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DeSoto County courthouse in Hernando

DeSoto County, Mississippi
Map of Mississippi highlighting DeSoto County
Location in the state of Mississippi
Map of the U.S. highlighting Mississippi
Mississippi's location in the U.S.
Founded February 9, 1836
Seat Hernando
Largest city Southaven
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

496.77 sq mi (1,287 km²)
477.86 sq mi (1,238 km²)
18.91 sq mi (49 km²), 3.81%
 - (2010)
 - Density

225/sq mi (87/km²)

DeSoto County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. DeSoto County is part of the Metropolitan Memphis (TN-AR-MS) Statistical Area. Its county seat is Hernando.[1] As of 2000, the population was 107,199. By 2010, the county had grown to a population of 161,252, largely due to African-American growth of over 150%.[2] It is now the third most populous county in Mississippi and the second most populous county in metro Memphis.


The county is named in honor of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The county seat, Hernando, is also named in his honor. De Soto allegedly died there in May 1542, although some believe that he died near Lake Village, Arkansas. See here for a list of sites associated with the de Soto Expedition.

Early history[]

At its organization on February 9, 1836, DeSoto County stretched from the Tennessee state line on the north to the Tate County line on the south; from the Mississippi River and Tunica County on the west to Marshall County on the east. A mistake in surveying placed the state line at what is now Winchester Road in Shelby County, Tennessee. In 1838, the line was resurveyed and moved to its present location.

Indian artifacts collected in DeSoto County link it with prehistoric groups of Woodland and Mississippian Indians.

The Mississippian Indians met Hernando DeSoto when he explored North Mississippi and, traditionally, came through DeSoto County. Some scholars project that DeSoto discovered the Mississippi River west of present-day Lake Cormorant, built rafts there and crossed to Crowley's Ridge, Arkansas. The National Park Service declared a "DeSoto Corridor" from the Chickasaw Bluff (Memphis) to Coahoma County, Mississippi.

Over 200 years passed and the Mississippian Indian culture disappeared, devastated by disease, but the Indian town named Chicasa which De Soto visited was probably the ancestral home of the Chickasaws who still lived in the area when Anglo-Americans began showing up. Their "Long Town," several villages close to each other, was near present-day Pontotoc. The Chickasaws claimed much of western Tennessee and northern Mississippi as their hunting grounds.

Negotiations, begun September, 1816, between the United States government and the Chickasaw nation, concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Pontotoc in October 1832. During these 16 years government officials and Chickasaw tribesmen worked out and revised treaty details.

From 1832 to 1836, government surveyors mapped the 6,442,000 acres (26,070 km2) of the Chickasaw doaldflamain, dividing it into townships, ranges and sections just as it remains today. The Mississippi Legislature formed 10 new counties, including DeSoto, Tunica, Marshall and Tate Counties, from this land.

By treaty the land was assigned by sections of 640 acres (2.59 km2) to individual Indians. The Chickasaws, a numerically small tribe, were assigned 2,422,400 acres (9,803 km2) of land using this formula. The government disposed of the remaining 400,000 at public sale. The Indians received at least $1.25 per acre for their land. The government land sold for 75 cents per acre or less.

Modern history[]

Located adjacent to Memphis, Tennessee, DeSoto County is now among the forty fastest growing counties in the United States. This fast-paced growth is attributed to white flight from Memphis. This has been most noticeable in the cities of Southaven, Olive Branch and Hernando. Also fueling development is the massive casino/resort complex located in neighboring Tunica County, Mississippi (the third largest gambling district in the United States).


DeSoto County is known for its variety of golf courses. Velvet Cream, known as 'The Dip' by locals, is a landmark restaurant in the county. Serving hamburgers and ice cream since 1947, it is the oldest continually running restaurant in the county. In 2010, it was awarded 'Best Ice Cream in Mississippi' by USA Today.[3] DeSoto County was also previously known as the home of Maywood Beach, a water park that closed in 2003. (It had been open more than seventy years.)

DeSoto County Museum[]

DeSoto County Museum and log house

A popular attraction is the DeSoto County Museum located in Hernando. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10-5. There is no charge for admission but donations are accepted. Exhibits include displays on Hernando DeSoto, Civil War History, antebellum homes of the county, civil rights, and the history of each of the county's municipalities. Also located on the grounds of the museum is a log cabin from the 1850s.


DeSoto County is the most northwestern of Mississippi's 82 counties, in a corner that borders Tennessee and Arkansas. According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 496.77 square miles (1,286.6 km2), of which 477.86 square miles (1,237.7 km2) (or 96.19%) is land and 18.91 square miles (49.0 km2) (or 3.81%) is water.[4]

Geographic features[]

Major highways[]

  • I-55.svg Interstate 55

I-55 recently underwent major widening from four lanes to ten lanes from the MS/TN state line south to Goodman Rd. Eventual widening of the freeway from Goodman Rd. to Star Landing Rd. is believed to include the addition of new exits at Nail Rd. and Star Landing Rd.

  • I-69.svg Interstate 69
  • I-269.svg Interstate 269

I-269 is a planned metro Memphis outer loop connecting the cities of Hernando and Olive Branch in Mississippi with Collierville and Millington in Tennessee. Expected to open within the next five to seven years.

  • US 51.svg U.S. Route 51
  • US 61.svg U.S. Route 61
  • US 78.svg U.S. Route 78 (Interstate 22)

Adjacent counties[]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 7,002
1850 19,042 172.0%
1860 23,336 22.6%
1870 32,021 37.2%
1880 22,924 −28.4%
1890 24,183 5.5%
1900 24,751 2.3%
1910 23,130 −6.5%
1920 24,359 5.3%
1930 25,438 4.4%
1940 26,663 4.8%
1950 24,599 −7.7%
1960 23,891 −2.9%
1970 35,885 50.2%
1980 53,930 50.3%
1990 67,910 25.9%
2000 107,199 57.9%
2010 161,252 50.4%
MS Counties 1900-1990
GeoHive - 2000 & 2010 statistics

As of the census[5] of 2005 estimate, there were 137,004 people, 38,792 households, and 30,102 families residing in the county. The population density was 224 people per square mile (87/km²). There were 40,795 housing units at an average density of 85 per square mile (33/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 85.78% White, 11.40% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.13% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. 2.35% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 38,792 households out of which 39.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.70% were married couples living together, 11.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.40% were non-families. 18.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.20% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 32.70% from 25 to 44, 22.10% from 45 to 64, and 8.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $48,206, and the median income for a family was $53,590. Males had a median income of $38,032 versus $26,474 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,468. 7.10% of the population and 5.60% of families were below the poverty line. 8.30% are under the age of 18 and 9.50% are 65 or older.

DeSoto County had the second highest per capita income in the State of Mississippi.


  • Towns
    • Walls
  • Villages
    • Memphis
  • Census-designated places
    • Lynchburg
  • Unincorporated places
    • Cockrum
    • Eudora
    • Lake Cormorant
    • Lake View
    • Lewisburg
    • Mineral Wells
    • Nesbit
    • Pleasant Hill
    • Days

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in DeSoto County, Mississippi


Suggested reading[]

  • Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920, Thorndale, William, and Dollarhide, William; Copyright 1987. (Historic state maps including evolution of DeSoto County)

External links[]

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Coordinates: 34°53′N 89°59′W / 34.88, -89.99

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at DeSoto County, Mississippi. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.