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Santa Rosa was a small town located in the northern part of the buffer zone of Stennis Space Center. Even at its largest, it contained little more than a handful of homes, a couple of stores and churches, a few bars, a post office (which, by 1963, had been relocated to nearby Flat Top), and a one-room schoolhouse called the Aaron Academy.
The bars in and near Santa Rosa were considered "dens of inequity" by the local churches, who pressured the authorities to have them closed. They occasionally succeeded, but the bars inevitably opened again. In fact, illegal activities were frequent at many of these establishments, especially the sale of whiskey while Mississippi was a "dry" state.
The name of the community changed several times over its history, for reasons which are not clear. Originally, the town seems to have been variously called Aaron Academy after its school, or the "Y" after a nearby fork in the road. At some point it was known as Tigerville, presumably a reference to the nearby Dead Tiger Creek, and sometime in the early 20th century had its name changed to Santa Rosa. Reportedly, this occurred when the nearby Corinth Baptist Church split up, and the new church built near the "Y" was called Santa Rosa, possibly after prominent citizen Rosa Thigpen.
The cemetery associated with Corinth Baptist Church is called Turtleskin Cemetery, and is still in use today. It was named after nearby Turtleskin Creek, which was given that name by an early settler named William Frierson. When Frierson came to the area in the 1830s, he was cutting bushes along the bank of the creek. The bushes were very hard to cut, and Frierson said that they were as tough as turtle skin. The name stuck, and the creek is still known by that name.
The area around Santa Rosa, on the eastern edge of Honey Island swamp, is also said to have been the refuge of pirates.