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Lafayette County Mississippi

Eaton 48 In 1836 an effort was made to build a commercial center at a point on the Tallahatchie River, about fifteen miles west of the present town of Oxford. A ferry at this place enabled the settlers of parts of Panola and of Lafayette counties to cross the river on their way to and from Oxford, where many of them traded. Streets were laid off, lots sold, and one or two stores erected. While the "boom" was yet in its incipiency the financial crash of 1837 came, and Eaton failed to rise above the dignity of a "paper town." Dr. Corbin, who lived near Eaton on his plantation, was one of the most prominent citizens of this community during the 30's.

Wyatt Another product of the flush times was situated in Lafayette County, about thirteen miles from the present town of Oxford, on what was once thought to be the head of navigation of the Tallahatchie River. The place was settled about the time of the Chickasaw cession and flourished before Oxford had been named or Holly Springs thought of. Its early settlers believed that it would eclipse all other towns of North Mississippi and that it was destined to become a formidable commercial rival of Memphis. They did not doubt but that it would be made a port of entry at an early date, and laid their plans accordingly. The town was incorporated by an act of the Legislature in 1838.

The name of the place was changed from Mitchell's Bluff to Wyatt in honor of Wyatt Mitchell, an enterprising land speculator who contributed an important part to its early development. A. Gillis and Thomas H. Allen organized at this place a real estate banking company, which flooded the surrounding country with its shin plaster issues. We are told that the expression "as good as A. Gillis's bill" was for a short time a synonym of all that was sound and stable in business transactions. Dr. T. D. Isom, of Oxford, Miss., says that In the fall of *35 he saw the streets of Wyatt "as much crowded by trade wagons as is now the Front Row of Memphis in the cotton season." Wyatt was then the shipping point for a large section of country, and boats constantly plied between this place and New Orleans.

Among the enterprises of Wyatt was a gin factory, owned and operated by a man by the name of Brooks. The Brooks gin, manufactured at this place, was widely used in North Mississippi. At the time of its greatest prosperity it contained fourteen mercantile houses and had a large and pretentious hotel. A bridge was built over the Tallahatchie and a turnpike constructed across the river swamp.

Among its most prominent citizens were Thomas H. Allen, later of Memphis and of New Orleans, and A. Gillis, his partner in business, Andrew Peterson, _____ Murdock, Maj. Alston, Dr. Robert O. Carter, and Dr. Edward McMucken. Dr. Robert Watt, a Scotch gentleman of education and refinement, a graduate of Edinburgh, who had studied under the celebrated Dr. Gregory, bought a plantation near Wyatt and established his office in the town. He was perhaps at that time the best physician in North Mississippi. He died in 1843. Col. Volney Peel, of Marshall County, a polished and cultured gentleman of wealth, was inspired with the belief that Wyatt would grow into a city. He made large investments in town lots and erected several houses in that place, thereby losing a large part of his fortune.

The town began to decay very rapidly after the financial crash of 1837, and in a few years its glory had departed. It is now entirely depopulated. The last citizen, Mr. McConley, is now residing at Abbeville in Lafayette County.

A small cavalry fight, which has been dignified with the title of the "Battle of Wyatt," was fought on the site of the old town of Wyatt in November, 1864.

Extinct Towns| AHGP Mississippi

Footnotes:
48. See Miss Welsh's "Recollections of Pioneer Life in Mississippi."

Source: The Mississippi Historical Commission Publications, Volume V, Edited by Franklin L. Riley,
Secretary, 1902.

 

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