The area that would eventually become known as “Terry” was first settled in 1811 by settlers from Virginia. In 1867, the Town of Terry was established when the railroad was built through the area.
The town of Terry is located on Interstate 55 in Hinds County, Mississippi, about 15 miles southwest of the capitol city of Jackson. It is in Hinds County Supervisor’s District Five.
Perhaps one of the most notable efforts of modern times in the reclamation of the Terry Depot. The Depot was built by the Illinois Central Railroad in the early 1880’s and was moved from Terry to Parham Bridges Park in Jackson in the 1950’s. A group called the Friends of Terry was formed whose mission, among others, was the reclamation of the Terry Depot. In the early 1990’s, the Friends of Terry, with the assistance of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, were successful in bringing the depot building back to Terry. The Friends of Terry have conducted a number of fundraising efforts toward the continued restoration of the depot to its original splendor.
For a number of years, Terry was the home of Albert Gallatin Brown, the 14th Governor of Mississippi. Governor Brown was considered progressive for his time in that he was instrumental in the establishment of public education and mental health treatment. Brown Street in Terry is named in his honor.
Pharmacist J.W. Combs, a Terry resident, was President of the local School Board of Trustees for many years.
Terry is the birthplace of influential blues musician Tommy Johnson, who had claimed to have sold his soul to the devil at a secluded Mississippi crossroads in exchange for fame and fortune. This legend was later popularized by its attribution to bluesman Robert Johnson.
Terry was the adopted home of Luster Willis, a folk-art painter whose works were in such demand for collectors of “outsider art” that he drew copies by tracing the images from plexiglass.
The Terry Public Library is named for Ella Bess Austin, a Terry teacher and community volunteer.
Other persons of celebrity status who have lived in Terry include writer Rick Bass, rapper/entertainer John Got’ti, and former Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party Rickey Cole.
Terry is located at longitude 320 6’5” N and latitude 900 17’40” W. The town has a land area of 2.3 square miles, all of which is land. The average land elevation of the town is 295’ AMSL according to United States Geological Survey records. The racial make-up of the town is almost evenly divided between 48.5% White, 50.5% Black, and 0.8% two or more races. In 2005, the median age was 36.7 years, and the average median income was $31,400.
The Terry Headlight Newspaper was named for the Head family, who operated a pharmacy downtown for generations, and was the town’s newspaper for many years. It has ceased publication. However, the Hinds County Gazette, a weekly newspaper, has a column each week written by Alderwoman Elzena Johnson about the happenings in Terry. In response to the growth in the community, it was decided that the Town was in need of a publication that informed residents specifically about business services available and other happenings in Terry. So, in June 2010, the first issue of the Terry News community newspaper was published by Ms. Renay Wright, owner of AnRtist Graphics and Printing, LLC and her mother Mrs. Addie Wright. The Terry News is published monthly and distributed by mail to every business and household in the 39170 zip code.
There are two parks in Terry. The Village Square is located on Cunningham Avenue, and it has such amenities as playground equipment for children, park benches for visiting, tennis counts, and a walking track for exercise. The Community Center is also located at the Village Square. The Village Square was given its name as part of a high-school “Name the Park” contest won by Jim Eley. Jim Eley is a local architect who grew up in Terry.
The County Park is located on Morgan Drive, but is within the corporate limits of the town. The County Park was spear-headed by Terry’s own Hinds County Supervisor George Smith. It has such amenities as a lighted baseball diamond, tennis courts, and a concession stand with restroom facilities.