Monument in Midway Cemetery
The town was named after Cowles Mead, a 19th-century political leader. This town developed as a trading center for the agricultural county, which had an early economy based on the cultivation of cotton. Court days also attracted farmers and their customers. The county is still largely rural.
Abductions and murders in 1964
In May 1964, two African-American young men from Meadville, Charles Moore, a student from Alcorn State College who had been active in the Civil Rights Movement, and Henry Hezekiah Dee, a friend who was a millworker, were abducted in the town while hitchhiking. They were tortured and murdered by Ku Klux Klan members, transported across state lines, and tied to heavy machinery and dropped alive into the Mississippi River to die. Their bodies were discovered in July 1964 during the hunt for three civil rights workers who disappeared in June 1964. In November 1964 two men were arrested for the murders, but the district attorney dropped the charges for what he said was insufficient evidence.
They were two of six men killed by Klan chapters in a wave of violence from January to December 1964 in the area of Natchez, southwest Mississippi, and Concordia Parish, Louisiana. Additional Klan murders followed from 1965 to 1967. Two other bodies of African-American males were found in the Mississippi in the summer of 1964, including that of 14-year-old Herbert Oarsby.
In 1998 Thomas Moore, the older brother of Charles, began to re-investigate the murders of his brother and Dee. With the aid of journalists who found the 1964 FBI files thought to have been lost, he discussed the case with the local district attorney. Contacted by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation producer David Ridgen, Moore worked with him on a documentary film about his search for justice, called Mississippi Cold Case (2007). With the FBI files and new evidence, the US Attorney
Dunn Lampton re-opened and prosecuted the case. James Ford Seale, a former police officer who had been arrested in 1964, was indicted and prosecuted; he was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to three life terms.