Thomas Jefferson Busby was, in my opinion, one of Mississippi’s finest. Any person who was born in “Short” Mississippi and rose to the heights that Busby attained is to be admired. Just in case you didn’t know about Short, it was an unincorporated community in Tishomingo County. It was one of the earliest settlements in the county and in its heyday boasted a post office, a high school, a bowling alley and three bars. However, Short was not destined for greatnest as it was drowned by the damming of the Tennessee River and the creation of Pickwick Lake. Busby graduated from the George Robertson Christian College – later known as Freed Hardeman College. Not satisfied with that accomplishment and wanting to become an attorney, he graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School in 1909. We, of course, associate Busby with the Natchez Trace Parkway as it was his vision that gave us this gift. Busby served in the US Congress from Mississippi from 1923 to 1935. He also was a practicing attorney in Houston after his stint in Congress. Somewhere along the way, he found the time to write an in-depth history of the many post offices in our county – few of which remain to this day and many, many of which I had never heard. One article will not cover all, but we shall begin, as did he, in chronological order.

Of course, soon after the formation of our county, Houston was declared the county seat and thereby had the first Post Office. Organized on 5 December, 1837, with Henry B. Carter as Postmaster. Since we are all familiar with Houston, this brief bit of information will suffice.

Hopewell was the second Post Office in Chickasaw County, about half way between Bentley and Slate Springs – of course this is now in Calhoun County but as of August 17, 1840, it was in Chickasaw County and Thomas N. Martin was its first postmaster. By the early 1850s, Hopewell was a part of Calhoun County.

Oak Grove, established August 23, 1843, was located about five miles northeast of Pittsboro between Reid and Old Town. Benjamin Murray, Jr. was its first post master. Others who followed included a Murphree, an Enochs was post master when the name was changed to Hartford. Again, by the mid-1850s, Hartford was a part of Calhoun County.

Pikeville was next, located on what was the “Houston to Egypt Road”, where the L. E. DeMoville homeplace was located. It’s first postmaster was Iradelle P. Vaughn and this post office opened April 2, 1844. In October of 1859, Pikeville was consolidated with the Egypt Post Office and George T. Gates became the first postmaster there.

Prairie Mount was next, located on the old road from Cotton Gin Port to Pontotoc on a ridge about five miles northwest of Okolona. Of course, Littleberry Gilliam, who was appointed July 2, 1844, remained the Post Master during its existence. Prairie Mount post office was discontinued in January of 1860. The arrival of the railroad in Okolona was the death knell for the community of Prairie Mount and its post office.

Cherry Hill Post office was established on March 9, 1846 in what is now Calhoun County. Cherry Hill was located at the time about one-half mile south of Reid. Christopher Orr was the first postmaster and served for nine years.

Okolona established its first post office in March 23, 1846, with William H. Wheeler as the first postmaster. Obviously, this post office is alive and well today.

Benela Post Office opened its doors on June 8, 1846. Benela was located about two miles southeast of Hollis. The name was later changed to Keas Bridge and the location was moved about five miles west to a prominence overlooking the Yalobusha River, about two miles southeast of Derma. This was discontinued in May of 1854. Meanwhile, Keas Bridge was established by Thomas J. Enochs in June of 1851. In July of 1856 the name was again Benela. Its Yalobusha location was near the ‘head of navigation’. During the rainy periods of winter and spring, the river was difficult to cross and a man named Keas built a bridge across the river in the late 1840s and thereby gave his name to the post office.

Palo Alto Post Office was established in August of 1846. Located in the southeast corner of Chickasaw County, this post office became a part of Clay County at its organization in 1871. Busby made a note here that surely Palo Alto, by the 1850 census, had more wealth, education and leadership than any other place in the county. Daniel B. Hill was the first postmaster. It was discontinued in May of 1867, re-established in May of 1868 and, of course, operated until after it became a part of Colfax/Clay county.

Monterey-Buena Vista – first known as Monterey for the valor of Mississippi soldiers, commanded by Colonel Jefferson Davis, who were involved in a “long and desperate fight in Monterey, Mexico, where our soldiers went through fire, smoke and slaughter in the streets of Monterey and gained the victory though greatly outnumbered.” Monterey Post Office opened its doors on May 26 of 1847, with Uriah S. Williams as Postmaster. However, the Mississippians under Jefferson Davis, later claimed another victory at Buena Vista, Mexico. Busby tells that with Jefferson’s “V” formation in a narrow pass, the Mississippians were able to repel the Mexican lancers and gain victory from almost certain defeat in February of 1847. The name was changed to Buena Vista to commemorate that battle in June of the same year. Busby also tells that it was “tradition that Jefferson Davis passed through Chickasaw County on horseback, that he dismounted and ate his lunch under the spreading boughs of a large white oak tree, which stood until recently West of the Houston and Buena Vista road, 100 yards north of the old Johns house”.

Houlka – Even though Houlka was the location of the first settlement in our county, oddly enough, its first post office was not established until the 26th of May, 1847. Matthew Knox was the first postmaster. It was discontinued and re-established then discontinued again for a number of years. The railroad came to New Houlka in 1904 and the post office soon followed and of course has served the Houlka residents to this day.

Dix Creek – Busby let me down here and did not say where it was located. Begun September 16, 1847, the first postmaster was a man named Cyremus A. Miller. It was discontinued May 16, 1860. Even Google could not help me out with the location of Dix Creek so it’s lost to time – at least to my time.

Clear Springs – This Post Office was located in what we now know as the Kilgore Hills. Its only postmaster was Benjamin Kilgore who was appointed November 2, 1847 and it was discontinued on Valentine’s Day, 1853.

Hohenlinden – located now, of course, in Webster County. We gave it away in a strip one mile wide and nine miles long off the south side of Chickasaw County when Webster County was formed. It was established in July of 1848 and Osborn Jennings was the first postmaster. This post office was another that was discontinued and re-opened through the years.

New Erin – According to Busby, New Erin was the last of sixteen post offices established in Chickasaw County prior to 1850. It was located about three miles south of Vardaman, in what is now Calhoun County. Neill Hume was the first postmaster, appointed May 17, 1849. Of the post offices founded in Chickasaw County prior to 1850, seven of them passed into either Calhoun, Webster or Clay counties.

Sparta – This post office was established May 18, 1850. George Baber was its first postmaster. He served until it was discontinued in May of 1867. However, it was re-opened in September of ’67 with Rufus Finn as Postmaster. Sparta was closed in 1905 and the mail then sent to Montpelier. (Busby also said that Sparta became a business, educational and social center!)

Yellow Bush – was established June 20, 1850. Another that we don’t know where it was located. It closed its door in April of 1854 and Edward Lane was its only postmaster.

Montpelier, again, according to Jeff Busby, “is located in a splendid farming section, excellent farms and homes developed early in the territory surrounding this place”. He also said Montpelier grew into a splendid inland trace center. The post office to serve this community was established December 30, 1850 and Jesse W. Stevens was its first postmaster. We gave this away, also, to Clay County.

Dalton – a familiar name to me as Kendalls lived there before the Civil War. Dalton was established March 15, 1852, at the present site of Dancy. Of course, this, too, is now in Webster County. Thomas B. Dalton was the first postmaster. Dalton post office was discontinued the 21st of January, 1867.

New York – (Couldn’t wait to get to this one!) I surely had never heard of any place in Chickasaw County named New York. However, this post office was established August 5, 1852, on Long Creek, five miles northwest of Buena Vista. A. E. Smith was its only postmaster as it closed February 7, 1855.

TO BE CONTINUED -

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