Tutwiler, Mississippi

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Tutwiler is a town in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 1,364 at the 2000 census.



In 1899 Tom Tutwiler, a civil engineer for a local railroad, made his headquarters seven miles northeast of Sumner. The town of Tutwiler was founded and named for him. When the railroad was built the first depot erected was a two story building and the town was given the top floor for a school. Captain H.B. Fitch built and operated the first store. His wife took charge of the school, which began with five pupils.[citation needed]

In 1905 the town was incorporated, and W.E. Fite was Mayor, and J.O. Clay was the depot agent. In 1900 the Illinois Central Railroad, running from Yazoo City to Lambert, crossed at Tutwiler where the company built a railroad yard.

In 1928 a high school was built at a cost of $40,000. The town grew rapidly until 1929 when the railroad yard was moved to Clarksdale. At that time the population and business began to decline. The population in 1929 before the railroad yard was moved was 1,010 people.

Like many other towns in the Mississippi Delta, Tutwiler stakes a claim to being the "birthplace of the blues". This is the site where W. C. Handy reportedly "discovered" the blues in 1903, on a train platform in the town. Handy had heard something akin to the blues as early as 1892, but it was while waiting for an overdue train to Memphis that he heard an itinerant bluesman (legend says it was a local field hand named Henry Sloan) playing slide guitar and singing about "goin' where the Southern cross the Dog," referring to the junction of the Southern Railway and Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad farther south. (The Y&D railroad was locally called the "Yellow Dog".) Handy called it "the weirdest music I had ever heard." A Mississippi Blues Trail marker honoring Handy was erected at the site on November 25, 2009. [1]

Tutwiler was also the childhood home of seminal Memphis bluesman Frank Stokes.


Tutwiler is located at 34°0′53″N 90°25′54″W / 34.01472°N 90.43167°W / 34.01472; -90.43167 (34.014797, -90.431642)[1].

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