Laurel, Mississippi

Laurel is a city in and the second county seat of Jones County, Mississippi, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 18,540.[3] It is located northeast of Ellisville, the first county seat, which contains the first county courthouse. Laurel has the second county courthouse, as there are two judicial districts in Jones County. Laurel is the headquarters of the Jones County Sheriff's Department, which administers in the county.

Laurel, Mississippi
"The City Beautiful"
Location of Laurel in Mississippi
Laurel, Mississippi
Location in the contiguous United States
Coordinates: 31°41′51″N 89°8′22″W
CountryUnited States of America
  MayorJohnny Magee
  Total16.54 sq mi (42.83 km2)
  Land16.24 sq mi (42.05 km2)
  Water0.30 sq mi (0.78 km2)
269 ft (82 m)
  Density1,139.01/sq mi (439.78/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)601
FIPS code28-39640
GNIS feature ID0672321

Laurel is the principal city of a micropolitan statistical area named for it. Its major employers include Howard Industries, Sanderson Farms, Masonite International, Family Health Center, Howse Implement, Thermo-Kool, and South Central Regional Medical Center. Laurel is home to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Mississippi's oldest art museum, which was established by the family of Lauren Eastman Rogers.


Laurel was founded in 1882 as a lumber town, as the industry harvested yellow pine forests in the region. The city was named for laurel thickets near the original town site.[4]

By the turn of the century, the city became a site of cotton mills, to process and manufacture textiles from the state's commodity crop of cotton. The city population grew markedly during the early 20th century, as rural people were attracted to manufacturing jobs. Mechanization of agriculture reduced the number of farming jobs. In 1942, Howard Wash, a 45 year old African-American man was dragged from jail and lynched by a mob.[5] The city reached its peak of population in 1960, and has declined about one third since then.


Laurel is in north-central Jones County, 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Ellisville, the first county seat. Interstate 59 and U.S. Route 11 pass through Laurel, both highways leading southwest 30 miles (48 km) to Hattiesburg and northeast 57 miles (92 km) to Meridian. U.S. Route 84 passes through the south side of the city, leading east 30 miles (48 km) to Waynesboro and west 27 miles (43 km) to Collins. Mississippi Highway 15 passes through the south and west sides of the city, leading northwest 24 miles (39 km) to Bay Springs and southeast 28 miles (45 km) to Richton.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Laurel has a total area of 16.5 square miles (42.8 km2), of which 15.8 square miles (40.8 km2) are land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km2), or 1.81%, are water.[3] The city lies on a low ridge between Tallahala Creek to the east and Tallahoma Creek to the west. Tallahoma Creek joins Tallahala Creek south of Laurel, and Tallahala Creek continues south to join the Leaf River, part of the Pascagoula River watershed.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Laurel has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[6]


Historical population
Est. 201818,478[2]−0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]
2012 Estimate[8]

As of the 2010 census, Laurel had a population of 18,540. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 61.3% African-American, 29.8% non-Hispanic white, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 1.0% reporting two or more races and 7.7% Hispanic or Latino.[9]

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 18,393 people, 6,925 households, and 4,542 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,192.3 people per square mile (460.2/km²). There were 7,804 housing units at an average density of 505.9 per square mile (195.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 40.64% White, 55.08% African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.33% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 3.17% from other races, and 0.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.87% of the population.

There were 6,925 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.2% were married couples living together, 23.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.4% were non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,988, and the median income for a family was $30,185. Males had a median income of $27,077 versus $17,336 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,561. 28.9% of the population and 21.4% of families were below the poverty line. 37.5% of those under the age of 18 and 19.3% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.


City government consists of a mayor-council form. The mayor is elected at-large. Council members are elected from single-member districts.

City officials
  • Johnny Magee – Mayor
  • Jason Capers – Ward 1 Councilman
  • Tony Wheat – Ward 2 Councilman
  • Tony Thaxton – Ward 3 Councilman
  • George Carmichael – Ward 4 Councilman
  • Stacy Comegys – Ward 5 Councilman
  • Travares Comegys – Ward 6 Councilman
  • Anthony Page – Ward 7 Councilman

The United States Postal Service operates the Laurel Post Office and the Choctaw Post Office, both located in Laurel.[11][12]

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health South Mississippi State Hospital Crisis Intervention Center is in Laurel.[13]


Public schools

Private schools



Amtrak's Crescent train connects Laurel with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans. The Laurel Amtrak station is situated at 230 North Maple Street.

Hattiesburg–Laurel Regional Airport is located in an unincorporated area in Jones County near Moselle,[16] 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Laurel.

Major highways

Notable people

Laurel residents Erin and Ben Napier are featured in the HGTV series Home Town, which premiered on March 21, 2017.[17]

In Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois is known here as a "woman of loose morals" who frequents the Hotel Flamingo, as told to Stanley by the merchant Kiefaber. In an argument, Blanche tells Kowalski she's brought many victims into her web, and calls the hotel the Tarantula Arms rather than the Hotel Flamingo.

See also


  1. "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jan 6, 2019.
  2. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  3. "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Laurel city, Mississippi". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  4. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 182.
  5. "Mississippi Mob Lynches a Slayer". New York Times. October 18, 1942. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  6. Climate Summary for Laurel, Mississippi
  7. United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  8. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  9. 2010 Census factfinder report on Laurel, Mississippi
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  11. "Post Office Location – LAUREL Archived 2012-08-21 at the Wayback Machine." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on November 1, 2010.
  12. "Post Office Location - CHOCTAW Archived 2012-08-21 at the Wayback Machine." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on November 1, 2010.
  13. "Contact Us Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine." South Mississippi State Hospital. Retrieved on November 1, 2010. "SMSH Crisis Intervention Center 934 West Drive Laurel, MS 39440."
  14. "The Chronicle". Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  15. "IMPACT". Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  16. "Contact." Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport. Retrieved on July 15, 2011. "Our Address Airport Director, 1002 Terminal Dr. Moselle, MS 39459"
  17. Shinners, Rebecca (March 10, 2017). "9 Reasons You Should Be Watching HGTV's Newest Show 'Home Town'". Country Living. Retrieved March 20, 2017.

Further reading

  • Victoria E. Bynum, The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001, 2016)
  • Alex Heard, The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex and Secrets in the Jim Crow South (New York: Harper, 2011)
  • Nollie W. Hickman, Mississippi Harvest: Lumbering in the Longleaf Pine Belt, 1840-1915 (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, new edition, 2009)
  • Gilbert H. Hoffman and Tony Howe, Yellow Pine Capital: The Laurel, Mississippi Story (Toot Toot Publishing Company, 2010)
  • Charles Marsh, The Last Days: A Son's Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South (New York: Basic Books, 2000)
  • Cleveland Payne, The Oak Park Story: A Cultural History, 1928-1970 (National Oak Park High School Alumni Association, 1988)
  • Cleveland Payne, Laurel: A History of the Black Community, 1882-1962 (Cleveland Payne, 1990)
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