THE NORTHEAST CORNER 415 highly productive. The trip from Tupelo to the nearby county seats of Pontotoc or Fulton (thirty-eight and thirty-four miles away, respectively) required ten hours when the roads were dry. No one would attempt it if it rained. Tupelo and the region came out in strong support of the Good Roads Movement. All of the speeches and the lobbying eventually succeeded, and Lee County became the site of the first concrete road in the state. Roads encouraged the use of automobiles, and this improved the economy in many ways. Farmers could get perishable goods to market in time. Wholesale distributors could reach towns and villages away from the rail tracks. The Tupelo Mill and others could now use school buses to pick up women in the morning before the school run and delivered them back home in the evening after the children had been dropped off, thus increasing the available labor supply for business. Other counties in the region then followed Lee County’s example. By 1917, both male and female civic associations emerged demanding better roads. Roads also impacted the quality of education in the region which suffered from poverty and nepotism in isolated communities. Itawamba County schools in the 1930s had forty-two elementary school districts for whites with 140 teachers, while the African American population had nine districts with eleven teachers. The larger communities enjoyed good buildings with adequate facilities including deep wells for good drinking water. In contrast, rural schools lacked lighting, heat, seats, and toilets. The teachers were a mixed group that reflected the interests of the local trustees. Some trustees could not read or write, and there were examples of college- educated candidates being passed over in favor of teachers with an eighth grade education because they were well liked in the district or were related to one or more of the trustees who hired them. Improved roads in the 1930s made consolidation practical for the first time, and this eliminated some of the worst of the schools. Cotton had clearly proved to be a curse for the state and the region, but replacing it proved difficult because it had been the lone cash crop since the white/African American settlement of the region. Diversification of agriculture eventually replaced rail acquisition as the mantra of the Bourbon elite. Cotton had clearly proved to be a curse for the state and the region, but replacing it proved difficult because it had been the lone cash crop since the white/black settlement of the region. The editor of The Tupelo Journal often and vehemently criticized farmers for not growing enough corn and other food crops. But corn cost less to grow in the Midwest than it did in Mississippi, so local farmers were unable to earn a living by growing hay and corn alone. One solution to this dilemma was the introduction of dairy cows to northeast Mississippi. As a young man, Private John Allen had experimented with Jerseys. While studying law under L.Q.C. Lamar at the University of Mississippi, he became aware of his professor’s passion for the animals and of his experiment of excluding cotton from his farm in favor of dairy cows. On Allen’s return to Lee County, he raised the animals and founded an association to promote the idea. His experiment failed, but his son- in-law Samuel James High, took up the cause. High served as president of the People’s Bank and Trust. When the boll weevil hit the region in 1916, the deposits in his bank dropped by 50 percent, and he decided it was time for action. High followed the teachings of the Progressive League which advocated that cities work with farmers to improve agriculture. He headed a Banker’s Association that imported cattle and sheep. In 1923, High hired a retired professor of dairying to “preach” his profession to Lee County farmers. He had limited success, but High persisted with a slogan “a cow, a sow, and a hen, a factory on every farm.” He told his depositors that dairy cows were “mortgage lifters.” When the farmers proved intransient, the region’s bankers resorted to coercing the switch to cattle as a requirement to obtain certain loans. With encouragement from the railroads and the city, Carnation built a plant to condense milk in 1927. The Commercial Appeal called Lee County the “Dairy Empire of Northeast Mississippi” and The