In Vicksburg the Religious Sisters of Mercy have had a presence - in education and health care - dating to before the Civil War.
A small group opened a school on Crawford Street, at the site of the present-day Southern Cultural Heritage Center, in 1860. That building was used as a hospital for soldiers during the Siege of Vicksburg.
After the war, the school was reopened and eventually expanded to five buildings, including a convent, on a city block bounded by Crawford, Cherry, Clay and Adams streets.
It was there that Sisters of Mercy operated an elementary and a high school for girls until 1969, when St. Francis Xavier and St. Aloysius High School, formerly operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, merged with the high school complex at Clay and Grove streets.
The Sisters operated both sites until the early 1990's, when a new elementary school was opened on Clay, and all Catholic school students were moved there.
The sisters also operated The Street Clinic, Mercy Hospital, Mercy Regional Medical Center and the McAuley House, home for the retired from their order from the 1940's until the 1990's.
A few members of the order continue to live and work in Vicksburg, in education and health.