Today’s post is the second of two articles describing Jackson in 1887, written by Mr. Moses Folsom of Des Moines, Iowa (thus his interest in native Iowans) and published by the Jackson State Ledger. Here’s Part 1.
Once again, I have taken the liberty of inserting paragraph breaks, and for easier reading, I’ve put in bold the names of places that have illustrations. A number of these buildings are included in the MDAH Historic Resources Database (I’ve added links to their records), but so far I haven’t been able to locate several of the houses.
Some of the Prominent Residences and Industries of Jackson.
Continuation of Moses Folsom’s Descriptive Letter–Wealth of Hinds County–Products, Soil, Timber, Etc.
Following is the balance of Mr. Moses Folsom’s interesting letter descriptive of Jackson:
Jackson makes no pretension to the possession of very large manufacturing establishments, yet it has in its midst some important and growing industries. Local capital entirely has been used in starting the wheels of industry. The most conspicuous establishment is the cotton compress, the various buildings connected therewith, covering a large area, and present, during the busy season, a most animated scene. The press is a 90th-inch Morse, the most powerful in the world. Capt. C.A. Lylerly is the manager. The compress has largely increased the cotton receipts and business of the city.
Another establishment of note is the Pearl River Foundry and Agricultural Works [see Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, p. 1038], owned and managed by Charles Williams. It is the largest establishment of the kind in the State the output of plows exceeding 10,000 a year, with other implements, cotton planters, corn shellers, etc., in proportion. His buildings, three in number, and yard, cover five acres of ground. The Mississippi Agricultural Works, A.H. Kirkland, proprietor, is also an institution of importance. Mr. Kirkland makes plows, harrows, cultivators and cotton planters, and keeps running full up to capacity. He runs a planing mill in connection, while his foundry turns out everything in brass and iron. Jackson has one more foundry and machine shop, John McDonal’s, with a specialty of engines and mill machinery. Capt. Wolfe, long superintendent of schools, recently inaugurated an enterprise in the shape of a feed mill, and is meeting with unexpected success. The demand for his meal and feed exceeds his capacity to manufacture, and increased facilities will necessarily follow. Capt. Wolfe [illegible] and stockman, and a pioneer in the introduction of Holstein cattle.
The ice factory owned by Joseph Morris, is a $25,000 industry, and one of importance to the city. Its capacity is five tons a day, the product of absolute purity. The city cotton warehouse, by H.F. Baley, is also one of the institutions of Jackson. Mr. Baley is a manufacturer of fertilizers, and owns a large marl bed near the city, and no man in the State has given the question of fertilization more consideration. Mr. Baley occupies the house used by Gen. Joe Johnson, and also by Gen. Grant as headquarters.
Jackson has always been a good retail business point, and a wholesale trade is now being built up. There is no room for any more retail stores, but jobbers and manufacturers will find it an admirable location. Living is comparatively cheap, and that in connection with cheap labor, is an important factor in the up-building of manufactories. Fuel is abundant and cheap, the water is good, the health and climatic conditions are all that could be desired, and sites for factories, with railroad switching facilities, can be had at nominal figures, indeed local aid will be extended to men of experience and reliability to found new industries or expand old ones.
It was our pleasure to meet many of the representative men of Jackson, among others the following: G.D. Sidway, a leading hardware dealer, and President of the Trustees of the Episcopal Fund and Church property, and principal promoter of the Mercierville addition to the city of Jackson, a project that put the Episcopal diocese of Mississippi in good financial condition; E. & S. Virden, wholesale and retail dealers in general merchandise, with the largest store in the city, and owners of many large and exceedingly valuable tracts of land, which they will sell at low prices to Northern farmers; J.H. Odeneal, owner of the now famous Sligo dairy farm, and of the larger herd of Jerseys in South Mississippi. Mr. Odeneal won the sweepstakes butter premium at the New Orleans Exposition. Isadore Strauss, city treasurer, and manufacturers of harness and saddles and dealer in furniture and wagons. Dr. P.W. Peeples, proprietor of the Edwards house, the largest hotel in Mississippi, and recently enlarged to meet the demands of travel; Col. J.S. Hamilton, lessee of the penitentiary, principal projector of the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad, State Senator and one of the busiest men of Mississippi; John P. Stephens, and Robert L. Saunders, leading citizens, merchants and land owners; Col. S.B. Thomas, Sheriff of Hinds county; Capt. C.D. Bustamente, agent for the Murray Iron Works of Burlington, Iowa, and a busy and useful man; Dr. Kells, an old citizen; Judge H.R. Ware, attorney and real estate agent, a genial man and well posted; L. Fragiacomo, of the popular Lawrence House and Judge S.S. Calhoon; Marcellus Green, T.A. McWillie and J.A. Brown, attorneys, and illustrious names in Mississippi.
The county of Hinds, in which Jackson is located, was organized in 1821; is the 7th in area; 1st in total population (3rd in whites, 1st in blacks) and 3rd in the production of cotton. The south part of the country is in the long leaf pine region while the north part is the middle prairie section, which abounds in lime stone and marl beds. Pearl river forms the eastern boundary, while the Big Black forms a part of the western boundary. More than one-half of the country is still in timber of choice varieties. The soil is largely yellow loam and produces fine crops of all kinds. Cotton is the great staple, but of late years more attention with much success has been given to stock raising, fruit and vegetables. The people are becoming aroused to the possibilities of their soil and climate. Lands are worth from $2 to $15 an acre, depending on location and improvements. The natural conditions all favor great prosperity.
Mississippi liberally supports institutions for the education and maintenance f the unfortunates, several of these fine public establishments being at Jackson, to wit: College for the Blind, Dr. W.S Langley, Superintendent; Institution for the Deaf Dum [sic], Prof. J.R. Dobyns, Superintendent; Hospital for the Insane, Dr. T.J. Mitchell, Superintendent; State Prison, David Jonston, Superintendent, and Hamilton & Hoskins, Lesees. The views of these institutions, and of the Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, Postoffice, etc., give an idea of the architectural taste of the builders and the beneficence of the State.
The State is fortunate in having men of ability, force, character and cordiality filling executive positions. Governor Robert Lowry will have served his people eight years in his present position at the close of this term, the longest period ever given to any other occupant of the office. This is evidence of his populatiry and usefulness. He is a man of the living present, and so is Col. W.L. Hemingway, State Treasurer, who, in addition to his public duties, cultivates a large farm near the city, covered with orchards and heards of blooded stock. J.R. Preston, Superintendent of Education, brings to his high place experience and ability, and his work is already felt among the schools of the State. George W. Carlisle, Commissioner of Immigration and Agriculture, is the right man in the right place. His zeal and activity is only equaled by his faith in the future greatness o this section. The Legislature unwisely crippled his work by cutting off the appropriation heretofore given, but it is confidently expected that the new Legislature will restore it. Capt. Wm. Henry, formerly of Burlington, Iowa, is Adjutant General, George M. Govan, Secretary of State, T.M. Miller, Attorney General, and W.W. Stone, Auditor of Public Accounts. There are a good many Northern citizens here of high standing. Col. Power, editor of the Clarion, is a New Yorker; so is Bishop Thompson; G.D. Sidway is from Illinois; Dr. E.A. Gilbert, of Dubuque, Ioway, who has been here three years, is a rising and successful physician; Miss Josephine Kellogg, of Leon, Iowa, has for four years, taught in Tougaloo University, but the list could be indefinitely extended.
There is room in this State for more capital and enterprise and men endowed with either or any good qualities will be met with as cordial recognition as is possible in the world. The census of 1880 gave Mississippi first position among the cotton States, with the production of corn doubling the entire yield of the six New England States. It is strictly an agricultural Commonwealth, having but little mineral, but the possibility of the soil can scarcely be over-estimated. Its area exceeds 57,000 square miles. All the cotton produced in the United States grows on less than 20,000 square miles; all the sugar, rice and garden products, on less than 30,000 square miles. The variety of soils in Mississippi is great. Mississippi is the only Southern State not burdened with a large public debt, and State Senator Sutton, in a speech in the Iowa Legislature on March 11th, 1886, said that “Democratic Mississippi has more prohibition and less saloons, according to population, than any other State in the Union.” No State in the Republic offers greater advantages to health and home seekers, farmers, manufacturers and all classes of industrious people.