You might think your town is old, but it probably isn’t the oldest in the country.
That is unless you live in St. Augustine, FL. Which looks pretty good for being 454 years old.
That’s older than America for those playing at home.
So that got us thinking, what is the oldest city in Mississippi? And how old is that when you put it into perspective of St. Augustine or American Independence in 1776?
Because even if your Mississippi city or town is old, it isn’t really all that old in the grand scheme of things. For example, the Pyramids in Egypt were built around 2600 BC, a cool 4100 years before St. Augustine.
And now that we have you thinking about how the time line of your existence is really kind of unimpressive on the timeline of history, let’s drop right into the analysis.
These are the 10 oldest cities and towns in the Magnolia State according to their ‘date of foundation’:
- Natchez (Photos)
- Biloxi (Photos)
- Vicksburg (Photos)
- Meridian (Photos)
- Tupelo (Photos)
- Gulfport (Photos)
- Moss Point (Photos)
- Jackson (Photos)
- Louisville (Photos)
- Yazoo City (Photos)
For being 302 years old, Natchez doesn’t look a day over 40. And the newest city in Mississippi? That would be Diamondhead — a brand spanking 6 years old.
How We Determined When A City Was Founded In Mississippi… Or Is It Settled?
Surprisingly, there’s not a definitive data set that contains the dates of incorporation or settlement for cities in America. Put differently, there’s no official data set from the Census that contains when every place in America was founded.
So what did we do instead?
Use the internet’s version of official government data — Wikipedia of course!
For the majority of cities in Mississippi, Wikipedia offers data on some kind of ‘date of foundation’ in the infobox. Unfortunately, because it’s Wikipedia and not a sprawling government bureaucracy, that can take the form of any of the following nomenclature (plus others):
And then even more stuff — for example Atlanta has a ‘Terminus’ date, whatever that is.
If no ‘date of foundation’ was found in the infobox, we looked to the general text in the History section of the city for ‘Founded in XXXX’.
All in all, we were able to collect data on 47 out of 67 in Mississippi with over 5,000 people. That’s good for a 70.1% completion rate.
We then ranked them from oldest to newest with Natchez turning out to be the matriarch of Mississippi at the ripe old age of 302.
Here’s a look at the top ten and a snippet of their history from Wikipedia.
Population: 15,191Founded: 1716
Population: 45,328Founded: 1838
In 1699 French colonists formed the first permanent settlement in French Louisiana, at Fort Maurepas, now in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and referred to as ‘Old Biloxi’. They were under the direction of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. La Louisiane was separated from Spanish Florida at the Perdido River near Pensacola (this was founded by the Spanish 1559 and again in 1698).
Population: 22,961Founded: 1839
The area which is now Vicksburg was long occupied by the Natchez Native Americans as part of their historical territory along the Mississippi. The Natchez spoke a language isolate not related to the Muskogean languages of the other major tribes in the area. Before the Natchez, other indigenous cultures had occupied this strategic area for thousands of years.
Population: 39,213Founded: 1860
Previously inhabited by the Choctaw Native Americans, the area now called Meridian was obtained by the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 during the period of Indian removal. After the treaty was ratified, European-American settlers began to move into the area.
Population: 38,321Founded: 1870
Indigenous peoples lived in the area for thousands of years. The historic Chickasaw and Choctaw, both Muskogean-speaking peoples of the Southeast, occupied this area long before European encounter.
Population: 71,318Founded: 1898
This area was occupied by indigenous cultures for thousands of years, culminating in the historic Choctaw encountered by European explorers. Along the Gulf Coast, French colonists founded nearby Biloxi, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama before the area was acquired by the United States in 1803. By the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the United States completed treaties to extinguish their land claims and removed them to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. In that period, the other four of the Five Civilized Tribes in the Southeast were also removed, to make way for European Americans to take over the lands.
An early settlement near this location, known as Mississippi City, appeared on a map of Mississippi from 1855. Mississippi City was the county seat of Harrison County from 1841 to 1902, but is now a suburb in east Gulfport.
7. Moss Point
Population: 13,501Founded: 1901
Population: 170,393Founded: 1904
The region that is now the city of Jackson was historically part of the large territory occupied by the Choctaw Nation, the historic culture of the Muskogean-speaking indigenous peoples who had inhabited the area for thousands of years before European encounter. The Choctaw name for the locale was Chisha Foka. The area now called Jackson was obtained by the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Doak’s Stand in 1820, by which the Choctaw ceded some of their land. After the treaty was ratified, European-American settlers began to move into the area, so many that they encroached on remaining Choctaw communal lands.
Under pressure from the U.S. government, the Choctaw Native Americans agreed to removal after 1830 from all of their lands east of the Mississippi River under the terms of several treaties. Although most of the Choctaw moved to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, along with the other of the Five Civilized Tribes, a significant number chose to stay in their homeland, citing Article XIV of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. They gave up their tribal membership and became state and United States citizens at the time. Today, most Choctaw in Mississippi have reorganized and are part of the federally recognized Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. They live in several majority-Indian communities located throughout the state. The largest community is located in Choctaw 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Jackson.
Population: 6,325Founded: 1904
Like Winston County, Louisville is named for Louis Winston (1784–1824), a colonel in the militia, a prominent lawyer, and a judge of the Mississippi Supreme Court.
10. Yazoo City
Population: 11,189Founded: 1904
The community now known as Yazoo City was founded in 1824 with the name Hannan’s Bluff. It was later renamed Manchester, then changed to Yazoo City in 1841. Yazoo City became the county seat in 1849.
Oh How Time Flies For The Oldest Towns And Cities In Mississippi
So there you have it, a look at some of the oldest places to live in Mississippi. If we missed your city’s ‘date of foundation’, let us know in the comments. Or feel free to take a look at the table of the oldest places in Mississippi.
And now, let’s raise our glasses, to the next 100 years of existence for these cities and towns in the Magnolia State.
And for those wondering, here are the newest additions to Mississippi:
- Diamondhead (Founded in 2012)
- Southaven (Founded in 2012)
- Richland (Founded in 2012)
Detailed List Of The Oldest Cities In Mississippi