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Carthage, Mississippi
Leake County Courthouse in Carthage, Mississippi
Leake County Courthouse in Carthage, Mississippi
Location of Carthage, Mississippi
Location of Carthage, Mississippi
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Leake
 • Total 9.4 sq mi (24.3 km2)
 • Land 9.4 sq mi (24.2 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 351 ft (107 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 4,637
 • Density 495.9/sq mi (191.5/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 39051
Area code(s) 601
FIPS code 28-11780
GNIS feature ID 0668123

Carthage is a city in Leake County, Mississippi. The population was 5,075 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Leake County.

The largest chicken processing plant in the world is located here.


Carthage was established in 1834, and became the county seat. The Harris family were early settlers, and named the town after their former home of Carthage, Tennessee. A courthouse and jail were built in 1836, and a post office was established the following year. Carthage was incorporated in 1876. A brick courthouse replaced the previous one in 1877, and was replaced again in 1910. The Carthaginian newspaper was established in 1872, and remains in publication today.

By 1900, agriculture was the primary industry in Leake County. The Pearl River, located 2 mi (3.2 km) south of Carthage, was used to ship goods by steamboat to and from Jackson, the state capital . Although a railroad eventually ran through Carthage, it did not play a significant role in the development of the town. In 1914, the Merrill Brothers Logging Company built a logging railroad from Canton to McAfee, passing through Carthage. The line was taken over in 1927 by the Canton and Carthage Railroad, which then established commercial service to Carthage. The railroad was abandoned in 1960.

In 1927, Jackson's Daily Clarion Ledger wrote an article entitled "Carthage is a Good Progressive and Enterprising City - Thriving Center of Leake County Holds Modern Benefits". By then, Carthage had schools, churches, an ice plant, two banks, a Masonic Hall, and a Coca-Cola bottling plant.

The population had surpassed 2,000 by 1964, and the town was reclassified as a city.

A large area known as the "Carthage Historic District", comprising commercial and residential properties of various architectural styles, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The post office and the Jordan House are individually listed.

When Carthage, Texas established in 1848, it was named after Carthage, Mississippi.

Civil Rights Era

As early as 1948, Carthage began holding an annual "Tri-Racial Goodwill Festival", in which all citizens were included. Although the directors of the first festival separated whites, African Americans and Native Americans, this was corrected in subsequent years. The local newspaper reported that at the 1949 festival, "friendship and goodwill fellowship permeated the air".

In 1964, a group known as Americans for the Preservation of the White Race initiated a boycott in Carthage against white-owned businesses that were complying with the Civil Rights Act. Also, when members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee tried to open a Freedom School in Carthage, local whites told them their deed was invalid, and threatened to burn the school. In 1967, shots were fired into the home of an NAACP worker in Carthage.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.4 square miles (24 km2), of which 9.4 square miles (24 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.53%) is water.

The geographic center of Mississippi is located 9 mi (14 km) west-northwest of Carthage.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 285
1890 322 13.0%
1900 416 29.2%
1910 315 −24.3%
1920 635 101.6%
1930 998 57.2%
1940 1,766 77.0%
1950 1,925 9.0%
1960 2,442 26.9%
1970 3,031 24.1%
1980 3,453 13.9%
1990 3,819 10.6%
2000 4,637 21.4%
2010 5,075 9.4%
Est. 2015 4,899 −3.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,637 people, 1,490 households, and 1,065 families residing in the city. The population density was 495.9 people per square mile (191.5/km²). There were 1,654 housing units at an average density of 176.9 per square mile (68.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 52.86% White, 44.25% African American, 1.04% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.58% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.94% of the population.

There were 1,490 households out of which 37.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 23.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,052, and the median income for a family was $30,069. Males had a median income of $27,060 versus $17,280 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,986. About 21.5% of families and 26.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.6% of those under age 18 and 18.8% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

The Square Affair is held annually each May, and features walks, runs, a children's fishing rodeo, an idol competition, vendors, fireworks, and a basketball tournament.

Parks and recreation

McMillian Park in Carthage has baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and a fishing pond.

Lincoln Park in Carthage has a baseball diamond, basketball court, walking trail, and community center.

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