Wilkinson County, located in the southwestern part of Mississippi, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the early 1800s. Here are seven interesting facts about this beautiful county that you may not have known.
1. Home to the First Steamboat in Mississippi
Wilkinson County was the location of the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, the New Orleans. The steamboat was designed and built by Robert Fulton, and it made its maiden voyage from Pittsburgh to New Orleans in 1811. It was a major milestone in the history of transportation and helped to usher in a new era of commerce along the Mississippi River.
2. Involved in the American Civil War
Wilkinson County played a significant role in the American Civil War, with both Union and Confederate troops occupying the area during the conflict. The county was strategically important due to its proximity to the Mississippi River and its location between Vicksburg and Baton Rouge. Several skirmishes and battles were fought in the area, including the Battle of Woodville, which took place in 1864.
3. Birthplace of a Civil Rights Icon
Wilkinson County is the birthplace of Fannie Lou Hamer, a prominent civil rights activist who played a key role in the struggle for equal rights for African Americans during the 1960s. Hamer was born in Ruleville, Mississippi, but spent much of her childhood in Wilkinson County. She became involved in the civil rights movement in the early 1960s and became a powerful voice for change, speaking out against segregation and discrimination.
4. Home to a Famous Blues Musician
Wilkinson County is also the home of one of the most famous blues musicians of all time, B.B. King. King was born in nearby Itta Bena and grew up in the area. He learned to play guitar in the local Pentecostal church and went on to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, with hits such as "The Thrill is Gone".
5. Hunting and Fishing Paradise
For outdoor enthusiasts, Wilkinson County is a paradise for hunting and fishing. The county is home to over 500,000 acres of public land, including the Homochitto National Forest, which offers an abundance of wildlife such as white-tailed deer, turkey, and squirrel. The county is also home to the Mississippi River and its tributaries, providing a variety of fishing opportunities for anglers.
6. Historic Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez Trace Parkway, which stretches over 444 miles through three states, passes through Wilkinson County. The parkway follows the historic Natchez Trace, an ancient trail used by Native Americans, explorers, and settlers. Today, the parkway provides visitors with a scenic drive through some of the most beautiful parts of the Mississippi wilderness.
7. Rich in Antebellum History
Wilkinson County is home to many beautiful antebellum homes, including The Cottage, which was once the home of the first territorial governor of Mississippi. The home, which was built in 1790, is one of the oldest surviving structures in the state. Several other historic homes in the county date back to the 1800s and offer a glimpse into the rich history of the area.
In conclusion, Wilkinson County is a fascinating place with a rich history and natural beauty. Whether you're interested in outdoor activities or antebellum architecture, this county has something to offer for everyone.
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