Panola County is a county located in the U.S. state of Mississippi, just east of the Mississippi Delta. As of 2010, the population was 34,707. Its county seats are Sardis and Batesville. Panola is a Native American word which means cotton.
Panola County was established February 9, 1836, and is one of the twelve large northern Mississippi counties created in that year out of the Chickasaw Cession of 1832. The original act defined its limits as follows:
Beginning at the point where the line between ranges 9 and 10 strikes the center of section 6, and running thence south with the said range line, and from its termination in a direct line to the northern boundary of Tallahatchie County and thence along the northern boundary of Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties, to the center of range 5 west; thence north through the center of range 5 west, according to the sectional lines, to the center of township six; thence west through the center of township six, according to the sectional lines, to the beginning.
On February 1, 1877, when Quitman County was created, Panola surrendered a small fraction of its southwestern area to assist in forming that county, which reduced Panola from an area of to its present land surface of . It had a population of 27,845, in 1920. Its inhabitants gradually increased in numbers from 1850 to 1910, from 11,444 to 31,274.
Two of the oldest settlements in the county were at Belmont and Panola, a few miles apart, and on opposite sides of the Tallahatchie River. For several years there was a spirited contest between these two towns over the location of the courthouse of Panola County. With the advent of the Mississippi and Tennessee (now the Illinois Central railroad) Belmont was absorbed by Sardis, and Panola was absorbed by Batesville. One result of the above contest is found in the two judicial districts of the county, Sardis being the seat of justice for the first judicial district, and Batesville for the second judicial district into which the county is divided.