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Napoleon Baptist Church
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[top] History

Napoleon was one of several towns once located in the acoustic buffer zone of the Stennis Space Center. The original land grant which was to become the town of Napoleon was for 640 acres granted by the British government to John Claudius Favre in 1767. John Claudius Favre transferred this parcel to his son Simon Favre, who is widely considered one of the most interesting historical figures associated with Hancock County. Simon Favre was a well-known interpreter of the Muskogean language, and worked in this capacity for the Spanish, British, French, and American governments. He also served as an Agent for the Post Office beginning in 1808, and was made a Justice of the Peace in 1811.

Simon Favre is believed to have built the first house and store (a facility for processing pine resin for turpentine, rosin, pine pitch, and other resinous products) at what later became Napoleon. This store is thought to have later become the back of the Napoleon Baptist Church.

Legend has it that Napoleon was named in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Jerome, who had come to America, supposedly landing at Waveland, to enlist help in rescuing the Emperor from exile. We also know that the town was called Pearl Town at one time, though it is not clear whether this was the original name of the settlement or a later name subsequently changed back to Napoleon.

Napoleon was never large, and records survive of several failed attempts to locate industry there and build up the town. Like most towns in Hancock County, timber was the most important industry at one time and it was the location of at least one saw mill. Additionally, it was supposedly the site of the brick yards which made the bricks for building Fort Pike, and the location of a naval store for producing turpentine, a number of homes, and the first printing press in Hancock County. The town also had a post office at one time, but in 1907 Dunbar Rowland noted that it had been discontinued, and that mail went through Huxford.

Napoleon was also the site of Parade Rest, a very large home (over 3,000 square feet), which was described in 1963 as having “no comparable structure in this area.” It was framed in cypress, had pecan floorboards, and had extensive landscaping including 5,000 camellias and azaleas, many of which are still present at the site.

Other towns which once stood on what is now the SSC facility include Gainesville, once the county seat, Logtown, Santa Rosa, Westonia, and Dillville.

[top] Photos

[top] Parade Rest, Owners John and Neita Wheeler

At the time that NASA acquired the land rights, this property was owned by COL. and Mrs. John Wheeler. This land has a very rich history dating back to circa 1767. The land is currently owned by the Weston family descending from Henry Weston, the founder of the H. Weston Lumber Company.

[top] Documents

1904 William Madison Reese patent for a music-chart, indicating how chords are played on a piano

1904 Madison Buckner Reese patent, with Henry B. Murphy, for an adjustable buggy top brace

1997 Herring - Way Station to Space: A History of the John C. Stennis Space Center

2010 Callaway - Technological Development in Sawmills and Lumbering along the Pearl River

[top] Links

Hancock County Historical Society

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