History

A rich sense of history surrounds and influences Collierville, the second oldest town in Shelby County.
 
In the middle 1830’s the settlement was located on Poplar Pike (then State Line Road) and was once part of Tennessee and Mississippi due to a surveyor’s error that was corrected in 1838.

In 1836, Collierville received its name because Jesse R. Collier, entrepreneur laid out a tract of land into lots, bought space in the Memphis Enquirer, and advertised “The Town of Collier for Sale.”

The town was first incorporated in 1850 (east of its present site) with Richard Ramsey being the first mayor.

“Sherman’s March to the Sea” caused an end to Collierville’s first town. On Sunday morning October 11, 1863 Union General William T. Sherman and his Union solders defended the train depot from the Confederates. The Union and Confederate soldiers fought one of the bloodiest battles in Shelby County here in Collierville. The town was burned to the ground with only a few buildings surviving.

In 1867, Harrison Irby and Virginus Leake bought approximately ninety acres at our present town’s location. The acreage was then divided and sold in lots. The date of Collierville’s second incorporation was February 17, 1870 with James B. Abington serving as mayor.

The Collierville Town Square was the business center of town and enhanced Collierville’s ability to become a progressive community following the Civil War. The Historic Town Square, listed on the National Register of Historic Places continues to be a major source of pride among all Collierville residents today.

Confederate Park, in the center of the business district is a monument to the old style South that has been lost in many larger cities. The Park has served as the site for various organized events such as the Cheese Carnival, Watermelon Festival, Fair on the Square, Mulberry Fine Arts Festival, Dickens on the Square and many others. Around 1876, a two-story bandstand was constructed in the Park where it stood until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1955. It was replaced ten years later by a wrought iron, cedarshake, octagon-shaped gazebo.

The 1900’s were a time of tremendous growth for Collierville as it served as the “trade center” of the cotton industry for several surrounding counties. In the late 1920’s when the boll weevil visited the area, Collierville began to develop the dairy industry. By 1933, Collierville’s importance as a dairy center led to the establishment of a cheese plant by Swift & Co. Soon, Collierville became the cheese-making capital of West Tennessee.

By 1953, industry was fast becoming a sizable contributor to Collierville’s economy. Companies such as Hart’s Manufacturing, Wonder Products, Walker Machine Products and The Bodine Company provided employment for many in the Collierville area.

Collierville is now a dynamic town with friendly people, outstanding community services, scenic beauty and prosperous businesses. Home to 44,304 people and facilities such as Federal Express’s state-of-the-art Information Technology campus, Helena Chemical, NSA, the Baptist Memorial Hospital, Carrier, Philips Bodine and several other manufacturing companies, Collierville has become a much-desired community in which to live and do business.

Throughout Collierville’s history, the commitment to quality living and dedication to preserving the past of our great community has remained constant. As our Historic Town Square thrives, it serves as a reminder to each of us that history is our own to make, one day at a time, even as we keep an eye to the future.

Copyright 2010 Collierville Chamber of Commerce
485 Halle Park Drive | Collierville, TN 38017-7088
Phone: (901) 853-1949