Pontotoc County was proclaimed a county by the state legislature on February 9, 1836. The Mississippi legislature appointed John Bell, Samuel Watts, Robert Tenning, Robert Gordon and John Bradford commissioners to organize the county. From the legends of the Frenchman, D'Artaguette, to the grandeur of Lochinvar, Pontotc County is rich in history.
Pontotoc was founded by General Thomas MacMackin. Although the term general was used only as a compliment, General McMackin was a successful land speculator and hotel keeper. He purchased the land where Pontotoc County was organized from the Chickasaw Indians for $1,000.00 on February 9, 1836. Within a month he had divided the land into lots and had turned his investment into $80,000. The first courthouse was built in 1810. Pontotoc became a town on May 4, 1836, when the streets, public square, and other property were conveyed to the Board of Police. The first courthouse was built in 1840. During this time in the South, cotton was king. Large farms and plantation homes dotted the landscape. Four skirmishes were fought in Pontotoc County during the War Between the States, and many lives as well as fortunes were lost.
Lee and Union counties were formed from the land area that was Pontotoc before the Civil War. Many changes occured after the war, which devalued personal property and reduced the population. However, by 1888, the railroad came throuh Pontotoc and the future became bright. Unfortunately, in 1900 the original courthouse was destroyed by fire. However, the spirit of Pontotc was not daunted. The famous Sawilmon Hotel, Governor Bilbo's summer capitol, was constructed in 1911, and the current courthouse was dedicated in 1917.
Pontotoc County experienced growth and change during the twentieth century. From the entrance of electricity in 1935 to the dedication of the library in 1976, the county continued to prosper. The "Land of the Hanging Grapes" remains rich with its natural resources and faces the future with a proud past.
Stephen Daggett, Robert Gordon's brother-in-law, built a large two-story dwelling five miles south of Pontotoc, near the newly opened Pontotoc-Houston Road and he operated a large store in the village for several years. It is believed that Colonel James Drake also built a house in this vicinity and called his home "Algoma," an Indian word meaning "God Abides." he is responsible for the old community being called Algoma. Old Algoma became a large community having Monroe church, several stores and a post office. In 1904, the style of living and the economic basis of Algoma were drastically altered. The Gulf and Chicago Railroad extended a line south from Pontotoc to about one mile west of Old Algoma. With the coming of the railroad, new economic opportunities presented themselves. A virtual land boom started. The whole village moved west. All merchants, the post office, the school, the churches and most of the residents moved to New Algoma. Within a few years, Algoma had 33 stores, more than the town of Pontotoc. This phenomenal growth was attributed to the quantity of timber available and the H.W. Owen Tie Company. Algoma called itself the Cross-tie Capital of the World. Algoma officially became a town on August 16, 1964.
The lone sound of a steam-run train whistle marked the beginning of the little village of Ecru.The year was 1886, and it marked the biggest day there had ever been.G.M.O. Railroad laid the first narrow gauge track down the center of town on the Sid (S.F.) Holditch levee. A depot was built in the young railroad town and Mark Armour was the first depot agent. One unusual aspect of downtown Ecru is the water pump on Main Street. It began as an artesian overflow when there was only one building on the muddy Main Street in 1902. In 1911, there was 40 wells in town. When the town laid concrete walks, this pump was left as a landmark. Disaster struck Ecru on December 8, 1970, when a pre-dawn fire destroyed six businesses. Since that day, the buildings have been rebuilt and Main Street is now thriving once more.
The Community of Thaxton took its name from Dr. Montgomery C. Thaxton, a prominent early citizen. Before Dr. Thaxton arrived, the community was called Buttermilk Springs. The name originated from a jug of buttermilk. One day a traveler stopped by the springs which wound their way a little northwest of Thaxton to get a drink of water. He saw a jug of buttermilk which had been placed in the spring to cool and drank it instead. He left some small change by the side of the spring and went on his way. The owners of the jug of buttermilk conceived the idea of selling the milk to other travelers, especially stagecoach riders when the drivers stopped to water the horses. This refreshing beverage was well accepted by the passengers and it became a custom so that all who traveled that way spread the fame of Buttermilk Springs. Dr. Thaxton moved to the community soon after 1880. He first lived in a long house east of the main part of town, then later built a home closer to his business. Soon after his arrival a post office was established and he became the first postmaster, a position he held for 18 years. He also practiced medicine over a wide area, riding horse back and carrying his medical supplies in his saddle bags. Dr. Thaxton continued his varied business and medical operations until 1901 when he moved to Texas.
The county has a total area of 500.99 square miles of which 497.35 square miles is land and 3.64 square miles (0.73%) is water. The population recorded in the 1840 Federal Census was 4,491. The 2010 census recorded 29,957 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Union County (north), Lee County (east), Chickasaw County (south), Calhoun County (southwest), and Lafayette County (west). The City of Pontotoc is the county seat. Other communities in the county include Algoma, Ecru, Sherman (partly in Union County, small portion in Lee County), Thaxton, Toccopola, Randolph, Springville, and Troy.