A Brief History of the Town of Caledonia
Incorporated in 1904, Caledonia was first settled in the early 1820s when pioneers began arriving in upper Lowndes County (then still part of Monroe County) lured by cheap land. Most of the original settlers were of Scotch-Irish ancestry and came from the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama.
It is believed the name Caledonia was chosen as a reminder of the name given to Scotland by the Romans. Thought to mean “bleak and wild” it could very well have fit this new Caledonia as there was a vast canebrake wilderness and numerous wolves and some bears facing the early settlers. The post office was established in December 1836 having first been designated as Ridgeway.
More people arrived in the late 1820s and 1830s. By 1840 the settlement had a bank, a tannery, a hat factory, and numerous water mills. Churches were established. El Bethel Primitive Baptist Church was organized in 1823 and Unity Presbyterian Church in 1828. The oldest cemeteries in the area have markers dating back to 1824 as date of death. Unity Cemetery on the outskirts of Caledonia is the final resting place of one Revolutionary War soldier, three from the War of 1812 and fourteen Civil War veterans. Company D of the 24th Mississippi Infantry, CSA, known as “Caledonia Rifles” encamped at Unity Church and left for service in September 1861 after a barbecue honoring the soldiers was given at Mr. Amzi Murphy’s home. In May 1862, Company F, 43rd Infantry, CSA, from Aberdeen picked up a number of volunteers from Caledonia and encamped at Unity Church where a farewell dinner was held for the company. A large number of the volunteers from these two companies lost their lives in the four-year conflict. Several citizens from the Caledonia community served in the Mississippi Militia. Unity Cemetery has been designated a Mississippi Landmark, and an appropriate marker has been erected through the efforts of the Caledonia Civic Club.
The pioneers were vitally interested in education and many neighborhood schools were established, most in conjunction with churches, until they were consolidated with Caledonia School in the early 1900s. The first graduating class was in 1910.
Many citizens who were born in Caledonia moved to Columbus to pursue employment opportunities or to hold political office, and to this date Caledonia is affectionately called “Up Home” by descendants of the former Caledonians.
Caledonia drew many residents from the surrounding area from the early 1900s to 1950. There is a strong presence of military personnel and retirees making their home in Caledonia. One of the drawing cards for them was our proximity to Columbus Air Force Base and the school system. We enjoy a reputation for being a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
As compiled and recorded by our beloved Earline Groves Egger (1926-2014)
Caledonia, A Little Town Doing Big Things.
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