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Vanished villages


The village of Chocchuma (in Lots 11 and 12 of Section 19, Township 22, Range 3 east) on the Yalobusha River grew up around the U.S. Land Office (1833-40), which was charged with selling off Indian lands after the removal of the Choctaws.

Its name (translated Red Crawdad People) recalls the powerful Chakchiuma Indians, who were believed to have come from west of the Mississippi River and once lived along the Yazoo, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha rivers. Known for their large stature and hunting skills, they often warred with the Choctaws and Chickasaws for territory on the Tombigbee prairies.

Chocchuma map

For an enlarged map of early Chocchuma, click here.

According to Indian lore, they were wiped out by the combined forces of these two tribes in a battle six miles west of what is now Belle Fountain, Mississippi. But their name, like many other musical Indian words has survived.

In 1835, the bustling little town of Chocchuma had five businesses, a saloon, three hotels (one known as the Planters Hotel) and five boarding houses to serve the eager land-buyers who flocked to the area. Keel boats large enough to carry 300 bales of cotton plus passengers plied the Yalobusha. Fortunes were founded, risked and lost in the fever of land speculation.

In "Indians and Pioneer of Old Eliot," Henry Heggie quotes a resident of Chocchuma who describes the homes in the Yalobusha country as "crude and rough. They were made of rough-hewn logs and had one to two rooms, rough floors, window shutters instead of glass, roofs of boards, chimneys of sticks and mortar and wide fireplaces with no mantles. They were furnished with chairs, tables and beds made of hickory. The chairs had seats of cow or goat hide."

In 1842, the land office was moved to Grenada and Chocchuma gradually died out. Today, there is no evidence of the early presence of the town, about three miles southwest of Holcomb, described by J.C. Hathorn in his "History of Grenada County" as sitting "on the last high ridge of land before the river fell away into the lowlands of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta."

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About three miles up the Yalobusha River from Chocchuma, the town of Tuscahoma was founded by James Girault, the "receiver of public monies" at the Chocchuma Land Office. It was located in Section 16, Township 22, Range 3 east, and according to J.C. Hathorn, "During its heyday it was probably the second largest town in what is now Grenada County."

Tuscahoma map

For an enlarged map of early Tuscahoma, click here.

It originally fell in Tallahatchie County and was incorporated in 1836. Shortly afterwards, the first license to operate a saloon in Tallahatchie County was granted in Tuscahoma.

According to Hathorn, the town had a ferry, numerous businesses and a hotel, the Wayside Inn, the remains of which survived into the 1930s. The Wayside Inn was set up by Loring S. Williams and his wife, former staff members at Eliot Mission. A school, Tuscahoma Academy, was located about a mile and a quarter away at Guy's Corner (named for Maj. Curtis Haywood Guy, who came from North Carolina and owned a large plantation there), near the later site of the Holcomb School. A newspaper, The Tuscahomian, began publication in 1835.

By 1842, however, a traveler wrote: "A few days ago in company with Maj. James A. Girault, a planter residing near Tuscahoma, I visited that place, once the principal commercial emporium of North Mississippi, but now a deserted village." At that time, according to Hathorn, "Girault was living on the plantation known as Bellview Place ... later bought by D.L. Holcomb."

The ferry, however, continued to operate until well after the Civil War, and the Tuscahoma post office was in operation as late as 1873.

The name Tuscahoma remains as the name of one of Holcomb's streets.


The nearby community of Oxberry, just across the Yalobusha River from Holcomb, also has early roots. The name comes from the family of Chief James Oxberry, who was a Choctaw interpreter employed by the Chocchuma Land Office. His family was one of those native families determined to remain in the area. Under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, they were able to claim "reservations," and several Oxberrys are listed in the Tract Book of land sales. The early Memphis-Rankin road ran through their land, and it is here that the Oxberry community developed.

Early white families in the area included those of Will Hoffa and Hernando DeSoto Staten. Bethel Baptist Church and a general store run by LaRue Fite and later Gladys Staten were centers of the community. An immense tornado, the longest continually on the ground in recorded history, destroyed the store in 1972.

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