The Shaw Homestead
The famous Shaw Family House and Homestead will empower you to retrace the ancestry of these early Mississippi homesteaders. Follow the Shaws as they build their historic house, endure the economic woes of timber clear cutting and hurricane devastation all the way to the modern resurgence of this historic property today. Hike the path where they planted their garden. Stand in the kitchen where they prepared their meals. Touch the shelves where they jarred and stacked their supplies. Share the same seasonal aromas of fauna and flora with generations of the legendary Shaw family past and present. Step through the looking glass of a living, breathing, three-dimensional museum that will enlighten your senses and transport you through hundreds of years of rural Mississippi life in the great American South.
The house at 1214 Barth Road was constructed by Bernard Dedeaux in the 1880’s under the Homestead Act of 1862 that encouraged adventurous Mississippi settlers to head south. Bernard deeded the property to his brother-in-law, Jules Ladner, who altered the house from 2 cabins to the Dogtrot structure (2 cabins joined by a single roof) you see today. When Gilbert and Melvina Shaw took ownership in 1902, they enclosed the porch and established two small additional bedrooms. A metal roof replaced the old cypress shingles in the 1950’s as electricity was also added to the property. From its inception, the Shaw House’s sturdy, heft dovetail, interlocking log joints provided stability that remains today.
Industry surrounding the Shaw’s house was fueled by timber deforestation in support of the burgeoning railroads beginning at the end of the 19th century. Most of the trees had disappeared by the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Although reports had up to 40 percent of Mississippi farms up for auction during the Depression, The Shaw family farm had served as a sheep station since 1906. Neighboring families and friends shared labor with the Shaws, shearing sheep in return for use of the facilities. As jarring and preserving canned food became more prevalent at the advent of the 20th century, daily life improved with far less time spent preparing food. Spring and Summer brought fresh produce and Winter was for hog butchering. Women boiled and hand washed clothes outside and cooked, cleaned, and quilted inside. The Shaw Homestead remained primarily a sheep station until 1958 around the time open range farming ended with fenced in livestock requirements. Four generations of Shaws lived on the property until Melvina Shaw evacuated for Hurricane Camille in 1969. The property remained vacant until Hurricane Katrina imposed further damage in 2005. Restoration began in 2006 when it was donated to Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain.
Follow in the Shaws’ footsteps around the grounds as you explore the jar house, corn crib, barn, and sweet potato house. The hanging poles from the original smokehouse still remain. Most days the Shaws remained outside the small dogtrot structure named for the breezeway between the buildings where the family dogs escaped the hot summer sun. The detached kitchen kept potential fires away from the two main structures. The elevated house and breezeway proved cooler air circulation in a time before AC. The Shaws had a hard, but a good life courtesy of this historic property. Whether you choose to fantasize about the past or celebrate your own modern conveniences The Shaw House is a treasure not to be missed on your trip to Southern Mississippi.