Collins’ favorite Vaiden history story…

Ron Collins’ favorite story on the website is the story of Cowles Crowder Mead. “The indirect relation of the Town of Vaiden to the early history of the Mississippi Territory is most interesting,” said Collins. 


Cowles Crowder Mead (10/18/1776 – 05/17/1844) was from Virginia. Sally Cowles (04/25/1781 – 05/11/1850), also lived in Virginia. As a young girl, she was “wooed” by her cousin, Cowles Mead (pronounced “Coals”), whom she loved but refused to marry because of their blood relationship. 

Mead, unable to remain in Virginia with the knowledge that he couldn’t marry his cousin, moved to Georgia, where he practiced law and became active in Georgia politics.  He was soon elected to the Georgia House of Representatives and the U.S. House of Representatives. He didn’t serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, though, because some counties in Georgia couldn’t vote because of a hurricane. Although the time had passed for those counties to submit their votes and Cowles had won the seat in the U.S. House, those votes were eventually allowed. When their totals were added to the other votes, Cowles lost by a very narrow margin to Thomas Spaulding of Georgia. Seeing potential in Cowles Mead, Thomas Jefferson appointed him as Secretary of the Mississippi Territory.  He served as the Fourth Territorial Secretary of Mississippi and Third Acting Governor of the Mississippi Territory from June 6, 1806 to January 28, 1807. After

Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in the famous duel, Burr fled the area and eventually came to the Mississippi Territory. When Burr landed in Bruinsburg, Mississippi, Cowles Mead was the Acting Governor. Mead had Burr arrested under suspicion of conspiracy, but Burr was later acquitted. When Burr was arrested, Mead confiscated his sword. The sword hung over Burr’s fireplace for many years. After Mead’s death, his widow gave the sword to the Captain of the Mississippi College Rifles and it was taken into battle in the Civil War and was lost.

Mead later became a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives and served there in 1807 and again in 1822-1823. He ran again for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1812, but was unsuccessful. He was a delegate to the first constitutional convention of Mississippi in 1817 and was a signer of the Mississippi Constitution. In 1818 but was unsuccessful again in his bid for the U.S. House of Representatives, but successfully served as a Mississippi Senator in 1821. He was also unsuccessful as a candidate for governor in 1825. Mead was said to have introduced Bermuda Grass to the U.S. from his travels. 

When he had lived in the Natchez, MS area, Mead lived in a huge house that was built around 1790 called Meadvilla. It is still standing and has been renovated.  It is located behind the Washington United Methodist Church on Highway 61 North in Washington, Mississippi.

He built an estate in Clinton, MS and died there in 1844. Mead eventually married three times – each wife was named Mary. He was buried on the estate (this is only a few miles from where Ron Collins works in Clinton).  To visit the Cowles Mead family gravesite, take Interstate 20 west toward Vicksburg, Mississippi from Jackson.  About 2 miles west of Clinton, take exit 34 onto the Natchez Trace north.  After traveling approximately 8/10 of a mile, the rest area for the gravesite will be on the right.  

Sally Cowles  – still in Virginia at the time – married Joseph Vaiden, Esq. Because of her love of her cousin, when their first son was born in Charles City County, Virginia, August 21, 1812, she named him Cowles Mead Vaiden. Cowles Mead Vaiden was the founder of the town of Vaiden, Mississippi.  

Much more information about Cowles Mead and Sally Cowles can be found on the website at 


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