Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:00 AM
"Commanding in personality, great in heart, with a lofty soul and a richly endowed mentality that was capable of coping with any and all situations, together with a love for all humanity, coupled with a desire to serve, not only in the smaller things of life but in the larger as well - these were the characteristics of Adam [Monroe} Byrd, one of Neshoba County's most noble sons and Mississippi's outstanding statesman," wrote Mrs. Ambrose Benjamin McCraw, Sr., 19 years after the 52-year-old icon passed this earth on June 21, 1912. On July 6, 1859, Adam Byrd entered this world near Livingston, Ala., the son of John and Elizabeth Tann Byrd.
As a youngster, Byrd attended the North Bend Grammar School in northeast Neshoba County, Mississippi, before transferring to Philadelphia High School.
After completion, Adam Byrd entered Hawassa College in Tenn., for one year, before finishing three years at the Cooper's Institute at Daleville, Mississippi.
With a love for law, and seeking to serve mankind in the affairs of the public, the young man entered Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., earning his L.L.B. Degree in 1884.
Adam Byrd's political career began in 1887, when the voters of Neshoba County elected the 28-year-old attorney to the position of Superintendent of Education, an office he held for three years.
In 1889, Byrd campaigned for the position of state senator from the 17th Senatorial District (Leake and Neshoba Counties), and easily won election. During this tenure, Byrd also found time to serve as the President of the Neshoba County Fair Association (1894/1895).
Six years after his election as state senator, in 1895, the electorate of Neshoba County sent Byrd to the House of Representatives, a post he held only for a short period of time, as Governor A. J. McLaurin appointed Adam Byrd as District Attorney for the 10th Judicial District in 1896, the same year McLaurin became the first state-wide elected official to speak at the Neshoba County Fair.
After redistricting in 1897, Governor McLaurin appointed Adam Byrd as Judge of the Sixth Chancery District, a position to which Governor Andrew H. Longino reappointed the Neshoba barrister in 1901. One year later, Byrd resigned as Chancellor to run for the position of United States Representative from the Fifth Congressional District, a contest that he won, and served three more terms until defeated in 1910 by Samuel A. Wither spoon. In 1912, the Philadelphia attorney announced a new campaign against Witherspoon, but he died in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he had gone to "recuperate from the busy life he had been living for so many years."
In 2011, the Philadelphia Historical Preservation Commission, along with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, erected a historical marker for Byrd near the intersection of Pecan and Columbus Avenues, in front of the site of the Byrd home.
The memorial reads: "Adam Monroe Byrd (1859-1912) built a home near this site and began a law practice in 1885. Byrd served as the Neshoba County Superintendent of Education (1887-1889), in the Mississippi Senate (1889-1896) and the House of Representatives (1896-1897), as prosecuting attorney for the Tenth Judicial District (1897), Chancery Court Judge for the Sixth District (1897-1903), and as Congressman (1903-1911). In 1928 the Adam Byrd Literary Society was established at Philadelphia High School in his honor."
To the west of Pecan Avenue, running parallel, south to north, is Byrd Avenue, named in honor of Neshoba County's statesman and legal pioneer.
Civil War Veterans
Whatley, William A. - Private; Junior Second Lieutenant; Second Lieutenant; First Lieutenant; enlisted April 24, 1861, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age eighteen; farmer; elected junior second lieutenant in the Neshoba Rifles, April 13, 1861; re-elected junior second lieutenant at re-organization, April 24, 1862; received $160.00 for pay Sept. and Oct., Nov. 8, 1862; promoted to second lieutenant, Jan. 12, 1863; present at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.
Wounded severely in the shoulder and leg at Bethesda Church, June 2, 1864; hospitalized at General Hospital #9 at Richmond, Va., June 4, 1864; furloughed from Camp Winder General Hospital at Richmond, after July 28, 1864; Muster Roll, July-August 1864: "In Georgia on wounded furlough;" Muster Roll, November-December 1864: "Present;" promoted to first lieutenant, December 6, 1864.
World War II Veterans
Bounds, Carson Wiley- Private to First Lieutenant; enlisted in March 1941 at Decatur, Mississippi.
In the United States Army; age twenty; college student; nicknamed "Dude;" served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations at Randolph Field, San Antonio, Texas, with the Army Air Corps, December 1941.
Completed basic flight training at Randolph Field, February 1942; stationed for combat training at Langley Field, V.a, May 1942; received commission as a second lieutenant at Victoria, Texas, June 1942; sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, to the European Theatre of Operations, Oct. 1942; served also in the European Theatre with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Group, Oct. 1942 to January 1943; stationed in French Morocco and Tunisia, Jan. 1943; credited with a kill of a German Junkers-88 dive bomber, Jan. 1943.
Flew ten sorties before engine problems forced his single engine fighter airplane to the ground in Tunisia, North Africa, Jan. 30, 1943; Bounds never exited his downed aircraft and was initially listed as missing in action; later, his status was changed to killed in action; awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal (with two oak leaf clusters); memorial marker in the Bloomfield Congregational Methodist Church Cemetery, Neshoba County, Miss.; described as five feet ten inches tall, weighing 160 pounds, with light brown hair and green eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Monday thru Friday