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Canton, Mississippi

Canton is a city in Madison County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 12,911 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Madison County, and situated in the northern part of the metropolitan area surrounding the state capital, Jackson.

Canton was the birhplace of George Doherty (1920-1987), a football player for the Buffalo Bills in 1947, who later coached at the high school and college levels in Louisiana, and John McCrady (1911–1968), a notable artist.

Canton is also the birthplace of L.C. Greenwood (1946- ). Greenwood was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 10th-round draft choice in 1969 and for 12 seasons, Greenwood was the Steelers' starting defensive left end. Greenwood started in six AFC championship games and in Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV.

Founded in Canton, the Canton Spirituals have remained one of the best gospel music quartets in the country. The original members included singer/songwriter, Harvey Watkins, Sr. (who started singing and also founded The Canton Spirituals at the age of fourteen), Eddie Jackson, Theo Thompson, and Roscoe Lucious (Mississippi Almanac 1997-1998).

The current lead singer of the Canton Spirituals is Harvey Watkins, Jr. Current members include: Victor Allen, Ralph Loften, Merlin Lucious, Rufus Mapp, Michael Richardson, Wallace Strickland, and Cornelius Dwayne Watkins. Harvey Watkins Sr. was the only original member with the Canton Spirituals until his death in 1994.


Canton is located at (32.612015, -90.031638).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.5 km²), of which, 18.6 square miles (48.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.69%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 12,911 people, 4,093 households, and 2,991 families residing in the city. The population density was 694.1 people per square mile (268.0/km²). There were 4,333 housing units at an average density of 232.9/sq mi (89.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 18.64% White, 80.30% African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.20% Asian, 0.14% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.43% of the population.

There were 4,093 households out of which 37.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.4% were married couples living together, 34.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 23.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.99 and the average family size was 3.55.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.3% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,237, and the median income for a family was $27,782. Males had a median income of $25,179 versus $20,815 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,643. About 27.7% of families and 34.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.8% of those under age 18 and 25.5% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

Canton Spirituals Gospel Entertainers.

Mississippi Blues Trail

Canton is officially on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Elmore James, a legendary blues singer and a familiar figure in Canton, learned electronics by working in a radio repair shop on Hickory Street. Canton is rich in blues history centered around the juke joints of Hickory Street, known to locals as "The Hollow", as well as other places in Canton. A Mississippi Blues Trail historic marker was placed in Canton on Hickory Street to honor the great contribution of James to the development of the blues in Mississippi. Other noted blues performers associated with Canton include Grady Champion, Little Brother Montgomery, William “Do-Boy” Diamond, and Johnnie Temple. Musicians include studio guitarist Bucky Barrett, slide guitarist Sonny Landreth. Gospel singers include the Canton Spirituals and Reverend Cleophus Robinson.

In his dedication of Hickory Street, Governor Haley Barour said,


The City of Canton is served by the Canton Public School District.


  • Although not a major battle site during the Civil War, Canton was important as a rail and logistics center. Many wounded soldiers were treated in or transported through the city, and as a consequence it has a large Confederate cemetery.
  • Canton was intermittently the adult home of slide guitarist and blues singer Elmore James, who was born and grew up about 20 miles north in Richland and nearby plantation communities. Modern slide guitarist Sonny Landreth was born in Canton but moved to Louisiana as a child.
  • The 1996 motion picture A Time to Kill, based on a novel of the same title by John Grisham, was filmed in Canton. The city was also the filming location for another motion picture released in 2000 — My Dog Skip, based on the memoir by Mississippi native Willie Morris. Artifacts from the filming of both movies were donated to the city, and today are maintained in exhibits in the downtown area. Scenes from the 2000 Coen Brothers' film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? were also film in Canton.
  • The city is home to a large auto manufacturing facility owned by Nissan.
  • Canton, like a similarly-named city in Texas, is home to an extensive flea market event. With more than 1,100 vendors around the Madison County Courthouse square and other locations, the market has become one of the city's largest events held each May and October.
  • Anne Moody, famed author and civil rights activist, wrote about her experiences in Canton in her book, Coming of Age in Mississippi where she worked for CORE.


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