History of D'Lo and Strong River

The Strong River takes its name from the English translation of the Choctaw words "boke or boge homi", which means "creek bitter" or "creek strong tasting". The name has nothing to do with the physical characteristics of the stream itself.

What is now D'Lo Water Park was once sacred land to Choctaws. As late as 1824 Choctaws were still holding a ritualistic ceremony on the banks of the Strong River adjacent to Jaynes' Falls. The ceremony was an initiation to manhood for Choctaw boys of puberty age that involved unknown rituals but lasted for the four days leading up to the full moon of October.

At the sacred falls on Strong River at D'Lo Water Park the river makes an audible musical sound resembling humming or the strumming of a harp. This sound is attributable to trapped air bubbles in the submerged fissures and scour-pockets of the stream bed as the river flows over the falls. The lower the water, the more audible the sound.

The river used to make a loud, high-pitched chortling sound prior to the late 1700s. This was the source of another Choctaw name for the stream that appears on several 18th century French maps of the area, "kun'ta hatchie", which means "river whistling".

Tent Camping AreaJust one of the scenic tent-camping sites in the park overlooking the beautiful Strong River.

The Spanish under deSoto were the first whites to meet the Choctaw in 1540. The French explored present-day Mississippi in the very early 1700s and befriended the Choctaw. The French cartographers were careful to keep intact as many of the Choctaw place-names as possible. That is why today the Southern States have so many Choctaw names for rivers and streams. The mighty Mississippi takes its name from the Choctaw words "misha" (beyond reckoning) "sipokni" (it is old) "sipi" (it is very old), "okina" (water path), "mishipoknisipikina"["river possessing deep age"]. The element of age used here is a reflection of its size. The older something gets, the bigger it gets. In the old Choctaw language, anything not designated as feminine was assumed to be masculine. So an accurate translation of "Mississippi" from the Choctaw perspective would be "Old Man River" or "Father River".

The "Hanging Tree"
The "Hanging Tree"

This park giant is a favorite of photographers and sketch artists. It is a white oak.

The town of D'Lo, Mississippi traces its history back to the early 1800s before Mississippi was a state. Early American pioneers began settling in the area soon after the Revolutionary War. An Indian trail crossed the Strong River in the present-day D'Lo Water Park and wherever fords existed on navigable streams traders tended to gather. The fact that this area was a Choctaw annual pilgrimage site added to its importance as a population center.

In 1836 a state legislator, Brewster Jaynes, and his brother Anslem began construction of three water-powered factories, or mills, on the Strong River between the confluence of Sellers' Creek and the falls. The mills produced fine lumber and it was hauled by oxen to Brandon and then to Jackson for the construction of the (Old) Capitol. The mills served their purpose but in the 1850s fell into disuse. The mills had the river dammed and trees eroding out of the banks upstream soon jammed into one another and produced a river packed with debris and that was completely non-navigible. In 1859 an unknown arsonist set fire to the mills and destroyed all of them.

There were several other mills up the length of Sellers' Creek all the way to the present-day community of Weathersby. This region between Weathersby and the Jaynes' mills became known as Millhaven.

Following the War Between the States Millhaven was to become incorporated and receive a United States Post Office. When the name Millhaven was rejected by the Postmaster General's office in Washington, D.C. for unknown reasons, another name was sought.

The next name of the new town to be submitted was De'l'eau. This is a French word that means simply "of water". Careful and lengthy research by University of Southern Mississippi anthropology graduate students shed light on this submission in 2003. It seems that there is an early French map of this region that shows the confluence of Strong River and Sellers' Creek, the spot nearly exactly where D'Lo sits today. There is a dot on the map and the French words "de'l'eau sans potable". This translates into English as bad drinking water. (the name Strong River comes from the English translation of the Choctaw words "Bogue Homi", or 'Bitter Creek", a generic Choctaw place-name found identifying Strong River as well as several other major streams across the region).

The name De'l'eau was accepted but it was shortened and spelled phonetically. The new spelling was simply "D'Lo".