History of Mississippi - Monroe County

Submitted by Denise Wells

Source: Lowry, Robert and McCardle, William H. A History of Mississippi, from the Discovery of the Great River by Hernando DeSoto, Including the Earliest Settlement Made by the French Under Iberville, to the Death of Jefferson Davis [1541-1889]. Jackson, Miss.: R. H. Henry & Co., 1891. Pages 538-542.


Was established Feburary 9th, 1821, and was named in honor of President James Monroe. At the time of its organization the county embraced the territory out of which Lowndes county, nine years later, was carved. Hamilton, a few miles above Buttahatchie river, was the first county site, and at the time of its location a trading point of considerable importance.

Among the early settlers were Col. Austin Willis, Mr. Cocke, the father of Chancellor Stephen Cocke; Daniel W. Wright, the Cravens, Alexanders, Sandersons, Branches, Fords, Dr. Higgason, Jacob Loughridge, Isaac Dyche, William Morse, and Ben. T. Reese; Henry Hardy, John Colter, John Ross, the Echolls, Martins, Farrisses and Hutchinsons. In the northern portion of the county were John Wise, Abner Dyer, Kirk and mark Prewitt, the McKinneys and Parchmans.

In the prairies, when first brought into cultivation, and at the time almost unsurpassed in the production of cotton, were the Walkers, Randles, and Evans, one of whom was the father of Captain Joe Evans, the present State Treasurer. There were also the three Sykes brothers, Rev. Simon B., Drs. Wm. A. and Augustus Sykes. The first was a minister of the gospel of high character and comfortable fortune. He was the father-in-law of Judge Frank Rodgers, who many of the people of the State will remember as the nominee of the Whig party for Governor of the State in opposition of John J. McRae. He served his judicial district with great acceptability as circuit judge and was a gentleman of fine presence and agreeable address. On the hotly contested field of Fort Donelson he laid down his life in defence of the Southern cause. Dr. William A. Sykes was a gentleman of superior judgment, and was highly respected for his christian virtues. He was the father of Captains Thos. B., Eugene O. and Dr. Granville Sykes. Captain Thos. B. Sykes served two terms as chief magistrate of Aberdeen, and the second brother, Captain E. O. Sykes, represented teh county a number of times in the Legislature and was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1890. Dr. Augustus Sykes, like his brothers, was a gentleman of good fortune and much respected. His two sons, Hon. E. T. Sykes, a lawyer of high standing and former State Senator, and Dr. Richard Sykes, a gentleman of excellent professional attainments, reside in the city of Columbus. Captain E. L. Sykes, who was sheriff of Monroe county for several years, belongs to the same family. His father died when a very young man.

In the same locality were the Taylors, Moores, McAllisters, Boyds, Ewings, Wards, Cloptons, Cunninghams, Abbotts, Vassars, one of whom, Captain Wm. H. Vassar, was State Treasurer; Gillespies, Waltons, Gordons, Ragsdales, Gunns, McClendons, Watsons, Watkins, Harrisons, Col. George H. Young, a gentleman of high character and large fortune, whose beautiful and attractive home at Waverly was widely known for its cordial hospitality. The Waverly section of the country subsequently became a prt of Lowndes county, and more recently of Clay. Also the Rogers family.

Hon. Samuel J. Gholson was among the early settlers of Monroe county. He was a member of Congress in 1837 and 1838; served one full term and part of another. He was subsequently appointed Judge of the United States Court of Mississippi by President martin Van Buren, and remained on the bench for more than twenty years—until the State severed her relations with the general government in 1861. Judge Gholson entered the Confederate army in 1861, as Captain. He was an earnest and gallant soldier, and at the cessation of hostilities was a Brigadier-General, commanding State troops. He was elected ot the Legislature in 1866, and made Speaker of the House of Representative. General Gholson was an able, vrave and generous gentleman.

General Reuben Davis, who recently died at the advanced age of eighty-five years, became a citizen of Monroe county when the county site was Hamilton. He read medicine with his brother-in-law, Dr. Higgason; after practicing for several years, he became dissatisfied with the profession, abandoned it and read law, and very soon became prominent as a criminal lawyer. In 1842 he was appointed by the Governor, Judge, to fill a vacancy occurring in the High Court of Errors and Appeals. He occupied the bench but a short time, delivering but two opinions, which can be found in Sixth Howard Mississippi Reprots. Prior to the war he served in the Congress of the United States, and during the war was a member of the Confederate Congress. He was honorable, impetuous and courageous, always maintaining his opinions independently and fearlessly. He left his volume of "Reminiscences of Mississippi and Mississippians" as a contribution which does honor to his memory.

The lawyers who assembled at Athens at an early day, and subsequently located at Aberdeen when it was made the county site, were in the main men of a high order of talent.

In addition to those mentioned were Hon. John B. Sale, a gentleman of intellectual power and ranked deservedly with the foremost lawyers of the State.

Hon. James Phelan, who was elected to the Confederate Senate from the State, was an accurate lawyer, with agreeable manners and scholarly attainments.

Hon. Joel M. Acker, a lawyer of acknowledged merit, has always held a high rank among his brethren at the bar.

Hon. Locke E. Houston, the venerable Judge of the first Judicial District is probably the sole survivor of the lawyers who settled at an early day at Athens. A thoroughly trained lawyer, with a mind of great strength, well stored with legal learning, he has for more than forty years occupied a high place in the estimation of his professional brethren of the State, an able and impartial judge, courteous and dignified, affable manners, the peer of any, respected and honored by all.

The long established firm of Houston and Reynolds was dissolved by Judge Houston's acceptance of the Circuit Judgeship. Col. Reuben O. Reynolds, the junior partner, Colonel of a regiment in the Confederate service, was for many years a prominent figure in Mississippi politics, as well as a lawyer of distinguished ability. During his long service in the State Senate he labored for the development and advancement of the State. He was able, active, and upon all occasions exhibited the greatest interest in measures tha had for their object the welfare of Mississippi. A leader of the body of which he was so long a member, he was uniformly polite and obliging. He was a persuasive speaker, full of resources, graceful in his bearing, and with the manners of a thorough gentleman. He was strong and adroit in debate, eminently conservative, and always listend to with interest and respect. Gentle and engaging in manner, clear and forcible in the discussion of his subject, Reuben O. Reynolds, was a favorite with the general public, and a most valuable citizen. His early demise was not only felt in the immediate vicinity where his long life had been spent, but throughout the State. Peace to the ashes of the gallant soldier, learned lawyer, able legislator, worthy citizen and gifted gentleman.

The high character and ability of the bar at the period mentioned served as a bright example to the younger members of the profession now in full practice, who with their legal learning, scrupulously observed the courtesies and ethics left them as a heritage by those who have passed away.

The towns in the county are Aberdeen, the county site, Amory, Nettleton, Smithville, Quincy, Gattman, Reynolds, Strongs, Muldon and Prairie.

The principal streams are the Tombigbee river, Old Town Creek, Matubba, Jones, Town, Buttahatchie, Sipsey, Weaver and Chuquatoncha Creeks.

There are three railroads in the county, the Mobile and Ohio, Canton, Aberdeen and Nashville and the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham—aggregating fifty-eight miles.

Monroe, with her fertile lands and excellent population, is properly classed among the best counties in the State.

This county has 176,539 acres of cleared land—average value per acres as rendered to the assessor, $11.13. Total value of cleared lands, including incorporated towns and cities, $1,966,681.

The population of Monroe as shown by the census report of 1890: Whites, 11,930; colored, 18,792; total, 30,722.


1822 - Bartlett C. Barry.
1823-25 - Bartlett C. Barry.
1826 - William Downing.
1827 - William Downing.
1828 - William Downing.
1829 - James F. Trotter.
1830 - James F. Trotter.

1833 - George Higgason.
1835 - Stephen Cocke.
1838 - Samuel Ragsdale.
1839 - Samuel Ragsdale.
1840 - Samuel Ragsdale.
1841 - Samuel Ragsdale.
1842 - J. Y. Thompson.
1843 - J. Y. Thompson.
1844 - J. Y. Thompson.
1846 - Joel M. Acker.
1848 - James E. Harrison.
1850 - J. Y. Thompson.
1852 - J. Y. Thompson.
1854 - J. M. Acker.
1856 - J. M. Acker.
1857 - Benjamin Bradford.
1858 - Richard Harrison.
1859 - Richard Harrison.
1860-61 - Richard Harrison.
1861-62 - James Phelan.
1865-66 - J. H. Anderson.
1870-71 - F. H. Little, F. M. Abbott.
1872-73 - F. H. Little, F. M. Abbott.
1874-75 - Nathan Shirley, F. H. Little.
1876-77 - R. O. Reynolds, Nathan Shirley.
1878 - R. O. Reynolds, J. T. Griffin.
1880 - R. O. Reynolds, T. J. Griffin.
1882 - R. O. Reynolds, Sam'l L. Wilson.
1884 - R. O. Reynolds, Jno. M. Simonton.
1886 - R. O. Reynolds, Jno. M. Simonton.
1888 - J. C. Burdine, J. L. Turnage.
1890 - J. C. Burdine, J. L. Turnage.


1822 - William Cocke.
1823-25 - C. H. Williams.
1826 - Robert D. Haden.
1827 - Geo. Higgason, R. Edrington, J. F. Trotter.
1828 - Goe. Higgason, L. Pruett, R. Edrington.
1829 - R. Edrington, D. W. Wright, S. Ragsdale.
1830 - Sam'l Ragsdale, John Bell, J. Higgason.
1833 - John Bell.
1835 - S. J. Gholson.
1836 - S. J. Gholson, James McKinney.
1837 - James McKinney, J. H. Bell.
1838 - Lemuel Prewett, G. Jowers.
1839 - S. J. Gholson, G. Jowers.
1840 - John R. Greer, J. M. Acker.
1841 - Joel M. Acker, J. R. Greer.
1842 - John R. Greer, J. M. Acker.
1844 - John Abbott, J. M. Acker.
1846 - J. C. Moore, S. Dilworth.
1848 - Locke E. Houston, J. T. Fortson.
1850 - Stephen Adams, T. T. Armstrong.
1852 - Thomas Coopwood, James Sullivan.
1854 - D. W. Saddler, Lewis Nabors.
1856 - Reuben Davis, John A. Abbott.
1857 - Thomas H. Davis, John A. Abbott.
1858 - S. F. Kendrick, Lewis Nabors.
1859 - B. M. Bradford, J. R. Lyles.
1860-61 - J. R. Lyles, B. M. Bradford.
1861-62 - J. L. Tindall, L. B. Moore.
1865-66 - S. J. Gholson, Joel M. Acker.
1870-71 - William Hodges.
1872-73 - A. P. Huggins, Arthur Brooks, Wm. Holmes
1874-75 - J. C. Walker.
1876-77 - A. J. Sykes, W. W. Troupe, J. M. Trice.
1878 - S. J. Gholson, N. W. Hatch, Wright Cunningham.
1880 - E. O. Sykes, J. C. Burdine, A. Carter.
1882 - E. O. Sykes, J. C. Burdine, J. M. Trice.
1884 - R. E. Houston, C. H. Moore, J. T. Dilworth, J. C. Burdine.
1886 - J. M. Acker, Jr., J. T. Dilworth, J. C. Burdine.
1888 - J. T. Dilworth, T. A. Oliphant, J. R. Murff.
1890 - J. T. Dilworth, T. A. Oliphant, R. E. Houston.

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