Without closure, the mystery remains

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2017

For many people, the history of how a town was named is a story they want to hear. History has never been my strongest subject. However, if you leave out the exact dates and just focus on the story, I find entertainment value in hearing how things came to be.

Since becoming a resident of Pearl River County in 1993, I’ve heard many tales about how the town of Picayune got its name.

Being born and raised in Slidell, La., I’ve heard the name Picayune all my life, mostly associated with the newspaper published in the New Orleans area.

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Even after moving here it never occurred to me that the newspaper and the town had a connection. But according to four years of research conducted by a local man, there is a connection. The only problem is, even he had trouble nailing down the true story.

Last week I attended Mike Fitzwilliam’s presentation about how the town was named. I arrived at the event with hopes I would hear the definitive account to how this town received its one-of-a-kind moniker.

I learned a lot during the presentation, but was disappointed to find that at the end there was no hard and fast evidence to point to one act in history that gave this town its name. I had to realize that Fitzwilliam was conducting research the old fashioned way, by toiling through hard copies of newspapers, books and speaking to people. No one alive today was around when the town was actually named; those people had to rely on the stories told to them.

Back then, readily available online resources did not exist. People wrote history down in those days instead of posting it online, and now some of those writings are long gone. All we know for sure is our town carries the same name as a coin no longer in circulation and a newspaper out of the Crescent City. I guess that will just have to be enough for now.