Carrollton Historic Pilgrimage and Pioneer Day Festival October 7-8, 2016

Mississippi has many beautiful scenes in its landscape but few have as much to offer as Carroll County and Carrollton, in particular. It is centrally located in the middle of the state and is easily. It is only a “stone’s throw” off Highway 82, one of the state’s major highways. As you enter the town of Carrollton, you are instantly transported into an earlier historical era as you view the homes, businesses and churches. This town has a long and interesting history and we would like to share with you.

One of the primary means of doing this is during the yearly Pilgrimage when homes and churches open their doors for a weekend in October. This year the Pilgrimage dates are October 7-8. Four of the churches will be open with a hostess to greet you as you tour our places of worship. Some of the churches began before the Civil War and minutes offer interesting bits of history. A stroll through the business district leads you to the Merrill Museum which contains a number of clues to the history of the town as well as the county.



The “crown jewel” of Carrollton lies in its homes which span over a century of architectural styles. The owners have maintained them in top order and look forward to showing you their homes. This year there will be 5 homes open, three of which have never been open for the Pilgrimage before. In addition, Cotesworth, the home of Senator J. Z. George, will be open. Senator George is an author of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. On display in the home is the desk he used when writing this document.

On Saturday there will be vendors hawking their wares and selling food so you can maintain your energy to take it all in. Also there will be live entertainment throughout the day, our very own “Opry on the Square.” Now, what more could you ask for except to enjoy some of the nicest people in the state who will be glad to show you why we are proud of our hometown?

Comments provided by Barbara Rayburn, chairman of ticket sales. For more information about the Carrollton Pilgrimage and Pioneer Day Festival, visit our website – or email us at

Vaiden to Celebrate Its History October 8

To celebrate its heritage, the Town of Vaiden will host its annual Heritage Festival on Saturday, October 8, 2016. The Festival will open at 8 am and close at 5 pm. It will be filled with children’s activities, booths of arts and crafts, commercial items, and food. Entertainment will include a praise team, The Wilson Singers, The Delta Crossin’, Little Willie Farmer and his Blues Band and Ms Lannie McBride. You are invited to come join us in our celebration. For more information about the Festival, call Diann Ellis at 662-464-5266.

Organized in 1859 and incorporated a year later, Vaiden was named for Dr. C. M. Vaiden an early settler. In the 1837, Dr. Vaiden hired architect and master builder James Clark Harris to build Prairie Mont which closely resembled another of Harris’ masterpieces, Malmaison, the home of Greenwood LeFlore in northwestern Carroll County. Dr. Vaiden was buried at the Vaiden Cemetery with a beautiful monument made of Italy marble making the spot.

In the early days, Vaiden and the surrounding area grew rapidly, thanks to farming, transportation routes, and rail travel. The town became one of the wealthiest towns in Mississippi with its abundance of planters, lawyers, merchants and other business professionals.

Noah House 1875

Noah House – 1875

With the growth, the town developed and buildings, offices and homes were constructed. Because of the number of settlers traveling into town to gather supplies and take care of other business, the town adapted to accommodate the patrons. Livery stables and other necessities were provided throughout town to care for horses, buggies, wagons and carriages while their owners were in town.

Churches also played an important role in the development of the area. In 1840-41, the Baptist Church at Vaiden was built. In 1877-78, the Vaiden Presbyterian Church was built.

Shongolo Church, Vaiden, Mississippi

Shongolo Church, Vaiden, Mississippi

Both still exist with active congregations.

As the area grew, so did the need for education. Among the schools was Richland Academy, founded in 1836 by a Mr. Hughes, a graduate of a University in Ireland. The school offered elementary and classical education. James Z. George was one of the students. He would later buy a stage coach inn just north of Carrollton for his growing family and name it Cotesworth. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1881-1897. Known among his constituents as “the Great Commoner” George was influential in the creation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, and worked to aid education and civil service reform. J.Z. George’s statue stands in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., one of two representing Mississippi. George and a number of his family are buried at Evergreen Cemetery at North Carrollton, Mississippi.

Because of the vast size of Carroll County, the county was divided into two districts. Vaiden became the county seat for the second district in 1874. In 1898 the first telephone exchange was installed in Vaiden by the Cumberland Telephone Company. The next year, a furniture factory and brick factory were opened.

The old Courthouse at Vaiden, demolished after the making of Mississippi Burning in 1988, stood on the hillside where a children’s park is located today. The bell from that courthouse stands in front of the new Courthouse, located where a row of stores and businesses once stood. Shelving from some of those businesses can be seen in the Merrill Museum in Carrollton.

Vaiden Courthouse

Vaiden Courthouse

Winterville Traveling Trunk to be Part of 2016 Pioneer Day Festival

To most of us the term “Mississippian” means someone who lives in Mississippi. However, to archeologists the term designates a period in history 1000 to 1700 A.D. and the society that lived during that period. This society was spread across much of the southeastern states. At first glance, their platform mounds appear to be a small hill rise. However, they range in height from eight to almost 60 feet [approximately the height of a 6 story building] and are from 60 to as much as 770 feet in width at the base. There are seven sites in Mississippi that have been designated Mississippi Landmarks and are part of the National Park Service system. Best known are Emerald and Grand Village sites are located near Natchez, Bear Creek located on the Mississippi and Alabama state line near Tupelo and Winterville located just north of Greenville.

According to the National Park Service website, the Winterville site consists of a 43-acre plaza with flat-topped, rectangular ceremonial mounds of various sizes. The largest mound, at the center, is the 55-foot-high Mound A. Archaeologists believe that the site was occupied mainly during ceremonies with the social elite, such as chiefs, priests, and their retainers, being the permanent residents. Buildings were constructed of wooden posts covered with mud plaster and had thatched roofs. It is likely that only members of. Four of the original 23 mounds were destroyed and several others reduced to remnants by agricultural practices before the site became as a state park. Nevertheless, this mound group remains one of the largest and best-preserved in the southeastern United States. Archaeological excavations were conducted at Winterville in 1967-1968. The finds included structural remains, burials, and many ceramic and stone artifacts. From this evidence, the history of the site was reconstructed. The Winterville museum exhibits a large collection of archeological artifacts, including decorated pottery vessels, stone tools, and ornaments from Winterville and other regional sites.


Dr. Mark Howell, Director of Winterville Mounds (administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History), will bring the Winterville Traveling Trunk to Carrollton’s Historic Pilgrimages and Pioneer Days on October 8, 2016. On display will be a tri-fold display (3’ x 3’) with pictures of the Winterville archaeological site, artifacts from there and nearby sites; replications of ancient tools and weapons, such as an atlatl (spear thrower) and fire starter; hands-on pottery sherds and lithics (worked stone); replications of high status ceramics; and handouts about the site, public programs, and those from other nearby archaeological sites and attractions—including the newly established Mississippi Mound Trail. Mound Trail t-shirts will be available for sale as well as books on the archaeology of Mississippi. Dr. Howell will answer questions and give demonstrations on the Native American technology on display. Although everyone interested in our first residents is invited to stop by to talk to Dr. Howell, history teachers will find this exhibit especially interesting.

Note: Two sites Carroll County have been identified as Mississippian sites and are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Both are on private property and are not open to the public.

New Homes on 2016 Pilgrimage

We are excited to have some new homes open this year.  Shades Rest, the home of Bo and Shonda Milton, has never been open for the Pilgrimage.  With its beautiful parquet floor in the entry way and its bold color scheme, it will delight pilgrimage visitors.  We are glad to have the Miltons in our community and on the list of 2016 Pilgrimage Homes.  Another home that has never been on the tour before is Tanglewood, also known to many as the Dr. Costilow House.  Steve and Reba Bailey purchased the house last year and began work in January on restoration.  As pilgrimage visitors who visited the Bailey’s home Cedar Hill can attest, the finished product will be a great addition to the 2016 list.  Wayside, the home of Keith and Amanda Ferguson, has been on tour before but not since several changes have been made to both modernize the home and to return some of its former features.   Come see these and our other structures October 7-8, 2016!  For more information, email us at or check us out at

A Tour In Time

“In the sleepy town of Carrollton, Mississippi, when one story ends, another takes hold.  Filled with historic structures, both residential and commercial, the town really unfold more like a village, with paved roads meeting the unpaved driveways of charming home which have protected their owners, their histories and their integrity from mass change.”

“Visitors come to Carrollton because of the architecture and stay perhaps, because of a festival or a personal invitation.  Getting to know Carrollton takes little money not time.  What is reSHADESRESTquired is an
innate curiosity and the ability to carry on a spontaneous conversation over a fence or on a porch.  As a destination, it’s a place to go with a picnic basket for a quiet afternoon or during the annual pilgrimage when homeowners open their doors to the public and Pioneer Days attracts the crowds.”

“If anything rivals the rich historic residential area, it may be the churches, Courthouse or the remaining commercial properties.  At the corner of Washington and Lexington Streets across from the Courthouse, Gee’s Store serves as the quintessential reminder that time can stand still.  Looking through the windows takes passersby back 150 years.”

“Located a short drive from Grenada, Winona and Greenwood, Carrollton offers the removed peace of rural living without the cacophony of daily life. ”

LumReekThese excerpts are from an article in May 2016 edition of the DeSoto Magazine, written by Karen Ott Mayer.  “The Historic Homes of Carrollton” also discusses the Captain Ray House, Wayside and Lum Reek.  To learn more about the DeSoto Magazine, go to

Carrollton is located at the junction of Mississippi Highways 82, 35, and 17.

The annual Pilgrimage and the Pioneer Day Festival will be held on October 7 and 8.  For more information contact us at, or 662-237-6910.

Carrollton: Well Worth the Trip

Just a mile or so north of modern Highway 82 and a few miles west of Interstate 55, the small town of Carrollton is one of Mississippi’s most perfectly preserved 19th-century communities. So many of its homes, churches and public buildings were constructed before 1900 that it was the logical filming site for William Faulkner’s novel, The Reivers, set in 1904. When Hollywood came calling in 1968, searching for a town that could pass for turn-of-the-century Jefferson, they were astonished to find that all Carrollton needed was some dirt on the streets and a few downtown buildings tweaked. The town’s lone gas station disappeared behind a livery stable facade. Old signs were painted on a few storefronts. Add a few wagons and the star of the movie, a 1904 Winton Flyer, and time stood still.

In the half-century since the movie was made, not much has changed in Carrollton. Visitors still find its 1878 courthouse sitting on the town square, with exterior doors that are never locked. Church designs range from the Gothic Stick Style jewel that is Grace Episcopal to more formal classical buildings used by the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist congregations. The 1870s jail survives, as does an entire block of mid-1800s storefronts on the south side of the square. Merrill’s Store, now a museum, dates back to the town’s 1830s origins. Winding residential roads are lined with antebellum showplaces and Victorian cottages, most in excellent condition and some handed down over multiple generations.

There are many historic towns in Mississippi where you can find the old interspersed with modern life. But only in Carrollton can you find a town that truly seems like it has been preserved in amber for more than a century. It’s well worth the trip.

Mary Carol Miller, author of Written in the Bricks: A Visual and Historical Tour of Fifteen Mississippi Hometowns

Carrollton Community House Featured in Mississippi Preservation Blog

carrollton-community-house-frontNew Deal in Mississippi: Carrollton Community House

Carrollton’s rustic style community house was constructed of native pine logs in 1935-1936 by the Works Progress Administration.  Carroll Van West, who has documented a number of New Deal Administration works in Tennessee, indicates that the two primary architectural styles associated with depression-era buildings were the “government rustic” and PWA Moderne or WPA Moderne, depending upon which agency funded the construction.  The rustic style originated in the early park designs, using the natural resources of timber and stone, thought appropriate for a concept of “rising out of the ground.”

Superintendent of construction  was David Felts, a builder and contractor from Carrollton.  The community house was restored in 2001, and received the 2002 Heritage Award of Merit for restoration (Mississippi Heritage Trust).

Artists for A Taste of Soup and Art Exhibit

Tatted Bracelet available at A Taste of Soup and Art Exhibit

Tatted Bracelet available at A Taste of Soup and Art Exhibit

What do crocheted rag rugs, handmade scarves, tatted bracelets, mesh ribbon wreaths and hand thrown pottery have in common?  Yes, they are all made by hand.  But the more important thing you need to know is that they will all be exhibited at the February 13 A Taste of Soup and Art Exhibit at the Carrollton Community House.  As part of the annual fundraiser for the Carrollton-North Carrollton Library, Cynthia Vlassic, Elizabeth Saunders, Margaret Howerton, Jackie Clay and Sharon Tollison will be there with items for view or for sale.  The second purpose of A Taste of Soup and Art Exhibit is to showcase talented Carroll County residents.  Tickets are still available at the Library or from Friends of the Library.  Call the Library at 662-237-6268 or Pam Lee at 662-237-6910.  Tickets are required and are $10.

Warm Up with Carroll County Libraries

Burrr!  The weather is getting just right for chili and soups, paired with cornbread and crackers and finished off with something sweet.  Then settle down with a good book and stay toasty.  Ahh!  The Friends of the Carroll County Libraries are getting ready to make that a reality.

The Friends of the Vaiden Library invite you to warm up at their annual chili lunch on Friday, January 22, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, at the Library.  Tickets are available at the Library for $8.00.  Tickets are required.  Raffle tickets are also being sold for some handmade items.

The Friends of the Carrollton-North Carrollton Library invite you to warm up at their annual soup tasting and art exhibit.  Held at the Carrollton Community House on February 13, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm, the Friends will be serving samples of six different soups:  Broccoli and Wild Rice Soup, Buffalo Chicken Chowder, Creamy Potato Soup, Dill Pickle Soup, Vegetable Soup and Wild Rice and Sausage Soup.  These six soups were selected at a taste test session held recently by members.  The members’ favorite was Dill Pickle Soup.  What will yours be?  Buy your $10 ticket from any of the Friends or from the Library and bring your change to vote for your favorite soup.  Carroll County artists will also be at the Community House to demonstrate some of their work.  Tickets are required.

Reading is an important skill needed throughout life.  It can also be a great relaxer or entertainment.  Help the Carroll County Libraries provide more reading opportunities this year.  If you can’t attend these events, make a donation.

Welcome to Carroll County!

Carroll County is a beautiful place to visit. We hope you have a great time while you are here. If you need information, please feel free to call our Town Halls or the Courthouse.

If you are looking for cemeteries, look under the Churches tab on the main page. This is a new addition.

If you have questions, you can use the Contact Us tab to reach us.