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ORGANIZATION OF THE COUNTY -- ACT OF THE LEGISLATURE OF MISSISSIPPI AUTHORIZING SAME -- NAMES OF COMMISSIONERS WHO ORGANIZED THE COUNTY -- SIZE AND FORM OF THE COUNTY -- NUMBER OF SQUARE MILES IN THE COUNTY -- NUMBER OF ACRES OF LAND IN THE COUNTY -- WHAT THE COUNTY DERIVED ITS NAME FROM -- WHAT COUNTY WAS DIVIDED TO MAKE NEWTON COUNTY -- WHAT PART OF THE CHOCTAW PURCHASE NEWTON COUNTY WAS TAKEN FROM.
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By an act of the Legislature of the State of Mississippi, approved 26th of February, 1836, a certain territory, comprising the southern half of Neshoba county, was set apart as the county of Newton.
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The names of three citizens of this new territory were mentioned and commissioned by the Legislature of the State to organize the county of Newton, namely, William Donalson, Michael Thomas and Francis Jones. These men had power to meet and go through whatever form was necessary to organize a county, and also to buy, or receive by gift, not more than eight acres of land on which to build or locate a county site for the court-house, as near as was practical in the center of the county.
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The form of Newton county is a square, there being no other county in the State, unless it is Leake county, of the same form. It is twenty-four miles square, which will give it 576 square miles and 368,640 acres of land.
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The county derived its name from Sir Isaac Newton, the great scientist and philosopher. Newton county, or that part of the territory now forming the new county, was the southern part of Neshoba county, which was nearly as large as any two of the new Choctaw counties coming in through the last Indian purchase. The people in the lower part of the large county of Neshoba wanted a county of their own, and although the population was very small, the Legislature heard their petition through the Representative, James Ellis, who was afterwards Newton county's first representative.
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The court-house for the county of Neshoba, previous to the division of the county, was near where the town of Union, in Newton county, is now situated. An old settler, who is now living, says it was a black-jack oak cabin with dirt floor; that Judge Wm. Sterling as judge, and Hon. Jno. Watts as district attorney, held the first court for the new county of Neshoba. After the division of the county, the county site for Neshoba was removed to Philadelphia.
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The town of Decatur, the present site for the court-house, was chosen by the commission as a suitable place for the court-house, and there it has remained although repeated efforts have been made to remove it.
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Newton county is a part of the purchase made by the United States Government through its commissioners, John H. Eaton and John Coffee, of the one part, and the Choctaw Indians, through their Chiefs and Mingoes, on the other. This treaty is called Dancing Rabbit Creek; in Choctaw, "Chookfa Hitla Bogue." This treaty was concluded and signed the 28th day of September, 1830.
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Dancing Rabbit Creek is in Noxubee county, near one of the original trading points where the Choctaws were in large numbers. There had been seven treaties with the Choctaw Indians previous to the one last named. The treaty of Hopewell, concluded January 3d, 1786; Fort Adams, December 17th, 1801; Hoe Buck-in-too-pa, August 31st, 1803; Mount Dexter, November 16th, 1805; Trading House, October 24th, 1816; Doak's Stand, October 18th. 1830; Washington, January 20th, 1825; and the last named, Dancing Rabbit Creek, 28th September, 1830. This treaty stipulate the immigration of the Choctaw Indians as fast as they could get off with safety to themselves in removing. They were to have the lands occupied by them in 1831, '32 and '33, which they complied with. The removal in 1833 took place in Newton and Jasper counties. The rendezvous was at Garlandsville, and they were taken largely from these two counties.
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That part of the State known as the Choctaw Purchase, embraces the counties of Noxubee, Neshoba, Leaks, Neaten, Scott, Smith, Jasper, Clarke and Lauderdale, and six others in more remote parts of the State. These were all admitted as counties December, 1833. This did not include the admission of Newton only as a part of Neshoba county. After the division it was separately admitted, as has been stated, February, 1836. This county is situated near the center of this group, having Lauderdale east, Neshoba north Noxubee northeast, Scott west, Jasper south.
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This county being centrally located in this purchase, may also be said to be central in point of convenience for settlement and for passage of railroads, being traversed the full length by one road, and the first survey of the Gulf & Ship Island road ran nearly centrally through the county from north to south.