The Start of GMTC
The Great Mississippi Tea Company is situated on +/- 289 acres of the Homestead of Seymour and Sarah Arizona "Zonie" Calhoun Boone. Seymour was the great nephew of Pioneer Daniel Boone; Zonie was the great niece of John C. Calhoun, statesman (US House of Representatives, US Senate—SC, 10th Secretary of War of the US, the 16th Secretary of State of the US, and the Vice-President of the United States of America to both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson), businessman, secessionist and one of the "Great Triumvirate" or the “Immortal Trio,” which included John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay.
The land is situated in Lincoln County, Mississippi, along what was once the Saint Stephens Road, one of the three main trading roads through the Mississippi Territory. It first bridged the eastern and western parts of the Territory. In the summer of 1807, "agreeably to an act of the legislature, approved February 4th, 1807, Harry Toulmin, James Caller, and Lemuel Henry completed the duty assigned them as 'commissioners to view, mark, and open a good road on the nearest route from the city of Natchez to Fort Stoddert so as to intersect the new Creek road on the line of demarcation east of Pearl river.' This was the first road from Natchez to St. Stephen's.
On the 7th of December following, public notice was given that 'the ferry is now complete over the Alabama River, above Little river, and on the Tombigbee, just above Fort St. Stephen. The way is now completely opened and marked with causeways across all boggy guts and branches, so that strangers can travel the road with safety, by observing the three notches, or three-chopped way, which cuts off a great distance in traveling from Natchez to Georgia.' This was the first road opened from the western to the eastern part of the Territory." (Source: Rowland, Dunbar, ed. Mississippi, Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form, in three volumes. Vol.2. Atlanta: Southern Historical Publishing Association, 1907. pages 566-571)
It ran east from Natchez by way of the following stations: Washington, 6 miles; Hoggat's, 12 miles; Head of Homochitto river, 40 miles; Bogue Chitto, 58 miles; Monticello, 90 miles; Winchester on the Chickasawhay river, 195 miles; Eastern branch of Pascagoula, 206 miles; Sintabogue river; Fort St. Stephens, 239 miles; Fort Claiborne, 264 miles; Hurricane Spring, 307 miles; Fort Decatur, 33 miles; Point Comfort, 374 miles; Chattahoochee river, 405 miles. The total distance to Milledgeville on the Oconee river was 545 miles.
The Boone Family Homestead is still owned by descendants of Seymour and Zonie Boone. In 1964, the land was acquired by James R. Calhoun (Zonie's nephew); it operated for many years as the base of his cattle operation, running close to 200 heads of cattle until he got out the cattle business in recent years. His nephew, Carey Calhoun, still raises cattle on the property and James R. Calhoun, his only daughter, Mary Sheila Pitarro, and only surviving grandson, Colonel Jason Alexander McDonald, have timber on the property. They also have recently decided to enter into commercial tea farming in order to produce an ethically sustainable crop as a beacon for the modern world.
The farm is also the home of three live oaks planted from seedlings grown from the live oaks that once stood at Beauvoir, the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Biloxi, MS, planted by James R. Calhoun. The trees came about by an effort by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Jim Buck Ross after Hurricane Camille destroyed many of the oaks at Beauvoir. Commissioner Ross collected, propagated seedlings, and gave them to citizens of the State of Mississippi. Mr. Calhoun, who at the time was over the state's efforts of controlling the fire ant population for the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, was given these trees to plant on his property as a living piece of Mississippi and US history.
The Great Mississippi Tea Company is steeped in American history, revolution, and pioneering spirit. It is from this pioneering background and proud family heritage and lineage, that The Great Mississippi Tea Company wishes to carry on its heritage as a piece of living history; it also hopes to bring about revolution in the centuries old tea industry to bring about a bright future for ourselves and all of humanity.
We invite you out to see history in the making on a piece of property that is steeped in tradition of the American Spirit. We look forward to having a glass of tea with you on the front porch one day soon.