Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stuckey's Bridge

Stuckey’s Bridge is located in the middle of nowhere in Lauderdale County on a lonely gravel road which crosses the Chunky River. No longer open to vehicular traffic, the bridge is one of many historic bridges in the state which have seen better days. The 112-ft. long truss bridge was built in 1901 by the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company. The Virginia Bridge & Iron Company built a lot of bridges in the beginning of the twentieth century and provided the steel infrastructure for skyscrapers and industrial plants across the United States and even in places like Cuba, where they built sugar plants. Based in Roanoke, Virginia, the company also had a foundry in Memphis, where, no doubt, the bridge in question was built. Stuckey’s Bridge is unique in Mississippi; there is no other bridge with the same type of construction. Thus, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a Mississippi Landmark. However, that’s not what Stuckey’s Bridge is known for.

For most folks, Stuckey’s Bridge is famous because of the ghost stories attached to it. Yes, Stuckey’s Bridge is said to be haunted by the bridge’s namesake. According to the oft-repeated legend, there was a bridge built at the site in around 1850. Sometime around the Civil War, a man named Stuckey settled nearby and established an inn along the stage road which crossed the Chunky at that point. In almost every account, “Old Man” Stuckey was a member of the Dalton Gang, implying that he was a bad man. And, indeed, if the stories are true, he was a very bad man. From the middle of the bridge, Stuckey is said to have signaled with his lantern to boatmen on the river to stop at his inn and rest from their journeys.  Once sound asleep in their rooms, Stuckey would sneak in, murder his guests and steal whatever valuables they might have. Then, he would bury their bodies along the riverbank. Stuckey is credited with about twenty such murders before he was caught. When rumors of people disappearing reached the sheriff, however, a posse was organized and “Old Man” Stuckey was promptly arrested and hung from the bridge for his foul deeds. His body was left hanging for five days (presumably as a warning to other would-be murdering innkeepers), after which the rope was cut and his body splashed into the Chunky River.

With such an awful story, one can only imagine the ghost stories that follow. For years, people have claimed that an old man has been seen walking across the bridge with a lantern in his hand. Others report loud splashes in the waters of the Chunky River, reckoned to be an unearthly reenactment of the murderer hitting the water after the noose was cut. Still others report a strange glow in the river where the splashing sound occurs. Occasionally, there have been reports that Stuckey’s body has been seen still swinging from the rope, always in the light of a full moon.

Of course, as with any good ghost story, facts are kind of hard to pin down. First of all, who was “Old Man” Stuckey? The only clue we have is that he was supposed to be a member of the “Dalton Gang.” Immediately, there are issues with that theory. The Dalton Gang operated out west in the early 1890s, and specialized in bank robberies and train holdups. The Daltons were related to the Youngers, who were associated with Jesse and Frank James. Most of the gang members met their end in Coffeeville, Kansas, on October 5, 1892, where they were gunned down in a wild shootout with locals during an attempted bank robbery (as shown here with four of the Daltons laid out is a postmortem photograph).  One of the few surviving gang members that day was Emmett Dalton (left), the youngest of the brothers, who remarkably survived twenty three gunshot wounds, served fourteen years in the Kansas penitentiary, and then began a new life in Los Angeles as a real estate agent, author and actor, where he starred in a couple of films portraying himself as an outlaw.

All of this is interesting, of course, but there’s no mention of anyone named Stuckey. There is a man named John Stuckey buried in the same cemetery as all of the Daltons in Coffeeville, Kansas, but other than that there is no connection - he was a local bricklayer who died in 1906. Furthermore, according to the good folks at the Lauderdale County Archives, there’s no Stuckey name associated with the county, and no incidents involving the Dalton Gang either. Where the name Stuckey came from to begin with is a mystery, although there’s probably some kernel of truth to the name somewhere. Then there’s the bridge itself. Some of the stories about the hauntings reference the image of Stuckey’s body swinging from the “trusses” of the bridge. If true, then the murders and the subsequent hanging would have to have taken place after 1901 (when the truss bridge was erected), yet almost all of the stories link the events to the mid-19th century. Finally, just from a logical standpoint, what did the evil Mr. Stuckey do with all the flatboats and barges that were suddenly emptied of the rivermen who were piloting them along the Chunky? And if you were on a flatboat already, why would you suddenly decide to spend the night in an out-of-the-way inn anyway? Questions, questions…

Facts aside, the saga of Stuckey’s Bridge makes for a good ghost story and gets a lot of visits from curiosity seekers. If you visit the bridge yourself, be advised that danger does lurks in the darkest hours of the night. It’s not from the ghostly lantern or the haunting visage of “Old Man” Stuckey swinging from the bridge span, though. No, it would be from you driving onto the bridge. If you do that, you might make an even bigger splash in the river than “Old Man” Stuckey.

(1) Stuckey's Bridge: http://en.wikipedia.org
(2) Lantern: http://www.martofimages.com
(3) Dalton Gang: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk
(4) Emmett Dalton: http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia
(5) Ghost image: http://meridianstar.com
(6) Stuckey's Bridge #2: From the National Register of Historic Places nomination on file at MDAH

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"The Iron Thirteen"

Although Jackson State University football has fallen on hard times in recent years, the school has a track record of producing outstanding athletes, many of whom have gone on the star in professional football, perhaps none more prominent than running back Walter Payton.  Most people are not familiar with one chapter in Jackson State’s long history of success on the gridiron, however, and that is the story of the “Iron Thirteen.”

Football at Jackson State College began in the early 1910s. At the time, football was not a scholarship sport, so the team was completely dependent on volunteers. In the early years, games were mostly played against regional opponents like Campbell College (a school once located in Jackson) and Tougaloo College. In 1913, J.B. “Jubie” Bragg (left) arrived to coach football at Jackson State. Bragg came to Jackson from Florida A&M, and while in Mississippi his son Eugene attended the Jackson College Primary School, which was a teaching school on campus. After leaving Jackson State, Jubie Bragg returned to Florida A&M where he coached from 1923-25 and 1930-31. His son Eugene became FAMU's fourth head coach in 1934, and coached the Rattlers until 1935 when he was killed in a car accident. Today, the Florida A&M stadium is known as Bragg Memorial Stadium in their honor.

Coach Bragg stayed in Jackson until 1919. With his departure, Jackson State was left without a football coach. With no coach, only five or six players volunteered to play, obviously not enough men to field a team. However, those few continued to practice each day, even without a coach. Doubtful that the school would be able to field a team that year, Jackson State College president Zachary Taylor Hubert (right) decided to cancel the 1920 football season unless something changed. President Hubert, born in 1878, was a native of Georgia. One of twelve children, all who graduated from college (and one of two college presidents), Hubert had taught Science and Agriculture at Florida A&M and was the Superintendent of Building and Grounds at Spelman College in Atlanta before coming to Jackson in 1915. As president, Hubert did a great deal to get Jackson State on sound financial footing, improved the school’s academic record and established the athletic program. So, it was a tough decision to cancel football.

In fact, it didn’t happen. Instead, the six players continued to practice on their own until seven more students came on board. Now with thirteen players on hand, the team selected Earnest Richards, a French teacher, to serve as coach. Richards had never played football and probably knew very little about it, but took on the task of organizing a team. The players themselves drew up the plays and ran the practices.

The first game during the 1920 season was against Tougaloo College, which the Jackson men won 13-0, followed by victories over Utica (63-0) and Mississippi Industrial College (21-14). Led by team captains Edgar Stewart and Percy Greene, the “Iron Thirteen,” as they would become known, went on to an undefeated season that year and won the Mississippi Louisiana Conference Championship (JSU did not join the SWAC until 1958). Incredibly, the “Iron Thirteen” went to two more undefeated seasons in 1921 and 1922. 

Both of the team captains, Edgar Stewart and Percy Greene, are members of the Jackson State University Hall of Fame. Born in 1897, Greene was a World War I veteran, and in 1927 organized the National Association of Negro War Veterans. In 1939, he started the Jackson Advocate newspaper. As editor and publisher, he was an early advocate of black voting rights, although he often took controversial stances that alienated him from Civil Rights leaders. Percy Greene was editor of the Advocate until his death in 1977, at which time Charles Tisdale purchased the newspaper. 

Although not as well known as more modern Jackson State squads, few teams at any school can boast of the accomplishments of the “Iron Thirteen.”

(1) JSU logo: http://www.sportsflagsandpennants.com
(2) Bragg: http://www.netitor.com/photos/schools/famu/sports
(3) Hubert: http://www.wcrhubert.com
(4) "Iron Thirteen:" From the 2011 JSU Football Centennial Media Guide
(5) Advocate: http://www.nubiah.org

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

William Walker: The Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny

William Walker had a dream, a dream shared by many pro-slavery advocates in the ante-bellum South. Walker’s dream involved the expansion of slavery into Latin America. Known as “filibustering,” the idea was not a new one, but the young and energetic Walker actually worked to implement it. 

William Walker (1824-1860) was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of a Scottish immigrant. After graduating from the University of Nashville at the top of his class (at age fourteen), Walker (right) went to Europe to study medicine. Returning to the United States, he continued his studies in Philadelphia, where he obtained a degree at age nineteen and practiced medicine for a short time. Moving south to New Orleans in 1845, he became a lawyer and a newspaper editor. In 1850, after his deaf-mute fiancĂ©e died, he moved to San Francisco. 

In California, Walker was a newspaper man and, when not fighting duels, got involved in the Manifest Destiny movement.  It was then that Walker seized upon the idea of conquering Latin America and turning the whole region into a slavocracy. This slaveholding empire encircling the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean states, including Cuba, was sometimes referred to as “the golden circle.”  In 1853, Walker traveled to Mexico to try and convince the government there to give him a grant to establish a colony on the border between Mexico and the United States. Not surprisingly, Mexican officials refused. Not deterred, Walker made plans to raise his own army to take land from Mexico and establish the “Republic of Sonora,” funded by the sale of bonds, or “scrips,” only redeemable in (you guessed it) the “Republic of Sonora.”

In October, Walker and forty-five men landed in sparsely-populated Baja, California, captured the capital, and declared it the capital of the “Republic of Lower California,” with Walker as president. When he was unable to actually go into Sonora as planned, Walker simply declared that Baja was part of a larger “Republic of Sonora.” Not surprisingly, he was soon ousted by the Mexican government. Back home in California, U.S. officials put him on trial for starting an illegal war. The jury, however, acquitted him in just eight minutes. 

Still looking to establish himself somewhere in Latin America, Walker found a sympathetic benefactor in Nicaragua, which was at the time caught up in a civil war between political parties. To help combat their rivals in the Legitimist Party, the Democratic Party called for help from Walker. Nicaraguan president Francisco Castellon Sanabria (right), a member of the Democratic faction, invited Walker to bring up to three hundred “colonists” to Nicaragua and gave them the right to bear arms. Technically, therefore, they were invited guests. In reality, Walker now had the freedom to act as a mercenary (the image above shows some of his rag-tag volunteers). Sailing from San Francisco on May 3, 1855, with sixty men (far short of the 300 allowed), Walker landed in Nicaragua and was joined there by almost three hundred locals and Americans. 

Walker immediately attacked the Legitimist town of Rivas. Although his first attack failed, Walker’s little army defeated the Legitimist forces on September 4 and on October 13 captured the opposition capital of Granada. Having accomplished the task of knocking out the opposition party, Walker became the de facto ruler of Nicaragua after Francisco Castellon died. Walker’s regime was recognized by U.S. government in 1856, during the Franklin Pierce administration. American recognition was soon withdrawn, however, when Walker conspired to seize the Accessory Transit Company, owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt (the company controlled the route across Central America prior to the Panama Canal). Vanderbilt, infuriated by Walker’s hostile takeover, convinced Pierce to withdraw recognition. At the same time, Walker’s neighbors in Central America grew increasingly alarmed at rumors of more invasions by Walker’s men. To combat the growing threat, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala formed a coalition army, with arms supplied by the British government and financial backing from Commodore Vanderbilt. In 1856, Costa Rica and Honduras declared war on Nicaragua. 

Meanwhile, Walker went about installing himself as President after conducting a sham election. Inaugurated on July 12, Walker immediately reestablished slavery (outlawed by Nicaragua in the 1820s), made English the official language and changed the currency and banking system to be more in keeping with the Southern U.S. states, hoping to attract investors.

Although there was some interest in the new republic from Southerners, the experiment lasted less than a year. By December 14, 1856, Granada was surrounded by the coalition army. Rather than risk capture, one of Walker’s generals decided it would be best to burn the city and fight their way out. They did so, and left the city in ruins, concentrating their forces in the city of Rivas. For five months, his army held out against superior forces. Finally, on May 1, 1857, Walker surrendered to a U.S. naval officer, who negotiated the surrender of the city (right) and then shipped Walker back to the United States.

Back home, many people considered Walker to be a hero, and he considered himself the legitimate president of Nicaragua. As such, he toured the South to try to raise funds to retake Nicaragua. In Mississippi, as elsewhere, his public appearances created a lot of sympathy and excitement. In a November 1860 Natchez newspaper, the editor predicted with great anticipation the creation of a slaveholding empire along the Gulf of Mexico, which would become, the newspaper wrote, “simply a Southern lake, to be whitened with thousands of Southern sails.” Walker tried several times to return to Nicaragua, but was foiled in each attempt.

In 1860, British colonists in the Bay Islands (off the coast of Honduras) approached Walker about establishing an independent, English-speaking government (they were fearful of the Hondurans). Never one to pass up an opportunity, Walker agreed and boarded a ship, arriving in the port city of Trujillo. This time, he was captured by the British Navy, which regarded anyone intending to upset the region’s political balance to be dangerous.  Instead of being shipped back to the United States, Walker was delivered to Honduran authorities, and Walker was summarily executed by firing squad on September 12, 1860 (above). After all this, he was still just 36 years old. He is buried in Trujillo (his grave is seen at right). Because of the Walker incident, the British gave the Bay Islands to the Honduran government. Thus ends the story of William Walker.

Although Walker failed to make his dream come true, his daring made him a popular figure in the South, where he was known as “General Walker” and the “Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny.” In Central America, however, the military campaign to oust him is a point of pride for Central American independence. In fact, there is a national holiday in Costa Rica (on April 11) to celebrate the victory against Walker at Rivas and the bravery of Juan Santamaria, Costa Rica's greatest national hero (his monument is seen here). A drummer boy, Santamaria volunteered to advance across open ground in order to torch a stronghold held by Walker's men during the battle of Second Rivas. Although he was killed by a sniper, Santamaria successfully applied the torch and helped win the battle for the Costa Rican army. Whether this is factual or not is of secondary importance; today, Juan Santamaria is a national hero akin to those of the American Revolution in the U.S. On the other side of the ledger, William Walker's reputation in the region is infamous, and he is still remembered with great scorn. His reputation is so toxic that when a U.S. Ambassador was appointed to El Salvador in 1988, it caused a wave of consternation in Latin America. The ambassador's name? William G. Walker. 

(1) Walker: http://en.wikipedia.org
(2) Walker's army: http://historymatters.gmu.edu
(3) Francisco Castellon: http://www.mined.gob.ni/gobern12.php 
(4) Map: http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibits/walker/index.htm 
(5) Surrender: http://johnsmitchell.photoshelter.com
(6) Walker execution: http://www.bookdrum.com
(7) Walker grave: http://www.latinamericanstudies.org
(8) Monument: http://costaricasunshine.com/en/cultural-activities

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Born about 1764 in what is now Noxubee County, Pushmataha is considered by many to be the greatest Choctaw chief, at least in recorded history. During his life, Pushmataha fought in wars against both Europeans and Native Americans and negotiated on behalf of his people with a U.S. Government which ultimately betrayed his trust and allegiance. 

There is disagreement (or perhaps just little known) about Pushmataha's childhood or parents. What is known is that at an early age he was involved in military campaigns waged by the Choctaw against other tribes, namely the Osage and Caddo west of the Mississippi in the 1780s. These conflicts were often the result of competition over hunting grounds and game, but also involved the fur trade with Europeans. Regardless of the cause, Pushmataha's star as a warrior was on the rise, and his name, which means "a messenger of death," is indicative of his reputation for fighting ability.  

Because of his skills as a military leader, Pushmataha was chosen in 1800 to lead as mingo (or chief) the Six Towns district of the Choctaw, one of three Choctaw administrative areas. In this capacity, he was often called on to represent the Choctaw in their dealings with the United States, which continually encroached on Choctaw lands. In 1805, he was one of the negotiators in the Treaty of Mount Dexter, which resulted in the Choctaws ceding land to the U.S., which meant the loss of millions of acres of Choctaw land in exchange for a small annual payment to the tribe and some trade goods. Despite this, when Tecumseh tried to form alliances among various tribes to take back the lands lost to the United States through treaty and other means in 1811, Pushmataha rebuffed Tecumseh's call and instead threatened to fight anyone who took up arms against the United States.

Indeed, Pushmataha led the Choctaw in an alliance with the U.S. during the War of 1812, initially raising a company of 500 men and garnering an officer's commission in the American army. After the Red Stick faction of the Creeks defeated a force of white militia and southern Creeks at Fort Mims, Alabama, Pushmataha sent Choctaw warriors to the aid of Andrew Jackson in his fight against the Red Sticks in the Creek War, and the Choctaw fought alongside U.S. troops at the Battle of Holy Ground and at Horseshoe Bend (above), a victory for the Americans and their Native American allies. By the time of the battle of New Orleans, however, not many Choctaw remained in the army (as they had defeated their Creek enemies, the Red Sticks), but they were the only tribe represented among Andrew Jackson's troops. 

After his return from the War of 1812, Pushmataha was elected as the principal chief of the Choctaw nation. As chief, he pushed back against the efforts of Protestant missionaries who arrived in 1818, but he was open to new technology, like the cotton gin, which might improve the lives of his people. He also invested much of his personal wealth in establishing Choctaw schools. As chief, he had to return to more treaty negotiations with the U.S. Government. In the Treaty of Doak's Stand (in 1820), Pushmataha faced off against his old ally Andrew Jackson, who, along with General Thomas Hinds, presented the government's "offer" to move the Choctaw off of half their land in Mississippi in exchange for land in Arkansas. As Pushmataha was aware that white settlers were already homesteading on the land in Arkansas, which was of less value than the Choctaw land in Mississippi to begin with, he balked at the proposal. However, the reality was that Choctaw land was continually under threat from encroaching settlements, and Andrew Jackson essentially held all the cards. Faced with this reality, Pushmataha reluctantly agreed to sign the treaty. In return, Jackson agreed that the settlers would be evicted from the new Choctaw land in Arkansas and peace and harmony between the Choctaw nation and the United States were “declared to be perpetual.”

As one might expect, however, the United States failed to uphold its end of the bargain, as more and more settlers moved on to land promised to the Choctaw. Dubious of the offer to begin with, many Choctaw refused to relocate across the river. In 1824, Pushmataha, along with two other chiefs in the region, went to Washington to protest the non-enforcement of the treaty, and demanded either expulsion of white settlers from the lands in Arkansas, as agreed, or just compensation. Among the delegation to Washington was Maj. John Pitchlynn, a Choctaw Agent who acted as an interpreter. Pitchlynn established a home along the Tombigbee River and was married to a Choctaw woman. A son, Peter Pitchlynn, was named principal chief of the Choctaw in Oklahoma in 1864-66.

While in Washington, D.C., Pushmataha met with President James Monroe, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun and the Marquis de Lafayette, who was also visiting Washington. He also sat for a portrait in his U.S. Army uniform. The painting by Charles Bird King (above) was in the Smithsonian until 1865 when the original was destroyed in a fire. However, numerous prints were made and it has become the most famous image of Pushmataha. In December, while still in Washington, Pushmataha developed a respiratory infection. As he was seriously ill, the old warrior was visited by Andrew Jackson, who had forced the treaty on the Choctaw. Knowing he was about to die, Pushmataha requested full military honors, which was granted. He died on Christmas Eve in 1824. Given full military honors as a Brigadier General, the funeral procession stretched for a mile and included bands, military units and carriages filled with celebrities. Thousands lined to route to pay their respects to Pushmataha. To recognize the occasion, Jackson sent a medal to Pushmataha's oldest surviving son. Pushmataha was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington. The monument marking his grave (left) reads: "Push-ma-ta-ha, a Choctaw chief, lies here. This monument to his memory is erected by his brother chiefs who were associated with him in a delegation from their nation in the year 1824 to the general government of the United States. Push-ma-ta-ha was a warrior of great distinction he was wise in council — eloquent in an extraordinary degree, and on all occasions & under all circumstances the white man's friend."

In a few years, General Jackson became President Jackson and completed the betrayal of the Choctaw and other tribes by overseeing their removal during the infamous “Trail of Tears.” During his life, Pushmataha did his best to both honor his commitments to his old friend Jackson and to his people. Pushmataha, in many ways, straddled two epochs – one which reflected the traditions of the Choctaw nation and the other which reflected the grim reality of the new world, a world in which native people would be pushed aside for the ever-expansive United States.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Lowrey Dynasty and Blue Mountain College

Blue Mountain College, located southwest of Ripley, Mississippi, in Tippah County has been in existence for 139 years. Founded by a former Confederate general and grounded in religious tradition, Blue Mountain has the distinction of being led for most of its history by one family.

Mark Perrin Lowrey (1828-1885) grew up poor. When his father, an Irish immigrant, died at a young age, his mother raised him and his ten brothers and sisters by herself. In 1846, Lowrey served in the Mexican War under Colonel Charles Clark (and a future governor of Mississippi), where he developed skills as a military man. After the war, although he was adept in the military arts, Mark Lowrey had a higher calling and entered the ministry, serving Baptist churches at Kossuth and Ripley until sectional strife began pulling the nation apart. Although he resisted leaving the pulpit for the army when Mississippi seceded from the Union, his military experience and public reputation made him a natural choice to lead men into battle, and the 6'3" Lowry finally agreed to join the Confederate cause. In April, 1862, he organized and was elected colonel of the 32nd Mississippi Infantry. 

During the Civil War, Mark Perrin Lowrey was frequently seen at the head of his troops and was known for his bravery in battle. In fact, none other than Gen. Patrick Cleburne, after witnessing Lowrey at the head of his brigade at Chickamauga, proclaimed him "the bravest man in the Confederate army," Due to his skill as a soldier and his leadership on the battlefield, Lowrey (right) was promoted to brigadier general in October 1863. With the Army of Tennessee throughout his career, Lowrey served in the Atlanta Campaign and in the twin disasters at Franklin and Nashville. In March, 1865, he resigned his commission and returned to Mississippi to resume his ministry. In truth, however, he had never ceased being a Baptist preacher even while serving in the army. Known as the "Preacher General," Lowrey led prayer meetings and baptized soldiers throughout the war. According to one soldier, he "could preach like Hell on Sunday, and fight like the devil the rest of the week."

Although Lowrey returned to the pulpit after the war, he was not only interested in souls - he also understood the value of education, especially for young women. In 1873, to fill the educational void, Lowrey established the Blue Mountain Female Institute. From the outset, the school focused on developing not only the mind but the character of young women. The first faculty at the new school consisted of Gen. Lowrey and his two oldest daughters, Modena and Margaret. Modena Lowrey Berry (1850-1942), known as "Mother Berry," is considered to be the co-founder of the college and was the vice president at Blue Mountain for an incredible span of 61 years. At age 90, while still at her post, she fell and broke her leg after slipping on the steps of the college’s Administration building. Rushed to the Baptist hospital in Memphis, she spent several weeks in recovery. Unfortunately, she would never be able to walk again. Remarkably, she returned to her beloved college and resumed her duties in a wheelchair. "Mother Berry" (above left) died the next year, and was laid to rest in the Blue Mountain Cemetery. Her tenure as a college administrator is likely never to be equaled. Mark Perrin Lowrey died unexpectedly on February 21, 1885, at a depot in Middleton, Tennessee. While purchasing tickets to board the train for a return trip to Blue Mountain, the fifty six year old Lowrey simply fell backwards and died of an apparent heart attack. After his body was carried by train to Blue Mountain, thousands attended his funeral at Blue Mountain Baptist Church. He was buried at nearby Macedonia Cemetery, where students at the college later erected an impressive monument at his grave (above right). 

With the unexpected death of the school's founder, one of Lowrey's sons, Dr. William Tyndale Lowrey (left), was called on to take over the reins. W.T., as he was known, was a graduate of Mississippi College and was at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when he moved to Blue Mountain. He served two stints as president, the first from 1885 to 1898, and was also president of Mississippi College, Hill College and Clark Memorial College. The next president at Blue Mountain was another son, Dr. Bill Green Lowrey (top right). Also a Mississippi College graduate, B.G., in addition to his time as president of the college, was instrumental in establishing Baptist hospitals in Memphis and Jackson. He was also elected to Congress from Mississippi’s Second Congressional District. Finally, a grandson, Dr. Lawrence Tyndale Lowry (left), served as president of Blue Mountain College until 1960, when the first non-family member was elevated to the post. As with the other Lowrey presidents, L.T. also had a distinguished academic career. Another Mississippi College graduate, L.T. also studied at Tulane University and earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University. In addition to Blue Mountain, his academic posts included the University of Southern California and at the University of California. 

In 1920, the college ceased to be independently run and was turned over to the Southern Baptist Convention. Even after the college changed hands, however, a Lowrey  (L.T.) was selected to serve as president. In the years following the last Lowery presidency at Blue Mountain, the college continued to thrive. The current president, Dr. Bettye Coward, is the first woman to lead the school and is only the seventh president in the college’s history. She has recently announced her retirement. 

In 2005, Blue Mountain became completely co-educational, allowing male students into all degree programs. For most of the school’s history, however, it has served as a training ground for young women, and for the bulk of the school’s existence, has been led by members of one remarkable family. 

(1) Blue Mountain College: http://www.usgwarchives.org/ms/ppcs-ms.html
(2) M.P. Lowrey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Perrin_Lowrey
(3) "Mother Lowrey": http://books.google.com/books/about/Mother_Berry_of_Blue_Moutain.html
(4) Lowrey grave: http://www.findagrave.com
(5) W.T.: http://boydroots.net/familytree/getperson.php
(6) BG: http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm4/document.php
(7) L.T. http://boydroots.net/familytree/getperson.php
(8) Blue Mountain pennant: http://mdah.state.ms.us/timeline/zone/1873/