By RUTH MORGAN
For Starkville Daily News
All of our Oktibbeha County communities are really special in their own way.
Going back to the beginning, Double Springs was one of the first communities. The community had a blacksmith shop, wood shop, mercantile stores, boot shop, churches (Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist), post office, and many physicians. From 1845 to 1918, about 15 doctors practiced medicine at Double Springs.
A. N. Butts, a postman and teacher from Double Springs, wrote a book, “Down My River of Memories” about Double Springs. In 1875 he said, “Double Springs was at that time a hot bed for drunkenness, fights and sometimes killings.” His family came to Mississippi in 1867. He told of falling asleep listening to his mother’s bedtime stories of her experiences and hardships during her girlhood days. There were no stoves or matches and clothes for the family had to be carded, spun, wove and hand made. The mode of travel was by ox wagon and horseback. Fields were cleared and fenced with rails split with maul and wedge. All farm seeds were sown by hand. Since there were no sawmills at that time, all houses were built of hewn logs. The war with Reconstruction days increased these hardships. Deer, coons and turkeys were plentiful and hunting often done with a drove of 10 or 15 dogs. Protracted meetings started about 1870.
In the early 1800s, residents labored in the new ground chopping, piling and burning brush. Another feature of this new groundwork was the “log rollings” according to Betts. After all chopping was done, a day was set apart to pile the logs. Neighbors (men and women) were invited. A day or so before this event, the housewife began her preparations for the big dinner and supper. The aroma from cakes, pies, meats and puddings being cooked was awesome. People gathered early in the morning. The men made their way to the new ground while the women quilted and assisted with the cooking. The men divided themselves into groups of four, six and eight. Each selected his partner for the day. With a seasoned hickory stick placed under the log it was carried to the pile. One feature of this work was in matching of strength. When one’s partner failed to carry his end of the stick he was said to be “pulled down.” Some of the leading giants of “log rolling” at Double Springs were Isaiah Neely and his sons, Jesse and Oscar, Will and Gus Thompson, Charlie Ferguson, Jim Freshour, Will Betts, Bud Harrell, Pony Betts, Jim Clegg and Dan Taylor. No log was rolled. Custom demanded that it must be carried so that each could display his strength.
The morning’s work ceased about 11:30 a.m. when all made their way to the house where a long table filled with the choicest of eatables ranging from collard greens to boiled ham and mince pies waited. Hearty eaters sometimes did not finish without eating seconds. The remainder of the noon hour was spent in jumping half hammer, stunts and cracking jokes. The evening’s work proceeded as in the morning until suppertime.
In the meantime the young folks had made preparations for a party or dance. Soon after supper strains of violin music filled the air. Dancers with their partners took their place on the floor while the fiddler filled the room with the strains of Old Dan Tucker, Mississippi Sawyer, Indian War Whoop, Alabama Gal and others, and they danced the night away. These were times of great enjoyment. The ”log rolling” events occurred until about 1911 when it was discovered that one man with a team of mules could pile as many logs as a group of men.
The first automobile that came to Double Springs was that of Dr. Eckford of Starkville. He went to visit Mrs. Dink O’Brian who was sick. About a.m., the rumbling noise of the car was heard and school was dismissed so that all might get a glimpse of this curiosity. It was quite unlike the cars of today. It was built on rubber-tired wheels similar to those of a buggy.
T. B. Carroll wrote in Historical Sketches of Oktibbeha County that in the early days of Oktibbeha County, the pioneers and the newcomers settled on the good lands easily accessible to the roads. Asa Reed and a few others went to the west side of the county and settled in the Double Springs District. They had come with wagons and teams.
The northwestern part of the county developed earlier than the southwestern. In the northwestern section two settlements have borne the name Double Springs. The original Double Springs was in the extreme western part of the county, in section 19, range 12; one mile west and a half-mile south of the Greensboro road. The village was dead before 1853. This information came from Mr. T. C. Archibald, a citizen of Choctaw County, who was just past 80 at the time and had grown up in the old community. In a letter he said that the town derived its name from two very bold springs near the site. As early as 1836, a blacksmith and a wood shop were there and at the same time a post office of which Asa Reed was the postmaster and a Presbyterian church. In 1837, the Methodists established a church; and the following year, the Missionary Baptists organized.
Some very enterprising citizens were in this district. One of them, Emanuel Jose, settled on the Greensboro road as early as 1835 and operated a tavern. Jose was Portuguese to whom the government had given naturalization papers for services rendered as a sailor in the American Navy. After retiring from the Navy, he settled near old Double Springs. A good many of his descendants were in the county for some time.
According to T. C. Archibald, the first school in this section opened at old Double Springs in 1840. About 1844, N. U. Wood operated a mercantile store and about 1845, Dr. Ledbetter practiced medicine in the community. He was the first doctor in this part of the county.
Zach Carroll ran a boot shop at Double Springs but also had a tannery near Clark’s mill. At Double Springs, the following had stores: Richardson and Brothers, who sold to Ben Storey in 1856 or 1857, who in turn sold to Judge J. L. Hopkins and Dr. Hill about 1860; Jim Gillespie; H. A. McCreight, and Joe Ramsey in 1859.
Dr. Derett continued his medical practice in this community until 1860. Being a Mormon, he sold his property and moved to Utah. Dr. White remained here until 1855. Then Dr. Quinn began his practice, which lasted only two or three years. Dr. J. R. McMullen settled here about 1857; he practiced until his death in 1906. About 1858 Dr. Randle settled in the community and except for an interim during the war, he practiced until 1867.
In 1858, Dr. Cooper, who had bought Derett’s holdings about five miles south of Double Springs, began a practice which lasted until his death in 1874. And in this same general community, Dr. McHughes practiced from 1859 to 1863.
Early in the 1860s a tornado passed through the Norwest district which did much damage to timber but fortunately did not destroy any residence and no one was injured. The popular name for tornado was “har-i-cane.”
At Double Springs, J. R. McMullen and Sam Cooper were the doctors throughout the War and Mack High served the community as a doctor until 1863 when he either died or moved away. Joe Riley was the postmaster.
In 1870, Dr. Quinn, Dr. J. R. McMullen and Dr. Dandall were the doctors. Jim Petty and the firm of Hub T. Saunders and Frank Ramsey were merchants. In 1870 the store was sold to Bertha and Woodbury who failed in a few years.
The 1870 Census gives the population in Double Springs as 1,996. Principal crops were cotton, potatoes, tobacco, wool and honey.
Thomas Cummings, a resident of Double Springs was a farmer and was very popular. He served as circuit clerk for 20 consecutive years during the late 1880s
Jim Petty continued his mercantile business without a competitor. J. R. McMillen was still practicing medicine; and for one year, 1872, Sam Robinson and S. M. Rainey practiced medicine here.
Dr. Jolen High began practicing medicine about 1883 and died in 1889. In 1879, Jim Petty sold the store to J. T. Sherman who ran it until 1888 when he moved to Maben. There has not been a store at Double Springs since.
Between 1890-1916, Choctaw Agency, Bell’s School House and Double Springs all but disappeared to trade centers, although the population was slowly increasing. More and more people were trading in Starkville.
By 1890 Double Springs had ceased to be a center of population. The church and the school remained.
From 1916 to 1918 Dr. F. B. Long remained in practice at Double Springs and in 1918 he moved to Starkville where he had an extensive practice and later built the Felix Long Hospital.
The Double Springs Baptist Cemetery is located on the Maben Sturgis Road about ten miles north of Sturgis or about five miles south of Maben. The cemetery is located beside the church. Mona Tomlinson who spent a lot of time in the Double Springs Community as a child remembers this church and cemetery being called Chestnut Log, but some time in the late seventies, people started calling it Double Springs Baptist Church. The church has changed from when she was a child from a white frame building to a large brick structure.
Tomlinson catalogued approximately 324 grave sites in the Double Springs cemetery with about 56 surnames being Fulgham. Surnames include: Adams, Archibald, Arnold, Aters, Barnett, Bell, Betts, Blackburn, Blasingame, Burton, Busby, Callahan, Chambers, Clardy, Clark, David, Davis, Ferguson, Fondren, Ford, Freshour, Frost, Fulghum, Gentry, Gregg, Griffin, Harper, Hatcher, James, Johnson, Kellum, Mae, Mckamson, Malone, Mann, Martin, McCool, McIlain, McMinn, Miller, Moore, Neely, O’Bannon, Osborn, Oswalt, Parker, Peay, Phelps, Pennix, Ray, Reed, Reeves, Robinson, Sanders, Shurden, Swindle, Thomas, Tittle, Tucker, Vaughn, Weeks, Westmoreland, Whitaker, Williams, Williamson, Winfield, Woodard, Wyrick, and Young.
Take a ride down the Maben-Sturgis road, just south of the Double Springs cemetery and see the beautiful yellow fringed orchids which grow on a patch of land about 150’ long by 12’ wide. It is a picturesque site in July to September. The yellow fringed orchid is a perennial herb. The flowers are showy, with bright yellow to orange flowers that have distinctive fringed lips and are clustered in racemes. These orchids are becoming rare.