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Memphis & Tennessee Information & Fun Facts

  • The city of Kingston served as Tennessee's state capital for one day (September 21, 1807) as a result of treaties negotiated with the Cherokee Indians. The two-hour legislative session passed two resolutions and adjourned back to Knoxville.
  • Andrew Johnson held every elective office at the local, state, and federal level, including President of the United States. He was elected alderman, mayor, state representative, and state senator from Greeneville. He served as governor and military governor of Tennessee and United States congressman, senator, and vice president, becoming President of the United States following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
  • Iroquois, bred at Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation, was the first American winner of the English Derby in 1881. Such modern thoroughbreds as Secretariat trace their bloodlines to Iroquois.
  • Actress-singer Polly Bergen, from Knoxville, is the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
  • Tennessee won its nickname as The Volunteer State during the War of 1812 when volunteer soldiers from Tennessee displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans.
  • The Copper Basin is so different from the surrounding area it has been seen and is recognizable by American astronauts. The stark landscape was caused by 19th-century mining practices.
  • There were more National Guard soldiers deployed from the state for the Gulf War effort than any other state.
  • There are more horses per capita in Shelby County than any other county in the United States.
  • The only person in American history to be both an Admiral in the Navy and a General in the Army was Samuel Powhatan Carter who was born in Elizabethton.
  • Greeneville has the only monument in the United States honoring both the Union and Confederate armies. It is located on the lawn of the Green County Courthouse.
  • The city of Murfreesboro lies in the exact geographical center of the state.
  • Grinders Switch, entertainer Minnie Pearl's fictitious hometown, is now an entertainment complex in her real hometown of Centerville.
  • Conifer forests similar to those in Canada are found in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Hattie Caraway (1878-1950) born in Bakersville became the first woman United States Senator.
  • Davy Crockett was not born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, as the song says. He was born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greeneville, where a replica of the Crockett's log cabin stands today.
  • The Tennessee Aquarium is the largest facility of its kind to focus on fresh water habitat. It features 7,000 animals and 300 species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.
  • Gary Cooper won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Tennessee war hero Alvin York in the 1941 hit movie, Sergeant York. World War I hero Sgt. Alvin C. York was born in Pall Mall.
  • When Tennessee became a state in 1796, the total population was 77,000.
  • The capitol building was designed by noted architect William Strickland, who died during its construction and is buried within its walls.
  • Tennessee ranks number one among other states in the total number of soldiers who fought in the War Between the States.
  • Tennesseeans are sometimes referred to as Butternuts, a tag which was first applied to Tennessee soldiers during the Civil War because of the tan color of their uniforms.
  • The Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee is rated among the top white water recreational rivers in the nation and was the site for the Olympic white water canoe/kayak competition in the 1996 Olympics.
  • The name "Tennessee" originated from the old Yuchi Indian word, "Tana-see," meaning "The Meeting Place."
  • Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville introduced to the world the plaintive beauty and tradition of the Negro spiritual, which became the basis for other genres of African-American music. It was because of their successful tours to raise funds for the university during the 1870s that Nashville first became known for its music.
  • Tennessee ties with Missouri as the most neighborly state in the union. It is bordered by 8 states.
  • Dolly Parton is a native of Sevierville. A major highway, the Dolly Parton Parkway, takes visitors traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • The world's largest artificial skiing surface is located at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort in Gatlinburg. There a 5-acre artificial ski surface permits skiing in any type of weather.
  • Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant on Patten Parkway in downtown Chattanooga after two local attorneys purchased the bottling rights to the drink for $1.00.
  • Cumberland University, located in Lebanon, lost a football game to Georgia Tech on October 7, 1916 by a score of 222 to 0. The Georgia Tech coach was George Heisman for whom the Heisman Trophy is named.
  • Cotton made Memphis a major port on the Mississippi River. The Memphis Cotton Exchange still handles approximately one-third of the entire American cotton crop each year.

Famous Former & Current Residents of Memphis:

  • Robert Church - South's first Black millionaire
  • Dr J. E. Walker - Universal Life Insurance Company founder
  • Bishop Charles H. Mason - Founded Church of God in Christ
  • Ida B. Wells - Publisher, civil rights activist, founding member of NAACP
  • Mary Church Terrell - Civil rights activist, educator
  • W.C Handy - Father of the Blues
  • Tom Lee - Hero
  • Nat D. Williams - Famous radio station DJ
  • Morgan Freeman - Actor
  • Aretha Franklin - Soul singer
  • Al Green - Soul singer
  • Willie Mitchell - Soul singer
  • Bobby "Blue" Bland - Blues singer
  • B.B. (Blues Boy) King - Blues singer/performer
  • Albert King - Blues singer/performer
  • Otis Redding - Soul singer
  • Isaac Hayes - Soul singer
  • The Bar-Kays - Soul singers
  • Sam & Dave (Sam Moore, Dave Prater) - Soul singers
  • Rufus Thomas - Rock & Roll and Soul singer
  • Carla Thomas - Soul singer
  • Al Bell - Promotional Director of Stax Records
  • Wilson Pickett - Soul singer
  • Howlin' Wolf (Chester Arthur) - Blues Singer
  • Ike & Tina Turner - Rock & Roll singers
  • W.S. Martin - Co-owner Memphis Red Sox Negro League Baseball team
  • Lois Deberry - 1st female State Representative in Tennessee
  • Harold Ford, Sr. - 1st African American Congressman of his district
  • Penny Hardaway - Pro Basketball player & "Little Penny" commercials
  • Kathy Bates - actress
  • Dixie Carter - actress
  • Rosalind Cash - singer
  • Abe Fortas - jurist
  • Morgan Freeman - actor
  • George Hamilton - actor
  • Hal Holbrook - actor
  • Benjamin Hooks - organization official
  • Hal Needham - director
  • Elvis Presley - singer and actor
  • Charlie Rich - singer
  • Cybill Shepherd - actress
  • Robert Siodmak - director
  • Fred Smith - business executive
  • Kemmons Wilson - business executive

Classics Written or Recorded In Memphis:

  • W.C. Handy: "The Memphis Blues," "Beale Street Blues"
  • B.B. King: "B.B. Boogie"
  • Kirk Whalum: "Floppy Disk," "The Promise"
  • Otis Redding: "The Dock of the Bay," "Try a Little Tenderness"
  • Roy Orbison: "You're My Baby," "One More Time"
  • Jerry Lee Lewis: "Great Balls of Fire," "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," "Johnny B. Goode," "Night Train to Memphis"
  • Al Green: "Let's Stay Together," "Tired of Being Alone," "I'm Still in LoveWith You"
  • Isaac Hayes: "Shaft" (and co-writer with Dave Porter of "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'")
  • Charlie Rich: "My Baby's Done Left Me," "Easy Money," "Stay"
  • Sam & Dave: "When Something is Wrong With My Baby," "You Don't Know Like I Know"
  • Memphis Slim: "Everyday I Have the Blues"
  • Carl Perkins: "Blue Suede Shoes," "Everybody's Tryin' to be My Baby"
  • Rufus Thomas: "Bearcat," "Walkin' the Dog," "Funky Chicken"
  • Elvis Presley: "That's All Right," "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender," "Heartbreak Hotel"
  • Wilson Pickett: "In the Midnight Hour," "Mustang Sally"
  • Johnny Cash: "I Walk the Line," "You're the Nearest Thing to Heaven"
  • Little Milton: "Play This Boogie Woogie"
  • The Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison): "Don't Be Cruel," "I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling"
  • Booker T. & The MG's: "Green Onions"
  • The Gentrys: "Keep on Dancin'"
  • The Boxtops: "The Letter"
  • The Mar-Keys: "Last Night"
  • Carla Thomas: "Gee Whiz," "'Cause I Love You" (with her father Rufus Thomas, Jr.)
  • Aretha Franklin and Ted White: "Think"

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