History

of the

City of Jackson

Madison County TN




The city of Jackson was founded by an act of the General Assembly, passed in 1821-22, entitled an "act to establish a seat of justice for Henry, Carroll, Henderson and Madison Counties." The act called for fifty acres of land, to be deeded to the commissioners. The commissioners chosen by the Legislature were Sterling Brewer and James Fentress. The places had in view for the seat of justice, as elsewhere stated, were Alexandria, Golden’s Station and Jackson. The larger portion of the settlers at that time were living at Cotton Grove and vicinity, and as Jackson was a nearer point to them than either of the others, it was looked upon as the more suitable or desirable site for the seat of justice; hence it was chosen. The land to be obtained was to be by donation, or purchase on the most favorable terms. The thirty acres of the original plat of Jackson, lying east of Market Street, was obtained from John McNairy, Joseph Phillips and Wm. E. Butler, attorney, in fact, for the three, on April 9, 1822. Said thirty acres was a part of entry No. 13, for 500 acres owned by said parties. The conditions of the deed were that the lands were to be donated to said commissioners, Brewer and Fentress, but a lot of his own choice was to he reserved by each of the owners in the sale of town lots. Nineteen acres and a portion lying west of Market Street were purchased of David Shannon at $10 per acre, and a choice lot reserved. The last named property was a part of entry No 2, for 170 acres, made by Thomas Shannon, father of David Shannon. The corporate limits of Jackson have been extended fifty acres from time to time, as its growth required. In 1860 it embraced one square mile; now it embraces two miles square, or four square miles, or 2,560 acres.

The commissioners for the sale of lots consisted of Stokeley D. Hays, Bartholomew G. Stewart, David Horton, James Trousdale, Herndon Haralson, Vincent Haralson, Wm. E. Butler, Robert Hughes and Adam Huntsman, of which committee Herndon Haralson was chosen chairman. The sale of lots did not begin till July 4, 1822, when it continued from time to time as opportunity and necessity required. The commissioners were appointed from time to time as vacancies occurred. They were allowed $4 per day for their services at the first sales, the time charge ranging from seven to eighteen days. Said funds were to be taken out of the moneys arising from the sale of lots. To add spirit to the bidding the county court allowed Joseph Lynn $20 for spirits furnished at the sale. The first purchasers of lots were George Todd, who bought Lot 75; Herndon Haralson, Lot 34; Mark Fisher, Lot 39; Duncan McIver, Lots 32 and 34; Wm. Braden, Lot 63; James McKnight and Wilson McClellan, Lot 48; Vincent Haralson, Lot 16; David Horton, J. H. Ball and Isaac Curry, Lot 24; Wm. Espy, Lots 28 and 59, also a part in 24; A. B. Bradford, Lots 6 and 25; W. L. Flenen, Lots 45 and 25; James Burns and James K. Polk, Lots 7, 27 and 29, the aggregate cost of the three being $582; Ivy and Breekly, Lot 11; S. F. Gray, Lot 82 and a part of 39; S. C. Crafton, Lot 80; Roderick Mclver, Lot 44; and Mr. Legget, Lot 39. This embraces all the lots sold he first year.

Wm. H. Doak was perhaps the first settler within the limits of Jackson, as he raised a crop of corn about where the Public square now is in 1821. A brother of Mr. Lanty died in Jackson in 1822. This was doubtless the first death within the city limits. Wm. H. soon after moved to the vicinity of Spring Creek, in the northeast part of the county. Jesse Russell, now in his eighty-third year, arrived in Jackson on January 1, 1822, and was married soon after by Squire Taylor. Jesse Russell at first settled on the lot just east of the Episcopal Church. Dr. John F. Brown, an eminent physician, settled in Jackson in 1823. His son, Mr. John Brown, a prominent citizen and lawyer, was born in Jackson in 1824, and still resides in his native city. He is the oldest native resident. Samuel Swan, who kept a small grocery, was the father of the first female child, a daughter, born in Jackson. Dr Wm. E. Butler settled just near the big spring where the water-works now stand. He soon after moved into town and built the large brick residence just east of the institute building, and north of Col. Chester’s residence. Dr. Butler was for a long time identified with the business interests of Jackson. He was agent of the old State Bank before the establishment of the Union Bank and Bank of the State of Tennessee.

Stokely D. Hays settled in Jackson in 1822. He was a prominent attorney and a brother-in-law of Dr. Butler. Mrs. Col. Robert Hays, who lived in Jackson at this time, was a sister of Mrs. Gen. Jackson. Gen. Wm. Arnold was for a long time connected with the settlement of the Robinson colony of Americans in Texas; he was also a member of the bar. Col. James Thebold, a brother-in-law of Gen. Arnold, was one of the first inn-keepers in Jackson. Thomas Shannon, who was living in what is now West Jackson at the time of the organization of the county, was sheriff from 1822 to 1826, and was one of the best known citizens Wm. Armor was one of the most prominent merchants of Jackson in her early history. He was senior member of the firm of Armor, Lake & Co. This firm did an extensive business till it went down in the financial crash of 1838-39. The business house of Armor, Lake & Co. stood where the extensive establishment of Robinson & Botts now stands. James Elrod and H. Harton were extensive business men of Jackson who began business about 1824. They erected a frame business house where Dr. Neeley’s drug store now stands. James Elrod was the first to issue ticket notes to circulate as bank notes. Daniel Madden was sheriff of the county from 1830 to 1834; he was beaten for the same office by Thomas Shannon, in 1824, by only two votes. John H. Ball was an inn-keeper, and at one time a blacksmith. He was a successful business man and afterward moved to Somerville. Ball was succeeded in the tavern business by Thomas Winn. Alexander B. Bradford was chosen solicitor-general at the organization, and continued in that office till 1836. Joseph H. Talbot and Alfred Murray were well known lawyers and began practice before the Jackson bar about the time of its formation. Charles Sevier lived here at the time of the organization of the county; he was a hatter by trade. He was a near relative of Gov. John Sevier-"Nollichucky Jack." He afterward moved south of Fork Deer River and settled on an occupant grant. Samuel Taylor was the first postmaster of Jackson. He was also a justice of the peace. Col. H. I. Chester came to Jackson in 1823. His name has been almost a household word throughout the county. He has not only passed his four score and ten, but four score four and ten and bids fair to see the coming of the next century. Dr. Bedford and Dr. Winn were two eminent physicians and were contemporaneous with Dr. John T. Brown. Herndon Haralson was one of the justices in the organization of the county and was a well known citizen. Wm. Stoddert was one of Jackson’s first and most distinguished lawyers. James Caruthers, father of Stoddert Caruthers was one of the most distinguished men of West Tennessee. Andrew L. Martin was prominent before the bar of Jackson in its early history, but afterward moved to Holly Springs. Alexander Patton is claimed to have kept the first store in Jackson. He did an extensive business and was a partner for a time with Wm. E. Butler. J. W. Campbell became cashier of the branch of the Union Bank that was established at Jackson, in 1832-33, and was afterward United States minister to Russia. Pleasant N. Miller was an excellent lawyer and was long and favorably known, He afterward moved to Holly Springs, Miss. In addition to these there was the family of the Nelsons and the Hicks. These embraced all, with few exceptions, who were living in Jackson at the beginning of 1824. Robert Brown came to Jackson in 1826 and is still living in it. Others have resided in Jackson between sixty and seventy years. Hon. B. J. Hays, son of Stokely D. Hays, came to Jackson with his parents, where he has since resided. He is a member of the bar and was the first mayor of Jackson; he is one of the survivors of the Mexican war.

Nearly all business houses from 1820 to 1850 were general stores. Dry goods, groceries, hardware, etc., were all kept by each merchant. The leading business men from 1820 to 1840 were Armor & Lake, Armor, Lake & Co., James Patton, Patton & Taylor, David Armor and James Elrod. The financial crash of 1838-39 ruined the greater number of these, some of whom never recovered. From 1840 to 1860, when business was stopped by the war, the business was done principally by James Elrod, G. N. Harris, H. J. Morrell, J. Miller, Person & Christian, B. Mitchell, T. & J. Collins, Glass & Son. Since 1865 to the present, the leading business houses are: Dry goods, Robinson & Botts, F. E. Bond, W. Holland, J. R. Withers, M. Tuchfeld, Sam Weingarten & Co., Williams & Perry, D. L. Murrell, J. Hoffman, J. Zimmerman, Marks & Bro. and F. Mayo; groceries, A. D. Dugger, G. H. Ramsey & Co., Burkett & Fletcher, Duke & Wisdom, J. P. Hendrix, Hill & Stedman, H. Baum, W. R. Griffith. J. N. Rosser, E. Felsenthal, M. M. Hammond and S. F. Gilkin; drug stores, M. S. Neely, Harris & Ward, M. P. McChesney, R. M. Hamner, Cooper & Co.; jewelers, E. H. Kelly, D. M. Hughes; furniture, R. E. Hopper, W. Bensinger & Son, Job Umphlett and W. D. Robinson; stoves, hardware -- R. H. Anderson & Son, G. C. Anderson, J. M. Reavis, Bates & Gorman; books, J. G. Cisco, J. M. Trotter; hats and caps, W. F. Alexander; clothing, Robinson & Botts, Henry Levi; wagon and buggies, Landis & Bro., J. H. Hirsch; merchant tailor, T. Murphy, Harry Meyer; cotton brokers, Dupree, Gates & Co., Capt. McCutchen, B. & J. Blackmon, Haley & Bro.

Jackson is in a very healthful condition financially, notwithstanding her last improvement’s in streets, gas lights, water-works, etc. The receipts for taxes have been gradual, and show a rapid increase in wealth and population. In 1858 the receipts were $4,462; in 1869, $10,058, and in 1882 (the highest) they were $36,861. The city has a floating debt of only about $15,000, and the water-works bonds of $100,000. The first is an insignificant sum and the latter is met by water privileges as fast as they become due. City bonds are readily taken at par. March 20, 1882, the city purchased of the Fire Extinguisher Manufacturing Company, of Chicago, one Champion Chemical Fire Extinguisher, one hand water engine, hose, reel hooks and ladder and other apparatus. The whole cost $2,000 less $37 off for cash and $800 due in twelve months’ time, with interest at 6 per cent until paid.

In 1883 the city decided, by popular vote, to issue $100,000 in bonds for the purpose of building water-works. Estimates of costs had been made by E. L. Cook, of Toledo, Ohio. The bonds were issued in style of $2,000 and $8,000 each, to be floated at par, drawing 5 per cent interest. One of each kind was to be due in 1894, one in 1896 and so on till 1913, when the last ones were to be due. The final estimate by item, including the civil engineer, was $99,372.26. The works are of the finest workmanship, and the water, which is remarkably pure, is obtained from a system of wells and a reservoir near the city. The city now has over six miles of mains, and owns its excellent system of works. The water can be thrown over the highest buildings in the city in large streams. It is by direct pressure from the engines. The water privileges will in a few years fully meet the expense of the investment. The city made a very fortunate venture.

Jackson continued under the government of the town board, which was a creature of the county court, till its incorporation, on December 16, 1845. An election was held by Sheriff Lyon to choose town officers. These officers held their first meeting on December 25, 1845. R. J. Hays was chosen mayor, which position he held till his resignation in 1846 to go to the Mexican war. The act incorporating the city legalized all acts of the town commissioners. Jackson was reincorporated on March 3, 1854, with greater powers, with the usual power granted to a mayor and board of aldermen. The minute book shows the usual fines for petty offense; among them are "fighting," "attempting to fight," "wanting to fight," "lewdness," "riding on the sidewalk," "contempt," "swearing," "gaming," "sneezing," "hallooing," etc.

The following is a list of the mayors, recorders and town constables or city marshals as far as can be ascertained: 1845, B. J. Hays, mayor. 1846, B. J. Hays and J. L. H. Tomlin, mayor. 1854, Alexander Jackson, mayor; J. C Green, recorder. 1855, Alexander Jackson, mayor; J. C. Green, recorder. 1856, B. J. Hays, mayor; A. W. Campbell, recorder; J. W. Norwood, city marshal. 1857, .S. Cypert, mayor; J. C. Green, recorder; J. W. Norwood, city marshal. 1858, B. J. Hays, mayor; J. C. Green, recorder; J. W. Norwood, city marshal. 1859, Wm. Alexander, mayor; A. W. Campbell, recorder; J. J. McAlexander, city marshal. 1860, J. H. Harper, mayor; B. B. Campbell, recorder; J. J. McAlexander, city marshal. 1861, P. D. W. Conger, mayor; B. B. Campbell, recorder; J. J. McAlexander, city marshal. 1862, B. J. Mason, mayor; B. R. Campbell, recorder; H. H. Whiteside, city marshal. 1865, Dr. G. Adamson, mayor; J. H. Harper, recorder; J. J. McAlexander, city marshal. 1866, Wm. Alexander, mayor; J. H. Harper, recorder; J. J. McAlexander, city marshal. 1867, Wm. Alexander, mayor; J. H. Harper, recorder; J. C. Cook, city marshal. 1868, J. J. McAlexander, mayor; B. R. Person, recorder; J. H. Clark, city marshal. 1869, Wm. Alexander, mayor; B. B. Person, recorder; Wm. F. McCabe, city marshal. 1870, Wm. M. Dunaway, mayor; Robert W. May, recorder; Wm. F. McCabe, city marshal. 1871, P. D. W. Conger, mayor, Robert W. May, recorder; Wm. F. McCabe, city marshal. 1872, Wm. M. Dunaway, mayor; Robert W. May, recorder; Wm. F. McCabe, city marshal. 1873, D. H. King, mayor; Robert W. May, recorder; Wm. F. McCabe, city marshal. 1874, J. A. Arrington, mayor; Robert W. May, recorder; Wm. F. McCabe, city marshal. 1875, D. H. King, mayor; John T. King, recorder; H. C. Anderson, city marshal. 1876, D. H. King, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; H. C. Anderson, city marshal. 1877, L. E. Talbot, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1878, XV. D. Robinson, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1879, James O’Conner, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshall. 1880, B. B. Person, mayor (resigned, and was succeeded by XV. D. Robinson); John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1881, J. M. Sullivan, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1882, B. L. Rozell, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1883, Col. John W. Buford, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1884, Col. John W. Buford, mayor (resigned, succeeded by H. C. Anderson); John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1885, W. D. Robinson, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal. 1886, W. D. Robinson, mayor; John T. Stark, recorder; J. D. Marks, city marshal.