The quiet dignity and scenic beauty of
our county and country life has captivated residents and travelers for many
decades. Opportunities abound. Tipton is a growing and prosperous county. Step
into her rich past and you will understand why. When you visit Tipton you will
discover exciting chapters in Tennessee’s history.
Tipton County was established on Oct. 29, 1823 from territory within the limits
of Shelby County.
The county was named in honor of Captain Jacob Tipton who was
killed while leading his men against the Indians near Fort Wayne on Nov. 4,
1791. Tour the century-old Courthouse and unique Confederate Monument. Visitors
today will find a delightful combination of shopping, dining and recreational
activities in the gracious, hospitable and historic setting of Covington.
Covington was established as Tipton’s seat of government on Dec. 11, 1824. On
Dec. 9, 1826, the state legislature authorized the incorporation of Covington.
The town was named in honor of General Leonard Wales Covington, a native of
Maryland who was mortally wounded in the Battle of Chrystler’s Field on Nov. 11,
1813. Throughout the county’s history, Covington has been the leading city for
commerce, higher education and training, manufacturing, jobs and professional
While in Covington drive down the Main and Maple Streets of the South Main
Historic District and view the old homes and brick walks. The tree-shaded
streets are especially delightful during autumn when the leaves show off their
brilliantly bright colors. Take in an afternoon at the library or take your
children to Cobb-Parr Park to enjoy the unique kids’ designed playground,
swimming pool, ball fields, tennis and other amenities.
As you travel our roads and highways you are retracing the trails and pathways
of the ancient hunting grounds of the Chickasaw Indians. Recapture echoes of
Randolph on the second Chickasaw Bluff, the first metropolis on the Mississippi
River in Western Tennessee. Founded in 1823, Randolph was the king of steamboat
river commerce and a cotton shipping point. The remains of Civil War field
fortifications and a gunpowder magazine at Fort Wright remind us that several
thousand Confederate volunteers from West Tennessee and Arkansas were encamped
and readied themselves for battle during 1861-62. Telegraphic communication from
Randolph to Memphis was established during the war and Union General William T.
Sherman had his soldiers to burn Randolph in 1862.
The Clopton Methodist Church campground provided an encampment for 500
Confederate volunteers. The Battle of Lemmon Woods took place near Covington,
between a few thousand Rebel and Yankee cavalrymen, on March 9, 1863.
Tipton County has a proud military tradition. Volunteers, militia, and organized
companies have served in most of our nation’s wars. The “Covington Sentinels”
was the county’s first militia company formed in 1830 with muskets, powder, and
ball furnished by the State. County volunteers served in the Texas War of
Independence, 1836, and the Mexican War, 1847-48. One thousand Tiptonians served
in the Confederate army during the Civil War. Their legacy of battlefield valor
and courage has continued through the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Operation
Desert Storm and the liberation of Iraq.
Veteran’s memorials pay homage to the valor and devotion of our men and women
who served and on too many occasions, paid the supreme sacrifice for their
courage and patriotism in war. The beautiful custom of decorating the graves of
veterans began at the R. H. Munford Cemetery, Covington, before 1869. Memorial
ceremonies are still observed in the cemetery with flags and flowers placed upon
the graves of soldiers.
From 1876-1941, Confederate Soldier’s Reunions were held at Brighton, Covington,
and Glenn Springs. The great American cavalry general, Nathan Bedford Forrest,
made his last public address to his Confederate comrades of the 7th Tennessee
Cavalry at Covington in 1876. Today, the Tipton County Veteran’s Council
sponsors two annual events: Memorial Day at a different church in the county
yearly, and the Veteran’s Day parade and luncheon at Covington on Nov. 11.
The Covington Museum, Tipton Veteran’s Memorial and Nature Center was opened to
the public in 1998. The museum has two permanent displays, the blood-stained
First National Confederate Flags of Company C, 9th Tennessee Infantry, which was
utilized as the regimental flag in the Battles of Shiloh and Perryville. The
other is the Congressional Medal of Honor and tunic of World War I hero Joseph
Bernard Atkinson of Atoka. Patrons enjoy the natural exhibits, half-mile walking
trail and 18 acres of nature preserve. Fitness and exercise amenities are
available at the Covington Sportsplex about a block west of the museum.
Our citizens love our politics and barbecues. Presidents’ James K. Polk and Bill
Clinton; Congressmen David Crockett and John Tanner; Senators Stephen A. Douglas
and Strom Thurmond, Tennessee House Speaker James O. Naifeh, and other
candidates have given speeches here. Covington continues to host the world’s
oldest Bar-B-Que Cooking Contest where thousands enjoy the taste and aroma of
hickory smoked delicacies and greeting politicians.
Tipton was the leading cotton producing and ginning county in the state for many
years. In 1929, nearly 80,000 county acres were planted in cotton. Agriculture
is still vital but industrial development has generated thousands of new jobs
and diversified our economy.
Railroads have played an important role in our history. The Memphis and Ohio
Railroad’s route to Nashville came through the county at Mason in 1855. The
Memphis and Paducah (Illinois Central) Railroad reached Covington in July 1873.
These lines have promoted commerce, trade and travel.
The Jefferson Davis U. S. Highway was constructed through the county in the
1920s. Named for the Confederate President, the road is also called Highway 51
and is a major transportation artery.
The Tipton County Industrial and Mechanical Association was organized in
Covington in 1871. Since then, the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial
Development Board have worked with local governments to locate manufacturing and
industrial facilities here, providing several thousand jobs for Tiptonians.
Since 1947, Covington has operated a Municipal Airport with a paved 5,000-foot
runway and terminal building for the benefit and convenience of commerce,
industry, recreation and travel.
Residents have learned at excellent schools. Early academies opened at the
Mountain and Portersville. Congressman Charles B. Simonton and Confederate Major
General Cadmus M. Wilcox attended the Portersville Academy and Commodore Isaac
N. Brown of the Confederate Navy attended the Mountain School. The Byars,
Fisher, Frazier, and Female Seminary schools opened at Covington. Good high
schools were built in Covington at Byars Hall and Frazier, and at Brighton and
Munford. High schools now are located in Covington, Brighton and Munford.
Elementary schools dot the landscape at Covington, Brighton, Munford, Drummonds
and a new one to open this fall on Highway 14. There are also three middle
schools. There is a magnet school located in Covington, the Covington Integrated
Students have been fortunate to have good facilities and teachers of merit and
ability. Dyersburg State Community College-Covington Campus and the Tennessee
Technology Center offer courses in higher education.
At least 73 churches provide for our spiritual needs. Trinity Chapel, between
Mason and Charleston, was built by slaves in 1847 and is our oldest house of
worship. Trinity Episcopal Church was built at Mason in 1870. Smyrna Baptist at
Burlison is one of the oldest organized churches in West Tennessee.
The Mississippi and Big Hatchie Rivers and Glenn Springs Lake have provided a
sportsman’s paradise for boaters, hunters and fishermen.
Tipton County is a great place to live and raise a family, work and do business.
From the banks of the majestic Mississippi to the backwaters of the Big Hatchie;
from high atop Millstone Mountain to the bottom lands of Cotton Lake; and from
Conona to Charleston and Piljerk to Portersville and all in between, tremendous
Tipton beckons you to come and enjoy the best the Volunteer State has to offer!