Sylvanus L. Hearn (1849 – 1906)

“Hearn, Sylvanus L., whose death occurred Oct. 24, 1906, was numbered among the influential and honored citizens and representative business men of West Point, Clay county, for more than a quarter of a century and attained a noteworthy success through well directed and honorable endeavor, being one of the substantial capitalists of this part of the State.

He was born near Buena Vista, Chickasaw county, Miss., Nov. 5, 1849, and was a son of Asa and Mary (Crocker) Hearn, native respectively of Georgia and South Carolina…  S.L. Hearn was reared to the sturdy discipline of the home plantation, and while he attended the common schools as opportunity afforded, he was indebted principally to his honored father for his early educational training.  The latter was known as one of the best teachers of his section and took much care in instructing his son.

He was an alumnus of Mercer university, Macon, Ga.  At the age of nineteen years, Mr. Hearn became superintendent of a farm, and continued to be actively engaged in agricultural pursuits for nearly ten years, in the meanwhile carefully conserving his resources.  In 1878 he located in West Point and engaged in the general merchandise business, in which he continued a score of years, through this medium laying the foundation for his ample competency.  For ten years he was vice-president of the First National bank of  West Point, and about 1895 assisted in the organization of the Bank of West Point and was its president for four years, when resigned and again identified himself with the First National bank, in which he was one of the largest stockholders.  In 1889 he founded the West Point Manufacturing Company (manufacturers of lumber and building  material) of which he became president, remaining in the capacity until his death.

Industrial and general business interests thus profited, not only from his capitalistic support but also from his distinctive administrative and executive ability, while through these means he contributed largely to the material development and prosperity of his town, county and State.

In 1905 the Citizens” bank of West Point was organized, chiefly through his efforts, and the same was incorporated with a capital stock of $50,000.  Mr. Hearn becoming president of the institution.  From 1898 he gave attention largely to his real estate investments.  The family have substantial residence properties and store houses in West Point.

Mr. Hearn was a loyal and public-spirited citizen.  In politics Mr. Hearn was a stanch Democrat, but never desired of held public office.  He was identified with the Masonic fraternity, and was a valued member of the Baptist church.

On April 18, 1872, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Hearn to Miss Hattie P. Ware, daughter of Rev. James  A. Ware, M.D., and Hattie (Pulliam) Ware.  Dr. Ware was born in South Carolina, whence he came to Mississippi in an early day. locating in Pontotoc county, and becoming one of the leading physicians of the locality as well as a prominent clergyman of the Baptist church.

Mr. and Mrs. Hearn became the parent of two children: Mary Ella, wife of James M. White, who was for a number of years professor of history and civics in the Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical college, but is now engaged in the mercantile business in West Point.  He is one of the valued members of the State historical association, and a member of the board of trustees of the State Department of Archives and History.  Mr. and Mrs. White have three children; Sarah Ware, Frank Hearn and James M., Jr.

Carrie Agnew, the younger daughter of Mr. Hearn, became the wife of Rev. Henry P. Hurt, now pastor of the Bellevue avenue Baptist church in the city of Memphis, Tenn.  She was summoned to eternal rest July27, 1902, leaving one child, Carrie Hearn Hurt, only one month old, who is being rared in the home of her maternal grandparents.

After the death of Mrs. Hurt, her father erected on campus of the Blue Mountain female college at Blue Mountain, Tippah county, a beautiful and substantial brick building of modern design and equipment, two stories in height, with nineteen rooms, and the same is dedicated to the education of worthy poor girls.  Between thirty and forty girls now occupy this building and by industrial methods obtain their board at very low rates.  In this way many noble young women will be able to secure good educational training and be lifted to a higher plane of usefulness than would otherwise be possible.  The building was erected at a cost of several thousand dollars, and Mr. Hearn regarded the same as representing the most important and satisfactory investment he ever made.  It is not only a fitting memorial to his noble, Christian daughter, but will also afford untold blessings to generations to come.

Mr. Hearn was a philanthropist of very high order, and gave liberally of his means to worthy institutions, objects and persons.  His closest friends knew not, during his life, the extent of magnitude of his gifts and his charity.  He is greatly missed by all classes.”

Sources:  Mississippi: Contemporary Biography by Dunbar Rowland, Vol. III, The Reprint Co., Publishers, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1976, pages 330-2

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