Visit Jackson TN and Jackson Madison County Bicentennial Partner
to Create Historical Driving Tour Through Madison County
Historian and local teacher Robert Briley has worked with the Jackson Madison County Bicentennial and Visit Jackson TN to create a historical driving tour to celebrate the 200th birthday of the City of Jackson and Madison County.
Briley is the History Department Chairman at Trinity Christian Academy and an adjunct instructor at Union University. He previously taught history at North Side High School for 29 years.
To participate in the tour, download the Visit Jackson TN app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. It can also be found on the Visit Jackson TN website jacksontn.com/tourism. A direct link to the site can be found at https://jacksontn.visitwidget.com/tours/bicentennial-historic-stops. Navigate to tours using the main menu and click on “Bicentennial Historic Stops.” Each stop includes an address, photo and brief description of the significance of the location in Madison County history. Robert Roy provided photos for the historical tour.
Forty-two historical locations can be found on the app and jacksonmadison200.com website. Locations include Pinson Mounds, Armstrong’s Raid, Bemis, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson’s birthplace, Britton Lane Battlefield, Denmark Presbyterian Church, New Southern Hotel, Woolworth, Madison County Courthouse, M.D. Anderson’s birthplace, Carnegie Library, First United Methodist Church and many more.
Follow @jacksonmadison200 on Facebook and Instagram for updates and other Jackson Madison County Bicentennial events. Additional information is also available at jacksonmadison200.com.
- 460 Ozier Rd, Pinson
- Pinson Mounds is one of two state archaeological parks. The prehistoric earthworks complex consists of at least 17 earthen mounds that encompass more than 400 acres of the 1,300-acre park. Pinson is the largest Middle Woodland period (200 B.C. to A.D. 500) mound center of the Southeast. Sauls Mound, at 72 feet, is the second tallest mound in the United States.
Armstrong’s Raid (Civil War battle)
- Hwy 18 & Bowman-Collins Road Medon,TN
- Raiding northward out of Mississippi to prevent reinforcement by U.S. Grant, ConfederateGeneral Frank C. Armstrong’s Cavalry Brigade passed through LaGrange and Grand Junction, engaged Federal troops at Bolivar and cut the railroad at Toone. They besieged a Union garrison here in late August 1862, then moved west to fight the Battle of Britton Lane.
- Founded in 1900 by Judson Moss Bemis, president of Bemis Brothers Bag Company. Bemis was a cotton mill town, planned by Albert Farwell Bemis and renowned architects Andrew Hepburn and Arthur Shurchiff. A self-contained town, Bemis consisted of a four story mill, worker housing, church, auditorium-theater, schools, company store, YMCA, public bath house, park, post office, and other commercial facilities.
John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson
- Hwy 18 & Caldwell Road
- Near this spot, “Sonny Boy ” Williamson (1914-1948) was born. The music innovator was responsible for the acceptance of the harmonica as an authentic blues tool and is considered the most influential blues harmonica player of his day, made a powerful contribution to American music and is recognized as a master of the blues genre.
Sonny Boy Williamson’s Grave
- Blairs Chapel CME Cemetery on Blairs Chapel Road
- In the early hours of the morning, on June 1, 1948, the blues world lost one of its most influential harmonica players when John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson was beaten to death as he left one of Chicago’s nightclubs. In keeping with the lyrics he often sang in life, “Now I want to bury my body, ‘way down in Jackson, Tennessee,” Williamson’s body was conveyed to the city of his birth. For forty-two years, his body rested in an unmarked grave, sheltered by the deep shadows of the Jackson woods and covered with a verdant blanket of kudzu. In 1990, RCA Records, whose corporate history includes the Bluebird and Victor labels on which Williamson became famous, presented a rose granite gravestone to mark the resting place of the forgotten blues great.
Britton Lane Battlefield
- 4707 Steam Mill Ferry Road, Medon
- On September 1, 1862,Confederate Gen. Frank C. Armstrong’s Cavalry Brigade here struck Col. Elias S. Dennis’ Federal force of two cavalry troops, a battery and two infantry regiments. After four hours, in which they suffered heavy losses while taking 213 prisoners, and two field pieces, the raiders withdrew, their mission accomplished.
Denmark Presbyterian Church
- 2799 Denmark-Jackson Road, Denmark
- This church, built by slaves in 1854, played a significant role in Madison County’s Civil War experiences. In April 1861, days after the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, 104 local men formed a company called The Danes, later part of the 6th Tennessee Infantry (CSA). The community gathered here at the church to watch the new soldiers muster before they left for Camp Beauregard in nearby Jackson.
- On the eve of the Battle of Britton Lane on August 31, 1862, the 20th and 30th Illinois Infantry Regiments commanded by Col. Elias S. Dennis camped in a grove of mulberry trees near the church. After the battle, Confederate Gen. Frank C. Armstrong’s cavalry brigade spent the night in Denmark on its return south. The Confederates kept their prisoners on the church’s second floor, which was a Masonic Lodge. Inscriptions believed to have been written by these Federal soldiers can still be seen along the bottoms of the walls.
- By 1863, the Union army controlled much of West Tennessee. Local Confederates returning to Denmark on leave had to be careful. During one Sunday service here, a Federal patrol burst into the church and two visiting Confederates had to hide under their girlfriends’ hoop skirts to avoid capture.
New Southern Hotel
- 112 East Baltimore Street
- The New Southern Hotel was built in 1927 and was considered not only a showplace for downtown Jackson, but also the center of social life for the area. From the opening date until well into the 1970’s, The New Southern Hotel hosted meetings, fundraisers, weddings, and major events.
- 101 East Main Street-present location of the Jackson City Hall
- Woolworth was a “five & dime” store which was popular across the world until the 1980s. Jackson’s Woolworth was the scene of a civil rights sit-in in 1960. Lane College students led this sit-in in an effort to desegregate restaurants in Jackson.
- https://www.ourjacksonhome.com/blog-2/2020/6/11/old-country-store -exhibit
Madison County Courthouse
- 100 East Main Street
- Site of Davy Crockett’s farewell speech-This marker with a quote by David Crockett is on the northeast side of the Madison County Courthouse. On this site in 1831 Congressman Crockett, defeated for reelection, told the citizens of Jackson and Tennessee “You can go to hell, but I am going to Texas!” He went to Texas where he died in the Battle of the Alamo.
- Birthplace-111 East Orleans Street
- Historical marker-Highland/E Baltimore
- Monroe Dunaway Anderson is known as the “father” of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. He was born June 29, 1873 on McNairy Hill at the present site of 111 East Orleans Street. Educated in Jackson City Schools and at Union University, he was a banker, philanthropist, and founding partner of Anderson, Clayton & Co., the world’s largest merchandiser of cotton during the mid-20th century. His $19 million estate was as of 1939, the largest charitable fund created in the state of Texas. Anderson’s generosity not only helped establish the world’s largest medical center but also libraries, auditoriums, college buildings, and, on the campus of Lambuth University, a planetarium. He is buried with his family in Jackson’s Riverside Cemetery.
- https://www.mdanderson.org/about-md-anderson/facts-history/who-w as-md-anderson.html
- 305 East College Street
- Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated millions of dollars to cities across the world to build libraries. One such donation was made to Jackson. The present Carnegie Center for Arts and History, located in downtown Jackson, opened in 1903 as the Jackson Free Library, the town’s first library, financed by Jackson City Council funds and a matching $30,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In 1968, the Carnegie was replaced by the newer larger Jackson-Madison County Library and was allowed to fall into disrepair from 1968 to 1987. The Carnegie has been restored through the efforts of the Jackson Recreation and Parks Department to its original beauty and usefulness to serve the city and surrounding area as an art and history center.
First United Methodist Church
- 200 South Church
- In 1826, the Reverend Thomas Neely organized Jackson’s First Methodist Church. Its first house of worship was built in 1831 on the southeast corner of Church and Chester Streets. During the Civil War, Union forces used the church’s 1851 edifice as a hospital and stable. In 1870, First Methodist played a major role in organizing the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, which is now known as the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. This sanctuary formally opened on September 6, 1914.
Cotton Grove Community
- Cotton Grove Road & Hwy 20
- In 1819 several families formed the first settlement in what was to be known as Madison County 2.1 miles west on the Cotton Grove Road. Said road was built this same year. In 1821 the first cotton in the county was grown here. A post office and stagecoach stop operated here in 1834. Only the road and Baptist Church retain the Cotton Grove name.
- 4 miles northeast of Jackson on Cotton Grove Road
- Burial place of Adam Huntsman-Adam Huntsman (1786-1849) is best remembered for being the one legged, “timber toe” lawyer who beat David Crockett for Congress in 1835, leading to his journey to Texas and heroic death at the Alamo. He served five terms in the state senate, one term in Congress, and was an influential member of the 1835 constitutional convention. Despite losing his leg, he never lost his sense of humor. It was an essential ingredient in his political writings and speeches, sprinkled with Biblical references and selections from Aesop’s Fables. It brought him personal popularity in courtrooms and on the campaign trail, where he never lost a race for public office.
- Civil War battlefield-Here on December 19, 1862, Confederate forces under the command of General Nathan B. Forest fought Union forces commanded by Colonel Adolph Englemann. Approximately 1,500 men were engaged in the four hour battle. After a Confederate artillery forced the retreat of the Federals, Forest withdrew toward Humboldt. The exact number of casualties is unknown, but it is estimated that Confederate losses were 65 killed, wounded, or missing. Federal losses were 2 killed and 6 wounded. Except for the paving of Cotton Grove Road, all of the natural features, and the road itself, remain unchanged from the time the battle occurred in 1862.
Skirmish at Carroll Station (Civil War battle)
- Ashport Road & Cooper Anderson Road
- Here, on the bitterly cold morning of December 19, 1862, while
General N. B. Forrest (C.S.A.) fought at Salem Cemetery seven miles southeast, Colonel G. G. Dibrell’s 8th Tennessee Cavalry regiment was sent to interrupt federal reinforcement from the north. Carroll Station was garrisoned by 101 soldiers from companies C and G of the 106th Illinois Infantry, all of whom were captured. Their stockade was burned and the railroad was heavily damaged. Dibrell rejoined Forrest near Spring Creek.
Forrest’s Raid (Civil War battle)
- Spring Creek & Law Road
- In 1862,at Spring Creek, Forrest, successful in the first part of his raid, regrouped his small brigade for further raids on Federals to the north. Here, the 4th Alabama Cavalry (Col. Russell), covering his rear, Forest several companies of Federal cavalry and a regiment of infantry supported by two batteries of artillery.
U.S. Grant’s HQ (Civil War)
- 535 East Main & Walden Street in a small park
- In 1862 when the Union forces occupied Jackson during the weeks prior to the Battle of Shiloh General Ulysses S. Grant made his headquarters in this area of Jackson.
Jackson Railroad Depot
- 582 South Royal Street
The Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Depot was built in 1907.
- The brick structure was designed to complement nearby Lancaster Park with its beautiful gardens, mineral electro-chalybeate wells, baseball park and fairgrounds. Ex-president Teddy Roosevelt spoke at the depot in 1912 while running on the Bullmoose ticket for president. Franklin D. Roosevelt passed through here on a special train at 3 am. On the morning of March 20, 1942 on the way to Nashville and to Washington. The City of Jackson has restored the Depot into a museum- a lasting tribute to the impact of the railroads on the growth of Jackson and Madison County.Now, the museum’s permanent collection includes photographs, artifacts and related memorabilia associated with the railroad and local history. Also located on the grounds of the museum are an Amtrak dining car and two cabooses.
- https://jacksontn.gov/government/departments/recreation_parks/facilit ies/n_c_st_l_depot_railroad_museum
Electro Chalybeate Well (Artesian Well)
- 604 South Royal Street
- Thousands visited this artesian well in the early 1900’s to drink its mineral water believed to cure stomach, liver and kidney ailments. It and the adjacent water plant, built in 1885.
Andrew Jackson Speech
- South Royal Street-across from the railroad depot
- Here in a grove, Oct. 8, 1840, Andrew Jackson spoke before about 10,000 enthusiastic listeners. Accompanied by James K. Polk (later to be President) and Senator Felix Grundy, he was an honored guest at a barbecue. Veterans of the War of 1812 and relatives who had named the town for him in 1822, welcomed him upon his second visit to the city.
Mabel Louise “Big Maybelle” Smith
- West side of South Highland Avenue near the intersection with Martin Luther King Drive across from the main U.S. Post Office.
- Born in Jackson on May 1. 1924, became an award winning R&B singer until her death in 1972. She was “discovered” while singing in
a church that was once located in this spot.
Southern Engine & Boiler Works/Marathon Motor Works
- 342 North Royal Street
- This was the original location of the Southern Engine & Boiler Works which became the Marathon Motor Works. William Collier, a Southern Engine and Boiler Works engineer, designed an automobile in 1906, and by 1910 approximately six hundred cars were made in Jackson and sold as Southerns. The two models, a rumble-seat roadster and a five-seat touring car, sold for fifteen hundred dollars. The discovery of another auto also called Southern led Collier to name his models Marathon.
Butler Race Track/Memphis Conference Female Institute
- Auditorium Drive & East Chester
- William E. Butler, who served as Surgeon-General to Andrew Jackson in New Orleans and later considered one of the founders of Jackson, owned a race track located on this block. Jackson and his wife, Rachel Donelson Jackson, attended races here in 1825. In 1843 Dr. Butler donated the site for a school for young women of the Mid-South known as the Memphis Conference Female Institute. After eighty years the school was relocated in Jackson as a coeducational institution and was renamed Lambuth College.
Greyhound Bus Station
- 407 East Main
- Built in 1938, (closed 2018)
- The Greyhound station was built in 1938 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 for its architectural significance in the style of art deco. Before it accepted its final Greyhound bus in October 2018, it was the last original Greyhound station in Tennessee still being used for its original purpose.
Austin Raymond Merry
- South Highland & Austin Merry Blvd (South Royal)
- When the Jackson school system organized in 1879, the first black educator and principal hired was Austin Raymond Merry (1856-1921). Professor Merry pioneered the development of the first school for African Americans in Madison County. He established the South Jackson School for Colored which was the forerunner of what was to become Merry High School.
- With the addition of the twelfth grade in 1922 the South Jackson School on Church Street, the city’s only secondary school for black youth, was renamed Merry High School in honor of Merry, the principal who had pioneered the school’s change from the elementary to the secondary level. The school was moved to Tanyard Street in 1935 and then in 1957 to new facilities located on Lane Avenue at Royal Street. Merry High School merged with formerly all white Jackson High School in 1970 by court order to form Jackson Central Merry High School.
- 300 Riverside Drive
- Established in 1830, many of the region’s pioneers are buried here including the founder of Jackson, Dr. William Butler and M.D Anderson, known as the “father” of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas.. Also found are veterans of all wars from the Revolution to World War II. In two sections lie unnamed Confederate soldiers who participated in the Battle of Jackson during the Civil War.
- 406 Hollywood Drive
- Hollywood Cemetery was the dominant cemetery in Jackson from about 1890 to about 1960 and is still being used for burials. There are an estimated 1,600-1,800 people buried here. There are many important Jacksonians buried here including legendary educator, historian and librarian, Emma Inman Williams, author of Historic Madison.
Union Bank of Tennessee Bank Robbery
- 120 East Baltimore
- In the 19th century a bank stood on this spot in downtown Jackson, Citizens of Jackson awakened on the morning of February 4, 1859, to discover that the local branch of the Union Bank of Tennessee had been robbed of $17,300 in paper currency and $5,700 in gold coins. Tragically, the bank’s clerk, 28-year-old George E. Miller, had been brutally murdered, a canceling hammer he used in banking business smashed into his skull. Despite a diligent search by local authorities, the murderer (or murderers) was never brought to justice. Memories of the unsolved crimes resurfaced-literally-over 125 years later, when city workers unearthed a mysterious cache of gold coins believed to be part of the bank’s stolen money.
Gold Discovered from 1859 Bank Robbery
- 222 West Main Street (in city parking lot next to Autotech Service
- In 1985, city workers uncovered a cache of gold coins all dating before the 1859 robbery. Citizens descended on the site, and it is not known how many coins were finally discovered. It is a reasonable assumption that this was part of the stolen money.
- Corner of Airways & Hollywood
- This was the staging area for men volunteering for the Confederate Army in the Jackson area. Among the Confederate units activated and trained in the staging area which stood here were the 6th Tenn. Infantry (Stephens), 9th Tenn. Infantry (Douglass), 12th Tenn. Infantry (Russell), 13th Tenn. Infantry (Wright), and 15th Tenn. Infantry (Carroll). The camp was activated in May, 1861; Col. William H. Stephens, CSA. was its first commander. Normal procedure was for companies to organize in their home communities, then to repair here for organization into regiments.
- Airways Blvd across from the West TN AgResearch & Education Center at the Forked Deer River
- In this area, on the bank of the Forked Deer River was the little river port of Jackson, at first called Alexandria, from which cotton was shipped on flat-boats and small steamboats to Memphis and New Orleans during the early decades of the 19th century.
- 2829 Airways Blvd & Westover Road in the middle of the median
- West of Jackson lived the notorious bandit and outlaw, born 1804 in Williamson Co. Leader of the “Mystic Clan”, he fomented slave insurrections and terrorized the lower Mississippi Valley for years. He died at Pikeville in 1844 after serving a prison term for slave stealing. His unsavory career has been embellished through legend and fiction.
Mother Liberty CME Church
- 456 South Highland Avenue
- In 1870, a group of 41 former slaves organized the historically black denomination in Jackson, formerly known as the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America. The religious group has since expanded widely across the United States, Jamaica, Haiti and 27 African countries.
First Presbyterian Church
- 1573 North Highland
- First Presbyterian Church, which was organized in 1823, is Jackson’s oldest church. The first church edifice was built in 1832 at Main and Church streets, remaining there for 120 years. In 1952, the church moved to this site. Known as Willow Banks, it was the home of Colonel William H. Stephens, CSA. Later, it was the home of Clarence Pigford, owner of the Jackson Sun.
- 1050 Union University Drive
- Union University is an heir of West Tennessee College, chartered in 1844; its predecessor Jackson Male Academy established in 1823; and Union University, a Baptist College in Murfreesboro chartered in 1842. In 1873, the colleges merged in Jackson to form a regional university, Southwestern Baptist University. In 1907, because of continued alumni links, the name was changed to Union University. In 1975, the campus moved to its present location, from downtown Jackson. Union University is the oldest institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
University of Memphis/Lambuth Campus
- 705 Lambuth Blvd
- Charted in 1843 at the Memphis Conference Female Institute by the Memphis Conference, Methodist Episocpal Church. Its first president was Dr. Lorenzo Lea. The college became coeducational and received the name Lambuth in 1923. Shortly thereafter it moved to this location from Chester Street and R.E. Womack was elected president. In August 2011 Lambuth became affiliated with the University of Memphis.
Lane College Campus
- 545 Lane Avenue
- Founded in 1882 by Bishop Isaac Lane, a former slave, Lane College is proud to be one of the nation’s oldest Historically Black Colleges, and the first four year institution established by the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. Consistent with its tradition of providing educational opportunities for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college, Lane College is committed to preparing students, through its liberal arts curriculum, to assume meaningful positions in their chosen occupations or professions and/or to pursue graduate studies.
Casey Jones Home
- 30 Casey Jones Lane
- This historical marker stands in front of the home of John Luther “Casey” Jones. Casey Jones was an engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad who died when his engine crashed on April 30, 1900 near the community of Vaughan, Mississippi. Casey Jones was immortalized in a song written by Wallace Saunders. The Casey Jones home is located in the Casey Jones Village and is now preserved as a museum.
Casey Jones Grave
- Mt. Calvary Cemetery, 419 Hardee Street
- The legendary engineer John Luther “Casey” Jones lived in Jackson,Tennessee and worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. On the Night of April 29, 1900, Casey left the station at the throttle of engine #382. As “The Cannonball Express” made its way south through Mississippi a northbound train was moving onto a siding near Vaughan, Mississippi. The northbound #83 train was unable to pull completely off of the main line and several cars were still on the main line above the north switch. Engine 382, with Casey at the controls crashed through the caboose and several cars and came to rest on the right side pointing back north. Casey was fatally injured. He was carried a half mile to the depot where he died lying on a baggage wagon. Casey Jones was returned to Jackson and was buried in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery.
Carl Perkins marker/gravesite
- Marker: 30 Casey Jones Lane
- Gravesite: 200 Ridgecrest Road
- Called the “Rockabilly King” and a Rock ‘n’ Roll architect,” singer-songwriter Carl Perkins was born in Lake County on April 9, 1932. In 1955, he wrote and recorded the celebrated rock ‘n’ roll classic, “Blue Suede Shoes.” A powerful artist, he influenced numerous popular musicians including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan, Wynonna Judd and Garth Brooks. Perkins was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of fame in 1987. He is entombed in the mausoleum at Ridgecrest Cemetery after his death on Jan. 19, 1998.
John Williams Steel Company
- 315 Lake Street
- Williams Steel is a steel fabrication company that has been in business in Jackson since 1929. They played an important role in WWII in the fabrication of buoys that were used by the United States Military.
- 401 West Grand
- A Jewish community existed in Jackson prior to 1821. The B’Nai congregation dates back to 1885. The building presently used was erected in 1941. It is one of the few properties in the state listed in the National Register for its significance in Jewish heritage.