A Brief History of Enterprise, Clarke Co., Mississippi
By Joe Robert & Mary Margaret Mallard
The Town of Enterprise is located in the Northwest corner of Clarke County. Its early history was as a trading point for the early settlers and Indians of East Mississippi many years before the War Between the States. Enterprise in its earliest days was a part of the Choctaw Nation. This area had a good water supply, a delightful climate, and plenty of game to hunt. The streams provided easy transportation by canoe and raft and thus the forks of the river became an Indian trading post. These Indians were fairly progressive, cultivated beans and maize and in later years lived in cabins.
In 1699, a Jesuit Priest was sent by D'Iberville to visit the famous trading post here. After his visit, the Jesuit fathers were placed in charge of a mission which was in operation from 1727 to 1733 on the west side of the river. The original part of the mission is still standing today as part rear section of the Chapman - Hand Home on River Drive.
The Choctaws about this time were a mighty nation. They could muster about 25,000 warriors. They must have been a musical lot, with melodious voices, for the Choctaws derived their name from the Indian word "chocta" which means "charming voices," their name for the Chickasawhay River means cloudy water, or sweet water, or smokey water. Their romance for names showed in the names they gave rivers, streams, and towns. Souinlovie means water kept muddy by many deer feet. Pachuta is the named for an old Choctaw cabin that stood in the area..
About 1780, quite a few white pioneers had moved into Mississippi territory. About 1790 or 1795, the great Indian chief, Apushmataha, was born. He was the last great leader of the Choctaws and a sincere friend of the white man. He had been sent, according to Indian lore, to council and guide them in the hectic days soon to come......days that were to bring in the white man. These days would also see the loss of the great hunting grounds of Mississippi for the Native Americans.
The Choctaw Indians were very friendly to the white man, which enabled the people of Enterprise to settle without having to fight them. When white missionaries came to the area to bring Christianity to the Indian, they found the Indians living in cabins and cultivating corn, beans, and other vegetables. There were Indian homes lining both sides of the street where the high school building now stands.
The early settlers of Enterprise were from Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and New York. These people were described in terms of the highest tribute....ladies and gentlemen of the highest character. Many of these settlers acquired property and were slave owners. Between 1801 and 1832, the Federal Government acquired title to the area now embracing Alabama and Mississippi and sold the land to settlers at a nominal figure. A little later, land changed hands at .05 cents to 1 dollar per acre.
In 1830, Clarke County was ceded to the United States Government along with 25 other counties in this area when the Choctaws, under Apushmataha, signed the famous treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Under this treaty, most of the Indians left for Oklahoma in the infamous Trail of Tears. A few of the Indians hesitated to leave their beloved homeland where the bones of their ancestors had rested for so many decades. Those few Indians who wanted to stay were permitted to gather on small reservations. Among those still in operation today are the ones at Philadelphia and Conahatta.
Clarke County was organized in 1833 on December 23rd. It was named for Joshua G. Clarke, a famous Mississippi jurist. In the first census of that year, it had a population of 2,767 free white, 16 free colored and 1,334 slaves. There was a total population of 4,117.
In 1834, the town of Enterprise was founded by John J. McRAE, who afterwards was governor of the State of Mississippi. Around the time he was governor, he had built a moderate-sized Greek Revival home on River Road. It is rumored that his Inaugural Ball for being elected governor was held in the home. Jack and Daisy Frost, the present owners, recently restored the home and had it placed on the National Register of Historic Homes.
Mr. McRAE tried for some time to navigate the Chickasawhay River. He succeeded in 1842 in running a steamboat from Lake Ponchatrain, Louisiana across the Gulf to Pascagoula and then up to Enterprise.
Enterprise was the original county seat of Clarke County. Later the county seat was moved to Quitman, Mississippi. Enterprise was incorporated in 1839 with streets and alleys laid out and named. One of the first streets was called Commerce Street. The town at this time was on west side of the river. The cooperative spirit and motivation of the townspeople caused the town to grow quickly. Enterprise became a bustling river city. People came from long distances to trade - some in wagons and some on horseback. They came with cotton to sell and then purchased necessities for living. This trade created a large commercial center. Supplies were brought in from Pascagoula up the river to Enterprise. People from neighboring towns as far away as Hattiesburg came to Enterprise for their supplies.
As new industry and stores came to Enterprise, there were a number of beautiful homes in the latest architectural styles. Many were built with materials brought over from Europe. Of the homes that were built prior to the War Between the States, there are sixteen still standing, many of which are in excellent condition, and are listed on the National Register of Historic Homes.
Churches were erected and a school was established on the west side of the river. In the late 1830's, a Methodist Church was established behind the present day Baptist Church. In the 1840's, the Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic religions started churches.
The bell of the Methodist Church was molded in St. Louis and lined with silver. The bell was used by the community to signal emergencies such as fires. Its last ringing sounded the alarm of its own burning in 1926.
In those days, cotton was king and steam driven sawmills were springing up everywhere. The lines of cotton wagons were a sight to see. Cotton helped Enterprise become the largest city in Mississippi during this time. The town had horse-drawn street cars on tracks in the middle of the streets.
In 1851, there was a horrible yellow fever epidemic. The cemetery in Enterprise holds many of its citizens who died with disease. Ten members of the Brown family died of the plaque within the year.
The rail road came in 1850. The Mobile and Ohio Railroad passed through Enterprise on its way to Macon from Mobile. Captain Deas, of the Deas-Buckley family was one of the officials of the M.& O. during its early days. The Southern Railroad had plans to intersect the M & O at Enterprise, but the town would not give the railroad any financial assistance.
Instead, the intersection was formed in Meridian. The first train arrived in 1861. This was the beginning of the end of Enterprise as a trading center. Meridian, as a junction of two railroads, became Mississippi's largest and fastest growing city.
The M & O railroad bypassed Enterprise by putting their tracks on the east side of the river. This started the exodus of the stores of Enterprise to the east side of the river to be nearer to the railroad. With the merchants of New York moving their trading centers to St. Louis, the railroads of Mississippi were able to carry larger and better stocks such as flour by the barrel and salt by the carload.
It was while Enterprise was enjoying her commercial, economic, religious, social, and educational pristine glory, that the Civil War disturbed all the peace and quiet that had characterized Enterprise for so long.
With the start of the Civil War, Enterprise served as a supply depot and as a base for recruiting troops. Laura Miller Allen's home on Highway 513 served as the headquarters for the Confederate troops. The Allen Home was built around 1820, and named "Acquinasaw" the Indian word for "our home".
General Polk came with his army and recruited troops. Five hundred men throughout the Enterprise area answered the call to arms for the Confederacy.
During the time of Confederate occupation, prisoners were kept in homes. The Short Home on Highway 514 is rumored to have held Union troops in one of its side rooms.
The following story is by Eli Lilly, titled "The Mississippi County that 'Seceded' from the Confederate States of America". Lilly later founded the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was at the time a prisoner-of-war under Nathan Bedford Forrest.
After our capture I was sent with other prisoners to the rendezvous at Cherokee Station west of Tuscumbia, Alabama, the nearest station reached by train from the sunny South at that time....
In the course of time we were dumped with several hundred other miserables at a forsaken hole of sand and cabins called Meridian, Mississippi......and so spent a week. Finally a call was made for Mr. Forrest's men to "fall in" for a move and as I belonged to Forrest and was perfectly willing to go anywhere for a change , I promptly volunteered. It was a short but very pleasant trip to the village of Enterprise 15 miles below and here to our surprise, 100 of us were left on parole of honor not to leave the limits of the town. We were assigned to an old tobacco warehouse on the west side of the little stream dividing the town, for sleeping quarters, and furnished with plenty of cornmeal and bacon but as most of us had plenty of "New-Ish", we bought such produce as the country afforded....
One night an old darkey came to our quarters and announced that "de Republic of Jones is a comin' up here and dey'll rob and kill ebery one ob you." After investigation we found that there existed in Jones County, about thirty miles southwest of us, an organization called the "Republic of Jones" which held supreme control over Jones County and the surrounding country. They had their President, Vice President, Cabinet and an army of several hundred men, banded together for mutual protection, general plunder, and to keep out of the Confederate Army. If a small force was sent to conscript them they would pitch in and wipe them out. If a large force was sent they would take to the swamps and pine barrens and could not be found. So they maintained themselves throughout the war.
It seems the location so near them of a lot of unguarded prisoners supposed to have plenty of money, watches, and good clothing was a temptation they could not withstand...
The post of Enterprise was garrisoned by a major, his adjutant, a sergeant, and eight men Major Ward, commanding, was an old Indiana man and told me he was clerk of the Indiana House of Representatives at one time and also a law partner of Martin I. Bundy years before. On being informed that the "Republic of Jones" was coming to see us, he at once sent out a scouting party and we soon had confirmation of the old darkey's story. Major Ward telegraphed to Mobile for troops and received the cheering reply that none could be sent for two days-while we expected the attack the same night--so we prepared to defend ourselves.
A committee waited on Major Ward and finding he had about 10 stands of arms and plenty of ammunition, we formed a company. The Major gave us the arms, and commanded by our own officers, placed our picket reserve on the western outskirts of the town at the Presbyterian Church, the ringing of the bell of which was to be a general alarm for the main body at the tobacco warehouse. The roads were all picketed by our men and we loosened the boards in the bridge over the stream behind us, so if necessary we could fall back to the east bank, tear up the bridge, and defend the line of the river. But the "Republic of Jones" was well informed of our movements, and though they came up in plain view reconnoitering our pickets and firing a few shots they made no general attack but camped nearby. The next day the troops came from Mobile, camping on the east side of the river, leaving us all the picket duty to do. A few days later the order came sending us to Memphis for exchange. We turned in our Confederate arms and so ended our war with the "Republic of Jones," but I will venture the assertion that no war will show another instance where prisoners of war have been furnished arms by their captors to protect themselves against an enemy foreign to both.
During the most of the war, Enterprise was the home of Camp McLain. It was located at Buckley Springs in West Enterprise. The camp was named for Colonel Robert McLain. Col. McLain lived across the river from the camp in the house that is presently owned by Christine Buckley. "Twin Gables" is where Col. McLain held conferences with General Robert E. Lee and other leading generals.
One story tells of cattle that were brought from Texas to Enterprise to feed the troops that were stationed at Camp McLain. It is said that when the cattle came across the river from the train station, the whole span of the bridge was covered with Texas Longhorns. The townspeople were amazed that the bridge withstood the weight of the cattle.
With all the disasters and horrible occurrences that were prevalent during the Civil War years, there was one high point for the town. When Sherman occupied Jackson, the state capitol had to flee. Enterprise was chosen as one of the stops. The records of the state were on the run from the advancing federal troops. The Governor's Mansion was briefly the Fairchild Home that has since been torn down.
Sherman eventually came to Enterprise on his way to Savannah and the Sea. His headquarters was located in the Castleberry Home. This home was built by Samuel Sherrod at the end of Wanita Road and was called Riverside.
One young wife wrote in a letter to family in Texas that she was about to give birth when the family heard the sound of Sherman's troops. Her family took a mattress into the woods and she gave birth to her child in the woods surrounded by everything her family could move and hide from Sherman. All survived well except the house and out buildings. They were all burned to the ground.
Another tale about Sherman is how the family of Dr. Lee in East Enterprise hid valuables before Sherman arrived in town. When Sherman left, the family could not find the silver. Finally, years later, a child broke one of the chairs and out fell the silver that the Yankees had been accused of stealing so many years before. Dr. Lee's home is now owned by the Mitts family.
While in Enterprise, the federal troops used several other homes as hospitals. The McRAE- Frost Home was one of the homes that served as a infirmary. As the Federal troops left, they burned or destroyed almost everything on the east side of the river. They, also, took the rails from the railroad and tied them in the Sherman "Bowties" by heating them over the fire and bending them so they would not be able to be used later.
It is noted that later in 1920, a older gentleman came to the door of the McRAE-Frost Home. He had been a patient in the house during Sherman's occupation in 1864. He had never forgotten the warmth and charm of the Southerners and their way of life, even during a time of hostility.
About the time the Civil War ended, the hillsides had been largely denuded of timber and erosion of the soil had set in on a major scale. Down the river went the top soil and a lot of gravel and sand. In a few years, the Chickasawhay River had become too shallow for steamboats and log rafts. Finally, a boat sank in the river near Enterprise ceasing the navigation of the river, never to be resumed.
The railways took over and most of the trade for Enterprise came by rail instead of boat. The trains brought commodities and passengers to town...sometimes three times a day.
There were other sounds in Enterprise - the sound of pharmacist pouring pills and their odd shaped glass bottles of medicine, the two-story hotel being built, and running water from the artesian well. The well offered cool refreshing water to those passing by.
With the end of Civil War, the slaves were freed. They began to form churches under brush arbors. Gradually churches were formed on both sides of the river. An elementary school for Negroes stood where the present Wesley Methodist church is now. There was a upper-grade school on the west side of town. The school only went to the tenth grade. Every community had its own school primarily because lack of transportation made it impossible for students to leave their communities. Early teachers included Sam Adams, Helen Adams, Samuel Owens, Cora Owens, and Mrs. Emma Price. These early educators from the black community still have descendants in the area to this day.
Early black business owners included James Price, a shoemaker, who was brought to the area as a young boy, from South Carolina with his mother. Mr. Price was the grandfather of Mrs. Eunice Edmondson. Anthony Buckley had a printing press and published an early black paper.
East Enterprise was the center of growth in the community after the war. The railroad had workshops on the Mobile and Ohio. There were also warehouses for lumber and cotton that were built. This employed people and created commerce.
In 1867, the town again turned down the opportunity for growth. M. M. Brooks and others came to the town to start a cotton mill. The town feared that the construction of a mill would bring unsavory characters to the town. Instead, the mill was built in Stonewall.
As in many towns in the South after the war, there arose a need for a military company in Enterprise. It was a company of eligible young men of the town. An instructor in military tactics was secured, and the company was well equipped with rifles, uniforms, and other equipment. The sound of military rifles could be heard, but it wasn't anything more than a show of force in case there was a need for order during a time of unrest and instability brought about by reconstruction. Many exhibitions and entertainments were given by them in tribute to this company by the town. These exhibitions were given in the second story of the old court house that had been diverted to other purposes after the courthouse was moved to Quitman. This building was where the Bobby Priester house stands today.
Later, a large brass band was formed. All the instruments were brass except the drums. It was formed by many of the former members of the military band. This band was a source of entertainment and pleasure to the people of Enterprise for several years. It appeared in many social, political and religious functions. The band met at different places for performances, such as Enterprise, Mayerhoff Springs, and Meridian. The uniforms were something to behold. The band often met in contest with other bands. At the times these contests were held, the M.& O. Railroad would run an extra train to bring the bands and many others who came from Meridian and surrounding territory. Enterprise drew visitors during these times because it was the hub of social activity.
A few times during the glory days of Enterprise, the town would challenge New Orleans' Mardigras. The city leaders were interested in preventing its citizens from going to New Orleans by offering its own celebration. There was great interest in this. They would have a parade. While there was no fancy floats, such as we have today, the people were quite clever in their use of the horse and buggies, wagons, ox teams. and horse-back riding. Many of them walked in the parade. The parade covered all streets on both sides of the river of the town. The band led the parade, seated in a canoe-shaped frame structure with tier after tier of seats provided for the band and a place for the driver of the six horses that pulled it.
The Negroes of the town were given a part, also. The unusual part of the parade was the presence of a man named Green King and his oxen. This man drove three to four yoke of oxen to haul large loads of firewood to town, and he used a huge whip to keep his team in line. His skill attracted much attention. He was always willing to give demonstrations. The whip was made out of a hickory handle with a ten foot whip attached to the end. Mr Green and his whip were given the last place in the parade so he would have plenty of for his whip-popping.
The businesses would close at noon. All of the participants wore false faces and costume to conceal their identities. At the end of the parade everyone would go home to a big meal and would sing "The End of A Perfect Day."
The year of 1871 will long be remembered by the people here as the year of the greatest flood since white people settled. No one prepared nor expected the water to get out of control when they built places of business. At the time of the flood, the stores were full of stock. Water rolled into the stores several feet in depth damaging and ruining much property. One merchant estimated his personal loss at six thousand dollars. Others lost more and some lost less.
In 1874, the business district was destroyed by fire for a second time. It was again rebuilt. Bedbugs were to blame. A family was trying to get rid of bed bugs by fire when the fire escaped due to a strong wind. The fire burned the family's store and most of the other stores. A new ordinance to build with bricks came when the buildings were rebuilt. Many fine businesses were built, including a hotel.
Also, in 1874, the cornerstone of St. Mary's was laid. This beautiful little church is still used by the Episcopal families in Enterprise. Most of the present members can trace their ancestry to the original founders of the church.
Along about this time in Enterprise's history, the story goes that one of its most industrious citizens became totally disillusioned with Enterprise's lack of vision. Although he had built the big mausoleum in the Enterprise Cemetery, he moved his family to Meridian where he was instrumental in the development of this city to the north. He built another mausoleum in Magnolia Cemetery and was buried there. His son Charles C. KAMPER was buried in the original tomb, as well as many other KAMPER descendants.
The following article gives a clearer picture of how Enterprise looked in 1887. It was originally printed in a Clarke county newspaper.
Today all of the business houses, save one small establishment are in East Enterprise. Besides stores there are many beautiful residences in the new portion of the town, which are separated from the business part by the M and O Railroad. By reason of this division, Enterprise presents three distinct sections. First, all the portion east of the M and O Railroad track (the residential part of East Enterprise), and containing a number of handsome residences with beautiful grounds, also two churches, the Presbyterian and the Episcopal, for the whites, and a commodious well built church for the colored Methodists.
The public school is located in East Enterprise, The colored public school is likewise located in East Enterprise, and is well attended and competently taught.
The second section of the town lies between the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and the river. This contains the entire business part, comprising three drug stores, two real estate offices, a hotel, doctors' and lawyers' offices, a grist mill and about a dozen general merchandise stores, besides a few other miscellaneous smaller establishments and some small dwellings.
The third section lies west of the Chickasawhay river and comprises, as before stated, the original town of Enterprise. Besides a number of residences, there are in West End three churches for the whites--the Methodist, Baptist and Catholic, also the Colored Baptist Church.
The depot of the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad is in West Enterprise and occupies a very beautiful situation. This company constructed a very handsome iron bridge over the Chunky river, a mile north of their depot.
A street-car line connects the railroad depots of the Mobile and Ohio and the Northeastern, crossing the river over the large wooden bridge that spans the stream.
A drive through the two sections of the town impresses one very favorably with its desirability as a place of residence. The salubrity of climate, the rolling character of the land, and its pure, delicious water, all combine to render it a plus ultra as a health resort, while its accessibility is another strong point. It is said that the business men of Meridian will go to Enterprise "for a whiff of fresh air, a drink of pure water and an hours's rest." It is not often stated why the Enterprise man goes to Meridian, but occasionally one goes there.
One of the attractions that might have drawn Meridian men to Enterprise could have been Mr. McGusty's golf course. The golf course is reputed to be the first in the state. It came into existence around 1910. The course consisted of nine holes by use of criss-cross to use two holes twice. It was in use until the middle twenties. There were about 25 active players. No club was organized. Collections were taken to pay for upkeep.
The question of Sunday golf as a blue law violation was first settled at Enterprise when members obtained a court ruling in their favor after Sunday golfing by members brought them before city official almost weekly. Fines were levied by the late Mayor H. C. Dear each Monday.
W. E. Bass and Charlie MOORE were recognized tops as a twosome, while Charlie Brown ruled supreme as the best individual.
The use of caddies was a very rare practice in the early days of Mississippi golfing. This "luxury" was reserved for such special events as the Fourth of July matches.
The rapid growth of Meridian, which was the result of the extensive railroad development there drew commerce from Enterprise. Until excitement over the iron discoveries, real estate had dropped to a nominal figure and there was comparatively little life in the place.
As history will show, the iron discovery proved to be nonprofitable for commercial development and the hey day of Enterprise was over.
In 1900, the Chickasawhay rose out of its banks and washed away the school, along with doing major damage to the businesses on the east side of the river. The flood caused the first consolidation of the school system in Enterprise with support coming from municipal taxation. A mass meeting was called to vote on a new location. By a vote of one, the citizens voted to build the new school on the west side. The lot where the Sonny Jones home now stands was selected as the site for the new school. Fire later destroyed this building and another large two story building was built on the same spot.
After many fires and floods on the east side of the river, the west side of Enterprise again began to build up. The west side boasted of several well-stocked mercantile houses, meat markets, a modern bus station, two cafes, a drug store, several filling stations, two garages, a movie theater and a post office.
In 1913, the Bass Brothers' opened their first store in Old Enterprise. The Store burned in 1943 and they moved into C. T. Bonney's old store. Bass Brother's Store remained there until it was demolished to build the new bridge in the 1980's. It was at one time the oldest building in the state in continued use as a grocery store. The building was original built and put into operation in 1879.
The Bass Brothers' kept their store open through many floods. One tale that Mr. Willie told was of a man that came to his house in a boat and took him to the store so he could shop for his family. They rowed across the tracks and right into the store.
Mrs. Lula Mae Andrews Priester remembers that during the years her father operated S. H. Andrews Mercantile and at times when the flood waters covered the area in front of the stores, the young people would set up a hand cranked victrola on the dock of the G. M.&O. Depot and anyone who could get there by boat would while away the hours dancing in the midst of the flood waters.
The lumber industry, which had boomed during the late 1800's and early 1900's, reached its zenith and several sawmills shut down. Soon after, in 1913, the bank on the east side closed. In 1919, Prohibition caused the closing of the saloons. Businesses across the river slowly disappeared or moved to the west side.
In 1929, the new high school was built. This is the building that is presently being used by Enterprise High School. The new school had steam heat - a luxury for the students in that day and age. The day it opened, the kids carried their desks from the old school down the road to the new red brick school. The old school was heated by coal, and the students were responsible for getting the coal every morning.
Because the new school was so nice, kids from all around came to attend. The school quickly became overcrowded. It was decided that the juniors and seniors would go back to the old school. Soon after, this news got to the older kids and the old school mysteriously burned.
In 1930, the Woman's Club was organized. Mrs. F. W. Mitts was the first president, and remained in that office for over 25 years. With the completion of Highway 11 in or around 1938, the town became one of the many stops for people who were traveling in the new speedy cars. Many ladies in town caught the eyes of the young men that were working on the new highway. Addine Brown went north with her husband, Pete Hoke. Monroe Allen stayed here and married Laura Miller Stephenson.
The citizens met the challenge of World War II by sending our men to war and supporting the war effort on the home front. The young men came home to find that there was not that many jobs, particularly for black men. Many went north at this time to make better money. Hosea Burns was one of the men that left, but he did come back after he retired. He is well known throughout the community for his helpfulness and his leadership.
By the war's end, Enterprise was again primed for new growth. One of the major factors that caused considerable swelling of our numbers was the establishing of Southern Natural Pumping Station just south of town. The village of houses at the gas plant brought many new people to Enterprise and the town and school reaped many rewards from the new industry that continues to the present day.
Just before the coming of the gas plant, another happening took place that made a permanent change to our community--Coach and Mrs. L. J. Davis moved to Enterprise at the beginning of the school year in 1949. Coach Davis's presence affected the lives of the people in Enterprise in a profound way. He touched lives both on the athletic field and in every aspect of life. His influence continued as a stabilizing force up until his untimely death in August of 1993.
In July of 1950, and again in 1955, the Woman's Club sponsored an Enterprise Homecoming. The entire community participated to make these two events glowing successes.
Bass Brothers' Store was the site of a movie in the mid-1950's. The Royal family of Meridian filmed a western movie that was partially set in the town. There were local and Hollywood actors involved.
October 4, 1958 was the date of the first issue of the Enterprise Record. In the first issue, it was noted that the new teachers at Enterprise were for first grade - Miss Hazel Hughes, soon to be Mrs. Hazel Lee. Mr. Grady Johnson was hired to teach sixth grade.
The Enterprise Community Development Club contacted Dr. Graham and was instrumental in getting him to practice in town in 1959. Dr. Graham then contacted Joe Crumbly, a pharmacist, in Meridian about coming to Enterprise.
The floods came in 1961. There were three floods in town that year. The highest crest was 37.97 feet on February 3, 1961. Later in December, the flood reached 34 feet. Highway 513 had to be closed to traffic. Water reached a depth of 5 feet and 2 1/2 inches in Bass Brothers' Store.
The town saw a major loss of revenue when the Interstate was completed in the early Sixties. Cars remained on the Interstate, instead of traveling up and down Highway 11. This ended the downtown of Enterprise. Stores closed because of lack of business and the traffic light was removed.
With the beginning of the Sixties, desegregation was very much in the news. Enterprise was one of the first schools in the state to desegregate. Reverend Charles Killingsworth and his Methodist Church were instrumental in getting Enterprise desegregated. At this time, it was voluntary. The Black school was still in operation. Not until 1972, did the black school on the east side of the river close. It then reopened as the desegregated middle school for Enterprise.
Also, in the Sixties, streets were paved and lights were put up to light up the roads. Robert KAMPER was mayor. New industry came in 1969. United Engineering, which later was renamed Anderson Metal, built a plant on South Street. The people voted in 1975 to put in a sewage system. Finally in 1980, it was begun and finished in 1983.
An era came to an end in the late Seventy's. Coach Davis retired from football after several decades as head coach to Enterprise High School. A grand retirement party and banquet were given in the High School Gym. The Davis' were presented with a car and many other assorted item in appreciation of the hard work that they both did for the school.
In 1981, Mr. and Mrs. Robert William of Memphis, Tennessee, gave $250,000 to the town to build a new town hall. The town hall had been located in a mobile home, but is now located in a new brick building. The plans called for the library to be built behind the meeting room in the Town Hall. The ground was broken on October 13, 1982.
The downtown has changed drastically in the last few years. The old buildings that once housed the theater, B. P. Kersh's Store and many other family owned mercantile are no longer standing. A new gas station is where it once was. This along with other renovations and new buildings has totally changed the look of the downtown.
Through the late Eighties and early Nineties, the school was caught in turmoil. There were many dark days, when the threat of closure seemed always on the horizon, but through the hard work of many people and many days spent in federal court, the school is in better shape than ever.
Today's school looks totally different from how it did a decade ago. Old buildings are gone, replaced by new modern facilities.
The old gym was destroyed in 1994 to make way for a new field house. It was a sad sight to see a building go that had so many memories in it. The old gym had originally been built in 1934 with help from the community and was the scene of many battles on the hardwood.
In recent years the school system has made great strides in improving its scores on national standardized tests. This helps proves that a small school system can compete with bigger systems across the state to offer its students opportunities in academics that will provide for college preparatory skills.
The future for Enterprise is filled with the potential for growth. The town has a huge industrial park that is ready to accommodate industry. Enterprise is truly the place to be if one is interested in coming to a small community that offers a setting of quiet security where its citizens are gracious and welcoming to newcomers.