Monday, September 28, 2009

Rara Avis

North of Tremont, along Cotton Gin Road, was a community called Rara Avis. Rara Avis is a Latin phrase that means "rare bird." When early settlers arrived in Itawamba County, there were many colorful birds but unfortunately the birds quickly disappeared. Col. W. L. Clayton wrote in his "Pen-Pictures" column in 1905 about these birds when his family first settled in Itawamba County:

"There was then in this country a beautiful bird in large droves, but which have since disappeared altogether - they were called paraquites, and were a beautiful green, red and yellow color, with very long crooked bills, somewhat like that of a parrot, and they were very much the size of parrots. There (sic) were quite destructive to wheat, oats and rye fields."

The destruction of settlers' crops contributed to the extinction of these unusual birds, but there is also another story involving their demise.

In my files, there is a copy of an article written about Rara Avis. Unfortunately, I did not write down the source of the article nor its author, but it may have appeared in an early Itawamba Settlers publication. If anyone knows of the article to which I am referring, please e-mail me or comment here. The article described the rare birds as being similar to a guinea with "brilliant and variegated" plumage and a call that was "harsh" and "untuneable." According to the author, the birds lived exclusively on a diet of chestnuts. When the chestnut trees were struck by a blight, the rara avis was deprived of their food supply and disappeared along with the trees.

For several years, there was a post office located at Rara Avis which serviced many families in the Tremont area. My great-great grandfather's brother, William Wilkson "Uncle Billy" Robinson was a postmaster when he owned the store at Rara Avis. As Tremont's population grew, a post office was established there and eventually, in 1923, the post office at Rara Avis was closed.


S. Rogers said...

I have researched "Rara Avis" extensively. I wrote two articles on the mythical place. One appeared on August 5, 2009 in the Red Bay News and the other appeared in the Itawamba County Times also in August 2009. I assume you saw them since your blog came out shortly thereafter. In case you didn't you can reach me at

Amelia Holder said...

Do you know who named the community?