Orene E. Farese and John Farese

In 1938, Orene E. Farese became a high school English teacher in Ashland, MS, located in Benton County. In 1939, she married John Farese and moved to Benton County. With a forthcoming war, WWII, Gov. Paul Johnson, appointed Farese as the chief clerk of the Benton County Draft Board. In 1948, her husband was elected senator. Four years later, in 1952, both John and Orene ran and were elected into the Mississippi House of Representatives setting a new trend by becoming the first couple to be elected to a legislature. In 1956, Orene was elected to the Senate and her husband was re-elected to the House.

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Rowland Cemetery

Rowland Cemetery also known as Smith's Grove is an abandoned cemetery located on Highway 72 and Pottery Road. Within this cemetery lie the bodies of several Civil War heroes such as R. W. Smith and William T. Rowland. R.W., short for Robert William, was a wealthy man from Virginia and owned 67 slaves during the 1860s. This cemetery was in conjunction with the 1000 acres he owned. Robert's son, John Waverly, was part of the Co. E 13th Tenn. Infantry in the previous year, but suffered a wound to his right shoulder. He later joined Forrest's Cavalry of the 18th Mississippi Calvary becoming Lt. Col. Alongside his brothers, Richard Edward and Marion Skipwith, they all served as loyal subjects to the 18th Mississippi Calvary. Robert later joined, but was killed in battle at Yellow Rabbit Creek slightly south of Ashland and what is now the border of Benton and Tippah.

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Voter Registration in Benton County

(1960s) Walter Reaves, a citizen of Benton, along with others, urged people to become registered voters during the Civil Rights Movement. Cleanna Tipler, Loyal W. Thompson, Sr., and Henry Reaves were some of the first to register to vote in Benton County. Many followed, though they were often unsuccessful and sometimes intentionally turned away. On numerous occasions blacks were given difficult tests consisting of questions from the constitution and other federal documents. Knowing that people did not often read the Constitution and that the blacks often had little education, officials were able to prevent blacks from registering.

J.B. Mathis, the voter registrar, blatantly set up roadblocks to keep people from becoming registered voters. On December 1, 1964, Mathis was ordered by the federal court in Oxford, Mississippi, to stop his discriminatory acts towards the blacks. Although ordered by the federal court, Mathis still turned away a significant number of potential black voters.


My Mind Stayed on Freedom, a film by Aviva Futorian

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The Benton County Citizens Club

The Benton County Citizens Club objectives included the betterment of the members of the colored race, particularly from an educational standpoint. This club had been in existence for some time.

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