THE NORTHEAST CORNER 395 Oklahoma, though they would not all leave the Magnolia State for another five years. The Chickasaw departure opened over 6 million acres of land in an era when cotton was making Natchez and Vicksburg planters millionaires. The new land office in Pontotoc drew entrepreneurs from across the nation as well as many who had already established roots in Mississippi. A typical case was that of John Bell. John Bell’s father was a Baptist minister who had founded a mission school at Cotton Gin Port on the Tombigbee, but the younger Bell’s interests were more economic than spiritual. John Bell bought a land company and laid out a town on the east side of the river. He then won a seat in the legislature and began promoting laws to loosen the rules against incursions into the Chickasaw nation and to build new roads to ease the path into the Chickasaw lands. Bell formed a partnership with Robert Gordon, a trader who spent his life dealing with the Chickasaw, and became the U.S. surveyor