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Byhalia, Mississippi
The Byhalia Historic District along Church Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The Byhalia Historic District along Church Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Location of Byhalia, Mississippi
Location of Byhalia, Mississippi
Byhalia, Mississippi is located in the United States
Byhalia, Mississippi
Byhalia, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Marshall
 • Total 7.19 sq mi (18.62 km2)
 • Land 7.17 sq mi (18.57 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
361 ft (110 m)
 • Total 1,302
 • Estimate 
 • Density 168.74/sq mi (65.15/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code 28-10060
GNIS feature ID 0667879

Byhalia bye-hayl-yə), is a town in Marshall County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 1,302 as of the 2010 census.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), all land.


The town of Byhalia was founded in 1838 when C.W. Rains and Wash Poe purchased land at the intersection of Pigeon Roost Road (now Church Street) and the Collierville-Chulahoma Road (now Highway 309). Pigeon Roost Road was originally the Chickasaw Trail, a long-used Native American path followed by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1541. Pigeon Roost Road had been improved in 1835 to accommodate the removal of the Chickasaw Nation to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).[2]

Byhalia was named for a creek spelled Bihalee. The Chickasaw word was Dai-yi-il-ah, meaning “White Oak.” The U.S. Postal Service accepted the name Byhalia in 1846.

Byhalia's location had several advantages for an early settlement, lying near the crossroad site where the Pigeon Roost Road ran from Memphis to Oxford and Pontotoc, Mississippi. Much land in Georgia, Virginia, and North and South Carolina had been depleted from continuous tobacco planting and lack of crop rotation, making the newly opened territory in north Mississippi an inviting opportunity for emigrant farmers.

Entering the 1850s, Byhalia seemed to be developing as a key trade center in North Mississippi. Stagecoach service from Memphis to Oxford came through Byhalia in the late 1840s. Mail, light freight, and passengers traveled to and through Byhalia with this fast and reasonably comfortable means of transportation. As more settlers arrived, local commerce flourished and schools were established.

Holly Springs obtained a railroad in 1852, making the stage line obsolete. Since Byhalia was only a stop on the stage route, and the stage line could not effectively compete against the railroad from Memphis to Holly Springs or Oxford, service was suspended in 1856. Also devastating to Byhalia’s growth was the outbreak of the Civil War. More than 250 men from the area immediately surrounding Byhalia served in the Confederate Army.

After the war, Byhalia struggled through the changes of the Reconstruction period, with planters trying to deal with a market of free labor. A national financial depression hit in 1873 which lasted for several years. A severe freeze in the winter of 1873 blocked traffic on the Mississippi River and compounded the hardships of the depression.

Yellow fever epidemics were carried by steamboat passengers and poor sanitation throughout the Mississippi river cities along the main routes and in northern Mississippi in 1873, 1878 and 1879. Byhalia appears to have escaped the wrath of the fever, as few tombstones in the immediate area reflect deaths in the summer of 1878, which elsewhere resulted in high fatalities.

The town of Byhalia grew slowly due to competition with nearby Holly Springs and lack of a railroad. In 1885, the railroad was completed from Memphis to join the existing railroad at Holly Springs and it spurred new growth. Most existing downtown buildings date from the period 1884 to 1920, when cotton was still an important commodity crop. Time, fire, and the Civil War destroyed many of the earlier homes in Byhalia. The city gradually recovered from the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction; by the mid-1880s railroad traffic had spurred the Byhalian economy. Irish laborers and convicts built the railroad. In March 1925, electricity came to Byhalia. Around 1949, Dr. Leonard Wright established a sanatorium in Byhalia. Financially well-to-do patients from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi frequented the successful sanatorium. Most notably, William Faulkner died at the Wright Sanatorium in 1962.

Like many American places, Byhalia has a complicated history of race relations. The Civil War and Reconstruction engendered bitterness among many whites, who used other means to maintain white supremacy following the end of slavery. In 1890 the state passed a new constitution, which disenfranchised most blacks. The state imposed legal segregation and Jim Crow rules, which lasted for decades, well after the 1960s civil rights legislation enacted by Congress.

In 1974, Butler Young Jr., a 21-year-old, black unarmed suspect, was shot and killed by a police officer after escaping from a squad car. Young had been arrested on suspicion of committing a hit-and-run. The shooting and subsequent handling of the case by the sheriff and grand jury (which did not indict the officer) resulted in one of the longest boycotts of white businesses by blacks in Mississippi history. The black boycott of white businesses received national media coverage. The shooting and boycott hardened racial attitudes on both sides. White business owners complained that they were being punished for grievances that they had not caused, while many black community members claimed that the shooting was part of a broader marginalization of blacks.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 346
1890 474 37.0%
1900 760 60.3%
1910 511 −32.8%
1920 514 0.6%
1930 565 9.9%
1940 543 −3.9%
1950 581 7.0%
1960 674 16.0%
1970 702 4.2%
1980 757 7.8%
1990 955 26.2%
2000 706 −26.1%
2010 1,302 84.4%
2019 (est.) 1,210 −7.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Byhalia Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 624 46.6%
Black or African American 595 44.44%
Native American 6 0.45%
Pacific Islander 3 0.22%
Other/Mixed 32 2.39%
Hispanic or Latino 79 5.9%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 1,339 people, 637 households, and 409 families residing in the town.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,302 people living in the town. 51.4% were White, 44.9% Black or African American, 1.7% of some other race and 2.1% of two or more races. 4.0% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).


The town of Byhalia is served by the Marshall County School District, one of the districts being supported by the Mississippi Teacher Corps.

Notable People

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Byhalia para niños

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