Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art opened in 1923 to commemorate Lauren Eastman Rogers, son and grandson to prominent founding fathers of Laurel, MS. Following Lauren Roger’s untimely death in 1921, father Wallace Brown Rogers and grandfather Lauren Chase Eastman created the Eastman Memorial Foundation to promote public welfare in the state of Mississippi by way of education and the arts.

Designed by New Orleans architect Rathbone deBuys and locally built with slender, attenuated metal columns by the Laurel Machine and Foundry Company, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is a breathtaking example of the Georgian Revival structure. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is located on Fifth Avenue in the center of Laurel, MS, at the very site where Lauren Eastman Rogers was building a home for his new bride, Lelia.

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art features extensive art collections, including Native American art, European art, American art, Japanese Woodblock prints, British Georgian silver, and seasonal exhibitions. The local history library comprises 10,000 volumes of books, periodicals, exhibition catalogues, and other research materials pertaining to art history and art references.

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art also offers educational outreach, trunk shows, and classes for continued community involvement and growth.

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Knight Family Cemetery

The Knight Family Cemetery, located deep within the Piney Woods just outside of Jones County, is the final resting place of Newt Knight, his beloved common-law wife, Rachel and other members of the Knight Family.

The secrets, legends and memories it holds have long been a mystery to most who call Jones County home. Now, you have the opportunity to tour this place that has been kept from view for over 100 years.

On February 16, 1922, Newt Knight died of old age at the age of 92. In defiance of a state law which prohibited blacks and whites to be buried in the same cemetery, Newt was buried in a pine box beside Rachel on a high ridge overlooking his homestead.

Visit The Knight Family Cemetery online at

Tom Lester

Thomas William “Tom” Lester (born September 23, 1938 in Laurel, MS) was an American actor and evangelist. He was best known for his role as farmhand Eb Dawson on the television show Green Acres. He appeared in two feature animal films, Gordy and Benji. He passed away on April 20, 2020, in Nashville, TN. Wikipedia

Mark Augustus Landis

Mark Augustus Landis is an American painter who lives in Laurel, Mississippi. He is best known for “donating” large numbers of forged paintings and drawings to American art museums. He was exposed in 2008. Wikipedia

Newton Knight

Newton Knight (November 1837 – February 16, 1922) was an American farmer, soldier and Southern Unionist, best known as the leader of the Knight Company, a band of Confederate Army deserters that turned against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Local legends state that Knight and his men attempted to form the “Free State of Jones” in the area around Jones County, Mississippi, at the height of the war.

After the war, Knight aided Mississippi’s Reconstruction government. Knight has long been a controversial figure. Historians and descendants disagree over his motives and actions, with some arguing he was a noble and pious individual who refused to fight for a cause in which he did not believe, while others have portrayed him as a manipulative outlaw. This controversy was fueled in part by Knight’s common-law marriage to a former slave, which effectively established a small mixed-race community in southeastern Mississippi.[4] The marriage would have been considered illegal as Mississippi banned interracial marriages except from 1870–1880 during Reconstruction.

The 1942 James H. Street novel, Tap Roots, was inspired by Knight’s actions in the Civil War. The novel was the basis for the 1948 film of the same name, which was directed by George Marshall. The film ignored the interracial aspect, instead casting the tension as one of class.


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Ralph Harold Boston

Ralph Harold Boston (born May 9, 1939) is a retired American track athlete. An all around competitor, he is best remembered for the long jump, in which he was the first person to break the 27 feet (8.2 m) barrier.

Boston was born in Laurel, Mississippi. As a student at Tennessee State University, he won the 1960 National Collegiate Athletic Association title in the long jump. In August of the same year, he broke the world record in the event, held by Jesse Owens for 25 years. Already the world record holder, he improved the mark past 27 feet, jumping 27′ 1/2″ at the Modesto Relays on May 27, 1961.[2]

He qualified for the Summer Olympics in Rome, where he took the gold medal in the long jump, setting the Olympic recordat 8.12 m (26 ft 712 in), while narrowly defeating American teammate Bo Roberson by a mere centimeter.[1]

Between the Olympic Games, Boston won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championship in the long jump in 1961, 1962, 1963, and 1964. He also had the longest triple jump for an American in 1963. He returned to the Tokyo Olympics as the world record holder after losing the record to Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, then regaining the record a couple of months before the games. In the Olympic final, Boston exchanged the lead with Ter-Ovanesyan. Going into the fifth round, Boston was leading but fouled while both Lynn Davies and Ter-Ovanesyan jumped past him. On his final jump, he was able to jump past Ter-Ovanesyan, but could not catch Davies and ended winning the silver medal.[1]

Although Boston lost the world record again to Ter-Ovanesyan, the national title and the #1 ranking in 1968, he continued to compete. When rival Bob Beamon was suspended from the University of Texas at El Paso, for refusing to compete against Brigham Young University, alleging it had racist policies Boston began to coach him unofficially.[3] At the 1968 Olympics, Boston watched his pupil destroy the world record by jumping 8.90 m (29′ 2 1/2″). Boston was then 29 years old. He won a bronze medal behind Beamon and Klaus Beer and retired from competitions shortly thereafter.[1] He moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, and worked for the University of Tennessee as Coordinator of Minority Affairs and Assistant Dean of Students from 1968 to 1975.[4] He was the field event reporter for the CBS Sports Spectacular coverage of domestic track and field events. He was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974 and into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1985.[5]

Los Angeles Times article on Boston from August 2, 2010, coinciding roughly with the 50th anniversary of his initial world record, described him as a divorced great-grandfather who is writing an autobiography. He divides his time between Atlanta, Georgia and Knoxville.[6]


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