DeSoto County is located in the north-western part of Mississippi and boasts a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. From its thriving agriculture industry to its significant role during the Civil War, DeSoto County is home to several fascinating stories. Here are seven interesting facts about DeSoto County in Mississippi history.
1. DeSoto County's Name is Derived from a Famous Explorer
DeSoto County is named after Hernando DeSoto, a Spanish explorer who was the first recorded European to cross the Mississippi River. He is also credited with discovering several territories in the southern United States, including parts of present-day Mississippi.
2. Agriculture Played a Significant Role in DeSoto County's Growth
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the cotton industry was the primary economic driver in DeSoto County. However, with the onset of the boll weevil epidemic in the 1920s and the Great Depression, the area's economy shifted towards diversified agriculture.
3. DeSoto County was Once Home to the Largest Agricultural Experiment Station in the US
The USDA-Agricultural Research Service's Southern Regional Research Center in DeSoto County was the largest agricultural experiment station in the United States. The center played a crucial role in advancing research in the areas of human nutrition, crop production, and food safety.
4. DeSoto County Played a Critical Role in the Civil War
DeSoto County's location made it a strategic area during the Civil War. Both Union and Confederate troops occupied the area at different times, and several important battles were fought in the region, including the Battle of Hernando and the Battle of Collierville.
5. The First African-American Mayor in DeSoto County was Elected in 1973
In 1973, Henry W. Lusk was elected as the first African-American mayor in DeSoto County, serving the town of Hernando. Lusk was instrumental in promoting racial equality in the area, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations.
6. DeSoto County is Home to Several Historic Sites
DeSoto County is home to several historic sites, including the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River and connects Memphis, Tennessee, and West Memphis, Arkansas. Other notable sites include the DeSoto County courthouse, which was built in 1942 and served as a prominent location for Civil Rights-era protests against racial segregation.
7. DeSoto County's Population has Grown Significantly in Recent Years
DeSoto County has experienced significant population growth in recent years, largely due to its proximity to Memphis, Tennessee. Today, the county is home to over 170,000 residents, making it one of the fastest-growing counties in the state of Mississippi.
In conclusion, DeSoto County holds a unique place in Mississippi history, with a rich agricultural heritage, a critical role in the Civil War, and a modern-day economy that is thriving. These seven interesting facts are just a glimpse of the many stories that make DeSoto County a fascinating place to explore.
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