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History of Kosciusko, Mississippi

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Introduction

Nestled along the historic Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, Attala County features many historic sites and picturesque communities. Kosciusko, named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish general who served as a military engineer in the American Revolutionary War, is the site of the annual Natchez Trace Festival held the last Saturday in April each year. Kosciusko is also the birthplace of Oprah Winfrey.

Today, Attala County and Kosciusko boast friendly people and some nationally known antique shops, restaurants and two bed & breakfasts.

History

Originally known as Red Bud Springs, Kosciusko  is one of the oldest remaining settlements on the Natchez Trace, a 460-mile trail stretching from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee. The community was an Indian campsite, then was home to a tavern and inn where travelers could refresh themselves in the late 1700's, a tradition of hospitality that continues today. 

In 1801, the Natchez Trace became a post road "mail route," increasing traffic. In July 1805, Aaron Burr traversed this route on his way from New Orleans to Nashville, where he made his treasonous conspiracy plans. While marching in the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson and his troops camped here as well.

Best small town of Kosciusko, Mississippi history - Natchez Trace path

Best small town of Kosciusko, Mississippi history - Natchez Trace path

The Natchez Trace began as an animal path then became an Indian foot trail.  Today, the Natchez Trace is a two-lane, scenic motor road with historic sites along the way. The Natchez Trace is a unit of the National Park System.

In 1830, the Choctaw Indians signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, relinquishing their lands in central and east Mississippi. From this, Attala County was begun. Established in 1833, Attala County was named for the heroine of Chateaubriand's romantic novel about two Indian lovers from different tribes. The name was chosen by the county's first state senator, Gordon D. Boyd. 

The county seat, Kosciusko, was named by the area's state representative, William Dodd. His grandfather, a Revolutionary War veteran, had greatly admired the Polish patriot, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, whose love of freedom led him to help the colonies during America's struggle for independence.

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First there was the Natchez Trace, a winding trail from Nashville to Natchez and back, a path travelers followed since the late 1700's.

They would stop at a watering hole near what is now Court Square, and maybe at a rooming house-tavern nearby, calling the place variously Redbud Springs, Paris and a dozen other names.

The site became permanent with the cession of lands of northeast and Central Mississippi to the whites at the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in the late 1830's.

With the grant, the county was formed from over 500 square miles of what had been Choctaw lands and with it need for names...both of the county and its seat.

William Dodd served the area in his first appearance at the state assembly in Jackson and to him fell the opportunity of finding names.

He chose for the county the name of Attala, a fictional Indian princess from the Natchez Tribe and heroine of a popular novel of the time. Relatives say he also recalled the fondness an ancestor had held for the Polish engineer on George Washington's staff during the Revolutionary War, Tadeusz Kosciuszko.

From that beginning have come...a trade center for Central Mississippi thriving with business and industry, a busy privately financed visitor center at the city's gate on the Natchez Trace and generally home to 10,000 good folks.

The birthplace of Oprah Winfrey, James Meredith and other well-known's, a place that has avoided strife even since the Civil War. We heard the cannons at a distance during that conflict and once or twice soldiers rode through town. But never a shot was fired.

We are the land of the purest drinking water in Mississippi and a hundred other firsts...at mile marker 160 on the Trace, just 70 miles from Jackson.
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History of Attala County

Attala County was established on the 23d of December, 1833, and was one of the sixteen counties carved from the Choctaw cession of 1830. The name is derived from the heroine (Atala) of an Indian romance written by Chateaubriand. As Attala has the distinction of retaining its original boundaries, as laid down in 1833, they are quoted, as follows:

"Beginning at the northeast corner of Leake County, and running thence west with the line between townships, 12 and 13, to the line between ranges five and six east; thence south with said line between ranges five and six to the center of township 12, of range 5 east; thence directly west to the Big Black River; thence up said river to the point at which the line between 16 and 17 crosses said river; thence east with the line between nine and ten east; thence south to the place of beginning."

The Choctaw boundary line of 1820 (treaty of Doak’s Stand) runs through the extreme southwestern corner of the county. Kosciusko is the largest town and the county seat of Attala County.

The Attala County Court House has burned on three separate occasions. The first fire on 28 July 1858 was the most devastating as all records were destroyed. For this reason, no records exist prior to August 1858. The second fire was in July 1860 and although the records on hand were somewhat meager, none were lost. The third fire occurred on 26 July 1896 and some records were lost including the county marriage records.