By David H. Stockstill, Special to the Item
The Picayune Item
Emmanuel Baptist Church was founded in the early 60s when the community saw an influx of people move in with NASA. Emmanuel Baptist Church is instrumental in serving not only the adults, but also has a wonderful outreach to the children in the community rich in history.
Nicholson, Miss., was occupied by a tribe of Choctaw Indians who ceded their claim to the state to Mississippi and the United States in 1820. During the early colonial and antebellum periods of its history, settlers began to settle along a crescent-shaped bend of the east Pearl River. A few plantations sprang up along the river as early as the 1700’s. Missionaries and preachers began to hold revivals and establish churches. Some of the oldest cemeteries contain graves of veterans who fought in the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.
In 1814, Andrew Jackson encamped his army of the west side of Nicholson by an Oak Alley and long the banks of the east Pearl River while enroute to engage the British at the Battle of New Orleans. Remnants of these ancient oak trees remain today, and the site is known as “Jackson Landing.”
Nicholson was first officially named “Crescent City.” A name under which it later incorporated as it began to become a river town. It once had a port for docking steamboats, and a main street lined with brick store buildings, large Victorian homes, magnificent oak trees, and saloons. In 1878, a devastating fire destroyed the court house and all historic documents and records. It is rumored that the fire was due to arson to deliberately destroy land records because a dispute was in progress between two parties. Nothing has ever solved the mystery.
Originally the land was part of Hancock County. In 1872, the Mississippi Legislature established Pearl County (not Pearl River County) which included lands along the east Pearl River. Pearl County lasted only from 1872 until the fire in 1878. When Pearl County ceased to exist, Crescent City reverted back into Hancock County.
In 1908, it was annexed into Pearl River County. In 1877, it became the custom of larger cities in America to adopt nicknames. A newspaper contest was held by the “New Orleans Picayune” newspaper to adopt a nickname for New Orleans, La. Since New Orleans is situated along a crescent-shaped bend in the Mississippi River, someone suggested that it adopt the nickname, “Crescent City.” The post office department notified the city that it could not adopt this name because a small town on the east Pearl River had been previously incorporated under the same name. In 1877, George Nicholson, owner of the paper at that time, traveled to Crescent City and successfully persuaded the Crescent City government officials to change the name of their city to his last name, “Nicholson.” In doing so, Crescent City relinquished its charter of incorporation with a stipulation that it could never be reincorporated or absorbed into the corporate limits of any other town or community in the future.
During the years that Interstate 59 was built from 1959 to 1961, surveyors had placed the twin bridges over East Pearl over the ruins of the Proctor Plantation houses and port, removing all traces if these historical sites. Today, Nicholson, Miss., still exists as a community situated on the bend of the East Pearl River where it has its beginnings so long ago. The next time you cross the river into Louisiana, think about the history of our community.