Magnolia is a city in Pike County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 2071 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Pike County, which lies within the McComb, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Magnolia was founded in 1856 by Ansel H. Prewett, a local civic leader and cotton planter. Knowing that the approaching New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad (now the Illinois Central Railroad) would need a station for water and fuel, Prewett sold a right-of-way to the railroad company – for one dollar, according to legend – and divided a section of his plantation into town lots, which he sold to investors. Prewett, while serving as temporary sheriff of Pike County, was killed by outlaws in the early 1870s escorting a prisoner on the very railroad that made Magnolia a viable community.
Magnolia grew rapidly in the 1860s, and in the late nineteenth century Magnolia served as a popular small-town resort for wealthy New Orleanians, who took trains north from New Orleans to enjoy Magnolia's fresh air and sparkling creeks. At one time early Magnolia boasted an opera house, skating rink, and several hotels that catered largely to these tourists.