It's Friday evening and Walt Grayson takes us looking around Mississippi. This is one of his favorite places to explore. It's a nice day trip up to Alcorn County in north Mississippi to an old almost-ghost town. And it probably would have been just a memory by now if it had not been for a group of determined folks who just wouldn't let go of the past.
It's a country town now, easy living, if there is such a thing, a few houses, a couple of stores and a church. And the area trademark is the old courthouse. The name of the town is Jacinto. Well, it would be Ya-cin-to if the name were pronounced the way you think it should be. But the pronunciation has evolved to JAY-center in this area. And this place used to be a big deal. The first telegraph line of record in north Mississippi ran from Tuscumbia, Alabama to Jacinto.
It used to be the county seat of Tishomingo County back when Tishomingo County was so large it was called the State of Tishomingo. That was before Alcorn and Prentiss Counties were carved from it cutting it into thirds. And each of the three new counties picked new county seats for themselves leaving Jacinto behind to dwindle away.
The old Jacinto courthouse was used as a school after legal proceedings went elsewhere. Then even the school left after the turn of the 20th century. Next, for 60 years, the old Jacinto Courthouse was used as a Methodist Church. Then the church disbanded. And next, the small town almost lost its former identity, the courthouse. When the church disbanded, the congregation sold the building to a wrecking company for 600 dollars.
Well, when local residents found out, they banded together in protest and appealed for help from any quarter to save their beloved courthouse from the wrecking ball. It is, after all, the finest example of Federal style architecture in North Mississippi. Well, a doctor in West Point who heard about the plight of the old landmark told the local residents to buy the building back at any cost. The wrecking company sold it for 2 thousand dollars. The Doctor wrote out a check from his own account and saved the building personally. The Jacinto foundation formed with that transaction and is still in operation today, some 40 years later. They not only saved the old courthouse from destruction, but renovated it and furnished it with similar pieces to what would have originally been there. With the courtroom upstairs still pretty much furnished like it was in the days when justice was swift and final in these parts.
No one remembers any landmark cases ever being tried here. But there was more than one hombre whose last glimpse of the civilized world was the stairs down out of the courtroom leading to the path ending at the hanging tree nearby. There were few appeals in those days. Justice came swift and usually before supper time. Fortunately, the old courthouse itself won on appeal and had its death sentence commuted by a dedicated jury of towns people who refused to give up to the inevitable, and hung together and saved a north Mississippi landmark in the process, and gave us another old place to go poking around while we are on a long weekend sometime.