After the Civil War, Itawamba County saw a drastic loss in population. With a Reconstruction government and the local economy in ruin, citizens had to simply pick up the pieces and start anew. It was after the Civil War and through the 1890’s that many Itawamba County families took the “Go West” fever. Areas west of the Mississippi offered a bright future and a new life for many and as late as the 1880’s the Fulton Reporter newspaper in Itawamba County featured advertisements from Texas offering fertile lands at affordable prices. It was during this time that a sizeable migration to Texas began.
A case in point of this drastic population loss is illustrated in the Jerico Precinct poll book in Itawamba County for this period, giving a listing of registered voters and a notation of the elections in which they voted. There are numerous entries with the note “Gone to Texas” written by the voters’ names. It is evident from reading old local newspapers from the 1880’s era that one group of Itawambians went to Bosque County in central Texas. The 1870 Federal census for Bosque County shows a total of 89 households with the head of the household born in Mississippi and by the 1900 Federal census the number had grown to 312.
The Itawambians who left their family homes in Mississippi carried fond memories of their native state, yet were proud citizens of their new home state of Texas. On July 20, 1888, The Fulton Reporter in Itawamba County published a letter simply signed The Lone Star Boys. The letter was written from Meridian, in Bosque County. Below is a transcript of that letter showing their fond remembrances of Mississippi and a loyal pride in their new state of Texas:
June 21st, 1888
Dear Editor Reporter:
Texas is not, as some may think, a “flowery bed of ease” but we must say her natural scenery is not only beautiful but grand. While we think so much of Mississippi, and love her, for she has been a cradle for us, and has furnished play-grounds for our boyish games, and a pleasant home in our youth, yet me must say the Lone Star State far excels in grandeur.
After the day’s toil is finished, and the sun is slowly sinking beneath the western horizon, just to walk over the plains and view the scenes of nature is unsurpassed by anything.
Standing far out from either tree or house and see the hundreds of cattle grazing on the green plains, which look only to be the size of sheep, and now and then it is dotted with a small cottage – the home for the cowboy.
But far beyond all these, the edge of the horizon is capped with a high mountain whose top has a rock on it covering about three acres. Along the sides is covered with fossils which are indications of the sea once having washed her shores there.
After all this, Texas is not dead; her towns are, of course new, but thriving, and her people are not “ruffians,” but an intelligent and energetic people. Most all her small towns have street-cars, colleges and other public improvements. Our town can boast of having a $61,000 Court House, which is built of stone from her own incorporation.
Friends, we wish to be remembered.
The Lone Star Boys