Decatur, the seat of justice of Newton County, was named in honor of Commodore Stephen Decatur, and has about two hundred inhabitants. Hickory, on the Alabama & Vicksburg railroad, has a population of two hundred and ninety-four; Newton, on the same line, has a population of five hundred. Lawrence is a smaller railroad station. A good local trade is done at all these points.
In Newton county Masonic lodges are established at Newton, Decatur, Conehatta, New Ireland, Pinckney, Chunkey and Hickory; Masonic Royal Arch chapters at Newton and Decatur; one lodge of K. of P. at Newton, one of K. of H. at Newton.
There are three academies or high schools for white boys and girls at Newton, Conehatta and Hickory. The county supports eighty free schools, four months each year, forty-six white and thirty-four colored.
The churches of this county are as follows: Baptist, regular white churches, twenty-four; colored, twelve; primitive white, five; members white regular Baptists, one thousand six hundred; colored, one thousand two hundred; white primitive, one hundred and fifty; total, three thousand nine hundred and fifty.
Methodist white churches, ten; colored, six; white members, about eight hundred; colored members, about six hundred.
Presbyterian white churches, four; members, two hundred and fifty. The first Baptist church was instituted in 1836.
The first Baptist members conducting the churches and living in the county at that time were Revs. James Merchant and Cuder Price. The great civilizer and missionary of east Mississippi, Rev. N. L. Clarke, of the Regular Baptist church, now in his four-score years, lives at Newton, edits the Mississippi Baptist, supplies his churches and travels to the neighboring country when called to preach the Word.
Source: Biographical and Historical Memories of Mississippi, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891