Baldwyn, the man, acted as paymaster during the construction of the railroad and, in 1861, drove in the ceremonial spike that was the final connection between the southern and northern sections of the road at Corinth. Clearly, the city of Baldwyn, Mississippi, was named for the visionary railroad prospector Marshall J.D. Baldwyn.
But what about “Carrollville?” What was the origin of the name for that first settlement?
Let’s look at what we know, or think we know. Carrollville was important. The little burg produced governors, congressmen, and war heroes. Its original inhabitants were descended from famous frontier families – Seviers, Taylors, Crocketts, Weirs and others. Though his home was actually in the Blair community, even Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo, who served in military campaigns against the British and the Creek Indians with Andrew Jackson, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, was counted by his contemporaries as a citizen of Carrollville.
Carrollville was “established” in 1834, less than two years after the Treaty of Pontotoc (1832) ceded Chickasaw lands to the U.S. government and the State of Mississippi. We find this establishment date given among other information provided by former Baldwyn mayor T.G. Stocks (1846-1920) in an interview with the Mississippi Historical Society in 1902. In the information Stocks provided, he says that his mother, Susan Taylor Stocks (1817-1902), moved to Carrollville in 1838, the year following final Chickasaw removal after the Treaty of Doaksville (1837) settled the tribe’s land claims in Oklahoma.
Was Carrollville among the earliest Mississippi settlements? Yes. Was Carrollville historically important? Yes. But why “Carrollville?” Where did this name come from?
Fellow history seekers Cynthia Mink and Betty Massengill have provided me with an abundance of information on Carrollville and the families who lived there. We all agree that a first guess as to the origin of the name would be that it was chosen to honor an early settler or a “first family.” Booneville was named for Rueben Holman Boone, for instance. However, in our investigations of census records, we have only found one reasonable candidate in old Tishomingo County – a man named Derosy Carroll. We know very little about Carroll other than he was born about 1813 and that he was recorded living in Tishomingo County in 1840 and 1843. Derosy Carroll may very well be the source for the name Carrollville. Certainly he was in the area at the right time. But when Carrollville was organized, this particular Carroll would only have been 21 years old, an unlikely age to have a city named for you. Still, it is at least within the realm of possibility.
I thought of a different possibility, and while it remains speculative at this point (Cynthia, Betty and I will continue to investigate), it does seem to have credence. Without a clear family known to be on-site in early Carrollville, I postulated that perhaps the person or persons for whom Carrollton and Carroll County, Mississippi, were named might also be responsible for our Carrollville.
So I followed that lead. What I found I now believe to be the best explanation for the naming of Carrollville. It seems both Carrollton and Carroll County were named, not for a local founder, but for a national figure – the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton.
Charles Carroll’s home was called Carrollton Manor and was located near Annapolis, Maryland, where he was an important political figure. He was the only Catholic to have signed the Declaration, and he was Maryland’s first U.S. senator. Charles Carroll, a larger-than-life figure fictionally portrayed in the 2004 movie National Treasure and even mentioned by name in the 1939 classic Gone With The Wind, lived to the ripe old age of 95. Here’s the key fact: Charles Carroll died in 1832 – the same year the Treaty of Pontotoc was signed and northern Mississippi was opened for settlement. Carrollville was officially established in 1834 by the descendents of revolutionary patriots who would have viewed Carroll as a national hero. Certainly, we know he was well known in Mississippi, as the delta city of Carrollton and Carroll County where it is located can attest.
We can’t yet be sure that Charles Carroll was definitely the person for whom Carrollville, Mississippi, was named, but as Cynthia Mink and I discussed recently, “It just fits.”
From the diary of Carroll E. W. Milton, an early settler who lived near the Geeville community from 1849 until his death in 1860, we find the following:
“July 1849 – Wednesday 4th. ‘The glorious fourth’ Barbeque at Carrollville – prayers, Declaration of Independence read – Oration delivered – Instrumental music.”
“July 1851. Friday the 4th, went to Carrollville, great barbeque, great crowd, great day!!! Declaration of Independence read by Troupe [Belsher].”
“July 1853 – Monday 4th. 5th barbeque in the grove … J.T. Hicks read the order of the day. J.W. Yates prayed like a hungry man. Sam’l Yates read the Declaration of Independence, and spoke a few thoughts from some other great man’s head besides his own … W.H.H. Tison give us a history in the shape of an oration, of our glorious country from a long time ago to the present.”
Obviously, when Carrollville was in its hey-day, the Declaration of Independence was a vital and celebrated part of American history in our frontier town. And I think it is very reasonable to suspect that Carrollville may have taken its name from one of the original signers of that document that created America.