford to start a new civilization, but were wise enough to do it right. Almost 150 years ago, they realized the importance of education not only for their sons but for their daughters as well.

This was in a period when girls were usually not formally educated. The Female Institute was an example of the attitude that caused Holly Springs to have more students in 1845 than the rest of the state! One of its students left a journal that bares testimony to the type of people these were. She wrote as follows:

“Although the season is somewhat advanced, I have resolved to commence a diary, which resolution I hope to continue for some time. I think it not only improving but a satisfaction to refer to at any time and notice what has transpired in our daily walk. We are not willing to bury in oblivion or trust to memory all the incidents which daily occur within our notice whether pleasant or other-wise. We are too apt to look on the past as the happiest portion of our lives and think the present more fraught with cares and disappointments. The future comes before like a rainbow. We view it in the distance but grasping at - it is a shadow. Spring has again returned, clothing herself in her mantle of green. The flowers are again blooming in all their variegated hues and filling the air with sweet perfume. The birds are sporting from bough to bough and warbling forth with joyous notes.”

This was written April 19, 1848 and the young lady, Miss Harriet S. Pegues, was 14 years old. (While the young lady may have been the exception, one still marvels at her talent and mastery of the language.)

Other educational institutions were The Franklin Female College, Chalmers Institute located on West Boundary just north of Chulahoma Ave., and The Maury Institute located on the corner of College and Maury. It was originally the home of Judge J.W.C. Watson. St. Thomas Hall was a boys military school located on Salem Ave. and later, the Presbyterian Girls School became St. Thomas Hall - Military Institute.

But, so much for that - back to the “Boom.” Spring Street was the first developed with a blacksmith’s shop, tavern, trading post, Woodruff’s Gunsmith Shop and a few other necessities serving while the more substantial buildings on the Square were being built. On the previously mentioned Minute Book, an entry directs that “A fine Court House and Jail be built” on the lot that is Reynolds’ Funeral Home parking lot today. The “court square” lot that holds today’s court house was intended originally to be a commons with a park-like setting.

The town outgrew the original plan very quickly and a much larger court house was built on the commons. Randolph donated that land to the city as well as Spring Hollow. He probably envisioned the great spring in it as the center of a park. The spring was described in a diary as “big enough to swim a horse,” about 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

It is unfortunate that springs such as this one tend to “sand themselves to death” as geologists have stated, for it must have been a sight to behold.

The first structures were, of course, log. As a little money was made, lap siding was added to improve the appearance. An example of this is “The Old Traveler” which was originally on Spring St. and is now located on Van Dorn Ave. As the stages began to arrive, one of the first needs was hotels. Of the more “pretentious hostelries,” the Williamson Hotel was erected on the sight of Linwood’s. The Bracken House and The Thomas House were just off the square on West College on the Bank of Holly Springs parking lot. The Cash Lumber Co. building was originally its livery stable.

The most splendid was the Magnolia Hotel, a three story brick with imposing front of iron grill and fret work. It occupied most of the west block of the north face of the square. This was, according to a news writer of the day, “the storm center of Southern chivalry, beauty and wealth, for a short time before they broke on the rocks of war.”

According to the Nov. 3, 1838, issue of The Republican, there were “two blocks of new brick building on the west side of the square and a new bar-room on the south side along with 6 new brick stores just being completed.” Try, if you will, to imagine most of the court square under construction at once!

Who were these settlers, founders, and men of vision? They were men like John R. McCarroll, William F. Mason, Leander Guy, John P. Caruthers, William Lumpkin, Alexander McEwing, A.P. Armstead, Thomas Dye, Daniel McNeal, H.H. Harris, Alex Caruthers, Francis Prentiss, Joseph Mayson, Roger Barton, James Wren Fant, David Greer, John Hill, Dr. Willis M. Lea, R.H. Patillo, John J. Finley, Martin Talley and several others already mentioned.

McCarroll was Sheriff in 1840 and a planter. The house known as McCarroll Place is one of the converted log cabins. It originally faced Maury Street, known then as Pontotoc Road.

He moved the two-room plantation office to town and attached it to the existing structure before adding the clapboard siding and closing the back “dog trot” making the house that exists today. This house is a remarkable example of one built in the earliest days that has undergone very little remodeling and still sports its original windows, doors and English rim locks with brass name plates.

Of course, there had to be builders. One prominent one was Joel E. Wynne of the firm of Wynne & Watt. He eventually built Wakefield on Salem Ave.

William Mason, who later became secretary of the Illinois Central Railroad, started building one of the first brick mansions in 1838 on the south end of Memphis Street. It was a three story brick structure with some of the first massive columns on the front.

As that was the end of the street he said, “My front door is in town and my back in the woods.” He later gave this house to his son, Carrington Mason, and built The Magnolias on Craft Street known in those days as Oxford Street. The first house is said to have been prominent in the War Between the States as the son’s wife Maria Mason was an accomplished pianist and had studied under the same New York teacher as the Yankee officer who had come to burn the town in retribution for a Confederate raid. He was, however, so impressed with her talent that they nightly entertained everyone around until he couldn’t carry out his orders to destroy the town telling his superiors that “it is a town of genteel people many of whom are caring for our wounded troops.”

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

Presbyterians built first church

In 1836, the Presbyterians built the first church, a log building, on the present lot with 24 members. It was organized by Rev. Bishop S. Hurd, moderated by Rev. Daniel Gray with James Means and R.H. Patillo chosen as Elders. After they outgrew that building, they temporarily moved to the Craft office building (the house north of City Hall) while they constructed the building on the Southwest corner of the square presently occupied by Miller’s Clothing Store.

Rev. Daniel Baker was the first full time pastor starting at a $1000 per year salary in 1841. He was already a well known revivalist and served until he took over the church in Washington. It seems that they had a jump on the others as they had been here many years operating Indian schools with one, Martin Mission, being in Pigeon Roost Bottom.

The story is told that they came at the request of a first generation African American, who was converted by Scottish Presbyterians while still in Africa, who was concerned about the Chickasaw’s lack of Christian faith. As previously stated, he requested the Davises to contact the Presbytery and they sent a group of missionaries who started the schools.

The Methodists organized in 1837 with their first building on the corner of W. College and Craft. A large contingency of the early settlers seemed to have been Episcopal with more members in the Salem area. Rev. Foster was assigned to these towns in 1839. The vestry of Salem, William Baird, Andrew Govan, Dabney Minor, Edward Shields, and Charles Thomas called the church St. Andrew.

The first service in Holly Springs was in March, 1839, and they named the church “Christ’s. Their vestry was A.M. Clayton, Senior Warden, I.B. Clansel, Junior Warden, Dr. Joseph Brentney, Walter Goodman, Henry M. Lusher, Yelverton Newsom, and George Pittman.

They met in the courthouse for awhile until in 1840 the Police Board deeded a lot to the group and in 1842 the Bishop consecrated the building. This church group probably did the most for early education in the area and the Presbyterians came in closely with their school. The Baptists built in several locations with their first “permanent” one located diagonally across from their present spot.

For night life entertainment, Holly Springs started a little theater group known as the “Thespians” for the benefit of those not at the Marshall Inn who preferred the 60 per gallon whiskey.

In the day-time there was the Holly Springs Jockey Club started by Kenneth Dye in 1839. It held races in the spring and fall with horses coming from as far away as Kentucky. Street life at that time was almost like a crafts fair. There were many peddlers or “drummers” as they were called and there were also traveling artists and craftsmen who did everything from making shoes to painting portraits.

The first physician to set up practice was Dr. Willis Monroe Lea of Leasburg, Va. He moved to Holly Springs in 1836 and built his home, Wildwood, northeast of what is known today as Lee’s Crossing (the intersection of Red Banks and Hernando Roads).

He and his wife, the former Sarah Pugh Wilson, had five sons and three daughters. He was always popular with the medical community and served as president of the county medical association. He was active in politics and was a member of the Secession Convention.

Three of the sons were of age to serve in the army with one, Willis Jr. (a member of the University Grays), receiving 3 separate wounds before being killed in battle. Dr. Lea was too old to serve in an active unit but treated the many wounded in the local hospitals.

He continued his practice until an advanced age and was spared the horror of Yellow Fever as he died a few months before the first outbreak.

Slightly later, other very important and influential men came to Holly Springs and became essential in shaping her future. These were men like Harvey Washington Walter, Edward Cary Walthall, John W. C. Watson, George Myers, Henry Myers, Winfield Scott Featherston, Kinloch and Thomas Falconer, J.W. Clapp, Alexander Bradford, Samuel Benton, Dr. Charles Bonner and others.

Another important early settler was Hugh Craft who came to Holly Springs in 1839. Craft was a realtor and set up an office where the City Hall is today. Craft was very unfortunate in marriage.

His first wife, Mary Pitts died in childbirth with their daughter, Martha. He married again and the second died also in childbirth and the child did not survive. He next married Elizabeth Collier and she gave birth to several more children.

Hugh Craft is the common ancestor of several prominent family names. Specifically, Martha married James Fort and one of their granddaughters married Harris Gholson.

James Fort wrote a long letter to his wife in Georgia the day he arrived in Holly Springs in 1847, He described an arduous trip by river boat, stage, wagon, and horseback, “fraught with dangers both seen and unseen at every turn.” He described the town as “bigger than he expected” and even drew a map of the area around the Presbyterian Church.

Another descendent married Dr. Chesley Daniel, the ancestor of Dr. Edward Thorne, Fort Daniel, and Mrs L.A. Smith. A grandson by Elizabeth, John Craft, started Craft & Wynne Insurance Co.

In 1840, serious trouble hit the town with the report that the state might repudiate the bonds of one of the large banks - namely the Mississippi Union Bank. Many were hurt in the eventual failure and forced to move to Texas. An old ledger that once was in the vault of the Bank of Holly Springs has in the margin “G.T.” to note the fate of the account. (Gone to Texas).

Politics was the favorite pastime of many of the men of the community with the two parties being the Democrats and the Whigs. The leading members of the Democratic party in 1843 were Roger Barton, James Hill, Thomas Caruthers, James Greer, John Chew, W.G. Wilson, Harvey W. Walter, Dr. John Pittman, Dr. Curtis, George West, and others.

The Whigs, though fewer in number were a strong group consisting of Robert Greer, Governor Mathews, James Hill, Totten, Steger, and Josselyn. The 1840 census reported that this group represented a county population of 17,526 of which 9,268 were white, 80 free Negroes and the rest slaves. Holly Springs’ population was 1,117 of which 595 were male.

After the 1841 elections, the new officers were urged by the papers to clean up the streets, fill the mud holes and remove the animal by-products. Politics sometimes took a turn that would make one shake his head in disbelief. A Mr. Howery was elected Circuit Judge for the District. When he came to the Courthouse to hold court, Judge Huling refused to vacate the bench. The two spent the rest of the afternoon ordering each other to jail until the bewildered court went home leaving them to argue it out. As we had the only courthouse at the time, court was held here for Coahoma, DeSoto, Lafayette, Panola, Tippah, and Tunica counties.

One of the more colorful stories was a case out of Panola County in which two alleged hog thieves were suing for false prosecution. The attorney for the “injured” client resorted to poetry in his summation. While humorous and witty on its own, it also demonstrates the intelligence level of the early lawyer. His summation was as follows:

“Now, gentlemen, who’ve smelt a skunk, and can remember how it stunk, May well imagine, as I think, What an intolerable stink,

“Will be assailing all your noses, before your humble servant closes. I am, you see, an aged man, whose days have dwindled to a span, and if I have not common sense, I have, at least, experience.

“I’ve prosecuted many rogues, for stealing other things than hogs, and prosecuted some - and “got em” - for stealing hogs in Hatchie Bottom.

“But never prosecuted quite, so great a rogue as O. C . Wright.

“I do believe, upon my soul, that Messrs. Wright and Isbell stole my injured clients’ old strayed sow, and if they didn’t - “any how” –

“It must appear, as seems to me, Suspicious in the last degree, to any body “up a tree.”

“With force and arms and sundry dogs, they set upon my client’s hogs. And, “animo furandi,” slew, and skinned and cleaned and split in two

“His old stray sow, and ner’ assayed, to ascertain how much she weighed,

“Nor were they ever heard to say, until the next succeeding day,

“That they had done this deed of blood; but for the day the matter stood

“All undivulged, which surely leaves, no room for doubt that they are thieves.

“Admitting, though, their innocence, I yet insist, for the defense,

“That it has not been fully proved, against my client that he moved

“A finger in the prosecution; but, if he did, the Constitution (I mean the law) will not permit, that he should suffer - not a whit –

“For prosecuting Wright, because, it was his duty, by the law’s (And being Foreman o’ the grand jury), to prosecute the case with fury. And, therefore, he should be protected, although his fury was directed With most malign and fierce intent, against a man quite innocent.

“Now, gentlemen, you all love pork. How sweet, when you’ve been hard at work,

“It is to cut into a ham - well cured, well boiled, (or fried) and exam

“The dainty morsels down your gullets, in company with flesh of pullets; Or titillate your yawning throats, with little, luscious, roasted shoats;

“Or suck off clean, like hungry Caribs, the flesh from the delicious spare-ribs! Oh! think of these things! Think of Vance, Deprived forever of the chance of eating up his old strayed sow! Imagine, for an instant, how

“His blood with indignation boiled, when he was of the sow despoiled; And though too fiercely he pursued, the men whose hand he had imbued

“In his best blood, yet, let the cause, of his wild anger with the law’s

“Plead his excuse and do not say, that he has anything to pay.

“So let your hogs repose in peace, and so your grunting herds increase That you ere long may swim in grease.

“So every man in every land, will from your verdict understand That he who liftith up his hand, against his neighbor’s hogs should die, and be consigned to infamy, Which will protect our darling hogs, from Wright and Isbell and their dogs. Now should you prove so ill inclined, and so flint-hearted as to find,

“A verdict of a cent for Wright, I shall go mad enough to fight, For Wright and Isbell, in a year, will murder every hog and steer, And cause a deadly famine here.”

The name of the lawyer is not on the document but it was attributed to Henry Craft. The story goes that the case was laughed out of court.

According to a June 1845 issue of the Gazette, in that year U.H. Ross was mayor. Hugh Craft, James Elder, J.H. Goodlett, Randolph Mott and Sam Taylor were the board or “selectmen.” The population was at about 2000 and the town consisted of the Washington Temperance Society, two taverns, a bowling alley, several casinos, six churches, five schools (one under construction), the Masonic Hall, fourteen dry goods shops, two shoe stores, eight produce houses, two drug stores, two candy stores, two hat shops, two printers, twelve law offices, nine doctor’s “shops,” four tailors, two dress shops, three shoe and boot shops, three coach shops, five blacksmiths, two cotton gins, two cabinet shops, one saddler, two silversmiths, three wagon shops, two gunsmiths, a cast iron foundry, one wool-carding machine, one tannery, one bath-house, four doggeries, and several mechanics. The bath-house was, according to their advertisement, “reserved for ladies on Friday for this healthful pastime.”

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

The railroad

According to a map of “Roads in Mississippi” in the National Archives, a “Four Horse PostCoach Road” was started between here and Hernando and Memphis and between here and Columbus and Tuscumbia, Ala.

The cotton crop was being hauled overland at the time and the need for a railroad was realized. The Legislature commissioned a company consisting of almost every civic leader to start such a road but it never got off the ground. This did, however, plant the seed for one of the town’s most important steps - The Mississippi Central.

Walter Goodman had an idea in the mid 1840s that affected Holly Springs as much as war or Yellow Fever. He started the first north-south railroad in this part of the country - The Mississippi Central. It must be remembered that all railroads ran east and west until then - with “westward expansion.” Goodman’s idea was to have a north-south railroad that ran through the center of Mississippi to be able to carry the crops to market - New Orleans to the south or Chicago to the north. The effect it actually had was to cause some towns to move and some to be formed at rail-heads. A less desirable effect was to have Grant use our marshaling yards to prepare for the battle against Vicksburg.

This was an unfortunate choice for both sides as Gen. Earl Van Dorn blew the whole thing up and did more damage to the town than any enemy action of the war. The passenger station was also a social center for quite a while as most traveled to and from Holly Springs by train. When Yellow Fever broke out, armed guards were posted at the station to keep any more who were “carrying the germ of Yellow Jack from contaminating our healthful and ‘lugubrious’ climate.”

And in this barely civilized setting, a man of vision and daring formed a winning team consisting of some of the most important and influential citizens the South ever produced for the sole purpose of building a road - a link between the “Lakes and the Gulf.”

The chief local member of the team was Col. Harvey W. Walter, the town’s most influential citizen and barrister with connections all the way back to Michigan in the north and the Supreme Court in Washington. The road was built specifically to connect Canton, the north end of the Jackson Road, to Grand Junction. For a while the road was financed by the sale of stocks to planters in north Mississippi and other businessmen. While there was not a common currency in that day, a planter would trade stock for labor, a baker for bread, and other barter deals were carried out which kept the project afloat.

The Holly Springs Times recorded that on November 16, 1853, the largest crowd to ever assemble for a railroad ground breaking ceremony gathered in Holly Springs that day. It said that, “No fewer than six thousand were in attendance and a sumptuous barbecue completed the day.” Another writer observed, “A procession formed in Main Street and marched to the scene of the ceremonies ... The Masons, Odd Fellows, directors, students of St. Thomas Hall and other citizens were in line. J.S. Clapp delivered the principal address .... Goodman urged the audience to bring the stock subscription up to $50,000... A lady started the ball rolling with a pledge of $1000 and, within an hour, $38,000 had been raised... Afterwards everyone participated in a ground breaking ceremony and a fair beginning had been made.”

By early 1855, some rail was laid and “the grand junction” of the Memphis & Charleston road was connected to Holly Springs. Another paper, The Vicksburg Whig reported that “two beautiful and highly polished locomotives for the Mississippi Central had arrived in Memphis.... They were covered with brass and gold leaf and their decorations made them a sight to behold! They were named ‘The H. W. Walter’ and ‘The Joseph Collins’ for another important board member. The engineer fired up the latter and let the screaming whistle proclaim ‘The Mississippi Central is born’!”

The economic climate of the late 1850s was not good and Goodman planned a very large celebration at the southern part of the project. At the north rail head of the southern effort a new town was springing up and it became known as Goodman. He decided to hold the fund raising party there and after stirring speeches by A.M. West and Dr. C.M. Vaiden, Goodman told the crowd that the construction was at a standstill for lack of funds. In March of that same year, Goodman contacted President Osborn of the Illinois Central and suggested that it would benefit his road to assist in the completion of the Mississippi Central.

Osborn sent an investigator to look over the situation and liked what he was told. With this information in hand and Osborn’s blessing, Goodman set sail for London to try to obtain English iron rails to complete the road in exchange for bonds. As luck would have it, he ran into George Peabody, the native American who had become a partner of J.S. Morgan, the powerful banker and financier. He was also surprised that Peabody was very familiar with the project and willing to accept 6 percent bonds for enough rail to complete it. He also invited Goodman to his home and they became fast friends.

A few years later Goodman teamed up with R.C. Brinkman, President of the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad, and built a first class hotel in Memphis. They named it for their friend and benefactor, Peabody. This stood for three quarters of a century as the best known landmark of the city and a monument to a man of vision who would extend a hand to someone of trust and character. It was replaced in 1925 by the Peabody that stands today.

In January 1860, a short distance south of Winona, Col. H.W. Walter who turned the first spade of earth and for whom the first locomotive was named, drove the last spike and the Mississippi Central was completed and open.

Crinolines, Cotton, and Cotillions
The start of opulence began in the early 1850s with the building of the great houses. An excellent work done by the University of Oklahoma Department of Indian History was titled, “Redskins, Rednecks, and Ruffle shirts.” This can be called the “Ruffle shirt” period. Several different styles of architecture were utilized.

The chalet appearance of Airliewood was one and the iron foundry supplied the beautiful castings that inspired Cedarhurst. The great brick houses were all built in the ’50s and the wood frame ones predate them by 10 or 15 years. Often they were started as log “dog-trots” - two large rooms separated by a large hall or open breezeway. Next, two more rooms were added to these and a second story. Some siding and columns completed the early mansions. Very few survive today as there were no fire departments. Many had separate kitchens because of this danger and, although the bricks could withstand a small fire, to the frame houses, it usually meant disaster.

Not all of the early homes were large. Some examples are “Colonsay Cottage” on E. College and the house that serves as a law office on Spring St. “White Pillars” took an interesting turn - that is, during one of its remodelings, it “turned” from facing South to facing East. This can be noticed by entering the “side” door and realizing that you are in a front hall. Entering the “front” door faces the side of a fireplace. “Imokalea,” which means “a happy place,” is the third oldest brick structure predated only by the Land Office known as “The Yellow Fever House” and the Mason house.

It was started in 1844 by a Mr. Knapp who was a merchant and partnered with a silversmith. It originally had two rooms up and two down and was solid brick. It was called an “English Basement” as the first floor was buried about half way making it cooler in the hot Mississippi summers. It was added onto several times, and each time it was re-bricked. The oldest wall is 27 inches thick!

The house has only had a half dozen owners in its 140+ year history. Sen. Hindman Doxey, Sr. was born there and Mr. John Wade, long time City Clerk, had it most of the 20th Century.

The most impressive, though, were the great, Greek Revival mansions such as Montrose and Oakleigh with their great columns and imposing, two-story, brick massiveness. To have had only hand tools, manual labor, and, for the most part, local materials, the scope and scale of what they built was, even by today’s standards, monumental.

Harvey Walter came to Ripley, Mississippi as a teenager. In those days, a lawyer could be trained in an apprentice program. He “read the law” in a firm in Ripley until he was ready to pass the bar. He married Fredonia Brown of Oxford and decided to move to Holly Springs. He practiced first on the court- house steps and soon made a name for himself. In a relatively short time, he had become economically successful and politically and socially prominent.

When Harvey and Fredonia Walter decided to build their home, as it was the last, it was to be the grandest. A look at the construction might be interesting. To the formal facade was added the great turrets that make it unique. According to J.R. Armstead, grandson of a worker on the place, when construction began, a large hole was dug in the front yard. The hole was filled with lime and water and covered with dirt. The quicklime got very hot and a vent was left in the dirt plug to let off steam and add more water.

Next, the footing was dug carefully so as not to disturb the surrounding area as it sat flat on the ground on a brick foot pad. The ditch was filled partly with sand and flooded level before the first brick was laid. The four main walls that ran front to back were built first. They were very wide at the bottom, narrowed for about two feet then widened again at tile floor level. They narrowed again suddenly to form a ledge. The wood floor frame rested on this ledge and the process repeated at the second floor and ceiling.

The elaborate moldings that were added later were to hide this brick cobbling. The walls were hollow as they understood “dead air space” insulation. Only after all this were the front and back walls added. As the flooring was sawed in slightly different thicknesses, each board had to be hewn to the floor joists. Remember the mysterious hole? - Plaster in the making.

Part of the now hydrated lime was mixed with horse hair and sand to provide the base coat on the brick backing. Part was mixed with sand to level it and a thin “white coat” completed the plaster finish. The details and wood trim were added last and hand worked by artisans. The finish plaster was hand painted to resemble wallpaper in patterns that would, today, seem simplistic but, in that day, they were probably quite the style. The “stone” columns were actually brick that was plastered over with mortar.

A formal English garden and wading pool high-lighted the lawn treatment and the brick walks and curving drives completed the picture. In the original house the kitchen was separate in the back as was the custom. This kept the smells and heat out of the main house and, as kitchens were known to catch fire, did not endanger it.

There was an individual coal grate fireplace in each room for heat and in the summer the house was fairly cool. The windows were open at night and it cooled. They were then closed the next morning and the slight heat build-up was lost in the sixteen foot ceilings. The greatest irony was that this most perfect setting for antebellum grandeur enjoyed but two years of splendor before the “dogs of war” devoured its elegance for many, many years.

Walter left one more “impression” on the town and particularly the Presbyterian Church of which he was a member. In those days, the church was rather straight- laced and rigid in its views of dancing and other such “sinful practices.” It is probable that Walter was also the chief financial backer of the church. One fateful morning the minister made the grievous error of reprimanding him from the pulpit.

Walter submitted his letter of resignation on Monday and the minister’s was “accepted” Tuesday.

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart


The winds of war found Holly Springs to be the crown jewel of “The Empire County” as Marshall was called. The Mississippi Central had just been completed; the plantation system, that was the backbone of the economy, was in full swing; and the mansions, resplendent in their scale, were new enough to still be shown off to those attending the parties that were the mainstay of social life. The interests of youth centered mostly around the Female Institute and St. Thomas Hall as the young ladies flirted and the young gentlemen cavorted about, as was the custom.

The rumors of war were spread with the reckless abandon of youth and the studied concern of older and wiser heads. The fact of war exploded like a mortar, shattering the elegance that was Holly Springs forever.

President Jeff Davis had asked Mississippi for 1500 men to “dispatch this rabble from their northern aggression.” Meetings were held and plans made as to how we would “meet the call.” Three companies were formed and accepted for this service - the Jeff Davis Rifles, Capt. Sam Benton, commanding; the Home Guards, Capt. Thomas Harris; and the Quitman Rifle Guards, under Capt. Robert McGowan, Jr. The first two were from Holly Springs and the latter from Waterford. The volunteers departed Marshall County on Thursday, the 28th of March, 1861, accompanied by much flag waving and ceremony.

Miss Jennie Edmunston, representing the Female Institute, presented a flag to the Jeff Davis Rifles. A reporter noted, “She was most tastefully dressed, having a jacket of gray, trimmed in black, with a cap of similar material, to correspond with the uniform of the Rifles. Her address was replete with beauty, both in the matter and manner of it. Her graceful figure, her handsome features, her clear, distinct and musical enunciations and yet more, the earnest feeling with which she spoke, all tended to greatly heighten the effect of the burning words and elegant diction of the address itself.”

Shortly after, the “heavily freighted iron horse” steamed out of sight and the reality of war began to creep into the life of the town. Things went well the first year with dreams of winning engulfed in crinoline, cotton and cotillions. The cheers for “our glorious victories,” however, began to ring hollow as the victories got closer and closer. Then, finally, on July 1, 1862, alarm spread as routed cavalry dashed through town pursued by Brigadier General J.W. Denver, commanding Yankee Cavalry backed by the shattering thunder of an artillery battery. The units, it was later learned, were an advanced detachment of Major General William T. Sherman’s group camped at Moscow, Tennessee. In Sherman’s own words:

“I met Hurlburt’s division at Hudsonville and we moved forward to Coldwater, the first and only point where water can be had between the Wolf River and Holly Springs. Our cavalry found the enemy’s pickets at Hudsonville, drove them across Coldwater, and back toward Holly Springs. About 2-1/2 miles out of Holly Springs, the advance guard was drawn into an ambush, was fired on, lost one man killed and three wounded, all of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry. This cavalry, about 150 men, under command of Major Gibson, was dismounted and drove the enemy out of the woods, killing one and wounding others. The enemy’s cavalry, three battalions, in all about 1,200 men, under Colonels Jackson and Pinson, formed in front of Holly Springs. General Denver, commanding the advance brigade, moved forward Captain Muller’s battery, which by about 18 rounds dispersed the cavalry, which retreated through and beyond the town. General Denver moved to the edge of town and sent pickets through. There was no enemy at Holly Springs but these two regiments of cavalry, about 1,500 strong. These kept away whenever I sent troops into town, but returned in small squads whenever I withdrew the command.”

And so Holly Springs tasted attack and Confederate Cavalry tasted Yankee artillery. The first Union unit to actually enter the town reported:

“GENERAL: Having on the first instant crossed Coldwater Creek on the road from this place to Holly Springs, Miss., in obedience to orders received from your assistant adjutant-general, I pushed on with my brigade and the Morton (Indiana) Battery, Captain Mueller, the Fourth Regiment Illinois Cavalry being in advance, until arriving about 2 1/2 miles from Holly Springs, where a sharp skirmish was going on with the enemy’s cavalry. The enemy had fired from ambush on our cavalry at very short range, but only killed one man and wounded three others. Our cavalry dismounted, and very gallantly entering the bushes, although greatly outnumbered, drove the enemy from the ground. The firing still continuing pretty sharp in front, and three considerable bodies of the enemy’s cavalry having shown themselves near the town, I ordered up the Forty-Eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Parker commanding, to re-enforce the cavalry, still engaged as skirmishers, when I received your orders to halt and not advance any farther. After sending the cavalry and some of my staff through the town, I returned to Coldwater with my command, in accordance with your orders.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, J.W. Denver, Brig. General, Commanding”

Holly Springs had but from July 1 to November 13, 1862 to get over the shock of attack until she must suffer the ultimate indignity, occupation:

“Reports of Col. Albert L. Lee, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, of skirmish at Holly Springs, November 13, and of expedition from Grand Junction to Ripley, November 19-20

HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., November 13, 1862 Daylight

General: I have just entered this city and my pickets are polluting the ‘sacred soil’ some two miles below it. I found considerable force of cavalry, but they skedaddled. We charged their pickets two miles north of town, capturing four and killing one man. No loss on our side.

Rebel infantry is below Tallahatchie, cavalry at Lumpkin’s Mill and vicinity. I shall send there this morning. Lumpkin’s Mill is 7 miles South.

I am, general, your obedient servant, A.L. Lee

HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., November 13, 1862 8:00 A.M.

GENERAL: We have pursued the enemy four miles below this city, killing and capturing. I have taken prisoner a captain and commissary of subsistence on Van Dorn’s staff. He says Van Dorn is not in arrest. I find a hospital 1-1/2 miles from town with a number of convalescents. In all I have about 100 prisoners and the work is going on.

HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., November 13, 1862 3:30 P.M.

GENERAL: I have been skirmishing with the enemy’s cavalry all day. They had had up five regiments. We have just ended an affair in some force, and they are now advancing on us openly with artillery. General Sullivan is here, but thinks he may have exceeded orders, and feels delicate about engaging in any fight now to hold this place. If you will allow me to express my opinion, we should be immediately re-enforced or not expected to hold the place. Believe their infantry is mainly, if not quite, the other side of Tallahatchie - some may be this side. I have been nearly to Lumpkin’s Mill and their strong force of cavalry followed me back. Have captured a lieutenant and several men. Please send instruction to me immediately and to the infantry behind me. General Sullivan decides to fall back to Coldwater, fearing an engagement. I continue to occupy the place, and shall do so until further orders.

A.L. Lee,
Colonel, Commanding Cavalry Division General U.S. Grant, Commanding”

And so it had happened. Four terse reports announced the death of an era - the end of a time, “Gone with the Wind.”

Much has been written about the conditions during occupation, the liberties taken by some and yet the civilized behavior of others. No matter how it was conducted, it was, to a proud people, a malignancy that humbled all but the strongest. The Yankee celebrated this conquest but five weeks before the best known event on our history occurred. A brash young man known as the “Will-o-the-Wisp” paid a call on the town one frosty morning a few days before Christmas. It is interesting from the brevity of his official report, how little he spoke of the importance of the event.

“HOLLY SPRINGS, MISS., December 20, 1862

I surprised the enemy at this place at daylight this morning; burned up all the quartermaster’s stores, cotton, & etc. - - an immense amount; burned up many trains; took a great many arms and about 1,500 prisoners. I presume the value of the stores would amount to $1,500,000. I move on to Davis’ Mill at once.

Major General Earl Van Dorn

Lieutenant General Earl Pemberton.”

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

“The Beardless Bugler”

The stories of events that happened at this time would be a large, separate work. One of the more colorful stories was told by a descendant of Harvey Walter. Part of the story is verified in the “War of the Rebellion.” It seems that Grant’s wife was in residence at the Walter home up until the day before the town was captured. Mrs. Govan, who the Confederate officers mistook for her, was not harmed or disturbed in any way. Because of this act, that was typical Southern chivalry, General Grant issued orders that the house was not to be harmed in any way by any member of the Union army and that it was a “safe haven.” This much is documentable - the story continues, however, that a young Cavalry officer was wounded in the knee and came there to convalesce. He was hidden in the attic and, if danger of discovery occurred, moved to a compartment over the columns out of sight. It seems, as the story is told, that Mrs. Walter had a French maid and that she instructed her to “see to his needs.” The elderly story teller chuckled as she related that “the maid must have tended to all his needs as the child she bore later had a striking resemblance to that dashing young Confederate.”

Mrs. Ruth Watkins wrote a master’s theses while at the University of Mississippi that was published by the Mississippi Historical Society in 1910. The work is quoted verbatim in Hamilton’s Thesis, who states that “it is so complete that I can add nothing to it.” Anyone interested in a first hand account of Van Dorn’s Raid from the Confederate perspective will find it in Hamilton’s work.

One perspective that is almost never told is that from the “other side.” One such story was related by F.L. Bristow to the old Memphis Appeal when he visited Holly Springs on the anniversary of the raid. He related the story of “The Beardless Bugler” as follows:

“In the early spring of 1862 a half dozen members of the junior class, ranging from 16 to 18 years of age, joyously wending their way to the classic halls of old Illinois College, boldly marched up to a recruiting officer’s table, and placed their names upon the roll of those who were willing to risk their lives and sacred honors in defense of the Union, encouraged to this patriotic duty by the stirring strains of ‘Barbara Allen,’ beautifully rendered up on the fife and drum by ‘Musicianers’ Charley Nappy and John Longley. Being musically inclined at a very early age, I naturally sought to be enrolled as a member of the drum corps, and soon after the organization of our company, I became respectively fifer and drummer. Afterwards I was appointed principal musician of the 101st Illinois infantry volunteers, Col. Charles Fox commanding. Among the many company musicians, organized into our regimental drum corps, there was one peculiar looking and acting fellow by the name of John Ham, who became our bugler. He seemed to have a most intense hatred for all kinds of rebels, male, female, and even children, all of whom he said should be hung, drawn and quartered, in order to stop the breed. When bugler Ham was not cussing rebels, he amused the boys by playing the fiddle, an accomplishment at which he was an expert, and he never failed to attract a crowd of delighted listeners and dancing soldiers every time he struck up ‘Money Musk’, ‘Davis’s Dream’, or ‘Sugar in the Gourd.’ We formed a string band and delighted the lovely and loveable young ladies. After a short rendezvous in our home camp, we suddenly were hurried to the front to take part in Gen. Grant’s first overland attempt to invest Vicksburg by way of Holly Springs. By reason of our being raw recruits, we did not stay long at the front, but were ordered to Holly Springs to guard the immense store of supplies there for Grant’s whole army. As leader of the post band, I had my headquarters in the deserted office of a lawyer named Strickland at one corner of the business square in front of which we played reveille, guard mount, taps, etc., as our daily military duties. In a short time after our arrival, our string band was invited by our major, N.B. Brown, to visit the residence of a Mrs. Dr. Long, where he had established his headquarters without consulting the wishes of the owner, who was a noble Southern matron, ever faithful and devoted to the cause of Dixie. Our music must have had a soothing influence upon the heart and mind of our lady hostess and her fair niece for we were well received and cordially invited to call again. Some time our bugler, John Ham was missing from our mess, and when asked where he had been, would sullenly reply, ‘I have been down to that rebel widow’s wooing her niece with my fiddle trying to convert her into a good, loyal, Yankee Union girl.’ On the night of December the 19th, in fancied security, we peacefully retired to our soldier beds in Strickland’s law office in the sweet Southland of fruits and flowers, without a care or thought of civil war and its horrors, to dream of our homes in the far away Northland of ice and snow. Suddenly we were awakened by the rapid and continuous firing of muskets in the near distance. Quickly six of us Yankee musicians sat upright in our beds, and stared at each other with eyes, ears and mouths wide open. ‘What is it?’ each one of us instinctively asked of the others, as the firing continued, accompanied by terrible Comanche yells and howls. At last I found the courage to say, ‘Boys, I will go out doors and see what is up.’ I cautiously opened the door, walked to the corner of the office and looked down the street toward the railroad depot and saw what seemed to be a herd of wild buffalos snorting, mad and heading toward me at a mile a minute and shooting, bullets whistling around my head. I had only time to run back and say, ‘Boys, the rebs have got us sure and certain this time.’ Before my companions could reply, our ears heard the following emphatic orders never before issued to us by friend or foe: ‘Come down from there, you d--d Yankees! Lay down your arms and surrender!’ So Holly Springs, Miss. with its many millions of dollars’ worth of supplies of all kinds for Gen. Grant’s army, was captured by Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s command. But what caused this uncontested, ‘disgraceful surrender of Holly Springs,’ as Grant called it’? After the awful conglomeration of firing, yelling, cursing and commanding had entirely ceased, I stood upon a table and peeped through the transom in our front door. I saw a neatly dressed Confederate officer on his horse in the street, right in front of our quarters, attended by an orderly or two. I whispered to my comrades, ‘We better surrender, boys, as the rest of the regiment has done so.’ They all agreed to this. I noisily unlocked the door and mildly and politely said to the officer, ‘We surrender, sir. We are Musicianers, and bear no arms.’ He replied, ‘That’s all right. But you had better hurry down that street to the railroad and join the others before that arsenal takes fire there, as it will be blown up soon.’ As I turned quickly to follow this, I heard him say, ‘Why, John Ham, how on earth did you come to be here?’ I turned to see Ham go up near to the officer’s horse, put his hand on right side of the stirrup, and as the officer lowered his head, I saw Ham whisper something in his ear. The officer smiled and then said aloud, ‘All right, John, you follow the others down the street.’ I never saw John Ham while we were being furnished with individual paroles of honor not to fight again until we were regularly exchanged. But late that afternoon as the Confederates commenced to leave Holly Springs, who should ride up on a horse but John Ham, and jokingly say to me, ‘Goodby, Frank! I guess you will have to get another bugler hereafter.’ You see, John Ham was a Confederate officer with Price’s command. While in Missouri, he slipped over to join the 101st Illinois. He furnished information to Mrs. Long that, due to a hurried change of commanders, there were no pickets out on the morning of the 20th and he sent word to Van Dorn that the time was right to capture sleeping Holly Springs and delay the capture of Vicksburg by a year. ‘I believe,’ said Mr. Bristow, ‘that you must agree that this is one time Johney Reb out yanked the Yankee’.”

(To be continued...)

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

At the end of the war...
nothing but an indomitable will

No matter how little Van Dorn had to say, the Union officers wrote quite a bit about it; mostly blaming each other, establishing their own excuses, and even blaming the local citizens’ hospitality. The Union Chief Surgeon wrote a particularly bitter report of the engagement stating...

“This proceeding, in violation of an express promise, and of all the rules of civilized warfare, is an evidence of the barbarity and want of principle of Confederate officers. But this is not all; an attempt was also made to destroy the general hospital located on the main square, and which at the time contained over 500 sick. A quantity of ordinance stores had been deposited in a building on the next block to the hospital, and by order of General Van Dorn, as stated by the Confederate officer who had charge of the matter, the barrels of powder and boxes, containing shells and cartridges, were taken out and piled up nearly in front of the hospital and set fire to. Two medical officers protested against this wanton act, but their requests were treated with contempt, and before there was time to remove the sick the walls and windows of the hospital were riddled with flying balls and shells, and finally a terrific explosion took place which shook the entire building, destroying almost every window and door in the establishment, wounding about 20 men and creating a scene of the wildest confusion. A large number of buildings on the public square took fire from the explosion, and it was only by the utmost efforts that the hospital was preserved as a shelter for the men from night air, together with the medical officers, who assisted me in caring for the sick and wounded on that trying day.”

Colonel James M. True established his innocence of the “mess” reporting:

“On December 18, 1862, being then at Holly Springs, Miss., with my command, I received orders to report at Jackson, Tenn., with all my effective men with arms and provisions for two days. In pursuance whereof I immediately proceeded to Jackson by rail as ordered, leaving Holly Springs about 200 men, 70 of whom, including Maj. Steven. M. Meeker and one lieutenant were on duty and not relieved, and the remainder, including two lieutenants, sick and convalescent.”

Major John J. Mudd, in his report, made what is, perhaps, the wildest accusation of all:

“I cannot close this report without expressing the opinion that this disaster is another added to the long list occasioned by the drunkenness or inefficiency of commanding officers. I cannot doubt but that the place could have been successfully defended by even half the force here had suitable precautions been taken and the infantry been concentrated, their officers in camp with them and prepared to fight. This was not done; but on the contrary they were scattered in four or five different sections of the place, their officers quietly sleeping at the houses of rebel citizens, who were no doubt apprised of the advance of the enemy and would be, of course, unusually agreeable and polite and lavish with their wines and brandies.

John J. Mudd, Major, Commanding Second Illinois Cavalry.”

A Lt. Col. Murphy “appropriated” the Daniel Home for his residence and Headquarters. It seems that even that large, old home couldn’t hide him from Grant’s wrath which wasn’t long coming for shortly, that fine old Yankee tradition reared its head; “if the business has problems - fire the manager,” to wit:

“GENERAL ORDERS; HDQRS, (DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE, No. 4 ) Holly Springs, Miss., January 8, 1863.

Lt. Col. R.C. Murphy, of the Eighth Regiment Wisconsin Infantry Volunteers, having, while in command of the post of Holly Springs, Miss., neglected and failed to exercise the usual and ordinary precautions to guard and protect the same; having after repeated and timely warning of the approach of the enemy, failed to make any preparations for resistance or defense or show any disposition to do so; and having, with a force amply sufficient to have repulsed the enemy and protect the public stores, disgracefully permitted him to capture the post and destroy the stores and, the movement of troops in the face of an enemy rendering it impracticable to convene a court-martial for his trial, is, therefore, dismissed from the service of the United States, to take effect from the 20th day of December, 1862, the date of his cowardly and disgraceful conduct.

By order of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant.”

One interesting story that occurred during the raid was that a young Confederate named Herman Wohlleben, a blacksmith from Oxford and a member of Co B. 1st Mississippi Cav., noticed the Yankee Paymaster’s box-car overturned and saw great sheets of uncut “greenbacks” lying in the dirt. While some of the locals looked at them with disdain, the trooper announced to those around that he knew what they were good for as his mule had no saddle blanket. He gathered a thick stack, placed them under the saddle and rode off. One can only leave to conjecture whether his motive was to protect his mule’s back or his family’s security should the fortunes of war turn sour as, after the war his daughter, Nell, married J.E. Neilson who built a very large business in his home town - a business that exists today.

The pursuit of Van Dorn was immediate, if disorganized. He was reported in LaGrange, Grand Junction, southeast, west of town and in so many places at once that the reason for his nickname became evident. Ten days later, Union officers were still squabbling as is evident in the report of Col. B.H. Grierson:

“Finding that they had encamped, and it now being dark, and Colonel Lee with his brigade being 5 miles in the rear, to whom I had sent repeated orders to close up on the front and to which he paid no attention, I then sent him a written order, which still found him 5 miles in the rear, with skirmishers dismounted on the flanks and front on ground over which I had passed with all due caution two hours previously. Here I ordered Major Loomis, Sixth Illinois Cavalry, to charge the enemy with one battalion, to which he promptly responded, but had no opportunity, as the enemy fled precipitately. In this engagement Van Dorn commanded in person.”

Within a year the South had become masters of the hit-and-run “Lightning Raid.” Its effect was evident in the report of Major Boswell:

“September 7, 1863

Skirmish at Holly Springs, Miss.

Report of Maj. Thomas H. Boswell, Sixth Tennessee Cavalry -

COLONEL: We had a tight little fight in Holly Springs this evening. There were about 125 rebels here, and they fought for a while like wildcats: but when we charged on them, they, as usual, ran. The best information I can get is that there is a large force between here and Hernando, on Coldwater. I will stay several miles out toward La Grange tonight. Mitchell has about 100 men. I want to capture him. We have several prisoners. You need not come with less than 1,000 well mounted and armed men. A little artillery would not hurt.

T.H. Boswell, Major

By mid-1863, occupation was fairly permanent and there were many changes in daily life. All local government had been replaced by a Provost Court run by a Union Captain, a lawyer who acted as Sheriff, Mayor, Judge and “surrogate to Caesar” in general. A bitter rift began to develop between North Mississippi and the rest of the state. Merchants began to realize the futility of trading with Confederate money and would reluctantly accept it at a considerable discount. A planter found that the only place he could sell a bale of cotton was to the Union; they would only pay in “Lincoln Green;” and that was the only thing that would feed his family. North Mississippi was, therefore, accused of “dealing with the enemy.”

One local citizen wrote this to a friend:

“Last winter we fed and foraged Van Dorn and Price’s entire army, then followed Grant’s immense force, which not only ate us entirely out, but have from that time to the present, plundered us of wagons, horses, mules, oxen, hogs, cereals, meats, etc. thus depriving our people of the means of making crops, hauling from other points, casing meat, etc. While I write, there is not on my premises a single pound of meat, but 1/2 bbl. flour, 1 peck meal, and one bush. corn. I hire a wagon and pair of mules, $15 per day, send them to the country to buy wheat, corn, (meat is out of the question) and half or two-thirds the planters demand what is called, vulgarly, Greenback. If I succeed in getting it, I send it to the mill 10 miles, at a similar cost, but I have no shoes, no sugar, no coffee, candles, bacon, lard, clothes and a thousand things actually necessary.”

By the end, the Provost Court was processing Confederates by requiring on “oath of loyalty.” If they signed the pledge, they regained citizenship. If they refused, they had no rights at all. In conclusion, I believe Mr. Hamilton stated it best:

“There remain this further to be said: that Holly Springs, of course, suffered horribly during the war, undergoing around sixty distinct raids. The Yankees, of course, had to be driven out by the Johnny Rebs, so the amount of fighting can be appreciated. Miss Scales’ letters give an idea of the deprivations. It would be difficult to say which color uniform created the most havoc in the town, as the Gray burned and pillaged or paid for supplies in confederate money, (which amounted to seizure), fully as much as the Blue. At the end of the war, people found themselves without money, cotton, horses, provisions - - nothing but an indomitable will.”

(To be continued...)

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart


The end of the bloody horror we called the “War Between the States” found Holly Springs a shattered, occupied city. Most of the businesses on the square were closed or damaged or still showing the after-effect of “The Glorious 20th” as we then referred to Van Dorn’s Raid. Local citizens wrote to friends in other places terribly sad letters describing their plight as having virtually nothing left with which to re-establish their lives, having been looted, pillaged and burned out by “Blue and Gray” alike.

The Federal government then set about convincing Southerners of the wisdom of what they had believed all along; that they were better off out of the Union than in it. At the end of the fighting in 1865, Holly Springs had three companies of Federal Troops in occupation. By 1866 the number was reduced to 162 men. They stayed in St. Thomas Hall, the boys school located in the northeast corner of town. By the end of 1867, the Headquarters of the military government was here. Federal reports sent back to Washington (some called Rome) stated that “all the laborers were receiving their wages and there was no destitution among the freedmen.” The reports carefully made no mention of the deprivation of the white residents.

Political lines were sharp and clear. Democratic leaders were Henry C. Myers, James Chalmers, Kinlock Falconer, John B. Fant and George Myers. To the surprise of many, there were some blacks who became Democratic, aided the Party materially and remained loyal throughout the trying times. Some names that might sound familiar are Henry House (former servant of J.J. House), Booker Alston, John Price, John Thompson, Hubbard Bogan, and William Hindman. There is an unsubstantiated legend that Judge Clapp had a black “English butler” who was so knowledgeable, he was, in fact, the local consultant whose advice was much sought in matters of propriety and manners. He was, in fact, the town’s “Miss Manners.” He, too, remained not only loyal, but was proposed for public office.

The Republicans were the carpetbaggers and scalawags who saw political opportunity in the election that would follow as they could get away with anything in the name of “freedom.” B.D. Nabors was Chancery Clerk. George Buchanan, a former Confederate Captain, partnered with Nelson Gill in organizing the newly freed, totally illiterate blacks. “Cap Buchanan,” as he was called, was appointed Sheriff and barely re-elected in 1871.

The story of that election is a Holly Springs classic and typical of the “shenanigans” of the day. In those days you voted a “straight ticket.” That is, you were given two ballots and the one you wished to cast, you placed in the box. A few days before the election, the Republican ballots were “borrowed” and shipped to Nashville where a picture of a tiger was printed in them. A rumor was started among the highly superstitious freedmen that they must “put the tiger in the box or the tiger would get them.”

In a later election, the same trick was going to be pulled again but this time it backfired. Miss Nettie Fant Thompson’s mother, who had once taught art, carved a wood printing block and tigers appeared on all the ballots. The confused, illiterate freedmen cast about a 50/50 ballot on sheer luck and the Democrats won that one. In another, Republican ballots were printed on red paper.

J. S. Burton, another turn-coat, became county treasurer. It was charged that he amassed a fortune buying school warrants at 60 percent to 90 percent and later redeeming them at par. Dr. W.C. Stearns, a carpetbagger, was said to be a bitter man who hated the South, was radical, mentally unstable, and unprincipled.

There were notable exceptions among the Republicans. One was G. Wiley Wells who came to Marshall County as United States District Attorney. He was a liberal but fair-minded man who was so well thought of that the Democrats supported him and elected him to Congress in 1875. The biggest carpetbagger, and chief crook was Nelson G. Gill, Buchannan’s partner. He was said to be “tall, spare, ugly as sin, but a great talker.” (One ex-slave who had sat through one of his speeches said, “Lawd, dat main tawk so much, eben he don’t know what all he say, much less me,”) He was head of the Freedmen’s Bureau.

His wife operated a black school and required all the black children to buy a picture of her at the relative high price of twenty- five cents. Gill later left her and married her sister. He held several offices, board president among others. He was elected to the Legislature in ’71 and ’74. At this session he made Col. H.M. Street angry enough to grab Gill by the beard and shake him “until his teeth rattled.” While acting as Sgt. at Arms, he substituted illiterate, black children for the pages causing much confusion as they could not deliver notes to the person to whom they were addressed. At the Democratic convention, resolutions were introduced condemning his activities. He answered by informing the assembly that his actions “were none of their damned business.” That was his downfall as Col. Labauve shouted “put that scoundrel out of here!” Gill, sensing the dangerous error, fled the Capitol, the legislative mob in pursuit.

Union Major Liberty Abbot was chancellor of Holly Springs District in 1870 and was succeeded by a Capt. Sturgis, a radical scoundrel who delighted in tormenting white Southerners and accepted bribes openly. On one occasion, Dr. Peel’s wife was being verbally abused by a Union enlisted man on the streets and he struck the Yankee. This meant automatic arrest and probable conviction. Capt. Sam Frank, a local Jewish merchant and friend of the doomed Dr. Peel, approached the bench and began rolling $20 gold pieces across the table “like a boy shooting marbles.” When Sturgis could stand it no more, he instructed the gentleman by saying “in the future don’t just hit him -thrash him thoroughly!”

The courthouse had been used in the war as a military jail for Federal prisoners. In an escape attempt, one of their own officers set fire to it and burned it. Court was held after that in the basement of the Methodist Church and the Franklin Female Institute. Gill would drag white Southerners, men, women or children, before his tribunal at the slightest accusation of a black. Five prominent men dressed in full KKK regalia paid his office a visit one day and told him that the next woman he bothered would be his last. It was his last. On one occasion, a $500 pot was made up to hire a Texan to shoot Gill. The contributors thought better of it and the plan was withdrawn.

James Hill, black, had been another “gentleman’s gentleman” to John Hill of Salem Rd. before the war. He was elected Secretary of State in 1874. He was a literate man who frequently sought the council of his former owner. He even came to their aid when they were ill and gave them financial aid. He was so popular, he was re-elected unopposed by both parties and totally escaped the massive impeachments of 1876.

In general, the populace of Holly Springs, got along well with her military captors. Newspaper articles describe “gay balls and bright parties” for the citizens and the army. These articles also mention a Federal officer named Clark. He was captured in the war by Capt. Ed Crump’s command, liked the Rebels so much that he enlisted in the company and fought with the Gray the rest of the war. In the end, he moved to Holly Springs with several friends.

There were, however, times of excitement. At one time there was a big Republican Rally on the square. The hated Gill was speaking. George Myers, a one-armed former C. S.A. Colonel, became so indignant at some of Gill’s false accusations that he jumped to the stand and called him a liar. A fight broke out that included the breaking of a visiting Republican celebrity’s leg with a brick by Henry Dancy. The battle of sticks and bricks was finally quieted by fully armed Democrats that issued from the stores and helped the military.

In the midst of incompetent black rule, occupation and general turmoil, Holly Springs did manage some real Reconstruction. The Mississippi Central Railroad was repaired and several corporations started. A. W. Goodrich, ante-bellum mayor was re-elected to the office in 1872 and held it until 1878. The city had an in-town railroad that brought visitors from the depot to the square and some homes were constructed; Major Addison Craft’s “The Pines” among others. The three story Masonic hall was rebuilt and the Holly Springs Gas Works was started. According to the two local papers, The Independent South and The Reporter, Holly Springs was a wet, wet town. All drug stores and some general merchants sold whiskey and there was a three story distillery in Spring Hollow. There were several “cafes” in “Hell’s Half Acre” (along College between Market and Falconer) that were really saloons. The story goes that, when they ran out of table space, the waiters would set up on the court lawn. A patron could ride the train to here, take the trolley to the square, get a table, and not even know which bar he was doing business with.

Holly Springs had survived her birth pangs, when drought and panic had combined to kill her in the cradle. She had survived the prosperity that would have been the downfall of a lesser people. She survived the horrors of war and the greater horrors of occupation by the dregs of the North.

In September of 1878, she was dealt a blow, a catastrophe so terrible, she never fully recovered. It was Yellow Fever and it marked the end of the period called “Reconstruction.”

(part 9 of a 10 part series)

From Whence We Came
Tom Stewart

The conclusion

The Fever

The old Minute books of the City of Holly Springs have faithfully recorded the many details of its business - some mundane and uninteresting and some very important.

None, however, has spoken so much as the only blank page found in them that bespoke the disaster called Yellow Fever - that page is found in late 1878. The Minute books were, of course, hand written and were large, hard-bound ledgers that were probably expensive. It was normal to record the details of the actions of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen for any one meeting, skip one line and begin recording the next.

Such was the case in mid- August of that fateful year when the first hint of concern was noted in the passing of a resolution prescribing certain steps toward improving sanitation in the city. Remember that this was before the microscope was here and how fever was spread was not understood at all. The best guess was that it was carried on “swamp vapor.”

August 7 - The citizens of the place in public meeting having suggested to the board the propriety of looking into the sanitary condition of the city, it was ordered the Mayor address a request to Drs. S.C. Gholson, F.W. Dancy, and J.W. Gray asking their cooperation and advice in such measures as may be deemed prudent in protecting the city from possible danger of and from Malarial Disease.

It only took the new “Board of Health” a few days to act and make some strong recommendations.

Monday August 12 - At the request of the Board of Health in special session - present Mayor and Aldermen Crump, Craft, and Harges - the board made the following report which was adopted and ordered. ... The conclusion of the board is that the city shall be disinfected by sprinkling un-slacked lime along the alleys and the streets where any filth may be found (and) in addition, we recommend a solution of Copperas 1 lb. to the gallon of water be used on any public place. That any person who has a pig or hog about their premises are carefully abated and cleansed and limed and that all private premises be cleansed and disinfected immediately. ... We further make this recommendation that while this place had always rightfully been regarded as healthy there is now more sickness than has been known for five years during the month of August.

And so the first hint of urgency was sounded in the carefully guarded tones of the medical profession. Then on Wednesday the first alarm sounded and the seriousness of the situation was suspected.

August 15, ’78 - Upon the receipt of a telegram from Grenada the bell was rung and the citizens promptly met in the Court House. By calling the Hon. J.W.C. Watson to the chair and Col. Holland acting Sect., upon reading the telegram from Grenada asking help for the sufferers and on motion of Mr. Simms, it was ordered that the Mayor forward to the Mayor of Grenada the sum of three hundred dollars. The board convened and ordered the issuance of warrants for one hundred dollars to be turned over to the relief or financial committee, W.A. Jones, for the relief and benefit of sufferers. The Board of Health makes the following resolution. Whereas the City of Holly Springs (has) no Hospital and no way of accommodating strangers other than that offered by the hospitality of its citizens and the limited capacity of two small hotels, Resolved 1st that the Mayor and aldermen of the city should take such steps at once as to prevent any person being put off any train from an infected district in the corporation unless invited by friends or relatives to their private homes and that the Mayor of Memphis, New Orleans, and Grenada be acquainted with the Proceedings of this board - Resolved 2nd that no bedding, blanket or woolen article that may carry the germ of Yellow Fever be put off and - Resolved 3rd that the City Marshal be required to be at the Depot upon the arrival of each train and see that the foregoing Resolutions are carried out. (Signed by the Doctors)

The next step must have met with some strong opposition as the next entry states that the resolution requesting absolute quarantine did not pass with two aldermen and the Mayor voting against it. Two days later, however, the orders were carried out “post haste.”

Mayor’s Office August 17 to Capt. W.A. Jones, City Marshal. - From this date, you will be required to be at the depot upon the arrival of every train and see that no person stops who appears to have symptoms of Yellow Fever and see that no bundle of bedding or other woolen articles be put off ... You will call on Dr. Christian for medical advice in any case on the spot if needed.

Some rise in the cases must have ensued in the next few days as the need for a hospital was noted.

Aug. 23 9 O’clock - . . . Complaints being made about the unhealthy condition of the Tank Pond outside of (the) corporation, it was ordered that Commissioner Jones take street force with him and repair to and do what seems mindful and it was ordered by the Board that the committee make arrangements with Edgar Yowell for his house as and for a Hospital ... or make for a house in some suitable place or build one ...

One can only leave to conjecture how urgent the situation had become at this time as they began to meet daily and the word “panic” was used even though it was still probably not believed.

August 24 10 o’clock . . . it was agreed upon (by the Health Board) that the city authorities take and appropriate the county Poor House as and for a Hospital for the present emergency and that it be repaired and cleaned with lime and implements. The instructions of the Board of Health being presented and considered as follows: in view of the great panic which we believe is groundless on account of a few cases of imported fever in town exciting the minds of many of the citizens we would recommend to the Board they establish a fever Hospital to carry each case of fever to which may occur to persons coming to this town from infected districts...

The above entry was written by the Mayor, B.G. Lawrence, and not the Clerk. No other entries were made in August nor were any at all made in September when it is known that fever was at the worst. The next entry was on November 12. It is in a different hand, written poorly and contains several ink smears. It begins to describe steps toward re-organization, quits in mid-sentence and the rest of the page is blank ...

Nov. 12 1878 - 2 o’clock - Board met at the Mayor’s Office, present the Mayor, and Ald. Hastings, Hargis, and Wilkerson. It being a called meeting for the purpose of organizing after the fever. They agreed upon the appointment of Register for the city preparatory to holding of an election for Mayor and Aldermen which had been delayed by fever. Whereupon they agreed and appointed A.T. Norfleet and G.D. Young and Robert Cunningham and that the Board with the assistance of the Marshal, would the election ....


The entry was not finished or signed. Nine days later, the Mayor, in his own hand, re-entered the previous recommendations and instructed the Street Commissioner “proceed vigorously with the cleaning of all public ways.” A.M. Brown was elected alderman to fill the term of the late Wilburn Crump. The following was also recorded:

... upon the recommendation of the Board of Health, it was ordered that the Section (?) keep every grave opened in the city cemetery since 25 August filled and a mound heaped over such until Nov. 1879. Also that no disinternments be permitted of any body before Jan. 1880. and that no body from other burial grounds be permitted into Holly Springs. Also that no grave be opened in the cemetery within less than five feet of any grave opened between 25 August ’78 and 30 Nov. ’78 until Jan. 1880. . .

It is known from other sources that an early frost apparently stopped the spread; that many fled the town in panic and some even came here to get away from it and were trapped by the rigid quarantine, Mr. John Doxey as an example. The marshal had two black helpers that were believed to be immune to the fever. Their “immunity” was partially because of their African background, where fever had existed for generations, and partially due to the liberal use of coal oil as an insect repellent. They were instructed to go from door to door, knock three times and, if no answer, kick in the door and remove the bodies. They returned with so many that they could not be handled and a mass grave was opened, its number and names lost to this day. When it was over, the bell was rung again and only a few hundred showed up.

We lost many of our most important citizens. The rich and influential Walter family is typical. Harvey died on Wednesday, his son Frank died the next day and the other sons before the end of the week.

The Holly Springs Reporter published its first “Occasional Editions” that were lists of the dead. Aug 25th- E.L. Downs and Miss Lake of Grenada (31st)- A.W. Goodrich. Sept. 1st- AT. Wilshire from Grenada (2nd)- Wm. Mackin of Memphis (3rd)- Isaac Tandler and James Chism (4th)- A.F. Brown’s child, H.A. McCrosky, Frank Ganter and Robt. McLain (5th)- James Fort, Mrs James Nuttall, B.P. Oliver, Bateman’s child, Mrs Stephen Knapp, Wm. Hogan and Mrs E.A. Thomas (6th)- Gus Smith, Herman Snider’s child, B.D. Nabers, A.F. Moore, Mrs Leak, W.R. Todd, John Chenowith, Sam Abernathy and Sam Crockett (7th)- B. S. Crump, Dr. Charles Bonner, James Walker, Chas. Glassy, James Nuttall, Sam Bonner, and R.L. Watson (8th)- Miss Julia Waite, Bateman’s child and Mrs Blank (9th)- R.G. Campbell, Thomas A. Falconer, George Wing, Virginia Lynch and U.H. Ross (10th)- Wm. Crump, Mrs. JR. Dougherty, Miss Cornilla Record, Hal. Johnson, Clem Read, Victoria Smith, W.J. Marett, Mrs. S.H. Pryor, Willie Wooten, Charles Chenowith, E.T. Brinkley’s child, Alex Seyple, J.C. Potter, R.W. Fort and A.A. Armstrong (11th)- Clarissa Davis, Father Oberti, Charles Schneider, Wiusfield S. Featherston, Jr., Mrs. Richard Daniel and Richard Daniel (12th) Minerva Lynch, Miss Read, Henry Epps and Scott Epps (13th)- Mr. Brannon, Lizzie Lane (colored), ET. Brinkley’s child, E.W. Upshaw, Mrs. John Poter, Mrs. R. Hasting, Sam Kimball and Dina Ingram (colored), (14th)- Mariah Anderson (colored) (15th)- George Kimball, Ben Casey, Pat McGuire, George Johnson (colored), and Em. Jones (colored), (16th)- Laura Demmey, Lewis Thompson, Mr. Dunn, James McKean, Lotta Ingraham (colored), O.J. Quiggens’ child and Mrs. Geo. Kimball (17th)- Mrs. E.D. Miller, Caroline Washington (colored), Ben Boyd (colored), Mrs. R.L. Watson, Peter Webber, Miss Mary Stewart, and Mrs W.S. Featherston (18th)- Mrs. John Foreman, J.W. Webber, J.H. Stone, Mrs. Martin Knable and Jane McGary (19th)- Stephen Knapp, Mrs. Louis Thompson, child of Rebecca Lea (colored), and Col. H.W. Walter. And the list went on and on.

Any search of old family lots in the cemetery reveals that many show a death date of September 1878 when fever was rampant. Much has been written about this, our darkest hour but nothing says as much as the blank page.

These are most of the stories that I know of the first approximately 50 years of Holly Springs. She is a town with a rich, rich history. Almost everyone who has lived here for some time, knows others and, it is hard to live here long and not become interested. My goal here was to write a readable story of our early times, not a painfully detailed thesis containing endless lists of the names comprising committees, groups, and Boards. To anyone needing this level of detail, I recommend “The Chickasaw Empire,” the story of the Colbert family by Don Martini; “My Dearest Darling Loulie,” letters written by Cordelia Scales during the war; “The War of Rebellion,” the official record of the War Between the States; “Reconstruction in Marshall County,” by Miss Ruth Watkins (published by the Mississippi Historical Society Vol XII) and “Holly Springs to the Year 1878” by Wm. Baskerville Hamilton. It is my life-long wish that some serious historian would make an effort (and it will take a massive effort) to record most, if not all of the stories before they are lost forever; but these are the ones that I have found interesting - and the ones that tell ‘from whence we came.’

Tom Stewart

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