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Copiah County Mississippi

Coar's Springs26 This village was located about five miles east of the present town of Hazlehurst. When Copiah County was organized (January 23, 1823), Coar's Springs became its temporary seat of justice. Here the first probate and orphans' court was held, with Barnabas Allen as judge. When Simpson County was formed out of Copiah in 1824, the seat of justice was removed from Coar's Springs to Gallatin, a few miles west, of Hazlehurst.

At the time of its greatest prosperity Coar's Springs had three or four stores and a commodious hotel. During the 30's it was a very popular watering place and health resort, many of its guests coming from Vicksburg, New Orleans, Mobile, and other places. Before the present Illinois Central railroad was built Coar's Springs was a center of trade of the surrounding country for several miles. Among its most prominent families were the Coars, the Welches, and the Howells.

Gallatin. This historic old town was situated about five miles west of Hazlehurst. It was named in honor of Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Madison. In 1824 it became the seat of justice of Copiah County.

Among the early circuit clerks who resided at Gallatin were "Uncle Billy" Cook and his brother, Morris Cook, and E. R. Brower, all of whom were efficient officers and honorable citizens. The early sheriffs of the county were John Coar, in whose home Franklin E. Plummer lived when he first settled in Mississippi, the noted Tom Holliday, who held the office for seventeen years, and John C. Wade and William Haley. Doctors Adams and Bush, physicians of prominence, and Dr. Gander, a dentist, were also citizens of Gallatin. Probably the most prominent citizen this town ever had was Albert Gallatin Brown, whose brilliant and uniformly successful political career is given in the histories of the State.27 "It is said that he was never defeated before the people for any office for which he was a candidate." At an early date Judge E. G. Peyton removed from Grand Gulf, where he had been engaged in the mercantile business, to Gallatin, and began the practice of law. He was an old line Whig and opposed secession and the War Between the States. At the conclusion of this struggle he became a conservative Republican and was finally made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Mississippi. Among the celebrated lawyers who practiced at the Gallatin bar were L. B. Harris and Merry Harris, the latter of whom became Colonel of the 12th Mississippi Regiment of Infantry, and fell at the head of his command in Virginia. Judge H. B. Mayes, brother of the distinguished author and attorney, the Hon. Edward Mayes, of Jackson, Miss., was an able lawyer, and served a long time as judge of the Probate Court. Judge "Jack" Millsaps lived at Gallatin and was for many years also judge of the Probate Court. Thomas A. Willis, who became circuit judge of his district, was also a resident of Gallatin in its early days. He was an able man "chivalric, dashing, and always ready to take part in a fight." Col. Ben King was regarded as one of the ablest advocates at the Gallatin bar. Dr. T. P. Lockwood gives the following brief sketch of the life and character of this remarkable man:

"His mother was a widow and kept hotel at old Gallatin, where he was raised up. I think his education was ordinary, but he was a man of fine common sense, an astute lawyer, an excellent judge of human nature, shrewd, resourceful, and bold. Few attorneys could cope with him before a Copiah County jury; for it was said he knew every man in the county and every man in the county trusted Ben King. He was possessed with remarkable gifts as a pleader before a jury. He studied their character, their temperament, their prejudices, and won their confidence and attention by whispering to them, cajoling them, petting and praising them, or with stentorian voice he would storm at them, browbeat them, and bulldoze them into a favorable verdict.

He owned some property in Gallatin, and when it became certainly known that the Illinois Central railroad would be constructed and that it would probably miss that place, he induced the people of Copiah County to erect an expensive court house there, in order to prevent the removal of the seat of justice for a number of years. This accounts for the fact that the thriving town of Hazlehurst had to wait until 1872 before becoming the county seat of Copiah County. He was often in the Legislature, and was always considered a fine debator and a strong man in any position. After the war he withdrew from the Democratic Party and ran for Governor on the Greenback ticket in 1881, being defeated by Gen. Robert Lowry, the nominee of the Democratic Party.

Gallatin had two hotels, one kept by Mrs. North and the other by Mrs. King. At one time it had two banks, a high school for boys, and an academy for young ladies. There is in the Library of the University of Mississippi a bound volume of the Southern Star (1838-40), which was published at Gallatin. The Gallatin Argus, another newspaper published at this place, was once (1858), owned and edited by the late Col. J. L. Power. It was later merged into The Copiahan, edited by Col. Vance, and was moved to Hazlehurst about 1859.

Gallatin also had that indispensable appendage to a border town, the grog shop. We are told that it also had "dens and dives and card tables and race tracks, and enjoyed the reputation of having a man killed once every week for pastime." Claiborne gives an account of an interesting event which happened at Gallatin and which exerted a great influence upon the political history of the State. In the political campaign of 1835 Franklin E. Plummer, a bitter personal enemy of Hiram G. Runnells, who was a candidate for reelection to the office of Governor, followed him over the State and "goaded him with imitating speeches and newspaper squibs." Claiborne says:

"They met at Gallatin on the day of the election. Runnells was like a mad bull, tearing up the earth, and indulging in most profane language, and was so carried away by passion that he broke down in his speech and lost the vote of that large county on which his reelection depended. Mr. Plummer stood in the street perfectly calm made a speech that pleased all parties, and though the county was largely Democratic, and gave a large majority to all the other Democratic candidates, he earned it for his friend, Judge Lynch, the opponent of Runnells."28

For years before the removal of the county seat to the Illinois Central railroad Gallatin "grew small by degrees and beautifully less." When the courthouse was finally located at Hazlehurst, all hope for the life of old Gallatin was changed to despair. The old residence of Maj. E. G. Peyton still stands by the roadside, a little school house and a little store are also standing on the old town site, but in the words of Dr. Lockwood, "the plowshare has obliterated the streets and weeds have choked the sidewalks where once tripped the merry feet of the young and fair, a cultivated farm, has swallowed up its very site and Gallatin with its ancient fame and glory has departed forever."

Georgetown29 The village of Georgetown derived its name from a gentleman by the name of George, who came from South Carolina and settled there early in the eighteenth century. About 1806 he constructed and operated the first ferry boat that was run on Pearl River between Jackson and Monticello. At that time Georgetown was noted for horse racing, gambling and target practice with rifles. Mr. George was killed at Georgetown about the year 1836. At the time of its greatest prosperity this place contained from three to five hundred inhabitants and had five dry goods stores, one saloon, a blacksmith shop, and one drug store. It also had two physicians. The most prominent families living there at that time were: the Catchings, the Aliens, the Harpers, the Brileys, the Chandlers and the Brints.

When Grierson made a raid through Mississippi (1863) burned this town. Since that time it has been in a very dilapidated condition. The place has at present two stores, two gins, a post office, a drug store, and a blacksmith shop. The old time ferry boat at this place has been discarded, the river being spanned by a new iron bridge.

Extinct Towns| AHGP Mississippi

26. Brief mention of the extinct towns of Copiah County will be found in Goodspeed's Memoirs of Mississippi, Vol. I., p. 209. Dr. T. P. Lockwood of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, has given the writer much information on the history of these places.
27. See Riley's School History of Mississippi, pp. 192, 198200, .245246, 259: Lowrey and McCardle's School History of Mississippi, p. 145; Duval's History of Mississippi, pp. 119, 123.
28. Claiborne's Mississippi as a Province, Territory and State, p. 426.
29. The information upon which this sketch is based was derived from Mr. J. W. Slay, of Georgetown, Mississippi.

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


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