Dr. George Austin McHenry, who homesteaded in the area of South Stone County that now bears his name beginning in 1889, joined the United States Volunteers in 1898, as a contract surgeon with the rank of Captain. He served in the Spanish American War in Cuba, the Philippine insurrection, and in China. During his time in Cuba, Dr. McHenry directed the yellow fever hospital there. Since he was immune to the disease, he was able to help many others.
While serving in the Spanish American War, McHenry developed a close relationship with Leonard Wood, who later became Chief of Staff of the United States Army and was tasked with establishing military training sites throughout the United States. Because of this relationship, Dr. McHenry was instrumental in proposing the establishment of one of these training sites to be located south of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, because of the mild climate, available rail facilities, and geography. The site was selected, and in 1917 it became Camp Shelby, the largest state owned military training facility in the United States.