Ridgeland, Mississippi, founded at the turn of the 19th century has all the charm of small southern town with the amenities of a larger city.
With the historic Natchez Trace meandering through the heart of the town, you experience the rich heritage and natural beauty of the area. The Ross Barnett Reservoir creates boundless opportunities for outdoor adventures and is the scene of many special events and festivals.
On December 29, 1999, Ridgeland celebrated 100 years. However, Ridgeland’s history dates many years prior to 1899. Located on the historic Natchez Trace, which has been used as a thoroughfare by Indians and settlers since the 1700’s, it is reasonable that the area now known as Ridgeland has been inhabited for hundreds of years.
In 1805, the Choctaw Indian Agency was located on the Natchez Trace in the area, which is now Ridgeland. It was called Turner Brashear’s Stand with Silas Dinsmore as the agent in charge. Andrew Jackson traveled the Natchez Trace to and from the Battle of New Orleans. Among other famous Americans passing through Ridgeland on the Natchez Trace were Meriweather Lewis and John James Audubon.
Around 1850, Brashear’s Stand was changed to King’s Inn. King was associated with the infamous Murrell gang who terrorized, robbed and killed travelers on the Natchez Trace. General Stephen Lee used King’s Inn as his headquarters during the War Between the States. Later known as Hawthorne Vale, it was destroyed by fire in 1896.
James B. Yellowley of South Carolina purchased the “Ridgeland area” in 1853 and established a community known as Yellowley’s Crossing and later named it Jessamine for his wife. In 1865, the Illinois Central Railroad Station was known as Yellowley Switch and was the “highest point on the Illinois Central between Memphis and New Orleans”.
In 1896, Edward M. Treakle and Gorton W. Nichols, Chicago realtors, purchased the area from Mr.Yellowley and formed the Highland Colony Company for the purpose of bringing northern settlers to the area. Treakle and Nichols laid out a town site, which they named Ridgeland. The families arrived and soon the truck farming industry was booming with strawberries and pears as two of the main crops.
Between 1896 and 1908, Ridgeland boasted a “fine three story hotel”, a sawmill, a canning company and Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal Churches. The main business section was on Jackson Street, which was partially destroyed by fire in 1901. The Illinois Central Railroad Station was located in the Jackson Street area.
A two-room school was constructed on the present site of the water tower in 1910 The Ridgeland schools were consolidated with Madison schools in 1925. The 1960 census reported 875 residents and in 1961, Ridgeland was predicted to grow more than any other area in Madison County for the next 20 years.
That prediction was right on target. By 1980, the population was 5,000. In 1984, the largest mall in the state, Northpark opened. During the 80’s, Ridgeland continued on a steady growth pattern, and the 90’s brought the Highland Colony Parkway and many new businesses to the area. Now one of the fastest growing cities in Mississippi, Ridgeland is home to over 21,000 citizens.
Ridgeland is located literally across the street from Jackson, the capitol city of Mississippi. There are over 1400 clean, comfortable and well-appointed hotel rooms for your convenience as well as more than 130 of the finest restaurants in the state. Hundreds of retailers offer every conceivable item for your shopping pleasure, and area attractions and festivals abound.