Brookhaven is a small quiet town in southwest Mississippi. The current
population of Brookhaven MS is slightly less than 10,000 people. Brookhaven
is a Homeseeker's Paradise, a wonderful place to raise your family
in a safe and peaceful way. Life in Brookhaven has the best of all
- A climate that permits outdoor activities
year round, including hunting, fishing,
boating and sports.
- Small town atmosphere and small town
- Quality education systems
- Lincoln county school district with four
- Private prep school access.
- Central location of regional library
- Co-Lin Community College 15 minutes away
for easy access to college level coursework.
- Easy access to Metropolitan and Entertainment
How we got where we are today
Note: This history of Brookhaven and Lincoln
County was researched and written for The
Daily Leader in 1992 by Henry Ware Hobbs,
who took a special interest in our rich heritage.
A lifelong resident of the area and a noted
civic leader, Hobbs died the following year.
Brookhaven is a survivor with charisma.
Historically beset with vicissitudes similar
to those which resulted in the diminishment
or disappearance of formerly flourishing
Lincoln County villages and towns such as
Beauregard, Bogue Chitto, Cold Springs, Hartman,
Nola, Norfield, Sogaard and Wellman, for
more than a century Brookhaven has achieved
a fairly steady, gentle prosperity for reasons
other than its designation as the seat of
Lincoln County government.
It occupies a spot in North America between
the 31st and 32nd parallels and the 90th
and 91st meridians. A part of West Florida
governed by England from 1763 to 1779 and
then by Spain until ceded to the United States
by the Pinckney Treaty of 1795, it was included
in the Territory or Mississippi when created
in 1798 by the U. S. Congress, which accorded
statehood to the area presently named “Mississippi”
Situated amid the steep hills and dales
covered with dense forests of towering virgin
longleaf yellow pines, interspersed occasionally
with boggy swamps and stretches of rich bottom
land and grassy prairie, political dominion
meant next to nothing to the relatively thin
population of Choctaw Indians or their use
of the land as hunting grounds and for food
crop patches until 1805 when, under the Treaty
of Mount Dexter, the Choctaw Nation forever
yielded their Indians' federally recognized
possessory right to the soil and its usufruct
to the federal government.
There then began a gradual settlement for
agrarian purposes of the area embraced since
1870 by Lincoln County, but then comprising
parts of Lawrence and others of the original
14 Mississippi counties.
Lacking a commercially navigable river nearer
than the Pearl, transportation was afforded
on the narrow natural waterways by raft and
light, shallow draught vessels and on land
by pioneer feet and what a pack animal could
carry or pull. Trails blazed along naturally
drained ridges and through hollows impassable
in bad weather became dirt roads. At some
of the junctions and intersections a trading
post or water mill or meeting house appeared
and served as the focal point of a pioneer
One such was the Old Brook trading post
at the intersection of an old Indian blazed
trace evolved into a wagon trail and the
east prong of the Bogue Chitto River about
a mile and a half southeast of present day
Brookhaven, the name accorded the site around
1818, as legend has it, to honor the former
home of Long Island, New York, of its pioneer
owner, the town's reputed founder. Nearby
other enterprising pioneers established a
water mill and a small tannery.
In metropolitan aspect there was nothing
to distinguish the Ole Brook settlement from
the average country crossroads community
centers which now enhance the countryside.
Until the late 1850's, along the line from
New Orleans to Jackson, which would ultimately
be the center of the Illinois Central main
line railroad right of way, there was neither
village nor town worthy of the name. By and
large, the settlers and their retainers came
from Georgia, the Carolinas, Kentucky and
Tennessee where their families had been established
for many years previous. They were Protestants
of English, Scotch-Irish, and African heritage.
The plantation system employed on the lands
they used and cleared which made each farm
unit virtually self-sustaining. There was
no ready market for the millions of board
feet of resinous pine cleared in rendering
the land parable and no viable means of transporting
it to market had there been one.
Few opportunities existed for the circulation
of what little money a settler could make
from the sale of cotton grown in surplus
of his immediate needs for cloth for his
dependents made from home manufacture. The
grueling transport of cotton to market was
by river raft or mule drawn wagon.
During the early 1850's, the plans of the
New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad
Company to create a continuous railroad from
New Orleans to Jackson, Tennessee became
public knowledge. Had the founder of Old
Brook settlement not been hostile to the
company's proposal for a right of way through
his ownership, the individuals who saw advantage
to the coming of the railroad would not have
the opportunity to offer the needed space
through the well drained plateau at the approximate
center of which the depot building now stands.
The company accepted, designated the site
a one of the rail line's “ten mile stations”
– Osyka, Magnolia, Summit, Bogue Chitto and
Hazlehurst were others – and the name “Brookhaven”
was appropriated for it.
“A Mere Hamlet”
At completion of the railroad in 1858 the
town was “a mere hamlet with a dozen wooden
houses”. Included was the first place of
worship built in 1858.
Between railroad completion and Mississippi's
1861 secession from the Union, not a universally
popular action in the “Piney Woods” section
of the state which included Brookhaven, the
potential provided by rail access to major
market points drew the attention of far sighted
individuals with both commercial and cultural
vision and there were laid the foundations
for timber products manufacture and education
at the college level which invigorated the
community for many years.
Cotton production increased. Whitworth College
opened. Sawmills began operation. Sun dried
brick manufacture commenced. Mercantile establishments,
saloons, variety stores, harness shops, livery
stables, boarding houses opened. Commerce
in a real sense began.
The variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds
represented by the new settlers of the infant
town was far greater than that of the earlier
settlers in the county. There began to accumulate
as citizens persons of Irish, German, French,
Dutch, Jewish, Italian, Scandinavian, Greek,
Roman Catholic and Calvinist, Wesleyian and
Anglican Protestant backgrounds to form a
population which made for a more flavorful,
tolerant and resilient community than might
have resulted otherwise.
The same variety produced a healthy competitive
and stimulating business and social climate
through the many years when locally owned
enterprise of resident entrepreneurs dominated
the commercial scene, and a public spirit
which yielded library and hospital facilities
long before the state and federal funding
now considered concomitant to virtually every
public oriented project was dreamed of.
The Civil War and the following Reconstruction
period suspended growth and slugged the community
into temporary torpor.
Three companies of Brookhaven's men were
organized and went to war. Those remaining
attended the nearby collection point and
training camp for conscripts for military
service and the field hospital for soldiers
opened in the newly constructed Whitworth
College building, long since replaced with
On their march from Tennessee to Baton Rouge
for the purpose of crippling Confederate
supply and communication lines, Grierson's
Raiders visited Brookhaven. Twisted rails
and burned bridges, crossties and depots
ended effective use of the railroad until
minimum repairs were completed in 1867.
By 1874 there had been sufficient recovery
from the effect of what was sometimes referred
to as “the late unpleasantness” to inspire
a visiting newspaper publisher to write:
“I was much impressed with Brookhaven during
the sitting of the Press Convention in that
city June, 1874. Especially I was attracted
to its intelligent, social and hospitable
people; by its church and school advantages;
its progressive and business-like men, its
beautiful and charming women – its social
life appealed to me strongly. The citizens
extended every hospitality to the representatives
of the press, throwing open their doors and
entertaining them in their homes, feasting
them on the fat of the land, giving them
meals a day, which was more than the average
editor got at home.”
A spasm of civic energy had been released
by the termination of hostilities.
Whitworth College initiated its dedication
to leadership in preparatory education and
higher learning for females, maintained for
the next half century. The town's first brick
building arose in 1865 at the site of the
Inez Hotel. The first Roman Catholic Church
was burned in 1866, but it was later replaced.
The second brick structure, the Storm Building
– still in use at the southwest corner of
Cherokee Street and Railroad Avenue – was
built in 1867.
The catalyst for trade in Brookhaven remained
farm products, principally cotton, raised
on the surrounding farms for shipment via
The more substantial mercantile enterprises
were the “furnishing businesses” or “plantation
supply houses”. They extended credit on security
or mortgages on farm land, equipment, crops
and livestock and supplies virtually all
of the farmers' needs for farm operation
and household maintenance except for cotton
ginning – and some provided that, usually
as a supplementary enterprise. They also
served, in effect, as their customers' banker,
broker and sales representative.
Some early commercial bank operations evolved
from just such businesses.
Notwithstanding a very slow proliferation
of specialty and variety stores and ultimate
changes in marketing methods, soon to be
demonstrated by the then new McGrath store,
the basic “furnishing business” remained
a major factor in small town commercial life
until the Great Depression.
Then nothing indicated that eventually King
Cotton would have to share its throne of
economic significance with timber and ultimately
abdicate to timber management or reforestation
ever would be and other monetary generators.
By the end of the 1870's, demand in northern
markets for southern yellow pine was beginning.
Activity in the town included organization
of a volunteer fire department and construction
of an opera house.
Out in the county, despite the 1883-85 depression,
some 27 sawmills had begun operating under
southerners with little or no experience
in the business and an estimated 10,500 carloads
of lumber were being shipped annually.
The dangers inherent in the sawmill business
created openings for the medical profession
and, since for everyone maimed there is someone
to be blamed, there was room for more in
the legal profession. The town' citizenry
thus added more professionals than the average.
At the northern and southern edges of town
native sons owned and operated planing mills
and large payrolls. Money circulated as never
before and presented opportunity for a banking
operation truly commercial in activity as
well as in name.
Brookhaven smirked into uneasy adolescence
without anticipation to the tests it was
An 1887 local option controversy stirred
a cauldron of political disagreement which
scalded the community and extinguished six
flourishing saloons. A vigilante organization
terrorized the area and brazenly threatened
local government authority. The cotton market
lost its bottom to depress 1893-94 significantly.
Brookhaven's charter was suspended for five
years and its government placed under the
direct control of the state governor by legislative
While the town grappled for maturity, lumber
manufacture was accelerating along the railroad
mainline and a network of logging railroads,
or dummy lines, which fed the mainline was
forming in the county. Bogue Chitto and Norfield
throve into substantial size from sawmill
activity. Money flowed from ravage of virgin
forests without thought that timber growth
of Brookhaven was about to begin.
Telephones had become available in 1894,
and then electric generation and a waterworks
system permitting ice manufacture in 1898.
Mosquito bars were discarded in favor of
window and door screen wire, which, it was
hoped would inhibit repetition of the 1897
and 1904 yellow fever epidemics. Indoor plumbing
The turn of the century offered the threshold
over which Brookhaven stepped into a little
more than a decade of prosperity during which
its own population doubled and the population
of adjoining Pearlhaven, originally a separate
and distinct municipal corporation, added
over a thousand residents to the trade area
Despite the 1907-08 economic slump, the
Pearl River Lumber Company at Pearlhaven
and the East Union Mills on the southern
edge of town, they maintained hefty payrolls
to produce their combined daily production
capacity of 400,000 feet of lumber.
The establishment of the Brookhaven Pressed
Brick and Manufacturing Company and the Brookhaven
Creamery diversified balance between agriculture
and industry. A cotton compress and cotton
seed oil mill augmented numerous ginning
operations in and out of town.
At Brookhaven the Illinois Central mainline
connected with the BP&R Railroad (“The
Peavine”) providing passenger and freight
service to Nola and Monticello. For shipment
up and down the mainline and for Illinois
Central's own use as ballast thousands of
carloads of gravel from the then largest
known gravel deposit in the world a few miles
east moved to the town via the M B & N
Railroad. The Mississippi Central Railroad
intersected the I.C. at Brookhaven and offered
passenger and freight service between Hattiesburg
Whitworth College enrolled more than 200
students, 75 percent of them boarders. Three
commercial banks and two newspapers served
the community. Building in the business and
residential areas boomed. Subdivisions were
laid out. The stateliest residences in town
of the era were built or rendered stately
by renovation. The public library and hospital
had their beginnings. Civic and social organizations
which today endure were formed.
Camellia Show – The annual Camellia Show
is held February 3 & 4, 2007.
Charity Ball – The ball will be held February
Miss Hospitality Pageant – The pageant will
be held in March/April at the Chamber of
Jr. Miss Pageant – The pageant will be held
in March/April at Southwest Community College.
Tour of Homes and Gardens – This annual
event highlights homes of distinction. Alternates
from a spring tour to a Christmas tour.
Annual Veteran Parade – Held the Saturday
before Memorial Day. The parade honors veterans
and features military vehicles and a memorial
service with special guests and speakers.
The Military Museum is open Tuesday and Thursday,
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Lions Club Beauty Pageant – The annual pageant
is held in August.
Exchange Club Fair – Held annually late
July/early August one week before the start
of school. The Exchange Club sponsors this
event which is reminiscent of an old time
county fair and has been a tradition since
1952. Initially most of the rides were handmade
by club members. Today, operation and improvements
continue completely through volunteer efforts
and proceeds from the fair benefit youth
in the community.
Ole Brook Festival – Mississippi's Premier
Family Festival located in historic downtown
Brookhaven is held annually in September.
The festival features a street market with
over 200 vendors, arts and crafts, food court,
youth challenge zone and kid's zone. Other
special events include Art Alley (MS Artisans),
Gardening/Farmer's market, a sanctioned youth
talent contest, plus a “FREE” Christian concert
on Saturday night featuring headline Christian
Duck Derby – The derby will be held in conjunction
with the Ole Brook Festival.
Taste of the Trust – Brookhaven Trust sponsors
this culinary event in the fall to benefit
the preservation of history , arts and culture.
Christmas Parade – The annual Christmas
Parade will be held the Thursday after Thanksgiving
each year from 7:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m.
in downtown Brookhaven. The parade will include
Santa Claus, marching bands, performers,
special guests and floats.
Brookhaven Little Theatre – Three productions
presented each year with an annual membership
Ole Brook Wind Symphony - Two concerts presented
annually. Anyone who plays an instrument
is invited to participate. For more information,
contact Susan Jones at 601-835-0471.
Christmas Open House – Retail event held
on a Saturday in November.
Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet – The
annual awards banquet is held the third Thursday
PARKS & RECREATION
Bicentennial Park – Main Street – State
of the Art new playground equipment. 601-833-3791
Bogue Chitto Water Park – Picnic area, cook-outs,
open air pavilion, camp sites, RV's, 1 & 2
bedroom cabins. For tubing outside park and
canoe rental, call these vendor numbers:
Ryals 601-684-4948, Dogwood 601-684-9574,
Bogue Chitto Choo Choo 601-249-3788, Best
601-551-8823, Uncle Buck's 601-684-2016,
Riverview 601-248-2599. Take South McComb
exit, go east 14 miles on Hwy. 98.
Brookhaven Little Theatre – 126 W. Cherokee
St. Three productions presented each year
with an annual membership party. 601-833-0068.
Brookhaven Recreation Department - 689 Hwy.
51 N. Offers a variety of classes, activities
and sports for all ages. Bridge games held
Brookhaven Skating Rink – Calcote Drive.
Private parties by appointment.
Brookhill on Natchez – 605 Natchez Dr. NE.
Private tennis & swim club, playground
equipment and walking track. 601-835-4347.
City Park - Hartman Street. Tennis courts,
lighted, basketball courts, playground equipment,
pavilion. Open daily. 601-833-3791.
Dixie Dancers – Crowley Dance Center – 108b
S. Whitworth Ave. Square dancing – 1st & 3rd
Exchange Club Park – West Congress Street – Baseball fields; Legion Field & W.
D. Lofton Field. Picnic and cook-out areas, as well as playground equipment
for children. Open Daily. 601-833-5008.
Hansel King Sportsplex – 1134 Belt Line
Rd NE (Industrial park Road). Four softball
fields, three soccer fields. 601-833-1009
Kids Kingdom – Honey Creek Lane NE – Unique
playground built by the citizens of Brookhaven.
Play, picnic, learn and enjoy nature. Open
Lake Lincoln State Park – 2573 Sunset Rd.
NE – Nature trails, water sports (boating,
fishing, skiing and swimming), picnic, cook-outs,
camping, RV sites, primitive camping and
Magnolia Disc Golf Course – Lake Lincoln
State Park – 2573 Sunset Rd. NE – 18 hole
disc golf courts, played with a flip of the
wrist and not with a golf club. Great fun
for everyone. Small entrance fee. Disc available
for rent or sale. 6 a.m. until dusk. 601-643-9044.
Ole Brook Wind Symphony – Presents 2 public
concerts annually. Anyone who plays an instrument
is invited to participate. Susan Jones 601-835-0471.
Public Library – 100 S. Jackson St. – Youth
activities planned during the summer. 601-833-3369
Skate Zone & Arcade – 312 N. First St.
– Skating rink, arcade & snack bar. 601-833-4205.
3 Flag Trax-Go-Karts – Hwy. 84 By-Pass & East
Lincoln Rd. An arcade on site featuring pool
tables, air hockey, table tennis, arcade
games, children's play area and mini golf
course. 601-833-6969 or 601-833-3402.
West Brook Twin Cinema – Brookway Boulevard.
MOVIES! Four selections daily (afternoon
movies in the summer months only). 601-833-8888.
AREA GOLF COURSES
Brookhaven Country Club – N. Jackson St.
Semi-private club, 18 holes-par 70. Open
7 days a week – must call for tee time. 601-833-6841.
Wolf Hollow Golf Course – Wesson, MS. Approximately
9 miles north of Brookhaven – 18 holes. 601-643-8379.
Fernwood Country Club – Fernwood, MS. Approximately
25 miles south of Brookhaven – 18 holes.
Quail Hollow Golf Course – Percy Quin State
Park, 2149 Camp Beaver Dr., McComb, MS 39648.
601-684-2903 or 1-800-GOLF-MIS – 18 holes.
Rolling Hills Country Club – 22145 hwy.
51 S., Crystal Springs. Approximately 29
miles north of Brookhaven – 9 holes. 601-892-1621.
WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO
POINTS OF INTEREST
The Foster-Smith Log Cabin – located across
from the Chamber of Commerce in Railroad
Park. This charming log cabin was built in
1825 by John Foster on an old post road in
Copiah County. Its hand-hewn logs and simple
furnishings exemplify the pioneer spirit.
In 1997 it was moved to its public location
in downtown Brookhaven Railroad Park. Contact
the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of
Commerce, P. O. Box 978, Brookhaven, MS 39602
- 601-833-1411 or 1-800-613-4667.
The Coffee Pot (actual coffee pot designed
rooftop) – located on South First Street,
was built in the 1920's by J. J. Carruth
and operated by his sons, Lester and “Bubba”.
This was the first fast food restaurant in
the South. In the 1930's a famous pianist
performed on the roof for 24 hours promoting
“Tapestry of Christ” – located in First
Baptist Church's sanctuary. Asem Zeini, a
local painting contractor and talented artist,
rendered his interpretation of Christ praying
in the garden of Gethsemene in an oil painting
which was then hand-woven into a tapestry
in a small village near Beijing, China. It
is 22 feet high and 24 feet wide and, according
to the weaver, is the largest ever made in
the area. Contact Kathy Smith, First Baptist
Church, Monticello Street, Brookhaven, MS
Military Memorial Museum (old railroad depot)
South Whitworth Avenue. Photos, artifacts
and personal items of area veterans; plus
displays of military equipment dating back
to WWI. Open Tuesday and Thursday (10 a.m.
– 3:00 p.m.) Special tours can be arranged.
Historic Whitworth College - 110 S. Jackson
St. The college was established in 1858 and
is now restored as the Mississippi School
of the Arts. It has been designated as a
MS landmark and is also listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. 601-823-9256
Homeseeker's Paradise Sign – located at
the intersection of West Cherokee Street
and South Whitworth Avenue in downtown Brookhaven.
The famous original electric sign which proclaimed
this stretched from the second story of the
old Cohn building to the second story of
Brookhaven Bank. The original sign was donated
to the war effort during WWII and was re-erected
in its original site in 1996.
Holland Museum – Private collection of Robert
D. Holland. Located in a replica of an old
country store with post and beam construction,
treated log siding and a red metal roof.
Included in the collection are items used
in yesteryear. Items included are hand tools,
farm hand tools, Civil War guns, swords,
WWI items and early shell loading equipment.
For an appointment, call 601-835-0612.
Uzebek Museum – “Display of crafts, painting,
clothes and cultural artifacts from Uzbekistan
in my home. Also on display are items from
foreign exchange students. This former republic
of the Soviet Union is very special to me
after four visits and the loss of my son
while teaching at the University of Bukhara
in 1995,” stated Rev. W. A. Matthews. Call
601-833-8435 for an appointment.
Old Saron Cemetery – site of the original
Bogue Chitto Settlement. First settlers in
the area. One of the gravesites is that of
Captain William Smith, who fought in the
War of 1812. Contact the Brookhaven-Lincoln
County Chamber of Commerce, P. O. Box 978,
Brookhaven, MS 39602 - 601-833-1411 or 1-800-613-4667.
Hank Williams, Sr. Museum – located in the
private home of Benton Case whose collection
includes all of Hank, Sr. lp's and his extensive
personal collection of videos, memorabilia
and photographs. Also personal recollections
from Mr. Case. If you're lucky, he'll probably
get his guitar and sing you a tune. By appointment
only. 410 South Whitworth Avenue, Brookhaven,
MS 39601. 601-833-5138.
the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce.
Fun and Recreation