CORINTH INFORMATION DATABASE Version 1.3 © 1995 Milton Sandy, Jr.

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LION HEAD SPRINGS

Lion Head Springs was closely associated with early settlers of Corinth. The November 1902 Weekly Corinthian gives this account: "Lion Head Spring - Mr. H. S. Brooks gives history of Lion Head Springs, south of Corinth. In 1854 Robert Hyneman, Hamilton Mask and others were deer hunting with Dick Winn as driver. In riding through the bottom ... Winn's horse mired down, and he had to call to the other hunters to pull him out. Some little time thereafter some of the citizens met there, cleaned out the springs and put a gun [gum tree?] there. It so remained until about 1857 when Dr. McMillan contracted with John A. Gerhart for that plot of land, built a tenpen alley and placed that stone (lion head) in the spring and commenced hauling lumber to build a hotel. Before he got his plans consummated the war broke out ... After the war McMillan's financial condition would not allow ... land fell back to original owner, John A. Gerhart. The Scales you see broke off on that lion head were broken off by Federal Solders and forwarded to their friends."

Hezekiah S. Brooks (1833 - 1905), the one relating the history of the spring in this 1902 newspaper article, became Corinth's third postmaster in 1861 and served as the Confederate postmaster during the Civil War. After the war the Brooks family moved to a farm on Bridge Creek for about a year. Then the Brooks returned to Corinth and operated a dry goods and furniture store.

The deer hunter, Hamilton Mask, was one of the founders of Corinth and served as a mayor of Corinth, Enumerator for the 1870 U. S.Census, and other offices. Mask is associated with the Curlee Home on Jackson Street.

The owner of the springs, John A. Gerhart, was born 1816 in Pennsylvania He was a prosperous farmer with a real estate value of over $12,000 on the 1860 Tishomingo County, Mississippi, U. S. Census. He married Elizabeth Jane Patterson in 1842, the Patterson family owned a considerable amount of land in the Lion Head Springs' area.

The gentleman credited with placing the lion's head over the springs, Dr. Dan B. McMillan, was born in Alabama in 1830. Tishomingo County records list his marriage to Francis O. Clinton on October 1, 1857. Census records show that the McMillans resided in the Kossuth area between 1850 to 1870. According to the U. S. Census just before the Civil War, in 1860, McMillan's property value was $4,000. By 1871, Dr. McMillan was practicing in Corinth and operated a drug store, "McMillan & Co.," on Waldron Street. In addition, he manufactured MCMILLAN'S CHILL TONIC IRON CLAD BITTERS. According to the 1875 Corinth City Directory, McMillan resided on the southeast corner of Bunch and Webster Streets -- this is the block where twin red brick houses built in the 1920's were cleared off this past summer. From deed records, there is little indication that Dr. McMillan owned the land in the Lion's Head Springs area.

Later, Oscar Hinton owned the property. Bridge Creek was about 100' from the spring. As a boy, Dabney Hinton remembers the spring and lion's head on his grandfather's farm. The artesian springs came up through the earth in five spouts. The lion's head sat to the side of these spouts. Water collected in the stone rimmed bowl, which was about 18" in diameter. When the bowl, which resembled the lion's stomach, was full, the water would run off into the back of the lion's head (neck) and the water would come out the lion's nostrils. The lion's features were not pronounced as through the years the water had smoothed features. The lion was made of limestone and had a red cast. Dabney Hinton remembers the lion's head resembling a lioness.

Local historian, Margaret Greene Rogers, related that she had heard a story regarding the springs. During the summer Mrs. U. S. Grant resided at the Whitfield Plantation, the Federals kept a guard at the springs because Mrs. Grant's drinking water came from the springs. Mrs. Rogers has been unable to verify this story.

By the turn of the century, in the days before radio, TV, and air-conditioning, the citizens of the Corinth area gathered at Lion Head Springs. The large and magnificent virgin trees provided ample shade to many families and friends. The lion's head which spouted water was a fascinating draw. Many are still around who remember childhood picnics at the springs.

Taking a buggy or surrey ride south of town on dusty dirt roads via the National Cemetery to Lion Head Springs was a very popular Sunday excursion for families and courting couples.

Louise Reynolds Barnes said, "There was always a crowd because of so much fun with friends and the fine food." From her early childhood memories, she remembers tables with good food such as fried chicken and homemade ice-cream. She recalled older friends courting on the hills.

Mr. Jimmy Northcutt, Sr., a trapper, has been visiting the area since 1937. He reported that over the years the area had been damaged and wrecked by treasure hunters. There is a local legend that gold had been stuffed in the barrel of a Civil War cannon and then buried.

Several people believe that there is a Native American burial mound located near the springs. The mound is now just a rise. Because of the flint beds and chips, those interested in Native American culture believe the site was used to make arrowheads.

Over twenty-five years ago, the lion's head disappeared. Some believe it is mired down in the springs, some believe mischievous boys carted it off. The giant trees gave way to a prosperous dairy farm. And, in the 1920's Liddon Lake became the Sunday rendezvous for courting couples and family picnics.

Researcher:
Stephanie L. Sandy
P. O. Box 1535
Corinth, Mississippi
March 25, 1992

Copyright 1992 Stephanie L. Sandy



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