Meridian Star

Columns

April 5, 2013

The four crowns of Newton County

MERIDIAN — Four crowns, you ask? Yes, just think of four vital communities, all clustered in Newton County, Mississippi (listed alphabetical order).

 

Decatur (Estimated population of 1,426)

    The Newton County Courthouse is located in Decatur and was first constructed in 1840 – it burned and was reconstructed in 1845. It was destroyed again during the Civil War, February 1864, when General Sherman marched through the town. Finally, a brick courthouse was built at the cost of $7,000 in 1877.      Today the Newton County Courthouse continues to serve the people. Another outstanding asset, East Central Community College (ECCC), earliest beginnings in 1912, continues academic opportunities for the entire region.  

    On a personal note, I know very well the talented and community-minded people living in Decatur. GFWC-MFWC Progressive Woman’s Club of Decatur portrays the immense energy of community involvement and support that is prevalent throughout the area, with such projects as recycling and town beautification and as well the recent highly successful Veteran’s Day Parade – an entire community effort.

    The Bobashela Chapter, Daughters of The American Revolution, located in Decatur, continues the tradition of upholding our rich historic legacy – along with this endeavor is the very active Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society (NHGS) under the leadership of Dr. Harold Graham, assisted by the hands and voices of many dedicated volunteers.

     One of my favorite excursions into Newton County, sponsored by NHGS, was a tour of General Sherman’s trek, as he marched through the area in 1864. On the morning of the tour, 40 eager people peered from the ECCC bus, as Ricky Harrison, the volunteer guide, explained the route that was followed so many years ago.

    We rambled along near Box Creek to see the high point, where the soldiers encamped, and some say that even today, and on many dark nights, the campfires can still be seen.  Yikes! Later we toured the Alex-Russell House, constructed in 1859, located on the Decatur-Conehatta Road.

    I want to thank NHGS for the recent invitation I received to visit their monthly meeting and meet so many wonderful historians. I love historians!   

 

Hickory (Estimated population of 499)

    If you’re searching for a historic little town, then Hickory is the place. The delightful community is known as “a little town with a big heart.” It is located west from Meridian on Highway 80.

    At one time, Highway 80 was the main thoroughfare through that part of the county. At that time, the community supported a thriving downtown area with restaurants, a motel and gas stations, but since the building of Interstate 20, the town has dwindled. Dwindled in size, perhaps, but not in the community spirit, where there are many dedicated residents supporting several churches and additional community-oriented activities.

    The town is named after Andrew Jackson, nicknamed “Old Hickory” who passed through the area on his way to fight the Battle of New Orleans, during the War of 1812. I am excited to meet later this month with the Hickory Reading Club.

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