Juke Joint Festival Attendees Travel to North Delta Museum

By JOSH TROY / THE PRESS REGISTER

WED, 04/17/2019 - 3:23PM

FRIARS POINT — History in Clarksdale and Coahoma County extends well beyond the blues.

Residents of Friars Point attempted to show some of that history during the Juke Joint Festival on Friday when two shuttle bus tours went from the tourism office in Clarksdale all the way to the North Delta Museum in Friars Point.

Flo Shackelford led the shuttle tour and passed out a packet of information for everyone to be able to read and learn about Friars Point.

“We just love history and I love everybody’s history and so I hope I’m going to be able to entertain you,” Shackelford said.

The shuttle stopped by the Mississippi River in Friars Point, which Shackelford said was the No. 1 tourist attraction in the United States.

“You all came because of the blues. Robert Johnson played on the bench in front of Hirsberg in the ’30s, but I’m going to take you back 100 years,” Shackelford said.

Some of the information Shackelford provided said the town of Friars Point was located deep in the Mississippi Delta in the heart of the cotton belt and on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was founded in 1836 as a major steamboat port, shipping the cotton grown on the rich Delta soil to Memphis to be sold.

Also included in the packet was information showing Friars Point was the county seat of Coahoma County from 1858 to 1935.

It continues, “During this time, the War Between the States broke out; and February 16, 1861, Friars Point organized the ‘Coahoma Invincibles’ which became Company B of the famous Eleventh Mississippi.”

The pamphlet shows the old Coahoma County Courthouse was once in Friars Point and the old Suddoth Hotel faced the river on First Street and accomodated steamboat travelers.

Willie Giles runs the North Delta Museum and, in his experience, many individuals do not know as much history as they should.

Tourists are able to learn some of that history at the museum.

“They can look for things their parents should be teaching them that they don’t know,” Giles said. “Children can learn so much by attending the museum. Every time a group attends, I tell them about things they didn’t know about. It’s great for children to say they have learned something.”

Giles’ father, Profit, was a World War I and II veteran.

“He told me a lot of things,” Giles said.

“I was too young at the time. He taught me a lot of things in the later years he had to go through in the war.”

Giles learned how his father protected himself during the wars. He used guns such as the Italian carcano carbine and German mauser.

When those guns are out of bullets, he was able to protect himself by stabbing someone with a knife at the end of the gun.

“They had some kind of a gun,” Giles said. “They had a sword-looking thing.”

Those guns are on display at the museum.