As I sat there, it occurred to me that we in the Mississippi Delta probably don’t know as much about the history of this great river as we should.
The first settlers in my neck of the woods, Bolivar County, arrived on Concordia Landing, just north of Gunnison. These early pioneers settled up and down the river in our county between Gunnison and Benoit. The old town of Prentiss, one of the county’s first settlements was located on the river near present day Merigold Hunting Club. Prentiss was shelled during the Civil War and a few years after that the river changed courses cutting its path through Prentiss. The town was lost until the 1950s when the river was at an all time low and some of the Prentiss reappeared in the river banks.
During the Civil War the Mississippi River’s capture by Union forces marked a turning point in the conflict for the Union because of the river’s importance as a trade route and travel for the Confederacy.
Many great Americans have traveled on the river passing right by Bolivar County from Abraham Lincoln to Mark Twain, to US presidents, titans of industry and other notable Americans. In fact, Twain often stopped in Bolivar County when traveling on the river in order to visit Bolivar County historic figure, Charles Clark, at Clark’s old home located outside of Beulah.
But, perhaps the part of history pertaining to the river we in Bolivar County are most familiar is the Mississippi River Flood of 1927. In May of 1927, flooding over-topped the levee at Mounds Landing near Winterville causing it to break. To give an example of the magnitude of this break, the water rushing in was more than double the water volume of Niagara Falls. The break flooded 27,000 square miles of the Delta and in our county the water stopped on the edge of Cleveland. The water flooded an area 50 miles wide and more than 99 miles long in the Delta.
There is much history in the Mississippi Delta and so much history connected to the Mississippi River. A lot to think about and I sure did while waiting for that elusive buck to appear near my deer stand by the Mississippi during Thanksgiving week.