Vicksburg, Mississippi

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This article is about the town in Warren County, Mississippi. For the village in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, see Vicksburg, Michigan.
Vicksburg, Mississippi
City
Vicksburg City Hall
Vicksburg City Hall
Nickname(s): "Gibraltar of the Confederacy"1
Location of Vicksburg in Warren County
Location of Vicksburg in Warren County
Vicksburg, Mississippi is located in USA
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W / 32.33611°N 90.87528°W / 32.33611; -90.87528Coordinates: 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W / 32.33611°N 90.87528°W / 32.33611; -90.87528
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Warren
Incorporated January 29, 1825
Government
 • Mayor George Flaggs, Jr.
Area
 • City 35.3 sq mi (98.32 km2)
 • Land 32.9 sq mi (85.2 km2)
 • Water 2.4 sq mi (6.2 km2)
Elevation 240 ft (82 m)
Population (2010)2
 • City 23,856
 • Estimate (2013)3 23,542
 • Density 803.1/sq mi (310.1/km2)
 • Metro 57,433 (US: 162th)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 39180-39183
Area code(s) 601
FIPS code 28-76720
GNIS feature ID 0679216
Website City of Vicksburg
Old Warren County Courthouse
U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in Vicksburg

Vicksburg is a city in and county seat of Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventeenth largest city in Mississippi.citation needed It is located 234 miles (377 km) northwest of New Orleans on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and 40 miles (64 km) due west of Jackson, the state capital.

The city has increased in population since 1900, when 14,834 people lived here. The population was 26,407 at the 2000 census. In 2010, it was designated as the principal city of a Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with a total population of 49,644. This MSA includes all of Warren County.

History

The entire Choctaw Nation's location compared to the U.S. state of Mississippi.

The area which is now Vicksburg was previously occupied by the Natchez Native Americans as part of their historic territory along the Mississippi. The Natchez spoke a language isolate not related to the Muskogean languages of the other major tribes in the area.

The first Europeans who settled the area were French colonists, who built Fort-Saint-Pierre in 1719 on the high bluffs overlooking the Yazoo River at present-day Redwood. On 29 November 1729, the Natchez attacked the fort and plantations in and around the present-day city of Natchez. They killed several hundred settlers, including the Jesuit missionary Father Paul Du Poisson, and carried off a number of women and children as captives. The Natchez War was a disaster for French Louisiana, and the colonial population of the Natchez District never recovered. But, aided by the Choctaw, traditional enemies of the Natchez, the French defeated and scattered the Natchez and their allies, the Yazoo.

The Choctaw Nation took over the area by right of conquest and inhabited it for several decades. Under pressure from the US government, in 1801 the Choctaw agreed to cede nearly 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of land to the US under the terms of the Treaty of Fort Adams. The treaty was the first of a series that eventually led to the removal in 1830 of most of the Choctaw to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Some Choctaw remained in Mississippi, citing article XIV of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, and became citizens of the state and the United States. They struggled to maintain their culture against the pressure of the binary slave society, which classified people as only white and black.

In 1790, the Spanish founded a military outpost on the site, which they called Fort Nogales (nogales meaning "walnut trees"). When the Americans took possession in 1798 following the American Revolutionary War and a treaty with Spain, they changed the name to Walnut Hills. The small village was incorporated in 1825 as Vicksburg, named after Newitt Vick, a Methodist minister who had established a Protestant mission on the site.

In 1835, during the Murrell Excitement, a mob from Vicksburg attempted to expel the gamblers from the city, because the citizens were sick of the rougher element treating the city with nothing but contempt. Five gamblers who had shot and killed a local doctor were hanged as a result.4 The historian Joshua D. Rothman calls this event "the deadliest outbreak of extralegal violence in the slave states between the Southampton Insurrection and the Civil War."5page needed

View of Vicksburg in 1855

During the American Civil War, the city finally had to surrender during the Siege of Vicksburg, after which the Union Army gained control of the entire Mississippi River. The 47-day siege was intended to starve the city into submission. Otherwise its location atop a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River proved impregnable to assault by federal troops. The surrender of Vicksburg by Confederate General John C. Pemberton on July 4, 1863, together with the defeat of General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg the day before, has historically marked the turning point in the Civil War in the Union's favor.

It has been claimed that the residents of Vicksburg did not celebrate the national holiday of 4th of July again until 1945 but this is inaccurate. Large Fourth of July celebrations were being held by 1907, and informal celebrations took place before that.67

Floating drydock in Vicksburg, circa 1905

Because of the city's location on the Mississippi River, in the 19th century it built an extensive trade from the river's prodigious steamboat traffic. It shipped out cotton coming to it from surrounding counties and was a major trading city.

In 1876 a Mississippi River flood cut off the large meander flowing past Vicksburg, leaving limited access to the new channel. The city's economy suffered greatly. Between 1881 and 1894, the Anchor Line, a prominent steamboat company on the Mississippi River from 1859 to 1898, operated a steamboat called the City of Vicksburg.

Political and racial unrest after the Civil War

In the first few years after the Civil War, white veterans developed the Ku Klux Klan, beginning in Tennessee; it had chapters throughout the South and attacked blacks and their supporters. It was suppressed about 1870. By the mid-1870s, new white paramilitary groups had arisen in the Deep South, including the Red Shirts in Mississippi, as whites struggled to regain political and social power over the black majority.

They suppressed Republican voting in August 1874 but a black sheriff, Peter Cosby, was elected in Vicksburg. Letters by a white planter, Batchelor, detail the preparations of whites for what he described as a "race war," including acquisition of the newest guns, Winchester 16 mm. On December 7, 1874, white men disrupted a black Republican meeting to celebrate Cosby's victory and held him in custody before running him out of town. He advised blacks from rural areas to return home; along the way, some were attacked by armed whites. During the next several days, armed white mobs swept through black areas, killing other men at home or out in the fields. Sources differ as to total fatalities, with 29-50 blacks and 2 whites reported dead at the time. Twenty-first century historian Emilye Crosby estimates that 300 blacks were killed in the city and the surrounding area.8 The Red Shirts were active in Vicksburg and other Mississippi areas, and black pleas for protection were not met.

At the request of Governor Adelbert Ames, who had left the state during the violence, President Ulysses S. Grant sent Federal troops to Vicksburg in January 1875. In addition, a congressional committee investigated what was called the Vicksburg Riot at the time (and reported as the Vicksburg Massacre by northern newspapers. They took testimony from both black and white residents, as reported by the New York Times, but no one was ever prosecuted for the deaths. The Red Shirts and other white insurgents suppressed both white and black Republican voting, with other riots up to the 1875 elections, at which they took back control of the state legislature. Due to their success, other southern states adopted what they called the "Mississippi Plan", an organized effort to suppress the black vote and unite whites under the Democrats.

20th century to present

The historic 1894 Mississippi River Commission Building

Under new constitutions, amendments and laws passed from 1890 (Mississippi) to 1908 in the remaining southern states, white Democrats disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites by creating barriers to voter registration. They passed laws imposing Jim Crow. This exclusion of most blacks from the political system lasted until after Congressional passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers diverted the Yazoo River in 1903 into the old, shallowing channel to rejuvenate the waterfront. Railroad access to the west across the river continued to be by transfer steamers and ferry barges until a combination railroad-highway bridge was built in 1929. Vicksburg has the only Mississippi River rail crossing between Baton Rouge and Memphis. It is the only highway crossing of the river between Natchez and Greenville.

Interstate 20 bridged the river after 1973. Freight rail traffic still crosses via the old bridge. North-South transportation links are by the Mississippi River and U.S. Highway 61.

On March 12, 1894, the popular soft drink Coca-Cola was bottled for the first time in Vicksburg by Joseph A. Biedenharn, a local confectioner. Today, surviving nineteenth-century Biedenharn soda bottles are prized by collectors of Coca-Cola memorabilia. His original candy store has been renovated as the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum.

During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, in which hundreds of thousands of acres were inundated, Vicksburg served as the primary gathering point for refugees. Relief parties put up temporary housing, as the flood submerged a large percentage of the Mississippi Delta.

Because of the overwhelming damage from the flood, the US Army Corps of Engineers established the Waterways Experiment Station as the primary hydraulics laboratory, to develop protection of important croplands and cities. Now known as the Engineer Research and Development Center, it applies military engineering, information technology, environmental engineering, hydraulic engineering, and geotechnical engineering.

In December 1953, a severe tornado swept across Vicksburg, causing 38 deaths and destroying nearly 1,000 buildings.

Lynchings and other forms of vigilante violence continued to occur in Vicksburg after the start of the 20th century. In May 1903, for instance, two black men charged with murdering a planter were taken from jail by a mob of 200 farmers and lynched before they went to trial.9

1910 panorama

Particularly after World War II, in which many blacks served, returning veterans began to be active in the civil rights movement, wanting to have full citizenship after fighting in the war. In Mississippi, activists in the Vicksburg Movement became prominent during the 1960s.


Contemporary Vicksburg

Mural of the Sprague on Vicksburg floodwall
The Vicksburg Post is now located in a new building in a small shopping center off Interstate 20.

In 2001, a group of Vicksburg residents visited the Paducah, Kentucky mural project, looking for ideas for their own community development.10 In 2002, the Vicksburg Riverfront murals program was begun by Louisiana mural artist Robert Dafford and his team on the floodwall located on the waterfront in downtown.11 Subjects for the murals were drawn from the history of Vicksburg and the surrounding area; they include President Theodore Roosevelt's bear hunt, the Sultana, the Sprague, the Siege of Vicksburg, the Kings Crossing site, Willie Dixon, the Flood of 1927, the 1953 Vicksburg, Mississippi tornado outbreak, Rosa A. Temple High School (known for integration activism) and the Vicksburg National Military Park.12 The project was finished in 2009 with the completion of the Jitney Jungle/Glass Kitchen mural.11

In the fall of 2010, a new 55-foot mural was painted on a section of wall on Grove Hill across the street from the original project by former Dafford muralists Benny Graeff and Herb Roe. The mural's subject is the annual "Run thru History" held in the Vicksburg National Military Park.1314

On December 6-7, a symposium was held on the 140th anniversary of the Vicksburg Riots of 1874. A variety of scholars gave papers and an open panel discussion was held on the second day at the Vicksburg National Military Park, in collaboration with the Jacqueline House African American Museum. 15

Vicksburg is served by The Vicksburg Post, formerly the Vicksburg Evening Post, which operates in new facilities in a shopping center off Interstate 20.

Geography

Vicksburg is located at 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W / 32.33611°N 90.87528°W / 32.33611; -90.87528 (32.335986, -90.875356).16 According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.3 square miles (91 km2), of which 32.9  square miles (85.2 km²) is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) (6.78%) is water.

Vicksburg is located at the confluence of the Mississippi River and Yazoo River. Much of the city is on top of a high bluff on the east bank of the Mississippi River.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 3,678
1860 4,591 24.8%
1870 12,443 171.0%
1880 11,814 −5.1%
1890 13,373 13.2%
1900 14,834 10.9%
1910 20,814 40.3%
1920 18,072 −13.2%
1930 22,943 27.0%
1940 24,460 6.6%
1950 27,948 14.3%
1960 29,143 4.3%
1970 25,478 −12.6%
1980 25,434 −0.2%
1990 20,908 −17.8%
2000 26,407 26.3%
2010 23,856 −9.7%
Est. 2014 23,392 17 −1.9%
U.S. Decennial Census18
2013 Estimate3

As of the census of 2000, there were 26,407 people with a metropolitan population of 49,644, 10,364 households, and 6,612 families residing in the city. The population density was 803.1 people per square mile (310.1/km²). There were 11,654 housing units for an average density of 354.4 per square mile (136.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.43% African American, 37.80% White, 0.15% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.04% of the population. There were 10,364 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 24.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 82.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,466, and the median income for a family was $34,380. Males had a median income of $29,420 versus $20,728 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,174. About 19.3% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.8% of those under age 18 and 16.5% of those age 65 or over.

The city is also home to three large US Army Corps of Engineers installations, the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the Mississippi Valley Division headquarters, and the Vicksburg District headquarters.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Every summer, Vicksburg plays host to the Miss Mississippi Pageant and Parade, and every summer the Vicksburg Homecoming Benevolent Club hosts a homecoming weekend/reunion and provides scholarships to graduating high school seniors. Former residents from across the country return for the event.

Every spring and summer, Vicksburg Theatre Guild hosts Gold in the Hills, which is in the Guinness World Records book for longest running show.

Museums and other points of interest

Vicksburg is home to the McRaven House, said to be "one of the most haunted houses in Mississippi".19

The 1902 City Hall is a Beaux-Arts Classical Revival design by the notable architect J. Riely Gordon, of San Antonio and later New York City. Gordon was responsible for 72 courthouses in his career (including Copiah County in Hazlehurst and for Wilkinson County in Woodville), for the Territorial (soon-was the State) Capitol of Arizona, as well as for Carnegie libraries, many mansions, and other buildings.2021

Government

The city government consists of a mayor who is elected at-large and two aldermembers. The current mayor is George Flaggs, who defeated former mayor Paul Winfield in the June 2013 election. The two aldermembers are elected from single-member districts, known as wards.

Education

Mississippi River at Vicksburg

The City of Vicksburg is served by the Vicksburg-Warren School District.

High schools

Junior high schools

  • Vicksburg Junior High School
  • Warren Central Junior High School

Elementary schools

  • Beechwood Elementary School
  • Bovina Elementary School
  • Bowmar Avenue Magnet School
  • Dana Road Elementary School
  • Porters Chapel Academy (K-12)
  • Redwood Elementary School
  • Sherman Avenue Elementary School
  • South Park Elementary School
  • Warrenton Elementary School
  • Vicksburg Intermediate School
  • Warren Central Intermediate School

Private schools

  • Vicksburg Community School (K-12)
  • Porters Chapel Academy
  • Vicksburg Catholic School- St. Francis Xavier Elementary & St. Aloysius Catholic High School
  • Vicksburg Christian Academy

Former schools

  • Hall's Ferry Road Elementary School
  • Culkin Elementary School
  • Jett Elementary School
  • Cedars Elementary School
  • Vicksburg Middle School
  • All Saints' Episcopal School was a local boarding school located on Confederate Avenue, which closed in 2006 after 98 years in operation. The historic campus is currently used by Americorps as a regional training center.
  • St. Mary's Catholic School served the African-American community.
  • McIntyre Elementary School served the African-American community.
  • Magnolia Avenue School serviced the African-American community and was renamed Bowman High School to honor a former principal.
  • Rosa A. Temple High School served the African-American community.
  • King's Elementary School served the African-American community.
  • Carr Central High School.
  • J.H. Culkin Academy (grades 1-12 until 1965, thereafter Culkin Elementary School).
  • H.V. Cooper High School. First graduating class 1959.
  • Jefferson Davis School.
  • Oak Ridge School.
  • Eliza Fox School (a.k.a. Grove Street School).
  • All Saints' College. An Episcopal college for white women. Opened in 1908 and closed in 1962.

Media

Radio

  • 89.3 WATU Religious
  • 92.7 KSBU Urban Adult Contemporary
  • 97.5 KTJZ Urban Oldies
  • 101.3 WBBV Country
  • 102.3 WDON Variety
  • 104.5 KLSM Hot Adult Contemporary
  • 105.5 WVBG-FM Classic Hits
  • 1420 WQBC News/Talk
  • 1490 WVBG-AM News/Talk

Notable people

Cultural references

  • Vicksburg is mentioned in the song "Mississippi Queen" by the rock band Mountain, in the third line of the song: "Way down around Vicksburg, Around Louisiana way, Lived a Cajun lady, Aboard the Mississippi Queen."
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? was filmed in Vicksburg. The Stokes campaign dinner was filmed in the Southern Cultural Heritage Center's auditorium.
  • Vicksburg is featured in Robert A. Heinlein's 1982 science fiction novel Friday as a town in the Lone Star Republic, a leading smugglers' port between Texas and the Chicago Imperium. The book's protagonist Friday Baldwin stayed there, particularly in the riverfront Lowtown, while trying to find a way into the Imperium.

Places of interest

See also

References

  1. ^ "Profile for Vicksburg, Mississippi, MS". ePodunk. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  3. ^ a b "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-30. 
  4. ^ "THE VICKSBURG FLATBOAT WAR OF 1838 AND ITS INFLUENCE ON SUBMERGED LANDS LAW IN MISSISSIPPI". Masglp.olemiss.edu. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  5. ^ Rothman, Joshua D.: Flush Times and Fever Dreams: A Story of Capitalism and Slavery in the Age of Jackson. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010.
  6. ^ Waldrep, Christopher (2005). Vicksburg's Long Shadow: The Civil War Legacy Of Race And Remembrance. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 247. ISBN 978-0742548688. 
  7. ^ Historian Michael G. Ballard, in his Vicksburg campaign history, pp. 420-21, claims that this story has little foundation in fact. Although it is unknown whether city officials sanctioned the day as a local holiday, Southern observances of July 4 were for many years characterized more by family picnics than by formal city or county activities.
  8. ^ Emilye Crosby, Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi, Univ of North Carolina Press, 2006, p. 3
  9. ^ "Lynched for Murder…". New York Times. May 4, 1903. 
  10. ^ "It Took A Community To Raise A Mural!", Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
  11. ^ a b "Celebrating Vicksburg: A Great American Community", Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
  12. ^ Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
  13. ^ Mural on Grove hill to highlight Run Thru History
  14. ^ Ready to Roll
  15. ^ "140th Anniversary Vicksburg Riots Symposium", Press release, 6 November 2014, National Park Service, accessed 15 June 2015
  16. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  17. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  19. ^ Hauntings
  20. ^ "James Riely Gordon: An Inventory of his Drawings and Papers, ca. 1890-1937". Lib.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  21. ^ "Two New Books For Your Architectural Library « Preservation in Mississippi". Misspreservation.com. 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  22. ^ a b Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 1982-1983 Through 1999-2002
  23. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  24. ^ "Scott Rogers, "Family imprint seen in Monroe a century after arrival", April 21, 2013". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  25. ^ "William Denis Brown, III". Monroe News-Star, March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Brad Leggett". databaseFootball.com. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Nevada Governor Vail Montgomery Pittman". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  28. ^ "John Thomson Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 

Further reading

External links