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Oktibbeha County
Early Land Owners

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Source: "Historical sketches of Oktibbeha County (Mississippi)"
by Thomas Battle Carroll
Gulfport, Miss.: The Dixie Press, 1931

Submitted by K. Torp

Some of the largest landlords in the county were Dossey A. Outlaw, Robert H. Spencer, Sr., Capt. John W. Rice, John Hampton Gay, and W. R. Cannon—in range 14; Dr. W. C. Gillespie, Major John Thompson, and David Montgomery— in range 14; Patrick Cromwell—in ranges 13 and 15; and Thomas Lewis—in range 12.

Dossey A. Outlaw probably settled in the county before it was organized. I do not know where he first located. He came from Carolina; he was a member of the first board of police; after the middle 30*8 he lived in range 15, township 17, section 31; he was instrumental in organizing the Salem Bap-tist church in 1835; he erected his residence, still standing, about 1840; he acquired several thousand acres and about 150 slaves; in partnership with Roderick Green he built and operated the first steam mill in the county, a saw mill southeast of our Longview. He was the father of Dossey W. Outlaw, Mrs. Robert Spencer, Jr, Mrs. Outlaw-Wiggs, and Mrs. Harvey, all of whom are dead.

Robert H. Spencer, Sr., also probably entered the county before its organization; according to early records, he purchased property here prior to 1834. Apparently he died in 1842. I have not found many details about him. His residence however, was near Catawba Creek, in section 19. He was the father of Robert H., Jr. Unquestionably he owned many slaves and much land. Tradition has it that he left the most valuable estate in beat 5.

John W. Rice was a son of Capt. John S. Rice, a South Carolinian, who in 1847 bought the Judge Thompson place in beat 5. After his graduation at Columbia, the son John resided principally in Talledega and Mobile. He had Oktibbeha interests as early as 1842. He was a captain in the Mexican War. In '51, he acquired the Oktibbeha holdings of his father, his brother Ben, and several others persons; then, with his bride (Augusta Hopkins of Mobile), he spent a year in Europe, Africa, and Asia. He was our senator at the time of his death in '57. He left two children—Arthur H. and Nannie H.—and in Oktibbeha County an estate of 5,000 acres and 200 slaves.

John Hampton Gay, a native of South Carolina but a resident for some time of Monroe County, Mississippi, settled about 1844 on Sand Creek, section 2, township 18, range 15. The substantial hewn-log residence in which his children and some of his grandchildren were born, stood until recently when fire destroyed it. Gay eventually owned 2,200 acres of land and about 100 slaves. After the War, Gay moved to Texas. The old plantation is still known as the Gay place. Two of his children were Mrs. Warren of Tennessee and Charles E. Gay; both are dead.

Dr. W. C. Gillespie, like Outlaw, probably settled in the county prior to its organization. In the middle 30's he was living a mile south of Starkville on the west side of the Louisville road. He was a practicing physician for many years; and he was also one of the greatest planters in the county. In 1850 he erected the large house, still standing, on the east side of the road. He had possibly 200 slaves and several thousand acres of land in various parts of the county. People generally considered him the wealthiest man in Oktibbeha. He was a Whig. He was the father of the late W. C. Gillespie.

Major John Thompson and David Montgomery—each had married the other's sister—came to Oktibbeha in 1837; and William H. Glenn, Thompson's son-in-law, and probably other men of the family, came with them. From South Carolina, where their wives and children and many slaves remained temporarily, these men brought some skilled slave-laborers, whom they used in building temporary residences, cabins, and bams, and in clearing up land. The next year the families, even the grown children, and the body of slaves came to the new home.
Thompson settled a little over three miles north of Starkville and about the same distance from Trim Cane Creek He became very prominent, figured in many land-sales, operated a great plantation, started the shipping of cotton by the waters of Trim Cane to the Tombigbee. He had more slaves than any other permanent resident of the county, about 300. Glenn settled a mile nearer Starkville and a mile west of the present West Point road. In 1863 he owned about 800 acres, and lost through emancipation 69 slaves. Two children are still living: Mr. J. A. (Doff) Glenn, in his eighty-fourth year and Mrs. (Sally) William B. Montgomery, in her eighty-ninth year.

David Montgomery lived a mile still nearer Starkville, in the suburbs. His first residence was just east of the West Point road. He owned many hundreds of acres and at least 250 slaves. In 1842-3, he represented the county in the lower house of the Legislature. His daughter Margaret married Cecil (son of Araunah) Bardwell. Montgomery had some slaves who were expert carpenters; he used them in building residences for other prominent citizens.

Thomas Lewis was a very early settler in the Southwestern district. He lived on Golden Horn Creek about three miles southeast of Sturgis. I have found few facts about him. He was the owner of a good deal of land and was the largest slave-holder in the western half of the county. "All the country down there," says Mr. MacIllwain, "was full of his slaves." Some of his descendants live in the county.



This page last updated on -- 23 May 2010


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