374 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI industrial training for girls in cooking and sewing. “Our object and aim,” wrote its founder, was “to educate the head, cultivate the heart and train the hand—the head to think, the heart to dictate and the hand to do noble things.” And that was a critical task in a county where the black majority had grown substantially since the Civil War. Even by the time of the school’s twentieth anniversary in 1918, when the effects of the first Great Migration had reduced the county’s African American population from a high of 26,000 people in 1900 to just over 18,000, school officials estimated that 6,000 of 14,000 local black children had never attended school. The school’s mission was thus an especially important one, designed to meet the changing needs of free people. White residents of the Clay Hills had varying reactions to the changes wrought by end of the war. They, like others throughout the former Confederacy, were no doubt war weary. They had lost relatives and friends during the war and were tired of living in fear of Union raids and possible social unrest from the slaves around them. Peace was thus a welcomed state of being. But it came at a heavy price. Mississippi was an occupied state, and local histories reveal an intense resentment and hostility among whites toward their occupiers during Reconstruction. A typical account relates that “a garrison ofYankee soldiers appeared in Starkville,” and adds “for the purpose of ‘keeping the white people of the county down.’” These resentments in some cases intensified a longing for the racial and patriarchal order of the past, but many whites sought to adjust to the new order. Women seemed especially eager for reconciliation. As wives and mothers who had lost husbands and sons, and as bulwarks on the home front when left to manage plantations and slaves during the war, they had suffered enough. To express their feelings, they honored the dead through various symbolic gestures large and small. One of the most famous examples took place at Columbus’s Friendship Cemetery in 1866, when the “Women of Columbus” turned out to decorate both Union and Confederate graves with flowers on April 25, 1866. News of their actions was picked up by the national press, earning these ladies’ fame as “noble example(s) worthy of imitation by all,” and thereby setting the stage for Memorial Day as a national day of remembrance. Not all postwar developments had a negative effect for the region’s white residents, and the end of the war brought some positive changes. For example, there was no mass exodus following the war. With the exceptions of Carroll, Chickasaw, and Choctaw counties (where population either held steady or declined postwar), all other counties in the region saw population growth, some of it substantial. Holmes County’s growth was the most dramatic increasing by 19,000 between 1860 and 1900, with most of the expansion among African Americans. Oktibbeha County also grew quite dramatically, expanding from just under 13,000 to just under 16,000 people, two-thirds of them African American and one-third of them white. And during this era of population growth, the region’s planters and farmers began to seek stability by turning away from cotton—a crop whose prices were highly volatile—and instead began producing crops with more stable demand and prices, such as grain, corn, potatoes, tobacco, wool, and honey. Such actions demonstrated that the war’s devastation of the Clay Hills was not total or fundamentally irreversible. There was some financial hope. And yet there was plenty of backlash as well. Many whites in the region simply refused to adapt to notions of black equality and to the loss of patriarchal society that anchored the state’s racial order. Reactions took multiple forms. The legislature passed a new black code that attempted to curtail the freedoms and opportunities of newly freed African Americans, the first such code in the South. Such laws strengthened the hands of planters as they negotiated new labor and land agreements with their recently freed slaves. There were also suspicious and wary attitudes towards African Americans from which even the most respectable men of the Clay Hills were not immune. Former Confederate General Stephen D. Lee, the man who would soon become the first president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Mississippi (now Mississippi State University), spent nights at his wife’s Noxubee County plantation, patrolling to prevent any black uprising from occurring. Some whites in the Clay Hills used the charged racial atmosphere of the time as an excuse to go further than Lee, taking patrolling to more dramatic and extra-legal lengths. Forming themselves into various secret societies such as the Ku Klux Klan, they staged a violent reign of terror and intimidation aimed at reinstituting the pre-war racial status quo. As early as 1867, a secret group known as Heggie’s Scouts was operating in Holmes, Carroll, and Montgomery counties. Its goal, like others in the state, was to discourage black voters from supporting the state’s 1868 constitution, one that its white opponents called a “mongrel” plan of government. The more formally organized Klan also stepped up its Education was a privilege denied to slaves, and it became a critically important goal for African Americans upon emancipation.