South Mississippi Strong: Stone County's history told through murals

South Mississippi Strong: Stone County woman recounts history with colorful murals
The material concentrates on the people, places, the environment, and wildlife. (Photo source: WLOX)
The material concentrates on the people, places, the environment, and wildlife. (Photo source: WLOX)

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Generations of Stone County residents are learning about their history and culture through an ambitious project that showcases the area's people and places through unique murals. The woman behind the effort helps make South Mississippi strong.

A colorful mosaic tile mural sits in front of the Stone County courthouse. The library boasts a mural dedicated to Stone County's history. These pieces started appearing around the county several years ago after Kathryn Lewis began what's called the Telling Trees Project. More installations can be found around Blaylock Park in Wiggins. It's all about sharing stories about the past and celebrating the area's culture.

"We have to tell our story. It's the most powerful thing we have, and if we lose it or forget to tell it, it's gone," Lewis said.

Over the years Lewis has brought in community organizations, artists, local businesses, and most importantly, students from Stone County Middle and High Schools to help illustrate the history. The students painted what's called A Gathering of Stone County Heroes.

"It's our caretakers, nurses, tree planters, our military, policemen, firemen, teachers, and farmers," said Lewis.

Lewis wants young people in Stone County to be engaged for one simple reason.

"The one thing that is so important for students is to learn about the place they call home. Education is power," Lewis said.

The mural in the library was done in conjunction with books written for school-aged children. The material concentrates on the people, places, the environment, and wildlife.

Lewis' mosaic tile mural pays tribute to some of the biggest aspects in Stone County's history. For example, the timber industry has been such a big part of life in the county. Residents can still find pole plants around the area, and one of the area's largest employers was the old Wiggins pickle factory? A mosaic tile mosaic mural pays tribute to both.

"Stone County was once the pickle capital of the world. Of course, timber has been important from the beginning. This is the timber tough mural based on a postcard from 1916 from Stone County Mississippi," said Lewis.

If you visit the Wiggins Post Office, you'll find an exhibit dedicated to baseball great Dizzy Dean who retired in Stone County. At the at the Post Office in Perkinston, a mural highlights the importance of appreciating the environment.

Lewis has been able to excite the entire community and secure a variety of grants to keep the Telling Trees project going all around Stone County. Her goal is to make sure students are always involved in the process.

The charm and unique history of Wiggins and Stone County captured in art pieces; thanks to storyteller Kathryn Lewis, who is South Mississippi strong.