Some Historic Homes of Mississippi

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Mount Salus

Just beyond the western boundary of the town of Clinton is “Mt. Salus,” the home of Walter Leake, third governor of Mississippi.  He was twice elected to this office.  Gov. Leake came to Hinds county in 1812, purchased a large tract of land, and with home-labor cut and dressed the timbers, burnt the brick, and built the first brick house in the country. 

The building is fashioned after the style of the old English manor-houses square built, with wide windows, broad, heavy doors, and solid floors.  The doors bear the marks of spurs and bayonets made by Grant’s soldiers as they tried in vain to force their way into stores and mansion, when on the raid from Vicksburg to Jackson in 1863. 

The quaint old hall has stone floors and deep windows, let into the thick walls high above the floor, thus admitting the light from above on the old family portraits of the Leakes and the Scotch ancestors of the Johnstones, who became owners of Mt. Salus through the marriage of the only daughter of Gov. Leake to Henry Goodloe Johnstone, a descendant of William Wallace. Johnstone was a young man of wealth, who sought adventure in the new land beyond the sea, where he found a wife and founded a home.  He became judge of the chancery court of Hinds county; was a mason of high degree;  and a friend of education, as was shown by his liberal contributions to Mississippi College. 

The first land office, and the first post office were located at Mt. Salus.  The quaint little letter box is now among the treasures of the home;  also, the sword of Coy. Leake and the badge of the order of Cincinnatus, of which he was a member.  Besides these, the home also contains a valuable library and many articles of value and interest collected from across the seas by a kinsman, whose ship was the first to enter Chinese ports.  The old home is still in the possession of the Johnstone family, and until very recently was the home of Gov. Leake’s great-grandson, Carter f. Johnstone.

Towards the east a short distance from the house is the high, brick-walled burying-ground where rests the remains of Coy. Leake, his wife, daughter, and other members of the family. It is an ideal resting place—no sound disturbs the silence except the song of birds and the murmur of the winds among the pines, that keep watch over the ashes of him who was an important factor in the early history of the Commonwealth.

by Mrs. N. D. Deupree
From Publications The Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI,
Edited by Franklin L. Riley, Secretary
Published Oxford, Mississippi 1902

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