Jefferson County is located in the southwest portion of Mississippi and is one of the two oldest counties in the state. It was one of the first two divisions of the Mississippi Territory, established by proclamation on April 2, 1799, under the name of Pickering by Winthrop Sargent, the first territorial governor of the State of Mississippi. The county's name was changed to Jefferson in 1802, in honor of President Thomas Jefferson.
Many of the early settlers came in by way of the Natchez Trace, a public road which ran north from Natchez through Jefferson County to the settlements in Tennessee and they came in flatboats down the Mississippi River. The county, before the Civil War, was rich in culture and wealth, large plantations, beautiful homes, and lovely churches. Many of the antebellum homes are still in good repair.
The first seat was at Hunston, later renamed Greensville. Fayette, the present county seat, was established in 1825, when it was decided by popular vote to move the seat from Greensville on the Natchez Trace.
A few interesting facts about Jefferson County are:
- Andrew Jackson (the seventh President of the United States) was married here at Springfield Plantation.
- Zachary Taylor's (the twelfth President of the U.S.) family owned a cotton plantation in Jefferson County.
- The first Episcopal congregation west of the Mississippi was organized in Church Hill.
- Oakland College, now Alcorn State University, founded in 1830, was the first college to award a degree in the state. Alcorn, opened in 1871, as the first land grant institution in the country to award a degree to a black woman, 1888.
- Land records go back to 1786, which were Spanish grants.
- James Charles Evers was the first African American elected since the Reconstruction area as mayor in a Mississippi city, in Fayette in 1969.
- Mr. Robert Lee Williams was the first Black elected official in the State of Mississippi since Reconstruction. Mr. Williams was first elected to the Jefferson County School Board in 1966 and served in the position for 22 years.
- Jefferson County has a rich history in the Civil War era and the Civil Rights Movement.
- Jefferson County offers a haven of peace, quiet, and relaxation to strangers as well as citizens – it offers politeness and old fashioned respect.
- Deer, rabbits, squirrels, quail, turkey, wild hog and other game live in the woods, making Jefferson County a sportman's paradise.
- Forests are filled with pine, oak and beautiful trees of all specimens. Spanish moss hangs from graceful old trees along rural roads.