A unique county record group in Mississippi is the collection of livestock markings. The Itawamba County Stock Mark book is a small bound book (6 ½ inches by 7 ½ inches) and contains registrations from 1851 through 1904. Most all the entries are ear marks.
During the 19th Century and early 20th Century, many farmers let their stock graze in unfenced areas called the open range. In Itawamba County the creek bottomlands and the Tombigbee River lowlands were popular areas for open ranges. Branding and ear marking were used to identify the owners of the cattle. The State of Mississippi passed livestock laws that included a system of registering such brands and ear markings. By the late 1800’s fencing laws were enacted and the need for a county stock mark book ended during the early 1900’s.
Common ear marks included such marks as crop, swallow-fork, under-bit, over-bit and half-crop. Livestock that was not marked was usually referred to as “slick-ear.”
The Itawamba Historical Society is transcribing the entire Itawamba County stock mark book and the transcription will be published in the Summer 2008 issue of Itawamba Settlers magazine. Digital images of the entire book and an index will be placed online at a later date.