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Bentonia, Mississippi
Blue Front Café in Bentonia
Blue Front Café in Bentonia
Location of Bentonia, Mississippi
Location of Bentonia, Mississippi
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Yazoo
Area
 • Total 1.4 sq mi (3.5 km2)
 • Land 1.4 sq mi (3.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation
197 ft (60 m)
Population
 (2000)
 • Total 500
 • Density 366.0/sq mi (141.3/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
39040
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code 28-05380
GNIS feature ID 0666837

Bentonia is a town in Yazoo County, Mississippi. The population was 500 at the 2000 census. Some blues scholars maintain that there is a "Bentonia School" of blues singing and guitar-playing, and that "Bentonia-style" is a distinct style of delta blues, though Bentonia lies outside the Mississippi Delta proper.

History

Illinois Central Depot, Bentonia, Miss. (25647030214)
Illinois Central Railroad depot in Bentonia

Bentonia began as a postal town along the Illinois Central Railway. It is named for an early resident. Bentonia had a population of 167 in 1900.

Bentonia Blues

The "Bentonia School," "Bentonia-style" or "Bentonia Blues" is more accurately described as the unique, haunting, country blues style that originated in and immediately around the small town of Bentonia. The annual Bentonia Blues Festival is held the third Saturday of June in downtown Bentonia. The festival's Blues Stage is always set up in front of the world-famous Blue Front Cafe [sic erat scriptum], which is still operated by proprietor Jimmy "Duck" Holmes who, as a young man, largely learned the local style from Bentonia Blues master Jack Owens.

Bentonia was the hometown of Henry Stuckey, founder of the Bentonia style of Blues, and his two famous students, Skip James and Jack Owens. Bentonia is also home of the historic Blue Front Café where owner Jimmy “Duck” Holmes keeps it authentic, especially when he breaks out his guitar for an impromptu performance.

Historical markers

The Blue Front Café in Bentonia and native sons Skip James and Jack Owens have received historical markers by The Mississippi Blues Commission commemorating their importance in the history of the development of the blues in Mississippi. These markers are located in front of the Blue Front Café in downtown Bentonia, at the southeastern corner of the intersection of U.S. Route 49 and Mississippi Highway 433 West (…one block west of Bentonia Gas and Food, formerly Osborne's Grocery, which locals called "Poochie's." Clarence "Poochie" Osborne still runs the adjoining tire shop, Osborne's Tire Repair, and a stop there to chew the fat with Poochie and/or his top tire man, Samuel "Sammie" Bassett is as unique an experience as a visit with Jimmy "Duck" Holmes at the historic Blue Front Café.), and at the intersection of Mississippi Highway 433 South and Rose Hill Road (just east of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church), respectively. The three markers are officially on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2), all land.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 180
1940 440
1950 496 12.7%
1960 511 3.0%
1970 544 6.5%
1980 518 −4.8%
1990 390 −24.7%
2000 500 28.2%
2010 440 −12.0%
Est. 2015 426 −3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

Bentonia's largest population count, 544, was recorded in 1970. Bentonia had sixty fewer residents in 2010 compared to 2000, and the 2015 estimate is another fourteen fewer. As of the census of 2000, there were 500 people, 203 households, and 130 families residing in the town. The population density was 366.0 people per square mile (140.9/km²). There were 214 housing units at an average density of 156.6 per square mile (60.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 62.80% White, 35.80% African American, 0.20% Asian, 0.20% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.40% of the population.

There were 203 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the town, the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 79.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $21,458, and the median income for a family was $39,583. Males had a median income of $28,000 versus $26,875 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,440. About 23.3% of families and 27.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.5% of those under age 18 and 22.2% of those age 65 or over.

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