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From Thriving River Port

to Struggling Ghost Town

     Rodney, Mississippi can first be located as "Petit Gulf" on the territorial map of 1765. In 1828 Rodney was legally incorporated as a city. It was named Rodney in honor of the Territorial Judge, Thomas Rodney.

     Rodney thrived as a river port rivaling Natchez and Vicksburg. As well as a business hub, Rodney was also a cultural center on the Mississippi frontier. Among the businesses fronting on Commerce and Magnolia Streets were banks, wagon makers, tinsmiths, barbers, doctors, dentists, general mercantile stores, hotels, saloons, and pastry shops. For cultural activity there were artists, theatre, lecture hall, schools, debating society, churches, jockey club and thespian groups.

     The first Rodney newspaper The Southern Telegraph was printed every Tuesday starting in 1834. Over the years the name changes included the Rodney Standard and the Rodney Telegraph. This four page weekly also changed editors frequently, but the two principal editors were Thomas Palmer and Thomas Brown. Thomas Palmer strongly opposed duels and whiskey and quite often editorialized on these topics. Thomas Brown, on the other hand, was an unyielding Whig and strongly promoted the Whig political position through his role as editor. However, throughout all the changes in names and editors the newspaper kept the same headlining motto: "He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot, is a fool; and he that dares not, is a slave."

     Some of the Rodney churches are still standing and in use. The Rodney Presbyterian Church is a fine brick edifice which was dedicated on 1 Jan 1832. The Rodney Baptist Church continues to be in use today. The Catholic Church that was built in Rodney was moved to Grand Gulf where worshippers attend today.

     What caused Rodney the thriving boomtown of the 1830's to become a struggling ghost town in the 1940's? The first factor was that the mighty Mississippi River changed its course and left Rodney "high and dry." Rodney could have survived if the railroad had put a line through this city, but the railroad never came. This has left us with Rodney, the colorful Mississippi River port which became a much talked about "ghost town."

..........Compiled by Carolyn Jean Adams Switzer

(moved to Grand Gulf)
Rodney about 1935

Rodney photo about 1935

Rodney photo about 1935

Rodney photo about 1935


Famous Rodney Folk

Bill Foster: Rodney, MS native and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame; former Negro Leagues pitcher before serving as coach and administrator at Alcorn State University.

Old Rodney Pictures

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August 15, 2002

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