Brief History Bay Springs, Mississippi[1]


Now lets take a closer look at Jasper County at the turn of the century and the two major towns of Paulding and Bay Springs. Paulding was discussed in detail in the prior chapter. Today it is one of the smallest towns in the county, largely due to the fact that the railroad went through another section of the county which caused Bay Springs to grow. It was possible for the railroad to come through Paulding, but the women objected to it because, they said, The smoke from the train would ruin their clothes.


Bay Springs is named for a mineral spring located in the western end of the town. At one time, the spring was surrounded by bay trees, but all the trees are now gone. The spring is still there and furnishes the present water supply for the town. Bay Springs was once named Hog Eyebut later named the present name by Mrs. Sarah Margaret Fails, who was picking blackberries in the valley and found the spring. L. L. Denson is considered the founder of Bay Springs, and he managed and owned the first water system, hence the Springs in the name Bay Springs. Another distinguishing fact is that Bay Springs was the first town in Jasper County to be lighted by electricity in 1909.


At the turn of the 20th Century, Bay Springs became the second county seat of Jasper County, the first being Paulding on the eastern side of the county. A courthouse was established in Bay Springs in 1906, and all of the records for the western half of the county were transferred there. The courthouse in Paulding burned in 1932 destroying all records housed in the building. Tradition says this fire was an act of arson, for which a pint of whiskey was the alleged payment. The county records from Jasper Countys formation in 1833 to 1907 were of the entire county. At the turn of the century, the population of Jasper County was 15,394. At that time, the county had already been divided into two judicial districts. Paulding was the county seat for the First Judicial District. Bay Springs was the county seat for the new Second Judicial District in the western portion of the county.


The early records for the entire county up to the formation of the Second Judicial District were continued to be kept at the courthouse in Paulding. Then an abstract was made of all lands included in the Second Judicial District, or western portion of the County. This abstract was deposited in the new courthouse that was built in Bay Springs. The abstract included all the documents required to abstract titles to lands. This would have included wills, deeds, mortgages, deeds of trust, Chancery Court decrees, and notes affecting these titles. The purpose of the abstract was to be the foundation upon which to build and continue land titles.


All these valuable records of the entire county from its formation to 1907, and of the First Judicial District to September 9, 1932, were destroyed by fire when the courthouse at Paulding burned on that date. This was one of the greatest disasters the county has ever suffered. The above referenced abstracted records and all subsequent original records of this Second Judicial District are on file in the Courthouse at Bay Springs.


[1] This information is verbatim from Pages 76 and 77 of Joe’s McFarlands which is an extensive


history of the McFarland Clan from 1709 to 1970 written by Joe’s son, Robert Parker McFarland, Sr.



 These pages are a work in progress. While every attempt has been made to include accurate historical information, some error may be included. I invite corrections, additional information, additional photographs, and accounts of personal experience. Please contact me at the supplied address. Very little has been documented in regards to the dying towns and landmarks of east-central Mississippi. With your help, I hope to put together a few pages that we all can pass along to our grandchildren. Thanks!

Keith Wilkerson

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