Lake Waukaway, Mississippi



The Cooley-McDaniel Cotton Gin & Gristmill - Lake Waukaway


The man at the left, with the hat, is Andrew Jackson McDaniel. Others in the photo are unknown. A.J. McDaniel came to Jasper County MS from Newton County MS, between 1865 and 1870, where his parents, Asa McDaniel and Irena Walker McDaniel, owned a farm of about 200 acres. His father, Asa, died Jan. 5, 1865 in Newton Co. The farm was sold for delinquent taxes in 1874. At that time his mother, Irena, moved to Jasper Co. Typical of those times, the property taxes could not be paid because the reconstruction era govenor, Dealbert Ames, raised taxes tenfold between 1870 and 1874. Aside from the Choctaw indians, the Cooley & McDaniel families were the first known owners of the Waukaway property.


A History of Lake Waukaway


You won’t find it on a map or listed in any travel guides, but Lake Waukaway, Mississippi, located off Clarke County Road 391, a few miles east of Vossburg, is an amazing gem tucked away in the annals of east-central Mississippi history. The Choctaw people who once inhabited the area called the location, Waukaway, due to the coverging of three huge springs. The name translates into “cool and flowing waters”. Following the Choctaw Purchase concluded on September 27, 1830, one of the first European settlers to own the property was a fellow by the name of John Cooley. Some years prior to 1865, Cooley, and others unknown, constructed a combination cotton gin and a gristmill at the site of the abundant springs. Somewhat later, Andrew Jackson McDaniel, who was married to Nancy Ann Cooley, John Cooley’s daughter, acquired the mills from his father-in-law. The property later passed into the hands of a gentleman by the name of Perry.


Around 1929, the Laurel Mississippi Rotary Club purchased the property from Perry and developed it into a recreational site. They also hired Mr. Howard Allen to manage the facility. Six years later, Mr. Allen purchased the facility along with 120 acres of land. Howard Allen operated Lake Waukaway as a family business until 1978. His home was located at the site, upstairs from the offices and concession buildings, and the business was a full time venture for himself, his wife, and their three children. For some forty years, the people of the surrounding communities came to love their excursions to Lake Waukaway as well as their interactions with the Allen family. In the summer days before air conditioning, Waukaway remained open until 10:00 PM, thus allowing many patrons a place to cool down following a long and hot workday.


In addition to swimming, Howard Allen strove to add other Waukaway attractions. Through the years, there were alligators of all sizes on display, white tail deer in a pen, 7-pound striped bass, and a tame school of blue gill bream that would eat out of your hand. During the 1940’s, he sponsored group camps for churches, Boy Scouts, and underprivileged children. Through the 1950’s, a private two-week camp, with an Indian theme, was held. A Choctaw Indian named Cooley Jim was on resident making crafts as well as bows and arrows. The climax came in the form of kids donning Indian costumes and holding a “War Party”. During the 1960’s, participation in these camps came to an end as the various organizations established their own private facilities. In it’s place, a small RV park was added to the eastern area of the lake.


In 1978, Howard Allen passed away. Sadly, the Lake Waukaway that so many of us loved ended as well. The property was sold to Mr. Gene Garrick, who established the site as a christian retreat. Presently, the private facility remains in operation.



Some Lake Waukaway Photos - Past & Present



A clip from a Stafford Springs advertisement



A post card from the 1950's



An extremely brave swimmer jumping off the famous diving tower - C 1960's





Three personal photos submitted by Dr. Mark Allen



Lake Waukaway - C 1925 - A group of swimmers prior to extensive improvements. Note the yellow highlighted box.



Detail of yellow highlighted box- The building in the background is assumed to be the old Cooley-McDaniel mill pictured at the top of this page. Based on the topography of the land, this photo appears to represent the western shore of the lake. The lake's dam is situated to the north and the feeder springs to the south. The mill was fed water by a system of wooden flumes, part of which can be seen to the left of the unidentified man at about waist height.



Speculated location of Cooley-McDaniel Mill



Lake Waukaway - C 1927



Young girls posing on the Lake Waukaway dam - C 1927



Cecil & Denny Allen - 1927



About to jump into early Waukaway - mid-20's



Early Waukaway - mid-20's



Diving into early Waukaway - mid-20's



Jerry and Judy Adkins - submitted by Judy


During 2003, I revisited the Waukaway site and recorded the following photos. The facility is no longer open to the public and I deeply appreciate the staff of the facility for allowing me access onto the grounds.



This was the original entrance road and parking area



The old entrance gate



The old entrance staircase. The building on the right is new and was once the site of the Allen home. The entrace office was located on the ground floor.



A shot of the old kid's pool, much like it used to be. The slide may actually be the original.



A general shot of the lake. Gone are the diving platforms. The inflatable things are obviously new. The docks are configured about the same.



It's clear that the depth of the lake is far less than it once was. I'm not sure if this was a natural change or intential.



Looking back toward the dam. You can almost see the ice forming on top of the water.



A shot of the secondary lake below the dam. As I remember, this was home to some pet fish.



While wandering in the woods, I stumbled across this relic. It's the old platform from the diving tower. Few brave souls ever saw this thing up close.


For more information about Lake Waukaway, click here for Judy Wilson’s webpage.



This page is under construction - check back for upgrades


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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