Coahoma County, Mississippi Genealogy

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County Courthouse


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 (county government site)
  • 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 [1]

Boundary Changes

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

Record Loss

Places / Localities

Populated Places

See also:

Neighboring Counties




  • 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)



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


The Chancery Court Clerk for Coahoma County, in Clarksdale, has land records from 1839.

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



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 II



  • 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


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


Vital Records


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


Societies and Libraries

Web Sites


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).