McComb HomesteadsNew houses, Pike County Mississippi, McComb Gardens. Source: Rothstein, Arthur. "McComb Garden Houses," McComb Homesteads MS, Aug. 1935, Photographic Print. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives, Library of Congress.
McComb Homesteads is a small community just three miles southeast of McComb, Mississippi. It is located just off U.S. Route 98 east, with a highway sign—“HOMESTEADS”—indicating the entrance on the north side of the highway, onto Harrison Drive. Harrison Drive then intersects Eleanor Drive (which goes west to Van Norman Curve Road and east to Gibson Road south) and continues north northeast, winding around the community, and ending on Gibson Road north. This describes the general boundary/area of McComb Homesteads.
Construction of McComb Homesteads began in April of 1934. The community was the first New Deal homestead community in Mississippi and was originally (or interchangeably) called the “Eleanor Roosevelt Homesteads of McComb,” or simply “Eleanor Roosevelt Homesteads.” McComb Homesteads was a Project of the Division of Subsistence Homesteads, a federal New Deal program that ran from 1933-35 which “sought to provide a healthier and more economically secure life for disadvantaged Americans.” The community was specifically created for low-income workers of the area.
Shortly before construction of McComb Homesteads began, it was reported that “Homes of modern type will be constructed and individuals will be permitted to pay for them over a period ranging from 16 to 25 years and at a very low rate of interest and in monthly payments.” Great care was taken in the selection of residents: “Thrifty individuals who have proven themselves reliable will be given preference since the (selection) committee desires to make the community wholesome and desirable as a home location and land enough to have gardens.” The first residents of McComb Homesteads were Mr. and Mrs. Guy A. Betz and their son Charles David Betz.
By October of 1934, 20 of the 25 planned homes were completed. Additionally, a lake was created and stocked with fish for the enjoyment and appetites of the homesteaders. The lake, at some point, was called “Lake Clair,” and is near the intersection of Eleanor Drive and Gibson Road.
Many of the homes at McComb Homesteads appear to be the original homes from the New Deal era, with some modifications. So, though there may not be much in the way of recognition for this forgotten New Deal community, the New Deal lives on in these well-built structures.
(1) Various articles from The McComb Enterprise newspaper, especially: “Homestead will start here soon,” January 5, 1934; “Homestead Building Begins,” April 27, 1934; “Keys of first homestead state presented to first homesteader,” June 8, 1934; “Resumption of work on homesteads looms after sixty-day delay,” October 12, 1934; and “Fish put in homestead lake here,” November 30, 1934. (2) University of Arizona Press, at https://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid2231.htm, accessed July 6, 2013. (3) Correspondence and conversation with long-time McComb resident.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - wpatoday.org on July 29, 2013.
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We’ve always known this as Homestead, without the final s.