Established in 1826, the city is named for Powhatan Ellis, a former U.S. Senator for Mississippi and descendant of Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas. During the American Civil War, Ellisville and Jones County were a centers of pro-Union resistance. Though there were many anti-secession movements and actions throughout the Confederacy, the "Free State of Jones" had from the very beginning posed the most serious and persistent threat even going as far as to draft its own constitution. Ellisville was the major commercial and population center of Jones County until the late 19th and early 20th centuries.