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Petal, Mississippi is located in Forrest County, along the Leaf River. Distinct neighborhoods within the city include Barrontown, Leeville, Macedonia, Sunrise and Harvey, although the latter is more commonly referred to as downtown Petal. Nearby communities include Hattiesburg, which adjoins Petal on the southwest, as well as Arnold Line, Indian Spring, Moselle, Oak Grove, Rawls Springs, Runnelstown, and West Hattiesburg. Jackson, Mississippi is about ninety miles northwest, and Mobile, Alabama is about the same distance southeast of Petal. The earliest settlers in the area were the Choctaw people, although European-American trappers and hunters visited the area regularly in the 1700s. Settlers of Scotch-Irish descent were the first to make their homes there permanently, eventually forming the town that became known as Petal. In 1819, the Chappell family built Chappell’s Log Landing on the Leaf River, and a log cabin built by Isaac Carter in 1846 still stands. The town was eventually named for the daughter of Irving Polk, who was the first postmaster. Petal Polk was born in 1902, and lived less than two years. No other city in the United States is named Petal. Until 1974, Petal was unincorporated.

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