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Judge Jeff Truly


Fayette, the county site of Jefferson County, Is located near the geographical center of the county, on the Natchez, Jackson and Columbus Railroad. Jackson, the capital of the State, is seventy-three miles north, and Natchez, on the Mississippi River, is twenty-six miles south.

Eighty years ago, when the increasing population of the county necessitated the removal of the seat of justice from the village of Greenville, where it had been during territorial times, Commissioners were appointed and vested with plenary power to select such location as, in their judgment, would best conserve the interests of the general public. After full consideration of the advantages of several proposed sites they selected and purchased the Platner Tract, and upon it accordingly the town of Fayette was built. An ideal location for a town, the experience & three-quarters of a century have demonstrated the wisdom of the final decision of the Commissioners. Few places present more natural advantages. Situated upon the crest of a cluster of gently undulating hills whose gradual declivities afford perfect natural drainage; on the out skirts o the pine belt, above miasma and free from malaria, the uniform good health enjoyed by its inhabitants constantly attests the far-sightedness of its founders.

A brief comparison of the conditions which confronted our forefathers when the location of the proposed county seat was determined upon and those which surround us at the present time will suffice to bring into sharp relief and contrast the manifold changes which the hand of God bath wrought in our midst in less than a century.

As we glean from the ancient record the two main considerations which weighed heaviest with the Commissioners and turned the scale In favor of the location finally selected were the existence of “springs of living waters” thereon, and the fact that a re lay house on the Stage Coach trace was situated within what afterwards became the corporate limits of the town of Fayette. Transportation was by stage to the Mississippi River and thence by flatboat to New Orleans, so, when the town was first located the two most important, if not the only, buildings near the tract purchased were the Relay House, just north of the proposed town, and the Tavern upon its southern confines.

Highways were infrequent, and the fact that two of the most important public roads joined near the point selected was of great, if not paramount, importance to a people who were compelled to travel over one or the other to reach market.

The question of an adequate water supply was then, as now, one of the grave problems of municipal government, and the record discloses that the “Big Spring,” on Spring Street was dedicated to the public use, while the first work of public improvement was the digging of a well from which all were permitted to use. Obstacles which might well have daunted brave hearts speedily disappeared before the indomitable energy of the pioneers of that day, and soon a town sprang up where only trees had stood.

Here was erected a “Temple of Justice,” so the Courthouse was termed, and soon after there arose an altar to the Deity, in whom all trusted, in the form of the “Old Brick Church,” which through many decades stood as a sentinel in the City of the Dead, keeping watch and ward over the raves of the brave men and noble women resting ‘neath its solemn shade.

How changed are conditions to-day! The old stage coach with Its pleasures and perils, its roughness and romance, has vanished, and in its stead the locomotive places us in close connection with the marts of the world, in every quarter. The old Tavern, which re sounded so merrily to the blast of the coachman’s bugle, is but a memory now, while a modern hotel with there luxuries than were dreamt of in the philosophy of that primitive day, makes pleasant the traveler’s stay. The waters of the “Big Spring” still ripple from their pure source, but the unceasing yet unavailing murmur against their waste is drowned in the throb of the engine which, near by, supplies from an artesian well a never-failing flow of water delivered to every part of the town. The “Old Brick Church” is gone! Destroyed by the unpitying march of progress; only its dismantled columns remain to mutely protest against its removal from a spot hallowed by fond memories made sacred by the dear dead hopes which lie buried there.

In the days of old, Fayette arrested and fixed the attention as an ideal place of residence, and the passing of the year hat but enhanced the many advantages of the place. No town in the State within the last ten years has made more substantial improvement or greater progress in any direction, and none to-day present more attractions or inducements to the home- seeker.

As a place of residence for a man with a growing family its attractions are practically innumerable. In the midst of a hospitable, cultured, refined people, the social atmosphere is of the purest. The Christian, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations each have substantial houses of worship, with large congregations. The Methodists are now building a new edifice whose stately walls are already assuming shape and which, when completed, will be an architectural ornament to the town. Other denominations also have representative memberships, and all upon occasion worship together in brotherly love and unity, co-operating in every work of benevolence and charity:

Not only are the social and religious influences wholesome, but the children of the entire community possess school advantages unsurpassed by any in the State, outside of the university cities. Here we have a public; graded and high school all combined in one, upon a plan strictly its own. By this system every white child of :the county of educable age can acquire an education which will equip him or her for the battle of life. From the primary branches until the pupil is prepared to enter any of the State Universities he need attend no other school. In addition, music, elocution, typewritten stenography, and bookkeeping, are all free to the children of the entire county who are pupils of the Jefferson County High School. If a young man desires to prepare himself for a professional career he can here obtain the knowledge necessary to enable him to enter upon such studies at any college. If a boy or girl wishes to learn a business course, the opportunity is here offered at home.

Upon the score of general health, Fayette leaves nothing to be desired. General good health is the almost universal rule. The death rate is of the lowest the air is pure, the water wholesome, and typhus and other kindred diseases are absolutely unknown.

As a business place, Fayette presents unrivaled advantages. Situated in  the center of the county, by virtue of its geographical position it controls, in part, at least, of the trade for many miles in every direction. It is in easy reach alike of. the thrifty farmers of the east and the rich alluvial lands of the west. The Natchez, Jackson and Columbus Railroad gives it connection with the Mississippi River at Natchez, and the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad, two miles distant, gives it speedy access to the markets at New Orleans and the North East. The unbroken and increasing prosperity of its many enterprising merchants furnishes incontrovertible proof, the success which here attends commercial effort when wisely and conservatively managed. The town owns a thoroughly equipped waterworks and electric light plant, by which water and lights are furnished consumers with unfailing regularity and reasonable rates.

As a cotton market Fayette offers striking inducements. With “up-to-date” gins and oil mills; the farmer can bring his cotton to this market and dispose of the entire product at the full market price. Our merchants meet prices of all adjacent towns without reference to size, both in the cheapness at which good are sold and the prices paid for all cotton offered for sale.  And the result of this course of  fair dealing on their part is evidenced by the fact that this point handles a larger number of  bales of cotton per capita of its inhabitants than any other shipping place from which statistics are obtainable.

Without unduly extending the length of this article, we epitomize by saying: If you want to live in a healthy place; in a refined and social community; where unrivaled school advantages are offered free of cost; where religious influences control, yet tolerance prevails; where the conveniences of city life are enjoyed freed of all that is objectionable; if you want to live in a live town, where competition is keen, but fair,


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August 15, 2002

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