256 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI resident, Colonel W. A. Ward of Enterprise said, “We can trade direct with Europe, ship our cotton there, the (English and French) merchant can afford to give us more for it and sell (his wares) to us cheaper than the Northern merchants can; the farmer will have no extravagant duties to pay as he does now, and a large proportion of which goes to the support of those who are unfriendly to slave labor.” Slavery in the East Central Region The 1850 U.S. Census counted over 1,600 slaves in Clarke County. By the 1860 Census, the Clarke County population included 5,692 whites, three “free colored,” and 5,076 slaves. There were sizable plantations in the Shubuta area, including the Lang Plantation in the Langsdale community in Clarke County. Small farms and some large plantations spread out along the Chickasawhay River and creek banks. Clarke County especially depended on the cultivation of cotton and the Chickasawhay River that provided a travel route for flatboats and keelboats to market the crops. Situated at an intersection of the era’s few main roads, Paulding was a major commerce hub as the seat of Jasper County. The large brick courthouse was constructed of bricks manufactured on-site by slaves. Kemper County prospered due to its fertile soil where cotton, corn, vegetables, and other crops were grown. Kemper Countian Frank T. Scott bought and sold slaves. He constructed the first grist mills, gin, sawmill, whiskey still, thread and cloth factory, tan yard, and shoe shop. At the surrender of the South during the Civil War, Scott released 300 slaves. In 1836, the state auditor reported 1,830 free persons and 760 colored people in Lauderdale County. But by the 1850 U. S. Census, the number of slaves in Newton County was around 1,000, Scott County close to 1,200, Jasper County around 1,800, and Smith County around 800. Lauderdale County had reached to more than 3,000 slaves, and Kemper County had close to 5,000 slaves. By the 1860 Census, the Slave Schedule revealed an increase in slaves with Lauderdale and Clarke counties, each having approximately 5,000 slaves and Kemper County over 5,700 slaves. In Lauderdale County, B. F. Moore owned twelve slave houses, W. T. Cole owned thirty, L. A. Ragsdale owned three, and E. A. Durr owned fifteen. The U. S. Census was not taken of Neshoba County until 1840. In 1850, 1,135 slaves made up about one-fourth of the county’s population. By 1860, the population had grown to 8,343, which included 2,152 slaves. Neshoba was one of the smaller cotton-producing communities and ranked forty-eight out of fifty-nine counties in cotton production. The largest cotton producers in the county were E. Meredith, A. S. Lee, F. M. Huton, and Joseph Wilson. The Growth of Transportation Before the railroad, most mills and logging operations were located near streams or on the coast where the lumber could be easily transported by water. Some of the squared timbers and lumber produced in Clarke County were sent overseas by way of Mobile. An early pioneer of steamboat travel was Captain Thomas Woolverton, owner and captain of the steamboat Piney Woods. In the early 1840s, John J. McRae helped introduce steamboat travel on the river and sponsored roundtrips from Lake Pontchartrain to Enterprise. The Jackson & Brandon Railroad and Bridge Company, incorporated February 5, 1836, and reincorporated February 5, 1841. The line began in 1841, with grading completed in 1845. The road was completed and opened for operation in 1849. The roads were built almost entirely by slave labor. One historian estimated that 75 percent of the labor on all railroads was performed by slaves. For example, the Jackson & Brandon line owned more than 200 slaves. The railroad between Brandon and Morton, twenty- one miles in length, was completed in 1858. Rails were laid through Newton County in the latter part of 1860. The Southern Railroad Company was chartered in Mississippi on February 23, 1846, to construct a railroad from Brandon to the Mississippi-Alabama state line that would connect into Alabama. However, the charter lapsed before any construction commenced. Still, railroad construction became a top priority in Mississippi and during John J. McRae’s administration, the state legislature appropriated $2,218,000 for building railroads in the state. The Mobile & Ohio Railroad became one of the country’s first land grant railroads, meaning the federal government ceded to the railroad company land for a Before the railroad, most mills and logging operations were located near streams or on the coast where the lumber could be easily transported by water.