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Panola County, Mississippi
Map of Mississippi highlighting Panola 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 Batesville and Sardis
Largest city Batesville
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

705 sq mi (1,826 km²)
684 sq mi (1,772 km²)
21 sq mi (54 km²), 2.97%
 - (2000)
 - Density

49/sq mi (19/km²)

Panola County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi, just east of the Mississippi Delta. As of 2000, the population was 34,274. Its county seats are Sardis and Batesville6. Panola is a a Native American word which means cotton.


Panola County was established February 9, 1836, and is one of the twelve large northern Mississippi counties created in that year out of the Chickasaw Cession of 1832. The original act defined its limits as follows:

Beginning at the point where the line between ranges 9 and 10 strikes the center of section 6, and running thence south with the said range line, and from its termination in a direct line to the northern boundary of Tallahatchie County and thence along the northern boundary of Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties, to the center of range 5 west; thence north through the center of range 5 west, according to the sectional lines, to the center of township six; thence west through the center of township six, according to the sectional lines, to the beginning.

On February 1, 1877, when Quitman County was created, Panola surrendered a small fraction of its southwestern area to assist in forming that county, which reduced Panola from an area of 756 square miles to its present land surface of 705 square miles. It had a population of 27,845, in 1920. Its inhabitants gradually increased in numbers from 1850 to 1910, from 11,444 to 31,274.

Two of the oldest settlements in the county were at Belmont and Panola, a few miles apart, and on opposite sides of the Tallahatchie River. For several years there was a spirited contest between these two towns over the location of the courthouse of Panola County. With the advent of the Mississippi and Tennessee (now the Illinois Central railroad) Belmont was absorbed by Sardis, and Panola was absorbed by Batesville. One result of the above contest is found in the two judicial districts of the county, Sardis being the seat of justice for the first judicial district, and Batesville for the second judicial district into which the county is divided.

Early Education[]

Little emphasis was placed upon the area of teacher training or education during this early period of county formation. In fact, education remained primarily the responsibility of the family. This type of informal education consisted of basic math, basic reading and study of biblical concepts.

By 1840 serious consideration was being given to education. This is evident throughout the 1840 census which revealed that, during this period, four small schools existed with a combined student population of 92 pupils [1]. The census did not list the schools, nor are there currently any known files or records concerning these early attempts at formal education.

During the early 1840s the first school‑related advertisements began to appear in the county newspapers. The ads attempted to present the virtues of these early schools.

During this period, Judge James S.B. Thacher, a highly educated Bostonian, devised a popular educational programme for the state. The proposed scheme received considerable discussion and was finally incorporated by the state legislature (4 March 1846) into "An Act to establish a System of Common Schools [2]." The act "provided for a board of five school commissioners in each county, to license teachers and have charge of schools, lease the school lands and have charge of the school funds in each county [3." To a large degree, this act was established because A.G. Brown, a candidate for Mississippi governor, decided to make the establishment of a general school system a campaign issue. By 1846, Governor Brown (1844‑48), succeeded in establishing the Act [4]. Although a noble goal, schools established under this rule "had no uniformity since they differed as the counties differed in wealth and efficiency of management [5]." Prior to this period, starting in 1803, sixteenth sections in each township in Mississippi were established for school purposes. These sections of land were to be used exclusively for school projects [6].

Although the Act had proved to be of little assistance in Panola County, progress was still being made. By 1850, the seventh census in Panola County listed 18 schools and a total student population of 439 pupils [7] (approximately four times that of the 1840 census). This census (unpublished returns) also revealed that 18 individuals stated their occupation as educators or teachers [8]. By the spring of 1854, several members of the local Shiloh community (Capt Thomas F. Wilson, Dr H. Mosely, and Mr Jesse Smith) constructed a small log cabin to be used as the community's school house [9]. This school, known as the Jones' School, at first employed only one teacher but slowly grew in size and popularity. Several years later, the location of the teaching facility was moved to Peach Creek where the school was informally known as the "Greasy Smith Schoolhouse," [10] being named for the local village blacksmith.


Map of Panola County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,826 km² (705 sq mi). 1,772 km² (684 sq mi) of it is land and 54 km² (21 sq mi) of it (2.97%) is water.

Major Highways[]

Adjacent Counties[]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 4,657
1850 11,444 145.7%
1860 13,794 20.5%
1870 20,754 50.5%
1880 28,352 36.6%
1890 26,977 −4.8%
1900 29,027 7.6%
1910 31,274 7.7%
1920 27,845 −11.0%
1930 28,648 2.9%
1940 34,421 20.2%
1950 31,271 −9.2%
1960 28,791 −7.9%
1970 26,829 −6.8%
1980 28,164 5.0%
1990 29,996 6.5%
2000 34,274 14.3%
Est. 2006 35,427 3.4%

As of the census² of 2000, there were 34,274 people, 12,232 households, and 9,014 families residing in the county. The population density was 19/km² (50/sq mi). There were 13,736 housing units at an average density of 8/km² (20/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 50.48% White, 48.36% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.39% from two or more races. 1.12% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 12,232 households out of which 36.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.90% were married couples living together, 19.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.30% were non-families. 23.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% 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 3.25.

In the county the population was spread out with 29.40% under the age of 18, 10.40% from 18 to 24, 27.40% from 25 to 44, 20.80% from 45 to 64, and 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 91.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,785, and the median income for a family was $32,675. Males had a median income of $27,359 versus $19,088 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,075. About 21.20% of families and 25.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.30% of those under age 18 and 25.20% of those age 65 or over.



1. James Herron, "Private Academies in Panola County," The Panola Story 2 (1) (March 1973): 2-4; Wren, "Panola Education," 11; Panola County Historical and Genealogical Society (Pan‑Gens), comp., "Schools: The Early Years," in Panola County History (Dallas: Curtis Media Corp., 1987), 139; Fowler, "Schools and Churches: Education Efforts, 1840‑60," in History of Panola County, 1836‑1860, Unpublished master's thesis (University of Mississippi, 1965), 63; Sara L. Vance, "Early Schools of Panola County," The Panola Story 9, no. 1 (January‑March 1980): 1.

2, 3. Rowland, History of Mississippi: The Heart of the South (Chicago‑Jackson: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1925), vol. II, 647; Rowland, The Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi‑1912 (Nashville: Brandon, 1912), 286.

4, 5, 6. Federal Writers' Project (Worker's Project Administration), Mississippi ‑‑ A Guide to the Magnolia State (New York: Hasting House, 1949), 120.

7. Pan Gens, "Schools: The Early Years," 139; Vance, "Early Schools," 1.

8. Ibid.; Fowler, "Schools and Churches," 65.

9. "Early Schools," The Panolian, 11 September 1975; Vance, "Early Schools," 1.

10. Pan Gens, "Schools: The Early Years," 139. In 1882, the facility was moved to Pleasant Grove.


Carl Edwin Lindgren. 1994. Panola Remembers: Education in a Southern Community. N.E. Morris Publishig Co. Also on-line at [Panola Remembers].

Coordinates: 34°22′N 89°57′W / 34.36, -89.95

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