Here’s a bit of Sparta history for you heat fans.
This 1930 photo was recently uncovered after many years.
It’s the construction of the Sparta, Mississippi post office, which later became Sparta City Hall when the post office moved down the street in 1957. The front portico was removed when the city took possession of the building.
The Sparta Police Dept. shared space in City Hall until 1965 when the city offices moved over to the Newman County Courthouse on the square “out of convenience due to city and county business being so closely associated” according to a report in the Sparta Herald at the time.
Up there on the roof, in a stroke of irony, is Joe Gillespie and his construction crew. Now, y’all may not remember Joe. But you do remember his boy, Billy. Billy, not pictured, was 6 years old at the time of this photo. He was probably home with his mother, Elise, and his sister.
Billy went on to barely graduate high school and was drafted into the Army in 1944, served in the European theater, and was honorably discharged as a decorated sergeant on June 30, 1947.
Billy was part of the last large groups of service members to return to the U.S. as part of Operation Magic Carpet, the post-war demobilization effort. Unlike many others, he wasn’t too eager to return. After all, we know he met and married an Italian girl during this time.
Anna Katarina and Bill returned to the states, where he was able to gain employment as a night watchman at the Newman jute mill. The pay wasn’t the best, but it provided for the couple.
The jute mill soon led to a job as a deputy sheriff with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, but he didn’t stay long there either. Since home was in the rural area between Sparta and Kenard, when Newman County came calling for a daytime deputy, Bill was all to eager to change jobs. Better pay and better hours kept Bill home at night with his Italian war bride, whom many did not take kindly to. Many thought Bill had somehow married the enemy, as war sentiments remained after peace was established.
The new job was even better as Anna was expecting their first child, but it was not to be. Complications from child birth took Anna’s life and that of Baby William Jr. in 1950.
Bill could barely write Anna’s family back in Italy with the terrible news, he was so stricken with grief. The daunting task fell to his mother, Elise, who would remain in touch with Anna’s family through letters for the rest of her life.
When Bill and Anna returned to Mississippi in ‘47, he joined the Army reserves. To deal with his grief, he took leave from the sheriff’s office and returned to active duty and went on to serve as a drill sergeant at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, until the winter of 1954.
Alone and lost, as the Korean conflict continued, he wanted back in action. It was not to be, so he left the Army once and for all. Bill returned to Sparta and to the sheriff’s office until Sparta Chief of Police Grady Hatcher came calling. Bill signed on as the very first sergeant on the force in 1965, a role he served until he was appointed chief in 1967.
Now, all of that is what you’d call ‘fan fiction’ but I thought you might enjoy on this Heat Thanksgiving Day.