Leland, Mississippi

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Leland, Mississippi
City of Leland
Leland, Mississippi is located in Mississippi
Leland, Mississippi
Leland, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Leland, Mississippi is located in the United States
Leland, Mississippi
Leland, Mississippi
Leland, Mississippi (the United States)
Coordinates: 33°24′18″N 90°53′50″W / 33.40500°N 90.89722°W / 33.40500; -90.89722Coordinates: 33°24′18″N 90°53′50″W / 33.40500°N 90.89722°W / 33.40500; -90.89722
Country United States
State Mississippi
IncorporatedFebruary 20, 1886
Founded byCaptain James Alexander Ventress Feltus (1840-1908)
 • TypeMayor–Council
 • MayorKenny Thomas
 • Council
  • Ward 1: Barbara Brooks
  • Ward 2: Tammy Nealon
  • Ward 3: Lisa Bush
  • Ward 4: Andy Petro
  • Ward 5: Nancy King
 • Total3.63 sq mi (9.41 km2)
 • Land3.58 sq mi (9.28 km2)
 • Water0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2)
125 ft (38 m)
 • Total3,988
 • Density1,113.03/sq mi (429.70/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code662
FIPS code28-40280
GNIS feature ID0672400

Leland is a city in Washington County, Mississippi, United States. It is located within the Mississippi Delta, on the banks of Deer Creek. The population was 4,481 at the 2010 census. It was once a railway town and had long been a center of cotton culture, which is still an important commodity crop in the rural area. It was once considered the second-largest city in Washington County in 1920 due to its rapid growth of residents, businesses, and schools.[2]

Since before the Civil War, farming has been the basis of the local economy. There are several privately-owned farms within and around the boundaries of the town. Mississippi State University and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintain an agriculture research station at Stoneville on Leland's outskirts.[3] Other agricultural companies in the area are Lauren Farms BASF Stoneville Cotton, Bayer Crops Science, GreenPoint Ag, Azlin Seed Service, Corteva Agriscience™, Pettiet Agricultural Services, Inc., Nutrien Ag SolutionsTM, K-I Chemical U.S.A., Greenland Planting Company, Ayers-Delta Implement, Edward's Flying Service, Essie Patterson Farm Trucking, and Southern Seed Association. Cotton, soybeans, rice and corn are the leading commodity crops along with catfish.[4][5]

A number of national and regionally noted blues musicians are from Leland. There are five Mississippi Blues Trail markers in Leland commemorating the small town's significant contribution to blues history. Highway 61, mentioned in numerous blues recordings, runs through the town and gives its name to the community's[6] blues museum. Leland is the burial place of the folk artist and blues musician James "Son" Thomas, who lived for many years near the railroad tracks. Thomas is buried beneath a gravestone donated by Mt. Zion Memorial Fund, to which musician John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival was a yearly contributor.[7][8]

Blues musician Johnny Winter spent part of his childhood in Leland. Winter's grandfather and father, a former mayor of Leland, operated J.D. Winter & Sons, a cotton business. One of the Blues Trail markers in Leland is dedicated to Winter.[9]

The community is the childhood home of puppeteer Jim Henson, who was born in nearby Greenville, but raised in Leland. Here he created the character of Kermit the Frog, a Muppet. The city has a museum along the banks of Deer Creek celebrating Henson's accomplishments called the Jim Henson Exhibit.[10]

Leland was selected as the site for the Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum, opened in 2016.[11]


1800-1900: Founding[edit]

The area in which Leland sits was once part of the Choctaw territory in the early 1800s. After the Second Choctaw Cession, which came from the Treaty of Doak’s Stand of 1820, the land was fought over by the United States government and the Choctaw Indians during the American Civil War in which the Choctaw Indians sided with the Confederacy in order to fight the Union for the return of their land.[12]

The territory that the town was built on was first settled on in 1834 by Samuel and Susan Jones, Mary Neely, and Malinda Breeland. A few years later, they deeded the land to the families of Connerly and Buckner. They made their home on the bank of Deer Creek on the Three Oaks Plantation. Soon other settlers came to live in Leland and the Stoneville area. To travel between both places at the time, people used boats to navigate on Deer Creek. There was even a drawbridge that wad built by Leland settlers to be more closely connected with the people of Stoneville.[13]

This is a photo of Captain James Alexander Ventress Feltus who was a captain in the American Civil War for the Confederacy. He is the founder of the town of Leland, Mississippi.

Years later, the Buckner and Connerly families moved away and sold their land to Judge James Ruckus and William Yerger. The new owners maintained the land until the American Civil War. In 1869, their heirs quit claimed the land for release mortgages which passed to the hands of the Bank of Kentucky. After seven years, Mississippi native Captain James Alexander Ventress Feltus (1840-1908) bought the 900 acres of land for $12,000.[13]

Captain James A.V. Feltus built his home at the “Three Oaks” and deeded a 100 foot right-of-way on the land to the Memphis and Vicksburg Railroad Company; however, no railway was built until 1885, when the right of way was given to the Louisville, New Orleans and Texas Railroad Company. Leland was one of two cities considered for a terminus of several railroad lines, most notably, the Louisville, New Orleans & Texas Railway. Captain John C. Calhoun, an enterprising and liberal owner of the Leland Plantation, pushed efforts to make Leland a primary candidate for the terminus.[14]

Captain Feltus dedicated the original town of Leland by signing deeds that created streets from First to Eighth Streets, which included Main and Broad Streets as the east and west boundaries of the town. Accounts state that Captain Feltus named the town after Miss Leland McCutcheon, the mother of Feltus’ friend, Ruben Armstrong and fiancé of young traveling railroad auditor C.E. Armstrong.[13][15] It would seem that both accounts state that both men asked Captain Feltus to name the town in her honor. The first store built in the town of Leland was the Greenley’s Mens Store, owned by J.C. Greenley.

In January of 1886, the citizens of the town drafted a charter to incorporate the town of Leland and sent it by mail to the representatives at Jackson, Mississippi.[16] By February of that year, the charter was amended in bills H.B. 642 and H.B. 643 and was well on its way to making the town officially recognized as a city; it was approved on February 20, 1886.[17][18]

A snapshot of a newspaper clipping that shows a postcard of the old Leland Train Depot in the 1900s.

As the town continued to progress, it established its first newspaper publication, The Leland Record,[19] and businesses became established, e.g. retail, banks, law firms, other railway companies, grocers, innkeepers, landlords and more.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2), of which 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (1.44%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[20]

2020 census[edit]

Leland Racial Composition[21]
Race Num. Perc.
White 990 24.82%
Black or African American 2,847 71.39%
Native American 1 0.03%
Asian 17 0.43%
Other/Mixed 97 2.43%
Hispanic or Latino 36 0.9%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 3,988 people, 1,642 households, and 1,032 families residing in the city.

2013 ACS[edit]

As of the 2013 American Community Survey, there were 4,427 people living in the city. 74.3% were African American, 24.8% White, 0.1% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.1% from some other race and 0.2% from two or more races. 0.4% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census of 2000, there were 5,502 people, 1,943 households, and 1,414 families living in the city. The population density was 2,670.2 people per square mile (1,031.2/km2). There were 2,095 housing units at an average density of 1,016.7 per square mile (392.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 32.01% White, 67.01% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.04% from other races, and 0.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.75% of the population.

There were 1,943 households, out of which 36.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 27.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.2% were non-families. 24.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.35.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 31.9% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,678, and the median income for a family was $28,926. Males had a median income of $26,184 versus $20,693 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,681. About 24.0% of families and 27.5% of the population were below the poverty line.

Arts and culture[edit]

The Thompson House in Winter; A historic Bed and Breakfast located in Leland, Mississippi.
Rex Theatre for Colored People in Leland, 1937, by Dorothea Lange
Post Office in Leland

Places of Interest[edit]

  • Mississippi Blues Trail Markers
  • Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum
  • Jim Henson Exhibit[10]
  • The Thompson House[22]


The City of Leland is served by the Leland School District. Leland High School is the sole high school. Leland School Park is the sole middle school.[23] Edna M. Scott Elementary is the sole elementary school.[24]


The Leland Progress is the paper of record.[25] Previous papers were the Leland Record (est.1886) and the Leland Enterprise (est.1901).[19]


Health Care[edit]

The Witte Clinic and hospital served the Leland area from 1946 to 1949. It was then leased out to the city and named The Leland City Hospital in 1949 for a year. While no longer a hospital system since the 1980s, this facility is now named the Leland Medical Clinic.[26][27]

Notable people[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

A scene from the crime comedy drama movie, “O Brother, Where Art thou (2000)” was filmed in Leland on the Columbus & Greenville Railway. In the scene, the three escaping convicts try to jump aboard a freight train only to fail and catch a handcar driven by a blind old man who makes wild predictions about their future.[31]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  2. ^ "Clipped From The Starkville News". The Starkville News. 1920-07-30. p. 7. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  3. ^ "Stoneville, Mississippi : USDA ARS". www.ars.usda.gov. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  4. ^ USDA. "2012 Census of Agriculture" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-10-30.
  5. ^ "Greenville and Washington County Tourism". visitgreenville.org. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  6. ^ "Leland Blues Project". Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  7. ^ Yellin, Emily (1997-09-30). "Homage at Last for Blues Makers ; Through a Fan's Crusade, Unmarked Graves Get Memorials". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  8. ^ "James "Son" Thomas". Mount Zion Memorial Fund. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  9. ^ "Johnny Winter - Leland". Mississippi Blues Commission. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Birthplace of the Frog: An Exhibit of Jim Henson's Delta Boyhood". Birthplace of the Frog: An Exhibit of Jim Henson's Delta Boyhood. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  11. ^ "Mississippi Outdoor Hall of Fame". Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Sansing, David G. (2013). A Place Called Mississippi. Atlanta, Georgia: Clairmont Press, Inc. ISBN 978-1-56733-244-5.
  13. ^ a b c "25 Jun 1939, Page 13 - The Delta Democrat-Times at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  14. ^ "The town of Leland was being considered for a vote to be the new terminus for the railroad company". The Weekly Democrat-Times. 1882-09-16. p. 2. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  15. ^ "James Alexander Ventress Feltus was the founder of the Town of Leland Mississippi". The Delta Democrat-Times. 1953-06-28. p. 20. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  16. ^ "Report from the Leland Record about chartering the city of Leland, Mississippi". The Weekly Democrat-Times. 1886-01-30. p. 1. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  17. ^ "Jackson, Miss newspaper reporting law declaring the town of Leland, Miss. incorporated". The State Ledger. 1886-03-02. p. 1. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  18. ^ "The vote to incorporate the town of Leland in Washington County passed". The Clarion-Ledger. 1888-02-23. p. 1. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  19. ^ a b "Mention of the first published paper of the Leland Record (January 1886)". The Vicksburg Herald. 1886-01-20. p. 4. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  20. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Archived from the original on May 7, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  21. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-06.
  22. ^ "About Our House". thompsonhousebb. Retrieved 2021-11-08.
  23. ^ "Leland School Park -". Leland School Park. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  24. ^ "Edna M. Scott Elementary School". lelandschooldistrict.schoolinsites.com. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  25. ^ "Home". The Leland Progress. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  26. ^ "About LMC |". lelandmedicalclinic.org. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  27. ^ "Leland Clinic Opening |". lelandmedicalclinic.org. Retrieved 2021-10-31.
  28. ^ "18 Mar 1970, 18 - Daily News-Post at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2021-11-02.
  29. ^ "Antonio Johnson". Mississippi State University Athletics. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  30. ^ "Eddie Cusic: Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory". Arts.state.ms.us. 1926-01-04. Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  31. ^ "HawkinsRails - CAGY Western Towns". hawkinsrails.net. Retrieved 2021-10-31.

Further reading[edit]

  • Leland, Mississippi: The Village That Raised Me (2021) by Velma P. Allen
  • Southern Cultures (2013) by James G. Thomas Jr.
  • A Place Called Mississippi (2013) by David G. Sansing
  • Washington County, Mississippi (2002) by Russell S. Hall, Princella W. Nowell, Stacy Childress.
  • Discovering Mississippi: A Mississippi Studies Textbook (1993) by John Ray Skates, David G. Sansing, and Mary Ann Wells
  • Leland, Mississippi: From Hellhole to Beauty Spot (1986) by Dorothy Love Turk.
  • 75 Years in Leland (1974) by Noel Workman.

External links[edit]