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Chickasaw County investigator dies following Tuesday crash

HOUSTON – Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department investigator Jeremy Voyles, 33, died Wednesday after his patrol car crashed Tuesday evening, Aug. 27, in northwest Chickasaw County.

The one-vehicle crash happened on County Road 4 west of Houlka about 6:14 p.m.

Voyles was assigned to the North Mississippi Narcotics Unit. He was with an agent for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics headed south on County Road 4 in an unmarked patrol car when the wreck happened. At the time of the crash, both were on duty, but were not involved in an active pursuit, according to Chickasaw County Sheriff James Meyers. The vehicle did overturn.

A witness notified authorities of the wreck.

Voyles died Wednesday, Aug. 28 at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, from injuries sustained in the crash, according to the official statement released by the Sheriff’s Department.

The MBN agent was transported to North Mississippi Medical Center via ambulance with non life-threatening injuries. The name of the agent was not released.

Further details of the crash were not available this week.

Voyles’ body was returned to Houston Wednesday morning, with an escort from area law enforcement, to Memorial Funeral Home. Citizens gathered along the road in Houston to pay their respects to the fallen officer.

Voyles had been a deputy for four years. Before joining the department, he served as a Mississippi Department of Transportation officer.

He was the son of Houston Police Chief Billy Voyles. He leaves behind a wife, Audrey Uhiren Voyles, and two daughters, Arrington, 7 and Lola, 4.

“Deputy Voyles will be greatly missed,” said Sheriff Meyers. “Our prayers and hearts go out to his family.”

According to the sheriff, the last Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Department in-line-of-duty death was in December, 1981, when Deputy Robert Kirby, 25, was killed, after two years with the department, while arresting a suspect.

The wreck is currently under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Busby's history of post offices in Chickasaw County (cont’d)

This list will get us from Egypt to Thorn. I never knew that so many post offices came into being then went by the wayside in our county. But, with road and travel conditions as they were during these times, it is only logical that folks in all communities wanted a means of staying in contact with kith and kin.

Egypt – When the Mobile & Ohio Railroad came to town, Egypt began its upsurge in size and importance. It just totally absorbed the post office established earlier at Pikeville. From Egypt, the mail was sent daily to Houston and Pittsboro and other points west.

George T. Gates was the first postmaster at Egypt when the doors opened Oct. 18, 1859. Like so many in the county, it was discontinued in June of 1867 and re-opened in 1869. I was unable to find the year in which it was permanently closed, but the year would have been after 1918. (Here Busby states that after the close of the Civil War, the federal government was not too interested in post offices in the southern states.)

Chickasaw Mills – According to Busby, this post office opened on the June 20, 1860 and permanently closed Jan. 21, 1867. Hamilton H. Wood was its only postmaster. Busby does not give its location but census records for 1860 have an H. H. Wood living in Chickasaw Mills and neighbors include several Gee families, plus Doss and Neal – maybe around the Macedonia area since the Gee Cemetery is in that neighborhood?

Green Plains – “Little to no” information on this location from Busby. Opened Aug. 29, 1860, closed Jan. 25, 1867 with only one postmaster – J. T. Rawls. In chasing him down, I found a copy of his last will and testament. From the description of the land he owned and was passing down to a surviving niece, I think he lived near what is now the top of the Tombigbee National Forest. He lived to a ripe old age and from the distribution of his assets, seemed to have been rather well-to-do.

P ine Bluff – Location now is in Clay County, about two miles southeast of Mantee. Busby states that Pine Bluff ‘grew to be a thriving community.’ It boasted a church and a school; the post office was established Jan. 27, 1869 with James M. Carroll as its postmaster. This one also passed into Clay (at that time Colfax) county when it was split off from Chickasaw in September of 1871.

Sonora – Established June 10, 1869, with William Darby as its first postmaster. Although the post office was discontinued March 30, 1907, when the mail was sent to Houston, thankfully, we know where this community was located as there is a sign on Hwy. 389 announcing that you are entering “Sonora” and it is still with us. One would assume it was named for the state of Sonora in Mexico, which borders our state of Arizona.

Big Springs – Another post office that barely made it under the wire in Chickasaw County before it was passed on to Clay. Doors opened, about three miles northeast of Montpelier, Dec. 2, 1869. The first postmaster is another enigma. His name, according to Jeff Busby, was Absalom Levenselen, from Maine!

Through much hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth, I found that his last name was actually Levensaler, and indeed, he was born in Maine. How, why, did this man end up in the Clay/Chickasaw county area? My first thought was that he was here as a member of the Union Army in the Civil War, however, he would have been a tad old for that and I found no record of his military service during any conflict.

Supposedly he died in October of 1882 in Clay County but I can’t prove or disprove this. I have sent a message to a family member with these questions, but as of now, no response.

Jeff Busby makes a point here after the Big Springs information that for the decade 1870 to 1880, little attention was given to this cause by the federal government as they were too involved with Reconstruction to concern themselves with opening more post offices in the southern states. Possibly so as the next one to open was in the next decade.

McCondy – As Jeff Busby states it, the McCondy post office was established in a community that had been well peopled since the organization of the county, and forefathers of the leading people of the community were the first settlers.

They were the wealthy planters and plantation owners prior to the Civil War. Andrew McCondy was its first postmaster. Born in Scotland in 1818, I could not trace his route from Wirth, Scotland, to McCondy, Mississippi – but am sure it was quite a journey. His wife, Mary Wilson McCondy was born in Scotland as well.

He served in the Mexican War, enlisting when he was 29. Enlistment record states he was 5’4 ½’ tall, blue eyes, brown hair with a fair complexion. The post office opened July 19, 1880. It was discontinued a little over a year later on Oct. 4, 1881, then re-opened in February of 1882 with John Gladney as postmaster.

According to Busby, it was discontinued Nov. 15, 1925, because no one wanted to be postmaster. Busby states he had it re-opened Feb. 27, 1926, at the request of citizens in the community. I do not know when McCondy was closed permanently.

Neals – This post office was established May 27, 1883 and discontinued Aug. 31, 1904, when the mail was sent to Parkersburg post office, located on the new railroad. This office would have been somewhat near the present community of Van Vleet. No postmaster’s name was given.

Woodland – Busby tells us that this office was established at what is now known as Old Woodland at a point about two miles southeast of the present town of Woodland. He then says “a splendid class of people had lived in that community. One of the early churches in the county was located there. Among the families there which have contributed much to the development of the county were the Logans, McArthurs, Davidsons and Lewises.”

Woodland post office opened its doors May 15, 1884, with J. A. McArthur as postmaster. It seems this one is another that has been open continuously since that time.

Congress – Another post office location lost to time – or at least to my time. It was opened Jan. 5, 1885 with Wiley B. Lewis as postmaster. It closed its doors for the last time on Feb. 15, 1908.

Florence – Wonder who Florence was that rated a post office name for her? Anyway, the post office opened for business Aug. 29, 1885 with Jeff Naugle as postmaster. It was discontinued Aug. 4, 1890 and the mail forwarded to Sycamore which still doesn’t answer my question.

Sycamore – Well, now I suspect that Florence was near the Van Vleet community as Busby says when Sycamore was closed March 31, 1909, the mail was sent to Van Vleet. Sycamore opened June 6, 1887, with a John L. Jones as its first postmaster.

Tabbville – Obviously, this post office was named for the Tabb family as they were involved in the lumber business big time before their involvement in banking and other pursuits. Daniel D. Tabb (who built the house I lived in on Pontotoc Street some years ago) was the first postmaster on July 12, 1887, when the doors opened. By March of 1908, it was discontinued and mail sent to Houston.

Thorn – Jeff Busby states that this post office was in a splendid community in the western part of Chickasaw County and that Thorn was the ‘center of social activity in that section.’ He continues with ‘splendid churches, a good school and other evidences of progress attest the fine qualities of the people.’

Busby tells us that among the older families in this community were the Wooldridges, the Clarks, the Whites, and Kellums. The Thorn Post Office was established May 25, 1892, with William U. Thorn postmaster. At the time of Busby’s writing this history, Thorn was still open and he says that “the Thorn post office is one of eleven offices in the county, thirty-six of those established in times past having gone out of existence.”

There is a slew of minor post offices yet to be listed – and they will be listed in next week’s edition of the Chickasaw Journal.

Shannon church celebrated 145th birthday Sunday, Sept. 1

SHANNON – Church has long been a staple of Southern culture. For generations, people have flocked to their respective places of worship for praise and fellowship.

As such, there are churches that have been around for years. However, how many can say that they are 145 years old?

Well, that is exactly what Johnson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Shannon is doing.

Johnson Chapel celebrated their 145 year anniversary on Sunday, Sep. 1. Reverend Dr. Nollen Elzie of Zion Springs M.B. Church in Okolona was the guest pastor for the celebration.

The church has a fascinating history as well.

According to information provided by the church, it was built in the early 1870’s. The church was started by a group of worshipers who alternated having services in their houses.

Eventually, their numbers became so large that they could no longer manage services in their homes. They then set out in search of a new place of worship. Thus, Johnson Chapel was least the idea anyway.

After searching, they found a man named Richard Johnson who owned a substantial amount of land. Upon request from the congregation, they were allowed to build a church on land donated by Johnson. That is where the church got its name, and Johnson Chapel was officially born.

The original deacons of the church were Cap Clark, Sam Hershey, Paul Shack and Willis Allison. The original pastor was Reverend Jerry Cummings.

The members of Johnson Chapel met at this church for a few years, but then a property dispute arose with a neighbor who claimed the church was “Making too much noise and disturbing his family.” A fence was placed around the location, and the church was forced to move.

That’s when the church landed where it is today. The members of the church were allowed to tear the building down and transport the lumber to the new site for constructing the new building. In 1942 the building burned, but they rebuilt.

In 1972, they began construction on the current building. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s the church made great progress toward becoming a modern house of worship. They added a new fellowship hall, storage space, PA system, copier and a church bus. They also incorporated vacation Bible school into the church’s ministry.

Johnson Chapel has a rich history, and the current congregation hopes to continue to add to it for years to come.

“For the last 27 years I’ve had the Blessed privilege of Pastoring Johnson Chapel MB Church in Shannon, Ms,” said Pastor Marvin J. McWhorter Sr. “It is my belief that God has sustained this church through the prayers of the membership as well as the Pastor. His word declares that ‘If His people who are called by His name (Christians), would humble themselves and pray.’ We teach that in all things, prayer has to precede all matters concerning the church.”

The current deacons of the church are Henry Gardner, Tom H. Lyles, Amos Atkinson, Eugene Partlow, Carl Trice, Robert Birks, Charles Trice, Cecil Dilworth, Mchale Joiner, Lee Neal and John Armour.

The current pastors are Marvin J. McWhorter, Senior Pastor, Reverend Carl Dabbs, Associate Pastor, Dr. Tillmon Calvert, Associate Pastor, Reverend Ricky Pratt, Associate Pastor and Reverend Kelsey Trice, Associate Pastor.