Turkey Creek History
Endowed with bottomland and coastal lowland maritime forests, as well as freshwater marsh, scrub shrub and flood plain habitats, the old “eight forties” and larger creek basin were populated by a diverse array of wildlife, fish and flora. Many native Mississippi plant and tree species, including sub-tropical and wetland varieties, continue to thrive there. The dominant trees include slash pine, water oak, live oak, magnolia, red maple, sweet bay, red bay, tupelo, red cedar, wax myrtle and flowering dogwood. The marine life includes fresh water and estuary species alike, such as mullet, catfish, perch and gar, as well as blue crabs and crawfish. The people of this community have always supplemented their diets with fish, plants and wildlife from the forest, the creek, and nearby Bayou Bernard.
It is no coincidence that the 1866 settlement of Turkey Creek by African-American “Freedmen” took place at the beginning of the Reconstruction era, which occurred from 1865 to 1877. During this critically important period of American history, the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) permanently outlawed slavery in the United States; the Fourteenth Amendment (1866) granted ex-slaves US citizenship and “equal protection under the law”; the Fifteenth Amendment (1868) gave black men the right to vote; and, for the first time ever, millions of blacks and whites across Mississippi and the South opened savings accounts, purchased land, and attended free public schools, etc. Prior to Reconstruction, a community quite like Turkey Creek had not been possible on Mississippi or American soil.