Quitman County would be poor indeed were she to depend on other than the fertile soil found here. There are no valuable substances such as coal or oil, or other minerals to bring material benefit but the drainage is sufficient to supply an abundance of vegetable life.
It is especially favored in water courses, in that it has three rivers, Coldwater, Tallahatchie, and Yocona; one creek, several lakes and other branches, all effecting a splendid natural drainage, enriching the soil and improving sanitary conditions.
There are two suppositions as to how Coldwater derived its name. Some say that it is because, in an early period, ice floes from the northland came down the stream in winter months; others believe it was so called because it originates from a group of very cool springs near the Tennessee line. However, the most plausible, is that the Native Americans gave it the name on account of its ever cool water.1
Since the construction of levees along the banks of the Mississippi River, ice-floes no longer float in Coldwater stream, the embankments diverting the direction of the man flow tributaries.2
The soil consists of alluvial deposits which are washed down from the upper regions where the land is very rich. Since there are few steep slopes to quickly drain the sediments caused from overflows, the rain, as it falls, soaks readily into the ground and thus much of it is held in the soil causing immense fertility.
Just as a shower of rain will cool the atmosphere, so will the numerous lakes and bayous, over fifty, in Quitman County and the small proportions of the county it is sure that the general temperature is somewhat cooler. Also, breezes fan the branches of the trees and bushes which are alongside the banks of these streams.
Although the soil around the lakes and bayous is heavy and fertile it is evident that the streams are beneficial to the general health of the people at large. This is because of the natural drainage which dries the earth and atmosphere. Too, the number of malarial mosquitoes is greatly reduced where we find good drainage.
Coldwater River flows into the county from the north, but again into Tunica, and back through its northwest corner, running southeast in an irregular way, turning east, and slightly north, where it makes another turn, to meander south-westerly until it empties into the Tallahatchie. It is said to be one of the most crooked rivers in the world.
The Yocona River has its source in Pontotoc County, flowing in an almost westerly direction, coming to Quitman County from the east, and running into the Tallahatchie. The name, Yocona, is from the Indian word Yakni, meaning “land on earth.” It was originally call Nocknapatalfa.
Tallahatchie River enters the county from the east, runs in a southwesterly direction for some distance, then turns south, to course the remaining length of the county and empty into the Yazoo River. Little Tallahatchie is a tributary of Tallahatchie River.
These rivers serve as natural drainage which promotes better health. Quitman [County] was not settled so early as other regions of the Delta, and because of the forest or almost dense woods, the land was swampy and people were unhealthy. But as the timber was cleared away and a few levees built here and there the rivers served as avenues of drainage.
Yazoo Pass: Besides the rivers and the lone Creek, Fowler, which is in the northern part of the county, near Sledge, is the Yazoo Pass, commonly referred to as the “Pass,” a body of water connecting Moon Lake and Coldwater River just on the border line of Quitman County and Coahoma County. This is about sixteen or eighteen miles in length and about the width of a small river. Near the southern border of Quitman County, Coldwater River united with Tallahatchie and Yocona rivers to form the Yazoo River, and it was the Yazoo Pass, which afforded the way for General Grant to move from the Mississippi River down into the Coldwater thence into the Yazoo, during the War between the States.
The highest point in Quitman [County] is 192 feet above sea level. It is in Section 12, Township 7 south, range 10, west, just east of Crenshaw. Several low points, (145 feet) are found in sections 25, 26, 27, 34, township 26 north, range 1, east.
The Yocona and Bobo lowlands, commonly called “bottoms,” lying on and around streams also lowlands on both sides of the Tallahatchie River, are a part of Quitman County.
When the county was unprotected by levees and we had no drainage, surplus water found its way into certain bottomlands or marshes. With no outlet, certainly, the soil is found to be only mud, not cultivable and with a lot of underbrush and trees. Several of these marshes are in this county and they serve as a refuge for wild life such as squirrels, birds, coons, oppossums, ducks, and deer. The marshes are known as Bobo, Chinquapin, Burrel Brake, and Beaver River Brake.
There are no prairie lands, but just about the center of the county lies a portion of land, four or five miles square, which is known as the Flatwoods. This is a favorite retreat for huntsmen, because of the abundance of wild ducks and other small game.
Lakes and Bayous
These following comprise the lakes of the county:
Lost Lake is classed as a very strange formation, is located in the south central part of the county on what is known as the Barksdale Place. It was originally almost the shape of a tub, with no outlet, but a few years ago, was opened up to prevent the adjacent land from overflowing. It is said that the bottom has never been reached even by the best divers, and that probably it is partly composed of some rugged substance resembling rock, which is a very plausible supposition, because there is such an abundant growth of water lilies, and yonquapins. There are also strange plants or trees which seem to float instead of having roots in the ground.
Of the many bayous, two of them are unusual:
- Opposum Bayou into which empties the Canal, known as the Devil’s Race Track, supposedly dug by the natives long ago. Because the Opossum runs into the Coldwater they hoped to get through for supplies.
- Cassidy Bayou is among the longest bayous, if not the longest, in the world and springs from Coldwater River, flown through the central part of Quitman County and then out into Coahoma County and back again and out again where it goes on its course through Tallahatchie County. A very strange thing happens at a given point in the extreme lower portion of this county. Cassidy Bayou and Hopson Bayou run parallel and yet Cassidy runs south and Hopson runs north. They are separated only by about six or seven hundred feet.
Other bayous are:
Springs and Wells
No springs of appreciable size or importance are in the county, but along the banks of Coldwater River, when it is low, are a few natural springs, gushing forth a scant supply of cold but impure water.
Driven pumps and artesian wells afford all water supply. Of the latter there are forty or fifty. Recently, (1937) two wells have been bored, each 900 feet deep. One is located on the home and hospital property of Dr. J.E. Furr [James Edward Furr], in Marks, the other on R.M. D’Orr’s [Rufus Mabry D’Orr 1890-1955] Plantation half way between Belen and Marks. The town of Lambert has a new artesian well, 900 feet deep; the water flows through a six inch pipe. The cost of construction of this well was twenty nine hundred dollars ($2,900.00). The town officials furnish the railroad company water from this well. A reservoir is placed to catch all waste water and this is pumped into a railroad tank. This water has been analyzed and rates as the second purest water in the state. The town of Marks has a well that cost twenty-eight hundred dollars ($2,800.00).
Wells with pumps are principally used on small plantations where the owners are not able to have artesian wells. The pumps are from thirty to fifty feet deep and the water is hard, is not good for washing or cooking purposes.
1. Mrs. Blanchard Ingram [Blanchard nee Walton 1889-1976], Marks, Mississippi
2. Louise Yeager, Marks, Mississippi
George M. Moreland, Column in Commercial Appeal, December 9.
Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Chapter II, page 15-18, Compiled by State-wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated 1936-1938
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