The Town of McHenry Stone County, Mississippi Prepared by Ginny Walker English Information obtained from McHenry Memories I & II donated by Dowie Ecroyd, and C. Roosevelt Ecroyd Table of Contents • History • Schools • Churches • Stone County Enterprise News Articles • Citizens History McHenry is located in the heart of the Pine Belt of Southern Mississippi. The landscape is that of rolling hills, green pastures, and long leaf pine timberlands. A rolling country with clear water, sandy bottom rivers and creeks. An abundance of the best table water, also a great deal claimed for therapeutic value. Game preserves. Large areas rededicated to reforestation. The wonderful gardening possibilities are year-round crops, early Spring and late Fall for others, with those things of natural habitat, as figs, pecans, Japanese persimmons, blue berries, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane. The general line of vegetables, cabbage, carrots, radishes, turnips, etc., can be harvested any day of the year. Tomatoes from May to December. Peaches by the last of May. History McHenry is a close knit community where neighbors know and help one another without much prodding. The citizens of McHenry are proud of their Southern Heritage. The town was founded by Dr. George A. McHenry in1889 and was first called Niles City. At the time of its formation, McHenry was part of Harrison County until March 19, 1912, with the formation of Stone County. When the citizens of Niles City registered for a post office, they were made aware there was another town in Mississippi known as Niles City. Thus, the name change honoring Dr. McHenry. See bio of Dr. McHenry. Currently McHenry is under the County government of Stone County. The old-timers say that it was incorporated at one time. History from 1903 to 1919. Fire has ravished McHenry on several occasions. Perhaps that is why the incorporation documents cannot be found. See Newspaper Clippings for articles on fires. The primary occupation of the early pioneers of McHenry was that which you would find in an area with an abundance of timber. Saw mills, planing mills, and turpentine stills were a booming industry. At one time around 1900, when the population was its greatest, there were about 7 sawmills in and around the town of McHenry. For the early homesteader and up until about 1930 or so, land could be obtained in three ways. The largest part of the land belonged to the U.S. Government and could be bought for $1.25 per acre. The History state owned land could be purchased for .25 cents per acre, and the land sold under the Swamp Act could be purchased for .05 cents per acre. Today an acre of land sells for approximately $1,025.00 per acre. Schools • Old Perryville • McHenry Elementary • Michigan Settlement • McHenry Negro School Schools Old Perryville School The first school of McHenry was organized in 1898, and was located at what is known as Old Perryville. It was first a private pay school, supported by the patrons. Each teacher was paid $1.00 per month for each pupil attending. Later it was moved when the town of McHenry was developed. It was then located where the Methodist Church now stands, but was moved to the present location a few years later. It then became a public free school and adopted a standard course of study. During the thriving days of McHenry, this was one of the best high schools in the county. Included in its’ faculty in the early days were Professor Darby, father of C. J. Darby, past superintendent of Perkinston Jr. College, a Mr. McNeal, Miss Edna Walker, Iduma Walker, and Professor J. J. Dorsey, who was later principal of Perkinston Jr. College. Schools Michigan Settlement School Michigan Settlement School (See article printed in the Stone County Enterprise, January 27, 1949 - written by Rev. Elmer C. Reber) The school was named for a colony from Michigan was homesteading around that section which is now called McHenry. (Perrys, Deepers, Browns, Lawrence Hoodleys, McHenrys, Rathburns, McDonalds, Bachlers, Longcoys, Hadas, Stockmans, Cramms, and Kunsmans). The school which began in the middle of December 1889, with 68 pupils and had classes in all 8 grades. I was told that it was the first school house with glass windows and an iron stove in all that rural area. Mr. Lon Parker “Uncle Lon”, at the age of 92, told Debra Willis the school was located near the “Yellow Fever Cemetery”. Schools McHenry Elementary (written 1953) McHenry Elementary school is a frame building with four large class rooms, one of which is used for a lunch room and auditorium. The building cost $8,000.00. Equipment consisted of regulation school desks, blackboards and heating stoves. Library containing two sets of reference books for elementary teaching, and other good reading matter, such as magazines, daily and weekly newspapers, etc. Two school buses providing transportation. Classes through the 9th grade. Enrollment is 96. 4-H club for boys and girls; the object to teach them to be better farmers and homemakers. (click next for continuation) Schools McHenry Elementary The disciplinary control is under the supervision of the Principal and is well handled. PTA meets once a month. Faculty meetings are held once a week. Cafeteria in the school. There is no teacher’s home, they all live in town, taking active part in the social and religious life of the community. Qualifications for teachers: at least 2 years college work. Salaries were $199.00 per month. J.W. Watkins, C. H. Bond, and Cora Lassister were teachers. Schools McHenry Negro School Located in town near Hwy. 49. Frame building consisting of2 classrooms, 1 home science room and a cloak room (costing $1,500) and erected with the Rosenwald fund for Negro schools. The equipment consists of desks and benches, black boards, maps and piano. No transportation available. No PTA. No cafeteria. Clubs: Improvement Club whose aim is to work out plans and discuss improvements for classroom and school. Ruel Ephrane is the teacher. Qualifications 4 years high school training. Salary is $30.00 per month. Taken from interview given by Ruel Ephrane, Teacher Churches • Michigan Settlement • Other Churches • McHenry Baptist • Mt. Zion Methodist • McHenry Methodist • Sunlight Missionary Baptist • McHenry Missionary Churches Michigan Settlement Church A church was formed in the school building for the Michigan Settlement. Rev. Elmer C. Reber was the pastor. Meetings consisted of Sunday School and preaching every Sunday. Old time settlers as the Tiners, Swilleys, Bonds, Hattens, Garners and Brelands attended and seemed to enjoy those good meetings. As Rev. Reber was not ordained then, Rev. Aurelius Cox had to baptize over 20 in a deep hold in a creek that was near the school house. People came on foot, on horseback, and even in an ox wagon, for miles around to attend those meetings and see the baptism. Those walking at night would carry burning “lighter” sticks to guide them along dim roads and mere paths. Churches McHenry Baptist Church A Missionary Baptist church organized in 1883, immediately after the organization of the small town of McHenry. When first organized there was an enrollment of 15 members. The building was small, wooden frame constructed by the people. Later, a larger and better building was constructed as the membership had increased to about 130. Sunday School and preaching were held Sundays. Churches McHenry Methodist Organized immediately after the organization of McHenry, which was organized in 1889 by Dr. McHenry. As people began to settle near this small town they thought of a place to worship and therefore decided to build a church at once. When first organized, there were only about thirty members, at present there is enrollment over 10. Stone County Enterprise • Michigan Settlement School, January 27, 1949 • Ramsey Springs Hotel, July 3,1980 (written by Linnie Breland) Michigan Settlement School (See article printed in the Stone County Enterprise, January 27, 1949 - written by Rev. Elmer C. Reber) “Back in November, 1889, I arrived in Gulfport. All I found there was a short train shed, a two-story frame hotel and Captain Jones’ office. Dr. McHenry and his wife arrived at the same time and we came on the engine up 121/2 miles to Rufus Bond’s Crossing, where there was a small sawmill. Dr. McHenry got Mr. Bond’s horse and open buggy to bring his wife the other 121/2 miles to the Michigan Settlement and they let me ride with them. A colony from Michigan was homesteading around that section which is now called McHenry. They had written me to come and be their teacher and preacher. These people, the Perrys, Deepers, Michigan Settlement School (See article printed in the Stone County Enterprise, January 27, 1949 - written by Rev. Elmer C. Reber) Browns, Lawrence Hoodleys, McHenrys, Rathburns, McDonalds, Bachlers, Longcoys, Hadas, Stockmans, Cramms, and Kunsmans were were widely scattered, as they could only homestead on odd numbered sections, as the even numbered ones for 3 miles each side of the Gulf and Ship Island Rail Road had been granted to the promote of the Railroad which was being built from Gulfport to Jackson. I worked with the others on the one-room frame building for a school, located about a mile west of the Railroad grading toward Thomas Tiner’s home. I had to walk 32 miles to the home of Prof. Lancaster to pass an examination and get the contract for the school which began in the middle of December 1889, with 68 pupils and had classes in all 8 grades. I was told that it was the first school house with glass windows and an iron Michigan Settlement School (See article printed in the Stone County Enterprise, January 27, 1949 - written by Rev. Elmer C. Reber) stove in all that rural area. I boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Edward Brown for $5.00 per month and also had washing and ironing of my clothes. I organized a Sunday School and preached every Sunday. Also a protracted meeting and quite a number were converted. Many said it reminded them of old times. Old time settlers as the Tiners, Swilleys, Bonds, Hattens, Garners and Brelands attended and seemed to enjoy those good meetings. As I was not ordained then, had Rev. Aurelius Cox to baptize over 20 in a deep hold in a creek that was near the school house. People came on foot, on horseback, and even in an ox wagon, for miles around to attend those meetings and see the baptism. Those walking at night would carry burning “lighter” sticks to guide them along dim roads and mere paths. We didn’t have telephones, Michigan Settlement School (See article printed in the Stone County Enterprise, January 27, 1949 - written by Rev. Elmer C. Reber) autos, radios and then Gulfport and Mississippi City were our post offices and we got mail once a week when Dr. McHenry started his store. No modern conveniences, but people were happy and contented and no need for a jail or policeman. Ramsey Springs Hotel Linnie Breland The history of Ramsey Springs dates back to the days of the Indians. Nearly 100 years ago the Rev. Abner Walker and his brother George were directed to the springs situated on the banks of Red Creek, some 20 miles southeast of Wiggins. George (George Washington Walker) was suffering from a stomach ailment which the Indians had told him would be cured if he drank the mineral waters. He tried it, and the pain was alleviated. Impressed with this miracle the Walkers told others about the spring, located on the Ramsey homestead. People came by the hundreds to camp, bathe, and drink the water, Ramsey Springs Hotel Linnie Breland Andrew Ramsay, an heir to the property, and A. Baldwin developed the spring and later sold to Dr. George McHenry and George Bustin. These men promoted the spring as a cure for stomach ulcers and skin diseases. It was from them that the Millers acquired the property. An analysis, made by the National Bureau of standards lists eight chemicals, plus a small amount of radium. In 1890 a pamphlet from A. E. Ramsay set forth the advantages of Ramsay Mineral Springs based on an analysis made by a chemist in New Orleans, that the water was good for skin disorders, blood and bowel diseases and liver and kidney complaints (I remember very well my Dad going once a week to jugs of mineral water for me to drink when I was a little girl. The taste wasn’t the nicest but I knew I better not dare drink any other water. This being the orders of some doctor that this would help cure my kidney ailment.) Ramsey Springs Hotel Linnie Breland In increasing numbers people came to camp, bathe, drink the water and enjoy the fried chicken of the rustic rambling 25 room hotel that accommodated the Ramsay Springs guest. It was decorated with curious timbers, pinecones, and rock formations found in the vicinity. The huge lobby with its’ great cobblestone fireplace and ceiling of cypress logs that formed the support for the upper stories was a favorite gathering place for the guests. For many, many years - until the beach strip [Gulfport] began building its’ string of motels and hotels, Ramsay Springs was booked solid. In 1961 the hotel was demolished but people still return to the “old swimming hole”.