Attala County, Mississippi


History of Attala County, Mississippi

Attala County was established on the 23d of December, 1833, and was one of the sixteen counties carved from the Choctaw cession of 1830. The name is derived from the heroine (Atala) of an Indian romance written by Chateaubriand. As Attala has the distinction of retaining its original boundaries, as laid down in 1833, they are quoted, as follows: "Beginning at the northeast corner of Leake County, and running thence west with the line between townships, 12 and 13, to the line between ranges five and six east; thence south with said line between ranges five and six to the center of township 12, of range 5 east; thence directly west to the Big Black River; thence up said river to the point at which the line between 16 and 17 crosses said river; thence east with the line between nine and ten east; thence south to the place of beginning." The Choctaw boundary line of 1820 (treaty of Doak’s Stand) runs through the extreme southwestern corner of the county.

Attala County is located a little north of the geographical center of the State, and is bounded on the north by Montgomery and Choctaw counties, on the east by Choctaw and Winston counties, on the south by Leake and Madison counties, while the Black River forms its western boundary and divides it from Holmes County. The county has an undulating surface of 715 square miles.

Kosciusko is the largest town and the county seat of Attala County. It is a substantial incorporated city of nearly 2,500 people, on the Aberdeen branch of the Illinois Central Railroad. It has excellent public schools and a number of fine churches and growing industries.

The general face of the country is undulating and rises in places into considerable hills, while scattered throughout the county are extensive areas of level river and creek bottoms. Besides the Big Black River which forms the western boundary of the county, the more important streams are the river Yockanookany, which rises in Choctaw County and is the longest branch of Pearl River, and Long, Apookta, Shakeys, Lobutcha, Seneasha and Zilpha creeks. There are numerous excellent springs found throughout the county including several chalybeate and sulphur springs and one large spring five miles south of Kosciusko, which is said to have been formed by the earthquake in 1811. The soil, very fertile in the bottoms, and moderately rich in the uplands, yielded products in 1919 in excess of $3,888,814, composed of corn, cotton, oats, wheat, potatoes, peas, peanuts, sorghum and all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The live stock industry, once neglected, is growing rapidly, owing to the excellent shipping facilities now afforded and the excellent grass lands of the county. A few miles north of Kosciusko a bed of oyster shells ten feet thick was found and there are many fine beds of marl in the county, which should yield an abundance of fertilizing material. The timber found in the county is that common to central Mississippi and still contributes largely to the wealth of its people.

As a rule, the early settlers of the county came of good stock, coming chiefly from the Carolinas, Tennessee, the western states on the Ohio, and Georgia and Alabama. Attalaville, Valena, Burkettsville, and Bluff Springs are among the oldest settlements in the county, but all four places are now extinct. Attalaville was founded by Silas H. Clark. His two brothers Robert L. and Simon S. Clark also dwelt here. The first sawmill in Attala County was built at Valena. Burkett Thompson, G.W. Galloway and Doctor Cook were among the leading pioneer residents. Bluff Springs was the home of Mangus S. Teague and Colonel Coffee, prominent and wealthy merchants, in the days of its prosperity. The steady pressure of the whites gradually forced out the native Indians and as early as 1837 Attala County had a population of 1,713 whites and 708 slaves, with over 4,000 acres of land under cultivation.

The population of the county is almost exclusively agricultural, and aside from Kosciusko there are no large towns within its bounds; otherwise the larger centers of population are McCool, Zama Town, Sallis, and Ethel, all along the line of the Illinois Central which branches from the trunk and runs through the county from southwest to northeast. The social conditions of the county are good and it is well supplied with schools and churches.

Attala County increased steadily in population for about sixty years from 1850, as indicated by the national census. In the year named, the population was 10,999; in 1870, 14,776; in 1890, 22,213; in 1910, 28,851. The census for 1920, which gives the population at 24,831, shows a decrease of almost 4,000.

The Federal census for 1920 gives a definite idea of the present status of agriculture in Attala County. There are more than 4,000 farmers in the county and of the total number over 2,400 are white. The value of its farm property was $9,049,000; $6,373,000 in 1910, and only $2,933,000 in 1900. The total value of all the crops raised in the county was $3,888,000. As to cotton, 31,000 acres represented its area and 8,000 bales its production in 1919. Attala is one of the leading corn producers, 605,000 bushels representing its annual yield. The live stock is valued at $1,709,000, mules, horses and dairy cattle especially thriving. Its dairy products constitute an important item of its wealth, amounting to $333,000 yearly based on a total valuation of $642,000 for dairy cattle.

"History of Mississippi Counties"

Source: Mississippi The Heart of the South - By Dunbar Rowland, LL.D
Director of the Mississippi State Department of Archives and History.
Vol. II Illustrated. Chicago-Jackson;
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925.
Public Domain
Chapter XLIV, pages 686-688

copyright © 2007 by Everette Carr. All rights reserved.

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