After settlers arrived in 1830, they began to strip the area of its virgin timber. In 1886, James Madison Hatten, son of Wiggins Hatten, created a 160-acre homestead in what is now Stone County. The area would eventually be named after Wiggins Hatten, one of the area’s pioneers.
After the end of the Civil War, times were tough for most of the South. There was a small amount of money in circulation, so citizens had to rely on what they produced. There were no cash transactions, and most goods were bartered at the local market. Things began to look up for the people of Wiggins when Captain J.T. Jones of Buffalo, NY, decided to build a railroad through the center of what is now Stone County. This railroad was completed in 1893.
The construction of this railroad created an economic renaissance for the citizens of Wiggins. Most of Mississippi’s Gulf coast was covered with virgin pine trees. Sawmills were introduced near modern-day Wiggins between 1896 and 1902.
The City of Wiggins was officially incorporated in 1904, with its first town meeting being held on April 25 of the same year. Shortly after that meeting, citizens began to organize their town. Between 1904 and 1910, Wiggins saw the construction of the city jail, local businesses, and Town Hall. After a fire destroyed Wiggins’ business district in 1910, the town was gradually rebuilt with “modern” brick buildings. The first town census, conducted in 1910, showed Wiggins had a population of 980 citizens.
In 1912, it was starting to become apparent to local lumber companies that the local timber supply was quickly being exhausted. To remedy the situation, Mr. W.E. Guild, General Manager of the Finkbine Lumber Company, decided to open a pickle and canning plant. In 1912 the American Pickle and Canning Company was founded by Finkbine Lumber interests. The plant was able to prosper during World War I when the demand for preserved food was high. Both the plant and Wiggins continued to prosper and expand throughout the 1970s. In the 1980s, the age of the plant began to take a toll. Rainbow Foods, Inc., who owned the plant at the time, began to cut employees. The plant finally shut its doors in 1980 and relocated to Texas.
Today, Wiggins is one of the fastest growing communities in South Mississippi. Both residents and visitors enjoy local activities, museums, restaurants, a high quality of life, and, or course, a small-town vibe.
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