Benson, John L.: Oral History

Mr. John L. Benson of Moselle tells the story of his family and his great-grandfather, Isom Benson, who donated land in Jones County for building Benson School for African-American children during Jim Crow segregation. Click here for the video. This […]

Freedom House of Laurel

Laurel’s Freedom House was the center for a voter-registration drive in Jones County and was located at the home of Eberta Spinks in 1965.

Hubbard, Ed

Hubbard was born in 1867 and eventually became one of the founding members of the Saint Elmo Baptist Church in 1895. In 1902 at the age of 35 he served as the head sawyer at the Eastman-Gardiner Company’s “big mill”and […]

Jones County Data Dashboard

Demographic data that helps add context to many historical events.


In 1882, the town of Laurel, Mississippi, was founded when John Kamper built a mill in order to provide timber for the completion of the Northeastern and New Orleans Railroad. The work force in the mill was primarily black. In […]

Laurel Colored Schools

There were four schools for the black children in Laurel known as the Laurel Colored Schools: Kingston/Nora Davis, Sandy Gavin, Southside Elementary and Oak Park High School. The children and teachers would walk to school along the two-mile long sidewalk […]

Laurel Leader-Call

The first weekly newspaper in Laurel, the Laurel Chronicle, was founded by Wallace Rogers in 1897. Beginning in 1897, the paper published a column, “Progressive Colored Citizens,”serving as the first white-owned newspaper in the state to positively highlight the contributions […]

Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln was the black community’s theater and was located at the intersection between North Maple and Church St. in the shadow of the Southern Railroad train depot in downtown Laurel. It “offered customers a healthy diversion from the paralyzing […]

Marsh, Charles

Author of “The Last Days: a Son’s Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South.” This book tells of Marsh’s childhood growing up in Laurel, Miss. (8 Highland Woods), and of his minister father. Marsh’s father, […]

McGee, Willie

On December 3, 1945, Willie McGee, an African-American resident of Laurel, was indicted by an all-white Jones County grand jury for raping a married white woman. McGee, in his thirties, was a delivery man at a local grocery store. Although […]

Price, Leontyne

Leontyne Price was the first successful black female opera singer and was born in Laurel, Mississippi, on February 10, 1927. She grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, and graduated from Oak Park High School (now only elementary, 1205 Queensburg Avenue Laurel, […]

The Free State of Jones

Little is known about how Jones County got its nickname “The Free State of Jones,”but there have been many rumors and theories. One with the backing of publication in the Magazine of American History was an article written by G. […]

Triangle Housing Project

“Built in 1940 as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Recovery Program, [the project] was bounded on the east by South Fourth Avenue, on the west by Maple Street and on the south by Jefferson Street.” It was within walking […]

Voting Rights Act in Jones County

(Jones County) (1965) After passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Laurel Leader Call reported that while 99.9 percent of whites in Jones County were registered to vote, only 8.8 percent of blacks were registered. By August 20, […]