Bolivar County was established by the Mississippi Legislature Feb. 9, 1836. The county was named for Simon Bolivar, the famed South American Liberator.
The first Bolivar County courthouse was a frame building erected in 1841, at a cost of $595. Over the next 30 years, the county seat of government was moved several times, finally coming to rest in Rosedale, in the early 1870. A courthouse was built there in 1872-1873. Rosedale originally was known as Floreyville, but the name was changed to Rosedale in 1876.
Bolivar County had 2,577 residents in 1850, and 10,471 in 1860. The vast majority of the county’s pre-Civil War populace was made up of slaves.
The Civil War brought a temporary end to what had been a period of tremendous material progress in Bolivar County. The county suffered numerous assaults by Union troops. At Prentiss, the county seat during the Civil War, invading Union forces burned much of the town including Bolivar County’s first brick courthouse. While the county’s able-bodied men were off fighting for the losing cause of the Confederacy, their homes and property were destroyed.
Cleveland, which originally was called Sims, was settled in the early 1880s. It was incorporated in 1886. Because of the great distance from the new towns in eastern Bolivar County to the county seat at Rosedale and the difficulty of making the trip, residents of the eastern towns were soon clamoring for the creation of a Second Judicial District. In 1900, Bolivar County’s Second Judicial District was established with Cleveland as its county seat. The first courthouse in Cleveland was completed the following year.
The two present-day Bolivar County courthouses were both built in the early 1920s. Flood seep-water wrecked the foundation of the courthouse in Rosedale, and a new courthouse was built there in 1922-1923. The Second Judicial District courthouse at Cleveland was torn down to make way for a new courthouse built in 1923-1924.
In 1924, Delta State Teachers College was chartered, and the new school was located in Cleveland. Since it opened in 1925, Delta State has grown into a multi-purpose university with over 3,200 students
Bolivar County continues to attract new industries. Today, there are 25 manufacturing industries employing over 3,000 people, and a strong effort is being made to attract additional Industrial employers by a team of local government, business and industry leaders and private citizens.
Bolivar County has fully developed industrial parks located in Cleveland, Shelby and Rosedale, totaling approximately 2,260 developed acres. Because these parks have the location, space, utility and transportation requirements needed by industries, it continues to attract new prospects.
The Rosedale-Bolivar County Port is among the fastest-growing ports on the Inland Waterway System.
A large portion of Bolivar County is in the federally designated Empowerment Zone, and Bolivar County is included in the newly formed Delta Regional Authority, a federally funded agency, which covers an eight-state region of 236 counties. The DRA will help economically distressed communities to leverage other federal and state programs which are focused on basic infrastructure development and transportation improvements, business development and job training services.
The quality of life in Bolivar County continues due to elements such as Delta State University, two community colleges, advanced healthcare facilities, opportunities for outdoor recreation, various cultural activities and safe, friendly neighborhoods.
The growth and prosperity of Bolivar County will continue with the Great River Bridge, which will be erected during the next decade. The designation of the Great River Bridge as the official Mississippi River crossing of the nation’s newest International Superhighway (I-69), connecting Canada and Mexico, will place Bolivar County in the direct path of the next intercontinental trade economy.
The successful blend of dynamic agriculture and industrial sectors gives Bolivar County the promise of a bright future.
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