Friars Point: A Prosperous Little Town 1889

On May 28, 1889 the Memphis Daily Appeal published a story about the county seat of Coahoma County. This snapshot from history survives today but most people have never had a chance to read it. Hopefully you will enjoy this little story of Delta history.

Friars Point, Mississippi May 29, 1889

This prosperous little town is situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, about half way between Memphis and Greenville, in the rich Coahoma County. This writer reached the town by taking the daily mail back at Coahoma Station, from which the distance is about seven miles. This gave me an opportunity to traverse a small part of one of the richest sections of agricultural county on the globe. The many large plantations on both sides of the road are well improved and in a fine state of cultivation. Cotton and corn, in spite of want of rain, have a fairly good stand. Everywhere activity was displayed. The shady old trees on both sides along the road offered a welcome protection from the rays of the sun. After an hour’s drive we approached the town, which, when first visible in the distance, environed by shady groves, does not appear to be of great dimensions, but the nearer we came the larger and more attractive it grew, with its many fine and comfortable residences, its several church spires pointing heavenward, and diverse public buildings, broad streets, lined with shady trees, the levee running in front of the town, presenting its inhabitants a most delightful promenade, with a picturesque view of the Mississippi River winding itself gracefully around the point in its downward course. The town covers a large area, and the houses are, until you reach the center, quite scattered.

Methodist Church at Friars Point

Friars Point is universally considered as one of the healthiest towns in the Delta, and the general health is as good as anywhere in the United States. This is greatly attributable to its peculiar location on the river, which always allows a fine breeze, no matter how the weather or season. Another cause is that the drainage is fine, the soil being sandy loam which drains rapidly and thoroughly. The town is about forty years old, has always been the county site, and society is remarkably good, while the people are noted for their courtesy and generosity and their hospitality to strangers, who always meet with a welcome here.

North Delta Museum at Friars Point

The number of inhabitants is about 800. In years past, it at one time was 1,500. The business done by the town was at one time enormous. For several years it dropped off some, but has recently taken a new impetus, due to different causes of which the principal one is that the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railroad, in a few weeks, will pass through here, continuing the Bolivar Loop from Rosedale on. After passing Friars Point the road will go to Coahoma, where it taps the main line. Several large contractors are already busily at work, both from Rosedale on to Friars Point and from Coahoma toward the same destination. The manner in which the work is progressing under so many favorable auspices insures it as a certainty that trains will be running in ninety days. This road will give Friars Point additional advantages of transportation which will enable it to get its freight as cheap as Greenville or Vicksburg. In order to induce the railroad to come here the town, not by taxation but by voluntary subscription of the enterprising citizens gave $20,000 to the railroad, besides depot grounds and ten miles of right of way.

The advent of the railroad has at once called forth a general spirit of stir and enterprise. A bank with a capital stock of $50,000 is almost a certainty; several proposals have been received for the erection of an oil mill to be ready for this year’s crop. Real estate has at once come into demand, some sales having already been made and others negotiated for, by both home people and outsiders.

The Minie Ball House at Friars Point

The landing, with a good wharf boat and warehouse, is about 300 yards from the center town, while the site of the depot is in a distance of 450 yards. The town is well laid out, the streets wide and large, and as soon as the railroad comes the streets will at once be constructed with gravel or plank and also new plank sidewalks laid, the railroad having offered to deliver gravel at cost. A spacious shed for cotton and cotton seed will also immediately be built near the depot. Among the public buildings are a Catholic, Methodist and a Baptist church, a good schoolhouse, a very good and neat looking courthouse and a fine new brick jail recently built and with all the latest improvements, a splendidly furnished spacious Masonic Hall, which is also used by the Knight of Pythias Lodge. The Masonic Lodge has always been very strong and numerous here, and the Knights of Pythias who now have a membership of over sixty, are increasing in numbers. The city has an excellent government and no debt.

Old Jail and Court House at Friars Point

As stated before, Friars Point is the county site of Coahoma County, and always has been. At different periods attempts have been made by other localities to have the county site removed, but the attempts have never been successful. Two years ago it was put to a popular vote and Friars Point received a majority of votes over all competing points combined. Now that the railroad is a certainty, such a majority would become still stronger, but there is reason to suppose that such an attempt will never be made any more.

Unfortunately the above writer was wrong on so many things. In 1892 an act divided Coahoma County into judicial districts with two seats of justice. One was at Clarksdale and the other at Friars Point. By 1925 many people in Coahoma County wanted to have only one county seat of government. The courthouse in Friars Point was old and in need of repairs. It was soon to be condemned. The jail was also in poor condition and unsafe for prisoners. In 1930 Clarksdale became the lone county seat. By the mid 20th century Friars Point had lost its railroad. Although the above article bragged on the growth of Friars Point, the town never did become a magnet for people. Today Friars Point continues, but like much of the Delta is losing population quickly. Friars Point continues though.

Hope you enjoyed the above article. I did leave sections out and will cover those in the future.

References:

“Clarion Ledger” Jackson, Mississippi. Thursday April 3, 1930 – Page 8

“The Memphis Daily Appeal” Memphis, Tennessee. Friday May 31, 1889 – Page 2

23 Thoughts

  1. Mr.Dean Thank you for this article,I really enjoyed reading it ,you my mom was born in friars Point and a lot of my family still live there and the people are very welcoming and friendly so I just wanted to thank you again for your article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Hope you are enjoying my site. I post something new at least once a day about the Delta. In fact I just posted part 2 of A Splendid Little Town Friars Point 1889.

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  2. Thank you so much for our history. I was born in Friars Point and my children are still there. I come back home at least 4 times a year. Its will always be my home. I grew up in the time of segregation, and living on John McKee Plantation. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cliff,

    I greatly appreciate this piece of history you have shared with us today. This place is and will always be considered home for many of us.

    Thank you,
    Ashley Reddicks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Hope you will continue to follow my future stories about the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta. I could write forever seems like on just Coahoma, Tunica and Phillips counties.

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  4. Thank you for writing this, I really enjoyed it. I was raised in Friars Point and still have family there. I’m also a former teacher and I love history too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I grew up in frairs point me and my sibling left after our mom passed away and move to st.louis with our dad. I don’t get to visit as often as I like but frairs point will always be my home.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cliff, thanks for sharing with us the history of Friars Point. I love Friars Point. I was born and raised there and would come home once or twice a year. I’m now unable to travel but it will always be near and dear to my heart. The love is so genuine and I still know nearly everyone there. There’s No Place Like Home.🏠😅😆😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I’m a retired history teacher and was lucky to get a job at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena so I get to talk about the Delta all the time now. Hope you continue to follow my future posts.

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  7. So many wonderful memories!!! I miss my grandmother so much and learning of the community we resided in for many years!!! I am so grateful!! I thank you for taking the time to write this article!!!❤️❤️❤️😪😪

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My grandfather was born inFriars Point in March 1853. He was a boy when Union troops came through. He and my grandmother married in FP on January 19, 1892…exactly 128 years ago yesterday! How nice to see your writing about Coahoma County! Keep it coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. There are so many stories in just the three counties of Coahoma, Tunica and Phillips. I love researching and sharing stories about this special place. Hope you continue to follow my site.

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  9. My home, my town, my love…words can’t express what this city means to me! I was born nearby, struggled therein, and lived to give to tribute to…Friars Point! Love, Always!! Da Pinot!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was privileged to serve the people there as the pastor of the Methodist Church. By then (1980) that church, Lula Methodist, and Dundee Methodist shared a pastor. My family and I were only there for two years, but we made friends in all three communities with whom I have remained in contact over the years. My two sons were at an age where they could really enjoy the freedom and safety that came with those communities.

    Many wonderful memories have remained with me. One in particular was the day of the big bank robbery in Lula around 10 o’clock in the middle of summer of ’81. One of the robbers had stuffed a pack of bills in his waistband as they jumped into a car to get away, and when it exploded it filled the car with color and smell….his two companions kicked him out of the car in front of the Methodist Church and our home which were next door to each other. He ran into the church, then out a side door and into our back yard.

    Our across the street neighbor saw him…called and told us to be sure our doors were locked. (He actually ran north from our house and eventually was captured later that afternoon in a cotton field.) After a few minutes I wandered out into the parking area of the church and found all kinds of bills of different denominations and a pistol at the edge of the street. In no time Lula was an ‘armed camp’ as men with varying kinds of weapons began to search sheds…old buildings or underneath houses.

    I’ll always remember our game warden, Mr. Wilbur Hanks, calling me aside and quietly saying, “Preacher, be careful out here….these guys are trigger happy and somebody is liable to get shot before the day is over.” He was one of many fine people who made those three communities and churches such a special place for my family.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was bone and raised in Friars Point I still have family there I was raised by the best my grandfather the best MAN ever lived on this side of heaven I visit three to four times a year I love my home town

    Liked by 1 person

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