< Adams County History

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Adams County History
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Adams County. April 2, 1799, Winthrop Sargent, the first Territorial Governor of Mississippi, issued the following proclamation: "I do ordain and order by these letters made patent, that all and singular the lands lying and being within the boundaries of the Mississippi Territory, . . . should constitute two counties-the division of which shall be a line, commencing at the mouth of Fairchild's Creek, and running direct to the most southern part of Ellicott'sville; thence easterly along the dividing ridge of the waters of Cole's and Sandy Creeks, so far as the present settlements extend, and thence by a due east line to the territorial boundary-the southern or lower division of which is named, and hereafter to be called the county of Adams, and the northern or upper division, the county of Pickering.

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The justices of the common pleas court were announced April 5th, as follows: Daniel Clark, Bernard Lintot, Thomas Burling, John Ellis, Thomas Wilkins, Abner Green, George Fitzgerald and John Collins; also William Dunbar, judge of probate, Lewis Evans, sheriff, Melling Wooley, coroner, Peter Walker, clerk of the court of quarter sessions and prothonotary of the court of common pleas; Bernard Lintot, treasurer, and John Henderson, recorder.

The justices of the court of quarter sessions were Daniel Clark, William Dunbar, John Ellis, James Mcintosh, Thomas Wilkins and Abraham Ellis. In addition there were a number of justices of the peace, namely: Philander Smith, Joshua Howard, John Collins, Charles Bourdman, Robert Dunbar, William Vousdan, Hugh Davis, William Kenner, George Cochran, William Miller, Anthony Hoggett.

July 2, 1800, the governor appointed the following inspectors: Job Ruth Cotton and Melling Wolley, town of Natchez; John Bolls and Gerard Brandon, township of St. Catherine's; William Dunbar and Charles Suggett, township of Second Creek; Isaac Galliard and Patrick Foley, township of Homochitto; Col. Henry Hunter and Thomas Dawson, township of Bayou Sara. "The name of Pickering was changed to Jefferson, January 11, 1802. Thus were formed the two oldest counties in the State.

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The southern division was named in honor of President John Adams, then in office. Out of its extensive area, on the south and east, have been subsequently carved all the counties situated east and south of the present county of Adams, and lying between its northern boundary line extended and the thirty-first parallel of latitude. As now constituted, it is bounded on the north by the county of Jefferson, the dividing line being from a point on the Mississippi river, at the upper side of E. Rose's old settlement, due east to Stover's mound, near Fairchild's creek; thence up the meanderings of the south branch of said creek, to a place once known as Griffin's still-house, and afterwards George Selser's springs; thence in a direct line to the northeast corner of what was once Edmond Andrew's cotton gin; thence due east to the basis meridian line.

The basis meridian line divides it from Franklin county on the east, and the Homochitto river, from the meridian line to the Mississippi river, divides it from Wilkinson county on the south, leaving Tansy Island in Wilkinson county.   The Mississippi river forms its entire western boundary.   It has a total area of about 414 square miles, and with Wilkinson county formed the southern part of the old Natchez District.   This lofty bluff section of the State, overlooking the Mississippi river, was a natural vantage ground for the earliest white settlers.  

As early as 1700, the present site of Natchez was visited by Iberville, Bienville, and de Tonti, in the interest of French colonization, and in 1716, the French built Fort Rosalie, on the present site of Natchez.
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The Natchez tribe of Indians, who originally occupied this region, were finally expelled in 1729, and during most of the eighteenth century, the whole Natchez district was disputed territory, being successively under the control of the French, English and Spanish. With the evacuation of the Spaniards in 1798, undisputed American control began.   Many traces of the divided allegiance owned by the early settlers of Adams county are still evident in the origュinal titles to the lands of the region, as well as in the prevalence of names of French and Spanish origin.  

One of the first white settlements made in the county was at Kingston, about sixteen miles southeast of Natchez and about two miles from the Homochitto river.   In 1772, Samuel and Richard Swayze, of New Jersey, bought 19,000 acres of land on the Homochitto of Capt. Amos Ogden, which had been granted to him by the English Government in 1768.   This land has since been known as "Ogden's Mandamus Grant," and in 1772, the Swayze brothers sailed to their new home, with their families and kindred, in all about fifteen families.   They located their cabins close together about one mile from old Kingston.   In 1784 Caleb King built his home on the present site of Kingston and called the place by that name. Dr. C. F. Farrar, of Kingston, Miss., a grandson of Caleb King, has the original map of the place, with the names of the streets, as drawn by the founder.   The surrounding country became thickly settled, and Kingston was once a prosperous town with about 150 inhabitants.   The first Protestant church in Mississippi is said to have been erected at Kingston in 1798.   From about 1830 the place began to decay, and many of the settlers moved away.   It is now a village of only 39 inhabitants.   Some of the descendants of the first settlers, who still inhabit the neighborhood, are, the Swayzes, Foules, Ashfords, Byrds, Davises, Farrars, Vaughns, Thomases, and Sojourners.  

The first charter of the city of Natchez, the seat of government during the Spanish regime as well as the first Territorial capital, and the present county seat of Adams county, was granted in 1784, and the first mayor was Samuel Brooks. Stephen Minor was the original owner of much of the present site of Natchez. Among its earliest settlers were Isaac Girault, Christopher Miller, John Nugent and Jacob Eiler. The Natchez Gazette was the first newspaper in Adams county as well as in the State. It was established about 1802 by Col. Andrew Marschalk, and was published by him for nearly forty years under different names. Tradition says that the first cotton mill in the State, and perhaps in the world, was that of Sir William Dunbar, erected at or near Natchez in 1834.

Natchez is the oldest manufacturing center in the State and one of the oldest in the South. As early as 1720, it possessed a grist mill, a forge and a machine shop. The year 1812 gives it seventeen manufacturing establishments and a population of 1811. Its first big enterprise was the Natchez Cotton Mill, 300 looms, followed by the smaller Rosalie Mill. It stands today third among the cities of the State in capital invested in manufacture. It has excellent shipping facilities provided by the Mississippi river, and the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley R. R., and the New Orleans and Northwestern R. R., running west from Vidalia across the river. Its population was 12,210 by the census of 1900 and is estimated at not less than 15,000 in 1906. That part of the town of Natchez known as "Natchez Under the Hill," which was inhabited by the more disreputable elements of the population, was completely destroyed by the great tornado of May 7th, 1840, and much of the upper town was laid in ruins. Several hundred people were known to have been killed, and three steamboats and about eighty flatboats were sunk and their cargoes lost.

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About two miles east of the city was located "Concord," the famous old seat of the Spanish Governors. One of the historic old towns of the county is Washington, now a veritable deserted village of about 250 inhabitants, but formerly the Territorial and State capital, 1802-1820; it was the seat of Jefferson College, founded in 1803, the oldest endowed institution in the Southwest, of Elizabeth Female Academy, the oldest chartered female college in the State and the home of scores of Mississippi's famous men, as well as a great literary center in its day. When the State capital was removed to Jackson in 1822, the old town rapidly declined, and its prosperity ceased.
The county has a land surface of 438 square miles. Like most counties in the State Adams county is well watered, the principal streams besides the Mississippi and Homochitto rivers on its western and southern boundary, being Second, St. Catharine's and Sandy creeks.

Nearly the whole of the county lies in the so called Bluff Formation of the State, and the surface of the land is undulating, rolling and hilly, with level stretches along the river and creek bottoms. Many of its forests have been cleared away in the development of its many rich plantations, but the county is still rich in timber, consisting of white, red, live and water oaks, gum, ash, cottonwood, poplar, beech, pine, walnut, cypress and magnolia. Its soil is a rich alluvial loam, very fertile, producing cotton, corn, sugar-cane, oats, sweet and Irish potatoes, peanuts, hay and all kinds of vegetables. Fruits of various kinds, both the large and small varieties, flourish in the kindly soil and climate of this favored region. Excellent pasturage for stock can be found throughout the year, and the live stock industry has attained large proportions, being valued at nearly one half a million dollars in 1900. While it must be admitted that Adams county, like the rest of the State, lacks many of the elements that foster a manufacturing population, it is yet fortunate in the possession of a kindly climate and soil, excellent shipping facilities, and valuable woods and clays.

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The following statistics, from the twelfth U. S. Census for 1900, relate to farms, manufactures and population:-number of farms 2,583, acreage in farms 141,222, acres improved 73,756, value of the land and improvements, exclusive of buildings $1,114,520, value of the farm buildings $461,580, value of live stock $464,572, total value of all products not fed $1,280,026.

Number of manufactures 80, capital invested $1,474,448, wages paid $222,522, cost of materials used $718,172, total value of products $1,322,171.

The population of the county in 1900 consisted of whites 6,439, colored 23,672, total 30,111, an increase of 4,080 over the census returns for 1890. (See Natchez Indians, Fort Rosalie, Natchez, Washington Territorial Administrations.)

The total assessed valuation of real and personal property in Adams county in 1905 was $6,470,748, and in 1906 it was $7,299,674, which shows an increase of $828,926 during the year.

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[Source: Encyclopedia of Mississippi History Vo1 1. Pub 1907 by Dunbar Rowland LL.D.]
Submitted By:  Gene Phillips



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