Purvis, Mississippi

Marion County 1883-1904

Lamar County 1904-present

Population: 554 in 1900

                   1500 in 1906??

                   724 in 1910

                    919 in 1920

                    881 in 1930

                    1000 in 1940

                    2164 in 2000

Town incorporated:  2-25-1888

Post office: 3-3-1884

Railroads: New Orleans & Northeastern

Southern Railway

 

Next Town North- Hemlock

 

Milepost 101.6 

(from Meridian)

 

Next Town South- Hanford

 

1919 soil survey map

HISTORY by Tony Howe:

Purvis, located 16 miles southwest of Hattiesburg, was founded when the New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad was built in 1882-83. It was named for Thomas Melville Purvis (originally spelled "Purves"), a local landowner who had moved to the area in 1871. The first store in the new village was started by John Purvis (son of T. M. Purvis) and H. A. Clark. Two more stores were soon built, and the Fairley brothers built the first sawmill in Purvis. The town was incorporated on February 25, 1888. When Lamar County was formed on February 19, 1904, Purvis became the county seat. In 1906, Purvis was noted as having a post office, depot, 9 general stores, 3 churches, a school, courthouse, a large sawmill, and turpentine still. 

INDUSTRY-

Like most towns in South Mississippi, the industrial economy of Purvis was based on the timber industry. There were several small to medium-sized sawmills in the area after the railroad was built. 

Fairley Brothers- Fairley (or Fairly) Brothers operated the first sawmill in Purvis from 1888 to about 1895. 

June Poitevent- A circular sawmill cutting 20,000 feet/day was built about two miles north of Purvis by June Poitevent, of Ocean Springs, MS, in 1886-87. It was located on the east side of the NO&NE at a point the railroad called "Poitevent". It was logged by oxen. The mill was sold to James Hand on July 6, 1891. It was operated under the name "Hand & Brother" until it was sold to the Weems Lumber Co. about 1895. In June 1902, the name was changed to Weems Manufacturing Co. On January 23, 1904, the mill was resold to James Hand and operated until destroyed in the 1908 tornado. [See Gil Hoffman's book "Steam Whistles in the Piney Woods Volume 2" for more info.]

Smith & Garrison- B. L. Smith and H. D. Garrison built a 15,000 ft/day mill about a half mile west of the Purvis courthouse on Beaverdam Creek in 1890. It was sold to J. T. Carley & Son on October 20, 1892. James Hand entered into a partnership with J T Carley & Son in March 1893, and bought out their interest on June 1, 1893. Hand operated the mill until about 1901.  

Smith & Garrison- B. L. Smith and H. D. Garrison also built a sawmill at a point 2 miles south of Purvis called Rosedale before 1890. This mill was leased to Charles W. Rich on April 1, 1890. Rich added a pole road to log this mill in 1891. Rich purchased the mill on May 11, 1892. It probably only lasted a few years after that.  

Hand & Jordan- James Hand and his brother-in-law, Fred A. Jordan, built a sawmill cutting 40,000 feet/day in Purvis, just north of Ohio St. and east of the railroad, in 1901-02. A standard gauge logging railroad was built eastward. After Jordan's death in 1902, James Hand operated the mill under his own name. It was destroyed in the 1908 tornado, but rebuilt. It lasted until May 1914. [See Gil Hoffman's book "Steam Whistles in the Piney Woods Volume 2" for more info.]

James Hand- In 1903, James Hand built another sawmill about 2 miles south of Purvis at a point called "Hanford" by the railroad. It was destroyed in the 1908 tornado. In late 1914, James Hand rebuilt the mill at Hanford. [See Gil Hoffman's book "Steam Whistles in the Piney Woods Volume 2" for more info.]

Hand-Jordan Co.- James Hand, in partnership with William H. Magee and Fred H. Jordan (Hand's nephew), built a large mill cutting 35,000 to 45,000 feet per day about a mile north of Purvis on the west side of the railroad in 1912. The railroad called this point "Hemlock Spur". A logging railroad was built several miles to the west. On June 16, 1916, the operation was sold to the Bay Creek Lumber Co. The mill was enlarged to cut 60,000 feet/day. The mill closed in 1919. [See Gil Hoffman's book "Steam Whistles in the Piney Woods Volume 2" for more info.]

Forrest Lumber Co.- This company was formed on July 1, 1924 by Dudley Slay, Fred Jordan, and W. H. Davis and built a planing mill in Purvis and operated two small mills east of Purvis. The operation lasted until about 1927. [See Gil Hoffman's book "Steam Whistles in the Piney Woods Volume 2" for more info.]

 

In addition to sawmills, Purvis was also home to at least one cotton gin. A pulpwood yard was operated north of the depot for many years. Stuart Farms continues to ship by rail very sporadically, shipping in maybe one carload of fertilizer in the last year. Lowes built a rail-served distribution center about 2 miles north of Purvis in 2007-08 that receives lumber and brick by rail. 

 

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View of the NO&NE Purvis depot after the April 24, 1908 tornado. 

Another postcard of the downtown area and depot after the 1908 tornado. 

1975 postcard photo of the Purvis depot looking south. Probably taken by H. D. Conner, noted depot photographer from Texas.

Tony Howe Photo       click photo for larger version

Southern Railway depot in Purvis has been moved to a point about a half mile east of the tracks. Taken March 4, 2013.

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House built in 1905 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1910 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1935 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1926 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1900 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1910 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1938 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1948 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1930 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1925 on Mitchell Ave.

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House built in 1905

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House built in 1908

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House built in 1910 on Main St.

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House built in 1930 on Gilmore St

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House built in ?? on Gilmore St facing the railroad.

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House built in 1910 on Main St

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House built in 1917

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House built in 1950

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House built in 1940

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House built in 1920 on Main St

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This house is listed in property records as built in 1930, but looks a bit older to me. Located on Main St north of the courthouse. 

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House built in 1950 on Main St.

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House built in 1940 on Main St

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House built in 1950 on Main St

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House built in ??

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House built in 1905 on Manar St

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House built in 1905 on Manar St

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House built in 1940 on Ohio St (now Shelby Speights Dr). 

 

BUSINESSES (per R.G. Dun & Co.)- 

C. D. & S. Lumber Co., sawmill 1900

Mrs. D. C. Carley, general store 1900

W. A. Caraway & Son, hotel & general store 1900

W. H. Fillingame (near), general store & sawmill 1900

H. Fulton, grocery 1900

James Hand, sawmill 1900

Hand & Caraway, general store 1900

Hartfield Lumber Co. (near), 1900

S. T. Hooze, livery 1900

T. C. King, general store 1900

G. L. Ludlow, fruit 1900

McLeod & Co., general store 1900

Mitchell & Co., general store 1900

James O'Connell, general store 1900

N. Purvis (Mrs. J. B.), general store 1900

T. W. Pyland & Bro., general store 1900

Jos. Slade, sawmill & general store 1900

R. A. Weems, general store 1900

Weems Lumber Co., (near), sawmill 1900

 

If you have any corrections or additional info, we would love to hear from you! We are always looking for additional photos, too. Find our contact info below.

 

 

 

 

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For more information contact Tony Howe at tonyhowe76@yahoo.com or David S. Price at dsprice46@bellsouth.net