Issaquena County, Mississippi
Historic photo of the Issaquena County Courthouse in Mayersville, Mississippi.
Location within the U.S. state of Mississippi
Mississippi's location within the U.S.
|• Total||441 sq mi (1,140 km2)|
|• Land||413 sq mi (1,070 km2)|
|• Water||28 sq mi (70 km2) 6.4%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||3.2/sq mi (1.2/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Issaquena County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,406, making it the least populous county in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Its county seat is Mayersville. With a per-capita income of $18,598, Issaquena County is the poorest county in the United States.
Issaquena County is located in the Mississippi Delta region. The Mississippi River flows along the entire western boundary of the county, and many of the earliest communities were river ports.
The county's economy is chiefly based on agriculture, though a number of hunting camps are also located here and contribute to the economy. Mississippi's two most recent records for the heaviest alligator taken by a hunter have both been in Issaquena County, the latest in 2012 when a 697.5 lb (316.4 kg) alligator was killed at a camp near Fitler.
"Issaquena" (isi okhina) is a Choctaw word meaning "Deer River"; it is the Indian name for Deer Creek. The Choctaw people were the first inhabitants of the county, and were removed from their land in 1820. Non-Native settlers began arriving in the early 1830s.
Issaquena county was established on January 23, 1844, from the southern portion of Washington County. The first county seat was located in Skipwith, and then moved to Duncansby (both communities are now ghost towns). In 1848, the county seat moved to Tallula, and in 1871, to Mayersville.
The county lies entirely in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, and hardwood forest known as "bottomland" grows thick in the nutrient-rich, high-clay "buckshot" soil. Early settlers cleared many forests, and by the early 1890s about 50,000 acres (20,000 ha) of the county was growing corn, cotton, and oats. About that same time, the Louisville, New Orleans and Texas Railway was completed along a north–south route through the center of the county.
In 1876, Sharkey County was created from portions of Issaquena, Warren, and Washington counties.
Issaquena County is notable for its participation in slavery. In 1860, 92.5% of Issaquena County's total population were enslaved people, the highest concentration anywhere in the United States. The U.S. Census for that year showed that 7,244 slaves were held in Issaquena County, and of 115 slave owners, 39 held 77 or more slaves. Stephen Duncan of Issaquena County held 858 slaves, second only to Joshua John Ward of South Carolina. This large "value of slave property" made Issaquena County the second richest county in the United States, with "mean total wealth per freeman" at $26,800 in 1860 (equivalent to $639,000 in 2019). By 1880—just 15 years after the abolition of slavery—the county had developed "a strong year-round market for wage labor", and Issaquena was the only county in Mississippi to report "no sharecropping or sharerenting whatsoever".
During the winter of 1862 and spring of 1863, Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant conducted a series of amphibious operations aimed at capturing the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, located south of Issaquena County.
The Steele's Bayou Expedition occurred on waterways within Issaquena County, including Steele Bayou, Little Sunflower River, Big Sunflower River, Deer Creek, Black Bayou, Little Black Bayou, and the Yazoo River.
The shallow waterways proved difficult for the large Union boats, and Confederate defenses were robust. The Steele's Bayou Expedition was a defeat for Union forces in Issaquena County.
- Washington County (north)
- Sharkey County (northeast)
- Yazoo County (east)
- Warren County (south)
- East Carroll Parish, Louisiana (west)
- Chicot County, Arkansas (northwest)
|U.S. Decennial Census|
2010 United States Census
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,406 people living in the county. 64.4% were Black or African American, 34.6% White, 0.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.1% of some other race and 0.2% of two or more races. 0.6% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).
2000 United States Census
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,274 people, 726 households, and 509 families living in the county. The population density was 5.15 people per square mile (2/km2). There were 877 housing units at an average density of 2 per square mile (1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 36.32% White, 62.75% Black or African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.22% from other races, and 0.62% from two or more races. 0.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 726 households, out of which 34.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.60% were married couples living together, 16.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.37.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 27.70% under the age of 18, 10.90% from 18 to 24, 30.90% from 25 to 44, 19.90% from 45 to 64, and 10.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 113.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 130.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $19,936, and the median income for a family was $23,913. Males had a median income of $23,167 versus $17,115 for females. The per capita income for the county was $10,581. About 25.90% of families and 33.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 43.20% of those under age 18 and 41.00% of those age 65 or over.
Poverty and unemployment
Of 3,197 counties ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011 for "estimated percent of people of all ages in poverty", Issaquena was 14th; for those under age 18, the county was eighth. It was estimated that 40.1 percent of the county's residents lived in poverty.
In 2014, Issaquena County had the highest percentage of unemployed people in Mississippi, and the fifth highest of any county in the United States, at 18.4 percent.
Government and politics
In the 2019 statewide elections, Issaquena voted Democratic for Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General, and Republican for Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, and Agriculture Commissioner.
There are no schools located in Issaquena County. Students attend campuses in neighboring Sharkey and Washington counties.
- Public School Districts
- Private Schools
- Sharkey-Issaquena Academy – Located in Rolling Fork; Enrollment open to Issaquena County residents.
In the segregation era (before around 1970) the county only had schools for black students.
- Unita Blackwell, civil rights leader and mayor of Mayersville from 1976 to 2001; first female African-American mayor in Mississippi.
- Charles C. Diggs, Sr., first African-American Democrat elected to the Michigan Senate; born in Tallula.
- William Stamps Farish II, president of Standard Oil; born in Mayersville.
- Muddy Waters, blues musician (1913–1983); born in "Jug's Corner".
- Eliza Winston, notable slave.
- Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education, an important 1965 civil rights legal case
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Issaquena County, Mississippi
- Stack Island (Mississippi River)
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- United States counties by per capita income
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- "2012 Presidential General Election Results - Issaquena County, MS". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
- "2014 Senatorial General Election Results - Issaquena County, MS". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
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- Dillard, Angela D. (2007). Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit. University of Michigan. ISBN 978-0472032075.
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- "Muddy Waters Birthplace". Mississippi Blues Commission. Retrieved October 2013. Check date values in:
- Upholt, Boyce (2013-12-02). "The Hot Tamales of Issaquena County". Roads & Kingdoms. Retrieved 2014-07-01.
- Sharkey-Issaquena County Library
- Sharkey-Issaquena County Health Department
- South Delta School District
- Western Line School District
- Delta National Forest
- Anderson-Tully State Wildlife Management Area
- Howard Miller Wildlife Management Area
- Shipland Wildlife Management Area
- Mahannah Wildlife Management Area