History & Civil War | Jackson, TN
To begin to tell the stories of the Civil War and the impact on the communities, well let's just say, we're still uncovering them. From Shiloh National Military Park to the Denmark Presbyterian Church, Jackson and West Tennessee saw tremendous activity over the course of the war.
Yet, out of the ashes of war, Tennesseans black and white built a new society where slavery was abolished and citizenship redefined. As such, Congress has designated the state as the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. Tennessee's landscape contains many powerful reminders of the Civil War from battlefields and monuments in places such as Shiloh and Chattanooga, to the sites along the Civil War Trails stretching from Memphis to the Tri-Cities. See the maps of the time, the flags that led the regiments, and the timeline of events that forever changed the physical, social, and economic face of Tennessee.
Visit TNcivilwar.com for a look at the State of Tennessee in it's entirety or scroll through the listings below to learn more about Jackson and West Tennessee's sites.
Battle of Britton Lane
On a quiet, county road five miles southeast of Denmark, Tennessee, a fierce struggle between opposing armies took place on September 1, 1862. Only half-dozen historical markers dot the site, and there are no massive battlefield maps or push-button audio tapes to guide the curious observer.
Britton's Lane boasts no cannons lining the road as does Shiloh or Stone's River; in fact, the countryside is so calm and pastoral that it's hard to believe the land has witnessed anything more than an occasional disagreement between neighbors. Yet thousands of brave soldiers from Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, and Ohio fought and died there in a feverish, four-hour battle. Many of those soldiers were from Madison County, and some tendered the supreme sacrifice within ten miles of their own homes.
Bemis Mill Village Museum
The Bemis Mill village Museum, located in the historic Theater/Auditorium, contains exhibits and memorabilia portraying the story of Bemis, a mill town forged out of the cotton fields in 1900
Open Tuesdays from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm and every 3rd Saturday.
Carnegie Center For Arts & History
The Carneige Center for Arts and History houses the best Civil War Museum in West Tennessee. It offers free admission and operates through donations. The Carnegie Center for Arts and History, located in downtown Jackson, opened in 1903 as the Jackson Free Library. It was the town's first library, financed by Jackson City Council funds and a matching $30,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
The building fell into disrepair after the newer Jackson-Madison County Library replaced it until 987 when The Jackson Recreation and Parks Department restored the Carnegie to its original beauty. The facility presently serves as a gathering place for many groups including weddings, receptions, teas, luncheons, fashion shows, recitals, musical programs, art showings, collector's exhibits, business meetings, class reunions, and various other events.
Casey Jones Home & Train Museum
Casey Jones was a railroad engineer who became an internationally known icon due to his heroic last ride on April 30th, 1900 when he saved all the passengers on his train. He slowed down the train as much as possible before impact when there was a train stalled on the tracks ahead near Vaughan, Mississippi on a run from Memphis to Canton, MS. Jones lived in Jackson, Tennessee and here you will see the Casey Jones Home & Railroad Museum here in Casey Jones Village.
The exciting "Train Station" addition to the Museum is located right next to the Home. There are wonderful exhibits and the owners are proud to have the Jackson Room dedicated to Jackson's rich railroad history. A room dedicated to Casey Jones' famous last ride as well as a Theatre to view a short film on the story of Casey Jones. Three authentic railcars are in the collection and kids of all ages are welcome to climb aboard the Engine and ring the bell just like Casey.
To those interested in Civil War history, an excellent permanent exhibit entitled "The Railroads & The Civil War in Tennessee" is also available.
Denmark Presbyterian Church
The oldest Presbyterian church in west Tennessee was founded on Cub Creek in 1821, before the town was settled. The congregation moved to Denmark but outgrew its home at a Baptist school.
Using slave labor, the Snipes brothers had the church built in just six days in 1854, and the church was ready for worship the next Sunday. It originally also housed Masonic Lodge # 154 on the second floor. Many signatures of Masons are still visible on the wall and door of the lodge.
Civil War-era stories include that of Confederate soldiers hiding under the hoop skirts of their sweethearts when Union troops searched the church during a Sunday service.
The Denmark cemetery is on the original site of the Denmark Presbyterian Church, the largest cemetery in the area. Graves there date back to 1823, including many Civil War soldiers. Two soldiers' bodies were brought to the cemetery after the Battle of Britton Lane, just is four miles away. It includes a mass grave of Mass grave of 28 Confederate soldiers killed in 1863. Many headstones are made of white Italian marble. General John Ingram, commander of the Denmark Danes during the Civil War, is buried at Denmark Presbyterian cemetery.
The building is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and Tennessee Trail, and is overseen by the Big Black Creek Historical Association.
Jackson Madison County Library Genealogy
The Tennessee Room houses a non-circulating special collection devoted to genealogical and local historical research. In addition to over 5,000 books, there are over 1945 microfilm rolls containing Madison County Records, Tennessee Census schedules (1810-1930), Jackson, TN newspapers (various dates beginning in 1823), Tennessee Death Indexes (1908-1957), Tennessee Death Certificates (1908-1957), and other records . The collection also includes maps, Jackson city directories, funeral records, vertical files, and photographs.
N. C. & St. L. Depot Railroad Museum / Electro Chalybeate Well
he Nashville, Chattanooga, and St.L 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. The City of Jackson has restored the depot into a museum of local railroad history – a lasting tribute to the impact of railroads on the growth of Jackson and Madison County.
The museum's collection includes photographs, artifacts, and related memorabilia associated with the G.M.&O. RR., I.C. RR., N.C. & St.L. RY. and their family trees. Also located on the grounds open for view are a 1947 F.E.C. Dining car and two cabooses. An elaborate working “HO” scale model railroad with over 500ft. of track and 4 trains running at once, built by the Jackson Area Model Railroaders Club depicts Jackson's rich railroad history and receives “rave reviews” from our visitors. Come and play the game "Came You Find" on the model railroad layout with over 40 items to find on the layout.
Parker's Crossroads Civil War Battlefield
Historic Parkers Crossroads is named after Reverend John Parker, a Baptist minister and doctor, who settled here about 1830. With the opening of I-40 in the late 1960s, the crossroads has grown from a town with a cotton gin and two rural grocery stores to over 17 businesses.
Preservation of the Parkers Crossroads Civil War Battlefield began in 1994. This site is now a state-owned park with a self-guided driving tour and over two miles of paved walking trails. More than 40 interpretative signs help educate the park visitor about the tragic battle that took place here on December 31, 1862.
Pinson Mounds, one of two state archaeological parks, is a special park, set aside to protect the prehistoric remains found there. Managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of State Parks, the Pinson Mounds grouping consists of at least 15 earthen mounds, a geometic enclosure, habitation areas and related earthworks in an area that incorporates almost 1,200 acres. Pinson Mounds is a national historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Salem Cemetery and Battleground
Formally established in 1825, the cemetery was actually in use about 1800. Fifty acres of virgin land were donated by the Woolfork family for use as a public park, campground, and cemetery. During the 1850's and before, the area was used for week-long "camp meetings" where revival services were held nightly. Originally, the cemetery was enclosed by a heavy iron fence that was partially destroyed during the battle fought here in December, 1862. Pieces of this fence are frequently found just after rain washes away the topsoil.
Many of Madison County's more prominent founders are buried here in unmarked graves due to vandals removing the stone markers as well as deterioration of original wood tombstones. Bullet marks can be found on many of the remaining stones. The most famous person buried here is Adam Huntsman, the man who defeated Davy Crockett for Congress in 1836. Davy Crockett was very upset with the Tennesseans, and made his famous quote "Tennessee can go to Hell, I'm going to Texas." Thus he met his demise at the Battle of the Alamo. Three of Huntsman's wives are buried next to him, and these graves originally had an iron fence around them.
Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh National Military Park contains a wide array of historic sites. In addition to the battlefield of Shiloh itself, the park contains a separate unit at Corinth, Mississippi, that preserves and interprets the Siege and Battle of Corinth. Located within the boundaries of Shiloh park is also a United States National Cemetery, which contains around 4,000 soldiers and their family members. A National Historic Landmark in its own right, the Shiloh Indian Mounds are also located with the park boundaries. Click on the links below for more information on the history of each of these areas.
Davis Bridge Battlefield - under development
Shiloh National Military Park was originally under the jurisdiction of the United States War Department, who worked with veterans to build and monument the park. It was only in 1933 that Shiloh and the other battlefields were transferred to the National Park Service.
Visit the Civil War Trust's Animated Map of the Battle of Shiloh.
West Bemis Elementary School (Rosenwald)
West Bemis Elementary is believed to be the oldest Rosenwald School in Tennessee. It was built in 1916 to serve the families of the Bemis Mill Co. cotton mill town.
It was built with help from a fund created by Julius Rosenwald, a part owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co. established the fund in 1912 to help educate black children in the South.
The fund helped build more than 5,300 schools, shops and teachers’ houses in 15 states. Rosenwald Schools were awarded National Treasure status in 2011.