408 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI Civil War, but F. E. Whitfield, a farmer/lawyer from North Carolina, established the first mill on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad near his home in order to weave the cotton from his farm into award winning cloth. He closed the mill in 1878, but several other mills followed. By the 1920s, Corinth had become the unrivaled manufacturing center of the northeast with mills, engine works, and a machinery company. The land companies, agents, and entrepreneurs who had acquired large tracts of Chickasaw lands constantly sought to establish new towns on those lands. Most of the towns they founded failed to thrive, and the ones that succeeded were usually those designated as a county seat. Thus, the largest “industry” for the successful towns was government and other services provided to farmers. Mississippi was a rural state lacking an urban center such as PHOTO COURTESY OF REED’S, TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI REED’S A Mississippi shopping tradition since 1905, Reed’s in Tupelo has been dedicated providing fashion, community service, and quality customer care. Memphis, New Orleans, or even Mobile. The major urban growth center after the war was Meridian, which was a rail crossing that emerged as a dynamic city. It grew to be the largest in the state and provided a model to the Northeast Corner. In 1866, a string of towns along the Mobile & Ohio rail line persuaded the legislature to carve a new county out of the four that had been created in 1836. They named their new county “Lee” in honor of the South’s greatest military hero, Robert E. Lee. The new county’s major settlement was called Gum Pond and originally began as the location for several saloons in a cypress and gum tree bottom that catered to the railroad crews who had built the Mobile & Ohio. Promoters changed the town’s name to Tupelo to make it more appealing, and it won the election to become the county seat. The founders’ dreams of