Long before the appearance of European explorers and east coast colonial settlers, the land area that would become Mississippi was the home of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and other American Indian tribes. For many centuries, these peoples called this land home. The area that today is known as Smith County was part of the Choctaw Nation's domain, but this would end in 1830 with the “Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.” This was the last treaty between the white man and the Choctaw, and it would be the one that gave up all remaining land in Mississippi.
Some three years later, on December 23, 1833, Smith County was carved out of this land area. It was one of several counties formed at this time from this vast area ceded in the Treaty of 1830.
Smith County was named for Major David Smith who served as a Private in the Revolutionary War at Kings Mountain, Cowpens, and Euthaw Springs. Historians agree that Hwy 531 in Smith County runs along the location of Andrew Jackson's Military Road. This road was a route which ran from Nashville to New Orleans and which later was improved with federal funds and named after Andrew Jackson.
The county’s outline is almost a quadrangle being 30 miles north and south and 22 miles east and west. The area is about 660 square miles. Neighboring counties are Scott, Jasper, Jones, Covington, Simpson, and Rankin.
Settlers quickly came into the area and made homes in the new land. Migration primarily came from Georgia and Alabama with family roots that went back to Virginia and the Carolinas. The early times were tough. Families had to carve homesteads from wooded lands and grow crops that supplied daily needs and little income to meet other needs. A strong belief in God was a big part of these early settlers’ constitution, and churches and schools, along with the individual settlements, soon dotted the landscape. Many of these early communities, schools, and churches are gone, but their presence and influence remains a part of Smith County history. The first county seat was at Fairfield, four miles south of present day Raleigh. Not long afterward, it was relocated to Raleigh, named for Sir Walter Raleigh. Three county courthouses have burned destroying many of the county historical records. The present courthouse was built in 1912.