Attala County, Mississippi


The Star-Herald, Kosciusko, Miss.,June 7, 1979


Reconstruction Era Brings Many Events

By Joyce W. Sanders

  The scene of this KKK episode is in the northwest part of the county where old Rocky Point once was a thriving community.
  Rocky Point was so named because of the hilly flint rock which abounded there. It was located on the Rockport Road, which crossed the Big Black River at a Bluff called Rockport. Here was a grist mill run by Hooker Armstrong and located about three miles down river from West, Mississippi.
  This was after the war election. The Yankee Soldiers stacked guns near the place to vote and took turns guarding the guns. The Cap-tain conducted the election. Tickets had to be folded and put in the box in the presence of guards.
  The election officers were sur-prised when not a single negro appeared to cast his ballot. It seems that the Ku Klux Klan had ridden the night before. They ate supper at the home of a Mr. Smith that night before they rode; they carried a dummy and frightened the Negroes into staying away from the voting the next day.
  In 1879 during reconstruction days, the white citizens of Kosciusko decided to try to get control of the governing rule from the Negroes. Jim Gilliand, Sam Jackson and several other leading citizens formed a plan to keep the Negroes from voting. They organized a company of some 100 young men, who dressed in red shirts and placed

them as guards around the court-house.
  The late Frederick Z. Jackson was the youngest of these red shirt guards. E. W. Dean of the New Hope community wanted to be a member but was only 17 and no one under 20 was allowed to serve. In 1937 F. Z. Jackson had a list of all the members of the company and their ages. At that time there were only two members alive...the youngest and the oldest. When the Negroes saw the guards with their red shirts, not a one came close enough to vote.
  Ames was military governor at Jackson in 1865; troups were stationed at Durant and Goodman. In his recollections to Miss Ruby Haynes in 1939, Jasper Boyette told that he was born in 1861. He said his earliest recollections were when he was four years old, he was dressed in his new plaited wheat straw hat and new russett brogan shoes which had been made by an aunt.
  Jasper was at the Bluff SPrings with his father when the soldiers rode up, watered their horses at the trough by the well and then rode off. By the next year the Boyette family had moved close to the river and it is still called Boyette's Crossing today.
  Gus Sallis told Boyette that he had been to Durant and had seen the Yankees' tents stretched north of the depot and lots of Blue Coats. One man had on a ball and chain. When Jasper asked why, Gus Sallis said he guessed the man had done
something he was not supposed to have done.
  A year, or so, later Joe Boyette came by to see Mr. Boyette, who was his brother. They had walked down to see how the coton crop was coming along. Gus Sallis rode up to the house and called out to see if Joe Boyette was there. He said the Yankees are coming.
  Jasper ran down to tell his Uncle Joe and his father but was too late; the troops were already in sight. Two or three of the soldiers came on closer and arrested Joe. He told them to let him take his wagon home and he would meet them in Good-man with the ones they wanted arrested.
  The cause of the arrest was an assault case. The men had caught an escaped Negroe and his father had reported them to the Yankees. All of the men envolved were never caught; Judge Montgomery, a scalawag lawyer, got them out of it. Only a few were punished by being taken to Jackson for a few weeks. This is what happened to Joe Boyette. He rode into Goodman on his horse. There he was taken into custody and carried to Jackson and kept untill crops were made.
  The moral of this is that time does not change everything. Whether in the 1870's or in the 1970's, whatever facade it is hidden behind, white robes, red shirts or a long Cap-italized abbreviation, two wrongs do not ever make a right.

copyright © 1979, Joyce W. Sanders. All rights reserved.

The above article appeared in the June 7, 1979 Star-Herald, Kosciusko, Ms. It is republished here with the knowledge and consent of Joyce W. Sanders.


copyright © 2001 by Everette Carr. All rights reserved.

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