THE PINEY WOODS 173 years of the war in the Union prison camp on Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie. Returning to Pike County, he established a sawmill near Summit and moved its operations to south of McComb in 1873. In addition, White built a narrow-gauge railroad and owned stock in a variety of local businesses, including the McComb Electric and Light Company and the McComb Cotton Mill. J.J. White outlived his McComb mill by one month; it cut the last log in October of 1912, and he passed away in November of the same year. J.J. White’s sons, including future governor Hugh White, built a new mill at Columbia that opened in 1913 and operated until 1931. McComb’s population grew steadily in the decades after 1880. By 1900, with a population of 4,477, the city was the most populous in the Piney Woods. The population in 1930 reached 10,057, but growth stagnated during the decade of the Great Depression. The town remained one of the four largest and most important cities in the Pine Belt and along with its nearby rival Brookhaven, vied for dominance as the primary market town in southwestern Mississippi. Unlike the western Piney Woods, in 1880 the central part of the region was devoid of railways. The vast timber resources located there did not go unnoticed, however. John Francis Hamtramck Claiborne, who first romanticized the Piney Woods in his 1841 to 42 articles in the Natchez Free Trader, continued to trumpet the value of the region to the public in an 1876 letter to the International Exhibition in Philadelphia. In particular, Claiborne called for the building of a railroad from the Gulf coast into the Pine Belt to provide access to the valuable timber resources there. Claiborne was not the only visionary who saw railroads as the future of the region. After the Civil War, men like Georgia’s Henry Grady urged the South to industrialize and mechanize both to compete economically with the North and to provide jobs for the people of the South. The vast stands of yellow pine timber in the region became a much- sought commodity as the preferred white pine forests of the Midwestern states neared extinction. Accessing the forests required railroads, and entrepreneurs such as former Confederate officer and Meridian attorney William Harris Hardy eagerly undertook the process of surveying the region and establishing rail lines. Hardy would be the driving force behind the construction of two important South Mississippi railroads: the New Orleans and Northeastern, which connected New Orleans with Meridian, Mississippi, and the Gulf and Ship Island, which connected the Gulf Coast with the state capital at Jackson. Not only would his vision bring the railroad to the region, but he would also found three of Mississippi’s largest urban areas: Hattiesburg, Laurel, and Gulfport. Hardy’s railroads altered the landscape of South OSEOLA MCCARTY Oseola McCarty was born March 7, 1908, in Wayne County. She became the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) most famous benefactor in 1995 when she decided to leave $150,000 of her life savings from washing and ironing clothes for others to the university. McCarty wanted the money to be used to help pay college costs for worthy African American students who could not afford USM’s tuition. McCarty’s grandmother and aunt raised her in Hattiesburg. McCarty had worked since she dropped out of school in the sixth grade to help take care of her aunt. She never married, had children, or learned how to drive. She walked most places she went. She began saving money not long after she started working. Eventually, she deposited the savings into accounts at local banks. One of her customers, who was an attorney and a bank representative, helped her carry out her wishes of distributing her savings to her church, relatives, and USM. Many people became inspired by McCarty’s generosity and gave money to help fund the endowment. She received national recognition for her gift including receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal, the United Nations’ Avicenna Medal, an honorary doctorate from Harvard University, and an honorary degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. USM has since established the McCarty Legacy, a society created to recognize individuals who decide to give to the university through estate planning. McCarty died September 26, 1999, from liver cancer. PHOTO COURTESY OF MCCAIN LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES, THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI