Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Sharkey County, Mississippi

In the book It Came from Memphis,  Robert Gordon forwards one explanation behind the band name for Tav Falco and the Panther Burns: 
“The band’s name reflected the lore surrounding Panther Burn, Mississippi.  This town was menaced by an elusive wild beast that, when finally cornered, was set aflame.  Its dying shrieks so horrified the citizens that they named the community for it.  The moniker was appropriate for” Tav Falco’s assembly of musicians, The Panther Burns.
It's not clear at all where this supposed lore came from--perhaps the mind of Falco himself, or Gordon's own exaggeration--but the town of Panther Burn has plenty of actual historical information related to the naming of the town.

There are several theories based in fact on how the community got its name.  Before the draining and clearing of the Delta, panthers roamed the swamps in significant numbers in the woods.  Some folks point out that the clearing of land  sent many panthers in search of a new home.  Some of them got caught up in the burning piles of trees, and they were killed in the fires.  Still other people believe the community simply received its name due to the numerous panthers in the area combined with the fact that "burn" in the Scottish dialect can mean swampy.  It is highly unlikely that a menace panther had to be burnt alive.  Indeed, it is much more likely that Gordon's putting down some fire to sell some more books.

Population in 1987: About 100 families

Industry: Panther Burn Co., a plantation with about 6,500 acres of farmland growing cotton, soybeans, rice and wheat. The plantation employs 60 to 150 people, depending on the season. 

Settled: 1832 Government: The area is not incorporated so there is no local governing board. The area is under the jurisdiction of the Sharkey County Board of Supervisors.

Of Note: The last reported panther sighting near here was about five years ago by farmers. 

(Jackson, MS) Clarion Ledger, Nov 1, 1987.