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History

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Named for the great crossroads of Greece, this small town, which was formally founded in 1855, has risen to its own place in history.

It all began when the Memphis & Charleston and Mobile & Ohio Railroads were surveyed to intersect just south of the Tennessee/Mississippi state line. With this crossing, the small settlement known as Cross City blossomed into a thriving town. Only a few months later, the editor of the local newspaper suggested that the original name no longer befit the growing city. The name was changed to Corinth with the stipulation that, should they not like it, the citizens could change it back in a year. Obviously, the name stuck.

Corinth prospered throughout the rest of the 1850s, but with the coming of the Civil War, the importance of the railroad crossings could not be overlooked by either side. Early in the war, Corinth was an assembly point for Confederate soldiers. In the spring of 1862, it became the focal point in the War’s Western Theatre. In early April 1862, the Confederates, under the leadership of General Albert Sidney Johnston, took the offensive. They left Corinth (the anchor of defense for the lower south), and made a surprise attack on the Federals, lead by Ulysses S. Grant, at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, approximately twenty-two miles northeast of Corinth. This attack, known as the Battle of Shiloh, cost Johnston his life. The Confederates, then under the leadership of General P.G.T. Beauregard, were forced to fall back. While the Confederates recuperated in Corinth, Federal General Henry W. Halleck arrived at Shiloh, called for reinforcements, and began a march on the town. It took the Federal Army over a month to travel from Shiloh to Corinth, giving Beauregard enough time to devise a plan of evacuation for the Confederates.

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By May 30, as the Confederates were making their way southward on the Mobile & Ohio railroad, the Federals cautiously marched into an empty city, thus beginning the occupation of Corinth. It was not until the fall of 1862 that Corinth experienced another major battle. Confederate Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price combined their forces to make a surprise attack on Corinth before Federal General William S. Rosecrans could assemble troops from outlying areas. However, Rosecrans found out about the attack in time to move his troops closer to town. October 3rd began the Battle of Corinth, with most of the fighting taking place west of town. The Confederates were able to push the Federals into the inner line of defense. The fighting that took place on October 4th gave the Battle of Corinth the reputation of being the bloodiest in Mississippi.

The two sites of heaviest fighting were at Battery Robinett and the rail crossing. By early afternoon, it was clear that the Federals would hold the town. On October 5th, also known as the third day of the Battle of Corinth, skirmishes took place on the Hatchie River as the Confederates were making their retreat. Military activity did not end with the Battle of Corinth. For the remainder of the war, Corinth would be the site of minor skirmishes. It is interesting to note that while the Federal Army occupied Corinth a contraband camp, consisting of former slaves fleeing from the lower south, was established. The Federals abandoned Corinth in January 1864. During the long four years of Civil War, as many as 300,000 soldiers from both the North and South passed through the area, leaving behind devastation.

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The years following the Civil War were a time for readjustment and recovery followed by a period of rapid growth. In 1870, Tishomingo County was divided into three counties: Alcorn, Prentiss, and Tishomingo. Corinth naturally became the Alcorn County seat. Reconstruction of the town officially ended in 1875. From this time well into the turn of the twentieth century, Corinth flourished both culturally and commercially.

Corinth had an Opera House, the Henry Moore Museum, Mooreville Zoological Park, the Coliseum, and other forms of recreation. Early businesses include the Adams Machine Company, Whitfield Manufacturing Company, the Alcorn Woolen Mills, the Corinth Machinery Company, and later the Corinth Silk Company. Forest and dairy related industries also played an important role in the industrialization of Corinth. Later, Corinth boasted of having the Corinth Brick Company, Corinth Woolen Mills, and Weaver Pants Corporation. Into the mid-1900s, Corinth continued to prosper. The Kraft-Phenix Cheese Company opened, the Berry Motor Company was founded, and several hosiery mills were started. Then, in the 1950s, Corinth and Alcorn County began a major industrial recruitment program. Among the industries moving into town were Tyrone, ITT, Wurlitzer, and Halls of Mississippi. Later, Caterpillar and Kimberly-Clark would join the rest. While many of these companies are still operating (some under different names), there are new businesses coming to the area every day.

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Corinth has had its share of interesting personalities and events. It boasts of having been home to Col. Roscoe Turner, Russell Keaton, Ruby Elzy, Don Blasingame, Gus McLeod, Jonathan Brooks, Frances Gaither, Thomas Hal Phillips, and Henry Moore, to name only a few. Events of major interest include visits from Presidents William McKinley and Franklin Roosevelt, the 1874 Bank Robbery, the Great Fire of 1924, the 1954 Centennial Celebration, Crossroads Jubilees, and famous festivals (Slugburger and Hog Wild).

Needless to say, both Corinth and Alcorn County have had a unique and colorful past. All of this wonderful history, including some tall tales, could never be recorded in such a limited space. Should one be interested in more information, they may contact the Museum at 221 North Fillmore Street, 662-287-3120, between the hours of 9:00 a.m until 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. nemma@corinth.ms

Crossroads Museum

The Historic Corinth Depot, circa 1918, once served approximately 30 passenger trains during its heyday in the 1930s and 40s, but it now stands as a testament of another time. No longer are there peddlers selling fried chicken or red hot tamales to passengers. No baggage boys can be seen unloading and weighing trunks and valises. There has been no passenger service for years. However, the Depot once again bustles with activity. It is now the home of the Crossroads Museum and serves as the hub of the region’s art and history. Sometimes the Museum is filled with visitors who come to see the large exhibit galleries, whose permanent collection includes fossils, Native American relics, Civil War items, railroad memorabilia, and items pertaining to our local culture. Other galleries offer a glimpse at items that are either rotated in and out of the Museum’s vast collection in storage or are on loan from other venues or from local artisans.

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While guests are enjoying the exhibits, they may also have to share some space with little folks who are taking part in educational programs, such as Toddler Tuesdays, school tours, summer camps, happening on the lawn, conference room or classroom area. The Education Department is of major importance to the Museum and is continually growing and changing to meet the needs of the community, young and aged alike. The Museum offers a variety of programs, exhibits, and fundraisers throughout the year. From its annual photo contest to living history events on the grounds of the C.A.R.E. Garden (located in front of the Museum), all activities presented allow visitors a glance of the Corinth area: past, present, and future.

Other features of the Museum include a gift shop – filled with Corinth and Mississippi, railroad, Civil War, fossils/dinosaurs, and aviation souvenirs, books, toys, and collectibles – the Margaret Greene Rogers Research Library, and free tours of the Caboose stationed on the southern end of the Depot. All public areas of the Museum meet A.D.A. standards. Admission rates do apply – children under 16 have free admission and military, student, and senior citizen discounts are available as well.

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