DeSoto County, Mississippi

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DeSoto County, Mississippi
Court House Hernando MS.jpg
DeSoto County Courthouse
Map of Mississippi highlighting DeSoto County
Location in the state of Mississippi
Map of the United States highlighting Mississippi
Mississippi's location in the U.S.
Founded February 9, 1836
Named for Hernando de Soto
Seat Hernando
Largest city Southaven
 • Total 496.77 sq mi (1,287 km2)
 • Land 477.86 sq mi (1,238 km2)
 • Water 18.91 sq mi (49 km2), 3.81%
 • (2010) 161,252
 • Density 225/sq mi (87/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

DeSoto County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 161,252,[1] making it the third-most populous county in Mississippi. Its county seat is Hernando.[2] The county is part of the Mississippi Delta.

DeSoto County is part of the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). It is the second-most populous county in the MSA.


The county is named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, the discoverer of the Mississippi River.[3] The county seat, Hernando, is also named in his honor. De Soto allegedly died in that area in May 1542, although some believe that he died near Lake Village, Arkansas. See here for a list of sites associated with the de Soto Expedition.[citation needed]

Early history[edit]

At its organization by European Americans on February 9, 1836, after Indian Removal, DeSoto County stretched from the Tennessee state line on the north to the Tate County line on the south; from the Mississippi River and Tunica County on the west to Marshall County on the east. A mistake in surveying placed the state line at what is now Winchester Road in Shelby County, Tennessee. In 1838, the line was resurveyed and moved to its present location. Indian artifacts collected in DeSoto County link it with prehistoric groups of Woodland and Mississippian culture peoples.[citation needed]

The Mississippian culture met Hernando DeSoto when he explored North Mississippi and, traditionally, came through present-day DeSoto County. Some scholars speculate that DeSoto discovered the Mississippi River west of present-day Lake Cormorant, built rafts there and crossed to Crowley's Ridge, Arkansas. The National Park Service declared a "DeSoto Corridor" from the Chickasaw Bluff (Memphis) to Coahoma County, Mississippi.

Over 200 years passed and the Mississippian culture disappeared, devastated by disease. The Indian town named Chicasa which De Soto visited, was probably the ancestral home of the historical Chickasaw. They still lived in the area when European Americans began arriving as pioneers. Their "Long Town," several villages close to each other, was near present-day Pontotoc. The Chickasaw claimed much of western Tennessee and northern Mississippi as their hunting grounds. Negotiations, begun September 1816, between the United States government and the Chickasaw nation, concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Pontotoc in October 1832. During these 16 years, government officials pressed the Chickasaw for cessions of land to enable European-American settlement.

Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, authorizing forcible removal if necessary to extinguish Native American claims in the Southeast. From 1832 to 1836, government surveyors mapped the 6,442,000 acres (26,070 km2) of the Chickasaw domain, dividing it into townships, ranges and sections. The Mississippi Legislature formed 10 new counties, including DeSoto, Tunica, Marshall and Tate, from this territory.

By treaty the land was assigned by sections of 640 acres (2.6 km2) to individual Indian households. The Chickasaw, a numerically small tribe, were assigned 2,422,400 acres (9,803 km2) of land using this formula. The government disposed of the remaining 400,000 acres at public sale. The Indians received at least $1.25 per acre for their land. The government land sold for 75 cents per acre or less.

Modern history[edit]

Located adjacent to Memphis, Tennessee, DeSoto County is now among the forty fastest-growing counties in the United States. This fast-paced growth is attributed to black flight from Memphis,[4] which has been most noticeable in the cities of Southaven, Olive Branch and Horn Lake. Also fueling development is the massive casino/resort complex located in neighboring Tunica County (the third largest gambling district in the United States).

Notable people[edit]


DeSoto County is known for its golf courses. Velvet Cream, known as 'The Dip' by locals, is a landmark restaurant in the county. Operating since 1947, it is the oldest continually running restaurant in the county. In 2010, it was awarded 'Best Ice Cream in Mississippi' by USA Today.[5] DeSoto County was also previously known as the home of Maywood Beach, a water park that closed in 2003 after more than 70 years of operation.

DeSoto County Museum[edit]

DeSoto County Museum and log house

A popular attraction is the DeSoto County Museum located in Hernando. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. Exhibits include displays on Hernando DeSoto, Civil War History, antebellum homes of the county, civil rights, and the history of each of the county's municipalities.[citation needed]

Hernando DeSoto Park[edit]

Hernando DeSoto Park, located on Bass Road 6 mi (9.7 km) west of Walls, is a 41 acres (17 ha) park which features a hiking/walking trail, river overlook, picnic area, and boat launch. It is the only location in DeSoto County with public access to the Mississippi River.[6]


DeSoto County is the most northwestern of Mississippi's 82 counties, in a corner that borders Tennessee and Arkansas. According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 496.77 square miles (1,286.6 km2), of which 477.86 square miles (1,237.7 km2) (or 96.19%) is land and 18.91 square miles (49.0 km2) (or 3.81%) is water.[7]

Geographic features[edit]

Major highways[edit]

I-55 recently underwent major widening from four lanes to ten lanes from the MS/TN state line south to Goodman Rd. Eventual widening of the freeway from Goodman Rd. to Star Landing Rd. is believed to include the addition of new exits at Nail Rd. and Star Landing Rd.

I-269 is a partially-completed metro Memphis outer loop connecting the cities of Hernando and Olive Branch in Mississippi with Collierville and Millington in Tennessee. Construction is expected to be completed within the next two to five years.

I-22 is a planned route that will connect Memphis to Birmingham, Alabama through DeSoto County. The road is already built, but is currently signed as U.S. Route 78. The renaming is to occur later this year.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 7,002
1850 19,042 172.0%
1860 23,336 22.6%
1870 32,021 37.2%
1880 22,924 −28.4%
1890 24,183 5.5%
1900 24,751 2.3%
1910 23,130 −6.5%
1920 24,359 5.3%
1930 25,438 4.4%
1940 26,663 4.8%
1950 24,599 −7.7%
1960 23,891 −2.9%
1970 35,885 50.2%
1980 53,930 50.3%
1990 67,910 25.9%
2000 107,199 57.9%
2010 161,252 50.4%
Est. 2013 168,240 4.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
2012 Estimate[1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 161,252 people residing in the county. 72.2% were White, 21.9% Black or African American, 1.3% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.8% of some other race and 1.6% of two or more races. 5.0% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).[1] The median income for a family was $66,377 and the mean income was $75,875 [2]. DeSoto County has the highest median income in Mississippi and the second highest mean income after Madison County. According to the census[9] of 2000, the largest ancestry groups in DeSoto County were English 53.1%, Scots-Irish 15.1%, African 11.4% and Irish 4.5%.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 105. 
  4. ^ Henry Bailey (February 4, 2011). "'Black flight' propels DeSoto County growth, census figures show". Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee). Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  5. ^ "The USA's best ice cream: Top parlors in 50 states". USA Today. August 29, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Hernando DeSoto Park". DeSoto County Greenways and Parks. Retrieved April 2014. 
  7. ^ "Census 2010 Gazetteer Files". Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

Suggested reading[edit]

  • Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920, Thorndale, William, and Dollarhide, William; Copyright 1987. (Historic state maps including evolution of DeSoto County)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°53′N 89°59′W / 34.88°N 89.99°W / 34.88; -89.99