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The south-central Mississippi town of Prentiss is the county seat of Jefferson Davis County, not Prentiss County, which is in the northeastern part of the state, or the ghost town by that name in Bolivar County. Prentiss is situated along the Longleaf Trace, a forty-one mile paved trail that follows a portion of the abandoned Mississippi Central Railroad. The town was originally known as Blountville, named for William Blount, an early settler, and was part of Lawrence County. When the Pearl & Leaf Rivers Railroad was established in 1903, Blountville was chosen as the site for a railroad depot, although the town’s name was changed to Prentiss that same year, named either for Seargent Smith Prentice, a Mississippi congressman, or for Prentiss Webb Berry, a local landowner. When Jefferson Davis County was created in 1906, Prentiss was chosen to be its seat of government. The Prentiss Institute was established on forty acres in Prentiss in 1907, serving as a school for African-Americans. The school operated until 1989, and was designated an official Mississippi landmark in 2002. US Highway 84 separates Prentiss from Whitesand, to the west. Hattiesburg, Mississippi is about forty-three miles to the southeast, while the state capital of Jackson is about fifty-nine miles north-northwest of Prentiss.

 

 

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