THE COAST 67 As lumbering operations settled into the Piney Woods, shifts in populations and economic centers resulted in the creation of new counties from the established ones along the coast. Locations such as Wiggins, in what was then Harrison County and named after Wiggins Hatten, a settler from Covington County, established in 1881, benefited from railroad transportation and increased settlement. Wiggins, a sawmill town, was fortunate enough to have the railroad pass through its environs and was then able to take advantage economically of the improved transportation and trade route opened through the Piney Woods. Not only did municipalities benefit from railroad construction, so did the entire region. Thus was the case of northern Harrison County. At the turn of the twentieth century, Harrison County stretched from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to the 31st latitude. It was one of the few remaining large counties in the state. By 1911, as lumbering operations grew and new investments occurred in the county, residents called for an election to create a new county from much of northern Harrison and parts of George and Forrest counties. Even though a vote took place, this movement never came to fruition. By 1916, advocacy for an election again arose, particularly from those in Wiggins, to establish a new county. According to the Daily Herald on May 9, 1916, once the election was over, the tally to create a new county was a close one, with only ninety-nine votes carrying the motion. Named after John Marshall Stone of Iuka, Mississippi, who served as governor of the state from 1876 to 1882 and then again from 1890 to 1896, Stone County contained mostly piney woods crisscrossed with numerous waterways such as Black Creek and Red Creek. Its gentle hills with abundant natural resources provided a scenic backdrop for future development. Until a courthouse could be built, the old Lott store in Wiggins served as the first site for conducting county business, and it served as the courthouse for two years. Acting Governor Lee Maurice Russell appointed the first Stone County officers on May 20, 1916. By 1918, enough tax money had been collected from the citizens of Stone County that a new courthouse could be constructed in Wiggins. The new Stone County courthouse was a two-story brick structure erected by the Standard Construction Company from Meridian. The courthouse cost $29,515.18 to build. A separate jailhouse was then completed behind the courthouse The state of Mississippi designated the Stone County Courthouse a Mississippi Landmark in 1996 because of its architectural significance and history. In 2004, it underwent a $2.4 million dollar renovation to upgrade the structure. The courthouse is still in use today by the citizens and government agencies of Stone County. When residents voted to form Stone County in 1916, its economy, once based mainly on the lumber business, quickly underwent some fluctuations, as the timber industry had relied upon a finite resource. Once cut, the longleaf pine trees were completely eliminated from the landscape because the idea of replanting and replenishing the trees through good stewardship did not exist until later. For the most part, trees were not considered a renewable resource until the 1940s. Stone Countians had relied upon such lumber operations as the Niles City Lumber Company of Ohio and the Finkbine Guild Lumber Company, owned by three men from Iowa—E. C. Finkbine, W. O. Finkbine, and W. E. Guild. At the time of the creation of Stone County, the Finkbine Guild Lumber Company had already purchased the Niles enterprise in 1903 and was the major lumber operation in the region, owning approximately 25,000 acres. These businesses also spun off other enterprises such as turpentine mills, creosote works, and other numerous planting and sawmills. The Newton Naval Stores Company collected pine resin and produced barrels of distilled turpentine. This company existed until 1988. Cattle enterprises were also a consequence of the timber industry, as many lumbermen who harvested the longleaf pine used oxen to penetrate the forest and haul out the cut trees. In July 1916, for example, a local newspaper reported that a team of ten oxen together with a wagon cost a local citizen $775. This appeared to be a prime price for such a purchase, illustrating another profitable offshoot of the lumbering business. By 1916, however, overharvesting depleted much of the piney woods in the region. Citizens of the new county turned to other avocations to earn a living. Cotton was one crop that farmers counted on as the timber industry began to wane. In 1918, Joseph Breland, who lived near Wiggins, reported that he had ginned 25 bales of cotton off of his acreage. Even with the boll weevil appearing in the county and attacking the cotton bolls before they could develop their white fleece, cotton producers were still able to persevere and make a profitable crop in the early twentieth century. Because Pearl River County is in the Long Leaf Pine region of the state and had transportation lines, many flocked to it in order to take advantage of the lumber and turpentine opportunities.