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Society unveils historic road marker

The Lincoln County Historical andGenealogical Society unveiled its latest gift to the communityThursday morning, a state-authorized historical markercommemorating the St. Stephens Road.

    St. Stephens Road doesn’t exist as a road anymore, but the societyhas stacks of documentation – the result of much research -attesting to the road’s existence.

    “The project was very time-consuming,” said Rita Rich, president ofthe historical society.

    The marker stands off Highway 51 at its intersection with DaleTrail.

    The marker was officially unveiled by members of the society’scommittee dedicated to bringing the marker to Brookhaven. Thosecommittee members were Mary Frances Phillips, Julius Summers andCarroll Montgomery.

    “These are the guys who did the research, legwork,” Rich said.

    That legwork continued right until the unveiling. Rich said thecommittee members mowed the grass around the marker so no one hadto stand in wet grass during the ceremony.

    Roffie Burt, who taught surveying at Mississippi State Universityfor 20 years, spoke briefly at the ceremony concerning the road’shistorical origins.

    He explained that during the early years of the 1800s, only twoeast-west trails existed in this region of the state. St. Stephenswas one of them.

    The road roughly followed the path of the current Highway 84. Burtsaid it began from Natchez, traveled through Brookhaven,Monticello, Prentiss and then to Waynesboro. The road continuedinto Alabama, up to Fort St. Stephens, located north of Mobile,Ala.

    Because of geographic orientation, St. Stephens lasted longer thanother early roads, Burt explained.

    “None of the north-south roads lasted too long,” he said.”Steamboats replaced a lot of them.”

    Burt estimated, however, that St. Stephens Road was used bysettlers and probably remained active until sometime after 1820. Hesaid he is glad to aid in bringing some of the area history tolight.

    “This is my home,” he said.

    If society members and city leaders have their way, the marker willsoon have friends around town. The society paid for the placementof the marker, which cost about $1,800.

    But at the request of Alderman At Large Karen Sullivan, the city’s2011-12 budget includes $6,000 for the purchase of additionalmarkers. Society members have several sites in mind, includingRosehill Cemetery and the former Jewish temple.