The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Adams County Police & Miscellaneous County Records
Collection Number: M85
Dates: 1836, 1840-42, 1850-1856, 1894
Volume: .25 cu.ft.
Adams County, named for President John Adams, was established April 2, 1799, out of the old Natchez district. It was the first county organized in the Mississippi Territory, and included the town of Washington which served as the Territorial and State capital from 1802 to 1820. Some of the offices that were created in 1799 were: probate judge, sheriff, coroner, court of quarter sessions, common pleas court, and justice of the peace. With the establishment of municipal government in Natchez in 1803 came the employment of a full-time constable. There was also a Board of Police appointed annually by the Natchez Board of Selectmen with responsibilities for, in addition to law enforcement, the county poor house, road maintenance, and approval of license applications. In 1838, a rise in violence resulted in an increased police force of nine members armed with "short swords." A high crime area was the community called "Natchez-under-the-hill," which was destroyed in May 1840 by a powerful tornado that claimed the lives of approximately 350 Adams County residents. The population for Adams County in the years pertinent to these records is recorded at 19,434 in 1840, 18,601 in 1850, and 20,165 in 1860. The 1860 total included 13,318 slaves and 559 polls (registered voters).
The bulk of the collection contains various items and documents relating to the various activities of the Adams County Board of Police that were generated between 1840-1842 and 1850-1856. Warrants for payment to Constable Peter Laurence, road and bridge maintenance reports, and sundry license applications make up most of the collection, but there are also documents relating to the county alms house and allegiance oaths by Board of Police members.
Folder 1 contains applications for licenses, four auctioneer and two business licenses. With the exception of one 1894 record, all of the documents are dated 1841. (6 items)
Folders 2 and 3 contain warrants requesting payment for services rendered by Constable Peter Laurence in 1840. The name and date of each case is cited for items a-q which were signed and authorized on January 20, 1841, by Justice of the Peace, William Purdue. (18 Items)
Folder 4 contains miscellaneous reports on the operation of the Poor or Alms House. One significant item is a detailed description of the inhabitants of the Poor House, including their ages and reasons for being admitted, contained in an 1856 register. (6 items)
Folder 5 contains the oaths of allegiance and verification of election of the officers of the Board of Police. (5 Items)
Folder 6 contains road reports and payment requests for services on roads and bridges. (11 items)
Folder 7 contains miscellaneous financial statements for office supplies and clerk payments. (3 Items)
Folder 8 contains a warrant for the payment of court costs by the plantiff in a court case, Jan. 22, 1842. (1 Item)
Folder 9 contains an application from free black, Charles Harris, for a license to remain in Natchez, signed by various Natchez citizens and dated July 30, 1856.