By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
SHERMAN – Current and former residents will gather Saturday to commemorate Sherman’s first 125 years.
The celebration will begin with a reception from 2 to 4 p.m. at Town Hall. Beginning at 5 p.m., musicians will perform in the park, and a fireworks show will cap the event at 8 p.m.
Organizers of the event will offer for sale copies of the Sherman history book/cookbook that was produced for the town’s centennial, and an additional booklet will include both presettlement history and recent history.
Also in the volume are a host of personal recollections from current and former residents, as varied as Guy Brandon’s story of narrowly escaping a tornado that hit Sherman, William White’s memory of Sherman High School’s 1961 seniors getting caught “decorating” the water tower and Jimmy Bryce Richey’s tail-related tale of how his family’s milk cow came to be known as “Nub.”
As with all of Northeast Mississippi, Sherman was once Chickasaw territory. According to Mayor Ben Logan’s recent compilation of the area’s presettlement history, some of the nation’s villages lay along the ridge that extends from Belden northwestward toward Sherman.
Sherman’s centennial book noted that the land the town occupies was first deeded in 1836 – just four years after the forced removal of the Chickasaw people began – and the first settler, Reuben Jones, began living there in 1845.
Among early residents was one Jesse Irving Wade, born in 1849. A man reputed to have uncommon wisdom, he served a single term in the Mississippi Legislature and got a bellyful of it, refusing to stand for re-election. One account quotes him as saying, “You can’t serve God and be a member of the Legislature.”
Sherman was incorporated in March 1888 and reportedly adopted its name after the town of Sherman, Texas. It sits mostly in Pontotoc County, with smaller portions in Union and Lee counties.
The area’s growth was fueled by the construction of the railroad from Memphis to Birmingham – now the BNSF – in 1885. In the early 20th century, the federal government began networking local roads into the Bankhead Highway, providing a paved road from Washington, D.C., to San Diego. It eventually became, through this area, U.S. Highway 78.
In recent decades, Sherman, with its highway access and proximity to Tupelo, has transformed from primarily a farming town to more of a bedroom community. It has seen infrastructure improvements from a new wastewater treatment plant and additional water and sewer service territory to community storm shelters sufficient to hold nearly two-thirds of the town’s 650 people.
Alderman Martha Swindle said the community is looking forward to hosting both current and former residents for the commemoration.
“We want everyone to come help us celebrate Sherman,” she said.