The town of Fayette, the seat of justice of Jefferson County since 1825, was incorporated in 1842. Its first mayor was J. B. Carpenter, its first clerk G. A. Guilminot, its first council M. C. Dixon, E. H. Truly, Thomas Devenport. Its present mayor is W. F. Faulk, its present clerk Henry Key, its present council George D. Forman, James McClurg, Jr., S. Hirsch.
The town contains three churches, viz.: Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian and Christian. Its schools are the Fayette female academy, the boys’ high school and the public or free school. There are within its borders the following brick buildings: The courthouse and jail, three churches, the female academy and five business houses. The courthouse was erected in 1881 at a cost of $15,000. The jail cost $10,000.
The Fayette Academy was chartered in 1827 through the efforts of Gov. Cowles Mead. The Rev. Mr. Sanford and wife were the first principals. In 1858 the charter was amended and collegiate power given, its name being changed to the Fayette Female College. This institution has a large two-story brick building, nicely located on a rise of ground in the eastern part of the city.
The first Baptist church in Jefferson County was established by Rev. Richard Curtis, Jr., near the south fork of Coles creek in 1798. It was called Salem. He (Rev. Curtis) was at one time with one of the members of his church, named Stephen De Alvo, a converted Spaniard, banished from the territory by Gov. Gayoso De Lemos.
The Fayette Methodist Episcopal church was organized about 1825 by Rev. John C. Johnson. The present pastor is Rev. Ralph Bradley. The number of members is eighty-five. The denomination had an organization in the county as early as 1802, meeting at the old Spring Hill church, four miles south of Fayette. The organization was effected by Rev. Tobias Gibson, and is still kept up. The society at Fayette has a large and commodious house of worship, a brick building erected in 1829.
The first Presbyterian Church in the county was organized in 1804 by Rev. Joseph Bullen, of Vermont, who was sent as a missionary to the Chickasaw Indians in the year 1800. The Fayette Presbyterian church was organized December 9, 185-1; its first pastor, Henry McDonald; first clerk, J. H. Darden. The original membership was thirty- three. The present pastor, W. B. Bingham; the present clerk, P. K. Whitney; the present membership, fifty-eight. A good Sunday-school is kept up. The house of worship is a good brick structure. There is regular preaching twice each month.
The Christian church of Fayette was organized March 29, 1851, by Rev. J. T. Johnston, of Kentucky, and has a brick house of worship. Among the original members were David Darden, John P. Darden, James Stowers and John D. Burch. The present pastor is Rev. Philip Vawter.
The physicians of Jefferson County, in the order of their advent, have been:
Drs. J. H. Duncan, Key,
Thomas H. Young, Farrar,
B. F. Fox,
William C. Walker,
Thomas Walton, Peuquite,
E. J. H. White,
A. K. McNair
R. C. Love.
Jefferson lodge, I. O. O. F., No. 14, was chartered in 1821. Among the charter members were Thomas Reed, J. C Fletcher and others. The present noble grand is James McClure, Jr. J. A. Donald is secretary. The membership is twenty-five, and the lodge is in a good financial condition.
Thomas Hines lodge No. 5S, F. & A. M., was chartered April 12, 1843. John H.’ Duncan was first worshipful master, the first senior warden was Philip O. Hughes, the first junior warden Isaac Dunbar.’ The charter members were Philip O. Hughes, J. H. Duncan, Isaac Dunbar, S. B. McLeod, Charles We.st, Thomas M. Nash and Chesley S. Coffey.
The officers of this lodge in 1890 were: Charles Cooper, W. M.: G. D. McNair, S. W.: C. E. Robertson, J. W.; J. J. Robertson, S. D.; James McClure, Jr., J. D.; James McClure, treasurer; Henry Key, secretary; T. J. Key, S. & T. The membership was forty- one. The organization is .strong financially, owning a hall and lot and having money in the treasury.
Fayette lodge No. 1389, Knights of Honor, was chartered in October, 1879. The charter members were: Ben Eiseman, Henry Key, William Thompson, 0. M. Eiseman, W. L. Stephen, O. H. McGinty, P. Krauss, C. Cooper, S. Heildron, I. B. Stewart, E. M. Keyes, W. L. Guice, E. H. Truly, G. W. Rembert, M. Eisman, N. Eilbott.
Fayette lodge No. 404, Knights and Ladies of Honor, was chartered April 9, 1889. The official members were: W. D. Torrey, protector; T. L. Darden, past protector; William Gohazen, vice protector; Mrs. M. I. Key, secretary; L. R. Harrison, treasurer; C. W. Whitney, guide.
The old childhood home of Jefferson Davis was at old Greenville, the old county seat of Jefferson County, where he lived with an elder brother. Aaron Burr was arrested on the banks of Coles creek, in this county. Buena Vista plantation, owned by General Taylor at the time of his election to the presidency, is located on the Mississippi river, eight miles below Rodney. General Jackson was married at the residence of and by Thomas Green, near old Fort Gayoso. General Gayoso first resided in this county.
The Rodney Gazette published at Rodney by Thomas Palmer, Thomas J. Johnson editor, politically Whig, was established in 1830. The Fayette Watch Tower was established at Fayette in 1839 by William B. Tebo, editor and proprietor. The Fayette Times was published in 1858 by J. H. King. The Jefferson Journal was started in 1862 by Andrew Marschalk, Jr. The Fayette Chronicle was established by W. A. Marscbalk in 1865. In 1870 he sold the paper to B. B. Paddock and F. H. Cully, and Mr. Paddock became its editor. In 1872 he sold it to R. H. Truly.
Flora McDonald, celebrated in romance as the savior of Charles Edward after the battle of Culloden, resided at Fayette for a time.
Harriston, located at the junction of the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas, the Natchez, Jackson & Columbus railroads, northeast of Fayette, contains six general stores, one drug store, two hotels, one newspaper, three saloons, two livery stables, three lodges and one church building, a frame structure now in course of erection, to cost 12,000.
The secret societies mentioned are the Knights of Pythias, the American Legion of Honor and the Order of Railroad Sectionmen. The post office was established in January, 1885; Mrs. M. L. Jones was first postmistress. The office is now in charge of Mrs. E. B. Hammond. Griffin & Ration are the publishers of a bright and newsy local paper, which was established in the fall of 1890. The town was incorporated in 1886 with James M. Love as mayor and John Gillis and C. H. Gates as members of the town board.
July 4, 1864, a fleet under General Ellett, landing at Rodney, sent a detachment of troops through this county in search of cotton. They met four companies of Confederate cavalry at the crossroads near Dr. Coleman’s place, now known as Clifton. A brief but sharp engagement took place and the Federals were driven to their boats, with slight loss. The Confederates lost four killed and several wounded. Major Morman led the Confederates.
Harriston, near Fayette, is a thriving village. Greenville, once the seat of justice, is now a cotton field, but there are those who can still point to the locality of the county buildings, the gallows and other landmarks.
Source: Biographical and Historical Memories of Mississippi, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891