BREWER If you pick one thing people like about living in the Brewer community, it’s the family-like atmosphere.
That’s probably because most of the people who reside in this southern Lee County community are related in some way.
“If you trace it back too far, I’m sure you’ll find out that everybody’s just about kin to everybody around here,” said 69-year-old Kathleen West, who has more than her share of family in the community. “And if we’re not kin, we’ve all lived together here so long we’re like family.”
No matter if you’ve lived there all your life or just a few weeks, once you’re in Brewer you’re one of the family.
The Brewer family is a close one. For years they have been active in community projects, politics and recreational activities. And at times the family comes together at one of the community’s two churches to worship.
“The main thing about Brewer is the closeness of its people,” said longtime Brewer resident Sharon Minga. “It’s a real close-knit community.”
Between the tracks
Brewer is located on U.S. Highway 45 between Verona and Shannon. In fact, the four-lane 45 runs through the west side of Brewer.
One term Brewer residents use to describe the community’s location is “between the tracks,” as in railroad tracks. On the western edge is the Kansas City Southern Railroad that runs between U.S. 45 and State Highway 145 and through Tupelo-Lee Industrial Park. The eastern edge is bordered by the Burlington Northern Railroad.
The only highway connecting the tracks is County Road 520, better known as Brewer Road. It runs eastward into Highway 6 between Plantersville and Nettleton.
East of U.S. 45 is where you’ll find the majority of Brewer, a community nestled in a country setting. The homes, farms, businesses and other buildings are located on a dozen county roads.
The early settlers arrived in that area around the 1830s and ’40s. One of the county’s oldest homes is located next to Brewer Road. The first year taxes were paid on it was 1854, but the house is considered to be much older. The Benson family of Brewer acquired the house in the late 1800s and it has remained in the family since.
Though the community had different names in its early years, it became known as “Brewer” in the 1910s. When it organized its own voting district, it took the name in honor of then-Mississippi Gov. Earl L. Brewer.
In the family
Much of the land in Brewer has been handed down from generation to generation. To many, Brewer has always been home for their family.
“I was born and raised here,” said Faye Robbins, who along with husband, John, operate Brewer Grocery. “I was raised out here, then I left and went to Verona for a few years after we got married. But we moved back. This has always been home.”
John Robbins added that few places can compare to Brewer. “It’s the best community around,” he said. “It’s a pretty quiet place.”
Brewer has turned into an ideal place for young families who seek the open space of the countryside for themselves and their children.
“It’s a nice area,” said Matt Scott, who moved from Shannon to Brewer three years ago with wife, Patti, a Brewer native. “It’s a good community for families. A lot of people my age and a little older are raising their families here.”
West said she likes to see young couples move into Brewer.
“We have a lot of nice young people who have moved in. When we get people like that, it’s an asset to our community,” she said. “It helps build up our community.”
Roger McCormick, one of the managers at Brewer Steak and Fish House, said there is a genuine attitude about Brewer that makes everyone feel at home.
“Everybody pretty well knows everybody. It’s a real friendly, laid-back community,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think you’ll find a place any friendlier.”
Minga said once the Brewer residents get to know a new family, they encourage them to become a part of the community.
“The families who move out here, we try to get them involved in the community as soon as we can,” she said.
Brewer has a long tradition of community service. It goes back to the late 1940s when the Rural Community Development Council (RCDC) was formed to promote growth in rural towns and communities in Lee County.
It was one of the first to sign up as an RCDC town, and it proved to be an active chapter. It won awards at county fairs and promoted community projects. It raised money that was used to pay the tuition for Brewer teens to attend Itawamba Junior College in Fulton. Also, it sponsored a “Brewer College” that taught courses like landscaping and public speaking to youths.
Brewer’s residents today continue to serve their community. They use its old school building as a community center for events such as elections, senior citizen activities and club meetings.
Brewer residents look forward to an election. The community’s civic pride has carried over to the ballot box with its high number of voters.
“When you look at our percentage at the Brewer box, you see a big percentage of turnout,” said Bill Benson, Lee County Chancery Clerk and a Brewer native. “You’re looking at about 270 folks out of about 305, 310 registered voters.”
And there have been plenty of Brewer candidates for the homefolks to support. In addition to Benson, other Brewer residents holding public office are Lee County Supervisior Thomas Kennedy and School Superintendent Lynn Lindsey. Ironically, the three attend the same church Brewer Methodist along with two other officeholders (Shannon alderman Joe Buse and Lee County School Board member Roy Burleson).
The two churches in Brewer Methodist and Brewer Baptist play an important role in the community family. One event the churches share each year is the joint Sunday night worship service on Easter. They also show support for each other’s activities during the year.
“The churches are the heart of the community,” Benson said. “The members of both churches are real close to each other.”
Holidays are a special time in Brewer. On the Fourth of July, it hosts an annual Independence Day parade through the community roads. During Halloween there is a carnival at the community center that raises funds for the frequently-used walking track facility behind the center.
Softball is a popular sport in Brewer. The community field for Brewer’s youth is located next to Brewer Methodist Church. Also, Brewer resident Charlie Watts has two fields that can be seen from U.S. 45. Those fields host the Lee County church league action during the week and tournaments for area teams on the weekend.
Even though they live outside of Shannon, the Brewer residents have many ties to their neighboring town. Brewer’s utilities come out of Shannon while the community supports Shannon’s schools and activities.
“Our address is Shannon and our school’s there,” West said. “And when they have something like Town Day, we always try to attend it. We try to support their fire department because they cover us nicely.”
One of the busiest places in Brewer during the week is the Steak and Fish House. Teresa Starns, also a manager at the restaurant, said business comes from all around Lee County for a good meal and a bit of Brewer hospitality.
“We have a lot of people come from just about everywhere,” she said. “We have one man who drives all the way from Baldwyn to eat lunch with us once a week.”
Before his election as Chancery Clerk in 1991, Benson worked in Jackson. He stayed in a motel in the capitol city during the week, and on the weekends he returned to Brewer.
“I never did move,” Benson said. “I’d rather come home to Brewer than live in Jackson.”
Benson and others who live in Brewer said the closeness between neighbors makes their community a special place to live.
“If anything happens to someone, then everybody in the community is always there,” he said. “The entire community rallies around it and really gets involved with whatever’s going on.”
“The thing about Brewer is that it’s more than just a community,” Benson added. “It’s really a family.”