Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy

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Coahoma County

Guide to Coahoma County, Mississippi ancestry, family history and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.


Coahoma County, Mississippi
Map of Mississippi highlighting Coahoma County
Location in the state of Mississippi
Map of the U.S. highlighting Mississippi
Location of Mississippi in the U.S.
Founded 9 February, 1836
County Seat Clarksdale
Address Coahoma County Courthouse
115 1st Street P O Box 98
Clarksdale, MS 38614
Phone: 662-624-3000
Coahoma County Courthouse]

County Information


The County was named for "Coahoma" which is a Choctaw word meaning "red panther." The County has Clarksdale as its seat and the County was created 9 February, 1836. The County is located in the northwest area of the state.[1]

Coahoma County, Mississippi Record Dates

Beginning Dates for Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy Government Records
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate



County Courthouse

Coahoma County Courthouse
115 1st Street P O Box 98
Clarksdale, MS 38614
Phone: 662-624-3000
Coahoma County Website

Clerk Circuit Court has marriage and court records from 1848 and voter records from 1949.
Clerk Chancery Court has divorce, probate and land records.[2]

Clarksdale is the county seat of Coahoma Count.  Clarksdale was named in honor of founder and resident John Clark, brother-in-law of politician James Lusk Alcorn who served as governor of Mississippi and U.S. Senator.  (As a southern white Republican or "scalawag" during the Reconstruction in Mississippi, Alcorn supported the rights of freedmen during his term 1871-1877.) 


Coahoma County, Mississippi is located in the Yazoo Delta region of northwestern Mississippi, with the Mississippi River forming the county's western boundary. Coahoma County was formed 9 Feb 1836 out of the Chickasaw Nation's territory.

Weaver-Zercher and Willimon (2005, see below) say that the county's formation resulted from the defrauding of the Chickasaws out of that territory in 1832 by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Dunbar (1907, see below) says, however, that Coahoma County "constitutes one of the numerous counties formed from the Choctaw cession of 1830." Mississippi had been a state since 10 Dec 1817.

The county name, "Coahoma," is believed to have been suggested by Governor Alexander G. McNutt. According to various published sources, the name comes from a Choctaw word meaning "red panther." Stories differ as to why this name was chosen.

The act to create the county has been quoted in various 19th and 20th century sources and is of interest for its references to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations:

"Beginning at the point where the line between townships 24 and 25 of the surveys of the late Choctaw cession intersects the Mississippi river, and running thence up the said river to the point where the dividing line between the Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes of Indians intersects the same; thence with the dividing line to the point where the line between ranges two and three of the survey of the said Choctaw cession intersects the same; thence with said range line, to the line between townships 24 and 25 aforesaid, and thence with the said township line to the beginning."

Most of the county's early white settlers settled on the Sunflower River. Some of the later settlers appear to have arrived with the intent of dealing in counterfeit money which they printed in Coahoma County. Perhaps the best known of the counterfeiters was Hugh Talley, who served as president of the Board of Police until he was finally killed by a band of "regulators."

A better known local resident was James L. Alcorn, who lived in the county for over 50 years. Alcorn was a senator and, at one time, the governor of Mississippi.

The original county seat of Coahoma County was Port Royal, located at the eastern end of Horseshoe Bend. The seat of government shifted to Friars Point once the Mississippi River changed its course in 1848, making Port Royal no longer a river town.

Friars Point was named after an early settler, Robert Friar. Friar was the county's first representative in the state legislature. 

The county seat is currently Clarksdale, which is the largest town in the county. Clarksdale was laid out in 1868 and was named after John Clark, a brother-in-law of James L. Alcorn. Alcorn was a Mississippi governor whose home, called Eagle's Nest, was in Coahoma County. Clarksdale was served primarily by river transportation until the arrival of the railroad there in 1884.

The Mississippi River forms the county's western border. Other streams within the county include the Sunflower River, as well as several bayous. An 1891 history of the county (in Lowry and McCardle, eds., A History of Mississippi) identified them as Hobson's, Phillips, Price's, Moore's, Whiting's, Cassedy's, and Opossum Bayous.

Because of its history and prehistory of flooding by the Mississippi, Coahoma County was known for its fertile soil. This was a factor that made the county an attractive location for early white settlers who brought in large numbers of African-Americans to perform slave labor. Hardwood timber forests were cleared for plantations. The county became known for cotton and other crops, such as sugar cane and hemp. 

See also:

  • Coahoma County History  (Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia)
  • History of Coahoma County, Mississippi (Genealogy Trails)
  • Rowland, Dunbar, Encyclopedia of Mississippi History, Vol. 1, Madison, WI: Selwyn A. Brant, 1907, especially pp. 460-462; accessible via Google Books.
  • Section titled "The Legacy of Economic Unrighteousness in the Mississippi Delta" (about Coahoma County) in David Weaver-Zercher and William H. Willimon, eds., Vital Christianity: Spirituality, Justice, and Christian Practice, New York: T&T Clark, 2005, pp. 217-224: accessible via Google Books
  • Untitled county history page] (GenWeb)

Parent County

1836--Coahoma County was created 9 February 1836 from the Chickasaw Cession. County records are housed in Clarksdale and Friars Point. County seat: Clarksdale [3]

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating Mississippi county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Mississippi County Boundary Maps" (1785-1918) may be viewed for free at the website.

Quitman County was formed from part of Coahoma County in 1877.

Variant Spellings

Record Loss

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.


Populated Places

See also:

Neighboring Counties

Genealogy Resources

Research Guides

African Americans

Bible Records


Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
MSGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
Tombstone Project
Billion Graves
See Mississippi Cemeteries for more information.



For tips on accessing Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy census records online, see: Mississippi Census.

  • ['1840' census (book): Coyle, Berniece Douglas. 1840 Census of Coahoma County, Mississippi. Lewisville, TX: Coyle Data Co., 1988. WorldCat page
  • 1840 census index (GenWeb Archives)

Church Records

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about Mississippi denominations, view the Mississippi Church Records wiki page.


The County Clerk of the Circuit Court in Clarksdale has court records from 1839.


Land and Property

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Mississippi Land and Property for additional information about early Mississippi land ownership. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed. The Chancery Court Clerk for Coahoma County, in Clarksdale, has land records from 1839.

Local Histories

Local histories are available for Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories see the wiki page section Mississippi Local Histories.

  • Catchings, Troy, and Homer Hill. An Oral History with Mr. Troy Catchings, 1994 March 15. Mississippi Oral History Program of the University of Southern Mississippi (series), Vol. 659 (archival manuscript). WorldCat page
  • Coahoma County Memories: A Pictorial History. Clarksdale, MS: Clarksdale Press Register, 1999. WorldCat page
  • Howerton, Joe D. The Howerton Family in Coahoma County, 1837-1850. Corpus Christi, TX: Philip Howerton, [1934?]. WorldCat page
  • Keys, Vernon J., and Homer Hill. An Oral History with Ms. Vernon J. Keys, 1994 March 19. Mississippi Oral History Program of the University of Southern Mississippi (series), Vol. 662 (archival manuscript). WorldCat page
  • Murray, Nicholas Russell. Coahoma County, Mississippi, 1868-1900. Hammond, LA: Hunting for Bears, [1982?]. WorldCat page
  • Weaver-Zercher, David L., and William H. Willimon, eds. Vital Christianity: Spirituality, Justice, and Christian Practice. New York: T&T Clark, 2005, section titled "The Legacy of Economic Unrighteousness in the Mississippi Delta" (specifically about Coahoma County), pp. 217-224. Google Books preview
  • Weeks, Linton. Clarksdale & Coahoma County: A History. Clarksdale, MS: Carnegie Public Library, 1982. Amazon page | Family History LibraryGoogle Books page | WorldCat page
  • Work, John W., Lewis Wade Jones, and Samuel C. Adams, Jr. Lost Delta Found: Rediscovering the Fisk University-Library of Congress Coahoma County Study, 1941-1942. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005. Amazon page | WorldCat page


Phillips CountyTunica CountyQuitman CountyTallahatchie CountySunflower CountyBolivar CountyMS COAHOMA.PNG
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Civil War

Companies formed in Coahoma County:

  • Company B (Coahoma Invincibles), 11th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry
  • Company B (Mississippi Swampers), 44th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry
  • Company K (Alcorn Rebels), 23rd Regiment, Mississippi Infantry

Civil War links:

World War I
World War II



Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

  • Clarksdale Banner, established 1884 or 1888 (sources differ), ceased publication in 20th century
  • Clarksdale Challenge, established 1896, ceased publication in 20th century
  • Clarksdale Journal, an African-American newspaper established 1899
  • The Clarksdale Press-Register (currently in operation)
  • Clarksdale Register, established 1902 or 1904 (sources differ)
  • Coahoma County, MS Newspaper Titles (Chronicling America at the Library of Congress)
  • Index, Obituary Scrapbook, Carnegie Public Library, Clarksdale, Mississippi (manuscript, 4 vols., 1914-1977) at Family History Library
  • Newspaper Data (Genealogy Trails)
  • Newspaper Scrapbooks and Mississippi River Collection of Carnegie Public Library, Clarksdale, Mississippi, on 3 microfilm reels at the Family History Library


Probate Records

Probate records are held by the Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy Clerk of Court and are housed at the Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy Courthouse. Microfilmed records can be found online at Mississippi Probate Records, 1781-1930. See the wiki page Mississippi Probate Records for information about how to use probate records.

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.

Record types: Wills, estates, guardianships, naturalizations, and adoptions.

Online Records

The Chancery Court Clerk for Coahoma County in Clarksdale has probate records dating from 1856.


Mississippi tax records replace missing censuses and provide lists of residents during years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years. For more information, see Mississippi Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. Mississippi law did not require keeping birth or death records until 1912. Births and deaths are kept by the Mississippi Bureau of Vital Statistics. Marriage records are kept by the county. See also How to order Mississippi Vital Records or order electronically online.

See Mississippi Vital Records for more information on getting Mississippi records.


The County Clerk of the Circuit Court in Clarksdale has marriage records from 1849.

  • Coahoma County Marriages (Coahoma County MSGHN)
  • 1849-1917 - Coahoma County Marriage Books 1-17 Index 1849-1917 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch - free.[4]
  • Estate and Divorce Files (Mixed Together) (76 microfilm reels) at FHL Collection
  • Marriage Records, First District, 1849-1917 (20 microfilm reels) at FHL Collection
  • Marriage Records, Second District, 1892-1917 (10 microfilm reels) at FHL Collection
  • Murray, Nicholas Russell. Coahoma County, Mississippi, 1868-1900: Computer Indexed Marriage Records. Hammond, LA: Hunting for Bears, [1982?]. WorldCat page


Vital Record Substitutes

Genealogy Societies and Libraries

See also a List of Mississippi Archives, Libraries, Publications, Historical & Genealogical Societies

Family History Centers

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.



  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Coahoma, Mississippi," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_Mississippi."
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Coahoma County, Mississippi page 378, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at