Vardaman History Project - Early Years Part II


Part II - Original Stores and Other Memories
from Interviews with Essie Whitehorn Cochran

The Town

The general area where Vardaman was created was known as Ticky Bend because, according to local historian Charles Graham VanHorn, it was at the head of navigation on the Yalobusha River and was noted for the large number of ticks that infested it. A road ran south from Ellzey through this area to a bridge on the Yalobusha River and then on to Atlanta, a thriving town with several stores offering a good selection of merchandise. The town had two doctors and it was a relatively busy place. The road between Ellzey and Atlanta was, even in summertime, only a series of mudholes and a trail winding between huge trees; but it still provided a way for travel between the two settlements. The new proposed railroad route crossed this road about three miles south of Ellzey and this is where the new settlement began to grow as the railroad construction began.

According to Essie Whitehorn Cochran, it was a heavily wooded area in the beginning, occupied by a few rough old pioneers. Mrs. Cochran described the early settlement as follows:

"The settlement that became Vardaman began to grow as people began to move in and built stores and houses. The original stores in Vardaman [shown in bold font] were:

Buildings Going Up - Sept 1904

N.R. (Dick) Lamar, McCord's, Putnam, Alfred Guilder, J.W. Hill, J.D. Richard & Co.,
Wiley Embry, John Hannah, Hollie Embry's Barber Shop, Martin Owen (Hardware),
Gabe Winter (Drug Store), W.A. Armstrong, Bill Gibson, Bill Onesby, Whittle &
(Drug Store)(later Otis Cook drug store), Rufe M. Mosely, Gaines, John Walton,
Zelma Casey Pressing shop, N.E. Herring (near depot, later Jim Griffin), J.R. McCord,
Victor Roberts, Miss Mary Lee Smith (millinery shop in Hannah store.) Luther Murff,
George Lecornu, Tom Walton, G.W. Dowdy, Lee Sanderson, Whittle Shoe Shop (later Ethridge shoe
shop, Archie Burgess shoe shop, Pressing shops: Carters - Wilson - Wilmer Bailey.

Rufus Mosley General Store Doctor Daughtery was in practice when the town started, then George G. Armstrong began to practice in 1904. Dr. E.B. Young and Dr. Elis Powell came along a little later. Then Dr. J.S. Edmonson who practiced medicine and surgery at Vardaman operating his own clinic for many years until his death on May 28, 1975, at Baptist Hospital in Jackson MS, following a short illness. Dr. David Griffin began practicing here in 1984.

Later on, the post office was on the east side of town next to the Richard brick store. Mrs. Sue Walton sold hats in front corner of store. The Dowdy store was where City Hall is now. Later the post office was on west side. Victor Lamar was postmaster many years. Other postmasters were Doyle Hawkins, Julian Morgan, and Wilton Griffin. Before they had stores here people had to go to Okolona Miss. on R Road also to Coffeeville. Murray McCord said at the time the town had a saloon. We had a calaboose about 14 feet x 14 feet near Lee Sanderson?s store (near Bailey's pressing shop). It was nothing to see it full of white and black people on weekends. Our Marshall for several years was Sam Scarbrough with Tom Griffin as his deputy."

Dixie Service StationMr. Van Hollis and Mrs. Cochran provided some additional information about the businesses on the northwest part of the main street. "On the south corner of the street that runs west from downtown [now named Hills Avenue] was the first filling station in Vardaman run by R.M. Cochran and Sam Scarbrough (the father of Bertram Scarbrough). They sold to Dad Myers then Willie Vanhorn bought it from Myers ran it for a while then moved on the highway where it is today known as T.A. Hamilton station."

"Going north from the corner was Mr. J.D. Walton's business. He also sold gas but there were several stores that had gas tanks. North of Mr. Walton's business was a building that housed the Peoples Bank. The cashier was Rex R. Winter of Houston, Miss.(son of Gabe Winter.) In later years the bank had moved and the back of this building was used for the mayor's office. The building was also used as a school room for the primary children." Clara Young Crawford, a widow who later married John Greenslade, was a teacher there. Mrs. Mae Chandler [102 years old as of 2013] recalls staying with Mrs. Crawford and attending school there. "It was also used to have court trials and as a voting place."

"Next north is the hardware store. It has been a hardware store all these years. However the first one which was built by Mr. Martin Owens burned in 1907. It really made a big fire. It was rebuilt (with brick) and others who operated a hardware store there were Mr. Sam Goza, Young & Crawford, C.E. Spratlin, Harley Nabors, Mr. Walker, back to Nabors and Mr. Harley Nabors son Fred Nabors owns it now."

The Young & Crawford hardware was a partnership among T.W. Young, his son M. F. Young, his daughter Clara Young Crawford, and her son Ammer Crawford. The railroad made it easier for the hardware stores to obtain bulky merchandise and Young & Crawford began selling coffins. This line of merchandise evolved into Young & Crawford becoming the first funeral home in Vardaman. [As late as the early 1940s, several coffins (by now the bought ones were being called caskets) were on display in the building adjoining the hardware on the south (where the Peoples Bank and the primary schoolroom had been). The hardware had bought this building and had made a wide door in the wall between the two buildings.]

Dixie Service Station photo from Calhoun County Pictoral History

Map of Early Downtown Vardaman

Vardaman's Railroad 1902-1939

The Sweet Potato Capital

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