Jackson, Tennessee

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Jackson, Tennessee
Jackson TN welcomes you.JPG
Nickname(s): "Little Memphis"
Location of Jackson, Tennessee
Location of Jackson, Tennessee
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Madison
Founded 1821
Incorporated 1845[1]
Named for Andrew Jackson
 • Mayor Jerry Gist (since 2007)
 • Total 49.5 sq mi (128.2 km2)
 • Land 49.5 sq mi (128.2 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 410 ft (125 m)
Population (2013)
 • Total 67,685
 • Density 1,317/sq mi (508.6/km2)
Time zone Central (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 731
FIPS code 47-37640[2]
GNIS feature ID 1289178[3]
Website City of Jackson Official Website

Jackson is the county seat of Madison County, Tennessee. Located 70 miles east of Memphis, it has long been associated with the large city in trade. Its total population was 65,211 at the 2010 census and 67,265 in the 2012 Census estimate.[4]

Jackson is the primary city of the Jackson, Tennessee metropolitan area, which is included in the Jackson-Humboldt, Tennessee Combined Statistical Area. Jackson is Madison County's[5] largest city. It is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for West Tennessee, as Jackson was the major city in the west when the court was established in 1834.

In the antebellum era, Jackson was the market city for an agricultural area based on cultivation of cotton, the major commodity crop. Beginning in 1851, the city became a hub of railroad systems ultimately connecting to major markets in the north and south, as well as east and west. This was key to its development, attracting trade and many workers on the railroads in the late 19th century with the construction of railroads after the American Civil War. Through the 1960s, the city was served by 15 passenger trains daily, but industry restructuring reduced such service and caused the loss of jobs. The economy has adjusted to new businesses, with major manufacturing in the area.

Based on the 2012 estimate, Jackson is the seventh-largest city in Tennessee.


Jackson is located at Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. (35.633132, -88.820805).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 49.5 square miles (128 km2), all land.


Jackson's executive Mayor is elected at-large every four years. In 2007, Jerry Gist was elected to succeed Charles Farmer, who had served since 1989.[7]

Since 1989, the city charter provides for election of a representative legislative body of nine members, each elected by single-member districts. [7]

Jackson's city court judge serves an eight-year term with a fixed salary during each term. Its current judge is Blake Anderson. The court may dispose of misdemeanors and hold a preliminary hearing for felonies. If the judge holds that probable cause is established for felonies, then the decision is sent to the grand jury for indictment, and to circuit court.[8]

Jackson has been home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for West Tennessee since 1834, giving the city a unique position in state government. When the court was established, Jackson was the major city in the western part of the state, as Memphis had not been developed at that point.[9]


Early settlement

Bird's eye view of the city of Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee 1870.

This area was occupied by the historic Chickasaw people at the time of European encounter. They were pushed out by European-American settlers under various treaties.

European-American settlement of Jackson began along the Forked Deer River before 1820, primarily by migrants arriving from eastern areas of the Upper South, such as Virginia and Kentucky. Originally named Alexandria, the city was renamed in 1822 to honor General Andrew Jackson, a hero of the War of 1812. He was later elected as President of the United States.[10]

The City of Jackson was founded by an act of the Tennessee General Assembly, passed in 1821, entitled an "act to establish a seat of justice for Henry, Carroll, Henderson and Madison Counties." The act required 50 acres (20 ha) of land to be deeded to the commissioners. The commissioners chosen by the Legislature were Sterling Brewer and James Fentress. The places considered for the seat of justice were Alexandria, Golden's Station, and Jackson. The larger portion of the settlers at that time were living on Cotton Grove Road, and as Jackson was closer to them than either of the other settlements, the city was determined to be the more suitable site for the seat of justice.[11]

At the time of the second Tennessee State Constitution in 1834, when the Tennessee Supreme Court was established, Memphis had not yet developed. The county seat of Jackson was the most significant city in West Tennessee and this was designated as a site for the State Supreme Court in this part of the state.[9]

The city of Jackson did not establish public elections until 1837, with a Board of Aldermen elected at-large. From 1854 to 1915, Jackson had a Board of Aldermen of eight members elected from four districts, each with two members. No free people of color or any blacks were allowed to vote in the state until after passage of constitutional amendments following the Civil War.[12]

This area was developed for agricultural purposes, especially cotton plantations for producing the chief commodity crop of the Mississippi Valley and Deep South. Cotton plantations were dependent on the labor of African-American slaves and many were brought into the area as it was developed. As county seat, Jackson was a trading town and retail center for surrounding agricultural areas.

Civil War through 19th century

In 1862 Tennessee came under the control of Union forces and was occupied for the duration of the war. Between December 11, 1862 and January 1, 1863, an engagement at Jackson occurred during Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest's expedition into West Tennessee. Forrest wished to disrupt the rail supply line to Ulysses S. Grant's army, which was campaigning down the Mississippi Central Railroad. If Forrest destroyed the Mobile & Ohio Railroad running south from Columbus, Kentucky through Jackson, Grant would have to curtail or halt his operations altogether.

Forrest's 2,100-man cavalry brigade crossed the Tennessee River on December 17. Grant ordered a soldier concentration at Jackson under Brigadier General Jeremiah C. Sullivan and sent a cavalry force under Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll. Forrest's command defeated the Union cavalry in Lexington, Tennessee on December 18. As Forrest continued his advance the following day, Sullivan ordered Colonel Adolph Englemann to take a small force northeast of Jackson.

At Old Salem Cemetery, acting on the defensive, Englemann's two infantry regiments repulsed a Confederate mounted attack, then withdrew a mile closer to the city. The fight amounted to no more than a feint and show of force intended to hold Jackson's Union defenders in position, while two mounted Confederate columns destroyed railroad track to both the north and south of the town, then returned. Forrest withdrew from the Jackson area to attack Trenton and Humboldt after this mission was accomplished.[13]

With the emancipation of slaves and passage of US constitutional amendments, Jackson's freedmen and formerly free people of color began to participate in the political system. But in the late 19th century, the white-dominated state legislature passed several laws that made voter registration and voting more difficult, including payment of a poll tax, and resulted in reducing voting by many blacks and poor whites. [12]

20th century

In 1915, Jackson was one of several cities in the state to adopt a commission form of government, changing its electoral scheme to at-large voting citywide for three designated positions: a mayor and two commissioners. (Other cities to make this change included Clarksville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville.) Although the state in 1913 enacted a law enabling cities to adopt the commission form of government independently, Jackson was chartered by the state for this change.[12] The commissioners each had specific responsibilities, for instance, for the school system and city departments.[12] In the late 19th century, the state of Tennessee had already adopted residency requirements, voting process, and poll taxes that sharply reduced the ability of African Americans to register and vote. The City Charter was amended to include run-off elections within two weeks in cases of one candidate not receiving a majority of votes. In Jackson, the total effect of these changes to the electoral system of city government was to reduce the ability of African Americans to elect candidates and participate in the political system.[12]

In 1977 three city residents filed suit against the city in US District Court, in Buchanan v. City of Jackson (1988), (683 F.Supp. 1515), challenging the structure and electoral system of the city government because the at-large voting had diluted the voting power of the city's significant minority of African-American residents. (According to the 1980 Census, the city population was 49,074, of which 16,847, or 34.3%, were black.)[12] Since 1915, no black person had ever been elected to, or served on, the Board of Commissioners.[12] The court found this commission electoral system was found to be discriminatory in effect. Over the decades, the African-American minority was effectively closed out of city government. The case was appealed and affirmed; the defendants ultimately proposed a new system approved in 1988 by the court. By a new city charter, in 1989 the city created a Board of Commission based on nine single-member districts.[12] The mayor is elected at-large.

Similar legal challenges to the electoral and city systems in Clarksville and Chattanooga led to changes in their city charters to establish more numerous members of a city council or board of commission, to be elected from single-member districts. As a result, more African-American and women candidates have been elected as representatives.

The dissolution of the former government in Jackson resulted in the need for an elected city school board, since one of the commissioners had previously managed education. The city commissioners chose to consolidate their school system with that of Madison County, Tennessee school system in 1990, creating the Jackson-Madison County School Board. This was also done to achieve desegregation goals. The nine-member board is elected from six districts across the county; three districts elect two members each and the other three each elect one member. All members are elected for four-year terms, with elections held on a staggered basis every two years. The demographics of the county in 2012 for major ethnic groups were 60.3% white and 37% African American.[14] In 2008 the system was still under a court order supervising its desegregation progress.[15]

In the post-World War II era, the railroad industry went through restructuring and mergers. By the end of 1960s, it sharply reduced passenger service to Jackson; there were related losses of associated industrial jobs supporting the railroads, causing economic problems in the region. The Jackson area has attracted such major manufacturing companies as Procter & Gamble and Stanley/Black and Decker, and also diversified its economy.

1999 to present

Destroyed dormitory building in February 2008.

Between 1999 and 2008, several violent tornadoes struck large portions of the city. The McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport was severely damaged in January 1999, a storm that resulted in eleven fatalities. The 1999 tornado also damaged the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Riverside Cemetery, where 40 known Confederate soldiers, 140 unknowns, and many families of the founders of Jackson are buried. The cemetery's acres of old trees and many of the statues, monuments, and graves were damaged during the tornado.

Parts of the Union University campus were damaged in November 2002. The downtown area was devastated in May 2003 by an F4 tornado, and there were eight deaths. Many dormitories at the Union campus were demolished in a storm in February 2008.

On May 1, 2010 a severe thunderstorm hit Jackson, dropping 13 inches of rain in a short period of time.[16] Flash floods destroyed many homes and streets.[17][18][19]

Railroad history

Jackson developed rapidly just prior to the Civil War as a railroad junction and maintenance shop for several early railroads, including the Mississippi Central, the Tennessee Central and the Mobile and Ohio lines. Located over seventy miles east of Memphis, Jackson lies along the shortest rail route between Cairo, IL, Jackson, MS (Mississippi's capital) and New Orleans. As the railroad was extended from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, Jackson, Tennessee was perfectly situated as a station along the north-south line; and, to serve as a junction between the north-south line, and lines east and west between Memphis and Nashville, TN.

The first was the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, which began in October 1849 in Mobile, Alabama. The line first entered Jackson in 1851. These tracks were completely destroyed during the Civil War. The line merged with the Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad in 1940 to become the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.[20] The second railroad to enter Jackson was the Mississippi Central & Tennessee. In 1873, the line was contracted and later controlled by the Illinois Central Railroad.[20]

On December 29, 1886, the Tennessee Midland Railway received a charter to build a railroad from Memphis, Tennessee to the Virginia state line. The line from Memphis to Jackson was completed on June 1, 1888. In 1893, the Tennessee Midland went into receivership and was sold at foreclosure to the L&N Railroad. Around 1968 the remainder of the Tennessee Midland was abandoned east of Cordova with the exception of some track in Jackson, Tennessee. That track is now used to deliver goods to Jackson's east and west industrial parks.

The Tennessee Midland Railway Company line from Memphis to Jackson was the forerunner of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. This line was often referred to as the "NC" by locals. Like all other railroads to enter Jackson, it was built with funds subscribed by citizens and investors of Jackson. The first passenger train entered Jackson from Memphis on June 1, 1888. The highly profitable railroad was merged into the Louisville and Nashville Railroad following WWII. After a few years, the L&N was merged into and is now part of CSX Transportation.[20]

A charter was granted by the State of Tennessee on August 16, 1910, and construction began on July l, 1911. The first sector extended from Jackson to the station of Tigrett, and by April 20, 1912, 38 miles (61 km) of the line were ready for operations. On June 16 the remaining 11-mile (18 km) sector was set into service, connecting Dyersburg, Tennessee with Jackson. When the line began operations in 1912, its president was Isaac B. Tigrett, a prominent young banker of Jackson. The railroad became an important local thoroughfare, used to transport much of the produce of the region to market in Jackson and Dyersburg. The Birmingham and Northwestern Railway Company had 4 locomotives, 5 passenger cars, and 92 freight cars. When Isaac B. Tigrett became President of the GM&N in 1920, he ceased to direct the affairs of the Birmingham and Northwestern Railroad Company. After he became president of the GM&O, the railroad was purchased and merged to become the Dyersburg branch.

During the 1930s through the 1960s, fifteen regularly scheduled passenger trains served the two depots in Jackson. The names of some of those trains were The Rebel, Gulf Coast Rebel, The Sunchaser, The Floridian, The Seminole, The City of Memphis, and The City of Miami. Without change of train, one could travel to Memphis, Nashville, Meridian, Montgomery, Mobile, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Daytona, Orlando, Miami, Centralia, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans.[20] With railroad restructuring, passenger service was reduced.


Location of the Jackson-Humboldt CSA and its components:
  Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area
  Humboldt Micropolitan Statistical Area
Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,006
1860 2,407 139.3%
1870 4,119 71.1%
1880 5,377 30.5%
1890 10,039 86.7%
1900 14,511 44.5%
1910 15,779 8.7%
1920 18,860 19.5%
1930 22,172 17.6%
1940 24,332 9.7%
1950 30,207 24.1%
1960 34,376 13.8%
1970 39,996 16.3%
1980 49,258 23.2%
1990 48,949 −0.6%
2000 59,643 21.8%
2010 65,211 9.3%
Est. 2014 67,319 [21] 3.2%

Jackson is the larger principal city of the Jackson-Humboldt CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Jackson metropolitan area (Chester and Madison counties) and the Humboldt micropolitan area (Gibson County),[23][24][25] which had a combined population of 165,108 at the 2010 census.[2]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 65,211 people, 25,191 households, and 15,951 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,317 people per square mile (423.4/km²). There were 28,052 housing units at an average density of 566.3 per square mile (218.9/km²). Since the 2010 Census, the City has added 9.4459 (24.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.2% White, 45.07% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.0% of the population.

There were 25,191 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.6% were married couples living together, 21.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.59% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 13.4% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.8 years. For every 100 females there were 87.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,169, and the median income for a family was $45,938. Males had a median income of $41,085 versus $30,436 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,762. About 15.6% of families and 21.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36% of those under age 18 and 8.24% of those age 65 or over.


Interstate 40 goes through the city in an east-west direction, and U.S. Route 45 in a north-south direction. Interstate 40 has seven exits in the city.[26] The Jackson Transit Authority line provides intra-city bus service,[27] while the Greyhound Bus line provides inter-city service.[28]

McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport serves the city. SeaPort Airlines began commercial service from Jackson to both Memphis and Nashville in January 2012. Air Choice One is scheduled to begin commercial service to St. Louis on June 28, 2015.[29][30]

Major roadways

Aerial view of Jackson

Interstate 40 runs east to west from Memphis to Nashville.

U.S. Route 45, locally known as Highland Avenue) runs north to south to Gibson County and Chester County. A bypass route of US 45 (known as the Keith Short Bypass) goes through the western part of the city.

U.S. Route 412 runs east from Lexington in Henderson County northwest to Dyersburg, Tennessee and I-55 to St. Louis.

U.S. Route 70 or State Route 1 runs east to west to Huntington and Brownsville.


K-12 public schools in the city and county are operated by the consolidated Jackson-Madison County School System.

Colleges and universities

High schools

Specialist schools


According to Morgan Quitno's 2010 Metropolitan Crime Rate Rankings [32] the Jackson metropolitan area had the 13th-highest crime rate in the United States.

The Morgan Quitno list of the "Top 25 Most Dangerous Cities of 2007", ranked Jackson's as the 9th most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States.[33] In 2006, it had been listed as the 18th most dangerous.[34]

Recreation, sports, and entertainment

The city is the site of the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame Museum, which recognizes the contributions of Tennessee musicians to this genre.

The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, a Class AA minor league baseball team in the Southern League, and an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, played in Jackson from 1998 to 2010. The team changed its name for the 2011 season to the Jackson Generals, recalling the same name of the minor league team that played in Jackson in the Texas League in the early 20th century. The Generals play their home games at The Ballpark at Jackson (formerly Pringles Park).

The Hub City Hurricanes of the IBL played in Jackson for one season in 2007.

In 1974, a little league team from Jackson played in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA—to date, the only team from West Tennessee to qualify.[35]

From 1990-2011, Jackson hosted the NAIA Women's Division I National Championship basketball tournament in the Oman Arena.

Jackson is home to the Miss Tennessee Pageant, the official state finals to the Miss America competition.

West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex is a travel baseball and softball complex completed in 2007. It hosts numerous tournaments throughout the year and has contributed to the growth explosion in the northeast corridor of the city.[36]


The climate in this area is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Jackson has a Humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[37]

Climate data for Jackson, Tennessee
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 10
Average low °C (°F) −1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 163
Source: Weatherbase [38]

Notable people


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External links