Lula, Mississippi. Coahoma County

Lula, in northern Coahoma County, was chartered as an incorporated community by act of the Mississippi Legislature on February 24, 1890.  However, it was founded and platted in 1884, soon after the Louisville, New Orleans, and Texas Railroad began operating from Memphis to New Orleans.  This railroad line crossed another line being used by the Mobile and Northwestern across Northern Coahoma County to the Mississippi River.  Two plantation owners competed for a station on their property near this intersection.  These plantations were Rose Bud owned by Dr. Frank R. Van Eaton and his wife and Magnolia Plantation owned by Eugene A. Lindsley and his wife.  The railroad company picked a site for their station closer to Lindsley so he won out.  Lindsley was soon selling lots near the station and was named the first post master of the town.  Lula was named after Eugene Lindsley’s only daughter, Lucy, who was nicknamed Lula.  There is a competing story though.  Lula was named after a child born to a worker in the village constructing the railroad.  Whichever story is true, Lula became the name of the new town.  The Lula post office opened  on September 16,1884. The first passenger train made it’s run from Memphis to New Orleans on October 6, 1884.  Lula was on the move.

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Eugene Lindsley’s first plat of Lula was simple and included Front Street where the businesses would be located.  Lindsley Street and Sharp Street were bisected by First Avenue, Second Avenue and Third Avenue. Later Fourth Avenue was added.  The town grew slowly though and the 1900 U.S. Census listed the town’s population at 174.  Craven’s Saloon was the first business in Lula.  N.R. Sledge & Company was one of the main businesses in town soon after.  He not only ran a store, but farmed much of the land in southern Tunica County.  Sledge later took a partner in a store called Sledge and Norfleet. People from both southern Tunica county and northern Coahoma County came to Lula to buy their supplies.  You can tell how much land was owned by Sledge by looking at this 1929 map of southern Tunica County. Other landowners on this map were also from Lula.

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The Lula Light and. Water Company was chartered September 16, 1916, with G.F. Perryman, J.J. Dillard, and W.P. Moore, T.G. Wilsford, and T.H. McKenzie as incorporators.  A similar company was organized in 1926 with Kate B. Hamlett, T.C. Crawford, and Walter G. Barnett as incorporators.  The telephone exchange started operating in 1913.  Today, AT&T still has a building in town.

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Lula soon became an important hub of business in the 1920s.  By that time, two trains were running to Helena and crossing over the Mississippi River on a ferry.  Four trains were going north and four going south from the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad which had taken over the line.  Starting in the 1930s and lasting up until 1960 when the Helena Bridge was built, the Pelican Ferry transported railroad cars across the Mississippi River from Lula to Helena.   Below is a picture of the Pelican.

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Front Street became home to a line of businesses, including many Chinese owned grocery stores.  The Bank of Lula was organized in 1908 with W.P. Moore as president.  There were car dealerships, service stations, restaurants, a hotel, and even Helena Wholesale operated a business here.

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Lula and the nearby community of Rich formed a school in 1921 called the Lula-Rich Consolidated School.  It would remain open until the 1960s. Lula also had a newer elementary school on Highway 49, but it was closed as well.  Today, the children either go to private schools or the Coahoma County School System.

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A number of churches were founded in the community and four still operate today.  They are Lula Methodist, Lula Baptist, Seek Well Baptist, and Bethlehem Missionary Baptist.

 

Things began to decline for Lula in the 1970s and 1980s as the railroad cut back, closed the depot, and then eventually closed the line.  Although a train occasionally still runs through Lula, an independent company operates a line from Jonestown to Lula and then to Clarksdale, the tracks have been removed north of town.

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Fires destroyed many Front street businesses and others closed because of the declining population. Below are pictured Lula Grocery and Johnny B’s service station.  Both are closed now.

 

Some still operate though including Home Oil Company and Johnson’s Gin.  One store remains open on Front Street, but a gas station and restaurant operate on Highway 49.  Several night clubs also operate on weekends and some week nights. There is a little life left in the old town.

 

Although technically not in the city limits, Isle of Capri casino and hotel at the Helena Bridge calls Lula home.

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The town hall is found in the old Bank of Lula building.  Southern Bancorp operates a bank across the street.  Lula continues to be the center of commerce for southern Tunica county and northern Coahoma County.

 

Front Street in Lula today.  Things are sorta quiet.

 

On the north end of Lula, the town operates a park for the children of the community.  The town water tank looms above it.

 

The old American Legion Hut hosts reunions and get togethers.  The cannon that was out front for years is gone, but the place is still important and  used for voting as well.  There is a volunteer fire department that is on call to handle emergencies.

 

There are a number of nice homes in Lula, and the town government does it’s best to maintain things.  Overall, Lula is a pleasant little community.

 

Lula has a marker on the Blues Trail honoring the famous singers who resided here through the years.  A number of clubs, or juke joints, operated in Lula where these musicians earned a living and  had the town hopping on Saturday nights.

 

Although, it has a lot going against it, Lula remains.  People haven’t given up. Kids still play in the yards and streets. There is a mayor and board of aldermen, town services, and some extremely nice people who are more than willing to talk about the town and welcome you to visit. Old men gather to talk about glory days. Men and women go to work and come home to keep their yards up and enjoy themselves.  You can hear choirs singing from the churches every Sunday and there is still a little wildness on Saturday night from a few clubs and the casino. That’s what Lula has been for more than a 100 years. Don’t count it out.  Lula is gonna be here for a 100 more.

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47 thoughts on “Lula, Mississippi. Coahoma County

  1. The white house you see behind the railroad crossing is where I was born in 1947. Leigh Barbee drive my mother to the hospital in Clarksdale for my delivery. The house still stands today. Ronnie Cannon

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  2. A few of my memories:

    A telephone operator and switchboard were on the second floor in the building next to the post office.

    A small white diner sat between the railroad tracks and Main Street.

    If I had a nickel, I was off to the Fair Store for a Hershey Bar. If I had a dime, I was off to Winder’s Service Station for a Coke and a bag of peanuts.

    Lula briefly had a street light downtown on Main Street. Very briefly.

    That north-south X east-west railroad crossing gave off musical rhythm whenever a train ran over it. Dat dat dat-dat DAT dat. Guess you had to hear it yourself.

    I’m old enough to remember steam locomotives on freight trains roaring through Lula. In autumn there could be five locomotives on one train hauling cotton bales up through Memphis.

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  3. I have fond memories of passing thru Lula on our way to Helena or Moon Lake. My Uncle JW Moorman had a boat camp on the back side of the lake.

    Jeanette Hanks was a dear friend of mine, so would visit her from time to time, passing thru Lula. Mr. Hanks was the game warden and Mrs. Hanks had the grocery store on Main Street. Cliff Dean I believe is Jeanette’s cousin. Of course Bob Barbee, Jimmy Brady, and Willard Bass lived there too, so we were 3 Tunica girls chasing after those 3 Lula boys.

    When I drive thru Lula now, I just have to smile at the old days and good times. Not much going on now, but still good memories.

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  4. Reading this has made my day. I’m 25, shortly 26, and I’ve never known much backstory of Lula. My parents live on third street. We used to live in my grandparents house on sharpe. We used to walk to buddy dean’s store for ice cream. Mom used to tan at the video store (crazy to think Lula used to have one.) the Johnson family would put out amazing Christmas displays. The kinkaid’s (the large home pictured) made amazing popcorn balls for Halloween. I will always remember the smell of the gin when it would start up. Lula may be a speck on a map and an even smaller community, but I’m thankful for all it shaped me to be.

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  5. So glad to read this. It was my privilege to serve as pastor of the Lula Methodist Church from June of 1980 to June of ’82. My young sons at that time had more fun living there…their memories are vivid. They and other kids of the area would roam around the town all day long when not in school and we never worried about their safety….

    Some of my favorite memories are of a big snow event in January of ’82, I think. The whole town went out to the levee to slide down it or every kind of makeshift ‘thinggie’ we could find. A big bonfire was built for all to back up to for warmth….on the way into town as the day ended, there was a house fire next to Richard Lee’s grocery so all the volunteer firemen got busy. My first fire call in the fall of 1980 was with Danny O’briant and involved a fatality, the sight of which almost ended my career.

    We had a major bank robbery while I was there…three men… a teller slipped a dye pack in the money and one of the guys stuffed it into his waistband. It went off as they passed in front of the Methodist Church and the other two made him bail out of the car. He ran into the church front doors and out the side door right next to our house. My neighbor, Joan Morris, called to let us know that she saw him run behind our house. He didn’t stick around though, and was caught later in the day hunkered down in a cotton field north of town….the other two were caught some time later in Ohio. Lula became an armed town at that point….every able bodied man had weapons and began to search, in and under, all buildings. Will always remember Mr. Wilbur Hanks pulling me aside and saying, “Preacher, you be careful. It will be a miracle if no one gets shot today….somebody is likely to shoot a friend if they come around a corner and scare one another.”

    Have so many great memories of people there and events….I could go on and on…..never been treated with any more respect and love by a community than those years at Lula. Over the years went back numerous times to help with funerals of dear friends from there.

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      • Cliff, I doubt your mom would remember me….it was so long ago, but please give her my regards. I would go to the bank every morning around 9 o’clock and drink coffee with some local guys….They invited me to come, but I told them I would only if they did not let the ‘preacher’ put a damper on their conversations…..lol

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    • My husband at the time, Chuck Johnson, was one of the men who caught the bank robbers. I believe Chuck’s brother, Allen, and father, Roger were there too. I remember Chuck being interviewed for the news. It was a pretty big story for our little town.

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      • Kathy, you are correct….Mr. Roger was out on the farm somewhere when it happened. I had found a pistol and some cash the guy had dropped in the middle of the street in front of our church. Later in the day, Roger came to my house and asked me to tell him what I knew of what happened. On the ten o’clock news in Memphis, one of the stations featured an interview with Mr. Johnson about the robbery. He and his wife were gracious to my young sons, inviting them to swim in their pool. Got a couple of other good “Roger” stories that will have to last until another day. Glad you posted.

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    • I was in Lula a few months ago it is vacant stores that use to be open.i went to the bank to see who is in charge of the graves at barber cemetery. My parents are there Alvin and Betty crossno I was there l know chuck and all of the family do recall Thomas eari.

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  6. My memory is a little shakey, but I think I remember a young lady named Dean who worked at the bank next to the post office….or maybe worked at the post office, and she had someone kin to her who worked at Georgia Bell Hanks’ grocery…..gunny story about Ms Hanks’ and her grocery….she called me one day and said, “Bro. Hardin, I thought you might want to know that one of your sons comes in and buys candy, ice cream, and drinks and says, ‘charge it to my daddy’. When I went down to pay her, I was kind of shocked at how much she had charged to me before calling….lol. Anyway, I paid and then put a stop to my son’s credit account there….lol

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    • Conway’s mother was such a sweet lady. On occasion his big touring bus would be parked in her front yard. In 1981 I officiated at the wedding of a young man, Van McGinnis, who, I think, was Conway Twitty’s nephew.

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      • Everyone ate at Mrs. Jenkins’ restaurant on Moon Lake. Good food. I remember when Conway’s son, Michael Jenkins, started school at Lula Rich. The big kids called him “little bitty Tweety” but he took it all in fun.

        Van McGinnis is a name I haven’t thought of in fifty years. I didn’t really know him because he was older but we rode on the same school bus to Clarksdale.

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      • Mike, I am wondering if you are related to the late Mr. Charley/Charlie Cloud whose family lived east of Highway 61 just across the Tunica county line…..I officiated at his funeral not long after I moved to Lula. My mind has gone blank on the name of his son who was a county supervisor at the time….he and his wife had two daughters who were still at home in 1980.

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      • Doug, Charlie Cloud was my grandfather. My father George Cloud lived and farmed near Lula for over fifty years before his death.

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  7. I was in Lula a few months ago it is vacant stores that use to be open.i went to the bank to see who is in charge of the graves My parents .are there Alvin and Betty crossno I was there l know chuck and all of the family do recall Thomas eari.

    Like

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