meridian is located in east central mississippi. meridian is the county seat of lauderdale mississippi. the area around meridian was originally inhabited by the choctaw native american tribe. after the treaty of dancing rabbit creek in 1840 white settlers began to move into the area. three early settlers of the area were richard mc lemore, john t. ball, and lewis ragsdale. the town of meridian was built at the intersection of the moble-ohio railroad and the southern railway. meridian was incorporated in 1860. during the civil war meridian was a confederate manufacturing center and transportation hub.
the most significant historic event in meridian was the burning of the town by union general william t. sherman in february 1864. after the capture of vickburg and the burning of jackson mississippi sherman's army continued eastward towards meridian. the confederates were commanded by general leonidas polk and he consoladated a number of commands in and around morton mississippi in preparation for the defence of meridian. sherman ordered gunboats into mobile bay and to the yazoo river in order to confuse polk. polk was convinced that sherman was headed for mobile and he evacuated meridian and marched to demopolis alabama. sherman's army reached meridain on february 14 th 1864. since meridian was undefended sherman burned the town. after the destruction of meridian sherman reported that "meridian with it's depots, storehouses, arsenal, hospitals, offices, hotels, and cantonments no longer exists"
after the end of radical recounstruction in the decade following the civil war the economy of meridian boomed. between 1880 and 1910 this period was known as the "golden age" of meridian. meridian regained it's importance as a transportation hub and new businness moved into the area. from the turn of the 20 th century until 1930 many of the historic buildings in downtown meridian were built. meridian continued to prosper through world war II and up to the 1950's. in the 1950's automobile and truck transportation replaced railroads and this trend greatly hurt the economy of meridian. many people and businesses left the city. in the 1930's meridian was the largest city in mississippi. today it is mississippi's third largest city. of interest to the tourist is meridian's "golden age" architecture downtown and the jimmy rodgers museum.