360 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI especially true among the Choctaws, where some leaders negotiated themselves land deals in Mississippi while agreeing to their people’s removal west. Still, a loophole in Article Fourteen of the treaty allowed individual Choctaw families to remain in the state and obtain land as long as they registered with an Native American agent. Although following through on this loophole proved difficult and landownership thus remained elusive, some native peoples, particularly Choctaws, continued to reside in the Clay Hills. Most who did were generally relegated to the poorest lands and lived in poverty, though some found new cultural identities through intermarriage with whites or African Americans. The status of the Clay Hills as Indian country had come to an end. But endings also marked beginnings. The opening of Choctaw and Chickasaw lands to white settlement ushered in a period historian refer to as the “Flush Times.” With lands selling for as low as $1.25 an acre and credit available at banks in towns such as Aberdeen, Columbus, and Grenada, land sales boomed in the Clay Hills during the 1830s. The boom resulted in a frenzy of settlement and a rash of county founding. Lowndes was the first new county to join Monroe in 1830. Lowndes already had a little more than 3,000 residents, half of whom were slaves. Then in 1833, the state authorized the founding of eight of the sixteen counties that now exist in the region including Attala, Carroll, Choctaw, Holmes, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Winston, andYalobusha. One other county, Chickasaw, was added three years later. The census clearly measured the region’s dramatic growth. By 1840, the Clay Hills had some 90,000 residents with whites outnumbering black slaves by only 2,000. Nearly overnight, the Clay Hills had become a vital part of Mississippi. When Calhoun County, the last county added before the Civil War, was founded in 1852, the antebellum Clay Hills assumed its final form. New counties resulted in the founding of new towns and the relocation of old ones. Among the new towns were Aberdeen, in which Scottish trader Robert Gordon began MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY Mississippi State University was originally established in 1878 as Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College, a national land-grant college. Now the university offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in a wide array of fields, and offers many research opportunities as well as practical experience to all Bulldogs. The university is known for its agriculture, engineering, and teacher programs, and spans around 4,200 acres of Mississippi land. Designated as a Mississippi landmark, Mississippi State University’s Lee Hall was built in 1909 and named after former Civil War General Stephen D. Lee, who was president of the college at the time this building was built. PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL