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Dockery Farms

Dockery Farms is the birthplace of the Delta Blues and an important landmark in American history.

The Stories

The precise origins of the blues are lost to time, but one of the primal centers for the music in Mississippi was Dockery Farms. For nearly three decades the plantation was intermittently the home of Charley Patton (c. 1891–1934), the most important early Delta blues musician. Patton himself learned from fellow Dockery resident Henry Sloan and influenced many other musicians who came here, including Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Brown, Tommy Johnson, and Roebuck “Pops” Staples...

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Credit to: MS Blues Trail

Will Dockery was born in Mississippi in 1865. At the age of twenty, he graduated from the University of Mississippi. Ten years later, in 1895, he purchased hundreds of acres of Delta swamps and cane break just outside of Cleveland, the seat of government for Bolivar County. Dockery Plantation began as a lumber business but moved to cotton, a decision that required manual labor, and led to sharecropping. At its peak, Dockery covered 40 square miles and was home to more than 400 families.

Dockery Plantation became a self-sufficient town of sorts, with two churches and two schools, a dedicated physician, a post office—even its own currency, which was honored in nearby towns. Dockery also established the Pea Vine Railroad, a 12-mile spur to bring food staples and dry goods to the commissary.The Pea Vine carried the blues, too. In 1900, Bill and Annie Patton, along with their young son Charley, moved to Dockery. Charley Patton made a name for himself with his guitar playing. Other bluesmen like Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, and Son House visited and played music on Dockery,..

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Credit to: Southern Foodways Alliance

Credit to: Dockery Farms Foundation

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