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The area which is now Yazoo County was acquired by the State of Mississippi from the Choctaw Indians in 1820. Yazoo County was established on January 21, 1823. It was the 19th county established in the State of Mississippi, and remains the largest in area. It was developed for cotton plantations, and the first had access to the major river. The first county seat was at Beatties Bluff. In 1829, the county seat was moved to Benton. In 1849 the county seat was moved again, to Yazoo City, where it remains.
Yazoo County was a battlefield in 1863 and 1864 during the American Civil War. After the war, there was violence of whites against freedmen. Such violence continued after Reconstruction. In the period from 1877 to 1950, Yazoo County had 18 documented lynchings of African Americans. Most occurred around the turn of the 20th century, as part of white imposition of Jim Crow conditions and suppression of black voting.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 934 square miles (2,420 km2), of which 923 square miles (2,390 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (1.2%) is water. It is the largest county in Mississippi by land area and third-largest by total area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 28,149 people, 9,178 households, and 6,644 families living in the county. The population density was 31 people per square mile (12/km²). There were 10,015 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 53.96% Black or African American, 44.74% White, 0.20% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.22% from other races, and 0.52% from two or more races. 4.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
35.60% of the 9,178 households have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.20% were married couples living together, 23.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.60% were non-families. 24.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.35.
In the county, the population was spread out with 28.50% under the age of 18, 9.80% from 18 to 24, 29.20% from 25 to 44, 20.10% from 45 to 64, and 12.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 103.60 males (boys). For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $24,795, and the median income for a family was $29,395. Males had a median income of $28,553 versus $19,797 for females. The per capita income for the county was $12,062. About 25.40% of families and 31.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.90% of those under age 18 and 22.50% of those age 65 or over.