Mills captures pictoral history of Itawamba County

MIlls proudly displays a copy of her newly released book, "Images of America - Itawamba County." (Photo by Zach Adams)

MIlls proudly displays a copy of her newly released book, “Images of America – Itawamba County.” (Photo by Zach Adams)

Sixth-generation Itawambian Mona Mills has recently released her first printing of “Images of America – Itawamba County.”

Mills is delighted to be able to share her love for the county of her heritage. A member of the Itawamba Historical Society, Mills spends a great deal of time studying genealogy. She began genealogy blogging in 2008 and has posted something almost every day.

She loves old photographs so her postings were usually along that line. Mills says everyone knew how much she values vintage photos so she was given a lot of them. Also supplementing her cache were fellow Historical Society members.

As a result of her interest in Itawamba County’s history, she was contacted by Rubye Del Harden who was helping Arcadia Publishing locate someone interested in doing a history of the county.

From that initial contact, Mills began in earnest to work on organizing her photos and ideas. She did a lot of research in earlier editions of The Itawamba County Times, paying particular attention to Zereda Greene’s columns in the weekly newspaper and Times editor Delmus Harden’s photos.

She was fortunate to be able to obtain negatives of pictures in those papers from Rubye Del. Among those negatives were copies of pictures people had brought in to have copies made. When Mr. Harden had made the copies, he had to make a picture so there were negatives of pictures other than those which appeared in the newspaper. Mills also obtained photos and information from the Settlers Magazine, edited by Bob Franks for many years.

Mills was also quick to point out how invaluable Marilyn Leary, hostess/librarian at the Itawamba Historical Center in Mantachie, was. When Mills ran into trouble locating information, Leary was quick to come to her rescue.

All told, this turned out to be a labor of love since Mills says she simply loved researching the book’s contents.

“I met so many people,” she said. “I wanted to capture the county’s history in photos, choosing what I found interesting since I thought that is what my readers would enjoy.”

In order to publish the book, Mills submitted a proposal and was immediately contacted by the submission editor who set a deadline of July 26 for the book to be finished. Since this happened in mid-April, she was on a short deadline, but through a lot of long days and short nights, she was able to complete the book a week early. During those few weeks, she scanned some 2,000 individual photographs; then she learned she could use only 200 of them. According to Mills, this was the hard part – she had to narrow down to the few she could use. According to her publisher, her problem was unusual since most authors had difficulty locating the 200 photos they needed.

Mills’ says her purpose in writing the book was to let people know her beloved county.

“I wanted to write this book for someone who may not know a lot about the county’s history but wants to learn,” Mills said. “I was elated when I was contacted by Tutti Love who had found some of his relatives in the book. To me, he is the epitome of the ideal reader of the book, someone who wants to see our county in historical photos.”

Love quote “xxxxxxx”

 

Mills says it was exciting to hold the finished copy in her hands. Along with that was a feeling of relief that it was finally finished. “It was kind of like giving birth,” she added.

Her book covers the period of 1900 until 1940 and maybe just a few pictures after that time. She would like to write another book which might cover 1940 through 1970.

Mills believes her readers will find her book both entertaining and informative.

“Itawamba County will always be special to me – simply because of the people who live here,” Mills said.

The book contains seven chapters with headings such as “Sawmills and Boom Times” in addition to six additional ones. Mills has captured the county with pictoral histories of by gone times, images which help define Itawamba County.

“Images of America – Itawamba County” can be purchased at S&W Pharmacy and Down Town Floral in Fulton and at the Itawamba Historical Society in Mantachie. One half of the royalties received from the book’s sales will be donated to the Itawamba Historical Society.

If it happened in Itawamba County between 1900 and 1940, you are likely to find it among the pages of Mills’ book.

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