Recently, an archivist friend (and to reiterate something I’ve said before, an archivist friend is a jewel of great value, so go get you one!) sent me two articles he came across while scrolling through the newspaper microfilm looking for something else. (It’s amazing how much history research comes about while looking for something else.) The articles are written by a man named Mr. Folsom who visited Jackson from Iowa in 1887. He wrote up his impressions for his hometown newspaper, the Des Moines Homestead, and they were reprinted in the Jackson State Ledger.
The text is interesting in its own right, but the line drawings illustrating the articles are the most fascinating to me. Unforutunately, I don’t know where they came from; did Mr. Folsom draw them, did he have someone else draw them for him, or did the Jackson editors add them of their own volition? The most interesting illustration to me is the one of the State Library located in the State Capitol (now the Old Capitol). This is the earliest interior image of the Old Capitol I can recall seeing. The State Library was located in the rear semi-circular aspe, and I believe it was on the third floor.
The original articles were published in the traditional multi-column format and the illustrations actually fit better with the narrow columns than they do here in the wider blog format. On the other hand, the original was written as one long paragraph, so I’ve taken the liberty of inserting several paragraph breaks for an easier reading experience.
Jackson State Ledger, March 12, 1887, p.1
Its State Institutions, Public Buildings, Churches, Etc.
What a Northern Correspondent Says of A Growing City in a Growing State Opening for all Forms of Industry.
From Mr. Moses Folsom’s Jackson letter in the Des Moines Homestead, we extract the following, and will publish the balance of the article that portion devoted to the industries and residences next week:
Jackson, the Capital of Mississippi, is 180 miles north from New Orleans, and 366 from the Ohio river at Cairo. The Mississippi river [illegible] Westward, at Vicksburg. The site of the city was surveyed in 1821, and in 1825, Congress set it apart as the seat of Government of the Territory of Mississippi [note: this is not accurate, as Mississippi became a state in 1817 and established its own capital at Jackson in 1821]. The present Capitol was commenced in 1835, and when completed was considered one of the finest State buildings in the Union. It is of stone, and cost about [illegible]. It occupies a commanding position; at its front a wide street eads off a mile to West Jackson, in the rear the Pearl river runs along on its way to the sea. All about are clustered the homes and institutions of the state and city, while forests of pine, and oak, and cypress line the horizon. To the Northwest lies he famous Yazoo Delta with its rich agricultural lands, and the largest and most compact hard wood forest to be found in the United States. The Delta is penetrated by the Illinois Central from Jackson. The railroad facilities of the city are the finest in the State, enabling the traveler to reach no less than sixty-four county seats, with numerous intermediate places, and transact business with only one day’s absence from home. Something like a dozen counties around do a large portion of their banking here, while merchants and farmers for fifty miles about find it a desirable market.
The city is scattered over a good deal of ground. The streets are wide, and in the residence portions are many handsome homes surrounded by spacious and well-kept ground and the street cars run from the depots a mile east to the Capitol and thence another mile north to the College for the Blind. Three other State Institutions are located here, viz: The Institute for the Deaf and Dumb; the Hospital for the Insane, and the Penitentiary. These institutions, with the Post Office, and United States Court House, the Governor’s Mansion, and City Hall, give Jackson a larger number of fine public buildings than any other place of equal size in the South.
There are plenty of churches and good preaching. It is the home of Bishop Thompson, of the Episcopal Church, and is to be the home of Bishop Galloway, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, grand and elegant men, both. The public schools of the city employ fourteen teachers, exclusive of the corps engaged in the Collegiate Academy, Jackson College, Wyatt’s Commercial College, and several private schools. The Jackson College is a colored Baptist school, with over 200 students. Dr. Ayer, of Boston, is president. The buildings are lighted with gas; a telephone service connects all parts of the city, and 26 Western Union wires bring messages of business and news from all over the land.
There are several fine private libraries, while the State library is one of the best in the country; the collection of law books being the fifth in size among the States. It is in charge of an accomplished librarian, Mrs. Mary Moraney, who also acts as custodian of the capitol. A fine picture of Abraham Lincoln hangs in the State Library [!!]. The State Supreme Court holds semi-annual terms in Jackson, in April and October. The U.S. Circuit and District courts also hold sessions here, the former in May and November and the latter in January and June. The Federal revenue and land offices are also located in Jackson. Here, too is centered the talent of the bar of the state. It is also the home of many wealthy and well-to-do- families, because of the educational, social and living advantages. The city has much fine musical and literary talent, Luther Manship, and several members of his family being notable examples. Mr. Manship is a matter-of-fact hardware dealer, but he could make a reputation on the state.
Jackson is free from municipal debt, a thing quite uncommon among cities North or South. The assessed valuation of real estate exceeds $1,100,000, with nearly $500,000 asses’d against personal property. The expenses of running the city aggregate about $30,000.00 a year, the largest items being schools and streets. John McGill is mayor, Isadore Strauss treasurer, M.M. McLeod, clerk; E. Watkins, W.S. Lemly, H.K. Hardy, J. Braun, W.H. Taylor and Ben Jones, aldermen; J.C. Caraway, marshal. Mr. McGill is a Republican, and has been mayor for the last fourteen years. The clerk is a colored man and was a member of the legislature for one term. The streets are kept in fine order. The fire department, a volunteer service, admirably equipped with two steamers, a hand engine and a hood and ladder outfit, is one in which the citizens take pardonable pride. The general municipal system of improvement bears evidence of a thoughtful, trained and conscientious management, resutling in progress worthy of emulation by more boastful communities.
The city has three banks, of which the First National takes the lead. This monetary institution is in the hands of progressive men, Dr. S.S. Carter being president, and O.J. Waite, formerly of Webster City, Ia., cashier. Six newspapers are published, one daily, the Advertiser, and five weeklies, the Clarion, State Ledger, New Mississippian, Baptist Record, Sword and Shield. The editors, Power and Clifton, Henry, Lowd, Martin and Gambrell, are lively writers and show ability and spirit in their various fields of labor. The Clarion is now in its fiftieth year. R.H. Henry, editor of the State Ledger, is State Printer. Martin, of the New Mississippian, is one of the funny men of the State.
The opera house, a commodious and attractive hall, neatly equipped with stage scenery, etc., in which all entertainments are given, and well patronized, is the property of R.L. Saunders, a gentleman fully awake to the needs of the city and country. The secret societies all flourish here. Last fall the city went dry, in other words, the Prohibitionists carried the election, and after March 6th, when the last license expires, no liquor can be had at retail.