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.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.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.