Celebrating a hero

Published 11:40 am Thursday, March 6, 2014

It was about time the heroics of one man on an awful night in 1939 Warren County were celebrated properly.

On Monday, the Warren County supervisors went along with the idea that part of U.S. 80, between Warriors Trail and the Big Black River, be named for Andrew ‘Sugarman’ Daniel. Hinds County plans to do the same between Smith Station Road and Highway 80 West.

Daniel, a laborer from Edwards who worked menial jobs and known around the area as “Sugarman”, pulled several bodies out of Clear Creek, on the Warren County side of the river, after the bridge over the waterway collapsed during a heavy rainstorm the night of March 29, 1939.

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Sixteen people died, but Daniel, who rushed to the scene when he heard the bridge had collapsed, hooked cables to vehicles and began diving in to rescue who he could. He was paid $44.27 by Warren County for his actions; he died in 1969. In 1980, author and Clinton resident Joedda Gore penned a book that chronicled his life and started a gradual movement to recognize his actions in some way.

That’s come to fruition with a committee of citizens from Edwards and law enforcement from both sides of the county line. On Saturday, March 29, the 75th anniversary of the disaster, organizers plan to record any stories from people who might have known Daniel, run a motorcade from Edwards to the crash site and lay a wreath on the bridge, among other possible events.

Rightfully, parts of highways and byways in the state are named for a mercurial blues singer who hopped trains to make a living playing music and law enforcement officers who laid down their lives protecting and serving the public.

In keeping with the romantic mystery of an age in Mississippi when written records were still scarce, a precise number of people he rescued isn’t known. But, his legacy should be preserved all the same.