Benton

PEOPLE

Thompson, Loyal W.

Loyal W. Thompson, Sr. served as Captain and Director Chairman of the Citizen's Club and member of the local chapter of the NAACP. In the June 1965 issue of Look magazine, Thompson was photographed sitting on his porch holding his rifle, determined to defend his family against the violence that threatened all involved in civil rights work. After the picture was published, it was hard for Thompson to find work and even if he did, it was hard for him keep his job after employers find out who he was.

Sources:

Interview with Latoya Thompson, granddaughter

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PLACES

Rowland Cemetery

Rowland Cemetery also known as Smith's Grove is an abandoned cemetery located on Highway 72 and Pottery Road. Within this cemetery lie the bodies of several Civil War heroes such as R. W. Smith and William T. Rowland. R.W., short for Robert William, was a wealthy man from Virginia and owned 67 slaves during the 1860s. This cemetery was in conjunction with the 1000 acres he owned. Robert's son, John Waverly, was part of the Co. E 13th Tenn. Infantry in the previous year, but suffered a wound to his right shoulder. He later joined Forrest's Cavalry of the 18th Mississippi Calvary becoming Lt. Col. Alongside his brothers, Richard Edward and Marion Skipwith, they all served as loyal subjects to the 18th Mississippi Calvary. Robert later joined, but was killed in battle at Yellow Rabbit Creek slightly south of Ashland and what is now the border of Benton and Tippah.

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EVENTS

Voter Registration in Benton County

(1960s) Walter Reaves, a citizen of Benton, along with others, urged people to become registered voters during the Civil Rights Movement. Cleanna Tipler, Loyal W. Thompson, Sr., and Henry Reaves were some of the first to register to vote in Benton County. Many followed, though they were often unsuccessful and sometimes intentionally turned away. On numerous occasions blacks were given difficult tests consisting of questions from the constitution and other federal documents. Knowing that people did not often read the Constitution and that the blacks often had little education, officials were able to prevent blacks from registering.

J.B. Mathis, the voter registrar, blatantly set up roadblocks to keep people from becoming registered voters. On December 1, 1964, Mathis was ordered by the federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, to stop his discriminatory acts towards the blacks. Although ordered by the federal court, Mathis still turned away a significant number of potential black voters.

Sources:

My Mind Stayed on Freedom, a film by Aviva Futorian

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GROUPS

The Benton County Citizens Club

The Benton County Citizens Club objectives included the betterment of the members of the colored race, particularly from an educational standpoint. This club had been in existence for some time.

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DOCUMENTS

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