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Mail truck mailbox

Ties that bind

Post office
Railroad
Roads
Utilities
Telephones

Like all rural communities, Holcomb is both a central village and a widespread community of homes and farms.

In today's cable TV world, it's easy to forget what vital lifelines early roads, the post office and the railroad provided.

Post office

The Holcomb Post Office was established in 1903. It has moved at least five times since the town's founding.

This mail wagon photo, discovered by Mike Lott, may be the oldest image of mail service in early Holcomb.

It is believed to date between 1901 and 1905 because the larger train depot had not yet been been built.

Lyda Holcomb home
The original post office was in the right side of the Lyda Holcomb home (above). The original house was a small "shotgun" that later was doubled in size.
The first post office was in a house next to the hotel. This was in the home of town founder D.L. Holcomb's daughter Lyda, the town's first postmistress (left), who dispatched the mail from her front room.

The second post office was in a building on North Main Street that burned in the 1927 fire that devastated the town. The third was in what was later a pool hall on North Main (below, right). The fourth was in the old service station (below, left) until 1940.

Service station
D.L. Holcomb's original service station, later used as a post office, at North Main and Tuscahoma.
Stores
Looking west on North
Main, the Harris-Nason store, the third post office (later a pool hall) and the McRee store.
The fifth post office (right) was in the original drug store from 1940 until 1982.

For many years, mail was sorted and handed out by the postmistress. After the post office moved to the drug store building, individual boxes were installed.

Other early postmasters included C.O. Aven and Sarah Townsend.

Post Office
The Holcomb Post Office
on North Main Street.
Jim Elliott

Rural mail carrier service was begun shortly after World War I. Among the early mail carriers were Jim Elliott (left) and Bates Curry. The original two routes covered about 30 miles each. Now routes stretch more than 100 miles each into parts of Grenada, Tallahatchie and Carroll counties.

Duckett and Mary Ella
Duckett McMahon (left) and Mary Ella Norris were at the center of Holcomb life, dispensing the mail and the news at the post office.
Post office staff
This 1958 photo shows more of the post office crew. From left are postmistress Duckett McMahon, mail carrier F.B. Scott, mail carrier William Holcomb, mail carrier Richard Carver and mail carrier Jack Hey Curry.

Postmaster Phillip Flemmons shows off today's post office (right), built in 1982 in Block 13 on the south side of Highway 7.

New post office

Railroad

The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley, also known as the Peavine, Railroad connected Grenada and Greenwood and led to the development of Holcomb. The original line, begun in 1885, ran 15 miles from Greenwood to Parsons. The Parsons station was built in 1886, making Parsons a major cotton shipping point. Grenada merchants, scenting lost business, were behind extension of the line to Grenada in 1900. Taking advantage of  this line, Holcomb quickly became a shipping and ginning center. The line ran until 1947, when, on April 10, the Potococowa levee broke above Avalon and washed away a railroad bridge. The bridge was never replaced, and service ended.

Roads

Travel in the area was first by trail, then dirt road, then gravel. A highway was paved from Grenada to Holcomb in 1948. Grenada merchants fought extending the paving to Greenwood for fear of lost business, delaying that stretch of paving until the early 1950s. Bridges were often the weak link. In 1947, the old iron bridge between Holcomb and Oxberry fell in, for a time forcing long detours through Grenada, Rosebloom and Cascilla and separating the Holcomb-Oxberry community.

Electricity, water

Electricity came to Holcomb in the years shortly before 1920. D.L. Holcomb and his son Ed Holcomb set up a Delco electric plant to light their homes. Some of the stores also installed units. In 1927, Mississippi Power & Light Co. extended electrical lines to Holcomb.

Early residents had their own wells, either hand-pumped or artisian. With the advent of electricity, electrical pumps came into general use. Town sewers and a public water system were much longer arriving -- in the 1990s.

Telephones

Holcomb's first telephone was a simple line "handing up in the tree limbs" in the 1920s providing service only between D.L. and Ed Holcomb's homes. In the 1930s, a public line reached Holcomb, and there was one phone, a crank wall phone in Joe Harris's store on Main Street. Residents used that phone free for "local" calls in the Grenada service area.

In the late 1940s, 8-party lines were established, opening a new communications era in sometimes unintended ways, including frequently overheard personal calls. All calls were placed through an operator.

Television

Television arrived in 1947. Craig Mullen had the first set, and poor reception was no deterrent to viewers. Young Judy Hayden, fascinated at the phenomenon, sat watching it "snow" as static scrambled the picture. The early stations were in Memphis, Tennessee, 100 miles north, then, a few years later, in Greenwood, 26 miles west. Few in today's cable era can imagine how rapt the audience was despite the awful reception and extremely limited programming.

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