Historical Markers in
Benton County, Mississippi

In 1962, the University of Mississippi, located in Oxford, was the site of a violent confrontation between federal forces and white segregationists over the enrollment of James Meredith, the university's first African American student.

Benton County, Mississippi, located in the northern part of the state, has a rich and diverse history dating back centuries. Initially inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Chickasaw, the area saw European colonization in the early 19th century. It was named after Thomas Hart Benton, a prominent senator from Missouri, in 1836.

Throughout the mid to late 19th century, Benton County developed as a mainly agricultural region, with cotton serving as the primary cash crop. The county’s economy thrived on plantations worked by enslaved African Americans. However, the devastation of the American Civil War and the subsequent abolition of slavery led to a significant decline in cotton production.

In the early 20th century, Benton County experienced a shift in its economy as it moved away from agriculture. The development of railroads and the influx of the timber industry brought new opportunities for growth. Additionally, the establishment of small businesses and the construction of schools and churches helped foster a sense of community.

Despite periods of economic and social challenges, including the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, Benton County persevered and embraced change. Today, the county remains largely rural but has witnessed some progress in terms of infrastructure and development. Its rich history and vibrant culture continue to be preserved and celebrated by its residents.

  • 1836 - Benton County is officially formed and named after Thomas Hart Benton, a Missouri senator.
  • Early 1840s - Settlers begin to establish farms in the area.
  • Late 1800s - The construction of railroads through Benton County spurs economic growth.
  • 1861-1865 - Benton County residents participate in the American Civil War.
  • 1870s - The county experiences a boom in cotton production.
  • Early 1900s - The town of Ashland is established as the county seat.
  • 1930s - Benton County, like the rest of the country, is impacted by the Great Depression.
  • 1950s-1960s - Civil rights movements and desegregation efforts take place in the county.
  • Late 20th century - Benton County sees a decline in population and economic activity.
  • 2000s - Efforts to revitalize the county's economy and promote tourism are underway.