Birthplace of the Blues?
Dockery Farms, one of the most important plantations in the Delta, was founded in 1895 by William Alfred “Will” Dockery (1865-1936). Dockery purchased thousands of acres bordering the Sunflower River and worked for years to clear the swampy woodlands. At its peak Dockery Farms was essentially a self-sufficient town with an elementary school, churches, post and telegraph offices, its own currency, resident doctor, railroad depot, ferry, blacksmith shop, cotton gin, cemeteries, picnic grounds for the workers, and a commissary that sold dry goods, furniture, and groceries. In the early 20th century Dockery housed four hundred tenant families, most of whom were African
One such family was that of Bill Patton, Jr. and his wife Annie, who moved here with their five children from the Bolton/Edwards area east of Vicksburg in the early 1900s. The Pattons were relatively prosperous and well educated—Bill Patton later bought his own land and operated a country store in nearby Renova—and their son Charley (born between 1885 and 1891, according to various records) decided to pursue a life in music. He was inspired by an older guitarist, Henry Sloan, who like the Patton family had moved to Dockery from the Bolton area. By around 1910 Patton was himself influencing other musicians, including his longtime partner Willie Brown; Tommy Johnson, who became the most influential musician in the Jackson area; Howlin’ Wolf, who took guitar lessons from Patton after moving to the area as a teen and later recorded a version of Patton’s “Pony Blues”; and Roebuck “Pops” Staples, who later led the popular gospel group the Staple Singers. Historians have traced so much blues back to Patton and his contemporaries around Dockery and Drew that the area is regarded by some as the wellspring of Delta blues.
Patton was a popular performer in the region among both whites and blacks, and at Dockery
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 37.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail 🎶 series list. A significant historical date for this entry is April 28, 1934.
Location. 33° 43.795′ N, 90° 36.997′ W. Marker is in Dockery, Mississippi, in Sunflower County. Marker is on Lusk RoadTouch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 229 Hwy 8, Cleveland MS 38732, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Dockery Plantation (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); "Greasy Street" (approx. 3.7 miles away); Ruleville Depot (approx. 3.7 miles away); Jimmy Rogers (approx. 3.7 miles away); William Chapel (approx. 4.1 miles away); Fannie Lou Hamer (approx. 4.4 miles away); a different marker also named Fannie Lou Hamer (approx. 4.4 miles away); The Cleveland Chinese Mission School (approx. 5.6 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on May 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 27, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 51 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 27, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.