Mississippi Leaders

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Entries - Entry Category: Mississippi Leaders

Butler, Ben F.

aka: Benjamin Franklin Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler served as mayor of Osceola (Mississippi County) for nearly three decades and was a well-known figure in civic and political affairs at both the state and county level. His tireless advocacy for economic expansion resulted in Osceola’s transformation from a small farm town into an industrialized small city. Ben F. Butler was born in Osceola on January 29, 1894, to Clarence E. Butler and Ada Bragg Butler. Upon completion of his education in 1913, he went into business for himself, first as a car salesman and later in the farm implement business, eventually establishing an International Harvester dealership known as the Ben F. Butler Company. In 1919, he married Irene Tidwell of Memphis and had two sons, …

Semmes, Samuel Spencer

Samuel Semmes was a Civil War veteran, lawyer, and businessman in Mississippi County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He served one term as the county judge. Samuel Spencer Semmes, the son of Raphael Semmes and Ann Elizabeth Spencer Semmes, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 4, 1838. His father, who was later the famed raider of the Confederate CSS Alabama, had moved to Ohio in 1834, marrying Ann in 1837. Semmes was the oldest of their six children. In about 1848, after serving in the Mexican War, Semmes’s father moved his family to near Mobile, Alabama, where Semmes spent his youth. By the early 1850s, he was attending the Jesuit school Spring Hill College in Mobile, …

Wilson, Robert Edward Lee

Robert Edward Lee Wilson created a plantation empire out of the swamps of Mississippi County in the late nineteenth century, an empire that remains in place today. He was able to fashion his 65,000-acre plantation and lumbering operation by purchasing cut-over land considered worthless by less imaginative men and then draining and developing the swamps. His substantial holdings and creative financing allowed him to weather the economic catastrophe of the 1920s relatively unscathed. By the time the New Deal was implemented in 1933, Lee Wilson & Company was characterized as operating the largest cotton plantation in the South, and its founder enjoyed the kind of political and economic connections that made it possible for him to take best advantage of …