Hattiesburg, Mississippi: Wikis


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Hattiesburg, Mississippi
—  City  —
Nickname(s): The Hub City
Location of Hattiesburg in the State of Mississippi
Coordinates: 31°18′57″N 89°18′31″W / 31.31583°N 89.30861°W / 31.31583; -89.30861Coordinates: 31°18′57″N 89°18′31″W / 31.31583°N 89.30861°W / 31.31583; -89.30861
Country United States
State Mississippi
Counties Forrest, Lamar
Founded 1882
Incorporated 1884
 - Mayor Johnny L. Dupree
 - City 49.7 sq mi (128.6 km2)
 - Land 49.3 sq mi (127.6 km2)
 - Water 0.4 sq mi (1.1 km2)
Elevation 171 ft (52 m)
Population (2000)
 - City 51,993
 Density 909.0/sq mi (351.0/km2)
 Metro 148,546
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 39401-39404, 39406, 39407
Area code(s) 601
FIPS code 28-31020
GNIS feature ID 0691565
Website www.hattiesburgms.com

Hattiesburg is a city in Forrest County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 44,779 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Forrest County.[1] In recent years the city has grown to include a portion of eastern Lamar County. It is the principal city of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties.

Founded in 1882 by pioneer lumberman and civil engineer William H. Hardy, Hattiesburg was named in honor of Hardy's wife Hattie. The town was incorporated two years later with a population of 400. Hattiesburg's population first expanded as a center of the lumber and railroad industries, from which was derived the nickname “The Hub City.” It now attracts newcomers to the area because of the diversity of the economy, strong neighborhoods and the central location in South Mississippi.

Hattiesburg is home to The University of Southern Mississippi (originally known as Mississippi Normal College) and William Carey University (formerly William Carey College). South of Hattiesburg is Camp Shelby, the largest National Guard training base east of the Mississippi River.



Hattiesburg is positioned at the fork of the Leaf and Bouie Rivers, and was founded in 1882 by Captain William H. Hardy, a civil engineer. Early settlers to the area were of Scottish, Irish, and English descent who came from Georgia and the Carolinas, attracted by the vast area of virgin pine timberlands.

The city of Hattiesburg was incorporated in 1884 with a population of approximately 400. Originally called Twin Forks and later Gordonville, Hardy gave the city its final name of Hattiesburg, in honor of his wife Hattie.

Citizens Bank at 601 Main Street, circa 1965.

Also in 1884, the railroad – known as the Southern Railway System – was built from Meridian, Mississippi, through Hattiesburg to New Orleans. The completion of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad from Gulfport, Mississippi, to Jackson, Mississippi, now part of the Illinois Central System, ran through Hattiesburg and ushered in the real lumber boom in 1897. Though it was 20 years in the building, the railroad more than fulfilled its promise. It gave the state a deep water harbor, more than doubled the population of towns along its route, built the City of Gulfport and made Hattiesburg a railroad center.

Hattiesburg gained its nickname, the Hub City, in 1912 as a result of a contest in a local newspaper. This suggestion came because the city was the intersection of a number of important rail lines. Later the city also became the intersection of state highways U.S. Highway 49, U.S. Highway 98 and U.S. Highway 11, and later, Interstate 59. Hattiesburg is centrally located less than 100 miles from the state capital of Jackson as well as the Mississippi Gulf Coast, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.[2]

The region around Hattiesburg was involved in the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. In the 1960s, two nuclear devices were detonated in the salt domes near Lumberton, Mississippi, about 28 miles southwest of Hattiesburg. Extensive follow-up of the area by the EPA has not revealed levels of nuclear contamination in the area that would be harmful to humans.

Throughout the 20th Century, Hattiesburg benefited from the founding of Camp Shelby (now a military mobilization center), two major hospitals, and two colleges, The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. The growing metropolitan area that includes Hattiesburg, Forrest and Lamar Counties, was designated a Metropolitan Statistical Area in 1994 with a combined population of more than 100,000 residents.[3]

Despite being about 75 miles (120 km) inland, Hattiesburg was hit very hard in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. Around 10,000 structures in the area received major damage of some type. Approximately 80 percent of the city's roads were blocked by trees and power was out in the area for up to 14 days. The storm killed 24 people in Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas. The city is strained by a large influx of temporary evacuees and new permanent residents from coastal Louisiana and Mississippi towns to the south, where damage from Katrina was catastrophic.

The City is also known for its police department, as it was the first – and for almost a decade the only – CALEA federally accredited law enforcement agency in the State of Mississippi. The department is serviced by its own training academy, which has traditionally been one of the most difficult basic academies in the country with over a 50% attrition rate.

The Hattiesburg Zoo at Kamper Park is a longstanding tourist attraction in the city.


Civil rights movement

Hattiesburg and the unincorporated African American community of Palmers Crossing played a key role in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. In 1959, black Korean War veteran Clyde Kennard applied to attend then all-white Mississippi Southern College (today University of Southern Mississippi). He was denied admission on account of his race, and when he persisted, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission conspired to have him framed for a crime, for which he was sentenced to seven years in Parchman Prison. For years, NAACP leaders Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer and other Forrest County civil rights activists fought to overturn the conviction.[4]

The U.S. Post Office in downtown Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Forrest County Registrar Theron Lynd prevented blacks from registering to vote. Thirty percent of the population was black, but less than 1% of them were on the voting rolls, while white registration was close to 100%. In 1961, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against Lynd and he became the first southern registrar to be convicted under the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for systematically violating African American voting rights.[5]

In 1962, SNCC began one of its first voter-registration projects in Hattiesburg under the auspices of COFO. By 1964, the Delta Ministry was active in the city. In cooperation with the NAACP and local civil rights leaders, they formed the Forrest County Voters League.[6] In conjunction with the 1963 elections, civil rights leaders organized a statewide "Freedom Ballot," a mock election that demonstrated both the state-wide pattern of voting rights discrimination and the strong desire of Mississippi blacks for full citizenship. Despite the serious risk of both physical and economic retaliation, almost half of Forrest County blacks participated, the highest turnout in the state.[7]

January 21, 1964, was "Freedom Day" in Hattiesburg, a major voter registration effort supported by student demonstrators and 50 northern clergymen. For the first time since Reconstruction, an inter-racial protest was allowed to picket the courthouse for voting rights without being arrested. Roughly 100 African Americans attempted to register, though only a few were allowed into the courthouse and fewer still were added to the rolls.[8] Each day thereafter for many months the courthouse protest was resumed in what became known as the "Perpetual Picket."[9]

During Freedom Summer in 1964, the Hattiesburg/Palmers Crossing project was the headquarters for all civil rights activity in the 5th Congressional District and the largest and most active site in the state with more than 90 volunteers and 3,000 local participants. Hundreds of Forrest County blacks tried to register to vote at the courthouse, but most were prevented from doing so. More than 650 children and adults attended one of the seven Freedom Schools in Hattiesburg and Palmers Crossing, three freedom libraries were set up with donated books, and a community center was established. Many whites opposed civil rights efforts by blacks, and both summer volunteers and local African Americans endured arrests, beatings, firings, and evictions.[10]

Forrest County was also a center of activity for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) which sent a slate of delegates to the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City to challenge the seating of the all-white, pro-segregation delegates elected by the regular party in primaries in which African Americans could not participate. Victoria Jackson Gray of Palmers Crossing ran on the MFDP ticket against incumbent Senator John Stennis and John Cameron of Hattiesburg ran for Representative in the 5th District. With blacks still denied the vote, they knew they could not be elected, but their candidacies and campaigns advanced the struggle for voting rights.[11]

On the night of January 10, 1966, the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan attacked the Hattiesburg home of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer with firebombs and gunfire. Dahmer was the most prominent black leader in the county and been the primary civil rights leader for many years. Just prior to the attack, he had announced that he would help pay a $2 poll tax for black voters too poor to do so themselves. Dahmer held off the Klan with his rifle to give his wife, their three young children, and elderly aunt time to escape their burning home, but he died of burns and smoke inhalation the next day. His murder sparked large protest marches in Hattiesburg. A number of Klansmen were arrested for the crime and four were eventually convicted. After four previous trials had ended in deadlocks, KKK Imperial Wizard Samuel Bowers was finally convicted in August 1998 for ordering the assassination of Dahmer. He was sentenced to life in prison.[12][13]

Vela Uniform/Project Dribble Nuclear Tests

Vela Uniform was an element of Project Vela conducted jointly by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Its purpose was to develop seismic methods for detecting underground nuclear testing. The Project Dribble program involved two nuclear detonations. Test SALMON occurred on October 22, 1964, and had a 5.3 kt yield; test STERLING was detonated December 3, 1966, and had a yield of 380 tons[14]. They were conducted within Tatum Salt Dome, southwest of the Hattiesburg/Purvis area.


Public education in Hattiesburg is served by the Hattiesburg Municipal Separate School District, servicing grades K-12.

High schools

  • Hattiesburg High School (Grades 9-12)
  • Sacred Heart High School (Grades Pre-K-12)
  • Presbyterian Christian School (Grade Pre-K-12)
  • Alpha Christian School
  • The Adept School
  • North Forrest High School

Oak Grove Schools are under the Lamar County School District.

Alternative schools

  • Mary Bethune Attendance Center (Grades 7-11)

Middle schools

  • N. R. Burger Middle School (Grades 7 & 8)
  • Oak Grove Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Elementary schools

  • Lillie Burney Elementary School (Grades K-6)
  • Grace Christian Elementary School (Grades K-6)
  • George H. Hawkins Elementary School (Grades K-6)
  • Rowan Elementary School (Grades K-6)
  • W.I. Thames Elementary School (Grades K-6)
  • F.B. Woodley Elementary School (Grades K-6)
  • Earl Travillion Attendance Center (grades K-8)
  • Oak Grove Primary School (Grades K - 1)
  • Oak Grove Lower Elementary School (Grades 2 - 3)
  • Oak Grove Upper Elementary School (Grades 4 - 5)


Hattiesburg is home to the main campuses of two institutions of higher learning: the public University of Southern Mississippi and the private Baptist-supported William Carey University.

Both have campuses in other locations; USM has a campus in Long Beach, Mississippi, and William Carey has campuses in Gulfport, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Private schools

  • Sacred Heart Catholic School (Grades K-12)
  • Presbyterian Christian School (Grades K-12)
  • School of Excellence (Grades K-6)
  • Lamar Christian School (Grades K-4 to 12)
  • Bass Christian Elementary (Grades K-8)
  • Bass Memorial Academy (Grades 9-12)

Notable residents (past and present)


Hattiesburg is located at 31°18′57″N 89°18′31″W / 31.31583°N 89.30861°W / 31.31583; -89.30861 (31.315974, -89.308658).[15] Most of Hattiesburg is in Forrest County. A small portion on the west side is in Lamar County. This consists of first, a narrow stretch of land lying east of I-59 and second, of an irregularly-shaped extension into West Hattiesburg. In the 2000 census, 42,475 of the city's 44,779 residents (94.9%) lived in Forrest County and 2,304 (5.1%) in Lamar County.[16]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.7 square miles (128.6 km²), of which, 49.3 square miles (127.6 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) of it (0.83%) is water.


Hattiesburg has a humid subtropical climate, with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. Although snowfall is extremely rare, it is possible, and on December 11, 2008, areas around Hattiesburg received 3 to 5 inches. As is the case with all the southern USA, severe thunderstorms can pose a threat, particularly during Spring. Such storms spawn frequent lightning, heavy rain, occasionally large hail and sometimes tornadoes.[17]

Climate data for Hattiesburg, MS
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °F (°C) 60
Average low °F (°C) 36
Precipitation inches (mm) 7.04
Source: [18]


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1890 1,172
1900 4,175 256.2%
1910 11,733 181.0%
1920 13,270 13.1%
1930 18,601 40.2%
1940 21,026 13.0%
1950 29,474 40.2%
1960 34,989 18.7%
1970 39,648 13.3%
1980 40,829 3.0%
1990 41,882 2.6%
2000 44,779 6.9%
Est. 2007 50,233 12.2%

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 44,779 people, 17,295 households, and 9,391 families residing within the city limits. The population density was 909.0 people per square mile (351.0/km²). There were 19,258 housing units at an average density of 391.0/sq mi (150.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.95% White, 47.34% African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.41% of the population.

There were 17,295 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 19.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 24.4% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 16.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were approximately 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,409, and the median income for a family was $32,380. Males had a median income of $26,680 versus $19,333 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,102. About 21.5% of families and 28.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.3% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.


Hattiesburg is governed via a mayor-council system. The mayor is elected at large. The city council consists of five members who are elected from one of five wards.


Hattiesburg is home to several national business branches that hold thousands of jobs across the Pine Belt. It is headquarters to the International Filing Company and hosts branches of Kohler Engines as well as the Coca-Cola Bottling Co.. Companies such as Sunbeam (shared with Mr. Coffee and the Coleman Company) and Kimberly Clark used to manufacture in Hattiesburg. CNN ranked Hattiesburg on the top 25 business growing cities.


FM radio

AM radio



  • The Lamar Times, Hattiesburg's weekly community newspaper.
  • The Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg's daily newspaper.
  • The Petal News, the weekly newspaper of Petal, MS.



Amtrak's Crescent train connects Hattiesburg with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans. The Amtrak station is located at 308 Newman Street.

Rail freight service is offered by three Class I railroads: CN to Jackson and Mobile, Kansas City Southern to Gulfport, and Norfolk Southern to Meridian and New Orleans.

Mass transit

Hattiesburg owns and operates the city's mass transit service, HCT, Hub City Transit. HCT offers daily routes to many major thoroughfares. The Intermodal Depot downtown services Amtrak as well as the city transit services. Due to recent growth in passenger transport in the city, HCT is currently planning additional routes and services, including bus service to the suburbs of Oak Grove and Petal.


The Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport, located northeast of Hattiesburg, offers daily flights between Hattiesburg and Memphis, Tennessee. PIB airport also has an 18 hole golf course and business park located on the premises.

The city of Hattiesburg maintains the Hattiesburg - Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport (HBG) in the Hattiesburg/Forrest County Industrial Park. Located four miles south of the city center, the municipal airport provides business and general aviation services for much of South Mississippi.


Interstate Highways
Interstate 59, runs north to Meridian, Mississippi and south to New Orleans.
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US blank.svg
U.S. Highways
U.S. Highway 11 runs parallel to Interstate 59.
U.S. Highway 49 runs north to Jackson, Mississippi and south to Gulfport, Mississippi.
U.S. Highway 98 runs west to Columbia, Mississippi and southeast to Mobile, Alabama.
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State Highways
Mississippi Highway 42 also known as Eveleyn Gandy Parkway
Mississippi Highway 589
Mississippi Highway 198
Mississippi Highway 24


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Template.cfm?Section=Find_a_County&Template=/cffiles/counties/usamap.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Reagan L. Grimsley, Hattiesburg In Vintage Postcards, (SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.)
  3. ^ Reagan L. Grimsley, Hattiesburg in Vintage Postcards, Arcadia Publishing, 2004.
  4. ^ Clyde Kennard Framed and Jailed in MS ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  5. ^ United States of America vs. Theron C. Lynd - University of Southern Mississippi
  6. ^ Historic Sites of the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg - University of Southern Mississippi
  7. ^ Freedom Ballot in MS ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  8. ^ Freedom Day in Hattiesburg ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  9. ^ Branch, Taylor (1998). Pillar of Fire. Simon & Schuster. 
  10. ^ Randall, Herbert (2001). Faces of Freedom Summer. University of Alabama Press. 
  11. ^ Carson, Clayborne (1981). In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s. Harvard University Press. 
  12. ^ Davis, Townsend (1998). Weary Feet, Rested Souls. W.W. Norton. 
  13. ^ Biography of Sam Bowers. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Retrieved on April 24, 2008.
  14. ^ "United States Nulear Tests: July 1945 through September 1992". US Department of Energy Nevada Operations Office. 2000-12. http://www.nv.doe.gov/library/publications/historical/DOENV_209_REV15.pdf. Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  15. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ "Subcounty population estimates: Mississippi 2000-2006" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2007-06-28. http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/files/SUB-EST2006_28.csv. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  17. ^ "More snow by noon". Hattiesburg American. 2008-12-11. http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/article/20081211/NEWS01/81211017. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  18. ^ "Average Weather for Hattiesburg, MS - Temperature and Precipitation". The Weather Channel. http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USMS0152?. Retrieved July 11, 2008. 
  19. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links


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