Pachuta, Mississippi

Keith E.Wilkerson

Prior to and following the aquisition of this section of the Mississippi Territory, European settlers migrated into the virgin forests of Jasper and Clarke counties. Most of them soon established small hard-scramble farming operations. For unknown reasons and at an unknown date, a village was formed in the current location of Pachuta. This area was situated along the route of a stagecoach road that ran from Mobile, AL to the booming city of Paulding, MS, and may have been the site of a way station.

Although a post office was established at Pachuta in May of 1856, the village was not formally named until 1882 when a map was drawn up for the newly chartered New Orleans and Northwestern Railroad. Captain William. H. Hardy, who assisted in the development of the map, submitted the name. It is unknown if the word represented a nearby creek or was the name of a local resident family. The Pachuta surname is fairly common, originating in the Slavic regions of Eastern Europe, and this may lend credence to the latter speculation.

Hicks Home in Pachuta

The first school, a "pay" school, was formed in 1846 and taught by Malcolm Logan. Classes were suspended during the War Between the States, but reinstated in 1866. Classes were held in a two room dogtrot building and continued there until the public school system came into play in 1921.

With the introduction of the railroad, the long established northern industrial base looked to the vast untapped timber resources of the south. A turpentine still and stave mill was built within the town and served as a catalyst for growth. Several general mercantile businesses and other buildings were established along a centralized strip parallel to the railroad right of way. Land for a rail depot was contributed by Major M.F. Berry, a Confederate veteran, who also assisted in the first land survey of the town. Streets were established, including a Main Street that ran North and South on the East side of the railroad. In 1890, an act of the Mississippi legislature incorporated the town.  

Growth in the town was slow and steady with additions of several small businesses, a bank, and medical services. The timber industry maintained a presence as the leading industry with several large sawmills being established. One major example was the Mayerhoff Mill, which was a large enough operation to include a commissary. 

Around 1900, when US Highway 11 was routed through Pachuta, the route followed the main street. The additional width and easements required that all of the businesses be relocated to the east side of the highway, a layout that remains unchanged. 

Consolidation of Mississippi schools began in 1921 and Pachuta was selected as the proper site for a regional High School. Elementary students from the communities of Orange, Paulding, Pine Hill, Souinlouvie, Silver Hill, Vossburg, and Harmony continued to attend local schools while High School students would attend Pachuta. In compliance, a large school was build at the location of East Chestnut and Poydras Streets. During the following years, an auditorium, grammar school, and a gymnasium building were added. As the aforementioned local schools were closed, the elementary students joined the upper classmen. 

Pachuta Consolidated High School

The growth of Pachuta crested in the 1940's and 50's only to fade when Interstate I-59 replaced US Highway 11 in 1967. The once thriving village has become a largely forgotten landmark along a sparsely used byway. Most of the businesses have closed and many of the buildings are now gone. The Pachuta School was closed during 1962. With the exception of the gymnasium, all of the school buildings have been demolished.

Main Street (Highway 11) - 2003

Once the Site of the Pachuta School

The Original Gymnasium - The Only Remaining School Building

Sign Over the Entrance Door to the Gymnasium - "Bleachers" "Lunch Room"

 

This page is under construction

 

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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