Copiah County

County Seat: Hazlehurst

Population as of 2000 Census: 28,757 people
Racial makeup as of 2000 Census: 47.80% White, 50.95% Black or African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.54% from two or more races. 1.15% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

The area comprising Copiah County was ceded to the United States by the Choctaw Indian tribe in the treaty generally known as the “Doak’s Stand Treaty” on October 18, 1820. Copiah derives its name from the Choctaw language and is a combination of two words: Coi (panther) and Apahyah (to call out), and thus “calling panther”. Copiah was established in 1823 becoming Mississippi’s 18th county. In 1856, the town of Hazlehurst was established as a railroad stop.

In the early 1890s, the county was a popular tourist area. Brown’s Wells, located just west of Hazlehurst, attracted prominent people from across the region. Some came to drink the water for medicinal purposes, others came simply to enjoy the beauty and pleasure the resort offered. Just a few miles north, Lake Chautauqua in Crystal Springs was one of the most popular resorts in the South. Every summer, noted evangelists held meetings of worship here, and the finest talent in the South appeared on stage. These recreational opportunities were the result of a solid economic base. Wesson Mills, the cotton mill founded by Colonel James Madison and Capt. William Oliver in Wesson in 1866, was at one time the largest manufacturing plants south of the Ohio River, and Wesson was the largest town on the railroad between Jackson and New Orleans.