The Southwest Quadrant
Newton County was organized in 1836 from the southern half of Neshoba County, Mississippi which earlier had been formed in 1833 from Choctaw Indian cessions resulting from the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.
Many of the first settlers traveled along the Winchester Road, a pioneer trail leading from Jackson, Mississippi to the early town of Winchester in Wayne County, Mississippi. This route led eastward through Hillsboro in Scott County and crossed the southwest quadrant of Newton County to Garlandville in Jasper County, as illustrated on the map below.
Garlandville, site of an ancient Choctaw Indian village and home of Chief Garland, became the terminal and business center for many of these new settlers. It is no accident that many of these new settlers bought land around the perimeter of Garlandville, both in Newton and Jasper Counties, nor is it an accident, either, that these settlers bought land adjacent to the section of Winchester Road that ran through Newton County
Winchester Road in much of its route from Jackson to Winchester and into Alabama straddled a unique topographical formation known as the Jackson Prairie, so named because of its origin at Jackson, Mississippi.
The first settlers saw grasslands stretching across the gradual slopes of prairie. In the bottoms were clumps of trees near the creeks and at occasional intervals were hills of unusual height. Throughout the greater region of the southwestern quadrant were dense forests of virgin timber with little understory and stream bottoms given to flooding at a sudden outburst of rain.
The land in the Jackson Prairie would require little clearing of timber, a plus to the farmers, and as they soon discovered, the soil was rich in lime, a leftover from crustaceans that once occupied an ancient sea that flooded the area. This lime content meant lush crops, at least for the first generation of farmers. The plateaus of the hilltops the would make excellent home sites.
Many of the first plantations in the county were located in this area. These landowners, often with a number of slaves, experienced great success and productivity in the days leading up to 1860. Circumstances, however, would change.
Once the lime content was depleted, productivity dropped significantly. There apparently was a devil in the soil, as well, as building contractors and road builders can attest today. The soil contained a remarkable elasticity, often changing shapes, depending on weather conditions. In wet seasons the soil turned to a gooey glue for beast and man alike. In dry seasons the soil cracked and turned to a firmness almost of concrete. Between these stages, the soil often shifted. The soil was so non-porous that rain water collected for hours before seeping below the surface of the ground. The creek bottoms were also subject to flash flooding during a sudden rainstorm and more than a calf or colt was lost during an unannounced storm.
Today the section of southwestern Newton County, outside the town of Newton, as depicted on the map below, represents the least populated area in the county, largely because of the circumstances described above. Once the first generation of land owners had died out, their descendants often moved on to other areas, leaving behind former slaves and the descendants of slaves who had once farmed the land.
The southern half of the southwest quadrant is shown above on a contemporary map and will be the primary focus of this issue of Remembering. The legal description of this land is Township 5 North Range 10 East and Township 5 North Range 11 East
These facts are no more vividly illustrated than in the case of three plantation families that lived in the area—the Chapmans, Walker and Evans. A comparison of the population of Newton County for three census years, 1860, 1870 and 1930, produces amazing results:
1860 White Negro or Mulatto Slaves Total
Chapman 37 55 82
Walker 57 98 155
Evans 18 79 97
1870 White Negro or Mulatto Total
Chapman 50 51 101
Walker 31 58 89
Evans 55 99 154
1930 White Negro or Mulatto Total
Chapman 21 258 279
Walker 17 254 271
Evans 16 434 450
For many years, thereafter, these slave descendants, along with white families too poor to find land elsewhere would eke out a marginal existence in small farming plots in this area before finding better opportunities elsewhere. With cotton no longer a viable cash crop, the land would eventually turn to cattle ranching, and more recently, to forest production. Part of the area is now in Bienville National Forest.
Towns, Communities, and Other Landmarks
in the Southern Half of The Southwestern Quadrant
of Newton County, Mississippi
By Dr. Harold Graham
No major town has existed in this area of the county throughout its history. All of the schools and a number of the churches no longer exist, but to the people who grew up and lived here, the contributions of these institutions toward the development of their character and education were important.
The area is represented on an official survey as Township 5-North Range 10-East and Township 5-Range 11-East, Choctaw Meridian.
All sites listed below were south or southwest of the town of Newton. We were unable to reproduce maps of sufficient quality to include here, but a reference map which illustrates many of these locations is available at the NCHGS Archives in Decatur, Mississippi. The listing below is as comprehensive and accurate as possible, given available records.
Altare Church and School
Located south of Newton, this Afro-American church is believed to have existed at one time in Jasper County. During the 1911-1912 school session the teacher was Eliza Johnson.
Bald Hill Plantation
Plantation owned and operated by Hugh McFarland.
Bartlett community and school (White)
Located in the extreme southwestern corner of the county, a post office operated from a farm house at Bartlett from 1901 to 1936, with the mail going thereafter to Lawrence. Postmasters who served here were
Elisha W. Sumrall—October 1901 to August 15, 1906
Elisha W. Sumrall—October 5, 1906 to March 15, 1907
Lillie S. Sumrall—March 15, 1907 to March 28, 1910
Marion A. Thrash—March 28, 1910 to March 27, 1912
Elisha W. Sumrall—March 27 to March 17, 1913
Josephine High—March 17, 1913 to November 11, 1931, at which time the post office was discontinued.
Bartlett School, which existed from this location, had as teacher for the 1911-1912 School Session, Mary High. Trustees were E. E. Sumrall and I. E. Red.
The headwaters of this creek begin near Roberts and the creek extends into Jasper County.
Bethel community, school, creek, and church
Located approximately four miles south of Newton, Bethel was one of the earliest churches in the area having been founded in 1843. A school once existed here and a nearby creek bears this name. In the 1911-1912 school session, Bessie Loughbridge was listed as the teacher and T. M. Ritchey and Clarence Chapman were listed as trustees.
Bethel School (Afro-American)
The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was Maurice Nunley. School trustees were D. T. Youngblood, J. Boyd, and Jasper Koster (?)
Bermuda Hill (see separate story)
Bogue Falema Creek (partial)
Community located south of Newton on Highway 15. My parents married there in 1933.
Named for a Chapman who operated a sawmill eight miles west of Newton. A spur line of the A & V Railroad served the sawmill, but the mill was closed in 1925. Workers at the mill moved away and the spur line was closed.
Cedar Creek School (White)
The teacher at Cedar Creek for the 1911-1912 school session was Lillie Logan. The school trustees were G. G. Gordy and M. E. Perkins.
Cedar Creek Line School (White)
Name changed to Springfield in 1911 and merged with Roberts School in 1916. The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was Zerate Fikes and the trustees were N. C. Weed, W. L. Weed, and J. H. Thompson.
Indian village that was located on a ridge near Bermuda Hill.
This community, located six miles south of Lawrence and just north of the Jasper County line, was originally named Colon. After a railroad was built in the area, the community became known as Roberts after three brothers—Dee Roberts, Marion Roberts, and Duncan Roberts—who operated a sawmill there. Once there was a general store, post office, and lumber yard there. Postmasters at Colon were
Lizzie E. Roberts—August 29, 1898 to July 2, 1901
Malvina E. Roberts—July 2, 1901 to June 1, 1920, at which time the post office was discontinued and the mail sent to Lawrence. The name was changed from Colon to Roberts on December 20, 1904.
Eureka Methodist Church and Cemetery
White church (inactive) and cemetery located at intersection of Gordy and Moffett Roads.
Evans Cemetery (Afro-American)
Evans Cemetery (White)
This cemetery contains marked burials of white members of this family, but is believed to contain a significant number of burials for Afro-American individuals as well.
Fair Play School (White)
Located at or near the site of Liberty Baptist Church, the name was changed to Liberty School—Beat 4 in 1911. For the 1911-1912 school session the teachers were E. A. Phillips and Sallie Monroe.
Located in Jasper County, Garlandville was an important early business and trade center for residents of southern Newton County. Named after Choctaw chief Garland, it was the site of an earlier Indian village.
Good News School
An Afro-American school. A cemetery and possibly a church were located in this area. For the 1911-1912 school session, the teacher was A. B. Johnson and the school trustees were F. P. Williams, Alex Nelson, and Tom Johnson.
Hitt-Phillips Family Cemetery (White)
According to Malcolm Phillips, this cemetery contains burials for infants born to his grandparents, James Washington Phillips and Keziah Frances Hitt Phillips, but the cemetery may also include adult members of both the Hitt and Phillips families. This cemetery is located on the George Mason Road near Newton.
Liberty Baptist Church
Located southeast of Newton, Mississippi, and founded in 1900, most of the early members had previously attended church at Poplar Springs Baptist Church but who had historical ties to Liberty Baptist Church in Sumter County, Alabama.
Mt. Moriah Presbyterian Church
This church was attended by many of the first white settlers in the area in including Thompsons, McFarlands, Evans, and Chapmans. Founded in 1843, Mt. Moriah has been inactive for a number of years, but a cemetery is located on the site.
New Orleans-Mobile Railroad
This railroad was built in the early 1900’s and connected Union with Stratton with Jeff with Doolittle with Newton and with Roberts on its route through Newton County. According to George Mason, the demand for passenger services was so great that two runs were scheduled daily between Roberts and Newton.
Nichols Cemetery (White)
Family Cemetery of plantation owner Hardy Nichols.
Pine Grove School (White)
The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was “Miss” Dunagin. School trustees were J. R. Woodham, Glover Bunch, and S. S. Garvin.
Pleasant Hill Church
Believed to be Afro-American and distinguished from the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church at Conehatta.
Progress School (White)
Line School with Jasper County and changed from Harper Hill School in 1913. The teacher at Harper Hill School for the 1911-1912 school session was Callie Sharp. The trustees were I. B. Alexander, B. Coker, and W. B. Harris.
Riley Cemetery (Afro-American)
The exact location of Riley Cemetery is unknown, but is believed to be near Tanglewood Plantation and Bartlett.
Sand Hill School (Afro-American)
Mary Moore was the teacher for the 1911-1912 school session. Blue Moore was a school trustee.
Sand Hill School (White)
Merged with Roberts School in 1916. The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was Bertha Yeager. School trustees were L. D. Hardy and W. W. Bender.
Sand Ridge Cemetery (Afro-American)
Exact location unknown, but believed to at or be near Roberts, Mississippi.
Scotchenflipper Creek (partial)
Spring Grove Church
St. John Church and School
Both sites were Afro-American. For the 1911-1912 school session, Ada Whitehead was teacher and Allen Bigsby and G. W. Walker were trustees.
According to a 1914 map of Newton County the town of Sun was located in the southwest quadrant; however, all other historical references place Sun in the southeastern corner of Scott County.
Sycamore School (White)
The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was Lou Chapman. The school trustees were E. H. Chapman and W. B. Shepherd.
Tallahalah School (White)
The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was Mrs. Carrie Pugh. School trustees were T. M. Wheeler, W. J. Wheeler, and G. R. Radford.
Tanglewood Plantation (See separate story)
Located on Tanglewood Plantation. While no white burials are known to be buried here, there are recorded Afro-American burials.
Family cemetery of plantation owner Duncan Thompson.
Union Grove School (Afro-American)
The teacher for the 1911-1912 school session was Viola Moore. School trustees were Thomas Wayne and Frank Tolbert.
A White cemetery, it may contain unmarked Afro-American burials as well.
1914 Soil Map, Newton County, Mississippi, copy courtesy of Ricky Harrison
Boyd, Gregory A., Family Maps of Newton County, Mississippi, Arphax Publishing Company, 2005
Brieger, James, Hometown Mississippi, Town Square Books, Inc., Jackson, Mississippi, 1997.
Hollingsworth, Bess, transcriber, County Superintendent’s Records, Newton County, Mississippi, 1911-1917.
Justice, Keith, “Many of Newton County’s Communities Have Vanished,” The Newton Record, December 10, 1986.
Mississippi Death Certificates, State Department of Health
Sledge, Broox, Post Offices in East Central Mississippi, Macon, Mississippi, n/d.
Smith, Bonnie Addy, Smith, Jackson Eliot, and Smith, Robert Ervin, Ph. D., Newton
County, Mississippi, a Cemetery Census, 1782-1995, EBRS Publishing Company, Decatur, Mississippi, 1997.