Old Courthouse Museum

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The original courthouse, built in 1870 (far left photo), was partially destroyed (the entire third floor) by fire in 1886. It reopened in its current two-story configuration in 1889 and since that time has undergone extensive restorations.

The old Tishomingo County Courthouse in Iuka, Mississippi, plays an important role in the lives of people of this area and has a 147-year history. The land where the old structure now stands was acquired in 1857 from Lemuel Hubbard, a prominent Tishomingo County landowner.

The Old Courthouse is designated a Mississippi Landmark under the provisions of the Mississippi Antiquities Act of 1972. It is also registered in the National Register of Historic Places (#73001026). The original courthouse was an early example of Romanesque Revival architecture with Second Empire style influences.

Our long-term goal is to completely rebuild the third floor and hence provide an elevator for handicap visitor access. The third story was spectacular architecture and unique.

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Act (WPA) added the annex (the L-shaped wing).

The Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical Society became stewards of the building in 2003. Their mission is to restore the historic Tishomingo County Courthouse to its original grandeur.

Civil War and Battle of Iuka

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The Battle of Iuka, though given a small place in the history of the “Fight for Southern Independence,” was a furiously held battle on September 19, 1862, in Iuka, Mississippi. In this battle, the 11th Ohio Battery was captured, and every single man was killed. There was only one other time in the Civil War that this happened.

There have been very few harder fought battles, especially when the number engaged in battle and the time in which the battle was fought is considered. In the engagement which could not have last more than two hours, between 1,000 to 1,500 men were killed and wounded. The Federal statement, if it is to be believed, reported that not more than 6,000 men were actually engaged in conflict during the Battle of Iuka.

Native Americans and Chickasaw Indians

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The first settlers of Tishomingo County were most likely Native Americans from the Chickasaw Indian tribe. These Native Americans are thought to be descended from the Mongolian people of Siberia. The highly probable theory is that they crossed the Bering Strait and settled in Alaska. During the last Ice Age, the ocean was completely frozen over except for about 10 miles which was less than 30 feet deep; this made passage across easily obtainable. As the Indians moved into the lower Mississippi Valley, these natives began to divide and started leading two groups of Muskhogeans into new lands. According to legend, when these tribes arrived in the new lands, they were separated by a river. One group in the north called themselves the Chickasaw, and the other tribe became the Choctaw. These two Indian tribes were mutually hostile. Aside from tradition, the earliest habitat traceable for the Chickasaw is north Mississippi. Their towns were located near the headwaters of the Tombigbee River in northeastern Mississippi, but they also ranged far and wide over the whole Mississippi Valley Region. The Chickasaw, along with the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole, were one of the Five Civilized Tribes which were removed to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in the 1830s.

The Chickasaw were divided into two moieties, or divisions, which were in turn divided into numerous clans. A person inherited the clan of his mother and was forbidden to marry within that clan. The head chief, or High Mingo, was aided by a council of advisers made up of clan leaders and tribal elders. The Chief Mingo, or king, was Ishtoehotpa, and the mingo under him was the ruler of the northernmost district. This ruler was called Tishomingo and lived near present-day Pontotoc, Mississippi. This great ruler called the “Warrior Chief” was aware of the springs known as the “healing waters” which were located in the northeast corner of what is now Mississippi. Chief Tishomingo asked his ailing friend, Chief Iuka, to come and drink of the healing waters. Iuka was not Chickasaw; most probably he was Seminole or Cherokee, but it is not known from which tribe he descended. Nevertheless, the “healing waters” was a tremendous help to this ailing chief, and Iuka decided to stay in the area. Chief Iuka was able to retain the status of Chief, but he never achieved the status of Tishomingo.

The Town of Tishomingo and the County of Tishomingo are both named in honor of Chief Tishomingo. The town of Iuka is named in honor of Chief Iuka. Mineral Springs Park, home of the “healing waters,” is located across the street from this historic museum.

The Black Smith Shop

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The Archives

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The archives at the Old Courthouse Museum contain more than 5,000 restricted documents and more than 2,700 objects. Below is a sample of items located in restricted files and containers.

 

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