In 1857 a survey crew for the G M & O Railroad chose the location for the current railroad and construction began. The Town of Verona was founded where the Richmond and Pontotoc road crossed the railroad on land that belonged to John Ratliff. John Ratliff’s daughter named the town from a city in Italy. Many of the residents of Richmond, Camargo, Palmetto, and City Point moved to Verona because of its location on the railroad. In July 1860, Verona became the first chartered Town in Lee County. Verona has been a town of many churches and schools.
Shortly after the founding of Verona, the State of Mississippi had to make a decision about whether to stay with the Union or join the Confederate States of America. The leaders of the State chose to leave the Union. The men from Verona formed a company known as the Verona Rifles and became part of the 41st Mississippi Infantry Regiment.
Because of its location on the railroad, Verona played an important part in the war. Verona served as a recruitment camp and a loading point to ship soldiers and supplies to Virginia and other places as the Army needed them. In 1864, Nathan Bedford Forrest had his headquarters camp at Verona, and many of his important battles were launched from here. It was in Verona that Forrest was promoted to General of all the cavalry in the Department of Mississippi, Alabama, and East Louisiana. General Forrest had a large supply depot in Verona. He had accumulated seven warehouses of ammunition, 34 boxcars filled with supplies, 300 captured wagons, several blacksmith shops, and thousands of weapons. On Christmas day 1864, while General Forrest was in Nashville, this supply depot was discovered and destroyed by 3500 Union cavalry. Its exact site is yet to be discovered.
Anna Scott Walker, the sister of Union General Winfield Scott, is buried in the Old Verona Cemetery. Many of the founding families of Lee County are at rest in this old cemetery. Three past members of the United States Congress, are from the Town of Verona.
In 1859 the first hotel in Lee County was started in Verona. In 1876 the first bank in Lee County was started in Verona by Alfred Raymond, Robert Trice, and Richard Clark. This bank has grown to become BancorpSouth. Three other banks had their roots in Verona. Peoples Bank, Citizens Bank, and the Bank of Verona. Verona was once known as a banking town.
When the second railroad in Lee County chose to go through Tupelo rather than Verona, many of the business that had started in Verona moved to Tupelo. Verona has remained a small, comfortable, safe and friendly place to live.
On June 17, 1933, Gladys Smith and Vernon Presley ran off to Pontotoc Mississippi to get a marriage license, and then returned to Verona to be married by Verona Justice of the Peace, Robert Emmit Kelly. We like to think that without Verona the history of music would be much different. Robert Kelly is buried just outside the City limits to Verona.
Verona’s future is very bright because of its location on three four lane highways and a railroad. We have a large industrial park to our south, and the largest rural hospital in Mississippi four miles to the north. We have one of only two full time fire departments in Lee County. We have a 110 acre lagoon that will serve out needs and growth for 75 years and we have the best drinking water of any City in Lee County.