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Holly Springs, Mississippi
Business District of Holly Springs
Business District of Holly Springs
Location of Holly Springs, Mississippi
Location of Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs, Mississippi is located in the United States
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Marshall
 • Total 12.80 sq mi (33.14 km2)
 • Land 12.78 sq mi (33.09 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
600 ft (183 m)
 • Total 7,699
 • Estimate 
 • Density 610.32/sq mi (235.64/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
38634, 38635, 38649
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code 28-33100
GNIS feature ID 0693510
Holly Springs Depot
Holly Springs railroad depot.
Holly Springs home
Montrose, an Antebellum mansion in Holly Springs.
Graceland Too Holly Springs MS 2012-08-19 002
Graceland Too in Holly Springs

Holly Springs is a city in and the county seat of Marshall County, Mississippi, United States, at the southern border of Tennessee. Near the Mississippi Delta, the area was developed by European Americans for cotton plantations and was dependent on enslaved Africans. After the American Civil War, many freedmen continued to work in agriculture as sharecroppers and tenant farmers.

As the county seat, the city is a center of trade and court sessions. The population was 7,699 at the 2010 census, which, compared to the 2000 census, was a decrease. Holly Springs has several National Register of Historic Places-listed properties and historic districts, including Southwest Holly Springs Historic District, Holly Springs Courthouse Square Historic District, Depot-Compress Historic District, and East Holly Springs Historic District. Hillcrest Cemetery contains the graves of five Confederate generals, and has been called "Little Arlington of the South".


Holly Springs was founded by European Americans in 1836, on territory historically occupied by Chickasaw Indians for centuries before Indian Removal. They ceded most of their land under the Treaty of Pontotoc Creek of 1832. Most early US migrants were from Virginia, supplemented by migrants from Georgia and the Carolinas.

In the city's founding year of 1836, it had 4,000 European-American residents. A year later, in 1837, records show that forty residents were lawyers, and there were six physicians by 1838. By 1837, the town already had "twenty dry goods stores, two drugstores, three banks, several hotels, and over ten saloons." It was home to the Hillcrest Cemetery, built on land given to the city in 1837 by settler William S. Randolph.

Newcomers established the Chalmers Institute, later known as the University of Holly Springs, the oldest university in Mississippi.

The area was developed into extensive cotton Southern plantations, dependent on the labor of enslaved African Americans. Many had been transported from the Upper South in the domestic slave trade, breaking up families. The settlement served as a trading center for the neighboring cotton plantations. In 1837, it was made seat of the newly created Marshall County, named for John Marshall, the United States Supreme Court justice. The town developed a variety of merchants and businesses to support the plantations. Its population into the early twentieth century included a community of Jewish merchants, whose ancestors were immigrants from eastern Europe in the 19th century. Even though the cotton industry suffered in the crisis of 1840, it soon recovered.

By 1855 Holly Springs was connected to Grand Junction, Tennessee by the advancing Mississippi Central Railway. In ensuing years, the line was completed to the south of Hill Springs. Toward the end of the 19th century, the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham Railroad was constructed to intersect this line in Holly Springs.

During the American Civil War, Union General Ulysses S. Grant used this town temporarily as a supply depot and headquarters. He was mounting a major effort to take the city of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. Confederate Earl Van Dorn led a raid of the area in December 1862, destroying most of the Union supplies at the Confederate Armory Site. Grant eventually succeeded in ending the siege of Vicksburg with a Union victory.

In 1878, the city suffered a yellow fever epidemic, part of a regional epidemic that spread through the river towns. Some 1,400 residents became ill and 300 died. The existing Marshall County Courthouse, at the center of Holly Springs' square, was used as a hospital during the epidemic.

After the war and emancipation, many freedmen stayed in the area, working as sharecroppers on former plantations. There were tensions as whites tried to reimpose white supremacy.

As agriculture was mechanized in the early 20th century, the number of farm labor jobs were reduced. From 1900 to 1910, a quarter of the population left the city. Many blacks were starting to move to the North in the Great Migration, to escape southern oppression. The invasion of boll weevils in the 1920s and 1930s, which was occurring across the South, destroyed the cotton crops and caused economic problems in the state on top of the Great Depression. Some light industry developed in the area. After World War II, most industries moved to the major cities of Memphis, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.7 square miles (33 km2), of which 12.7 square miles (33 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) (0.16%) is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Holly Springs has a humid subtropical climate, in common with the vast majority of the South. On December 23, 2015, a massive EF4 tornado struck the town at around 6:00 pm causing significant damage. 2 people on the city's south side were killed, including a 7-year-old boy. The child's death was confirmed by James Richard Anderson, the Marshall County, Mississippi, Coroner. Marshall County suffered damage, some total, to nearly 200 structures during the tornado outbreak, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,987
1870 2,406 −19.5%
1880 2,370 −1.5%
1890 2,246 −5.2%
1900 2,815 25.3%
1910 2,192 −22.1%
1920 2,113 −3.6%
1930 2,271 7.5%
1940 2,750 21.1%
1950 3,276 19.1%
1960 5,621 71.6%
1970 5,728 1.9%
1980 7,285 27.2%
1990 7,261 −0.3%
2000 7,957 9.6%
2010 7,699 −3.2%
Est. 2019 7,798 1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Holly Springs Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 1,193 17.12%
Black or African American 5,521 79.23%
Native American 4 0.06%
Asian 7 0.1%
Pacific Islander 7 0.1%
Other/Mixed 162 2.32%
Hispanic or Latino 74 1.06%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 6,968 people, 2,369 households, and 1,259 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 7,699 people living in the city, making it a minority-majority city: 79.2% of the residents were African American, 19.3% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.6% from some other race, and 0.5% from two or more races. 1.2% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In popular culture

  • William Faulkner was inspired to create his fictionalized Yoknapatawpha County by a diary found at a Holly Springs plantation.
  • The 1999 movie Cookie's Fortune was set and filmed in Holly Springs.
Town square in Holly Springs
Town square in Holly Springs
  • The Jackson, Mississippi band The Weeks sing about Holly Springs in their 2014 song "Brother in the Night."


The City of Holly Springs is served by the Holly Springs School District.

Marshall Academy is a private institution for the MPSA, offering k-4 through 12th grade. Rust College was established in 1866 by the Freedman's Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church to serve freedmen and is a historically black college.

The now defunct Mississippi Industrial College, intended as a vocational training school, was in Holly Springs, as was the Holly Springs Female Institute.

Notable people

  • James F. Trotter (1802–1866), judge and U.S. Senator who resided in Holly Springs until his death.
  • Spires Boling (1812–1880), architect and builder
  • Winfield S. Featherston (1820–1891), two-term member of United States House of Representatives, Confederate brigadier general during the Civil War, later a state politician and circuit court judge.
  • Hiram Rhodes Revels (1822–1901), first African American to serve in the United States Senate;first president of Alcorn State University; taught theology at Shaw University (present-day Rust College).
  • Edward Cary Walthall (1831–1898), Confederate general, lawyer, and U.S. Senator from Mississippi
  • Absolom M. West (1818–1894), planter, politician, Civil War general and labor organizer, resided in Holly Springs after the American Civil War until his death.
  • Verina Morton Jones (1865–1943), African-American physician and the first woman to practice medicine in the state; served as resident physician at Rust College
  • Edward Hull "Boss" Crump (1874–1954), head of the dominant Democratic Party political machine in Memphis during the first half of the 20th century, was born in Holly Springs
  • Kate Freeman Clark (1875–1957), painter
  • Wall Doxey (1892–1962), Mississippi politician, served as Congressman and United States Senator; Wall Doxey State Park was named after him
  • Irving Vendig (1902–1995), television writer
  • William Baskerville Hamilton (1908-1972), historian who taught public school in Holly Springs in the 1930s
  • Clifton DeBerry (1924–2006), born in Holly Springs, was the first African American nominated for President of the United States by a political party (Socialist Workers Party, 1964, 1980)
  • R. L. Burnside (1926–2005), blues musician
  • Robert Belfour (1940–2015), blues musician
  • Junior Kimbrough (1930–1998), blues musician
  • Syl Johnson (born 1936), blues and soul singer
  • Cassi Davis (born 1964), actress.
  • Shepard Smith (born 1964), American broadcast journalist for NBC News and CNBC, born in Holly Springs. Attended high school at Marshall Academy, one of the private schools in town.
  • Clinton LeSueur (born 1969), Republican politician; he lost races in 2002 and 2004 for Mississippi's 2nd congressional district to incumbent Democrat Bennie Thompson
  • Seth Adams (born 1985), University of Mississippi American football quarterback
  • Jeremy LeSueur (born 1980), University of Michigan American football defensive back.
  • Paul Maholm (born 1982), pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Mel and Tim (Mel Hardin and Tim McPherson), soul musicians from Holly Springs who recorded at Stax Records in Memphis
  • Charlie Feathers, (1932-1998), rockabilly musician
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