Tag Archives: beatties bluff

Once Vibrant, Now Non-extant

18 Dec

In 1817, President James Madison signed the Enabling Act that delineated Mississippi’s admittance into the Union. Later the same year, Mississippi became the 20th state in the Union. European settlement increased, and the growing numbers of white settlers in the region would prove extremely detrimental to the indigenous people. A series of treaties had already begun the process of Indian removal in Mississippi prior to statehood. In 1801, the Fort Adams Treaty assured the creation of the Natchez Trace which followed the trading path of the native peoples as it opened up an avenue for settlers to penetrate the Mississippi wilderness.

Courtesy The Smithsonian Institute

In 1820, a treaty at Doak’s Stand with Chief Pushmataha (portrait per Smithsonian Museum) and the Choctaws gave the United States (5.5) million acres of land in central Mississippi. The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830 provided the remaining (11) million acres of Choctaw land in the state to be exchanged for (15) million acres in Oklahoma. Now known as the Trail of Tears, Native Americans were forced to move westward. From these Indian cessions would come many new counties in Mississippi, including Madison. Created January 29, 1828, Madison County was the twenty-third county in Mississippi and is named after President James Madison. The new county was strategically situated between two river arteries of trade, the Big Black River and the Pearl River.

Courtesy Mississippi Dept of Archives & History

Several roads cut through Madison County in the 1820s. One of the most important was The Natchez Trace, (aka – Old Agency Road). The Trace went from Natchez to Nashville, and at one time there were three stands or tavern outposts in Madison County on the trace, including the small outpost on the Big Black River known as Beattie’s Bluff, where was held the initial court services of Madison County government. In a state legislative act of 1829, section eight stated that until a courthouse could be erected, the county should continue to hold its courts at Beattie’s Bluff. However, once arrangements could be made to create a “seat of justice” in Madison County, the act outlined that it should be the settlement of Livingston.

The nine-square town plan was professionally laid out circa 1830 by a surveyor from Maryland, Mr. Levin Wailes (1768-1847).

Livingston, established in 1824, was a community founded in part because of local springs. The springs would provide water to sustain development. The area that became Livingston was the first section of lands appearing on the land roll from the United States, mentioning such prominent family names as Hubert, Vick, and Runnels. The town was most likely named for Edward Livingston (1764-1836), a United States Senator from Louisiana who had enlisted the pirates Jean and Pierre Lafitte to aid Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812.

After a decade of attention and growth, the livelihood of the small community quickly began to fade after the more centrally located town of Canton was chosen in 1833 to replace Livingston as the seat of Madison County. The difficult economic environment before and following the Civil War continued the reduced interest in Livingston, and by 1906 the Post Office had moved to Flora, a few miles to the West.

Today, the central courthouse square of the old Town of Livingston is still discernible, but no historic architectural remnants are visible.

Another piece of the mythology, mystery, and marvel that is. . . MISSISSIPPI.

Mr. D. Tracy Ward
CEO, Registered Architect – Benchmark Design, PC
Architectural Historian – The American History Guild
Chairman (MS Chapter) Institute of Classical Architecture & Art