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Port Gibson, Mississippi
Claiborne County Courthouse and Confederate monument in Port Gibson
Claiborne County Courthouse and Confederate monument in Port Gibson
"Too beautiful to burn"
Location of Port Gibson, Mississippi
Location of Port Gibson, Mississippi
Port Gibson, Mississippi is located in the United States
Port Gibson, Mississippi
Port Gibson, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Claiborne
 • Total 1.76 sq mi (4.55 km2)
 • Land 1.76 sq mi (4.55 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
118 ft (36 m)
 • Total 1,567
 • Estimate 
 • Density 746.73/sq mi (288.34/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 601
FIPS code 28-59560
GNIS feature ID 0676254

Port Gibson is a city in Claiborne County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 1,567 at the 2010 census. Port Gibson is the county seat of Claiborne County, which is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River. It is the site of the Claiborne County Courthouse.

The first European settlers in Port Gibson were French colonists in 1729; it was part of their La Louisiane. After the United States acquired the territory from France in 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase, the town was chartered that same year. To develop cotton plantations in the area after Indian Removal of the 1830s, planters who moved to the state brought with them or imported thousands of enslaved African Americans from the Upper South, disrupting many families. Well before the Civil War, the majority of the county's population were enslaved blacks.

Several notable people are natives of Port Gibson. The town saw action during the American Civil War. Port Gibson has several historical sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places (National Register of Historic Places listings in Claiborne County, Mississippi).

In the twentieth century, Port Gibson was home to The Rabbit's Foot Company. It had a substantial role in the development of blues in Mississippi, operating taverns and juke joints now included on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

With the decline in agricultural jobs since the late twentieth century, because of industrial agriculture, and a lack of other jobs, the city and surrounding rural county have suffered from reduced population and long-term poverty. The peak of population in the city was in 1950. The last major employer, the Port Gibson Oil Works, a cottonseed mill, closed in 2002.


Chartered as a town on March 12, 1803, Port Gibson is Mississippi's third-oldest European-American settlement. It was developed beginning in 1729 by French colonists, and was then within French-claimed territory known as La Louisiane.

The now defunct Port Gibson Female College was founded here in 1843. One of its buildings now serves as the city hall.

Port Gibson was the site of several clashes during the American Civil War and figured in Ulysses S. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign. The Battle of Port Gibson occurred on May 1, 1863, and resulted in the deaths of over 200 Union and Confederate soldiers. The battle was a turning point in the Confederates' ability to hold Mississippi and defend against an amphibious attack. Port Gibson is the site of the Port Gibson Oil Works, a cottonseed oil plant.

Many of the town's historic buildings survived the Civil War because Grant reportedly proclaimed the city to be "too beautiful to burn". These words appear on the town's city limits signs. Historic buildings in the city include the Windsor Ruins, which have been shown in several motion pictures.

Although Port Gibson no longer has a Jewish community, Gemiluth Chessed synagogue, built in 1892, had an active congregation when the town was thriving as the county seat. It is the oldest synagogue and the only Moorish Revival building in the state. The Jewish population gradually moved to areas offering more opportunity.

Mississippi Blues Trail

The Rabbit's Foot Company was established in 1900 by Pat Chappelle, an African-American theatre owner in Tampa, Florida. He owned the leading travelling vaudeville show in the southern states, with an all-black cast of singers, musicians, comedians and entertainers. After his death in 1911, the company was taken over by Fred Swift Wolcott, a white farmer, who based the touring company in Port Gibson after 1918, and continued to run it until 1950. The Rabbit's Foot Company remained popular, but was no longer considered "authentic."

A historic marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail has been placed by the Mississippi Blues Commission in Port Gibson, commemorating the contribution that The Rabbit's Foot Company made to the development of the blues in Mississippi.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), all land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,524
1900 2,113 38.6%
1910 2,252 6.6%
1920 1,691 −24.9%
1930 1,861 10.1%
1940 2,748 47.7%
1950 2,920 6.3%
1960 2,861 −2.0%
1970 2,589 −9.5%
1980 2,371 −8.4%
1990 1,810 −23.7%
2000 1,840 1.7%
2010 1,567 −14.8%
Est. 2019 1,312 −16.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Port Gibson Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 122 9.61%
Black or African American 1,122 88.42%
Other/Mixed 20 1.58%
Hispanic or Latino 5 0.39%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 1,269 people, 554 households, and 290 families residing in the city.

Gallery photos


Port Gibson is served by Port Gibson High School, part of the Claiborne County School District.

The Chamberlain-Hunt Academy, a private military boarding school, has operated in Port Gibson since 1879. It was promoted as a Christian school in the late twentieth century. Nonetheless, it suffered declining enrollment and closed in 2014.

Notable people

  • Samuel Reading Bertron, banker
  • Cleo W. Blackburn, educator
  • Pete Brown, golfer, first African American to win on the PGA Tour
  • Jay Disharoon, lawyer and Mississippi legislator
  • Constance Cary Harrison, author
  • Henry Hughes, lawyer, sociologist, state senator, and Confederate colonel
  • Yolanda Moore, former professional basketball player and girls basketball coach
  • Irwin Russell, poet
  • Bob Shannon, high school football coach, known for his work in East St. Louis, Illinois
  • V. C. Shannon, born in Port Gibson in 1910, one-term member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Shreveport, serving from 1972 to 1974
  • J. D. Short, Delta blues guitarist, singer, and harmonicist
  • James G. Spencer, U.S. Representative from 1895 to 1897
  • Clement Sulivane, Confederate officer, politician, and member of the Maryland Senate from 1878 to 1880
  • Earl Van Dorn, Confederate Civil War general
  • Peter Aaron Van Dorn, lawyer, judge, plantation owner, and one of the founders of Jackson, Mississippi
  • F. S. Wolcott, minstrel show proprietor

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