Yazoo County was created in 1823 by the Mississippi legislature, When created it was several times larger than it is today before other counties to the north were carved out of it.
A town site on the Yazoo river, to be named Manchester, was thoroughly surveyed and designed on paper to fit the contour of the site. Its streets were given names they still have today, and the entire town was subdivided into numbered lots, all before a single soul lived there.
After wide advertising in the small newspapers of the day in South Mississippi and neighboring states, the proprietors announced an auction sale of lots in Manchester on February 22, 1830. A chartered steamboat brought potential buyers, docking at the foot of Main Street as a floating hotel; and in the first two days most of the choicest downtown real estate had been sold. By 1840 Manchester had over 1,000 residents, white and black, and was shipping 25,000 bales of cotton a year. In 1841, to honor its river, so vital to its economy, Manchester’s citizens voted to change its name to Yazoo City.
Yazooans were fervent supporters of the Mexican War, 1846-1848. When the U.S. Secretary of War requested a 1,000-man regiment of volunteers from Mississippi, Yazoo City and County boys, under Captain John Sharp of Benton, then the county seat, formed the 100-man Yazoo Rifles Company. In a contest among 17,000 volunteers in Vicksburg in June, the Yazoo Rifles were selected as Company A of the regiment to be led by Colonel Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy.
In 1848, because of its size and the convenience of more central location in Yazoo County, the Mississippi legislature transferred the county seat to Yazoo City. The town continued to grow, with a beautiful new courthouse designed by the same architect who gave Mississippi the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson and the Lyceum at Ole Miss.
During the Civil War's Vicksburg campaign which lasted until July 4, 1863, and especially afterwards, as Vicksburg remained a Northern citadel, the Yazoo River was completely controlled by the Union fleet, and Yazoo City was temporarily occupied and sacked for provisions six times. Only the last time was there some wanton destruction, and the beautiful courthouse burned. By wars end the town was all but prostrate, and very difficult period of recovery, under an especially despised carpet-bagger sheriff, lasted for 10 years.
But after the 1870’s Yazoo City was back on its feet; cotton production in the area (before the boll weevil!) was booming; the railroad arrived in 1884. Electricity was introduced in 1888, followed by street lights that burned all night unless the moon was shining. By 1900 there were two private telephone systems (for in-town use only), an ice-plant, a yarn mill and a cotton compress. From 1909 to 1919, a city-owned street car system operated on the principal streets - only the second one in the United States as most systems were run by private companies.
The greatest catastrophe to hit Yazoo City since the Civil War struck on an unusually windy May 25, 1904. A little boy playing with matches under his home set fire to it, only a block from the heart of the business district. In spite of assistance from the Jackson Fire Department, which sped some of it’s equipment up by special train, the fire raged out of control. It destroyed the entire business district and more than 100 residences on adjacent streets. All churches but one were lost. Only the courthouse built in 1872, the new library and the unfinished school beside it, were spared, as there were open ground area around them for protection. Fortunately not a single life was lost, but Yazoo City was in ruins. The town was quickly rebuilt on precisely the same sites, and the handsome, homogeneous new brick stores from 1905-1906 lining Main Street today are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The county has a total area of 934.12 square miles of which 919.48 square miles is land and 14.64 square miles (1.57%) is water. The population recorded in the 1830 Federal Census was 6,550. The population peaked in 1910 at 46,662. The 2010 census recorded 28,065 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Humphreys County (north), Holmes County (north-northeast), Attala County (northeast), Madison County (east), Hinds County (south), Warren County (southwest), Issaquena County (west), and Sharkey County (northwest). The county seat is Yazoo City. Other communities in the county include Bentonia, Satartia, Eden, Anding, Benton, Carter, Holly Bluff, Hopewell Landing, Little Yazoo, Midway, Oil City, Tinsley, and Vaughan.