Henry Simpson McComb, a self-made man from Wilmington, Delaware, was the son of a blacksmith. With a minimum of formal schooling, he would become a Union Colonel of the Fifth Delaware Regiment during the Civil War. After the war, McComb became interested in railroads. By 1868 he had quickly worked his way to the presidency of the Mississippi Central Railroad.

When he took over the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad, he decided to move the shops to a more isolated area away from moral temptations and the high cost of living. He selected the present-day McComb. On April 5, 1872, McComb was chartered as an incorporated city. The colonel offered building lots in the new city at low prices on easy credit and urged his employees with families to build their homes there.


Jack Bevin, popular president of the ICRR from December, 1938, until his death in 1945, was born in McComb in a house owned by the railroad. At 13 years of age this engineer's son became a $25-a-month messenger boy for the railroad; working his way to the elevation of president. For the first time in the railroad's history, the company had a home-grown president born into an IC family. This World War II ICRR leader looked upon the Illinois Central as an organization which would function best if a high priority were given to goodwill and friendship.


Simeon Taylor Webb, born McComb, was the fireman on Casey Jones's fatal run. Casey shouted, "Jump, Sim, Jump!" seconds before the Illinois Central's Cannonball Express plowed into the rear of a freight train near Vaughn, Mississippi, on the night of April 30, 1900. Sim received a settlement of $5.00 from the ICRR for body bruises caused from jumping off Engine 382.