Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Gone to Texas" - Migration from Mississippi During the 1800s

According to the local histories of some of Mississippi's counties, a large number of residents pulled up what was left of their roots after the Civil War and left the state for Texas. Others had already made the move before the onset of the war. Often, groups that migrated to Texas included extended families, and sometimes the entire population of a community traveled "en masse." One of the counties hardest hit with this type of movement was Carroll County, where signs were left on abandoned houses stating "Gone to Texas." Often, in lieu of a sign, the letters "G.T.T." were carved on the door, a fencepost, or on the trunk of a tree in the yard. One particular area of Carroll County, Mississippi lost such a large number of its residents that it became known "Little Texas."

Carroll County was not the only area of Mississippi that experienced this mass migration to Texas, as evidenced by information posted on a blog entitled authored by Vickie Pounders Everhart. Vickie, a Native Texan, is a descendant of a family whose ancestors moved to Texas from Oktibbeha County, Mississippi around 1869. The blog includes the results of Vickie's research about these Mississippi ancestors who settled near what became the town of Burleson, Texas, now a bustling suburb off I-35 about 15 miles south of Fort Worth. I encourage you to visit Vickie's beautiful and informative blog, "Be-Not-Forgot," to learn more about this Mississippi-Texas connection. Self-described as the "keeper" of her family's history, Vickie is not only a historian and a blogger, she is also the administrator of a website name "Us Mississippians," developed as a gathering spot to "collect and share" information from descendants of those who migrated from Oktibbeha County, Mississippi in 1869.

In the summer of 2000, Vickie wrote to the Lee County (Texas) Historical Commission advising the group of the existence of her website and the responses she had received from descendants of the Mississippi group who now live throughout the nation. In her letter, Vickie also offered information about an oral account by her great-grandmother, Mollie West Nettles, to her granddaughter, Ruby Nettles Vance, of Lexington, Lee County, Texas, about life in Mississippi during the Civil War. The following information was originally published in the April 19, 1979 edition of The Giddings Times News in Lee Co., Texas. The article was written by Ruby Vance, nee Nettles, of Lexington, Lee County, Texas, and the publication date was timed to coincide with that year's annual Lexington Homecoming:

"Miss Ruby is a granddaughter of Mollie, the original narrator of this family saga. If Miss Ruby and/or y'all prefer to use her 1979 article as she originally wrote it, then just ignore parts 1, 2 and 3 from me, and I'll send you an Alternate Nettles-West Story for Lee County History. In introducing her little Grandmother's story one afternoon in the summer of 1932, this writer visited her aging grandmother for the purpose of taking notes on some of the Civil War stories she had heard her tell all her life. We hope in sharing these with you that many of you will do likewise. . . .' There are an inestimable number of persons with Lee County connections who descend from Civil War-era residents of Oktibbeha Co., Mississippi. Andy Monroe, descendant of Cecelia Parker Sikes, nee Perry, has observed that many of the folks on the 1850 Oktibbeha County census who later wound up in Texas, were earlier in North Carolina."

Part One of Mollie's story tells of her childhood memories of life in and around Oktibbeha County during that time period. Vickie's entire letter to the Lee County Historical Commission can be read on her "Gone to Texas" website.

Some of my own Porter relatives, Elizabeth Jane Allen Porter, the widow of my great-great grandfather, James M. Porter of Attala County, and the children born during this second marriage, also moved to Texas after her husband died. Interestingly, this family settled near Cleburne, Texas, in Johnson County. Allegedly, Elizabeth had relatives who already lived near Cleburne, which is barely a dozen miles away from where Vickie's ancestors from Oktibbeha County had already settled. According to my own research, the descendants of the children born during James M. Porter's second marriage multiplied in number, and many of them still reside in places throughout the State of Texas.


  1. "Us Mississippians" has been a blast! It's amazing how many of those families that traveled from Oktibbeha Co. to Burleson Co. (later Lee Co.) in TX wound up connected to each other by blood or by marriage. I even found (just within the last decade) that a guy I went out with once or twice in high school was actually a 4th cousin once removed -- & the connection was all the way back to Oktibbeha Co.! Thanks heaps, Janice, for this additional exposure of my genealogy research -- it is mucho appreciated! P.S. I have Porter ancestors in Georgia. And my husband has ancestors in Cleburne as early as 1884 -- the Cartwrights. P.P.S. Burleson Co. & Lee Co. are actually east of Austin -- Caldwell is the county seat for Burleson Co.

  2. Thanks for sharing the information and the links, Janice. From our part of the world, there was a huge migration to Hill County, Texas. I've lost count of just how many of my relatives - from all sides - left Itawamba County in Mississippi and Marion and Lamar Counties in Alabama for that area of Texas, lured, I believe, by the rich soils that produced abundant cotton crops.

  3. My family,the Dandridges migrated from Virginia to the Carolinas and on to Alabama and then many to Potontoc,Mississippi and then an entire family.Grandparents,grown kids and grandkids on to Ellis county Texas right before the turnoff the century and lived there who;e families until the 1960's