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Pike County Mississippi

Holmesville By an act of Dec. 9, 1815, Pike County was formed out of a part of Marion. Before a permanent seat of justice was chosen the county courts were held at the residence of Gabriel Allen, on the Bogue Chitto. A commission was then appointed, consisting of Benjamin Bagley, Peter Felder, Sr., Obed. Kirkland, William Bullock, and David McGraw, Sr., to locate a permanent seat of justice at the most eligible place within three miles of the center of the county. The commissioners selected a site in the valley of the Bogue Chitto, at the foot of a range of high hills, about sixty-five miles from the town of Covington, Louisiana. Their action was ratified by the General Assembly of Dec. 11, 1816. The place was called Holmesville in honor of Maj. Andrew Hunter Holmes. It soon became a thriving business center, the surrounding country being settled by an industrious, well-to-do, farming population.

Among the early prominent citizens of Holmesville were Peter Quinn, the first settler of this place; James Y. McNabb, clerk of the inferior and Superior courts of Pike County from 1816 to 1818 and from 1823 to 1833; David Cleveland, sheriff from 1816 to 1818 and afterwards a member of the Legislature. Anthony Perryman was the first merchant to settle in this place. Other citizens of prominence were Laban Bascot, who was sheriff of the county from 1819 to 1826, and Henry Quinn, who was clerk of the courts from 1819 to __. Among the lawyers of prominence, who practiced at the Holmesville bar at an early date, were Buckner, Harris, Dillingham, Hagen, and William A. Stone. The last of these was a native of Maine. He graduated at Bowdoin College in 1825, being a classmate of Longfellow, Abbott, Bradbury, and Santello, all of whom became men of distinction. In 1839 Judge Stone sold his property in Holmesville to John T. Lamkin and removed to Natchez. In 1841 he removed to Monticello, where he remained until 1861, when he removed to Hazlehurst.

Among the first resident lawyers of Holmesville were John Black and William Gage, the former of whom was at one time a member of the lower House of Congress.

The town of Holmesville was incorporated by an act of the General Assembly of Mississippi in 1820. An election of municipal officers under this act resulted in the choice of James C. Dickson, Peter Quinn, Jr., I. Aiken, Wiley P. Harris, and Maj. Lee, trustees, and Buckner Harris, assessor, tax collector and town constable, and William Orr, treasurer.

The first Masonic Lodge organized in Pike County was the Rising Virtue Lodge No. 7, which was organized near Holmesville. In 1848 it was succeeded by the Holmesville Lodge No. 64, with Dr. George Nicholson as master. Sincerity Lodge, F. A. M., No. 214, was organized in Holmesville in 1856.

The Holmesville Independent was published at Holmesville by Barney Lewis and Robert Ligon in the early 50's. It was subsequently owned and published by Henry S. Bonney, who, after the war, removed to Summit and changed the name of his paper to the Summit Sentinel.

About 1855 was the date of its greatest prosperity. In 1857 a railroad from New Orleans (now part of the main line of the Illinois Central) was completed through the county, running west of Holmesville about nine miles. The town soon began to decline, as it could not compete in business with the newly established places, Osyka, Magnolia, and Summit, which sprang up along this road. In the course of a few years a proposition to remove the court house and country records to the railroad was made, and, after some agitation, was submitted to a vote of the people of the county. Magnolia was selected as the second seat of justice.

In 1860 the Quitman Guards, Co. E, 16th Mississippi Regiment, was organized in Holmesville, with Preston Brent as captain, and in the same year the Pike County Rifles, with John T. Lamkin as captain, was also organized in Holmesville. It was attached to the 33rd Mississippi Regiment in Bragg's army.

With reference to the fate of Holmesville, Mr. Luke W. Connerly in an historical sketch of Pike County, published in 1876, writes as follows:

"When the war closed ***** efforts were made to maintain the old town, but one by one its numbers were lessened by death and removal until few were left. Its buildings were removed or went to decay."

Mr. Connerly also says that on the public square in Holmesville there stood a number of large red oaks, among them one which has always borne the name of "Widow Phillips." There was a law in the early days of Pike which required whipping as a penalty for certain minor offenses. A man named Phillips was sentenced under this law and was tied to this oak tree and flogged with the "cat-o'-nine-tail." Since this time the tree has borne the name of "Widow Phillips." In Oct., 1901, the trunk of this tree was lying prone on the ground, the historic emblem of the whipping post in Pike County.

 

Extinct Towns| AHGP Mississippi

Footnotes:
63a This sketch is based upon information derived from Historical Sketches of Pike County by Mr. Luke W. Connerly (now of Pride, Louisiana) which were published in the Magnolia Herald in 1876.

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

 

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