Historical Notes on The Town of Hickory

By Dr. Harold Graham

The town of Hickory was settled in 1860 and named in honor of “Old Hickory”, Andrew Jackson. It is located in Beat 5, southeastern Newton County, just north of Potterchitto Creek and midway between the towns of Newton and Chunky.

The town lies along an ancient Choctaw Indian trail that led from Chunky Chitto and the inn of Pierre Juzan (three miles NNE of the current town of Hickory) and the home of Chief Garland, later known as Garlandville, in Jasper County. Along this trail Capt. Pierre Juzan carried sixty warriors from Chunky Chitto to fight for Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans; then, following the battle, led Jackson and the American troops along this same route as they returned home.

Jackson and his men are known to have camped on the south side of Potterchitto Creek. According to a popular tradition, Jackson tied his horse to an oak tree that stood in Hickory’s courthouse for many years, but another legend also tells of him walking all the way home from New Orleans to Tennessee to prove that he was tough as any soldier, part of the lore that led to his nickname of “Old Hickory.”

In his report to the U. S. Congress about his military activities during the War of 1812, asked for a military road to be built from Tennessee to New Orleans in case of another national emergency involving New Orleans. Any other route was too cumbersome and difficult. This military road was built along the same route that Capt. Juzan and his men had used earlier, but many sections of the road went undeveloped commercially and were abandoned after the migration of the Choctaw Indians to the West following the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830.

Hickory Map Today

Today’s Hickory includes the W of Section 31, Township 6N Range 13E, plus the major portion of Section 36, Township 6N, Range 13 E. The original town, as surveyed ca. 1859, is shown on the map on the back cover of this edition of Remembering and includes seven streets, each named for an American president.

Hickory - Map of the Town

The first (non-Indian) person to own the land where Hickory is located was Louis Bryant.  Under the terms of Provision #211, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, and such right granted to Bryant as a result of his wife being a Choctaw woman, Bryant received a patent on 29 January 1840. He would later sell the land and move to Oklahoma Territory.

Benjamin Franklin Cross, who grew up at Hickory during its early years, remembered the land as being little more than a haven for bamboo briers and a frog pond1, but others saw the land as both level and fertile. The first settlers no doubt found it ideal for farming, but an entrepreneur named Asberry Edward Gray saw additional prospects in the location.

Asberry Edward Gray and his wife Martha Frances (Tucker) Gray migrated from Jasper County, Georgia, to Lauderdale County, Mississippi, about the year 1848. He worked several years as a farmer, but talk of an impending railroad in the area led him in another direction.

In the years that followed, A. E. Gray bought the land that would become the downtown area of Hickory, laid off lots, opened the first store, and waited for the railroad track to be laid through the town.

There was one other issue to deal with, however. Southern Railroad Company, in order to avoid the construction of several bridges that would be needed to cross streams in southeastern Newton County planned to dip southward into Jasper County with their route before swinging northward into Meridian. Political leaders in Jasper County, however, heard complaints from housewives that the smoke from the engine would soil the laundry they had hung out to dry and farmers were afraid all the commotion from the train would cause their cows to go dry.

Against this backdrop, we are told, A. E. Gray worked with other area leaders to ensure that the railroad came his direction and we are told that he donated land for the right-of-way.

According to A. J. Brown, the town is situated, as is stated, where General Jackson camped with his army on his march from New Orleans to Nashville, after the great battle of the 8th of January of that year at New Orleans. That is possible and very probable, as it is well known that the army referred to crossing Potterchitto Creek just south of Hickory, and the bridge was constructed a short distance below where the bridge on the public road now stands. It is further stated that a portion of the old timbers of the original bridge are still in the creek. Hence it is possible that the army camped on the site of the present town. The military road runs through this place.

The railroad was completed to Hickory in 1860, but regular trains did not run to the place until after the road was completed through, in June of 1861. It was necessary to transport troops through the state, and the road was completed sooner than it would have been.

Asberry Edward Gray was appointed as the first railroad agent in 1861 and held the place until 1866. He was also appointed, after that time, Probate Judge of Newton County, was also Sheriff of Newton County by appointment, and was Justice of Peace for Beat 5, would serve as Mayor of Hickory and a supporter of a separate school district in the town. He was the first merchant at the place and had resided there thirty-six years.

Hickory in 1870

The 1870 Federal Census lists the following merchants, trades, and professional persons as residents of Hickory:

Retail merchants: Eli M. Pennington, Asberry E. Gray, Isaac I. Barber, Egbert Westbrook, Redmond Ogletree2, Edward Brown, and Elijah C. Johnson; Retail grocer: Lemuel Nelson; Tobacconist: John M. Jones; Shoemaker: Jacob Wolf; Bookkeeper, George B. Harper, Charles Allard, blacksmith, and Benjamin F Russell, peddling.

Joseph Rida, Jr., and Foster B. Jolly worked as house carpenters, Moses Evans operated a shoeshop, Ransom Lightsey, Jessie B. Beal, John H. Harper, Albert Christmas, and Joseph Gilmore clerked in stores. Henry Smith measured timber, James W. White worked in a gunshop, and Robert Barnett and Charles Evans worked at a sawmill.

The town in 1870 had a Methodist minister, Joel Cartaphan, one teacher, Josiah D. Rhodes, and two physicians, Dr. Garrett Longmire and Dr. George W. Gilmore.

Brown provides the list for the period 1860-1890: merchants-- Gray, Heidle, Edwards, and Jim Bell. Gray & Ward, Barber & Thompson, Ogletree & Brown, W. N. Raines, Lem Nelson; saddle shops and retail grocery; Pennington & Bros., Harper and Bro., Norman & Co., retail grocery; Cook and Johnson. Drug stores--Osburn & Grissette3 and William Hyde.

For many years the largest and most important business was done by I. I. Barber and his brothers, who were associated with him from time to time. He first introduced fertilizers in the county in 1870, had large saw mills in different parts of the county in operation, had large farming interests, bought and sold stock, bought most of the cotton that came to the place, and did one of the most extensive trades of any man in Newton County. W. N. Raines also did large business for a time and kept the post-office in his store and had a large number of friends and customers who patronized him.

Throughout its history Hickory suffered from several fires included one in 1926 which destroyed all town records.

The town of Hickory would achieve a population of approximately 500 citizens during its heyday. There were also three churches, as reported by Brown:

    “There are three churches in Hickory. The Methodist church is one of the finest in the county, very conspicuously and centrally located, and has been supplied for the last four years by Rev. J. M. Morse, the same that supplies the church at Newton. The Baptists have a comfortable church, very well situated, but not so new and commanding in appearance as the Methodist church. They are supplied by Rev. Mr. Hall. The Christian church at Hickory is the only one of that denomination in the county; it is small but sufficiently large for the present demands of its members. This church has no regular supply, but is preached to by various ministers of this faith who come from time to time in the county.

To continue with Brown’s narrative,

    Hickory has at present the following places of business: Walton, Gallaspy & Russell, is a substantial firm consisting of three young men who were principally brought up in Newton County, who have been trained to do business; they have ample capital and are doing a large and profitable business. The first two named parties live in the town; the latter, S. D. Russell, lives in Jasper County is a successful planter and merchant; J. L. Wells, who succeeded to Wells & Hailey, is a young man who was brought up in Newton County, and who did successful business in the county before going to the railroad. Buckley Bros. is another firm who are well known in the county, and who are active young men in business. G. W. Rayner, who was a Newton County farmer, has for some years been engaged in business at Hickory, is a well known man in his town and county. J. C. Barber & Co., a well known firm, have, one way or another, with some of the Barber family been engaged in business at Hickory for the past twenty-five years; J. C. Barber is the son of I. I Barber, is sober and steady, and brought up to close business life. Nelson & Hopkins is a respected firm who have long been in business, and have good reputation as business men. McDonald Bros. who have until recently been very prominent in the business interests of Hickory, are intelligent and well qualified for mercantile pursuits; they are now out of business but still remain at Hickory. Pierce & Everett are men who came from the farm to town. They are safe, conservative men, who do small business; they are reliable and trustworthy. W. A. Russell, a young man who was brought up in the town, of a well-known and prominent family in the county, has succeeded his father, Frank Russell, in business, is well situated in one of the nicest stores in town. Basket & Massengale, a new firm who are well situated in the town, are doing a small, neat business. J. A. E. Dowling, one of the oldest druggists in this place, assisted by his good wife, appears to be doing a nice business. Caddenhead & Jordan are young men recently moved to Hickory, who are doing a good business; have probably the best stock of drugs ever brought to Hickory. The are active and reliable men. Mrs. Nelson has a millinery, is very conveniently situated, and the ladies of the county may be well supplied with goods in her line. Miss Bettie Rew, also in the same line, is a well experience lady and keeps good stock and is securing a liberal share of the patronage. Mr. Will Hopkins, a well known Newton County man, has confectionery and fancy groceries, where customers may be well supplied. Mr. Frank Johnson, a well known citizen, has a blacksmith and wood shop, where all kinds of work in his line can be done. Mr. Stevenson has a steam gin and grist mill; also has attached an industry in the way of barrel-hoop manufactory, that if properly worked may prove of great benefit to the county. F. H. Hannah4 as a steam saw mill and planer immediately in the town, where a large amount of lumber is sawed. J. H. Wells has a good livery stable, where the traveling public may be accommodated. The depot is kept by R. H. Melton, who is also express and telegraph operator; he is a sober and reliable man.

    Hickory has three physicians. Dr. Semmes is considered a fine physician and is well patronized. Dr. Caraway is also considered a skillful physician, and has the patronage and confidence of the people.

    Dr. Gilmore, a young man raised in the town of Hickory, son of a very popular doctor, late of this place, has just received his diploma, and will, no doubt, command the patronage and respect of his and his father’s old friends.

    Dr. J. P. Harris is a resident dentist, is a Newton County boy, who has worked his way up, and deserves the patronage of the people.

    J. M. Gage is the only lawyer at Hickory, is a man well known to the people of the county, and gets a good share of the practice connected with this part of the county.

    Hickory is surrounded by fine bodies of swamp and upland timber, large amounts of which are brought to that place for shipment.

According to WPA records, the Hanner Hotel was built in 1861, although census records indicate this probably happened at a much later date. The first proprietor was Mary (Johns) Pinkston (1815-1903) who moved to Hickory from Scott County, Mississippi, after the death of her husband, James T. Pinkston. The hotel was later operated by her daughter and son-in-law, Sallie (Pinkston) Hanner and Fred Walter Hanner, Jr. The building was two-story and consisted of 15 rooms. After the death of Fred in 1933 and Sallie in 1934, the building was demolished.

Adult residents of Hickory According to Selected Occupations, 1900

The 1900 Federal Census of Hickory (District 56), Newton County, Mississippi, indicates a total of 627 residents, as enumerated on 10 pages of this census. Not included in the following list are those with the occupations of farmer, laborer, teamster, carpenter or cook.

 Page 307A: Harrison D. Leverett, physician, Larue P. Leverett, teacher, and Thos. K. Hathaway, engineer.

 Pages 308A and 308B: Benjamin F. Johnson, blacksmith, Frank Moseley, salesman, Alexander C. Hailey, salesman, Clarence V. Gilmore, physician, John T. Dunn, landlord, George B. Harper5, bookkeeper, Oliver Hopkins, merchant, John L. Hopkins, salesman, and William E. Hopkins, salesman.

 Pages 309A & 309B: John R. Cox, salesman, Henry W. McMillan, salesman, James A. Johnson, telegraph operator, Emma E. Riley, post mistress, and Mamie B. Riley, clerk, Andrew Ryan, manager, lumber mill?, James W. Ryan, lumber inspector, Thomas L. Wall, bookkeeper, John T. Green, bookkeeper, Charles E. McDonald, merchant, Zach T. Harrison, liveryman, John F. Harrison, liveryman, Jet B. Logan, salesman, William A. Logan, “drugman”, and Arch M. Logan, printer.

 Page 310A: Isaac I. Barber, merchant, Julia J. McDonald, salesman, Robert A. Melton, depot agent and telegraph operator, Minnie Lee Melton, music teacher, Fred W. Hanner, proprietor, hotel, Jerome C. Brown, cattle dealer, Ira Williamson, dentist, Mittie C. Austin, milliner, Ora A. Cross, clerk, Robert J. Cross, lawyer, Robert S. Hill, druggist.

Page 310B: Sidney B. Brown, salesman, Eugene B. Adams, bookkeeper, Brad Nix, Sr., barber, Wyatt C. Caraway, physician, Edward L. Faucette, druggist, James L. Taylor, teacher, Delford E. McCannon, preacher, Robert J. Wall, merchant, William A. Temples, constable, William H. Lewis, hotel proprietor, James R. Tidwell, bookkeeper, Leonidas P. May, merchant, Wiley P. Bullard, salesman, James E. Morrison, grocer, Alford ? Peacock, merchant, ? Samuels, watch repairman, Oscar Burnet, printer, William C. Owens, printer, and Leon McDonald, publisher.

Page 311A: William J. James, night watchman, Thomas A. Stokes (black), teacher, John T. Wall, harness maker, Richard Trathem, blacksmith, Reuben E. Buckley, salesman, Edwin B. Partin, physician and surgeon, Anna May Partin, teacher, Stella R. McMullan, milliner, Franklin Pierce, merchant, Lewis C. Pierce, teacher, and Joseph H. Wells, salesman.

Page 311B: James W. Bolton, teacher, Green M. Rayner, merchant, Bessie A. Rayner, “sales lady”, Joseph P. Harris, dentist, Betty Y. Reid, milliner, Frank G. Semmes, physician and surgeon, Frank G. Semmes, Jr., telegraph operator, and John H. Semmes, bookkeeper.

Page 312B: William H. Gallaspy, merchant, Irvin M. Gallaspy, salesman, Garland M. Gallaspy, salesman, George C. Tann, lawyer, Beulah Tann, milliner, Sue R. McDaniel, seamstress, Lucy C. Dowling, druggist, Thomas J. Walton, dentist, Arch J. Murphy, dentist, Oliver C. Dease, editor, newspaper, Fred W. Powe, printer, William D. Hopkins, salesman.

Page 313A: Mamye A. Buchanan, milliner

Businesses Operating at or Near Hickory, 19216



Distance from Hickory

Brown, J. A.



Everett, J. C

General Store


Gallaspy, W. H. & Sons

General Store


Gibson, E. L.

General Store


Hailey & McCormick

General Store


Hammond, G. A.

General Store


Hamrick & Gibson

General Store


Hanner, F. W.



Hill, R. S.



Hopson, W. J.

General Store


Hopkins Mercantile Company

General Store


Hopkins, O. S. Lumber Co.

Saw Mill


Loper, B. F.



McGee, S. G.

General Store


McMullan & Sons

General Store


Pierce, A.

General Store


Raines, L. H.

General Store


Sadler, L. H.

Saw Mill & General Store


Snowden, J. A.

General Store


Wall, H. A.

Blacksmith & Repair


From an early time Hickory was in competition for trade with the neighboring towns of Chunky, Newton, and Decatur. With the building of a north-south railroad through Decatur and Newton in the early 1900’s Hickory merchants began to lose trade.

The completion of Highway 80 through Hickory during 1937 was a mixed blessing. While it brought travelers from all parts of the United States that might stop and trade locally, it also carried them to larger shopping areas like Meridian to its east. When Interstate 20 was built during the 1970’s, it by-passed the downtown area of Hickory causing a further reduction of residents and trade. For most of the residents that have remained, however, Hickory has all the virtues of small town America. During the days of A. J. Brown, the town had an estimated population of 500. At the time of the 2000 Federal Census, 499 persons were counted.


  1. Brown, A. J., History of Newton County, Mississippi from 1834 to 1894,  Clarion-Ledger Company, Jackson, Mississippi, 1894
  2. 1870 Federal Census, Town of Hickory, Newton County, Mississippi
  3. 1900 Federal Census, Town of Hickory, Newton County, Mississippi
  4. Dun, R. G., Merchants, Tradesmen and Manufacturers, Scott and Newton Counties, Mississippi, 1921.
  5. Personal Knowledge of Melvin Tingle and Greg Boggan
  6. WPA Records, ca. 1935
  7. Original Land Patent Records

Postal Notes, Town of Hickory

Postmasters, Town of Hickory (1860-1935)

Asberry Edward Gray—May 5, 1860—October 15, 1866

Vincent S. Sisson—October 15, 1866—November 9, 1868

John G. Gallaspy—November 9, 1868—October 26, 1869

William A. Raines—October 26, 1869—November 23, 1877

John F. Green—November 23, 1887—August 17, 1893

Maggie E. Gilmore—August 17, 1893—November 27, 1897

Emma E. Riley—November 27, 1897—May 22, 1900

Laura A. Dease—May 22, 1900—April 21, 1902

William N. McLemore—April 21, 1902—July 1, 1905

William A. Temples—July 1, 1905—January 6, 1915

Mirdie B. Temples (McGough)7—January 6, 1915—May 12, 1917

Vera A. Temples—May 12, 1917—June 2, 1920

Zilpha L. Killam—June 2, 1920—April 1, 1928

William E. Killam—April 1, 1928—June 14, 1929

Miss Aline Jolly—June 14, 1929--

Rural Free Delivery (RFD) Begins

The United Postal Service first began Rural Free Delivery on a trial basis in 1891; however it was not until 1896 that it became a permanent fixture in the United States.  Hickory, Mississippi, was the first town in Mississippi to receive Rural Free Delivery, this service beginning on October 1, 19018.  It may have taken some time to get everything organized as we have two news story from the Reporter-Index, as published on March 5, 1903, that allude to its beginning :

    Monday Morning four rural mail carriers assembled at the post office and after Postmaster McLemore had given them their badges and mails sacks full of mail matter, they sat in front of the office in their buggies, and Flanagan, the photographer, took a snap shot of them. A large territory now has the benefit of the service from this office, and it is thought other routes will follow.

    The carriers are as follows: Route No. 1. Marcus McMullan. Route No. 2. J. B. Everett. Route No. 3. A. R. Raines. Route No. 4. E. J. Jones.9

Letters to the Editor, Reporter—Index, March 5, 1903:

    I can’t find language to express my delight of having my mail delivered daily at my residence. For the last twenty years (I) have had to go or send to our office eight miles away, have asked those passing my residence to carry a letter or bring my mail until I have felt ashamed of asking others to do so often for me without any compensation, that which I thought was the duty of Uncle Sam and while we now have the long sought rural route, I certainly know how to appreciated it. It is one of the greatest blessings in my opinion our government has ever extended to the farmer. It is of greater value to the rural districts than that of the few seed we get from our congressmen or of the record cotton reports that is now being gotten up at an enormous expense, after the cotton has left the producers’ hands. It will stimulate the people of the country to write more, read more, and thus keep in closer touch of the professional world.

 A whole lot of thanks to the department for our rural route No. 3.

                             W. H. Johnson

 Hickory Newspapers10

By Dr. Harold Graham

Hickory had a series of newspapers, each with a relatively short history. The first, beginning in 1889, was the Newton County Progress with J. M. Gage as editor. Gage was soon succeeded by Hickey as editor and publisher for a period of two years. W. H. Seitzler was given charge of the editorial department in 1893. According to W. P. A. reports, the paper was successful and had a large circulation and was sold to E. L.
Hickory Newspaper - The Middle Buster
Faucette of Conehatta in 1897. A year later it took the title “Reporter-Index” and in 1900 it was being operated by Oliver C. Dease as editor.  A short time later it was sold to N. M. Everett of Hickory who changed the title to “The Middle Buster” in 1912.

Nathan Morris Everett (1870-1925) was born at Hickory and educated in the public schools of Mississippi and Arkansas. He received a law degree from the National Normal University of Lebanon, Ohio and was admitted to the bar in 1896. He taught school from 1896 to 1901, then began law practice in the town of Hickory. He also served as Editor of “The Reporter-Index” and "The Middle Buster" until its demise some time after 1914.

While editor of “The Middle Buster” Everett had no shortage of opinions which he not only published in his own newspaper, but which he shared with any other newspaper that would carry his comments as well. On one occasion he railed against the federal government for being too large and employing “demonstrating” agents to tell farmers what they should already know in the first place. On another occasion in 1914, he advocated that readers buy “Made in Mississippi” products, and published his comments on newsprint made from saw dust and scrap lumber. Quite remarkably that newspaper survives in better form than yesterday’s newspaper (See previous page).

Everett was elected as a state representative from 1912 to 1920, then moved to Washington, D. C.  He was a Christian Scientist and believed in natural healing only; therefore, when he contacted smallpox in 1925, he did not seek medical help and died shortly thereafter.


  1. WPA Records, ca. 1935.
  2. Redmond Ogletree resettled in Neshoba County, Mississippi and is the common ancestor of those bearing that surname in this county and the town of Union.
  3. Probably intended by Brown as Gressett.
  4. Correctly Hanner.
  5. George B. Harper was the enumerator who conducted the 1900 Federal Census for the town of Hickory and was serving as Sheriff of Newton County in 1880 and 1902.
  6. R. G. Dun, Merchants, Tradesmen and Manufacturers for Scott and Newton Counties, Mississippi, 1921.
  7. Married Robert Lee McGough 12/25/1915.
  8. Historian, US Postal Service, Mississippi: First Post Offices With Rural Free Delivery. The start-up date for other post offices in the county receiving the service were Chunkey’s Station, 3/2/1903, Conehatta, 10/15/1904, Decatur, 11/2/1903, Lawrence, 10/1/1904, Newton, 3/2/1903, and Union, 11/2/1903.
  9. The Reporter—Index, Hickory, Mississippi, March 5, 1903.
  10. Article based in part on WPA Records, ca. 1935.


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