Leland, Mississippi

Leland is a small city situated in Washington County in the US State of Mississippi. Due to the rapid growth of businesses, residents, and schools, the city of Leland was once considered to be the second-largest city in Washington County. The city was initially a railway town, and for many years it has been regarded as a center of cotton cultivation.

Geography Of Leland

The small city of Leland covers a total area of 5.5 sq. km, of which 0.10 sq. km is occupied by water and 5.4 sq. km is occupied by land. This small city is located on the shores of Deer Creek, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, about 136.79km southeast of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and about 209.2km south of the city of Memphis, Tennessee.

Economy Of Leland

The local economy of Leland was initially based on farming. Many steamboats navigated the Deer Creek during this period, carrying bales of cotton and other farm produce to the markets. There are many privately owned farms within and around the city of Leland. The city is also located close to the unincorporated community of Stoneville, which is home to an agricultural research station maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi State University.

Population Of Leland

As per the 2020 census, about 3,988 people live in the city of Leland. The city’s population has decreased from the 2010 census, which showed that the city was home to 4,481 people. About 71.39% of the city’s population is African Americans, followed by White at 24.82%, other races at 2.43%, Asians at 0.43%, the Hispanic group at 0.9%, and Native Americans at 0.03%. The census also revealed that the city had 1,642 households, and the median household income of Leland households was $34,932.

Brief History Of Leland

A former segregated movie theater for African Americans in Leland, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

In the early 1800s, the area of the present-day Leland was initially a part of the Choctaw territory. As per the Treaty of Doak’s Stand that was signed on October 18, 1820, between the Choctaw tribes and the United States, it was decided that about one-half of the remaining Choctaw homeland would be given to the United States. During the American Civil War, the Choctaw tribes sided with the Confederacy to fight against the Union, demanding the return of their land. In 1834, the territory on which the town was built was initially settled by Malinda Breeland, Mary Neely, and Samuel and Susan Jones. A few years later, the land was deeded by these early settlers to the Buckner and Connerly family. The Buckner and Connerly family also moved and sold the land to William Yerger and James Ruckus in a few years.

The land was maintained by the new owners till the American Civil War, after which the land passed from their heirs to the Bank of Kentucky in 1869. In 1876, Captain James Alexander Ventress Feltus brought 3.64 sq. km of land. In October 1882, the Memphis and Vicksburg Railroad first entered the area. It is believed that Captain Feltus named the town after Miss Leland McCutcheon, who was the fiancé of the railroad auditor C.E. Armstrong and mother of Feltus’s friend Ruben Armstrong. The Greenley’s Mens Store was the first store built in the town of Leland. In January 1886, a charter to incorporate the town of Leland was drafted by the then residents of the town. After two amendments, the charter was approved, and the town of Leland was officially incorporated as a city on February 20, 1886.  

Attractions In Leland

Leland museum
Highway 61 Blues Museum in Leland. Editorial credit: Pierre Jean Durieu / Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Highway 61 or the famous “Blues Highway” passes through the center of Leland and gives its name to the historic “Highway 61 Blues Museum”, a must-visit for any blues lover. The city is well-known as the final resting place of the noted blues musician James “Son” Thomas, who spent several years close to the railroad tracks. The city was also the childhood home of the noted American singer and blues musician Johnny Winter. There are about five Mississippi Blues Trail markers in the city that commemorates Leland’s contribution to blues history.

The city of Leland is well-known for being the boyhood home of puppeteer Jim Henson, the creator of “Kermit the Frog” – a Muppet character. The Jim Henson Exhibit Museum located along the shores of the Deer Creek houses many artifacts and memorabilia from the early creative years of Jim Henson. The city of Leland was also designated as the official site for the Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum by the Mississippi State Legislature.

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