Shannon, Lee County, was laid out in 1858, by G. F. Simonton, and named in honor of Col. E. G. Shannon, and is favorably situated on the line of the Mobile & Ohio railroad. The first building was erected for a store, by John M. Simonton, and goods were sold from it by Simonton & Buchanan, general merchants. Soon afterward other stores were built, and Shannon became quite a trading point. The population is four hundred and fifty.
The Methodist Episcopal Church South, at Shannon, was organized about 1869, with Rev. E. B. Plummer as pastor. The members numbered seventeen seven males and ten females. The house of worship was erected about 1872, at a cost of about Â§1,000. The present pastor is Rev. C. P. Barnes. The members number seventy- five.
The Baptist church at Shannon was organized about 1867, with about seventy members, with Rev. William Thomas as pastor. A frame church was built about 1873, and dedicated by Rev. J. R. Graves. It has a seating capacity of five hundred. The church numbers about sixty-five members, and is under the pastoral care of Rev. T. H. Padgett, of Tupelo.
The Cumberland Presbyterian church at Shannon was organized at an early day, at a place nearby, and soon after moved to Shannon and erected a frame building with a seating capacity of five hundred.
Palmetto Lodge No. 152, A. P. & A. M., organized at Palmetto Church, west of Verona, before the war, and transferred to Shannon about 1868 or 1869. It has a membership of twenty-five.
Shannon Graded institute was chartered in the spring of 1890, has a frame building 40×80 feet, two stories high, employs five teachers, and has an attendance of from one hundred to one hundred and twenty -five students. The house is situated on a beautiful hill, is well ventilated and is the best seated and equipped school building in the county. It was built by subscription through the efforts of Prof. W. T. Poster, the principal. This gentleman is a native of Tennessee, and has been a successful educator for thirteen years.
Five miles southwest of Baldwyn is Bethany, a small trading point. Here was organized the Associate Reformed church of Bethany, on Saturday, June 5, 1852, agreeable to an order of the Associate Reformed presbytery of Alabama, by Revs. H. H. Robison and J. L. Young assisted by ruling elders Maj. Robert McBryde, Alexander Poster and Hugh Wiseman. The following persons became members of the church by certificate:
Thomas Bryson and wife,
Mrs. Martha Bryson,
Miss Jane Bryson,
Miss Elizabeth A. Bryson,
Miss Mary Bryson,
Miss Eliza Bryson,
Miss Emily Bryson,
Samuel Bryson and wife,
Mrs. Jane Bryson,
David Lemmon and wife,
Mrs. Martha Jane Lemmon,
Mrs. Margaret O’ Shields, Providence church, Laurens district, S. C.;
Mrs. Margaret I. Young, from Providence church, Laurens district, S. C.;
James Turner and wife,
Mrs. Nancy C. Turner,
John Watt and wife,
Mrs. Sarah Watt, and
Mrs. Martha E. McGee, from Generostee church, Anderson district, S. C.;
John K. Crockett and wife,
Mrs. Rachel Crockett, from Ebenezer church, Tippah County, Miss.
Besides these white persons, four colored members were at the same time received, viz.:
Lunnon, Patience and Joseph, servants of Rev. J. L. Young, from Providence church, Laurens district, S. C, and
Nelly, a servant of John Watt, from Generostee church, Anderson district, S. C.
There was at that time a total membership of twenty-five persons, twenty-one being whites and four colored. Thomas Bryson, Samuel Bryson and John K. Crockett were elected ruling elders. Thomas Bryson had been ordained a ruling elder at Providence, S. C. Samuel Bryson and John K. Crockett were ordained on June 5, 1852.
During the war, Tupelo and other points in Lee County witnessed many exciting scenes. Early in 1862 the war drew nearer and nearer to them. The battle of Shiloh was fought April 6 and 7, 1862. Corinth became a military camp; commissaries scoured the country, gathering up all the beeves and forage they could obtain. Hospitals were established at Gun town, and citizens brought sick soldiers to their homes and nursed them. This state of excitement continued till the last of May, when General Beauregard evacuated Corinth, and moved the Southern army to Tupelo. The retreat then became a visible reality to the people. Many of the blacks fled to the Federal lines. General Chalmers had a picket line at the church and along the Pontotoc road, and no one was permitted to pass without permission of the military authorities. And, to add to the troubles of the time, in January, 1863, the smallpox was brought into the neighborhood, and several good citizens died, among whom was Dr. Washington Agnew. The year 1 863 may be termed the year of raids. As soon as the spring opened, raids from Corinth became common. There was a cavalry fight at Birmingham, on April 24, 1863. The next week another raid passed down the railroad, burning the Guntown steam mill. May 4, 1863. From that time on, raids were reported every few weeks in some part of the country. In consequence of them, the citizens were compelled to hide their stock and valuables, to prevent them from falling into the hands of a foe as ruthless as the Vandals of the middle ages. June 10, 1864, a battle was fought immediately around Bethany, which has been variously designated as the battle of Guntown, the battle of Tishomingo creek, the battle of Brice’s crossroads and Sturgis’ defeat. In the official medical history of the war the losses on both sides in this engagement are given as follows: Federals killed, two hundred and twenty- three; wounded, three hundred and ninety-four; missing, one thousand six hundred and twenty-three. Confederates killed, one hundred and thirty-one wounded, four hundred and seventy-five.
Guntown, in Lee County, on the Mobile & Ohio railroad, has a population of three hundred. Shortly after the Revolutionary war an heir to a baronetcy in England, possessing the warlike name of Gunn, proved himself a tory of the most notorious stripe. Bather than live in commune with the creatures of a republic, he joined the Chickasaw Indians and became a chief. He married a fair daughter of the tribe, and by the marriage a lovely child was born, and Okalallah became the pride of the Chickasaw nation and was noted for her beauty, comeliness and modesty. Hence the name of Guntown.
In the early fifties a village was started on nearly the highest point between Cairo and Mobile, and in 1855 D. N. Cayce arrived, bought a plantation, opened a store and made things hum. There were two stores on his arrival, and Guntown grew until about half a dozen establishments were doing business, when the war clarion sounded. D. N. Cayce was a Tennessean, who located at Fulton, Miss., in 1842, and moved there from merely to invest, and maintained his home at Fulton, where he died about three years ago, deeply regretted. He had been a power in the land, owning several plantations and several stores, but always eschewed official ambition.
His son, J. M. Cayce, was born in Lawrence County, Tennessee., and studied at the celebrated Emory and Henry college, Virginia. When his father purchased the Guntown properties he was made overseer, and with this region he has been prominently identified ever since.
Source: Biographical and Historical Memories of Mississippi, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891