Tupelo, the seat of justice of Lee county, is a town of on6 thousand five hundred and twenty-five inhabitants, at the junction of the Kansas City, Memphis & Birmingham and Mobile & Ohio railroads, two of the greatest trunk line railways on the continent. During the past three years over one hundred new residences, about fifteen elegant brick store-houses, four factories, and a number of other substantial improvements were made. The trade has been largely increased, and prosperity is evidenced on every hand. The citizens are wide awake, enterprising and progressive. They intend that Tupelo shall, with her superior advantages, be the leading cotton and manufacturing town in northeast Mississippi. With a 115,000 public school building, a splendidly equipped opera house, three excellent hotels, five factories, two solid firms of cotton buyers, a number of the wealthiest merchants in the state, an immense cotton compress and cotton warehouse, a fine dairy farm, and one of the richest agricultural sections on the globe to support the town, there seems no reason to doubt that their expectations will be realized. The cash cotton buyers, representing eastern mills, Liverpool and Manchester, England, located in Tupelo, have the means to purchase all the cotton produced in the state of Mississippi, and are determined to handle large quantities of the fleecy staple in this section of the state if the highest cash prices will buy. The leading merchants, Messrs. Clark, Hood & Co., J. J. Rogers, Greener Bros. & Co., F. Elliott, and others, purchase all the cotton brought to Tupelo by wagons, and sell it to the exclusive cotton buyers representing the Eastern mills.
Besides its commercial advantages, Tupelo is one of the healthiest places of its size in the state. Within her limits are twenty-seven sparkling and free-flowing artesian wells, pro-viding pure water. Tupelo has one splendid banking institution B. C. Clark, president; John Clark, vice president; H. A. Kincannon, cashier, T. M. Clark, assistant cashier. Its capital stock is $80,000, and deposits about 1100,000.
Tupelo has today one thousand five hundred and twenty-five people, seven churches, thirty business firms, two splendid hotels, one 115,000 school building, two jewelers, one furniture factory, one spoke factory, one livery stable, one fine opera house, one photograph gallery, one tin shop, five superior physicians, one extensive dairy, twelve lawyers, two meat markets, four painters, six brickyards, one cotton compress, two first-class railroads, two newspapers, one bank, six boardinghouses, one colored school, one ice factory, one chair factory, one broom factory, two barber shops, three blacksmith shops, o-ie excellent bakery, one small graveyard, three firms of exclusive cotton buyers, thirty-seven artesian wells, twenty-five brick masons, one bakery and lunch house, a number of contractors and builders, fifty mechanics, one large cotton warehouse.
An institution that will add much to Tupelo’s prosperity is the handsome two-story brick public school building now in course of erection in Freeman’s grove at West End. This building will be a monument to the progressive spirit of its enterprising citizens for years to come. The old schoolhouse was incapable of accommodating the pupils of the town.
Tupelo lodge No. 318, A. F. & A. M., was organized in 1869 with twenty members. Royal Arch chapter No. 7 has forty-three members, the Royal Arch Commandery fifty-one members, the local organization of Knights of the Golden Rule has fifteen members.
Tupelo Methodist Church South was organized in 1868, with about twenty members, with Rev. Mr. Plummer as pastor. A frame house, 40×60 feet, was built in 1872, on Church Street. The church has about one hundred members. Rev. A. G. Augustus is pastor.
The Presbyterian church of Tupelo has a membership of eighty-five, and a fine brick house of worship. It is in charge of Rev. G. H. Steen, pastor, formerly of Okolona, Miss.
The Cumberland Presbyterian church has a membership of sixty and a good frame house. The pastor is Rev. T. H. Padgett, from Bowling Green, Ky., who began his ministerial career in Missis-sippi, and subsequently continued it for a time in Missouri.
The Baptist church of Tupelo, Miss., was organized August 19, 1850, at a place called Hickory Grove, then Pontotoc county, in a log house about three miles west of its present site, by Elders E. Smith, C. C. Malon and Elijah Moore, with eleven members. Elder E. Smith was the first pastor chosen, and served the church until 1853. J. O. R. Word first church clerk. At the December meeting 1850, B. Jenkins, Burrell Jackson and Robert Fears were chosen deacons. In 1851 the Hickory Grove Baptist church was admitted into the Chickasaw association. The membership of the church increased gradually under the pastorate of Eldor E. Smith until 1853, when he was succeeded by Elder A. L. Stovall. In 1853 the congregation built a nice frame meetinghouse a short distance from the old log house in which they organized. The church increased her membership rapidly under the ministrations of Elder Stovall, and in connection with a few other churches organized the Judson association in October, 1853. The membership of Hickory Grove continued to increase, and in eight years from her organization numbered one hundred and sixty-three members, eighty-seven having been received by baptism.
December, 1859, Elder A. L. Stovall resigned the pastoral care of the church, after having served them faithfully and acceptably for six years, and Elder William Young succeeded him as pastor, and continued in charge until the breaking out of the Civil war, in 1861. At night, on April 4, 1860, the Hickory Grove church house was fired by an incendiary, and burned down. In August, following, the church decided in conference to build a new house of worship, and selected Tupelo for its location, since which time it has been known as the Tupelo Baptist church. Elder A. L. Stovall was again called to the pastorate of the church in October, 1861, and continued to serve them as pastor continuously, except the year 1866, up to the time of his death, which occurred July 4, 1872. From the year 1872 to April, 1891, the following pastors have supplied the Tupelo Baptist church: G. W. Potter, J. T. Freeman, J. T. Christian, of Kentucky; then J. T. Freeman, L. R. Burress, J. L. Tumage, J. R. Sumner and S. G. Cooper, the present pastor.
Saltillo, Lee County, is a place of two hundred and fifty, and a station on the Mobile & Ohio railroad. It was settled by James Kyle, but little business was done there until after the completion of the railroad. After the county was organized the first grand jury met here previous to meeting at Tupelo.
The town has five church organizations. The Presbyterian Church was organized about 1850, the Methodist church in 1868, the Baptist church in the early seventies. These three denominations had a union church erected about 1875. The Christian church owns a building valued at $1,000, erected in 1876. The Catholic Church has an adequate building.
Saltillo was incorporated about ten years ago. James Heidleberg was its first mayor. The present incumbent of the office is J. D. Barton. The town has seven stores and a gin and a saw mill. There is here a good public school, of three departments, with an average attendance of ninety. Saltillo lodge No. 294, A. F. & A. M., was organized in 1868, and has a membership of fifteen.
Source: Biographical and Historical Memories of Mississippi, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1891