INTERESTING HISTORY OF KOSCIUSKO

BY REV. JOAB SCARBOROUGH

As related by J.L. Scarborough at the Unveiling Exercises, April 30th, 1913, held at the Public School Building at Kosciusko, under the auspices of the Daughters of the American Revolution. On the above mentioned occasion a boulder was placed in front of the public school building, and formally dedicated to mark the historic Natchez Trace.

The Rev. J.L. Scarborough said: That he was born on July 17th, 1822, in North Carolina. Emigrated, with his parents, by way of Alabama to this state in 1837, and learned all the history that is related here from the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, and from personal experience. Visited the site now known as Kosciusko in the Spring of 1838, which place was known at the time as Red Bud Springs.

Facts About the Natchez Trace

The Natchez Trace started at Lexington, Ky., and ran through Central Kentucky and Central Mississippi, being surveyed and cut out by Gen. Andrew Jackson and corps. His surveying party stopped at several camps: Houston, Chickasaw County; Greensborough, in Choctaw County: French Camp, close to line between Attala and Choctaw counties. Next camp was at Kosciusko, on site now occupied by Mr. John Kelly’s residence. A large spring was on the spot, now occupied by the Hammond Ice Factory. His next stop was at Thomastown, in Leake County, thence to Jackson, the capital of the state. From here he concluded to run in a Southwestern direction to Port Gibson, on the Mississippi river, instead of west to Vicksburg, Miss. Another line was run from Nashville, through Tennessee by way of Tuscumbia, Alabama, to Mobile on the Gulf of Mexico, which was called the Jackson Trace.

Jackson also surveyed another route from Gainsville, Ala., west by way of Dekalb, in Kemper County, thence by way of Old Town, in Lauderdale County, to Port Gibson. These routes were for the marching of soldiers to Port Gibson, thence by transportation down the Mississippi river to New Orleans to be ready for any military emergency, which came in 1812 during the war between the U.S. and Great Britain, which gave us our liberties of the present time.

History of Town Kosciusko

The town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, known at the time as Red Bud Springs, having two chief springs, one located where the Hammond Ice Factory now stands, in the eastern part of town, the other about where Hannah’s water works now stands, in western Kosciusko. Indians, coming from the East, and intending to hunt in the West, camped on the east side of these springs, the Indians from West and intending to hunt in east, camped on the west side of the springs. These Traditions were given to me by the Indians, and I, personally, saw the same, this being a great Indian resort.

Upon establishing the land office, a man named Chaffin Smith entered a portion of the land on which the town now stands, and named it Prentiss, in honor of S.S. Prentiss, the great Mississippi orator. His (Smith) home was on the spot where the residence of S.L. Dodd now stands, which was made of round pine poles, and the floor was made of puncheons lain on poles, that is split pieces of poles with the flat side up. Smith entered this land in the year 1837, but prior to that time, there were several buildings in the town, to wit: There was a two-story hewn-log house on the Natchez Trace, on the lot now owned by the North American Church, across from the place now occupied by Dr. Fred Carnes. Another house was on the lot now occupied by the store house of the W.B. Potts Co.

There was a house on the lot now owned by Capt. Turner, and one owned by Anderson, the lot owned now by Niles Boyd. A grocery store stood where Mr. Shanks’ store is now; one stood where the Kelly Bank is now, owned by a man who lived in a small cabin where the brick hotel stands. Another grocery store stood on the lot where Wade Harvey’s drug store now stands.

The Court House was built with round logs, on the lot now occupied by residence of Judge H.C. Niles. The judge and the petit jury occupied the main building, and grand jury the side room. When a case was given to the petit jury, after argument, they went across the road or street into a grove, which was on the lot occupied now by Mr. Storer’s residence, the old Webb property and the Presbyterian church.

The jail was located at the place now occupied by Mr. Jack Atkinson’s blacksmith shop. These were perilous times in this section, no one being safe because of the fact that the Murrill Gang operated through here.

The original name of the town was, as has been noted, Red Bud Springs, but was changed by the legislature to Prentiss. This afterwards was changed to Parish and the name became known and nicknamed “Perish” because of the operations of the Murrill Gang.

At the meeting of the second legislature of the State, Gordon D. Boyd being elected the representative from this county, had the name changed from Parish to Kosciusko, in honor of the great Polish general who loved liberty and freedom of speech, the great principles of American Government.

The first circuit clerk was named Carothers; the first county officers were: William Aikins, Sheriff, soon succeeded by Thomas H. Rodgers; William Exum, County Clerk; Jasper Harvey, County Coroner and Ranger; Jeremiah Maxwell, Treasurer; Robert Cade, Assessor and Tax-collector. I do (not?) remember who was Probate Judge. Gordon D. Boyd, of this town, was the Land Registrar of this section; his brother, Amzi P. Boyd, was soon sheriff after Rodgers. There are, doubtless, other historical facts of interest that I do not now recall.

Now, my friends, in conclusion, I desire to state that it affords me great pleasure to appear before you, and to take a part in these exercises and to co-operate with the Daughters of the American Revolution, because I am not only a son of the American Revolution, but my people were pioneers in the battle against English despotism, and were fighting against English tyranny even prior to the American Revolution. My grand-father, James Scarborough, of the royal family of Wales, an exile from his country, was an officer in the Revolutionary War, fought in the battle of Bunker Hill, and all through the entire struggle for Independence. I am therefore, related to you through these bloody battles, which might be called a relation or tie of consanguinity.

I am thankful to my Maker that we have all lived to see the glory and progress of our country, and the prosperity and enlightenment that has come to these people through the privations and struggles and the heroism of the men whom I knew in my boyhood and early manhood, and whose descendants I am happy to address on this occasion.

I feel to-day, in addressing you, as if I were the one last link that remains to connect this present generation that knows only peace, and law, and prosperity, with that pioneer generation who only knew struggles and war and privations, and yet, who, with indomitable courage, never faltered, but kept up the good fight, and lo! what was a wilderness of savage men is now a beautiful land of civilized and prosperous people.

I am thankful to see our town of Kosciusko grown to such limits, and enjoying such prosperity, and I trust that younger people, to whom it will be committed, will ever fight for the good, as your fathers and grand-fathers fought---not in battles of war, but in the battles of peace.

I thank you, one and all, for your patience and attention.

COMPILER’S NOTE---The foregoing address was, as its caption shows, delivered at the unveiling of the great boulder at Kosciusko which is to mark the old historic road, the NATCHEZ TRACE, and old road that everyone loves. It was published at that time in The Kosciusko Courier, a newspaper there, and ably edited by M.G. Campbell, in the issue of June 6th, 1913.