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Vancleave is an unincorporated town in west-central Jackson County, in southeastern Mississippi. The first European settlement of the area was in 1721, when French colonists settled the Chaumont Concession, which didn’t last long. The land came into the possession of the United States in 1810, and Jackson County was created in 1812, with Mississippi joining the Union in 1817. The community developed along Bluff Creek in the early 1800s, and was originally known as Bluff Creek. By 1850, the pine forests of central Mississippi were exploited for timber, charcoal, and ship-building material. Slaves were imported to work the turpentine orchards. After the Civil War, these slaves were emancipated, and black families owned the highland northwest of Mounger’s Creek, which became the primary settlement after they sold out to white families in the late 1800s, while black communities were formed north and west at Greenhead Creek. Another group of people, known as Creoles, who were probably descendants of indigenous Native Americans, inhabited the Vancleave area, working as subsistence farmers and charcoal burners. In 1870, the postmaster renamed the town for a former merchant, Robert A. Van Cleave. In the early 1900s, Vancleave had three separate segregated schools for white, black and Creole children, although the Creoles were gradually assimilated into the local population. By the time of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the local timber supplies were depleted. Instead, a canning plant for fruits and vegetables was built, along with a sewing factory and shuttle mill, while some pulp wood harvesting continued. The last couple of decades have seen a steady influx of people looking to get out of the larger cities, find cheaper land, and relief from high taxes.

 

 

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