Estill, Mississippi, may be a small town, but it has witnessed its fair share of historical events that have shaped the area and impacted its residents. From significant battles to cultural milestones, here are seven historical events that have taken place near Estill, MS.
1. The Battle of Meridian:
During the Civil War, the Battle of Meridian took place just a few miles east of Estill. Occurring between February 14-20, 1864, this battle was a part of General William T. Sherman's Meridian Campaign. Union forces, led by General Sherman, successfully captured the city of Meridian, a major Confederate supply center.
2. The Neshoba County Fair:
Approximately 15 miles north of Estill lies Philadelphia, home to the renowned Neshoba County Fair. Established in 1889, the fair has become a significant cultural event in Mississippi and is one of the state's oldest and largest fairs. It attracts thousands of visitors each year who gather to enjoy entertainment, agricultural exhibits, horse racing, and political speeches.
3. The Civil Rights Movement:
Estill and its surrounding areas were significantly impacted by the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-20th century. Neshoba County, where Estill is situated, gained notoriety due to the infamous "Mississippi Burning" case in 1964. The murder of three civil rights activists, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, in Philadelphia, not far from Estill, brought national attention to the struggle for equality in the South.
4. The Choctaw Indian Fair:
Estill is located near the lands that were once home to the Choctaw tribe, one of the Native American nations forced to relocate to Indian Territory under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Choctaw Indian Fair celebrates the tribe's heritage and culture, featuring traditional dances, music, arts and crafts, and sporting events. This annual event brings together thousands of visitors from near and far.
5. The Great Eastland Disaster:
On July 5, 1920, the steamship SS Eastland capsized in the Chicago River, resulting in the loss of more than 800 lives. The ship, which was owned by the St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company, had been built in Michigan City, Indiana, only 50 miles from Estill. Many residents of Estill worked in the shipbuilding industry at the time, and some may have known individuals affected by this tragic event.
6. The Mississippi State Penitentiary:
Located approximately 65 miles southwest of Estill lies the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm. Established in 1901, this maximum-security prison has played a significant role in the state’s history. The penitentiary housed prisoners involved in Civil Rights activism, and the brutal conditions within its walls have been well-documented. The prison still operates today and continues to be a controversial institution.
7. The Yazoo Land Fraud:
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a significant land fraud scandal known as the Yazoo Land Fraud unfolded in what is now northern Mississippi, including areas near Estill. Several companies bribed members of the Georgia legislature to acquire vast land tracts in Mississippi. This scandal resulted in public outrage and eventually led to the repeal of the land sales, contributing to new policies to prevent future fraudulent dealings.
While Estill, Mississippi, may be a small town, it has a rich history deeply intertwined with larger historical events. From battles fought during the Civil War to the struggle for civil rights, the area has been witness to pivotal moments in the social, political, and cultural fabric of Mississippi and the United States. These seven events are just a glimpse into the historical significance of Estill and its surroundings.
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