Byhalia, Mississippi

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Byhalia (bye-HAY-lee-uh[1]) is a town in Marshall County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 706 as of the 2000 census.

Contents

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.4 km²), all of it land.

History

The town of Byhalia was founded in 1838 when C.W. Rains and Wash Poe purchased land at the intersection of Pigeon Roost Road (now Church Street) and the Collierville-Chulahoma Road (now Highway 309). Pigeon Roost Road was originally the Chickasaw Trail, the route followed by Hernando DeSoto in 1541. Pigeon Roost Road had been improved in 1835 to accommodate the removal of the Chickasaw Nation to Oklahoma.[2]

Byhalia was named for a creek spelled Bihalee. The Chickasaw word was Dai-yi-il-ah meaning “White Oak.” The U.S. Postal Service accepted the name Byhalia in 1846.

Byhalia's location had several advantages for an early settlement, lying near the crossroad site where the Pigeon Roost Road ran from Memphis to Oxford and Pontotoc. Much land in Georgia, Virginia, and North and South Carolina had been depleted from continuous cotton planting and lack of crop rotation, making the newly opened territory in North Mississippi an inviting opportunity for emigrant farmers.

Entering the 1850s, Byhalia seemed well on the way to becoming a key trade center in North Mississippi. Stagecoach service from Memphis to Oxford came through Byhalia in the late 1840s. Mail, light freight, and passengers traveled to and through Byhalia with this fast and reasonably comfortable means of transportation. As more settlers arrived, local commerce flourished and schools were established.

Holly Springs obtained a railroad in 1852, making the stage line obsolete. Since Byhalia was only a stop on the stage route, and the stage line could not effectively compete against the railroad from Memphis to Holly Springs or Oxford, service was suspended in 1856. Also devastating to Byhalia’s growth was the outbreak of the Civil War. More than 250 men from the area immediately surrounding Byhalia served in the Confederate Army.

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