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Tupelo is the seventh largest city in Mississippi and the county seat of Lee County. The city is in the northeastern part of the state, between Memphis, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama. The Chickasaw and Choctaw people inhabited the area long before European-Americans came. Although the Native American people lived in peace with white settlers for several years, Congress passed the 1830 Indian Removal Act, forcing the relocation of Native Americans from their lands. European-American settlers named the town Gum Pond originally, for the native tupelo trees, which were known locally as blackgum. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Tupelo was fought in 1864, which produced a Union victory over badly outnumbered Confederate forces, thus ensuring the safety of General William Sherman’s supply lines during the Atlanta Campaign. After the war, a cross-state railroad was built through the town, and Tupelo was incorporated under its current name in 1870. During the early 1900s, Tupelo became the site of several textile mills, which employed only white adults and children. The last known bank robbery by Machine Gun Kelly took place in Tupelo on November 30, 1932, when he stole $38,000 from the Citizen’s State Bank. In the early 1930s, Tupelo was the first city to get electric power through the Tennessee Valley Authority. Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo in 1935, and he lived there until the age of thirteen. Nearby communities include Auburn, Bissell, Chesterville, Flowerdale, Mount Vernon, Palmetto, Plantersville, Skyline, Verona, and Verona Heights. Memphis, Tennessee is 110 miles northwest, and Birmingham, Alabama is 130 miles southeast of Tupelo.


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