Jasper County was carved out of Choctaw lands by the Mississippi Legislature in 1833, after the the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Members of the Heidelberg family, who were of German ancestry, made their way from North Carolina to the Mississippi Territory.
Thomas Christian Heidelberg was living on Bogue Homa Creek in 1830 near Sandersville, which was Choctaw land for centuries. He married a woman from Vossburg, had two children and was instrumental in setting up a private school where his children and others could be taught. Thomas and Jane’s daughter married Edward Stafford who found and developed some water springs on his farm. The belief in the healing power of this water soon spread across the southeast. The area is still known as Stafford Springs.
Washington Irving Heidelberg, son of Samuel Christian, was the founder of Heidelberg. He served in the Civil War and at the end of the war, returned home to settle on land in Jasper County which he had purchased before the war. He built a home and raised a family. After the war, he rebuilt his fortunes in planting and opened a general mercantile store in Heidelberg. In 1882 W. I. Heidelberg laid out on a portion of his land, the present town of Heidelberg, Mississippi. It was in his honor the small rural town was named. However, the greatest contribution W. I. Heidelberg made was giving the right-of-way to the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad.
In 1882 the rail company was attempting to build a road from Paulding to Mobile by way of Shubuta. Mr. Heidelberg was enterprising and generous enough to realize how important the railroad would be to the development and growth of Heidelberg. People in the surrounding area immediately began to bring their cattle, cotton, and other produce to Heidelberg to load on the train.
Mr. Heidelberg owned the first mercantile in town.
In addition, he also owned a cotton gin and grist mill across from the store and later built a camp house for overnight travelers on their way to Mobile.
The town was surveyed in 1882. Streets were laid out and numbered. The town was exactly one square mile from Beaver Creek to Old Highway 11. Two years later, March 12,1884 the town received its official charter from the Mississippi State Legislature. The lumber business matured with the coming of the railroad. The first sawmill was established in Heidelberg in 1910. The beautiful virgin pines were sawed and shipped by rail. The population of Heidelberg in the early 1900’s was less than 600 people. Travel was mostly by rail because of the poor condition by roads in the area. Heidelberg was primarily a farming area. There were four cotton gins, several restaurants and hotels, an ice plant, a millinery shop and a beef market.
Washington Irving Heidelberg, died in 1901. He would never know of the oil boom, but his granddaughter Mrs. W. H. Parker said that although her grandfather gave the railroad the right of way, he retained the mineral rights and that family members still receive payment for oil sold out from under the land on which the track was built.
The W.I. Heidelberg home is pictured to the right
History Compiled by Janette Kennedy © 1984
Copyright © 2022 TOWN OF HEIDELBERG - All Rights Reserved.
Created & Maintained by Mike Web & Graphic Designs