• The area which is now Meridian was originally inhabited by the Choctaw Native Americans in the United StatesIndians, who agreed to vacate their land via the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. Caucasian settlers soon moved into the area, the first of which was a Virginian named Richard McLemore, who tried to attract people to the area by offering them free land. The original settlement was located in 1854 at the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and the Vicksburg & Montgomery Railroad lines, and was named 'Sowashee Station' after the nearby Sowashee Creek. The town was officially incorporated as "Meridian" in 1860. Even at this time, it was only inhabited by some fifteen families. The American Civil War broke out shortly after the town was incorporated, and the town's strategic position at the railroad junction made it the home of a Confederate arsenal, military hospital, prisoner-of-war stockade as well as the headquarters for a number of state offices. After the 1863 Siege of VicksburgVicksburg campaign, in which Federal troops succeeded in capturing Vicksburg, MississippiVicksburg and burning the state capital, Jackson, MississippiJackson, Union forces under General William Tecumseh Sherman turned eastward. In February 1864, Sherman's army reached Meridian, where they destroyed the railroads and burned much of the area to the ground. After completing this task, Sherman is reputed to have said, "Meridian no longer exists." Despite these traumatic events, the railroad lines at Meridian were repaired in a remarkable turnaround of twenty-six days, and the town experienced a boom in the aftermath of the war. Apparently, Meridian entered a sort of "Golden Age" around the turn of the twentieth century. Between 1890 and 1930 Meridian could claim to be the largest city in Mississippi, becoming a leading center for manufacturing. This period saw the construction of much of Meridian's present-day skyline, including the Grand Opera House, which opened in 1890. By 1900 the city counted some 25,000 residents. After the turn of the century, Meridian saw the construction of a Carnegie library, which now houses the municipal Museum of Art. Later, the Threefoot Building, Meridian's tallest skyscraper, became an important Art Deco architectural landmark. Today the city includes nine separate historic districts and neighborhoods, and boasts the largest collection of downtown historic buildings in Mississippi. The current population is larger than in the 2000 census. A recent annexation, in addition to seeing many displaced coastal residents after Hurricane Katrina (many of them have made Meridian their permanent residence), have put the population over 40,000. Source:
  • Did you know? The Sowashee creek was once the life blood of Meridian and the Choctaw Indians who first inhabited the area. It was a valuable food source of Brim and Bass and fresh water for the indians and settlers to the area. Meridian originally known as Sowashee Station, after the nearby Sowashee Creek, the city was founded in 1831, one year after the Choctaw Indians agreed to vacate their territories in Mississippi under the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Meridians founder, Richard McLemore of Virginia was the first Caucasian to settle in the area and Sowashee Station from which Meridian would grow. He offered free land to attract more people to the region. Until most recent history the creek had become poluted and undesirable. This was until concerned citizens and outside organizations helped clean it up and made it healthy once again.

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