If you would care to make a donation to help offset the costs
of the free tours, please use the PayPal button below.
custom tours vary in cost and are subject to availability.
Thank you for helping to keep Memphis history alive.
If you would care to make a donation to help offset the costs
of the free tours, please use the PayPal button below.
custom tours vary in cost and are subject to availability.
Thank you for helping to keep Memphis history alive.
Welcome to the
online home of
Jimmy Ogle Talks and Tours
Below you will be able to
find information about the free weekly tours,
history lectures and public presentations that I offer.
Within the other pages, you will
discover unique stories and information on
little known Memphis history
and perhaps a little about why I love this town.
PLEASE read and check the information below
for additional information.
- - -
- - - -
Outdoor Tour Schedule
Fall has fell and disappeared, and Winter
seems to be already here. I always say that the "second
worst" thing for a tour giver to do is to give a tour in bad
weather. The "first worst" thing for a tour giver to do is
to have to look at the angst on the faces of the people
trying to enjoy the tour while ignoring the bad weather!
So, Jimmy O will hibernate for the Winter and focus on the
Courthouse Tours and giving indoor presentations to schools,
garden clubs and civic groups. See below for the Meeman
Center For Lifelong Learning course in Memphis History that
will be given in April, 2014. TUESDAY TOURS and BRIDGE
WALKS will resume in April, 2014 - so stay tuned to this web
site for the calendar.
JJ Guinozzo Inducted Into Memphis Amateur Sports
Hall Of Fame
On December 2, the Memphis Amateur Sports Hall Of Fame will
induct John Joseph Guinozzo ("JJ") into its hallowed halls
at a banquet held at the Hilton Hotel. JJ has been a 50+
year supporter from the sidelines for professional, amateur
and prep sports in Memphis and Shelby County. He is one of
the originators of the "Best of Preps" program of The
Commercial Appeal in
scorer for the Memphis Blues, Memphis Chicks and Memphis
Redbirds since 1971, on various University of Memphis Stat
Crews since the early 1970s, Memphis Grizzlies official
scorer, and has served in the stat crews of numerous
professional football and basketball teams over the years,
including the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. JJ has also worked in
the Media Room of the FedEx St. Jude Memphis Classic for
In the Summer of
2011 for the Memphis & Shelby County Room of the Hooks
Central Library, JJ and I produced "Baseball Memphis", which
was a Powerpoint presentation and Summer long exhibit of
some of JJ's many artifacts and objects related to the
Memphis will be
presented to the West Tennessee Historical Society at its
May 5, 2014 meeting at MUS). JJ is the author and annual
updater of the
JJ has also served as the official scorer for the American
Legion World Series each year for three decades and
supervised scoring at over 600 games.
JJ has done research
projects for Memphis University School Football (as well as
fifteen other Shelby County schools), published "On
Whitehaven" about his alma mater and is well known at the
National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. He
scanned over 12,000 photos and researched over 6,000
individuals for the University of Memphis Sports Hall of
James Owen, JJ, Jimmy Hayslip,
Congratulations to my friend -
JJ Guinozzo! 2-2-2,
History: "Centuries Of Adventure
Meeman Center For Lifelong
Learning at Rhodes College - Spring Semester
*** Breaking News! The fourth installment
of the Meeman Center course at Rhodes ***
four evenings, Jimmy Ogle will
present various aspects of his
studies and life's experiences
with Memphis, Tennessee.
From the early explorers and
settlers to modern day citizens;
from imposing natural landscapes
that made Memphis one of the
earliest settlements in the
nation to the largest metropolis
of the Mid-South to the
Mississippi River, Cotton, Civil
War, Disasters, Beale Street,
Memphis Music, Civil Rights,
Medicine and the city's modern
day impact as the "Nation's
Distribution Center" will be
covered, including many
anecdotes, fun facts, figures
and historical achievements of
many citizens along the way.
nights in April, 2014 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
April 7: Before There Was "Memphis" (1541 - 1826)
Historic Memphis To Modern Memphis (1819-2012)
April 14: Memphis Memorials, Statues & Sculptures
The Memphis Music Story
April 21: Cotton Men of Elmwood; Civil War; "The Moving Appeal"
Memphis & The Civil Rights Movement
April 28: Potpourri Night featuring Overton Park; Gayoso Bayou: Then & Now;
Origins & Oddities of the Streets & Bridges of Memphis;
Mississippi River Stories . . . and more . . .
For early registration and/or more information,
go to meeman.rhodes.edu or call (901) 843-3965.
Registration: Online at
http://meeman.rhodes.edu/ or call
Shelby County Courthouse Tours Resume
that Jimmy O is back in Downtown daily thanks to the new job as Community
Engagement Manager with the Riverfront Development Corporation, he will be able
to resume a tour of the Shelby County Courthouse on either the third or fourth
Thursday of each month. Courthouse Tours are free, handicapped accessible,
cameras are allowed for these tours (special exemption) and we assemble at 12:00
noon on the southwest steps of the Courthouse (Second/Adams).
Highlights of the tour of Memphis & Shelby County's grandest public building
(which opened in 1910) include (exterior) the six marble statues, web scenes in
pediments depicting six aspects of law; (interior) the Grand South Hallway &
Museum, six display cases of Courthouse, archives, seven different kinds of
marble, Cuban mahogany wood, pedestal & bust of Andrew Jackson (dating back to
1835), historic cuspidor; visits to the Antique Courtroom and Shelby County Law
Library; and numerous stories about the people, events and history of the courts
of Shelby County, dating back almost 200 years.
December 19 - 12:00
January 17 - 12:00
February 21 - 12:00
March 21 - 12:00 noon
Created by John Blount,
will give you a glimpse inside the
Shelby County Courthouse tour.
Many thanks to the Memphis Bar Association for authorizing and approving these
tours, plus enhancing the visitors experience;
to the Shelby County government
administration for allowing the tours in such a significant building with
important daily operations;
and to the judges, clerks and staff working in the
Shelby County Courthouse on a daily basis for their tolerance and patience of
this "invasion" of their working spaces.
Obviously Insane Things We’ll Never Do Again
(and the Valuable Life Lessons We Learned Along the Way)
Found Me in Mental Floss!
Well, this actually happened on the May 12 BRIDGE
WALK across the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge. As I
finished the opening talk in Crump Park and headed
up to the sidewalk of the bridge, a gentleman lagged
and introduced himself to me. He was (two weeks) new
to Memphis and a new employee of the Memphis
Grizzlies - Greg Sowell. Now, Greg had a big ol'
camera around his neck and said that he enjoyed
taking photos of objects and people, as I recall. He
had "googled" my name and read that the Bridge Walk
was occurring that Sunday. Needless to say, he had a
good time, he came to the Union Avenue Tuesday Tour
on May 14 and then then Grizzlies got into the
"Final Four" of the NBA. I guess he got busy with
that; and I went to the The Booksellers at
Laurelwood and bought a copy of Mental Floss
Now the story stems from a time back in 2010 when
Andrew Carroll (the contributor) was doing doing
research for a book ("Here Is Where") that he was
writing about lost history in all fifty states of
America. He googled "yellow fever" in Memphis and
George Waring's sanitary sewer experiment in the
1880s, and what would pop up but the "Gayoso Bayou
and Jimmy Ogle". So, he called the City Mayor's
office (Myron Lowery at the time), and the Mayor's
office gave him my cell number. He wanted to venture
through the Gayoso Bayou, and I said sure.
Fortunately, he came a day early, as the original
date was filled with a huge thunderstorm and the
bayou was overflowing, even flooding the
intersection of Lauderdale & Exchange. Andrew and I
had a great adventure that day, and he even helped
me "throw rocks" from the third retention pond in
the Greenlaw section (a stress reliever for me and
another story) later that day.
So, I feel that the Gayoso Bayou is basically safe,
but any wrong person's actions can make any place
dangerous. I have never seen a rat or snake or
recluse spider, and I guess that I do not know what
odorless methane gas smells like! I still carry the
same 1819 map with me, the original layout for the
town of Memphis, which shows the Gayoso Bayou as
being the restrictive eastern boundary - no bridge
until 1824 (the article mentioned a 1919 map
erroneously). I feel that I will always have courage
and always have "adventure" in my sights . . .
On Saturday, June 10 (2013), I re-connected with
Andrew Carroll in Jefferson Davis Park for the
re-dedication of a new Sultana historical marker,
replacing the original that had been stolen. Three
years ago, Andrew "hooked up" with Jerry Potter,
local attorney and author of "The Sultana Tragedy"
while researching for "Here Is Where" and the
friendship developed into a co-sponsorship of the
replacement marker. Good will in the name of History
can go a long way. Thank you, Andrew and Jerry!
2: Don’t let knowledge stop adventure.
During a trip to all 50 states in search of
little-known historic sites, I took an invitation
from a tour guide named Jimmy Ogle in Memphis to
explore the storm drains beneath the city. In 1880,
Memphis became the first major municipality to
create “a separated sewer system,” which entailed
two pipe systems—one for storm water runoff and the
other for the nasty stuff. The designer was George
Waring Jr., the same engineer who transformed an
800-acre section of Manhattan wetlands into what
became Central Park.
Jimmy had trekked through the massive drains only a
few times before, using a map from 1919 to guide his
way. Before embarking on his first foray, which he
did alone, he left a copy of his intended route on
his desk with a note saying “Open This
Monday”—meaning “If I’m not back by now, here’s
where you might find my body.”
By the time Jimmy took me, he had a little more
experience. He led me to an opening into one of the
main tunnels and then flicked on his small
flashlight. We began sloshing through the ankle-deep
water, passing architecturally stunning “chambers”
with stone arches and gushing waterfalls flowing
over exquisite brickwork. The trickling of water and
the occasional boom of a truck’s wheels overhead
were the only noises that broke the silence. The
experience was exhilarating, and we covered several
miles in one afternoon.
The next day, during a meeting with one of the
city’s sewage maintenance employees, I told him
proudly of my excursion. He was aghast. “You did
what?” He went on to list the things that could have
killed me: pockets of odorless methane, poisonous
snakes, flash floods, infestations of lethal brown
recluse spiders. I had no idea how close to certain
death I’d come. When I mentioned all of this to
Jimmy, he laughed it off. I admired his courage and
am happy that there are people willing to venture
into these dark and obscure places. I’m happier
still that I’m not one of them.
Ellen Davies Rodgers Award
At the 3rd Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner,
Shelby County Historian Ed Williams bestowed the Ellen
Davies Rodgers Award to Jimmy Ogle as the leading advocate
for history over the past year in the Memphis and Shelby
County area. Shelby County has had only two Historians and
Mrs. Rodgers was the first (1965-1994) and Ed Williams being
the second (1994 to present).
Over 140 folks attended the
History Dinner at Hillwood Hall at historic Davies Manor
Plantation on August 7. Tennessee's Secretary of State gave
a very interesting and informative keynote speech, and
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell capped off the evening
with some of his closing thoughts about "history".
between the speeches, recognition was given by several local
history organizations to members or individuals for
achievements over the past year, and thirteen students that
had won categories at the West Tennessee Regional
Competition of Tennessee History Day received plaques from
the Shelby County Historical Commission.
Memphis Map for Elvis Fans
The Memphis Map For Elvis Fans is out on the streets of
Memphis, after a successful launch party at A.
Schwab's on Beale Street on Monday, August 12. Being
introduced during this year's Elvis Tribute Week by our good
friends Andrea Shaw and Alan Grossman (from New York City),
the "MMFEF" covers past and present Elvis related sites in
Memphis, and recognizes many of the sites that no longer
exist (for the first time).
met Andrea and Alan about 18 months ago, while they
were in Memphis (once again, as it turned out) to continue
their "love affair" with Memphis, Tennessee. Within a few
months, Andrew and Alan were contributors to the Memphis
historical scene in another unsung way, and now have
launched a beautiful fold-out map (be careful) and web site
(www.memphismapforelvisfans) - all which is
self-descriptive. The (18" X 24" once unfolded out) "MMFEF"
is the most appealing tourist map of Memphis that I have
ever seen, and I have been around here a long, long time
doing this! They dropped by my office at Beale Street
Landing last weekend to give me a map in advance, and I had
Andrea autograph my first copy. There ya go . . .
was able to spend some time off and on with Andrea and Alan
over the last year, and they have been on several of my
walking tours of the streets of Memphis. Jake Schorr of
Westy's and The Carriage Company of Memphis was a
contributor, but Sue Mack and Mike Freeman spent a lot of
time authenticating the research of Andrea and Alan. The
ultimate satisfaction of giving Talks & Tours in Memphis is
to have out-of-towners like Andrea and Alan grasp what
"Memphis" is, and then put their heart and souls into a
project that benefits all. I am sure that we will be hearing
and seeing more from them in the future.
MEMPHIS THANK YOU to Andrea and Alan!!
Beale Street Landing Update
10/01/13 - The construction fencing finally came down on Tuesday,
September 24 with the Service Drive gates being added on Wednesday, September
25. The grounds and grass roof will be open from sunrise to sunset during the
Autumn months, with visitors being able to walk right up from Tom Lee Park onto
the roof deck until dark. Overnight security (Black Lion) has been added the
grounds and soon the parking lot will add gates, landscaping and a parking fee
machine. Playground infrastructure is being installed in Phase 4B. The AMERICAN
QUEEN returns on Monday, October 28.
Making it through the first Spring and Summer here has been
unusual to say the least! Opening on March 1st with snow flurries is not exactly
the friendliest way to greet a new riverboat landing. Having a restaurant
operator come and go, without actually opening was a major surprise and
disappointment. Learning how to work around and with Memphis In May in Tom Lee
Park and its domination of the intersection of Beale Street and Riverside Drive
was eye-opening, for sure. What a job some of those Memphis In May volunteers
and staff do to coordinate all that has to happen in those six weeks, from start
to finish. The Summer weather has been mild and there is a new RFP on the
streets for a restaurant operator. Phase 4B (terraces, walkways, and play area)
is rolling along. The Mississippi River has been behaving for the most part
(like the weather), but the driftwood continues to be a nuisance.
For the Autumn months, look for quite a few rental events at Beale Street
Landing, including the Cochon Heritage BBQ on August 30. The QUEEN OF THE
MISSISSIPPI returns on September 6-7 and the AMERICAN QUEEN returns on September
13, after both spending the past two months on the Upper Mississippi River and
Ohio River; and then several more times later in the year before laying up in
January for Winter maintenance. Look for a Grand Opening of all Beale Street
Landing facilities in the Spring of 2014!!
is another chapter in The Book of Jimmy Ogle, as the phase 1 portion of Beale
Street Landing opens on March 1. A new title - General Manager - replaces the
old title of Community Engagement Manager, but it is all still Riverfront
Development Corporation. The Phase 1 portion includes the grounds, parking lot,
grass roof, plazas, dock, helical ramp and the south side of the main building -
all open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The building will house the offices,
ticket counter and gift shop of Memphis Riverboats, the local passenger vessel
excursion operator in Memphis since 1955. So, March 1 will be a historic, not
only for the facility opening, but also for the first time in 58 years, local
excursions will not originate from the historic cobblestone wharf.
In March, Memphis Riverboats will have a
daily 90-minute Sightseeing Cruise at 2:30 p.m. and a 2-hour BBQ Dinner Cruise
each Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. (www.memphisriverboats.nets), as well as a few
charters during the month. The AMERICAN QUEEN will dock on March 9 and March 24,
and the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI will dock on March 30. Riverboating is back,
and Spring Break will be here before you know it!
Phase 2 will be the opening of the
restaurant in the north side of the main building (name to be announced) and
will feature a "Memphis Food" menu of BBQ, catfish, shrimp, burgers and more -
very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Catering functions will also begin in April (Athens Distributing and AutoZone
are two booked all ready) in some of the areas of the facility. Then comes
Memphis In May, the largest festival of its king in America, in neighboring Tom
Lee Park. Ticketed admission will still be continued for Memphis In May events,
but Beale Street Landing will continue to be open and free during the month.
The third phase of 2013 will be considered the Grand Opening once the
additional four acres of slopes, terraces, islands and playground on the north
side of the building are completed later this year. Safe access to the river's
edge will be available in the side of the project. Getting to opening(s) in 2013
has not been easy, and I would like to thank Geoff Wyonzek (Hnedak Bobo Group)
for his role as project manager is coordinating all the numerous aspects of
construction. Geoff is much appreciated in "Ogle Nation"!
02/01/13: Phase 4B of Beale Street Landing (BSL) is in the "punch list
phase", which means that opening is just around the corner. The Riverfront
Development Corporation anticipates that Memphis Riverboats will open its 58th
season of sightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River on Friday, March 1 -
marking the first time since 1955, the local excursion company will not be
boarding from the Historic Cobblestone Wharf. Memphis Riverboats will continue
to "fleet" and service its operation at the cobblestone address, but boarding
for all cruises (sightseeing, dinner, charters and school groups) will be from
Beale Street Landing. The first docking of an out-of-town vessel will be on
Saturday, March 9 when the AMERICAN QUEEN will make its first 2013 appearance in
And then, by the middle of April,
Riverside Grille and Dockside Bar will open daily restaurant service, lunch and
dinner, special events and catered functions - an opportunity for the first time
in Memphis history on the banks of the Mississippi River and Memphis riverfront.
The grass roof slope and deck will be an instant hit for Memphians and tourists
to gather to enjoy the views and vistas of the Delta, sunsets, river traffic,
Bridge of Lights and city skyline. Then its April and Spring weather, Memphis In
May, the July 4th Celebration and eventually the AutoZone Powerboat Racing
Championships in October, and more . . . stay tuned!
2012 . . .
and what a
In a span of
of the main
and the RDC
Kids and ArtAFactor
given of the
of land on
side of the
able to give
off to a
most of the
As we look
in 58 years
in 2013) and
a new era of
and we look
of the daily
on the river
Bar; and the
the deck of
2013 . . .
and over 50
on the first
Harbor - it
all adds up
are that the
- will enjoy
the new dock
at the Foot
of Beale &
know it . .
in 2013 and
the way, a
2013 on the
will open in
2013 in the
in 2013 . .
of park land
the Foot of
edge for the
line of the
to the north
the Harahan Greenline
west to the
east side of
- what a
views of the
- all came
up about the
2013 on the
Construction is closing in on Beale Street Landing with the dock anticipated to
arrive from Presidents Island in the second week of April. The Steamer AMERICAN
QUEEN of the Memphis-based
American Steamboat Company will arrive on April 26 in her inaugural voyage
upriver for the Spring, 2012 season. Jimmy O will be aboard the AMERICAN QUEEN,
on April 25-26 giving lectures about his favorite topic - Memphis! A series of
celebrations, including the christening by Godmother Priscilla Presley, will be
scheduled on April 26-27 prior to her departure for Louisville and the Kentucky
Three other overnight passenger
vessel excursion operators have scheduled for Beale Street Landing this year -
the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
GRAND CARIBE and the YORKTOWN. "Riverboating" is alive and well on the
Mississippi River again after a four year hiatus.
The restaurant at Beale Street
Landing has been selected - Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar - and it is
scheduled to open during the first week of July. The other major daily tenant,
local excursion operator of 57 years, Memphis Riverboats (www.memphisriverboats.net),
will begin daily
docking for all passengers in the month of July, as well. Phase IV-B of the
project (the terraces and islands of the northern shore line, from the main
building to Beale Street & Riverside Drive, will be bid this Spring with hope of
completion in the Autumn, 2013 after two low water seasons on the Mississippi
Over twenty Hard Hat Tours for local
community focus groups were conducted in April. Then the annual
occupation of Tom Lee Park for the Memphis In May International Festival (www.memphisinmay.org)
began with the Beale Street Music Festival (May 4-6), International
Barbecue Cooking Contest (May 17-19) and the Sunset Symphony (May 26). Seven
days of music, food, sun and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the
world - all enjoying the fabulous backdrop of the Mississippi River, river
traffic and barge tows, Arkansas Delta and world class sunsets.
The shell of
be held on
time for a
Bar, and the
The AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship will return to the riverfront,
areas in Tom
Lee Park as
both days) -
roof on top!
During this historic low water phase (second all-time low in recorded
dock at the
*** War of 1812
Plaques Attached; Ogle Awarded!
On February 28, 2011, I received an email
from Dottie McCallen, my contact with the Memphis Bar Association for
the Shelby County Courthouse Tours. Dottie had been contacted by Bettie
Gustafson about a historical War of 1812 marker at the Courthouse and
the Andrew Jackson Bust & Pedestal in the South Hallway.
She was wanting to host events to commemorate Andrew Jackson's birthday
annually (with the return of a wreath laying tradition at the pedestal)
and the War of 1812 participants from the "Memphis" area. (I put Memphis
in quotation marks, as there was not a Memphis at that time, but many of
these War of 1812 participants played a pivotal role later on that
decade in the procurement of the lands of West Tennessee and the
eventual founding of the town of Memphis in 1819).
The War of 1812 "Bicentennial Season" began
last year and will continue through to 2015. Two years of planning and
fund raising by the local Piomingo Chapter of the United Daughters of
1812 hit a peak on Saturday, October 5 at the Shelby County Courthouse
when two plaques were dedicated at a ceremony in the southeast corridor
(see program photos). Flags were presented, pledges and/or salutes to
each flag were spoken, speeches were given, songs were sung (including
"Yankee Doodle" and "Eight Thousand Redcoats"), and the cake was cut!
Descendants of War of 1812 veterans were chosen to cut the cake - (left
to right in photo) Martha Tibbs (Clement McDaniel), Elise George (Isaac
Shelby), Becky Muska (George Washington Oldham), and John Walt (Samuel
Andrew Forbess, Boy Scout Troop 66 and
William Prince, Boy Scout Troop 60 marched and held the flags into the
corridor. Thirza Sloan led the gathering in the singing of the National
Anthem (inspired during the War of 1812 and written by Frances Scott
Key). Aline Roberts of the Honorary Tennessee State President, U.S.D.
1812 extended a greeting, Anne, and Holzemer (Honorary Regent of the
River City Chapter of the DAR) led in the recitation of The American's
Creed, and Olivia Chandler spoke of the Purposes of the National
Society of U.S.D 1812.
The unveiling of the Isaac Shelby plaque was
made by Elise George (descendant of Isaac Shelby) and Martha Tibbs
(descendant of Clement McDaniel). [By the way Clement McDaniel's name
is also on a plaque in the southwest corridor of the Shelby County
Courthouse recognizing Veterans of the Revolutionary War that are
Interred in Shelby County, place by the Watauga Chapter of the Daughters
of the American Revolution in 1997. McDaniel's name is the only name on
both plaques in the building].
The unveiling of the War of 1812 Veterans
Interred in Shelby County plaque was made by John Walt (Samuel David
Walt), Becky Muska (George Washington Oldham) and Martha Tibbs (Clement
McDaniel). Names of all 32 veterans were read as a part of the
Carla Maitland brought an upbeat lilt to the
ceremony in a talk about "war songs" like "Yankee Doodle" (which we sang
a version of "1812" lyrics provided by Bettie Gustafson), "Over There"
(WW1), Johnny Horton's pop tune of the "Battle of New Orleans", and even
placed sheet music on the chairs for "The Way To Avoid War". Most
importantly, we sang our National Anthem, the "Star Spangled Banner"
which was inspired by a battle at Ft. McHenry (1813) in the early part
of the War of 1812.
At the close of the ceremony, Olivia
Chandler and Bettie Gustafson made a surprise announcement of the Spirit
of 1812 Award presentation to Jimmy Ogle for his efforts in supporting
the Piomingo Chapter. The Certificate and Medal is a nationwide
recognition given by the National Society of the United Daughters of
1812. According to Bettie, only thirty such recognitions have been made
throughout the country to date, and this was the second in the State of
Tennessee. It was quite an honor to receive such recognition . . .
In closing, to the tune of Three
Blind Mice, please sing along with me . . .
Eight Thousand Redcoats, Eight
See how they run, See how they run.
They all ran away from the Tennessee guns,
Old Hickory had the battle won!
did you ever see such a sight in your life?
As the Tennessee volunteers, the Tennessee Volunteers!
War of 1812 Veterans & Gen.
Isaac Shelby To Be Honored in Historic Shelby County Courthouse
Saturday, October 5 at 2:00
After successfully promoting birthday/anniversary events (on
March 15) for Gen. Andrew Jackson over the past two years,
the Piomingo Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812 will
not host another event at the Shelby County Courthouse on
October 5. Chapter member Bettie Gustafson has led a local
fund raising effort for the installation of plagues honoring
the Veterans of the War of 1812 Interred in Shelby County
and for Isaac Shelby (our county's namesake and War of 1812
with a plaque placed by the Watauga Chapter of the Daughters
of the American Revolution in the southwest corridor of the
Courthouse honoring Revolutionary War Veterans Interred in
Shelby County (19), these "1812" plaques will be installed
in the southeast corridor. The Piomingo Chapter and the
Shelby County Historical Commission have identified 32
veterans buried in various cemeteries in Shelby County.
Shelby, also Governor of Kentucky, was instrumental, along
with Gen. Andrew Jackson, in the negotiations with the
Chickasaw Nation of all the lands (6.8 million acres) of
"West Tennessee" (west of the Tennessee River to the
Mississippi River) - now 21 counties of the State of
Tennessee in 1818 (Chickasaw Cession). Tennessee became the
third state after the original thirteen states to join the
Union and the first territory to become a state in 1796. The
first 22 years Tennessee was a state, all the land west of
the Tennessee River was owned by the Chickasaw Nation.
Memphis was founded in 1819 on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff in
West Tennessee by James Winchester, John Overton and Andrew
Jackson. The first Mayor of Memphis, Marcus Winchester, is a
War of 1812 veteran interred in Shelby County. These were
indeed very formative years for our nation, for the Memphis
area and in the careers of Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby.
Andrew Jackson (co-founder of Memphis in 1819, seventh
President of the United States from 1829-1837) rose to
national prominence during the War of 1812 period, as well.
His marble bust and pedestal already are located in the
south hallway "courthouse museum" since 1921 and it
commemorates his achievements. The bust is the oldest known
bust cast on a sitting President in our nation's history
(1835) and was used in the image of the first 4-cent postage
stamp in our country!
dedication ceremony will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October
5 in the South Hallway of the Shelby County Courthouse, 150
Adams Avenue in Downtown Memphis. Stay tuned...
Bridge Walk Photos from Marc Schwartz!
If you really want to see what some else sees on the BRIDGE WALK, then
these wonderful photos submitted by a young photographer with a
marvelous eye for "seeing" other things that some of do not "see". Marc
has come on quite a few tours due to his enjoyment for Memphis History
and is now sharing some of his photos with us through this web site.
Thank you, Marc.
So, the next (and last of 2013) BRIDGE WALK is Sunday,
November 10 at 2:00 p.m. Meet us under the beautiful Magnolia tree in
Crump Park. Crump Park may be reached by driving west on Crump towards
the bridges or north on I-55. The last exit in Tennessee before you
cross the Mississippi River is Exit 12C (Metal Museum Drive). Attendants
will be in the drive and parking lot to direct you to secure parking.
Bring a camera!
And, while you are in the French Fort neighborhood,
visit the National Ornamental Metal Museum and Chickasaw Heritage park,
just south of Crump Park.
Bill Downie & The PROUD MARY
A good thing about writing a story on
a part of our nation’s history, such as the PROUD MARY, is that someone “out
there” might actually read the story, or be touched by it, or even better
respond with “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey used to say).
PROUD MARY “Detour” appeared on this site on August 25, 2010 and more than
two years later, I receive the following email from Jean Downie:
|“My name is Jean Downie and
my late husband Bill WAS the Proud Mary Restoration. He put a
lot of love, labor and money into her restoration and was devastated
when she sank into the the Loosachatchie River in December 1988. I
would love to see my husbands name associated with your article on
the Proud Mary along side of the Restoration Name. He loved that
boat. He spend his life as a tug boat captain on the Eastern
Seaboard and it was his life's dream to one day find the Proud Mary
and restore her. We came from NY State and her history as she
started out; taking prisoners to Sing Sing was part of our
culture....” Mrs. Jean Downie...
So, I went back to my file from the Mud Island days on the 1980s, and sure
enough, it contained photocopies of letters and newspaper stories – all
attributed to the efforts of Bill Downie trying to save and restore the PROUD
even a copy of a letter than I had sent, as
General Manager of Mud Island, to Jean Downie on May 18, 1987 – small world,
The Memphis Press-Scimitar in a
December 1, 1967 edition displayed a photo of the MARY ELIZABETH on fire within
sight of downtown office workers in the Wolf River Harbor. She was shoving an
empty grain back up the harbor to Cargill, Inc. when the smoke and fire was
noticed coming from the engine room area. Sam Drain, who had been “deckhanding
on the Mississippi River for 45 years”, was tying the barge to the dock when he
first noticed the flames. The Memphis Fire Department responded with nine pieces
of equipment and took almost thirty minutes to dowse the fire. A 10-car Illinois
Central train was held up for about an hour as the fire hose was stretch more
than 200 feet across the tracks to reach the fire. Capt. John Murphy said that
the “major damage was to the cabin and engine room, and that she would be
rebuilt for being placed back into service as soon as possible”.
Another photocopy is a February 14,
from The Commercial Appeal, the tugboat PROUD MARY was tied to a dock at Murphy
Marine Service at President’s Island. John L. Murphy was the owner (since
1973).Murphy said that he believed a deckhand wrote the song in 1961 or 1962,
but he could not remember his name. Larry Barber of Murphy Marine said “It can’t
push a barge the way a towboat can. The only way to move a barge is to come
along side and tie left to it.” The boat was used mostly as a harbor boat in
Memphis. Unlike towboats, the MARY ELIZABETH had no tow knees – the large push
rods on towboats used to push barges.
In the file there is a photocopy of a
story from an unidentified New Orleans newspaper with a picture of Bill Downie
and his stepson, Henry Kenealy. The story covers the plans to make the PROUD
MARY “seaworthy” and visit major ports along the Mississippi River, Lake
Pontchartrain and the eastern seaboard, using the vessel for a concert stage
playing to audiences on beaches and parks. A culminating event would be set for
July 4, 1987 in the New York harbor and the PROUD MARY then returning to Memphis
to be donated to the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island for display.
t that time, making the PROUD MARY, a
74-foot-long & 63-gross-ton vessel, seaworthy again was estimated to be $42,000,
which included items such as extensive welding and patching, purchase of a
diesel engine, generator, propeller, shaft and other preparations.
Jean and Bill lived in Punta Gorda,
Florida and in 1995, the Charlotte Sun wrote a story about Bill’s dedication,
perseverance and efforts on behalf of the PROUD MARY. In the newspaper article,
there is a photo of Bill holding the life board from the PROUD MARY. Bill Downie
passed away in 2010 at the age of 75.
Thank you, Jean Downie . . .
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - -
And, on another update, the
Butcher Shop restaurant in Downtown Memphis that had the MARY ELIZABETH painting
on display, has closed, to be converted to condos. The Butcher Shop at 107 S.
Germantown Parkway in East Memphis near Shelby Farms remains open (901-757-4244,
www.thebutchershop.com). Hopefully the portrait will re-surface there or maybe
in a nearby museum. Stay tuned . . .
November 6th Street Tour Update
| On every tour of
November 6th Street or Union Avenue that I given since I started the
walking tour program in 2008, when talking about the origin of this
unusual name, I tell that I have heard of streets named for months
(like, May, June, August) or for holidays (like Easter, Christmas,
Memorial), but never a street with the combination of month/day/year
as the title for this one.
I have always asked the folks walking on the tour this question:
"Has anybody ever heard of another street anywhere named for a
month/date/year like NOVEMBER 6th 1934 Street"? To date, there have
been no responses with this combination.
Well, while skimming the
"Memphis Memories" section of The Commercial Appeal on January 11
(this year), look what appears in the "50 Years Ago: 1963" but a
story about the possibility of naming a stretch of Washington Avenue
between Main Street and Second Street to JANUARY 10, 1963 PLAZA!
Well, that area became
"Civic Center Plaza" and in the 1960s, four large buildings were
constructed to house governmental offices for Federal (1963), City
(1966), State (1967) and County (1969). On July 4, 1976, Pres.
Gerald Ford dedicated the "Mid-America Mall", a mile-long pedestrian
makeover of Main Street between Exchange Avenue and McCall Avenue
(now Peabody Place), a failed effort to recapture the glory years of
Main Street from the middle of the century. A large fountain was
installed in the (former) intersection of Main & Washington, and now
there is a magnificent clock tower structure at this location
(although seldom does any of the four clocks tell correct time!).
West of the Clock Tower in the former Washington Avenue
right-of-way, fly the flags of the foreign countries honored by the
Memphis In May International Festival, which began in 1977.
By the 1990s, a new
effort resulted in the Main Street Trolley replacing the Mid-America
Mall - in 1993 from The Pinch on the north side of Downtown to
Central Station on the south end. The Riverfront Loop addition came
on line in 1997 taking over one of the north/south bound railroad
tracks along the riverfront, and the Madison Avenue Trolley line was
installed in 2004.
Know??? - The first home in Memphis to be
connected to TVA power was that of Mr. &
Mrs. Nat Jones at 1438 Willett on June 4,
"Inside Memphis" With Jimmy Ogle
From time to time, you have heard Jimmy being interviewed on the Earle Farrell 4 Memphis Show (Monday thru Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.) on KWAM AM990 -
The New Talk Of Memphis, and Jimmy has even set in the studio in Earle's absence to host the show on occasion.
Now, please join Jimmy with Chris Wade on "Inside Memphis" every Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 6:40 a.m. on KWAM AM990. George Bryant of KWAM has asked Jimmy to talk about anything that he wants to talk about on Memphis, be it about history, upcoming events, "virtual" tours that he has in his head - just anything. So, tune in to KWAM AM990 - The New Talk Of Memphis!
*** UPDATE ***
Doug Stephan refers to Jimmy Ogle during his
Old Forest Trail
Hike in Overton Park
Believe it or not,
one of the best times to visit the
Old Forest is in the Winter, when
all the leaves have fallen and one
can actually see "through" the upper
canopy for several hundred yards.
At this time, one can really see how
tall some of the trees tower. The
forest floor become somewhat barren
and a Winter stage of life takes
place. Even the poison ivy takes a
nap (not really, just discolors!).
10:00 a.m. Every Second
Saturday & Last Sunday of Each Month
– December 14,
Assemble at the Lick Creek Bridge, just
south of the Rainbow Lake parking lot
just east of the # 2 tee of the historic
Overton Park Golf Course, on Old Forest
Lane, of course!
This 90-minute hike is
different every time it is taken, as the Old
Forest has a new story to unveil every day .
In honor of
the 40th anniversary of the
Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe
U.S. Supreme Court decision, we've
reproduced a vintage CPOP shirt from the
We will mail you this
fabulous shirt as a
thank-you gift when you
donate $15 or more to
Citizens to Preserve Overton
You can fill out the
handy form on our website
to donate securely online
with your credit card or
If you would rather pick up
your shirt in person and/or
pay by check,
please email us at
to make arrangements.
Many thanks to citizens
George Cates and Gary Shorb,
Senator Beverly Marrero,
Jim Strickland and Governor
Bill Haslam for The Old
Forest of Overton Park the
82nd State Natural Area in
the State of Tennessee this
Summer. Also, stay tuned for
updates about the formation
of the Overton Park
Conservancy to protect and
upgrade Memphis' greatest
Speak Up for Overton Park, visit
information is available on the
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