Attala County, Mississippi


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Jason Niles
Attala County, Mississippi


Jason Niles Family

Jason Adams Niles was born in Burlington, Vermont on December 19, 1814. His father was Daniel Swift Niles and his mother was Alice Reed, both of New Hampshire. Jason attended the common schools in Vermont. He recived a Bachlor of Arts degree in 1836 and a Master's degree in 1837 from the University of Vermont. He taught school in Tennessee and Ohio for a number of years after college.

While in Tennessee, Jason married Harriet N. McRee, born November 3, 1826 in Bedford County, Tennessee. She was the daughter of William Elliot MrRee and Sarah McLean Houston. When Jason took a teaching position in Ohio, their fist daughter, Alice Reed Niles was born on March 15, 1848.

Jason, Harriet and Alice arrived in Kosciusko, Attala County, Mississippi on July 20, 1848. Jason studied for the law and was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1851. He opened a law office in Kosciusko and practiced law off and on for the next forty years. He was a delgate to the State constitutional conventions in 1851, 1865 and 1868.

Jason and Harriet had seven children as follows:

Alice Redd Niles born 15 March 1848
Henry Clay Niles born 4 June 1840
Sallie Houston Niles born 31 December 1852
Mary Niles born 30 December 1855
Lucy Niles born 30 August 1858
Jennie Niles born 13 August 1861
Lydia Niles born 19 June 1866

With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Jason Niles, born in Vermont, a Republican (like Lincoln) and a Union Sympathizer had to walk a thin line. Jason kept a diary from 1831 to 1890, volumes upon volumes of notations about daily events. However, he made no entries into his diary for the first two years of the war between the states. Because Uionist were considered to be enemies of the Confederacy, Jason was required to hold his tongue and flee to the North. It is believed that he discontinued entries in his diary to avoid any suspicion. He began to again jot daily notations in his diary in the spring of 1864 and as indicated earlier, continued to do so until 1890 when he stopped practicing law.

Jason Niles was likely concerned about his obligation to support the Confederacy and his chosen state of residence and the likelihood that he would have to fulfill his military obligation. He was acquainted with Seabren Busby, who had come to Attala County from South Carolina in the 1840's and who had a 17 year old son who was not subject to any military obligation until he reached age 18. Apparently, Jason Niles and Seabren Busby made a deal that would have Seabren's son, William J. Busby, enlist in August 1862 in the 1st (King's) Mississippi Infantry (State Troops) as a substitute for Jason Niles, thus fulfilling Niles' military responsibility. More detailed information about this arrangement can be found by viewing the Busby web page under "Early Attala Residents."

At a later date, in the spring of 1864, the legislature suspended the writ of habeas corpus for a period of ninty days to inable the Confederate government to conscript any male between the ages of 17 and 50. This action once again exposed Jason to the possiblity of military service. His response was to run for Mayor of Kosicusko, believing that as a City Official he would be exempt from service. He was elected Mayor in May, 1864 and held the position for one term.

In 1870, Jason was elected to the State House of Representatives and in 1871 and 1872 he was appointed circuit judge for the thirteenth judicial district. In 1872 he was elected as a Republican to the Forty-third Congress from Mississippi and served from March 4, 1873 to March 3, 1875. He was a an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1874. From 1876 to 1880 he was the editor of the Kosciusko Chronicle after which he resumed his law practice. He quit the practice of his profession in 1890 and died in Kosciusko, Attala County, Mississippi on July 7, 1894. He is interned in the Kosciusko City Cemetery with other members of his family.

Harriet McRee Niles died on July 24, 1906 and is buried along side her husband in Kosciusko City Cemetery.

Alice Reed Niles married Andrew Jackson "Jack" Boyd on January 28, 1868. He was born on June 4, 1840 and died August 8, 1878. Alice died on January 13, 1941.

Henry Clay Niles married Sallie A. Davis. Sallie was born March 3 1856 and died November 27, 1875. He then married Mrs. Victoria Swanson Allen who died on March 24, 1910. Henry died on September 26, 1918.

Sallie Houston Niles married W. E. Thompson and then John N. Alexander. John was born in 1848 and died in 1924. Sallie died on April 12, 1915.

Mary Niles married James Franklin McCool. She died on March 6, 1919.

Lucy Niles married W. Burton Potts. She died on May 13, 1887 and he remarried after her death.

Jennie Niles married David Lockett Brown. He was born on November 11, 1860 and died on May 26, 1936. Jennie died on October 19, 1928.

Lydia Niles died as an infant on July 13, 1866, not quite 13 months of age.

In 1908 a beautiful tree shaded parcel of 11 acres of land was purchased in the Northeast section of town by the five living children of Judge Jason Niles and deeded to the town. Kosciusko Board of Aldermen officially named the park the Jason Niles Park for Judge Jason Niles, one of Kosciusko's early settlers, a man whose upright life is still an inspiration to the youth of the county.

The photograph of Jason Niles was taken from the book Kosciusko - Attala History compliled by the Attala Historical Society. The book also provided some of the background information. Additional material on the life and accomplishments was taken from Congressional biographies published by the Library of Congress. Vital statistics for the children of Jason and Harriet Niles was taken from headstone inscriptions from Attala County Cemeteries

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