"Leland, Mississippi From Hellhole To Beauty Spot."
This small town in the heart of the Mississippi Delta is best known for Deer Creek with its iconic white ducks, as well as one of the primary hubs of Blues music history and, of course, as the birthplace of Kermit the Frog. During the Christmas season, the creek comes alive with lighted Christmas trees reflected in the water and with floats depicting the Christmas story. The homes facing the creek add to the beauty with lighted candles in every window. While, today, it’s known as the “Beauty Spot of the Delta,” it wasn’t always such.
In 1908 the Collier’s Weekly, a national magazine, in a series of articles entitled “The American Saloon” used Leland as an example of the destructive influence of saloons. It stated that Leland was “known in all the river country as the ‘hellhole of the delta’.”
Leland was a typical rowdy railroad town with gambling flourishing on the trains and in the town. For years, the story has been told of the inebriated gentleman who got on the train in Memphis, asked to be put off in Hell, and was duly delivered to Leland.
Around 1916, just a few years before The Thompson House was originally constructed, Leland citizens set out to improve their image and began cleaning up the creek and the city. A concerted effort was made to attract new businesses and their efforts are documented in the pages of the town’s newspaper, The Leland Enterprise, now called The Leland Progress.
From there, the town prospered despite wars, the depression, and
Today, Leland is a reflection of its residents with heavy influences by its Italian, Irish, African American, and Lebanese heritages. As one of the few small towns where residents within the city limits can still safely walk to restaurants, retailers, pharmacies, banks, and the post office, Leland is a great place to visit and to live.
Excerpted from Dorothy Turk’s book, “Leland, Mississippi From Hellhole To Beauty Spot.”