History of Warren County
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 History of Warren County, Mississippi

Gordon Cotton

Director

Old Court House Museum

History of Warren County

 

Geographically located with the Mississippi River forming its western border and basically situated between two other rivers, the Yazoo and the Big Black, Warren County is a mixture of fertile Delta lands, hardwood forested hills, and lakes and wetlands ideal for wildlife. The county is 43rd in size of Mississippi's 82 counties.

Warren County was organized in 1809 and had been a part of Jefferson and Claiborne counties in the Old Natchez District. It was named for Dr. Joseph Warren, a Boston dentist who became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The first known inhabitants of Warren County were several tribes of Indians including the Yazoo, Tensas, and Grigra, all kin to the Choctaws. They were mound builders who lived in small villages on high ground. They planted, harvested, and hunted and were usually a peaceful people.

Spanish explorers were probably the first Europeans to visit Warren County in the mid-1500s, followed by several French expeditions in the late 1600s. In 1698 Father Davion, a Roman Catholic priest, established a mission on the Yazoo near the present site of Redwood, naming it St. Pierre; it was the first European settlement in Mississippi.

Warren County passed into English ownership following the French and Indian War in the 1760s, and grants of land were made to a few settlers in the lower part of the area. During the American Revolution Warren County was part of the British colony of West Florida and remained loyal to King George 111. In 1780, the Spanish took possession of the colony, and in 1790 built Fort Nogales on the banks of the Mississippi north of the present city of Vicksburg. The land became the property of the United States by treaty in 1798, and except for the four years when it was part of the Confederacy, has remained under the Stars and Stripes.  

Warren County has been the home of numerous famous Americans including Jefferson Davis, president of the Con- federate States; Ben Montgomery, the first African-American elected to public office in Mississippi; William McKendree win, the originator of the Pony Express and the first full- term senator from California; Key Pittman, a U.S. senator from Oregon; Sarah Breedlove Walker, who became the first black woman millionaire in the United States; and two chief justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court, William L. Sharkey and Horatio Fleming Simrall.

Some "firsts" for the county include Mamie Thomas, who in 1914 became the first woman rural mail deliverer; Mahala Roach, who in 1851 erected the first known Christmas tree in Mississippi; Joseph Biedenharn, who in 1894 made marketing history by bottling and selling Coca-Cola (which had been a fountain drink), and Phil Gilbert, who changed marketing history by pairing shoes and selling them in boxes in 1884.  

Historically, the county is best-known as the site of one of the turning points of the War Between the States, the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863. In 1916 Warren County also became the first in the United States to establish a system of rural consolidated vocational schools.  

The first court session in the county was held in a log cabin near Yokena in 1809, followed shortly by the construction of a brick courthouse at Warrenton, the first county seat. In 1825 the seat of government was moved to Vicksburg. At one time the towns of Warrenton, Walters, and Fostoria (also called Speeds) were incorporated municipalities. Warrenton is extinct, and the others are now part of Vicksburg. Towns were also planned at Cardiff and Cedars but never materialized, leaving Vicksburg as the only incorporated municipality in Warren County.

 


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