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Water Valley, which was first called Moss Crossing or Moss Station came into veing sometime after the completion of the Illinois Central railroad in 1854. With people living in the area that became Water Valley, the opportunities existed for a town to prosper, while Feliciana, an important trade center to the east, a short distance, began to dwindle. This was the result of the property owners declining to give right of way to the railroad. many of those businesses in Feliciana moved to Water Valley. Not only was the railroad good for the commerce of the little village, but also provided passenger service into the nearby metropolises. Trains made sevearl stops daily delivering and receiving freight and mail. It was not uncommon for a train to be a combination of freight and passenger cars. People could board the train in the morning and travel to neighboring towns, spend the day, and return in the afternoon or evening.
On the federal census of 1870 the area was enumerated in the Feliciana district. In 1880 when the federal census was taken Water Valley was listed as a village. There were a total of 20 families living there, with population of about 100 people. Several were listed as merchants of various kinds. There was a livestock dealer, hotel, gristmill, sawmill, three blacksmith shops, two doctors, and perhaps a cotton gin. Dr. George F. Weaks established a pottery on the West Side of the tracks. His pottery produced many churns among other items. Mr. Pirtle operated a brickyard, firing his own brick, using these to build the new hotel. The railroad also provided employment for a depot agent, section foreman and hands and a telegraph operator. The area was growing with each progressing year both in business and new homes being built. Sometime after 1880, a fire destroyed most of the business establishemtns, which were located on the East Side of the tracks. New buildings were erected, but were moved the West Side of the tracks. The store building best known as the Ben P. Bennett General Merchandise was built around 1891 or 1892. The row of buildings just to the north of this building were built about a year later. The stores were fine and of brick and were fronted by a brick sidewalk topped by a substantial overhang. Many businesses operated from this row of buildings down through the years. The longest surviving of these businesses was that of Ben P. Bennett and Wayne T. Edwards handling, groceries, hardware, housewares, and coal oil. Mr. Edwards also operated the local undertaking establishment.
A Baptist Church had been organized in the area, and also the Methodist Church had been organized several years before the turn of the 20th century. Both these congregations are active today. The Presbyterians also had a church and congregation. The new Methodist Church was built shortly after 1900 and still stands today. Later the Church of Christ bought the Presbyterian building.
Wayne Thompson had a sawmill and flourmill on the East Side of the tracks. It was here that self-rising flour was formulated and milled first in Water Valley.
The Citizens Bank was opened in 1901, surviving almost seventy years.
Business expanded to include a lumberyard, barbershop, drug store, coal yard, and poultry buying station. With the automobile becoming more popular, a mechanic had an establishment. The new Water Valley High Scvhool graduated its first class in about 1914. Another doctor came into the area and for a time there may have been four practicing physicians within the confines of Water Valley. Also with progress came the telephone.
By the 1930's, Water Valley had begun to decline. The building of Highway 45 gave better access to the area of Fulton and Mayfield. The car gaining more and more popularity had cut the travel time measurably. Little by little businesses closed or moved elsewhere. Jobs available in Detroit created an exodus of people out of the area wanting better paying jobs. In a sense, progress was responsible for the rise, and many years later, the fall of Water Valley.