—Simpson County Heritage Trail —
The flags of four nations—five, including the Confederate States of America—have flown over the territory that is now Simpson County. While the Spanish
explorer DeSoto passed through Mississippi in the mid-1500s, the French
explorer LaSalle claimed the territory for France in the early 1600's. By 1732,
both France and England claimed the territory, England considering the
colony of Georgia to reach to the Mississippi River. France conceded the
territory to England in 1763 as part of the First Treaty of Paris that ended the
French and Indian War.
Toward the end of the Revolutionary War, Spain claimed territory up to the
32nd parallel as part of West Florida. While still claimed by Spain, the territory
including what is now Simpson County was ceded by England to the United
States by the Second Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War in 1783.
By the Treaty of San Lorenzo in 1795, Spain conceded any claim to territory
above the 31st parallel, ending any Spanish claim to the territory that in
what is now Simpson County. The 1810 Republic of West Florida, therefore,
did not include the area that is now Simpson County. The "Bonnie Blue Flag"
of West Florida, however, was incorporated into the Magnolia Flag, and later it
was a prominent emblem of the Confederacy. Georgia continued to claim
territory until 1798, when Congress created the Territory of Mississippi, from
which the states of Mississippi and Alabama would be formed. On December
10, 1817, Mississippi was admitted to the Union as the twentieth state.
The Magnolia flag was authorized as the official flag of the Sovereign Republic
of Mississippi on January 26, 1861. This flag used the Bonnie Blue design at
the upper left with a Magnolia tree in the center of a white background. The
Stars and Bars, the first flag of the Confederacy, was raised over Mississippi
on March 27, 1861. After the Civil War, the Magnolia flag was retained as the
state flag until 1894 when the present flag was adopted.