Almost everyone has a soft spot in their heart for the place that they call home. For myself, home included a special little dot on the map in east-central Mississippi called Vossburg. Although this landmark has all but vanished from the modern landscape, it was once a bustling little town and the place that my grandparents and my mother called home.
I grew up in a large city, devoid of woods, fields, babbling brooks, wildlife, and many of the other amenities that an adventurous young boy holds dear. As luck would have it, during my adolescent summer months, I was normally awarded time off for good behavior and permitted to spend a few weeks with my grandparents in Vossburg, These few precious weeks afforded many memorable impressions that follow me until this day.
Like so many other small towns built around a farm-based economy, all of the original Vossburg residents have died of old age and their children, now elderly themselves, long ago departed to earn a living amid more fertile ground. Having little commercial value, other than for the lumber, most of the buildings have fallen to decay or demolition, their foundations now hidden beneath a thick carpet of forest mulch and kudzu.
Before I progress much farther, its appropriate to present the limited amount of historical fact that I have been able to unearth regarding Vossburg. Vossburg is located in the southeast sector of Jasper County. This territory was granted to the State of Mississippi and to the United States at the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, concluded on September 27, 1830. The counties included in the Choctaw Purchase were Noxubee, Neshoba, Leake, Newton, Smith, Jasper, Clarke, Lauderdale, and Scott. Vossburg appears to have been formally named around 1882, probably when the railroad was constructed, after William Voss, an early settler. S.R. Voss, likely a relation to William, built and operated a hotel located near a mineral spring with much the same qualities as Stafford Springs. The New Orleans & North Eastern Railroad as well as the rail depot was located directly in front of this structure.
The original Vossburg Rail Depot - Replaced in the early 1950's - Replacement demolished during the late 1960's
The Voss Hotel - Built in Vossburg - c. 1890
The building to the right is the J.E. Bounds General Mercantile - demolished during the early 1970's. As a youngster, I shopped in this store. J.E. was quiet elderly by that time and his wife pretty much attended to customers as he watched. This store was a shotgun design with long glass display cases extending the legnth of the building on both sides. Tall shelves stocked with canned and dry goods were built on the walls behind these cases. I remember bolts of cloth, sewing thread, farm supplies, clothing, and a back room that housed simple hardware items and nails. J.E. and his first wife lived on the second floor of this building. In later years, he built a fine house behind the store and lived there with his second wife until his death.
When you combine a rail stop, a hotel, fertile farmland, abundant water, and an enterprising group of people, you clearly have the ingredients for a town. I have no way to confirm the order in which Vossburg was built, but, from my youth, I remember some of what remained. With the assistance of Mary Sue Eddins Wilkerson, my mother, the following map of Vossburg, circa 1900 ~ 1940, was created. Explanations of the landmarks are also included. (Click the map or the link)
Map of Old Vossburg
The original Highway 11 is now called the Vossburg-Paulding road. From Heidelberg and Stafford Springs, it passed by the Vossburg Cemetery and descended into the railroad hollow. The road crossed the tracks near the train depot and the J.E. Bounds store. Immediately beyond the track crossing, an intersection was situated on the north side. A road to the left threaded between the Voss Hotel and the Bounds store. It continued eastward and emerged near the current public school in Heidelberg, MS. Old 11 continued toward the north, scaling an intensely steep incline, and leveled off at the center of town. In later years, a bridge was built, on the east side of the original rail crossing, spanning the railroad hollow. The main road was rerouted from the proximity of the cemetery and crossed the bridge into the downtown area. This new road frontage brought with it additional business and residential properties.
View of Downtown Vossburg - Old Hwy 11 - Vossburg/Paulding Road - Circa 1925
Click Here For A Detailed View
Note Turner's Store on Left side of photo. All of these buildings have been demolished.
Thank you, Bill McBride!
Turner's Store - Circa 1980 - Just prior to it's demolition
Turner's was sold to Oscar Lee in the early part of the century. He later sold it to Leroy Wells who operated it until his health failed in the late 70's. It sat vacant until it's demolition a few years later. As a child, I well remember trips inside to purchase a cold Coke from the old chest type cooler. It was always dark inside because the only light was provided by a couple of open bulbs hanging from the ceiling on long wires.Several marvelous glass display cases were located in the main downstairs room. I never had the opportunity to visit the upstairs. I was told that several wooden caskets remained up there when the building was being cleared for demolition.
A 1912 receipt from Turner's
Homer G. Eddins "Hanging the Mail" - circa 1955
The old Vossburg Bridge and the Southbound Southerner Passenger Train
Pencil drawing by Al Hausman
For those of you who don't know, the U.S. Mail used to be carried by passenger trains. The mail pole shown on the left side of this drawing was used to suspend the outgoing canvas bag of 1st class mail and held in place by a pair of hairpin springs. The train had a dedicated mail car equipped with a snatch hook that was extended from the side of the train. As the train passed, the bag was snatched from the pole and pulled into the mail car. Incoming mail was also packed in an identical bag and manually tossed out the side window. The contract postal employee who hung the mail would retrieve the incoming sack and deliver it to the local post office. This process was repeated twice per day, seven days per week, rain, shine. sleet, or snow.
Old Rowell homeplace circa late 1800's
Left to right: Catherine Smothers Rowell, Arsula Starling Rowell, Godine Rivers Rowell, Mary Jane Rowell ( wife of John T. Rowell), Dora Lee Rowell (daughter of Mary Jane and John T. Rowell), Albert Matthew Rowell, Horace Rivers Rowell, and an unknown friend and dog.
Denny & Cecil Allen - C 1922
Vossburg Methodist Church
The church is probably the oldest remaining building in Vossburg
Click here to see some of the present day Vossburg
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!
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