Shaw Homestead will one day become a major tourist attraction in Pearl River Co.

Published 1:38 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I predict that the Shaw Homestead at old Barth will become one day a major tourist attraction for Pearl River County and South Mississippi.

The old homestead reveals what pioneer life was like in the South, and the Land Trust, which rescued the place was “spot on” by saving the property and saying it illustrates the culture and pioneering aspects of our Southern culture like no other place.

I have been to two presentations by the Land Trust at the Shaw Homestead site, one March 19 that presented an overview of the timber industry’s impact, one last Saturday, showing how the pioneers wrested a self-sufficient living from the earth, and there will be another one on Saturday, April 30, on sheep shearing.

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The old homestead was a sheep station for most of its life. I was in error in Sunday’s story, saying the sheep shearing demonstration is next Saturday. It is Saturday, April 30.

I can see one day a fully restored pioneer home site with period actors carrying out chores like the early pioneers did, something like is done at Williamsburg, Va.. That is a possibility as the site is gradually developed.

What interested me most last Saturday was a timeline listed on charts set up for a seminar and those in booklets published by the Land Trust, showing the development of the site.

The homestead is located on a hill about a quarter mile west of Wolf River and about three miles east of Old Barth.

The timeline on how the site was settled shows:

1850 — William Shaw emigrates from South Carolina to the Piney Woods.

1862 — Federal Homestead Act adopted, that allowed settlers and pioneers to claim land on which they had squatted for so many years. Many families own their land here because their forefathers took advantage of this act.

1880 — Bernard Dedeaux applies for the original patent for the property.

1885 — Dedeaux erects a small cabin on the property and lives there until the property is transferred to his brother-in-law Jules Ladner, who replaces the cabin with a full dogtrot home with an attached kitchen.

1902 — The homestead is sold to Melvina Ladner and Gilbert Shaw, married in 1902, who further expand the house by adding lean-to bedrooms.

1906 to 1965 — Shaw Homestead is a local sheep station with extensive Spring shearings. Cattle and hogs rounded up and sold as needed.

1924 — Mississippi Power Co. is founded.

1951 — Electricity and metal roof first installed at the Shaw Homestead. Prior to that, cypress shingles made up the roof.

1965 — Stock laws enforced; no more free range for hogs, sheep and cattle.

1969 to 2006 — Property vacant.

2006 — Homestead acquired by Land Trust and reconceived as a “rural life museum.”

Melvina Ladner and Gilbert Shaw had seven children: Alfred, Monroe, Stella, Hubert, Velma, Calona and Hugo. Hugo and Mary Shaw were married in 1942, and moved onto the ranch to live with family. They moved into one room with the family.

Mary’s son is the Rev. Arthur Hugo Shaw and her daughter is Sheila, who is married to Michael Cruthird, brother of Picayune attorney Gerald Cruthird. The Rev. Shaw’s daughter is Laura, married to Picayune attorney Nathan Farmer.

Mary Shaw is now 87 years old and lives with daughter Sheila in Wiggins. Hugo Shaw died in 2000.

So we see that the Shaw Homestead has Picayune connections.

It is really an interesting place, worth a trip to see it. The next seminar, or event, remember is Saturday, April 30, at 10 a.m.