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Mississippi John Hurt Museum destroyed by arson fire


Carroll County, Miss.

Pioneer blues and folk guitarist Mississippi John Hurt spent many nights entertaining at the Valley Store in Carroll County. The sheriff’s office is investigating a break-in at the historic store located on County Road 41 in the Teoc community.

The break-in occurred on March 2, just over one week after the Mississippi John Hurt Museum was destroyed by fire.

According to police, the owners were driving by the store, when they noticed the front door was open. Once inside the store, the owners saw several items were missing, and some windows had been broken out.

The press release said the blues trail marker for John Hurt was stolen from the front of the store. No other stolen items were listed.

On Feb. 21, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office announced a Delta Electric service technician found the museum “fully engulfed in flames.”

“The Mississippi John Hurt Foundation regrets to inform you that the Mississippi John Hurt Museum was burned down early this morning — only hours after receiving landmark status. John Hurt has long been a symbol of kindness, and the museum has always been a reminder of his gentle soul. This vicious act of arson is devastating news. We will share more information about this hateful vandalism at a later time,” according to the Mississippi John Hurt Foundation’s social media page.

Mississippi John Hurt was a legendary bluesman, who first recorded in the 1920s and was recorded by the Library of Congress in the 1960s. He died in 1966. The Mississippi Blues Trail records say Hurt used to play his guitar while sitting on the steps of the Valley Store.

On Feb. 23, the foundation took to social media again thanking the public for support regarding the “utter destruction” of the museum. The post also stated the challenges connected to John Hurt’s legacy.

“Over the past several years, the historic St. James Cemetery where John Hurt is buried was illegally sold, renamed, and desecrated,” the post states. “A marker to honor John Hurt, erected by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at the intersection of Highway 7 and County Road 204, was knocked down and then mysteriously disappeared. I have received numerous death threats–including a warning that my home would be burnt with me in it. And now this. Mississippi John Hurt is not welcome in Carroll County, Miss. As the most famous resident to emerge from this otherwise unremarkable town, it is shameful that he is not celebrated there.”

The Mississippi John Hurt Foundation has established a GoFundMe for anyone who would like to donate.