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All About Mississippi: Land of the Blues, Sandhill Cranes & Father of Waters

by | Mar 20, 2023 | All About States

Have you or has anyone in your family ever owned a stuffed animal, specifically a teddy bear? The bear’s name and history is linked to Mississippi and Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States.

Back in 1902, President Roosevelt, who was nicknamed Teddy, went on a hunting trip in Onward. He loved to hunt bears, but no one in his hunting party had spotted one for days.

Somehow, President Roosevelt stumbled upon a bear that was captured. Perhaps someone in his hunting party tied the animal to a tree. No one really knows, but what happened next became legend. President Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear. He didn’t think it was fair to the bear, that it wouldn’t be very sportsmanlike of him to shoot a captured animal.

Within days, a cartoon was published about this incident in the newspaper. That inspired two candy shop owners in New York, Rose and Morris Michtom, to create a stuffed bear they called Teddy’s bear. Read the rest of the story here.

Share this story with your friends, but keep on reading so you can learn more cool stuff about this state:

  • For starters, many children in the US say that Mississippi is the first difficult word they ever learned to spell. There are 11 letters in its name. Although it’s the longest name out of all 50 states, its name consists of just four letters.
  • Mississippi is a southern state named after the Mississippi River, which is the second largest river in the country and forms the state’s western border with Arkansas and part of Louisiana. The state’s name comes from the Ojibwe language, which means “big river”. The Ojibway Indians lived in northern Minnesota where the river begins.

The state is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Alabama to the east, the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana to the south, and Louisiana and Arkansas to the west. The state can be divided into two regions:

  • Mississippi Alluvial Plain or Delta: This flood plain starts at the Mississippi River and spreads east to the state border.
  • Gulf Coastal Plain: This region covers most of the state. It includes the Red Clay Hills (with reddish-orange soil) in the north while the coastal area includes Gulf Island National Seashore, with 160 miles of maritime forests, bayous and sandy beaches.

What really happened

  • While people have lived in this area for at least 12,000 years, the Biloxi, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and other Native Americans lived on the land for thousands of years.
  • The first person to map the area was Spanish explorer Alonso Alvarez de Pineda in 1519.
  • In 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto led the first European expedition into the northeastern part of the state. Some historians believe he was the first European to cross the Mississippi River.
  • In the 1600s, French explorer Sieur de la Salle claimed the land for France. French colonists built the first European settlement called Fort Maurepas in 1699. After more French settlers moved into the state, the region was named “New France”.
  • After the French were defeated in the French-Indian War in 1763, the French surrendered their lands in Mississippi to the British.
  • In 1798, this region became a US territory.
  • In 1817, the state joined the Union.
  • By 1838, thousands of Native Americans living in the area were forced to leave their homeland and live west of the Mississippi River.
  • When the Civil War started in 1861, Mississippi became the second state to secede (withdraw) or declare its independence from the Union. It was also one of the founding states of the Confederacy. Do you know which state was the first to secede? It was South Carolina. Roughly 78,000 men from Mississippi joined the Confederate military to fight against the Union.
  • In 1870, five years after the Civil War ended, Mississippi rejoined the United States. The practice of slavery was abolished. Thousands of newly freed people now had rights, such as the right to vote, own property, get an education and travel.
  • From roughly 1910 to 1960, many Black people from the South moved to northern cities like New York, Chicago, and Detroit because they were still facing segregation and other forms of racial discrimination from Jim Crow Laws. This era is called “The Great Migration.”

Stuff you should know

  • More than half the state (63%) is covered in Actually, 19.5 million acres of forest.
  • The largest crane in North America lives in Mississippi. Mo and Finchy meet a group of them who are dancers! They’re called Sandhill Cranes. They’re 44 inches tall and their wingspan is eight feet!
  • Music known as the “blues” started in Mississippi after the Civil War. It was inspired by slaves who sang songs as they worked in the fields.
  • A person who is from or lives in this state is called a Mississippian.
  • Since 1961, the John C. Stennis Space Center has tested rockets that went to the moon and those that will carry humans even farther. It’s the nation’s largest rocket testing site.
  • Mississippi Petrified Forest, partly known for its fossils from exotic beasts like saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths that lived here about 35 million years ago, is one of only two petrified forests in the United States and was declared a National Natural Landmark.
  • The Mississippi River, nicknamed the “Father of Waters”, is the second longest river in the country. It. 2,340 miles long! Do you know which river is even longer? It’s the Missouri River, which is roughly one mile longer.

Crazy, funny, or just plain weird

  • In 2002, Martin Strel, a 48-year-old marathon swimmer, spent 68 days swimming the entire 2,340-mile Mississippi River!
  • Mississippi has six barrier islands off the Gulf Coast that include Ship Island, Deer Island, Horn Island, Cat Island (which was populated by racoons, not cats), Petis Bois and Round Island. Another was called Caprice, but it vanished under water in 1930!

Tell me more

  • Ever try Mississippi mud pie? Mo once ate a whole mud pie by himself! The pie is made of chocolate with a crushed cookie crust. What about boiled peanuts? Ever eat them? Other common foods in the state include seafood, such as crab, crawfish and shrimp.
  • In 2022, Mississippi had more tornadoes than any other state. Can you guess how many? Exactly 183 tornadoes ripped through the state! What state do you think had the second most tornadoes that same year? Click here to find out.
  • Mississippi is sometimes called part of the “Deep South”, which describes a group of states that share a similar culture, geography and history. Can you name any of the other states? They include Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.
  • Like soft toilet seats? Many do. In fact, more than one million are sold each year. In 1985, David Harrison of Columbus invented them (and owns the patent on them).

If you live in Mississippi or if you have ever visited the state, please share something that impressed you about its geography, history, people, or culture. Email your story or facts to and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages along with your first name, age, and state!

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