|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 the Mississippi Territory 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 change its course and abandon Rodney. That, in combination with fires and yellow
fever epidemics, would ultimately doom the river town of Rodney.
~ ~ ~
During the Civil War, in the spring of 1864, the town was involved in a skirmish that the US
gunboat, 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 Rattler
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
|Rodney Baptist Church
|Rodney Catholic Church
|Bethel Church, Rodney
|The old road to Rodney
|Other pages about Rodney:
Recollections of Rodney, pub. 1885
Rodney Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1843
Rodney Presbyterian Church
Rodney Baptist Church
Most of the photos on this page courtesy of the Library of Congress
My G-Grandfather's Attic - Home
|With appreciation to Emory Webre for sharing these lists of names.
Some students from Rodney who attended St. Joseph College, Bardstown, KY, mid-1800's
Some students from Rodney who attended Nazareth Academy, Nazareth, KY, mid-1800's
|The following photos were taken in and around Rodney in 1940. To my knowledge,
of the structures shown below, only the Presbyterian Church remains today.
|The photos in the section below were takend by Eudora Welty in the 1930's.
|From a marker:
Old Town of Rodney
Incorporated in 1828, Rodney was noted for its high level of culture, county fairs
and business activity. Rodney once containd 2 banks, 2 newspapers and 35
stores. Cottonseed development, river boat landing, river boat taverns and high
literacy made Rodney a leading river town. Spared disaster during the Civil War,
Rodney declined following the change in channel of the Mississippi and tragic
fires which occurred in 1852 and 1869.
|This building and the Presbyterian and Baptist churches are the only structures
left from the original town of Rodney. This building was the Masonic Lodge.
Taken May, 2019; thanks to Jim, Pam & Sarah Brister.