Pontotoc, Mississippi

Coordinates: 34°14′55″N 89°0′24″W / 34.24861°N 89.00667°W / 34.24861; -89.00667
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Pontotoc, Mississippi
Pontotoc County courthouse
Pontotoc County courthouse
Flag of Pontotoc, Mississippi
Location of Pontotoc, Mississippi
Location of Pontotoc, Mississippi
Pontotoc, Mississippi is located in Mississippi
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Pontotoc, Mississippi is located in the United States
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Coordinates: 34°14′55″N 89°0′24″W / 34.24861°N 89.00667°W / 34.24861; -89.00667
CountryUnited States
 • Total11.33 sq mi (29.36 km2)
 • Land11.18 sq mi (28.96 km2)
 • Water0.15 sq mi (0.40 km2)
495 ft (151 m)
 • Total5,640
 • Density504.47/sq mi (194.78/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code662
FIPS code28-59160
GNIS feature ID0691601

Pontotoc is a city in and the county seat of Pontotoc County, Mississippi, located to the west of the much larger city of Tupelo. The population was 5,625 at the 2010 census.[2] Pontotoc is a Chickasaw word that means, “Land of the Hanging Grapes.”


Pontotoc is a Chickasaw word meaning "Land of Hanging Grapes".[3] The Chickasaw nation occupied this area long before Europeans colonized the Southeast, the last in a succession of indigenous peoples who had this territory for thousands of years. In the early 1830s they were forced to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River through the federal program of Indian removal.

In the late 19th century, the outlaws Jesse and Frank James and their gang came into this area. They once hid at an old house that had been used as a Union Army hospital during the Battle of Harrisburg or Battle of Tupelo in the Civil War. The house was located at a crossroad in east Pontotoc County, near the Lee County line.

The Town Square Museum is located in the historic US post office near the county courthouse. This space is used to house and display Pontotoc memorabilia. A full-service post office continues to operate in the building, which was built in 1937 during the Great Depression. It was one of numerous projects of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Investment in this program created work opportunities in construction of needed public buildings and infrastructure across the country, employing thousands of workers.

A mural in the post office lobby, titled The Wedding of Ortez and SaOwana - Christmas 1540 (1939), was commissioned as public art. It depicts a legendary feast given by Hernando de Soto to celebrate what was said to be the first recorded Christian marriage on the North American continent. The account appears to be local myth. [4]

The groom was said to be Juan Ortez (his name was spelled Ortiz in Spanish), an interpreter for the expedition. He was a Spanish national who had been captured in Florida years before and held by Chief Uceta. He was finally released as a slave and lived for years with the Mocoso people. His bride was said to be Princess Saowana, daughter of Chief Uceta. But Uceta's daughter was documented as Uleleh and she married a cacique, another Chickasaw chief. The wedding is said to have taken place in Pontotoc County during a visit by de Soto's party, but there is little documentation of such an event.[4]

The mural was painted in 1939 by artist Joseph Pollet, who had immigrated to the US as a child with his family from Germany. He was commissioned under the arts program that was also part of the federal WPA program. Many artists and writers were employed by such projects, in addition to the workers who built federal buildings. Many murals and other art were created for post offices and other public buildings.[4]

The city holds an annual festival in the Town Square during the last week of the month of September, called the Bodock Festival. It celebrates the Maclura pomifera (Osage orange) (also known as bois d'arc, or bowdock) tree located next to the historic mansion, Lochinvar; both survived a massive tornado in 2001.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.6 sq mi (25 km2), of which 9.4 sq mi (24 km2) is land and 0.2 sq mi (0.52 km2) (1.66%) is covered by water.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
The Town Square Museum/Post Office located in downtown Pontotoc. The Post Office was built by the government in 1937, during the Depression.
Pontotoc (lower left) is west of Tupelo (via Highway 278) and south of New Albany.

2020 census[edit]

Pontotoc Racial Composition[6]
Race Num. Perc.
White 3,551 62.96%
Black or African American 1,177 20.87%
Native American 17 0.3%
Asian 18 0.32%
Other/Mixed 192 3.4%
Hispanic or Latino 685 12.15%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 5,640 people, 1,906 households, and 1,342 families residing in the city.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[7] of 2010, 5,625 people, 2,325 households, and 2,129 families resided in the city. The population density was 555.9 inhabitants per square mile (214.6/km2). The 2,250 housing units averaged 238.1/sq mi (91.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 70.08% White, 20.42% African American, 0.35% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 7.39% from other races, and 1.45% from two or more races. Hispanics of any race were 2.76% of the population.

Of the 2,325 households, 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 16.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were not families. About 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41, and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city, the population was distributed as 25.7% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,491, and for a family was $39,306. Males had a median income of $31,403 versus $23,491 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,324. About 12.0% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 23.0% of those age 65 or over.


The almost all of the city of Pontotoc is served by the Pontotoc City School District while a small portion of the city limits is in the Pontotoc County School District.[8]

North Pontotoc High School and South Pontotoc High School are two of the top academic schools in the state of Mississippi. North received the Blue Ribbon Award and South received Level 5, the highest rating for a school in Mississippi. The city's band was the Grand Champion in the state in 2017.[9]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. ^ Baca, Keith A. (2007). Native American Place Names in Mississippi. University Press of Mississippi. p. 84. ISBN 978-1-60473-483-6.
  4. ^ a b c Meghan Navarro, "The Wedding of Ortez and SaOwana - Christmas, 1540", Exhibit: Indians at the Post Office: Native Themes in New Deal-Era Murals, National Postal Museum, Smithsonian Institution
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  6. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved 2021-12-08.
  7. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  8. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Pontotoc County, MS" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-08-01. Retrieved 2022-07-31. - Text list
  9. ^ "MBA/MHSAA Class 1A/2A State Marching Championships" (PDF). Msbandmasters.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-04-01. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Terry "Harmonica" Bean: Blues Musician, Pontotoc". Arts.state.ms.us. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Alfred O. Coffin : Zoologist, Biologist". Webfiles.uci.edu. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  12. ^ Bob L. Eagle; Eric S. LeBlanc (May 2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. ABC-CLIO. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-313-34424-4.
  13. ^ "Elizabeth Howard West: An Inventory of Her Papers, 1835-1939 and undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library". www.lib.utexas.edu. Texas Tech University. Retrieved January 13, 2016.

External links[edit]