Clarke County Democrat

From Our Files

‘Choctaw’ bustling new town in 1887
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Items from past issues of The Clarke County Democrat

135 Years Ago December 1887

D. N. Jones of Jackson, Miss. was in Grove Hill erecting an additional “jail cage.” “The cells are steelclad, warranted saw and file proof, with modern sanitary improvements, and constructed so as to afford convenience and protection to the jailor, as well as comfort to prisoners.” The cells (a number was not given) are 6.5 x 8 feet.

The new cage cost $3,150 a latter news item noted.

“Mr. James Cox, residing a few miles southeast of Grove Hill, has left with us a great curiosity— a red potato and a yam, grown from the same root or vine.”

C. B. Allen, the son of the sheriff, sent in a red potato measuring 2 feet and 1 inch in length with 5.5 inches broken off at one end which would have made it 2 feet and 6.5 inches originally.

A son of Mack Smith who lives near Tallahatta Springs was thrown from a wagon and instantly killed. The accident happened near Millersville as the wagon was taking some bales of cotton to the river. The boy, about 10, fell from the cotton and broke his back.

A railroad accident killed one man, Tom Donald, and injured 30 to 40 including Bob Coleman, Blount Atchison, Joe Bush and others. They were all residents of Washington County. A construction train with about 150 men aboard (the railroad was still under construction), nearly all black (colored was the word used then) as backing down from Choctaw (Thomasville today) and before reaching Bassetts Creek ran over a cow, throwing four cars from the track. Aaron Clarke of Grove Hill and Jordan Hill of near Suggsville were injured. “The train went back to Choctaw and brought down Dr. Duren who did all he could for the wounded…This is the first accident of comparative seriousness that has occurred on this road.”

Choctaw was the early name of the railroad depot and settlement where Thomasville is today. There was much debate over the name and R. J. Woodard, a former probate judge, wrote to suggest that the town be named Gilmore in honor of the Rev. Stephen M. Gilmore, one of the oldest residents of the area.

The Choctaw Enterprise newspaper’s first issue was published in the new town on Dec. 15. J. F. Meyers was editor and C. W. Hudson associated editor. W. T. Cammack was business manager and F. W. Poole publisher. “We welcome the new worker in the cause of democracy and home development and prosperity,” wrote The Democrat.

A Coffeeville news item noted, “E. McCorquodale has just retuned from the Gulf City with a fine stock of winter goods. Go to Mc- Corquodale’s and get your Christmas presents.”

Ernest McCorquodale would be murdered on his front porch Christmas Eve 1892 and the killing was one of the incidents that sparked the Mitcham War the next year.

“The Christmas Tree at the court house Monday night was largely attended and much enjoyed, yielding much fruit. Mr. Morrow officiated on the occasion in his happy vein. We thank some friend for the valuable present. Is a Christmas Tree known by its fruit!”


The Democrat editor chastised “the man who regards Christmas as an appropriate season for drunkenness, rioting and boisterousness… O Lord, how sinful, how thoughtless, how ignorant are we, thy poor dependent creatures!”



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