Ghosts Along the River:  The Old Port of Rodney, MS

You would never guess it now but, in its day, Rodney was a very important port and, in fact, only
missed becoming the capital of Mississippi by 3 votes.  There are maps as far back as 1715,
identifying the location, where it's said that Native Americans used to cross the Mississippi River.  
By the 1840's, it was a thriving town and the busiest port between New Orleans and St. Louis, a
main port of call for the riverboats of the time.  Rodney was home to the first opera house in the
state and its citizens saw plays otherwise seen only in places like New York or Philadelphia.  
However, Rodney's prosperity was betrayed by its biggest asset.  The Mississippi River would
eventually chanage its course and abandon Rodney and this, in combination with the economy of
the post-Civil War south, doomed Rodney's future.
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During the Civil War, in the spring of 1864, the town was involved in a skirmish that the US
Rattler, found it hard to live down.   Docked at the port of Rodney, the Rattler was
protecting the MS River and the crew had orders that no one was to go ashore.  But some of the
men found it difficult to resist the charms of the young ladies passing by on their way to the
Presbyterian church one Sunday morning and decided to join the congregation for service.  At
which point, CSA Cavalry Lt. Allen announced from the pulpit that the sailors were surrounded and
should consider themselves captured.  Gunfire ensued, with frightened parishioners diving under
the pews and one Yankee sailor seeking refuge in the skirts of his southern ladyfriend.  The
ruckus caused the remaining
Rattler crew to start firing into the church.  When the dust cleared,
the Rebels had taken 17 prisoners, including the captain and a lieutenant.  The unlucky
became the butt of many jokes, the incident becoming known across the country, the first time in
history that a small cavalry squad had ever captured the crew of an ironclad gunboat!
Rodney Presbyterian Church -  At the time
of the
Rattler incident, the church was only
about 300 yards from the River.  The
damage to the building, still visible.
Rodney Baptist Church
Rodney Cemetery
Rodney Catholic Church
Bethel Church, Rodney
Rodney Cemetery
"The old Rodney cemetery is there still, like a
roof of marble and moss, overhanging the town
and about to tip into it."  -- Eudora Welty,
Notes on River Country
Rodney Cemetery
Rodney Cemetery
The old road to Rodney
Rodney Presbyterian Church, with a close-up of damage done by the US Gunboat, Rattler.
With appreciation to Emory Webre for sharing these lists of names.

Names of some students from Rodney who attended St. Joseph College, Bardstown, KY, mid-1800's
Names of some students from Rodney who attended Nazareth Academy, Nazareth, KY, mid-1800's
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The scenes below were taken in and around Rodney in 1940.
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Rodney Presbyterian Church, constructed prior to 1832.  The church's bell is made of silver
alloy, the silver being contributed by local citizen, David Hunt.