The Heathman Plantation in Sunflower County was originally known as Dogwood Ridge Plantation. It was purchased in 1871 by J. M. Heathman and renamed. Heathman was married to Lille Brown, the daughter of James Brown who built the house later known as Beauvoir in 1848 (Heathman family history, ancestry.com). Heathman was killed by a horse kick in 1885, not long after his marriage. His widow married J. A. Crawford in 1888, which explains the J. A. Crawford, 1911 stone visible between the upper floor windows of the commissary building (or plantation store).
The plantation was later the Billups plantation, and the records in the MDAH Historic Resources Inventory identify buildings as the Billups plantation. The train ran in front of the commissary building, and the foundation of two buildings on this side of the railroad tracks are visible. The interior of the building appears to be in remarkably good condition, and the shelves, dishes, and back office are visibly fairly clearly, even though I was photographing through the glass of the front windows. A commissary building held the supplies for the plantation during slavery. Afterward, the use was like a general store for the sharecroppers or tenant farmers. Like most “company stores” the workers had a line of credit, or else were paid in “scrip”. Scrip was a token that could only be redeemed at the store where issued. Prices were generally higher than elsewhere, due to the length of time the owner carried the loan, and in general, workers were always indebted to the company store. Tennessee Ernie Ford popularized the concept in his song “Sixteen Tons” :
You load 16 tons and what do you get?
Another day older, and deeper in debt.
St. Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store.
The slideshow below provides details of the building and the surrounding area. I hope you enjoy the trip as much as I did on a beautiful Mississippi summer day.