Hattiesburg Area Historical Society...preserving local history and heritage since 1970

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Download Summary Volume 21 - Number 2- 2018: "Lights, Camera, LABELS"
Mystery photo
Mystery photo


In this issue, see a photo of Bob Hope's visit to Hattiesburg in 1961. We also remember the March of Dimes fundraising campaigns of the 1950's, and we revisit the Dixie Pine Grocery store with a 1941 photo.

In addition, try your hand at identifying the objects in our "Mystery Photos"

Download Summary Volume 21 - Number 1 - 2018: "The USS Mississippi"
The USS Mississippi
The U S S Mississippi

The U S S Mississippi, launched January 25, 1917, served in the Atlantic and the Pacific. The battleship's distinguished service includes destroying a Japanese stronghold in an Okinawan castle, participating in the last fight between battleships, helping sink the Japanese taskforce in the Battle of Suriago Straight, and surviving a Kamikaze hit.

"The Might Missy" was decommissioned on September 17, 1956. The official builder's model ...

Download Summary Volume 20 - Number 1 - 2017: "A New Use for an Old Building"
The old Federal Building
The old Federal Building

In August of 1880, William Harris Hardy took a lunch break under a large Oak tree that stood just behind Hattiesburg's current City Hall. He was surveying for the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad ....

A look through old photographs, city directories, and telephone books provides evidence that businesses in early Hattiesburg frequently moved from one location to another.

After the great fire of October 11, 1893, a new ordinance mandated that all future downtown buildings be constructed of brick or stone. Many remain to continue a cycle of providing space for new ...

Download Summary Volume 19 - Number 1 - 2016: "Hattiesburg Public Schools - Part 2"
Hawkins Elementary
G. L. Hawkins, 1952

This issue continues the discussion of Hattiesburg Public Schools, a bit of their history, and how the schools got their names.

Before those who know the information are gone or someone wants the buildings renamed, the H A H S has compiled this information. If you have additional information please call or write us.

In this issue: Grace Love Elementary, Mary Bethune Elementary, G. L. Hawkins Elementary, Grace Christian Elementary, W. H. Jones Elementary, Hattiesburg High, Lillie Burney Elementary, W. I. Thames Elementary.

Download Summary Volume 18 - Number 2 - 2015: "Hattiesburg Public Schools - Part 1"
Main Street Elementary School
Main Street Elementary School

The recent donation of a composite photo of the first Rowan High School graduating class and an inquiry about an elementary school's namesake were reminders that the H A H S needed to compile information about the people for whom Hattiesburg schools are named.

It was surprising how little was known about some of them and how few of our residents had actually known the individuals or the reason for their selection. This newsletter begins a two part series with some very interesting information for Walthall Elementary, Eaton Elementary, Lamar Elementary, Camp Elementary, Main Street School, Main Street Elementary, Eureka Community Education Center and Jeff Davis Elementary.

Download Summary Volume 18 - Number 1 - 2015: "In Honor and Memory"
Courthouse and monument
Forrest County Courthouse

If you have ever passed through downtown Hattiesburg, you have seen it. It has stood beside the 1908 neo-classical revival style Forrest County Courthouse for the last 105 years.

Like thousands of others in both the South and the North, the monument recognizes the men and women who lived and died during the War Between the States.

As observances of the sesquicentennial of that awful turmoil have been held across the United States, the media has given much attention to events that lead to the conflict and the struggle (especially in the South) to rebuild a life and a country ...

Download Summary Volume 17 - Number 2 - 2014: "Preserving History One Piece at a Time"
YWCA statue
Y W C A statue

Each week information and artifacts are added to the H A H S collections. These pieces woven together often tell the stories of Hattiesburg and her citizens.

In the Winter 2013 H A H S Newsletter we wrote about the Y W C A statue and asked if anyone had additional information on this piece of local history. One of our H A H S members knew where it is now.

We contacted the current owner and sure enough the head and torso of a young girl stands in the yard of Betty and Thomas Tyner.

When the Y W C A building on Hemphill Street was renovated for the Altman, Tyner, Ruffin, Bell and Swetman law offices, the statue was offered to the Family Y. After they failed to retrieve it ...

Download Summary Volume 17 - Number 1 - 2014: "How Time Flies"
Airport dedication
City airport dedication

By December 17th of 1903, Orville and Wilber Wright made the first sustained, controlled, powered, manned flights.

In 1913 the Wright brothers actually flew from a board runway on a field in Hattiesburg and clipped the only tree in the field. It was not long before aircraft were being used by the military- first for reconnaissance, but soon for combat. Radiotelephones were explored on airplanes as communication between pilots and the ground became more important.

Download Summary Volume 16 - Number 2 - 2013: "'Do You Remember' Questions Are Common"
YWCA statue
Y W C A statue

No matter the reason, "do you remember..." questions always arise and often find their way to the H A H S. Some examples follow:

"Do you remember the statue of the lady in front of the Y W C A on Hemphill Street?" asked one caller.

Those of us who do remember can not answer questions about why she was there or what she represented.

Homeowners, who lived across the street, did not know her importance. The most often seen photo of the Y W C A shows a group of members standing in front of the statue. Unfortunately, they are taller than the statue, so it can't be seen.

Download Summary Volume 16 - Number 1 - 2013: "History of Medicine in Hattiesburg"
Drugs and Medicine
Drugs and Medicine

Hattiesburg was fortunate in having an "accoucheur" (a male midwife) living near the limits of the spot of its birth in 1882. Dr. John Gillis, a graduate of Tulane Medical School, lived just south of Hattiesburg at "Dixie Pine."

In 1884 Dr. Gillis opened the "Doctor Shop" up the path from Mobile and Front Streets. City counsel meetings and other civic affairs were held there in addition to the practice of the healing arts.

Dr. Gillis was noted for his remarkable cures in the treatment of typhoid fever possibly more than any other disease. He continued his practice in the town until he grew too old to be active. He died March 14, 1901.

Download Summary Volume 15 - Number 2 - 2012: "If You'd Only Thought To Ask"
Light bulb
Original bulb from the Ross Building sign

It is not uncommon for the H A H S to receive questions about the past. New people, who move into town, want to know about buildings and locations. Researchers want to learn about area's history and development. Lifelong residents, who see programs on the History channel that stir memories, call for help filling in the gaps. The Museum Staff does its best to provide the requested information.

Sometimes the answer is close at hand, but often research is needed. There are questions for which no answer can be found. Then there are others whose answers turn up unexpectedly months later. Today, we'd like to share some of the answers with you.

There have been several who inquired, "What role did Hattiesburg play in the Civil War?" ...

Download Summary Volume 15 - Number 1 - 2012: "History Is Bursting Out All Over"
wwII plaque
WWII plaque

Tourists, area students, and new residents inundate the H A H S Museum with questions about Hattiesburg's history. They are amazed to learn that we are the only Hattiesburg in the world, excited to know that the Choctaw lived here first, and surprised that Hardy also founded Gulfport.

However, one does not have to visit a museum, read one of the numerous books about our area, or even go on line to view our history. Like the flowers of spring, pieces of our local history pop up all round us. In an age when "big bucks" or fame gets one's name on the front of a building, it is easy to forget that some names are there to honor that person's contributions of character, education, leadership, business, and community service.

Download Summary Volume 14 - Number 2 - 2011: "Hidden Treasure Found in Banker's Memorabilia"
Historical check
1807 First National Bank check

Doyle Downs, a 35 year Hattiesburg banker, donated this First National Bank memorabilia to the H A H S Museum.

The collection includes embossing stamps, a coin counter, bank bags, photographs, desk supplies, a Model-T minature bank with the "First National Bank of Hattiesburg" logo, a lighted magnifying glass for examining the stamps on the back of checks and numerous documents including a check signed by J. P. Carter, the bank's second president.

Tucked away among the papers was a November, 1966 edition of First Line, a publication ...

Download Summary Volume 14 - Number 1 - 2011: "Filling In the Blanks"
South Mississippi College
South Mississippi College

Every week people contact the H A H S Museum searching for information to fill in the blanks of their community's or family's history. Sometimes we can help. Other times the information seems to be lost in the past, and we have no resources to help ...

Recently, a photocopy of a 1908 Hattiesburg, Mississippi, promotional publication arrived at the museum.

This Industrial Edition was published under the direction of the Hattiesburg Commercial Club and is so rare that even the Mississippi State Department of Archives and History does not have a copy. The publication filled in a blank for many people concerning the Hattiesburg Business College ...

Download Summary Volume 13 - Number 2 - 2010: "It's The Little Things That Make Hattiesburg So Interesting"
Hattie Hardy
Hattie Hardy

Most of us have enjoyed A B C books.

Although not intended solely for children, these books quickly became associated with simple teachings and early learning. From the 15th century through the 18th century the primer, for students of all ages, often opened with a page of the letters. In 1596, Shakespeare even mentioned the "Absey book" in King John.

In early books, the alphabet appeared in table form. Eventually, illustrations were added to the letters, as a mnemonic aid. In the nineteenth century, A B C books became a ay to teach the alphabet and introduce them to new subjects. Although the subjects were extremely varied, the format was generally a single word or rhyming verse accompanying an image for each letter.

Check this A B C variation related to Hattiesburg beginning with "H is for Hattie."

Download Summary Volume 13 - Number 1 - 2010: "Saving a Family's Heritage Provides a Look at Early Hattiesburg"
Arnold-Meador cabin
The Arnold-Meador cabin

The Arnold-Meador Cabin, a unique piece of area history, stands beside Highway 49 just north of the I-59 interchange. The double pen dog-trot cabin is supported by twenty heart pine joists that measure 33 feet in length.

The roof of hand split cedar shank shingles still protects the memories of seven generations of the Meador family. The exterior walls bear the "juggling" marks created while shaping beams by hand. Giant cedar trees on the property mark the trail wagons traveled, and the original water well stands in the yard.

Dean Meador Smith, a fifth generation Hattiesburg Meador and the current owner ...

Download Summary Volume 12 - Number 2 - 2009: "Remembering the Past, Building the Future"
Fire station
Fire station

Current Fire Chief David Webster said, "I believe that the new building will enhance the neighborhood. From this facility we hope to be able to build better relationships with the community as a whole and to aid in the revitalization and preservation of the downtown area." The new station may open by December 2009.

Fires, in early days, were fought by neighbors and citizens who came when the fire call sounded. In 1893, a major fire destroyed 26 business houses in downtown Hattiesburg. By 1904, the Mayor and Board of Alderman decided a paid fire department was needed.

Download Summary Volume 12 - Number 1 - 2009: "A Little Something for Everyone"
Johnson family
The Johnson family

Barbara Merkel Johnson with sons, Steve and Ray, pose with their donation at the February 22, 2009, Grand Opening of the Hometown Heroes Exhibit.

The exhibit featuring Barbara's father, World War I hero Edmo Merkel, tells the stories of a number of Hattiesburg natives who have made notable contributions to their communities.

Citizen heroes walk among us daily... Our citizens have contributed in all areas of life: from government to sports, from education to healthcare, from religion to volunteerism, and from writing music to writing books ...

There is something for everyone in this exhibit, so be sure to visit your museum soon.

Download Summary Volume 11 - Number 2 - 2008: "Hometown Heros"
Heroes Memorial
World War II monument

Hattiesburg has always honored her heroes. Their names are seen on the columns in our memorial park, and their photographs hang on the walls of buildings named in their honor.

Their sacrifices are remembered and recognized in ceremonies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

True heroes and heroines are more than just names carved in stone or images upon a wall. Although some paid the "ultimate" cost, living heroes walk among us every day. They will tell you that those who gave their lives in battle are heroes, and they never seem to see themselves as heroic.

This issue highlights the new Hattiesburg Area Historical Society Hometown Heros Exhibit. Take a look.

Download Summary Volume 11 - Number 1 - 2008: "Come On In, And See What Develops!"
USS Constitution
The U S S Constitution

In the days before digital and computer enhanced photography, when images slowly emerged on treated papers dunked in the chemical "soup" of darkrooms, the standard joke was, "Come on in, and see what develops!" That should be the greeting on the H A H S Museum door.

Pieces of area history appear at the H A H S museum door daily. They arrive by snail mail, email, telephone, and are carried in by visitors. Where they have been and how they came home is often a story in itself ...

This newsletter issue features Pine Belt timbers used to repair the U S S Constitution, a beautiful glass and gold leaf Citizens Bank sign, plus details about the Newman Lumber Company.

Download Summary Volume 10 - Number 2 - 2007: "The Carter Building"
Carter Building
The Carter Building

... Buildings are usually named for the business housed there, the architects who designed the structures, the builders who constructed them, the citizens who have made great social or financial contributions, or the owners themselves. Of course, not all older buildings have names, but the one at 509 Main Street did...

The Carter Building was built in 1904-1905 for the Honorable John Prentiss Carter, a Hattiesburg banker, lawyer, civic leader, and former Mississippi Lieutenant Governor.

When the building was sold in 1973 to Faulkner Concrete Pipe Company, the name plate was replaced with the Faulkner Building plate that is on the wall today.

Download Summary Volume 10 - Number 1 - 2007: "Hattiesburg Downtown Post Office"
Post office
Hattiesburg Post Office

The Pine Street United States Post Office was built in 1934 and is listed on the Register of Historic Places. Its limestone, fine gray and pink granite, and art deco style (which it shares with the Saenger Theater and Forrest Towers) have helped make it a beloved landmark in downtown Hattiesburg.

In July of 1992, former Mayor Moran Pope wrote in the Hattiesburg American about the building as it received a much needed facelift and cleaning. The following information is based on his research and interviews with local architects.

Download Summary Volume 9 - Number 2 - 2006: "Celebrating Our Heritage!"
Constitution Day Tea
Constitution Day Tea Party

The Hattiesburg Area Historical Society and the three local Daughters of the American Revolution Chapters (John Rolfe, Norvell Robertson and Twentieth Star Chapters) held a Constitution Day Tea in the H A H S Museum on September 17, 2006, in honor of the 219th Anniversary of the United States Constitution. The community was invited.

In keeping with the H A H S purpose to promote better understanding of our American heritage and democratic way of life, a continuous slide show was presented by the H A H S.

Download Summary Volume 9 - Number 1 - 2006: "It's Here!"
Keel boat
The Leaf

Down at the H A H S Museum we've been anxiously waiting for our ship to come in. Finally, after several false starts, floating around paperless in the shipping system, and resting on a loading dock in devastated Gulfport, Mississippi, it landed upside down (fittingly) in Hattiesburg.

What is it? It is a scale model of The Leaf, the circa 1830-1852 river craft found buried upside down in a Leaf River sandbar near New Augusta in the summer drought of 1990.

Download Summary Volume 8 - Number 1 - 2005: "It's Not Your Grandparents' Depot Anymore!"
Train station
Train station

The New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad brought William Harris Hardy to our area, and it was Hardy who had the privilege of picking the spot for the station and naming it Hattiesburg.

Before the depot was even built, the first news of the 1908 Purvis cyclone arrived at this whistle stop, and the first help for that stricken community departed from here. After its construction in 1910, the Southern Railway Depot, along with the depots for other lines, soon made our town the Hub of South Mississippi's trade and transportation.


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(maintained by James N. Yelverton)

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