By Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 1996



Madison County, Tennessee was created by the state legislature November 7, 1821. Its county-seat soon became known as Jackson, Tennessee. The first successful newspaper to have been established in this town was the JACKSON GAZETTE, first published by Charles D. McLean, Elijah Bigelow and Ed. Hays on May 29, 1824. It was a weekly and like most of the newspapers of the time its news coverage was heavily concentrated on national and state issues, legal notices and odd bits of information from many places. Deaths (and marriages) were published in this newspaper if a decedent had been a prominent or celebrated person, or if a relative had paid to have an obituary published.

Under new editorship the GAZETTE became the SOUTHERN STATESMAN in 1830 which merged with the TRUTH-TELLER and DISTRICT SENTINEL about four years later; it lasted about three years before suspending operation. William Ward Gates established the next long-time successful newspaper, the WEST TENNESSEE WHIG in 1842. It had a variety of news, including some literary selections for its readers. Deaths were more commonly published, many gleaned from other newspapers. The WHIG suspended operation in 1862 but resumed again in the fall of 1865.

The TRIBUNE was established in 1868 and merged with the WEST TENNESSEE WHIG in 1870 resulting in a change of name, the WHIG and TRIBUNE. Another local newspaper, THE JACKSON SUN started in 1873 but it too merged (January 1877) with the WHIG and TRIBUNE to form the TRIBUNE and SUN which continued in operation for decades, merging with a few other newspapers, including the FORKED DEER BLADE (est.1883; merged 1891) and after a long run under different names and a varied ownership it became a part of THE JACKSON SUN in 1914.

The JACKSON DISPATCH was established in September 1873 by J. J. Worrell, known as a conservative Democratic newspaper and had a long run but in 1905 it merged with the second WEST TENNESSEE WHIG (est.1877) but the resulting newspaper merged with the older SUN and became known as THE JACKSON SUN under which name it continues to the present time.

There were other newspapers published in Jackson over the years, usually short-termers, including the PIONEER, the January 28, 1823 issue being the only known extant issue. The Jackson nineteenth century newspapers have been microfilmed and a complete file is available to researchers in the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville; a very few unmicrofilmed (to date) issues of local newspapers are kept in the Tennessee Room collection, Jackson-Madison County Library and there are surely other copies or fragments in private ownership, notably in old scrapbooks and pasted into old Bibles. The present abstractor took information from the microfilmed newspapers in the Jackson-Madison County Library (where he had the benefit of the courtesy of the Tennessee Room librarians, Jack Darrel Wood and Robert D. Taylor, Jr.), the Memphis Public Library and the McWherter Library, University of Memphis. Some information was taken from original issues in the Tennessee Room collection, Jackson-Madison County Library.

There are numerous gaps in extant newspapers available for Jackson, Tennessee newspapers in the nineteenth century. In this publication the essential information from the issues has been gleaned under the date of publication. The death dates given are those stated or suggested in the original death notices. Ages are given as stated, as a specific age or as "in 25th year." Some notices carried no death date and many did not carry a stated age.

Certain abbreviations used:

abt. = about
d/o = daughter of
s/o = son of
w/o = wife of

inf/d = infant daughter of
inf/s = infant son of
yr./yrs. = year, years


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