HISTORY OF BAY SPRINGS, MISSISSIPPI
Located in the rolling hills of southwestern Jasper County, Mississippi, the picturesque city of Bay Springs is home to more than 2,000 residents.
In the late 1800’s, Joe Blankenship founded sawmills in the dense, virgin forests of western Jasper County. At the turn of the century, Blankenship’s son-in-law, L. L. Denson, through the Denson Trading Company, founded a village called “Bay Springs,” which encompassed an area of 173 acres, including the center of the present day commercial area.
The original plat of the community was filed in the county land records on September 12, 1901.
According to tradition, the village was named for an artesian spring flowing from the trunk of a bay tree standing where the city gazebo now stands, and the spring flowing in the gazebo today is that same artesian spring.
Supported by sawmills, the community quickly became a trade center for western Jasper and eastern Smith County, despite a fire that destroyed the commercial buildings along what is now Third Street.
In anticipation of the coming railroad boom — rights-of-way granted through the town are dated as early as 1902 — the town was incorporated, receiving its charter on March 10, 1904, for an area containing four sections which were home to 520 inhabitants. By late 1904, the Bay Springs Bank was formed and became one of the rare banking businesses to survive the Great Depression.
When the Mobile, Jackson, and Kansas City Railroad began operating about the year 1908, Bay Springs became a transportation center for the logging industry, as well as for other areas of industry and commerce. The railroad, running in a north-south direction, connected Bay Springs with the other small Jasper County towns between Laurel, twenty miles to the south, and Newton, thirty miles to the north, and provided the area with easy transportation.
Even then, Bay Springs was a progressive community with no fewer than five churches.
It soon boasted a mill for preparation of barrel staves and a cotton gin, in addition to its flourishing lumber industry.
Before 1918, Bay Springs obtained electrical and telephone service and soon thereafter an ice house, placing the town on the cutting edge of gracious living. By the 1930’s, Bay Springs had a canning plant. In the early 1950’s Northern Electric Company opened a plant in the town, becoming the first Jasper County industry to provide employment for hundreds of women, as well as men.
Throughout the twentieth century, Bay Springs has continued to be a beautiful, thriving city, expanding in territory and population.