Focused on Mississippi: Rebuilding a ghost town

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – The Town of Rodney doesn’t even show up on the state highway maps anymore, but one of Mississippi’s oldest towns is beginning to come back to life.

“I think what makes Rodney special is it was the old south-west of Mississippi. At one time, it was a booming town. And as many know, it was just a few votes short, some say three, of becoming the State Capital,” said Mary Pallon, an advocate of Rodney.

Most of the current residents of Rodney reside in the Rodney Cemetery up on the hill behind the nearly 190 year-old Rodney Presbyterian Church, with the exception of about 10 living souls. They’ve found refuge away from the annual Mississippi River Floods, which have decimated much of what had hung on in Rodney over the last 10 years.

But it is in this cemetery that signs of life are coming back thanks to clean up day, which is held by the Rodney History and Preservation Society. A year ago, the hilltop was a jungle populated by rattlesnakes. But because of determined cleanup, the old town is starting to emerge again. And it is here, also, that the newest set of unofficial citizens of Rodney get to meet fact to face after having gotten to know each other on Face Book.

“It’s a ghost town. So how did we get here? We got here by social media and Facebook. This is how we got here because when you have a ghost town you’ve got to build a community. And even today up in the cemetery, we have people from Alabama, we have people from Tennessee. We have people from all over Mississippi.”

Mary Pallon herself is all the way from Arizona. Her grandfather was the last full-time minister at the Presbyterian Church before it disbanded in the mid-20th century. An emergency buttress will preserve the building until it can be restored.

Rodney has been diminished by floods and fire and yellow fever and being bypassed by the railroad and the main highway. But it may be coming back together again by bonding through social media.

You can join that Rodney Facebook page and learn some neat history and keep up with the ongoing preservation.

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