These are some of the historical markers in Tipton County, Tennessee.
Augustus Hill Garland
The son of Rufus King and Barbara Hill Garland, this statesman was born in Tipton County on June 11, 1832. As a child, he moved to Arkansas with his parents where he would later serve as an Attorney; Confederate Congressman and Senator 1861-1865. In 1885 he was appointed U.S. Attorney General by President Grover Cleveland and served until 1889. Garland died while arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the brother of Confederate Congressman, Rufus K. Garland, Jr. (1830-1886) and a cousin of Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox, C.S.A. (1824-1890).
The Site of Byars-Hall High School
Byars-Hall was a joint county and city high school of the first class and was operated under the state law governing county high schools. It offered four-year courses of study which prepared its students for college and the practical duties and responsibilities of life. In 1921 Byars-Hall was declared an A-1 (highest classification) high school, one of only seven A-1 schools throughout the state.
In 1910 Covington erected a building on this site for use as a high school. It opened in 1911 and was named Byars-Hall High School to memorialize prominent former educators, Judge James T. Byars and Captain James I. Hall. Judge Byars was headmaster of the male high school in Covington, while Captain Hall was headmaster of the Mountain Academy in Mt. Carmel. Byars-Hall occupied this site during the period 1911-70.
Throughout its existence Byars-Hall maintained a high academic standing and achieved great successes in both academics and athletics. Byars-Hall graduates number more than 3600.
Sponsored by the Byars-Hall alumni group Bill Hadley, Historian
Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox
West Point graduate, Seminole and Mexican Indian Wars soldier, instructor of infantry tactics at West Point, Major General in the Confederate Army, and chief of the Railroad Division of the General Land Office under President Grover Cleveland. Wilcox was born in Waynesboro, North Carolina in 1824. He settled in Tipton County in 1826 and lived in Covington until 1842. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1890, and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery there.
4E 116 The Centennial Cutoff at the Devil’s Elbow
In 1836 John Trigg acquired land in this area known as the Devil’s Elbow, the sharpest bend in the Mississippi River between Cairo and New Orleans. His plantation, called Devil’s Elbow, included island 37. Later divided, 500 acres became his daughter Lucy Stockley’s place, Corona. On 7 March 1876 the river was shortened by 22 miles when it suddenly and violently changed its course, consumed most of Tipton County’s 11th Civil District and severed the remainder from the Tennessee Mainland, creating Centennial Island.
4E 87 Charles B. Simonton
A lifelong resident of Tipton County. Charles Bryson Simonton (1838-1911) was educated at Erskine College and while serving as Captain, 9th Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A., was wounded at the Battle of Perryville, Ky. He was an educator, lawyer, state legislator, Congressman, and U.S. District Attorney. This antebellum town house was his home for over 40 years.
Clopton United Methodist Church
Anthony Clopton gave this land for a Methodist Church in the 1830’s – lush trees and flowing springs made the grounds ideal for “brush arbor” revivals, the early spiritual refreshment of the community. This tranquil setting was disturbed by the Civil War, over 500 volunteer Confederate soldiers from Tipton County trained here, the church itself was burned by Union forces and two cemeteries contain remains of both Southern soldiers and slaves. After the War, the church became an early leader of education – schools were operated until 1938 very near this site. Clopton Church is known for generous emergency relief to families and in 1992 was a principal founder in “Tipton Cares”. Entering the 21st Century, she remains a lighthouse and servant to a rapidly changing Tipton County.
Fort Wright, C.S.A. April 24, 1861 – June 5, 1862
Lincolns call for troop to invade the south prompted Gov. Isham G. Harris to send Tennessee Militia here to defend the Mississippi Valley during the next two years. 6,000 Confederate Volunteers camped on these bluffs, drilling and marching to the martial strains of “Dixie” they formed the officer corps and nucleus of the Army of Tennessee.
Lest We Forget
General Jacob Tipton
Jacob Tipton b. Nov. 5, 1790 in Washington County, N.C. d. Sept 17, 1837 near Covington, Tn. Married in 1818 to Lorina Taylor (1800-1874). Served in the War of 1812 as an Ensign, 2nd and 1st Lt. in the 1st Regt. Rifle Corps. Once the Register in the East Tn. Land Office and Brig. Gen. 14th Regt. of the Tn. Militia. Surveyor of the 11th District in West Tn.
Joe Brown Bivouac, U.C.V.
In 1898, the Joe Brown Bivouac, United Confederate Veterans, was established as a social historical and benevolent organization. It was named in honor of Joseph Brown of Covington, who in 1864 was mortally wounded at the Battle of Harrisburg, Mississippi. For years the Bivouac sponsored the Brighton Confederate Reunions and assisted indigent veterans. In 1934, the members donated their assets to the Covington Board of Education as an endowment for the school libraries. This fund was liquidated in 1993.
Last Speech of General Nathan Bedford Forrest September 22, 1876, Covington, Tennessee
Soldiers of the Seventh Tennessee Cavalry, ladies and gentlemen:
I name the soldiers first because I love them best. I am extremely pleased to meet with you her today.
I love the gallant men with whom I was so intimately connected during the late war. You can readily realize what must pass through a commander’s mind, when called upon to meet in reunion the brave spirits who through four years of war and bloodshed fought fearlessly and boldly for a cause they then thought right, and who, even when they foresaw, as we all did, that the war must soon close in disaster, and that we must all surrender, yet did not quail, but marched to victory in many battles, and fought as boldly and persistently in their last battles as they did in their first.
Nor do I forget these many gallant spirits who sleep coldly in death upon the many bloody battlefields of the late war. I love them, too, and honor their memory. I have been often called to the side, on the battlefield, of those who had been struck down, and they would put their arms around my neck, draw me down to them and kiss me, and say: “General, I have fought my last battle and soon will be gone. I want you to remember my wife and children and take care of them.” Comrades, I have remembered their wives and little ones and have taken care of them, and I want every one of you to remember them, too, and join with me in the labor of love.
Comrades, through years of bloodshed and many marches you were tried and true soldiers. So through the years of peace you have been good citizens, and now that we are again united under the old flag, I love it as I did in my youth and I feel sure that you love it also. Yes, I love and honor that old flag now as do those who followed it on the other side, and I am sure that I but express your feelings when I say that should occasion offer, and our common country demand our services, you would as eagerly follow my lead to battle under that proud banner as ever you followed me in our late great war.
It has been thought by some that our social reunions were wrong and that they would be heralded to the North as an evidence that we were again ready to break out into civil war. But I think they are right and proper, and we will show our countrymen by our conduct and dignity that brave soldiers always make good citizens and law abiding and loyal people.
Soldiers, I was afraid that I could not bear the thought of not meeting with you, and I will always try to meet with you in the future. I hope that you will continue to meet from year to year, and bring your wives and children with you, and let them and the children who may come after them enjoy with you the pleasure of your reunions.
Nathan Redford Forrest
4E 25 Mt. Carmel Church
Founded in 1834, by James Holmes, a former missionary to the Chickasaw Indians, with the assistance of settlers from Bethany, Iredell County, N.C., the first church was built here in 1836, the congregation having previously met in a stable. Besides many prominent pioneers, several Confederate soldiers are buried here.
Mt. Zion – Munford
Following the removal of the Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church South to this place in 1852, a small, unplanned village known as Mt. Zion sprang up on the adjoining lands of Arthur Forbes Wooten, who first settled this point in 1835. The Post Office at Mt. Zion opened in 1856 but closed in 1874. When the office was re-opened in 1886, the name was changed to “Munford” in honor of Col. Richard Henry Munford (1807-1884), one-time Randolph merchant, Covington Mayor and local official, who at times served as County Court Clerk, Register and Clerk & Master of the Chancery Court. The first school was the Tipton Institute, which opened in 1853 under the auspices of the Tipton Lodge No. 226, F. & A.M. Later in 1876, the District High School opened its doors under the direction of the Methodist Conference. In 1913, Tipton County took over the management of this institution, giving birth to Munford High School. In 1905, Munford was incorporated by the Tennessee General Assembly. Following a contested election, Sterling Hicks Bass, Sr. was selected as the first Mayor.
Psalm 132:13, 14
For the Lord has chosen Mt. Zion, he has declared it for his dwelling: “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I desire it.”
Munford United Methodist Church
In 1840, Mt. Zion Church on the Randolph Circuit was organized by Rev. Isaac Sullivan. In 1866 it was moved to town and renamed. The present building was built in 1911. This was the only church in the community for 71 years. With the support of this church, the Dyersburg District Training School was developed in 1887 by the M.E. Church, South, under the direction of Rev. W.H. Adams. It served this area until 1924 when it was sold to Tipton County for their public school system. With God’s help, these pioneer Methodists faithfully accepted responsibility for religion, education and community development.
Erected by the Memphis Conference Commission on archives and history 1990.
Dedicated to the Memory of those buried nearby at Vineland, the plantation home of George Tarry Taylor and Mary Goodloe Somervill
Among those buried here are:
George Tarry Taylor 1804-1886; Mary Goodloe Somervill 1805-1858; Thomas Taylor Sumervill; Robert Park Somervill; Joseph John Somervill; Ellen G Hill, first wife of Joseph John Somervill; Catherine Weems Somervill; Mary Bennett Somervill; Augustine Claiborne Somervill; George Goodloe Somervill; John Somervill; Baby Wareene Somervill; Catherine Somervill Green; Agnes Green; Col. John Wesley Clement; Polly Hunt; Elizabeth Taylor Hunt, second wife of Richard B. Somervill; Jane Taylor Clement
Fred Maclin, Sexton of Trinity Church for forty years
Dedicated to the Memory of those buried nearby at Richland, the plantation home of William Alexander Somervill, I
Josephine Amelia, daughter, age 3; Jane Eppes Fraser Claiborne 1782-1868; Her four sons: Devereaux Augustine; daughter Helen R. age 3; Charles Fenton; Austin Fraser; Benjamin Watkins Leigh; Fannie Somervill Green; Willis Lewis Green; John Richard Green; Katy Volkes, infant daughter of Joe Brehon Somervell and Eliza Jones; and others
Randolph United Methodist Church
Randolph was settled in the early 1800’s and became a large river port. Rev. Samuel R. Davidson was appointed the first pastor by the Tennessee Conference in 1834. A congregation formed and built a church. During the Civil War the town was burned. The second church was built in 1883 on this bluff. The present building was erected in 1955 and remodeled in 1975. Bishop William C. Martin, who served as President of the Methodist Council of Bishops, grew up in this church. Seventy-eight pastors have led this congregation. Together they have built on Eph. 2:20, “Jesus Christ himself being the cornerstone.”
4E 12 Randolph
6 1/2 miles. This Mississippi River hamlet was Memphis’ early rival for commercial supremacy & was the state’s biggest western shipping point in 1830. It declined after David Crockett’s plan for Hatchie-Tennessee River canal failed. The town was burned during the War between the States.
Tennessee Historical Commission
4E 80 Salem Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Organized June 19, 1836 by Rev. Henry Bryson, D.D. with 53 members. First house of worship was a log house built on 4 acres donated by Abner Mathews. First pastor, Rev. John Wilson, served from 1837 to 1865. Having fostered at least five other churches. Salem has been called a “mother of churches.” Present sanctuary erected in 1940, is the fourth building on the site. Adjoining cemetery predates the church and contains graves of Indians and slaves.
Tennessee Historical Commission
4E 115 Thomas Goode Revolutionary Soldier 1760-1846
Thomas Goode was born on February 13, 1760 in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. A descendant of John Goode, a colonist who settled in Virginia in 1660, Thomas served in the Continental Army (1776-1778) with gen. George Washington and participated in the battles of Princeton and Trenton. Later, while in the Virginia Militia, he was at Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered Oct. 17, 1781. An early settler of Covington, he lived at this site from 1826 until his death on December 20, 1846.
Tennessee Historical Commission
1894 to the Confederate Soldiers
To the Confederate Soldiers of Tipton County, whose courage in war, and virtues in peace have illustrated the highest type of American manhood.
“Nor braver bled for a brighter land nor brighter land had a cause so grand.”
In the late 1870’s efforst were made to raise the funds necessary to erect a Tipton County Confederate Monument. This project was completed on May 29, 1895.
On April 29, 1995, a Centennial Observance and Rededication Ceremony was held culminating a four year repair and restoration project of the statue.
Dedicated in grateful rememberance of those who made contributions to perpetuate the memory of these confederate soldiers and their memeorial.
The Citizens of Covington and Tipton County Tennessee Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans Fort Wright Chapter No. 2506, United Daughters of the Confederacy Simonton-Wilcox Camp No. 257, Sons of Confederate Veteran Peter Fyfe and Nancy Fyfe Cardozier.
4E 120 Tipton County Confederate Reunion
Beginning in 1875, as a gathering of the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, C.S.A., this annual social, historical, and political event soon evolved into a meeting of all West Tennessee’s veterans and their families. In 1883, since the town supported prohibition and was located on the railroad, Brighton became the permanent home of this grand assemblage. Attendance grew steadily over the years until it reached 15,000 in 1897. The reunion was suspended in 1936-1937 and finally ended in 1940.
Tennessee Historical Commission
Tipton County in the Civil War
Behind the Lines
On June 10, 1861, 943 residents of Tipton County voted in favor of secession with only 16 votes against. Local men already had begun forming volunteer military companies. The first of these, the Tipton Rifles, trained and drilled at the old fairgrounds in Covington under the command of Capt. John Turner until they departed for Germantown to become part of the 4th Tennessee Infantry. In all, the county furnished twelve companies for the Confederacy.
Although West Tennessee quickly came under the control of the Union army, Confederate Col. Robert V. Richardson completed the organization of the 1st Tennessee Regiment of Partisan Rangers at its main camp near Bloomington. Federal attempts to curtail the Rangers’ activities resulted in numerous engagements throughout the county. The largest of these occurred in the Lemmon Woods near Covington in March 1863, where Union Col. Genjamin H. Grierson’s cavalry attacked and scattered the Confederates then destroyed their camp and equipment.
Most of Tipton County was left untouched by war, with the exception of the town of Randolph. In September 1862, a band of guerillas fired upon an unarmed Union packet boat laden with relief goods intended for Southern families. Union Gen. William T. Sherman gave orders to destroy Randolph, leaving one house standing to mark the location of the town. Two years later, Confederate partisans attempted to commandeer the steamer Belle Saint Louis at the Randolph landing but were driven off after a short fight.
“The end of an evil year in the history of America – what another year will bring fourth remained to be seen – perhaps and most likely the bloodiest war ever known in America. God forbid!” — Tipton County Court Clerk John T. Douglas December 1861
4E 11 Trinity in the Fields
2 1/2 mi. N. this Protestant Episcopal chapel was built on land given by Maj. William Taylor in 1847. It replaced St. Andrews, established 1834, burned 1845. First rector was the Rev. James W. Rogers. Descendants of the original communicants make an annual pilgrimage here each Trinity Sunday.
Tennessee Historical Commission
Twin Defenses – Forts Randolph and Wright
The village of Randolph played a significant early role in the Confederate defense of the Mississippi River. Here in April 1861, the state built training camps for the Provisional Army of Tennessee that Gov. Isham G. Harris had established. As part of Tennessee’s new military alliance with the Confederate States of America, officials also authorized the construction of two forts (Randolph and Wright) on either side of the Hatchie River.
For several months, enlistees from across the state came to the forts to learn to become soldiers. Aided by slaves from the region, they built extensive earthworks and other structures; one brick powder magazine still exists at Fort Wright. Young men who had joined the infantry, cavalry, or artillery companies in their native counties assembled in these camps and were organized into regiments. One such private was Nathan Bedford Forrest, who began his military career here.
Col. John P. McCown and Maj. Alexander P. Stewart modled and drilled the enlistees at both forts into effective soldiers. The training produced enough skilled gunners to man not only the batteries at these forts, but also the Confederate river defenses near New Madrid, Missouri, later in 1861.
By 1862, most of the men and guns had been reassigned to other defensive positions. The Confederates abandoned the posts entirely that summer. On September 25, 1862, a small band of Confederate guerrillas fired into the unarmed river packet Eugene, which was docked at the Randolph landing. No serious damage occurred, but in retaliation, Union Gen. William T. Sherman ordered the entire town of Randolph burned except for an old church and one dwelling.