Today, Mound Bayou is celebrating its 124th anniversary. Whenever we are in the Delta and visit McCarty Pottery in Merigold, we try stop in Mound Bayou, the home of Peter’s Pottery (if you see a strong resemblance in the two styles of pottery, the Woods brothers began as apprentices of Lee and Pup McCarty).
One of the most interesting things about the town, though, is that it was built by ex-slaves of Joe Davis, the brother of Jeff Davis, and calls itself the oldest all-black municipality in the US.
The founders were Isaiah T. Montgomery and his cousin Benjamin T. Green. Isaiah’s father was Joseph Davis’ assistant and plantation business manager, helping work on the new model of day-to-day operations at Hurricane Plantation. The reforms included a slave hospital, slave court (w/ slave jury), etc.
..and here’s a view of slave quarters at one of the brothers’ plantation. Library of Congress, thank you:
Library of Congress #: LC-DIG-ppmsca-10971
Isaiah moved from Hurricane Plantation to another formerly Davis-owned plantation Brierfield (they were incredibly successful there after the war), to Vicksburg, when he and his cousin picked out some land in Bolivar County in 1887 that was owned by a railroad. He wrote to Jeff Davis asking that he request the railroad sell them 840 acres. Not only did that happen, but by 1902, the Mound Bayou Corporation had 20,000 acres in its name.
Mound Bayou was founded as a cooperative community of freed slaves – it was Isaiah Montgomery’s dream to found the “largest Negro U.S. town” (the 2000 census put the percentage of Blacks living there at 98.43%).
…and this, at city hall: