It’s easy, it seems, to focus on the big and bright, the bustling and booming. But sometimes, sitting just outside of the spotlight,
is a quiet story, deeply inspiring in its simplicity.
Our story isn’t one of flashing brilliance, but, rather, of quiet joy; and it begins in the tiny town of Soso, Mississippi, over 100 years ago.
Let’s start at the beginning – lumber.
Laurel, Soso’s big brother to the south, was just beginning to envision its prosperous future. Logging men from Iowa had come down to take advantage of the abundance of pine, and to spark a flame that would continue to burn for over a century.
It seemed that everywhere you looked a new building was rising, or a new shop opening. It was a booming time and the spotlight was shining on the little city like never before.
Laurel’s Eastman-Gardiner Logging Co. was expanding and their eyes were set northward. Along the railroad tracks that had been laid from Saratoga, through Taylorsville, down to Laurel, was a tiny community set amongst a forest of pines, just outside the spotlight of the bustling city. Keown, it was named. The Eastman-Gardiner Co. soon set up camp, and growth was sure to follow.
Only a few years before, a post office had been established 2 miles south of the small logging community, named after the favorite saying of its postmaster, who was always feeling “So, So.”
U.S. Post Office Building in Soso, MS – 1916. Pictured are Mr. Bryant – the first depot agent, Mr. A.D. Valentine – Postmaster, Mr. Lester Duckworth – Rural Carrier and a U.S. Army recruiter. The posters were military advertisements for WWI.*
Postmaster A.D. Valentine and rural post carriers Joe Duckworth, Willie Shows, Lester Duckworth and Sid Valentine.*
Eventually, it was decided that the post office should be moved to the little town, and the name Keown dropped from use, replaced by its anecdotal counterpart. Soso, Mississippi was officially born.
Growth came, slowly and steadily, and soon the little town began to shine a little light of its own, perhaps fueled by its big brother’s success.
Mr. Orange Herrington, the editor of “The Piney Woods Farmer”, wrote in his newspaper in the early 1900’s*, “We are right at the gate of a town that is destined to become a city of the greatest manufacturing center in the whole south, and we are glad to note that Soso has been called “the suburb of this great city”. We extend a hearty welcome to any and all that may see it to their interest to locate in our midst.”
If you wander through Soso today, perhaps stopping in on a Sunday drive, you’ll see building after building abandoned, much to the dismay of the original Soso families. Don’t be fooled by this modern facade.
Slow down to take a peek in a dusty shop window, to locate the position of the old railroad tracks, and to consider the stories of those that have come before. If you look closely enough, you’ll see a glimmer from a spotlight, evidenced in the lives of so many who sprang from this tiny town, steadied by a community built on persistent optimism and quiet joy.
Soon, we’ll dig deeper into the stories of the people who called Soso, home, and the events that have led to bigger things to come.
Thank you, sweet friend, for coming along with us.
*Originally published in an article by Martha Ann Hill in the Laurel Impact; Wednesday, November 13, 1985.