Jacinto Courthouse is a rare relic from the earliest days of North Mississippi.  The town of Jacinto was founded in 1836 as the capital of old Tishomingo County, one of the original ten counties formed in the 1830s from the Chickasaw Cession.  Jacinto was at the geographic center of the large county, which spread over 1,000 square miles, covering much of northeast Mississippi.  The town, which was named after Sam Houston’s decisive victory over the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, began to grow quickly, and soon had taverns, shops and other amenities.  A small log courthouse was built when the town was founded for local government, but the growing town needed a much larger building.  In 1854, the present courthouse was built in the Federal style.  The building was constructed by architect J. J. Blythe for just under $7,000.  The bricks and timber were hand made and hand hewn.

The Courthouse witnessed the continuing growth of the town as the main economic center of northeast Mississippi.  By the outbreak of the Civil War, the town had reached a population of 6,600, and the Courthouse was surrounded by fifty blocks of houses and shops.  The town was spared any major damage or destruction during the Civil War, and looked to continue its economic dominance into the future, except for several catastrophic decisions which utterly destroyed the town.  In 1870, old Tishomingo County was subdivided into three smaller counties: Alcorn, Prentiss and Tishomingo counties.  Jacinto was no longer located at the center of the county, and the Tishomingo capital was moved to Iuka.  Jacinto was now a much less important town located in the new Alcorn county.  The loss of the county seat seemed to spook the leaders of Jacinto, and they compounded the issue with new mistakes.  The town leaders refused to allow the new railroad to go through Jacinto, which cut the town’s economy off at the knees.  Instead, the railroad went through the nearby towns of Corinth and Iuka, and many residents of Jacinto followed the railroad and left town.  Later, the town refused to prevent local farmers from cutting down telegraph poles coming into town, which completely isolated the former boom town from the rest of the world.

The population of Jacinto quickly dwindled from 6,000 residents to just a few hundred.  The stores, inns and newspapers died out, and the lawyers and doctors left town.  The only thing that remained in Jacinto to suggest the town’s former glory was the beautiful Federal Courthouse that now overlooked an empty town square.  After 1870, the Courthouse was used as a schoolhouse from 1870 until 1908.  From 1908 to 1960 it was used as the Methodist church.  When this congregation died out, the building was nearly lost to a wrecking company, but several concerned citizens saved the Courthouse from destruction.  In 1973, the Courthouse was restored for $88,000.  Today, the Courthouse is occasionally open to visitors, especially during the large July 4th political rallies that still take place here every year.  The Jacinto Courthouse remains one of the best examples of Federal architecture in the Southern United States.

12 thoughts

  1. Besides a political rally once a year, what other use is made of this fine historic building? Surely it has another purpose.

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  2. I have toured this beautiful courthouse inside and outside on a trip to research my family’s history in Jacinto, Mississippi. I attended a genealogy event sponsored by the Alcorn County Mississippi Genealogical Society In a white wood community building behind the courthouse.

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  3. Delores, my family “Cowan” migrated to Jacinto in 1840. My great great uncle Tyrannus ran a store there in about 1900. Lived there with my Grandfather’s twin sister Denia. They lived on Jacinto Road, very close to the town center, I believer. My G Father’s sister married Guilford Reynolds. Most of the family is buried in the Jacinto cemetery.

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  4. My great uncle, Pvt. Allen Patton, Co. I, 21st Illinois, wrote five letters from a “Camp near Jacinto” between July 5, 1862 and August 11, 1862. In preparation for a visit in a few months, I am trying to learn if anyone knows the exact location, or if there is any sign of the camp today.

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    1. Hi Kim!

      How wonderful to have your ancestors army letters! In case your wondering why no one has responded, I just received a notice today the 20th that you had posted a comment. Your comment was dated May 2, 2021.

      In researching my family book for my Jacinto Richardson ancestors, I do know that the Union Army bouviacked in the Jacinto County Courthouse during the Civil War. Enlisted men probably were camped in tents around it I would surmise with officers inside. I don’t know if you would want this info, but when I attended the genealogy event at Jacinto some years ago there was a man there researching his ancestor’s Iowa Union service in Jacinto. He was going to write a book. I don’t know if he ever published it. Maybe your ancestor’s IL unit and his ancestor’s IA unit were there at same time. Also another resource for you might be the Corinth Civil War National Park Rangers. They might be able to tell you where the camp might have been based on your letters. Civil War Park Rangers have been very helpful for me in other places in figuring out my ancestor’s Civil War service. I bet they would be thrilled to see your letters! I know I would love to read them.

      You will love visiting this area of Mississippi! Everyone is very friendly and helpful. Tell them a Richardson/Rinehart/Houston/Rorie descendant asked that they show you great southern hospitality. I hope you get to tour the Jacinto Courthouse because it is a Mississippi jewel. Check with the Corinth Historical Society in Corinth, Mississippi to see when the courthouse will be open because it is a definite must see.

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      1. Dolores, thanks for your kind note. I am working on getting the letters published in a print-on-demand booklet. I will certainly discuss with the rangers at Corinth, and will definitely check out the courthouse. Kim

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      2. You are welcome Kim! Best wishes on your booklet and travel journey down history lane.

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  5. Hi John!
    My Rinehart ancestors came to Jacinto in the 1830’s. While my Richardson ancestors came in 1840’s. I so enjoyed touring the wonderful historical Jacinto County Courthouse visualizing my ancestors going about their important business inside. My Grandmother Richardson’s family I am sure probably visited your Cowan family store. My Richardson/Rinehart/Houston/Rorie ancestors are buried in the Jacinto Cemetery too.

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  6. I recently had contact with Angela Storey who lives in the area. She doesn’t communication by email and my most recent communication was through postal mail. She sent me a couple of pictures. One was my great uncle Tyraneous Cowan in his store. Another was his house in Jacinto shared by his sister. Based on my research, I think it came from his mother, Mary Cowan Reynolds. She and her husband, Gulford Reynolds, are also burred there. If Kim goes there, I will dig around for Angela’s address. She knows a lot. I also would be happy to share those pictures with anyone who wants to provide me with their email address.
    John Cowan

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    1. John, thanks for your kind offer. I’ll be happy to write Angela and see if she has any info on the Civil War campsite. Kim

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