The area I grew up in was settled prior to the Civil War. Our little community Cairo was settled along one of the earliest roads in the county along with Palo Alto, Palestine, Tibbee, and Siloam. I’ve talked about the history of the county in a couple of other posts HERE and HERE. This area saw settlements as early as the 1830s after the succession of the native people due to the treaties with the Choctaw and Chickasaw. I discussed the Indian treaties a good bit in this post HERE.
The areas of Montpelier, Palestine, Cairo, and Siloam were on the farm to market road that farmers traveled from the western part of the county to get to market in West Point. It’s all bottom land crisscrossed with creeks and drainage ditches that I cannot imagine having to get a team of mules and wagons across so it was important to have places along the way to sleep and rest your team as getting to town could take two or three days. Right down the road from our house was an antebellum home owned by the Thompson family that was known to travelers as the “lighthouse.” The home was three stories tall and in the evening a lantern was lit in a window in the top story so that travelers would know they had reached Sand Creek and would have a safe place to camp for the night before going on to West Point in the morning. Very few of the structures from the early settlement of the county are left as many little towns were built around business that haven’t existed since before the first world war, but there are a few buildings scattered here and there. One building that dates from the 1870s and is the Old Montpelier Church located on Old Montpelier Road also known as the Starkville to Houston Road.
It’s built in a design that is seen all over the south. A simple design that made use of materials that were readily available in the area at the time of construction. This church has been abandoned for years and according to my dad it’s been abandoned since before they moved here in the mid 1960s. The day I stopped to photograph this it was hot as all get out and since I’m scared of snakes I didn’t dare get too terribly close unless I could see my feet.
The only thing about this part of the world is there is very little written down. I found one little mention in a Clay County history book and one other mention in a report submitted to the Mississippi Department of Archives, you can read that HERE. So I’ll put out a plea to my readers, if you have any info on this church please email me at email@example.com. I would love to document a little more of the building’s history so it’s not lost but I’m afraid all the first hand knowledge is gone. So prove me wrong gentle readers. I’d love to know some really good stories about this church.