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Raccoon Box

      The first Post Office after Greenville was known as the Raccoon Box, having received it's name in a peculiar manner. For a number of years it was known as Vaughn's Stand as a man by that name kept an inn at the intersection of the Natchez Trace and Rodney-Shankstown Road. Mail for Shankstown and the Cane Ridge Settlements were received and delivered in a common mail box at the crossroads. In 1813 the mail carrier from Nashville, probably the veteran Swaney, on opening the box to make the mail exchange discovered a live raccoon therein. The tale spread over the frontier and from that time was known as the Raccoon Box.
      ( Anebec's note: There is a reference at the bottom of the page that indicates that the above information was given during an interview with Judge Jeff Truly of Fayette, Miss.)  In the Court minutes of April 1821, we find reference to it "Ordered that Vaughn be allowed a permit to keep a tavern at his old stand at the Raccoon Box. There is no record of a town at The Raccoon Box. It was doubtless a crossroads gathering place and there was perhaps a blacksmith shop and a relay station, but with Shankstown, a busy little town, a scant two miles to the east which boasted of four or five stores, a grist mill, boot shop, millinery establishment, and boasting of doctors and lawyers offices, there was no need for any such industries at The Raccoon Box.
     Six miles further north along the Trace and close to the Claiborne County
Line was Clifton where Dr. Coleman kept a tavern for many years. He must have been a very different character from the jovial landlord of song and story as it is said that after amassing a fortune from his business, he closed the hostelry and there after refused to give as much as a drink of water by passing wayfarers.  There was also at Clifton at Store but we failed to find a record of a town or settlement there. During the Civil War a battle was fought at the Clifton store on Coleman's Crossroad as it was now called. The Coleman house was riddled with bullets.
     (Anebec's note: Reference of this battle is from an article on Rodney from the Concordia Sentinel, Ferriday, LA, Dec. 1915)
      Rowland writes Coon-Box derived its name in a peculiar way and Dr. F. L. Riley thus describes the incident: "During the War of 1812 an embargo was placed on Jamaica rum, the favorite beverage of that day. Although it also was made illegal, it was still sold in egg shells, one egg for a flip, two for
a bit, at the wayside houses throughout the country. A 'merchant prince' erected a log cabin store that had a shed-room at the rear at this place. One night a crowd of gentlemen from Greenville, passing by this store, decided that they wanted something to drink. The store was closed, and as no houses at that time opened after dark to callers unless they were well known, these men got no response to their repeated knocks on the front door. Finally one of them jovially said that he would 'rouse the old coon out of his box behind by knocking on it.' He did so and the members of the party supplied themselves with eggs before resuming their journey. SO, that is another story of how Coon-BOX got it's name. You can take your choice.
      Anebec's note: Remember that these articles on Settlements are taken from the WPA papers and generally copied as they were written. Occasionally I will insert a memo to clarify a point and print the references that they use ... and this will be noted as such if done so. Dunbar Rowland LL.D. wrote MISSISSIPPI in 1907. At that time he was the Director of Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Ann Brown


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August 15, 2002

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