This Town Is The Center Of The Greatest Period Of Building Activity Ever Before Experienced In This Section Of The State
One needs but to make a casual survey of the cities and towns throughout the Mississippi Delta before he decides that Marks, Miss., is just about the fastest growing, and one of the most prosperous towns at this time in that rich stretch of territory which has become so famous for its productivity, due to the reclamation and development of what is admitted to be the most fertile soil on the face of the globe. One is struck with the activity and prosperity of the town on first sight, and a fuller knowledge of the affairs of the bustling little city brings the observer to a deeper conviction of its unparalleled advantages.
Marks is the county site of Quitman County. But one other town in the county has ever shared that honor–Belen, an old established village in the eastern part of the county to which due attention is given in another section of this work. Marks has the central location, transportation advantages and other factors which make it the logical site for the courthouse and county business.
The population of Marks is rapidly increasing. Within the past few years it has grown from a town of a very few hundred people to about fifteen hundred, and the prospects, at the rate of present growth, point to a sure enough, full fledged little city, equal in modern improvements and favorable living conditions to any point in the Delta. As a matter of fact the only unfavorable condition at Marks at this time is the difficulty of obtaining rental property, for residences especially.
Yet large forces of workmen are busily engaged in erecting every manner of new structures at Marks. A modern new gin plant is just being completed by Turner Brothers; several new stores are in course of construction, including a new department store for Self & Company, besides any number of handsome new residences for additional families continually coming in.
However, this condition is becoming relieved with the gradual expansion of the town and the constant purchasing of property for residences and stores by new owners. A most favorable condition is found in the fact that most of the people own their own homes, which is the best recommendation that any community can have.
Marks was not so many years ago a plantation, the land surrounding the present town site and constituting it belonged to the late L. Marks. Mr. Marks, it is said, was reluctant to dispose of the required land upon which to establish the town, but was finally persuaded by Judge M. E. Denton, who was at the head of the Marks Townsite Company, to let the people have the necessary land upon which to build. In turn it was at once decided to name the new town Marks in honor of the original owner of the land. Previous to that the station was known as Riverside.
Before this time Marks did not offer much pretension as a busy center, but its natural advantage of location, together with the rich agricultural country surrounding it, soon brought recognition of its advantages and superior opportunities. It may be said that it is only within the last five or six years that Marks has developed into a real town.
The town lies snugly along the Coldwater River, one of the prettiest and most consistent streams in the state. This affords excellent sewerage facilities for the town, which has already been taken advantage of, as Marks has the best sewerage in the county at the present time.
The town also has good water works, with flowing streams of the purest artesian well water that the good old earth ever gushed forth, and also has one of the best electric lighting plants to be found in any town of equal size in the United States. Good concrete sidewalks also feature the improvements at Marks made in recent times.
There is a good hotel at Marks, a moving picture show–the only one in the county–a new $20,000 hospital is in course of construction, and every necessary convenience for the proper care, accommodation and entertainment of the people is either already provided for or is being provided.
Churches And Schools
The various religious denominations are well represented at Marks, and all get along in harmony. One of the finest churches is that of the Baptists who have a large membership here, and who take great pride in the handsome edifice they have been able to build, and which would do credit to much larger towns than Marks.
About $50,000 is to be spent in enlarging and improving the high school at Marks. They already have a substantial brick building, but so fast has the school attendance increased in the last few years that it is necessary to practically double the present accommodations. A few years ago this school had only two teachers, and the present season will open with nine. This should give a fair idea of how things are progressing.
Marks is one of the two incorporated towns in Quitman County, and is under the aldermanic system of government with a Mayor and Board of Aldermen consisting of five members. At the present time the chief executive is Mayor T. J. Gee, a young attorney. The Board of Aldermen is composed of the following gentlemen: Messrs. J. W. Mack, H. H. Marks, J. P. Turner, H. Wagner and J. M. Causey. Mr. C. C. Green is marshall.
The new Masonic Temple at Marks was erected in 1917, at which time the Belen lodge combined with Marks, giving Quitman County one of the strongest Masonic bodies in the Delta.
As late as 1907 Marks had no Masonic organization, but in September of that year a dispensation was obtained for holding the first meeting, and the charter was granted in February of the following year. Thirteen members represented the lodge in its infancy, while now here are more than a hundred.
The Blue Lodge, the Royal Arch Chapter and Daughters of the Eastern Star, all hold regular meetings at Marks. Fraternal organizations of universal standing have substantial memberships through Quitman County.
Good Cotton Point
About seven thousand bales of cotton passes through the gins at Marks each season–and it is good cotton, too, practically all of it the highest grade long staple. The cotton seed, hardwood timber and other products from this section make Marks a good business point. Mr. Scott, agent of the Y. & M. V. Railroad at Marks, shows in his reports that the railway receipts in March, 1915, amounted to $4,498.23, and that the same month in 1919 the business had jumped to approximately twelve thousand dollars. But the fall season is the busiest shipping season, and reference to the month of December, 1915, and the same month in 1918, reveals that the railway receipts increased from $8,846.45 to $17,791.41.
Another thing along a somewhat different line, but most important of all, is the matter of health. Marks is blessed with an abundance of pure artesian water and with such drainage facilities that place it in a (unreadable) than most other points in the lowlands. The county health authorities, too, are on the alert, and see to it that there are no stagnant pools in the town where mosquitoes may breed, or where they cannot be easily drained, cause them to be oiled as a preventive of malaria.
For business, for health, for happiness in general, including the greatest degree of prosperity, the town of Marks can be conscientiously and enthusiastically recommended to newcomers.
(By B. J. Marshall, D. D. S.)
Where in 1907 there grew a bale of cotton per acre now stands the handsome $50,000 Court House of Quitman County in the thriving little city of Marks.
Marks was chartered as a town on January 1, 1907, with a population of about 300 persons and today claims more than 1500 of the most progressive and moral citizens of the great Delta of Mississippi. Of the 1500 people more than half are white citizens, and it is believed that the Government census of 1920 will show a 200% gain in population over that of 1910, when figures of 678 were given as a total.
Marks is located on the west bank of the Coldwater River (a navigable stream) and on the Y. & M. V. Railroad, 67 miles south of Memphis and 66 miles north of Greenwood. This branch of the Y. & M. V. Railroad is a link in the most direct freight line between the cities of New Orleans and Chicago. Shipping facilities here are equal to those of most any point in the Delta.
Marks is a little city of home owners, and while this is true indeed, investors have realized the opportunities afforded and as a result there are probably more homes built for rental purposes here than in many communities of double the size and further opportunity if any vacant houses in this entire section. Marks boasts of the moral environment of its people, there being three religious denominations represented here by handsome church buildings, Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian. As an adjunct to the moral and social life of the community the Masons have an active lodge quartered in their $20,000 home. The Woodmen, Columbian Woodmen, Knights of Pythias and other organizations are here with strong membership. Marks is fortunate in having such public improvements as complete sewerage, waterworks (from deep artesian wells) and electric light and power (24 hour service), and a $75,000 high school.
Much new private improvement is under way, namely a $20,000 hospital, several brick business blocks and numerous residences being built at this time.
Marks has two progressive banks, namely: The Riverside Bank and the Citizens Bank, with combined deposits of nearly a million dollars, and its various business firms who are identified with the best interests of the country are evidence of the life and growth of the county.
Living expenses in Marks are as low as any other city in this section and opportunities await the investor and home-seeker. The tax rate is 14 ½ mills.
Several miles of paved sidewalks, and a bond issuance of three-quarters million dollars for improved roads are among the permanent improvements of Marks and vicinity.
YOU ARE INVITED TO COME and SEE for yourself, Mr. Business man, investor or any good citizen.
“MARKS, the town that’s GROWING SOME.”
Nothing reflects more accurately the advancement of a community than does the development of its financial resources as shown in the reports of its most substantial banks. Marks is no exception to the rule, and in fact, it offers an example that can rarely be matched even in the Mississippi Delta.
The Citizens Bank at Marks, which was only organized about two years ago, with a capital stock of $25,000, has enjoyed the remarkable growth in deposits of from $27,000 at that time to more than a half million at the present time. In the young career of this institution, during the busy season, as high as $600,000 has been the daily balance.
These figures are mentioned just to give others an idea of the unusual and rapid growth of the community, but it is also only fair to state that the personnel of the organization has had considerable to do with the growth of the Citizens Bank. Mr. P. M. B. Self, who is regarded as the leading merchant of his section, and who is president of the bank, was one of its organizers. Mr. W. T. Covington, the vice-president, is also one of the outstanding figures among the most successful of Quitman County men, and is one of the organizers as well. Mr. M. D. Brett, however, is due considerable credit for the success of the institution as Mr. Brett, who is the cashier, is a thoroughly trained financier, having been for a number of years private secretary to Mr. J. T. Thomas, of Grenada, owner of a string of banks in Mississippi, and looked upon as the leading financier of the state. Mr. Brett is in active service with the Citizens Bank, and takes great pride in the achievements of his organization and great pleasure in the future outlook. Mr. Brett has as his capable assistant Mr. Douglass Carr, and it is hardly necessary to state that all of the clerical force are kept busy at this busiest of banks.
The directors of the Citizens Bank include some of the most prominent and wealthiest men of the community. They are: Messrs J. W. Mack, attorney; W. W. Powell, merchant; J. H. Lamar, county official; S. D. Ware, extensive planter; P. M. B. Self, president; W. T. Covington, vice-president; M. D. Brett, cashier, and Douglass Carr, assistant cashier.
The Citizens Bank is conveniently located on the most prominent street corner in Marks, and daily presents a scene of activity unequalled by many centers of much larger population.
The Riverside Bank
That Quitman County is a young and healthy county is best proven by reference to the Riverside Bank at Marks. The institution has the distinction of being the oldest bank in Quitman County, having been organized in 1904. The deposits have increased since that time from a few thousand dollars to more than $200,000.
The Riverside Bank was first capitalized at $10,000, but now has a capital of $50,000. The surplus and undivided profits at this time amount to about $20,000. In 1910 the deposits of Riverside Bank amounted to $40,000; in 1915, $60,000 for the same date, and the statement at the close of business March 4, of the present year shows deposits of $204,595.01.
Some of the strongest men in the county are officers and directors of the Riverside Bank, including Mr. W. A. Cox, who is president; Mr. W. V. Turner is vice-president; Mr. W. L. Banister, cashier, and Mr. J. T. Barbarin, assistant cashier.
The Riverside Bank operates under the provisions and security of the Mississippi State Banking Law, every dollar of deposits being guaranteed.
Self & Company
The volume of business carried on in the Delta has been commented on when comparisons have been made with other sections that do business on a smaller scale and with less confidence in the surrounding resources. This broad gauge standard of doing things on a big scale prevails at Marks to a degree unsurpassed in any other part of the Delta. The merchants buy in large quantities and distribute on the same scale.
Foremost among the mercantile establishments at Marks is the firm of Self & Company. The career of this establishment, however, can hardly be called typical as a certain factor has made its development extraordinary–almost in a class by itself. And that factor is Mr. P. M. B. Self, who, although still a young man, has made a record for himself that would be very difficult to match.
Mr. Self came from Tate County to Marks in 1904 when a mere youth, and with a capital of about $800. He is now rated as one of the wealthiest men in the community. For a time he was engaged in a partnership with Mr. T. W. Hawkins, but in 1910 Mr. Self assumed full control of affairs, rapidly extending his operations until he has now arrived at the stage where he is in position to provide Marks with something the people are most anxious to have and most willing to patronize–a modern department store.
This new store is being erected on the main street of Marks, and will be a complete emporium, covering every branch of the mercantile business. It will not only be a source of pride to the owner, but to the people of Quitman County.
Self & Company carry on both a cash trade and an extensive furnishing business. Through this firm many farmers have been aided in planting and gathering their crops each year. The same can be said of the store at Tutwiler, in Tallahatchie County, in which Mr. Self is also interested.
In addition to his mercantile interests Mr. Self has about four thousand acres of rich land in Quitman County, most of it being devoted to the best grade of long staple cotton. Besides, he is president of the Citizens Bank at Marks, one of the strongest and best managed financial institutions in the state although it was only organized in 1917.
Nothwithstanding these exacting business affairs Mr. Self has never failed to devote some of his time to public welfare work. He was prominent in the campaign for more and better schools in Quitman County, has served as a member of the board of aldermen of Marks, took a leading part in the building of the handsome court house, and in other progressive movements designed to advance the community and improve the condition of the people.
Hon. W. A. Cox
Few young and fast growing communities contain a higher order of citizenship than does Marks, Miss. There is little of the rougher element, and the uncultured do not by any means predominate. The high class men here are all highly respected and are duly honored.
Representative of the men who guide the affairs of the community, and who do it in a progressive and sensible way, is Hon. W. A. Cox, who has the honor of having served as the first mayor of his town.
Mr. Cox is not a newcomer either. He removed from Tallahatchie to Quitman County twenty years ago after concluding his law course at the Univeristy of Mississippi in 1899. He engaged in the practice of law upon coming to Marks, and in fact, in addition to his several other interests, still maintains law offices and a substantial practice.
Mr. Cox’s energy has led him into fields too numerous and burdensome for the average man, but in the words of the soldier, he is a “gun.” He is president of the oldest bank, the Riverside Bank, an institution that owes him a great deal of credit for its present high standing. For Mr. Cox, who was the first cashier of this bank, serving for about five years beginning in 1904, drew many patrons to the institution through his own personality and obliging manner. He was elected president of the bank nearly ten years ago.
In the agricultural field, Mr. Cox owns between two and three thousand acres of rich land, mostly under cultivation, and devoted principally to cotton and corn. This gentleman is a good authority on farming conditions and possibilities in the Delta and a good one to consult.
In spite of his busy hours Mr. Cox always finds time to take an interest in every undertaking designed for the public good, and one always has the assurance of a courteous reception and pleasant interview with this active man of affairs.
S. M. Marks
The Marks family in Quitman County is better known perhaps than any of the original founders and builders of his fast growing section. The town of Marks itself, the county site and principal municipality of the county, was named for the late L. Marks, a pioneer and prominent business man who died in 1910, leaving his estate to his children, including five grown sons.
The eldest of these is Mr. Samuel M. Marks, who conducts the large mercantile establishment bearing his name, and which was formerly the establishment of his father, and later jointly owned by the estate. Recently it was agreed among the five sons to make an equal division of the estate, each of the boys drawing approximately a thousand acres of land, and S. M., the eldest, acquiring the mercantile business as a part of his allotment.
Until 1917 the firm was known as L. Marks and Sons, but is now conducted in the named of S. M. Marks. Mr. Marks is naturally a leader and a criterion in local business circles. He is familiar with conditions and with the customs of the people among whom he has lived practically all of his life, and is quite popular. In addition to his mercantile interests Mr. Marks takes a personal interest in his farming lands, and produces the very highest variety of long staple cotton for which the Delta is famed.
Private interests, however, have not prevented him from applying considerable of his time to the public service. He has served for about sixteen years as a member of the Board of Supervisors, and is a member of the district school board.
Mr. Marks’ father was one of the leaders in the successful effort to create the new county of Quitman back in the eighties. He was a member of the Mississippi State Legislature from 1884 to the end of that term, and took an active and effective part in the organization of the new county which is now regarded in all parts of the State as the fastest growing and most promising of all the counties.
The people of what then was known as Riverside, in recognition of what the elder Marks had done for the community decided that he should be signally honored, thus the name of Marks, Miss. The old gentleman could not live to see the actual development of his town as his sons do, but it is more than probable that he had a vision of what was finally to come out of the labors of the old settlers–a rich and modern community.
G. A. Cox
The name of George Cox will be found among that representative group of leaders who are recognized as foremost in business circles of Quitman County, and who, like in other communities, are most influential in all affairs.
Mr. Cox is a leading merchant of Marks, and a planter of note. He first started in business about 18 years ago when the firm of Turner Brothers and Cox was organized. The members of the firm at that time, besides Mr. Cox, were Messrs. W. V. and J. T. Turner.
During the period subsequent to that time the firm has undergone changes until in 1916 Mr. Cox bought over the entire interest, and has conducted the business in the name of G. A. Cox since that time.
The success of Mr. Cox is typical of the careers of the leading business men of the Mississippi Delta. He does a large furnishing business for the plantations surrounding and a good cash business as well. In 1918 the volume of business carried on at Marks by this firm alone was no less than $82,000.00. They do things here on a broad scale, a policy that has a great influence on conditions in general, and this establishment is an example of not only what is being done, but what can be done by others.
Besides his business affairs, Mr. Cox finds time, or rather takes time, to devote to public duties, especially as pertaining to schools. He is a member at the present time of the separate district school board which has the responsibility of spending some $65,000 for school improvement and buildings in Mr. Cox’s district.
The store of G. A. Cox is regarded as headquarters for planters and others in the Marks district, and during the harvest season is one of the busiest places in the whole Mississippi Delta.
Hon. W. V. Turner
So rapid has been the growth of Quitman County during the last few years that it is now only occasionally that one runs across one of the pioneer settlers. In fact, as compared with some of the other counties in the state, Quitman County is a baby in age.
Hon. W. V. Turner, who is one of the representative planters of the county, does not claim to be among the very first settlers, but certain it is he has lived here long enough to make the younger set feel like foreigners when it comes to general knowledge of conditions, and of local history.
Mr. Turner removed to this section in 1874 before any such division as Quitman County was even thought of. At that time the territory was embraced in what was known as Tallahatchie County, and also included the present counties of Coahoma, Panola and Tunica.
When Mr. Turner came here there was no railroad between Marks and the Mississippi River, as the Y. & M. had not been built at that time. He settled along the Tallahatchie River, and has witnessed many interesting changes during the period to the present date.
Mr. Turner first engaged in the mercantile business and also farmed some land. In recent years, however, he devotes his time to farming exclusively, and operates one of the best places in the county, consisting of about 1,500 acres. While the land is devoted principally, to cotton there is sufficient forage crops usually raised to supply the home needs. Some wheat, also is raised.
Most of the farming interests are conducted under the firm name of Turner Brothers, Mr. Turner and his brother, Mr. J. T. Turner, with their sons, acting jointly in the management of their interests. The business headquarters is maintained at the office of Mr. G. A. Cox, a leading merchant of Marks.
Mr. Turner’s experiences have not altogether been confined to business and farming, however. He has at times been called upon to devote some of his time to the public service, and was sheriff of the county for a four-year term several years ago. Although he is now in position to take life sort of easy, Mr. Turner always shows a willingness to give Quitman County a boost. He has faith in his community, and has prospered by it.
Riverside Lumber Company
In common with practically every line of business in Quitman County the lumber industry, wholesale, manufacturing and retail, enjoys a prosperous run. This is notably true in the case of the Riverside Lumber Company at Marks.
The Riverside Lumber Company has the happy privilege of being the only distributing point within a radius of twenty miles, and naturally has a splendid trade. The demand for building material in the immediate and adjacent territory at times, in fact, taxes the activity of the firm.
An extensive trade is carried on in yellow pine lumber, cypress shingles, brick, lime, cement, roofing, and every description of building material used “from the ground to the roof.”
The Riverside Lumber Company was organized in 1905 as a stock company by Mr. C. E. Barham, but since that time has changed hands several times, Mr. Barham having spent several years on the road as salesman in the meantime. In 1918, however, he decided to re-enter the lumber business, and took over the company, bringing it rapidly back to its old standing. In 1919 Mr. E. I. Mothershed became a member of the firm. The scope of the business has continued to expand under the present management, and the yard presents a scene of prosperity and activity comparable to much larger towns.
Mr. Barham enjoys an enviable reputation in his community as he is regarded not only as a good business man, but an exceptionally well qualified public servant. He was the second mayor of Marks, and through the efforts of his administration was the first brick school building erected in the town. And while he is not at this time engaged in other than his own private business affairs, Mr. Barham is undoubtedly one of the best liked citizens of the community.
W. W. Powell
Not all the large mercantile stores in Quitman County depend on a furnishing business to the planters. There are a number of first class stores that conduct a cash and thirty-day business in volume that often equals the stores that carry on a combined cash and furnishing trade.
One of the most complete and up-to-date cash stores in Quitman County is that of Mr. W. W. Powell, at Marks. Mr. Powell has a general merchandise business located on the most convenient corner in the town. In fact, it can properly be called a department store, as every branch of the mercantile business is embraced in the service furnished at Powell’s.
Mr. Powell came to Marks from Tunica County about fourteen years ago, and for a time carried on both a furnishing and a cash business. In recent years, however, he has confined his operations to a general cash trade, and does no furnishing. He finds this more satisfactory from every angle, and apparently has lost nothing by this policy as he owns two business buildings at Marks, located in the heart of the business district.
This store offers a good example of what can be accomplished by fair dealing and solid business ability. There is no store better known in the entire country, and it is doubtful if others conducted along similar lines exceed the trade enjoyed every year by this substantial establistment.
City Drug Store
The most popular meeting place and the busiest corner in Marks is the City Drug Store, owned and managed by Mr. J. S. Guyton, who acquired this important enterprise from Mr. W. A. Cox in January, (unreadable).
Mr. Guyton is considered one of the livest business men at Marks and the daily activity at his store will certainly verify the opinion. It is here that the local people, and those for miles around, congregate to patronize the soda fountain and to fill their needs for anything desired in the drug line.
This interesting establishment includes a good pharmacy, a general line of standard drugs, stationery, candies, toilet articles and sundries. The soda fountain is one of the most modern and sanitary that can be found anywhere, and the patronage it receives is a mighty strong testimony as to its service.
Mr. Guyton, the proprietor of the City Drug Store, is one of the most popular and most obliging business men to be found anywhere in Quitman County. He is of pleasing disposition, and no matter how busy he may be he has always a smile for his friends and acquaintances, and always time to attend to their requirements.
It is a pleasure to visit this up-to-date store where courtesy is a permanent part of the place and where a full and complete stock is always on hand. They are never “just out” at Mr. Guyton’s store–they always have it.
Mr. Guyton has recently built one of the handsomest residences in Quitman County. He is a strong believer in the future of the Delta, especially the Marks part of it, and is one of those examples of contented, prosperous business men who would not swap places with anybody in any other part of the globe.
Cox Motor Company
The town of Marks has the distinction of being the headquarters for that famous and almost indispensable carrier, the Ford car, the popularity of which is constantly increasing throughout the Delta.
The Cox Motor Company has the agency for the Ford to the exclusion of all other dealers in Quitman County. But this is not the only notable feature of this establishment. It is classed as one of the most complete and modern concerns of its kind in the South. It is modeled after a metropolitan garage with all the facilities, machinery and labor-saving devices known to the automobile world.
All makes of cars are repaired and furnished here, and every branch of general automobile service is included in the plan and scope of this up-to-the-minute enterprise. A full supply of tires, tubes and accessories are always available; well trained mechanics are employed; a “trouble” department is maintained for attending disabled cars on the road requiring towing or other relief, and it can be said without fear of contradiction that the Cox Motor Company at Marks is up to the standard of any section of the United States in completeness, efficiency and all around service to motorist.
Mr. S. S. Cox, proprietor of this establishment, and who knows the business from every angle, gives his personal attention to the management of the place. Mr. Cox came to Marks from Memphis, Tenn., where he had been connected with one of the largest automobile firms in that city.
Well located near the center of the business district, and enjoying many other advantages in addition to capable management, the Cox Motor Company is a source of pride to Marks and to the entire county.
A Good Hotel
There are times when the hotel at Marks is more than taxed to its capacity in order to accommodate the transients and the local people who must be taken care of regularly. But it is universally admitted that no other hotel in the Delta, or outside of it for that matter, accommodates an equal number of people, the size of the town and the size of the hotel considered.
According to Mr. J. M. Caruthers, proprietor of this very essential institution, approximately a hundred people have been served with meals in a day, and the regular demand calls for service to from forty to eighty people each meal.
Only through careful planning and a desire to please could this be accomplished. Mr. Caruthers, who is an experienced hotel man, and who was at one time in charge at the Country Club in Memphis, came to Marks from Lake Cormorant, Miss., in March of the present year. A great improvement has resulted since he took over the hotel at Marks. To begin with he bought outright the property in which the hotel is located; made whatever urgent improvements were necessary immediately, and has in view other additions and new features which will add still more to the popularity of the hotel and management.
Recently, upon the return of his son, J. M. Jr., from service in France, a meat market and grocery has been established by Mr. Caruthers and his son adjoining the hotel. In the same block and practically under the same roof the post office and a barber shop are located, which is quite a convenience to the traveling public. No other hotel of a town of equal population offers superior accommodations in any respect. The problem of making room for more patrons, due to the rapid growth of Marks, is engaging Mr. Caruthers’ attention.
In the meantime don’t let anything keep you away from Marks, as Mr. Caruthers will make satisfactory provision for you in some good manner–and you will certainly get plenty to eat.
Mayor T. J. Gee
To a lawyer falls the honor of being mayor of Marks at the present time–a young lawyer, too. Consistently following the policy adopted in recent years the people of Marks are electing progressive, broad minded men to public office, and in the selection of Mr. Gee the assurance of a harmonious and advancing administration has been given.
Mr. Gee, as stated, is a lawyer–one who, by hard work has brought himself prominently before the bar and before the people of his section. He came to Marks from Montgomery County in 1911, and first began the practice of law here with his brother, Hon. Wm. F. Gee. Together they maintain law offices at Marks, having a very large practice in the county and district courts.
Mayor Gee is about the fourth mayor Marks has had, he having assumed office in January, 1919. This, however, is not his first public office, as he served as county attorney during the short term (1916-17).
The citizens of Marks have only praise for the present municipal administration, a fact that speaks well for the efforts and accomplishments of the young mayor.
Judge P. Lowrey
The dean of the local bar at Marks, and in fact, in Quitman County is Judge P. H. Lowrey, formerly Circuit Judge of the Third District. Judge Lowrey is now engaged exclusively in private law practice at Marks, having resigned from the bench about 1903 after having served about three years.
Though a native of Alcorn County, Judge Lowrey removed from Panola County to Quitman in 1908. Altogether, though, he has been practicing law in this county since 1890, and is known by everybody in this section. As a member of the State Bar his acquaintances include every prominent member of the profession in every section of Mississippi.
Judge Lowrey will testify to the past growth and to the promising outlook for the future of Quitman County, and while he is busily engaged in legal affairs, and does not devote himself to farming as a side issue, he knows the value of the rich soil in Quitman County.
The presence in a community of men of this stamp is itself a warrant of permanent and substantial development.
Judge M. E. Denton
How the thriving little city of Marks, Miss., first got on the map as a full fledged town has been told, but who did it is another feature. The first step and of course, the most important, was the genesis. To Judge M. E. Denton, of Marks, is credit given for the beginning of the little townsite that now has developed into a modern, incorporated town.
Judge Denton was president of what was known as the Marks Townsite Company, a corporation formed in 1904 for the purpose of promoting a town where grew a cotton field belonging to the late L. Marks, pioneer, for whom the town was later named.
It was Judge Denton who finally persuaded Mr. Marks to sell the land on which it was proposed to build the new town which is at this time the fastest growing community in Mississippi. Since that time many interesting things have happened, many ups and downs have been experienced, but Marks is here to stay, and so is Judge Denton.
The judge came to Quitman County in 1895 from Oxford, and began the practice of law. His first public office was that of state legislator from Quitman County, serving two straight terms through a period of from 1896 to 1902.
In 1914, after having served nearly eight years as chancellor of the —— Chancery District, Judge Denton resigned from the bench. He was first appointed by Governor Noel and subsequently re-appointed by Governor Brewer.
Since leaving the bench Judge Denton has devoted practically his entire time to his private law practice, besides giving some attention to his agricultural interests. He has some 400 acres of land near Marks under cultivation, mostly in long staple cotton.
The Judge is a confirmed booster from Quitman County, and especially for the Marks part of it which he did so much to help create.
Wm. F. Gee
Marks being the county site of Quitman County it is only natural that the bar should be well represented, and it is true that the legal talent here includes some of the best qualified lawyers in the state. One of the best known among the local bar is Hon. Wm. F. Gee, who came to Quitman County in 1909 from Montgomery County.
Mr. Gee spent about three years at Lambert, and then removed to Marks where he has an extensive legal practice during the entire period. He has been prevailed on by his friends at times to become a candidate for office, and only recently missed being elected as District Attorney by a small margin for the counties of Quitman, Coahoma, Bolivar and Tunica.
Mr. Gee is in the true sense a self-made man. His early youth was spent mostly in support of his mother and several younger brothers and sisters. His early manhood began with manual labor on the farm and in the mills, but he soon overcame many difficulties, and by diligent study equipped himself to take his place in the ranks of those of the legal profession.
Mr. Gee enjoys the confidence and esteem of all his fellow citizens, and no man has received a better endorsement than given him by those who know him intimately. In law, he has had charge of some very important cases, and was at one time attorney for the Y. & M. V. R. R.
At the present time Mr. Gee is engaged in practice with his younger brother, Hon. T. J. Gee, who is also mayor of Marks. The firm is regarded as one of the leading law firms of Quitman County.
Hon. M. P. Lowrey
Among the younger men most prominent in public life in Quitman County is Hon. M. P. Lowrey, county attorney. Mr. Lowrey was recently re-elected to this important office without opposition, and will begin his new term in January next. He first assumed office to fill an unexpired term, but the efficiency of his administration led to his re-election without a contest, although Quitman County contains a number of men of exceptional ability among those of the legal profession.
Mr. Lowrey, who is the son of Judge Perrin H. Lowrey, came to Marks in 1909, and in this same year finished his law course at Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tenn. He was reared principally in Panola County where the Lowrey family lived for so many years prior to Judge Lowrey’s removal to Quitman County.
During the years 1915-16, Mr. Lowrey had the honor of being mayor of Marks, and was perhaps the youngest man ever to have filled this office. He began the practice of law at quite an early age, and has had some very valuable experience even prior to his graduation at Cumberland University.
Hon. J. H. Lamar
The official force at the courthouse at Marks is composed of the most capable and best qualified men that can be obtained, as there is usually strong competition for the various offices at election time.
In the recent primary Hon. J. H. Lamar, candidate for circuit clerk, had the distinction of leading the entire county ticket in the number of votes received–and it was a spirited election. Further evidence of Judge Lamar’s fitness for the office is in the fact that this will be his second term, having offered for re-election after serving since January, 1916.
Judge Lamar, who came originally from Calhoun County, has served for several years as magistrate, and is well and quite favorably known all over the district. He first engaged in the manufacturing business, having established a plant for making plows, operating the place in connection with a woodwork and blacksmithing plant.
Judge Lamar has now lived in Quitman County for at least fifteen years, and while he is a man of the conservative type and modest in his demeanor, it is doubtful if there is a more popular office holder in the county. Those who have business with the office of circuit clerk always find him “on the job”, and anxious to serve those who have business to transact coming under the scope of his department.
As a member of the Local Board for the County of Quitman during the war Judge Lamar selected six hundred and one good men for the service.
Prof. Frank M. Bizzell
It is only natural that the people of each section should give their officials a boost when they have made good, but there is seldom found a more enthusiastic and universal endorsement than is given Prof. Frank M. Bizzell, superintendent of education of Quitman County.
And the praise of Prof. Bizzell is sincere, too. Only recently he was declared by a well informed newspaper man to be the best county superintendent in Mississippi. Very strong evidence that he is a man of exceptional ability as an educator lies in the fact that Prof. Bizzell has just been re-elected to begin a third successive term as county superintendent.
Prof. Bizzell came to Marks in 1909, and first taught in the new school at this place, being the first teacher to have charge of the new and improved school. At that time, it may be well to mention, the school had two teachers in all, whereas at the present time, including the department of music, the Marks school has nine teachers.
Prof. Bizzell, after teaching two years at Marks, taught a year as principal at Lambert. He was soon prevailed upon, however, to cover a broader field, and was elected county superintendent of education eight years ago, and has held the office ever since to the unanimous satisfaction of all who are in best position to know of his merits and the results obtained from his administration.
This educator, who originally came from Tate County, was a teacher in Tate for ten years before he came to Quitman. He has had the satisfaction and enjoyment of serving through a period when the schools of Quitman County have progressed from mere cabins to handsome new brick buildings, with every modern convenience, and with an expenditure of over $200,000 for new buildings and improvements now under way.
Hon. C. C. Barringer
From a clerk in a store in an interior town to sheriff of the livest county in the Mississippi Delta is not a poor record by any means. This, in brief, covers the high spot in the Quitman County career of Hon. C. C. Barringer, sheriff-elect of the county as the result of the primary election recently held.
Mr. Barringer, now chief deputy under Sheriff McArthur, removed to Quitman County from Layayette County about twenty years ago. He first clerked in a store at Belen, and was a bookkeeper for some of the leading business firms of the county for several years. His ability and his interest in public affairs made him a member of the county Board of Supervisors not long after he came to the county.
While serving as chief deputy in the sheriff’s office Mr. Barringer added many more to his host of friends, and they prevailed upon him to make the race for sheriff. He consented, and won out in a keen contest with some very strong opponents.
Those who have business at the sheriff’s office always find Mr. Barringer most obliging and accurate in his work. He thoroughly understands the duties of the office, and his friends have no fear about the manner in which he will conduct the important duties that will come before him during the next four years. As county assessor the the term of 1912-1916 he made one of the best officers the county ever had, it is said in his favor.
J. W. Mack
Next to Judge M. E. Denton, Mr. J. W. Mack is the “pioneer” lawyer of Marks. Judge Denton arrived on the scene of what was only the prospects of a town at that time, in June, 1895, while Mr. Mack came in November of that same year.
Mr. Mack has seen Marks develop from a cotton field to one of the busiest little towns in the Delta. He was a former Tunica County citizen, but lived in Memphis about four years prior to coming to Quitman County.
When Mr. Mack first came to Marks he began the practice of law alone, but in 1909 formed a partnership with Mr. W. M. Donaldson, which lasted until 1912. The following year he formed a new partnership with Mr. E. C. Black, which terminated in February of the present year.
Mr. Mack was for eight years attorney for the Board of Supervisors of Quitman County, and has an extensive private practice. He has one of the prettiest residences at Marks, and is also owner of considerable agricultural property. Altogether he is interested in more than a thousand acres in various localities, all of it situated in the Delta.
As a member of the bar Mr. Mack is prominent in practically every section of the state, and belongs to that small but distinguished group of men who are given the credit for building up the town of Marks to its present favorable status among the live communities of Mississippi.
E. C. Black
The bar of Quitman County is composed principally of native Mississippians who have moved to this section from other parts of the state. Madison County has contributed to the group of lawyers in the comparatively new county in the person of Mr. E. C. Black, who is beginning to consider himself an old timer in Quitman.
Though still quite a young man, Mr. Black came to Marks, where he is now located, about ten years ago. He had just finished his law course in the Lebanon Law School, Lebanon, Tenn., the year previous, 1908, and came to Marks and hung out his shingle in October, 1909.
Mr. Black at one time was a law partner with the late Senator Simpson. Also in 1913 he formed a partnership with Mr. J. W. Mack, the two practicing together until February of the present year. He has never aspired particularly for public office, but was for a time one of the attorneys for the Board of Supervisors of Quitman County and has acted in an advisory capacity when called upon.
At the present time Mr. Black is chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of Quitman County.
While he has been kept busy building up a good law practice, Mr. Black has found time to devote to agriculture to the extent that he owns about a thousand acres of valuable Quitman County land, and is operating something over 400 acres at present. This undertaking has met with success, and Mr. Black is producing some of the best grade of long staple cotton, besides a good corn yield, on his property.
This gentleman is well and favorably known in the section where he has spent ten active and productive years.
W. E. Gore
The bar at Marks, which is the county site of Quitman County, is exceptionally well represented. The legal profession is not wanting in men of ability–men who measure up to the standard for which Mississippi has been known since before the Civil War.
Some of these lawyers are men holding official positions, and others are engaged entirely in private practice. Among those prominently known and highly regarded is Mr. W. E. Gore, who has practiced law at Marks for eight years, and who is an example of what ability and effort can accomplish in the Delta for young lawyers.
Besides his extensive law practice, Mr. Gore owns about 600 acres of rich land near Marks most successfully. This is principally devoted to the most desirable variety of cotton, and produces a very profitable crop each year.
Mr. Gore has the distinction of having been an important figure in one of the largest land deals that have thus far been handled in Quitman County. He just recently represented Mr. E. W. Taylor in the sale of 1,890 acres of land that brought over $300,000. As far as monetary value is concerned this is the largest deal that had been made in this county up to that time.
Mr. Gore came to the Delta from Webster County, Miss., where conditions are quite different from what prevails in Quitman County. One is a hill county, and the other ideal Delta alluvial land section.
As a good authority on lands and advantages in general, no better reference for outsiders could be named than Mr. Gore himself.
W. M. Donaldson
Those of the legal profession have not been wanting in the efforts that have borne such fruit in the development of Marks during the past few years. In fact, most of the mayors of Marks have been lawyers.
None has contributed more to the improvement and development of the town than Hon. W. M. Donaldson, a member of the local bar, who came to Quitman County in 1909. Mr. Donaldson has served almost two full terms as mayor and was the predecessor of the present mayor, Hon. T. J. Gee. It was during Mr. Donaldson’s administration that the first sidewalks, street improvement and sewerage systems were installed, and about $10,000 was spent in improvement of the water works. He is also credited with bringing the town out of debt during its early life, and placing its finances in a favorable condition.
Mr. Donaldson first lived in the Belen neighborhood in 1902. He removed to Pontotoc County in 1906, and was attorney for the town of Pontotoc. In 1909 he returned to Quitman County to practice law, and soon formed a partnership with Mr. J. W. Mack, which terminated in 1912. For about two years Mr. Donaldson was a partner with Mr. C. E. Slough, from 1917 to 1919. Since Mr. Slough’s death Mr. Donaldson has been engaged in law practice alone in Quitman and adjoining counties. He is one of the most prominent lawyers in this part of the Delta and is held in high esteem by everyone who has ever met him.
Everett E. Boone
It is noteworthy that the younger members of the bar of Quitman County are holding important positions. At Marks one is mayor, another county attorney, and another, the subject of this sketch, Hon. Everett E. Boone, is a newly elected member of the State Legislature.
Mr. Boone won the office over his opponent by 115 votes out of a total of some seven hundred votes, and will take office for the first time next January. He will advocate in the next legislature further development and improvement of schools, better pay for the teachers, and favors abolishing the present state tax commission.
It is seldom in the experiences of men of his age that one reaches a position in public life attained by this young lawyer. Mr. Boone came to Marks in 1914 after completing his course and graduating at the University of Mississippi. In April of that year he entered a partnership with Judge M. E. Denton at Marks and continued until April 15, 1919.
Mr. Boone is now engaged in the practice of law independently, and has offices in the new Noble Building on the main street. Aside from his profession he is active in affairs tending toward the public good and the upbuilding of his community. He belongs to that group of progressive, public spirited men who are determined to see that Quitman County becomes the star county of the entire Mississippi Delta.
Dr. B. J. Marshall
Dr. B. J. Marshall, of Marks, Secretary of the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners, and whose practice is said to be one of the largest in the state, finds time regardless of his busy hours to devote more energy and more productive time to the upbuilding of Marks than any other one man in the county. At the same time he is correspondent for one of the largest daily newspapers in the South, and in this capacity has done wonderful work in bringing his town and neighborhood prominently before the outside world.
Dr. Marshall came to Marks from Natchez, Miss., ten years ago, and has always ranked as a leader in the community. He organized the Marks Business League of which he served as secretary for several years, and accomplished more in that period of time in bringing new business and new families to Marks than ever occurred before. He has always taken an active and leading part in every improvement the town has undergone and still continues in his capacity of the town’s best qualified “booster.”
The doctor has served as a member of the Board of Aldermen, and as a member of the Board of School Trustees. He has seen Marks grow through its busiest and largest development, and is one of the best informed men in the community on the affairs of his town.
Dr. Marshall, who has offices in the Turner-Cox building, stands ready and willing at all times to assist newcomers in any way possible, and to furnish information to those who have in prospect removing to this good country or investing in its lands or resources.
Dr. P. M. Smith
Marks is a healthy place to live in–for two reasons. The general conditions, which includes the purest deep well water obtainable, and the presence of the best qualified physicians who know how to give the people the best of medical attention when it is required.
Among the most representative of the medicos in Quitman County, and one of the most progressive citizens as well, is Dr. P. M. Smith, with offices at Marks. Dr. Smith’s practice extends to all quarters of the county, and even beyond. Yet, he has only been a resident of Marks since a year ago. He is quite popular with the people.
Dr. Smith came to Marks from Sunflower County, but is a native of Yazoo County, Miss. He is a graduate of the Memphis Medical College and of the medical department of Vanderbilt University. He is a member of the Mississippi Medical Association, and of the Clarksdale Six-County Medical Association.
In addition to his regular practice the doctor is the surgeon here for the Y. & M. V. R. R. Company.
The McPherson Place
One of the largest plantations in Quitman County individually owned and operated is that of Mr. J. J. McPherson of Essex, about five miles north of Marks, and about 62 miles south of Memphis.
This property, which consists of some three thousand acres, has approximately 1,100 acres in cultivation this year. Over 400 acres of this is devoted to corn, alfalfa and other feed crops.
Mr. McPherson came to this section in 1902 when the wolves still claimed a few privileges, it is said. The cane was about twenty feet high and there was nothing that could properly be called a highway in the whole neighborhood. Mr. McPherson began at once to clear the timber and to turn it into lumber for shipment. Of those who came to this section at that time Mr. McPherson is said to be about the only one who remained all through the development of his neighborhood. Of course there were other settlements nearby when he came.
Mr. McPherson conducts a large mercantile business at Essex, and while he established it chiefly for the accommodation of tenants on his place, he does quite an extensive cash business besides. His furnishing business averages about $30,000 a year. There is hardly a better example of what a man can do in this country so rich in resources, and the handicaps that had to be overcome in those days are not existing now. Good roads, pure water, good schools and all modern conveniences are now to be had where once there was virtually a wilderness.
Seventeen years may not seem such a long time, but remarkable changes have taken place in that time, and Mr. McPherson states without hesitation that anyone is bound to make a success in Quitman County who comes determined to make even a fair effort. Mr. McPherson, who is a member of the Board of Supervisors, is one of the best informed citizens of Quitman County.
Cleared Land Available
While there are large tracts of land in Quitman County that have never yet known the touch of a plow, a great deal of new ground is being prepared for agriculture at this time–more than ever before.
This is particularly true of cut-over land from which the hardwood lumber manufacturers have finished cutting the timber. This land is being rapidly drained and developed by these men whose interest is even greater than when they were engaged solely with the saw.
At Hinchcliffe, about three miles from Marks, the Forest Products Chemical Company, of Memphis, Tenn., have valuable holdings. This company, owned principally by Messrs. B. L. Mallory and W. H. Matthews, of Memphis, have facilities for consuming the vast amount of rough stumpage from this ground and turning it into finished manufactured products. This was one of the first plants of its kind established in this section of the South, and Mr. Matthews is known as a pioneer in this useful field. A similar enterprise has recently been established by the Lamb-Fish Lumber Company, at Charleston, Miss.
At Hinchcliffe the Forest Products Chemical Company has put into operation a demonstration farm of several hundred acres, known as the M. & M. Plantation, which according to Mr. C. R. Morgan, who is in charge of this agricultural enterprise, wonderfully successful production of both cotton and feed crops has resulted from this rich virgin soil.
But, according to Mr. M. C. Bricker, General Superintendent of the company’s woods operations, the holdings at Hinchchcliffe, which amounts to about 11,000 acres, will not be turned into one large monopolized plantation. Recently a thousand acres of the land was sold, and it is the intention of the owners that, whenever the time arrives to dispose of the remainder of the land, it will be the policy of the company to dispose of it in small tracts of forty and eighty acres each, rather than in large tracts.
Mr. Bricker says that his company owns a very desirable strip of land of some 400 acres, in Arkansas, which has already been cleared, homes built upon it, and plans made to sell it in small tracts to small farmers.
Also, in Tennessee, the company recently acquired a valuable body of land of about 650 acres, which will be cleared, houses erected, and settled by desirable families.
These farms, Mr. Bricker says, will be turned over to energetic farmers who are ambitious, and every assistance will be afforded them in order to enable them to get ahead. It is the purpose of the Forest Products Chemical Company to use the land from which they have cleared the timber for the best purpose known–to have it occupied with producers of the happy and prosperous kind–to add to the population and to the wealth of the respective communities.
The author of this article, the date it was written and the publisher are unknown.
Photos Courtesy of Marks The Good Old Days on Facebook and Sharon Fortner Wright.
Copyright © 2016
All Rights Reserved with Full Rights Reserved for Original Contributor