Mount Moriah (Nevada County)

Mount Moriah (Nevada County) is an unincorporated community located in Caney Township along U.S. Highway 371. The community is about three miles southeast of Laneburg (Nevada County) and eleven miles southeast of Prescott (Nevada County). Mount Moriah served as the first seat of Nevada County, although only temporarily.

Early settlers in the area included John and Daniel Morrison, who obtained more than 185 acres of land in the area in 1837. John Dillard obtained 120 acres in 1857. William Dillard obtained more than 107 acres two years later.

Mount Moriah’s post office opened in 1844. It closed in 1918, and the community is served by the office located in Rosston (Nevada County) in the twenty-first century.

Established on March 20, 1871, the new county was formed from land belonging to Hempstead, Columbia, and Ouachita counties. Before the formation of Nevada County, the area around Mount Moriah was part of Ouachita County. Centrally located in the new county, the community was selected by Governor Ozro Hadley to serve as a temporary county seat until a permanent location could be selected by a committee. The county court met for a session in 1871 at the Mount Moriah Church. Working quickly, the committee selected Rosston as the first official county seat. Rosston is located about three and a half miles southeast of Mount Moriah.

A 1906 article in the Nevada News described the community and stated that, while some cotton was grown in the area, most families focused on corn, hogs, and subsistence crops. The author also noted that the community was completely white and that no African Americans lived within four miles of Mount Moriah.

The community centered upon the church. At least one earlier church was located nearby but not in what became the Mount Moriah community. The first church building in Mount Moriah proper was constructed in 1857 and was initially shared by Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations. The Baptist congregation, however, constructed its own building at Bluff Springs to the southwest in the late 1800s. The building continued to be shared by the Methodists and Presbyterians for decades. According to a 1984 interview with a longtime member, the Methodists held services on the first and third Sundays of the month, while the Presbyterians held services on the second and fourth Sundays. Members of the church attended both services, but the churches had separate officers and administrative structures. The 1857 church was replaced by a newer building in 1928.

The Mount Moriah Cemetery is located next to the church. The cemetery includes marked graves dating to 1843 and continues to be active in the twenty-first century. Two additional cemeteries named Mount Moriah are located in Nevada County but are near the county line with Ouachita County.

A school operated in the community, and early operations were tied to the church. Exact details of this school are unavailable. Notices in local newspapers in the early twentieth century mention the basketball team playing teams from Laneburg and Rosston. The school consolidated with Rosston at an unknown date. This district later consolidated with several other districts to form the Nevada School District, based in Rosston.

The area remains rural and the economy is based on agriculture. A sawmill owned by the Richardson and Allen families operated near Mount Moriah in the late nineteenth century. Other businesses operated in the area, including at least one still that the sheriff destroyed in 1923. The area did not attract a large population, as most of the growth in the county centered on Prescott with its railroad access.

In the early twenty-first century, the community includes Mount Moriah Church and a few homes. The area is used for cattle, poultry, and timber. Residents commute to jobs in other nearby towns.

For additional information:
“About Mt. Moriah—An Article on Matters Pertaining to the Central Portion of the County.” Nevada News, September 6, 1906, p. 1.

“Locals.” Nevada County Picayune, March 1, 1923, p. 8.

McKelvy, Jerry, and Jeanie McKelvy, “Mt. Moriah Cemetery.” Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://depotmuseum.org/cemetery.php/c/54 (accessed November 19, 2020).

“Mt. Moriah.” Nevada County Picayune, December 21, 1922, p. 5.

“Mt. Moriah Church.” Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://depotmuseum.org/articles.php/article/19 (accessed November 19, 2020).

Thompkins, William. “The History of Nevada County.” Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://depotmuseum.org/articles.php/article/43 (accessed November 19, 2020).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 11/19/2020

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