Historical Timeline


April 12-13, 1861

The Civil War began with the Battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Kentucky, along with Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware, were border states; slavery was legal, but Kentucky never seceded to join the Confederate States of America.

Fort Sumter

May 1861

Representatives of Calloway County attended a convention held in nearby Mayfield to discuss the possibility of the Jackson Purchase seceding from the Union.

Representative photo of the convention at Mayfield.


Fort Heiman is the least well known of three Confederate forts that were built to guard the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.  Constructed in the winter of 1861-1862, Fort Heiman was on the west bank of the Tennessee River and was constructed on high ground. This was done to help protect its larger sister fort on the east bank of the Tennessee, Fort Henry, which had been placed at water level. 

Modern entrance to Fort Heiman.

November 18, 1861

Delegates from 68 counties met in Russellville and formed a rival government – The Confederate State of Kentucky – which was admitted on December 1, 1861, into the Confederate States of America. Bowling Green was selected as state capital and George W. Johnson, of Scott County, was elected the first Governor.

February 5, 1862

Union General Ulysses S. Grant's forces moved south on the Tennessee River to capture Fort Henry. This strategic movement forced the Confederates to abandon Fort Heiman. The losses of Forts Henry and Donelson were disasters for the Confederates. Kentucky was lost and Tennessee lay wide open to the Yankees. The Cumberland River and Tennessee River became integral parts of the Union supply lines. Nashville fell to the Union troops in a matter of days.

General Grant


From Paducah, Union General Charles F. Smith marched to the Tennessee River. On the way, troops inflicted damage on Murray, and arrested a number of citizens for being disloyal to the Union.


Federal soldiers occupied Murray for a brief period.

A photo representing troops in Murray.


Confederate Colonel Albert P. Thompson of Murray was killed in the Battle of Paducah.


Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest retook Fort Heiman to use as a base for action at Johnsonville, Tennessee. When Union forces occupied Fort Heiman after Forrest departed, a small "Free State," where freed persons could go for safety, was established.

Nathan Bedford Forrest.


During the last half of the War, guerrilla raids plagued Calloway County. The north and east sides of the Murray court square were burned.

November 8, 1864

Local voters were so bitter over Lincoln's election they did not record the tally from Calloway County in the state count.


Tobacco sold for a national average of $14.94 per pound, a record high.

Tobacco plants.

December 18, 1865

The adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution freed enslaved people in Calloway County.


Crossland was established about 10 miles from Murray on the State Line Road, and named for the Honorable Ed Crossland, a local judge. 

Turnbows Store at Crossland.


The school built in New Concord in 1850 was destroyed by fire.


The village of Coldwater was established, with one of the best trading points in the county.


The Murray Gazette was established by James N. Bolen with a circulation of 1,200. (See J. N. Bolen)

Header from the Murray Gazette, September 4, 1873.

May 21, 1870

George W. Barnett, his wife, Mary (Mollie) Collier Barnett and her mother, Mrs. Owensby Collier, were hanged in the northeast section of Calloway County within a period of less than two weeks. The apparent motive was a family feud over land inheritance.


Ten miles northwest of Murray, Kirksey became the official name of the village located there. Kirksey was named for Steven Franklin Kirksey, the first postmaster and owner of the general store.


Captain W. J. Stubblefield bought the first mowing machine.


The Murray Male and Female Institute was the first public school built in Murray with funds from the sale of the former seminary property. The cornerstone was laid for a new school and classes began in 1872.


A new courthouse was constructed in Murray with a bond issue of $40,000. An auxiliary building was constructed on the northeast portion of the courthouse yard to house the county court clerk.

Former Calloway County Courthouse, 1873-1906.


Only three small stores remained open in Wadesboro.


There were 71 public school districts in Calloway County: 62 White and nine Colored.


The Tennessee River froze over.


The west side of the Murray Court Square was leveled by fire.


The Linn Opera House was opened by J. C. Linn on the east side of the Court Square.

November 20, 1878

Mr. Ronus Kemp aged 96, married Miss Mary Bridget, aged sixteen, in Calloway County.


The Calloway News was established by W. O Wear. After 1882, it was published by Dean Babbitt and later Logan Curd. The operation burned in 1884, and Curd established a new company named the Murray Weekly News.


Calloway County residents voted to prohibit the sale of alcohol.


The first railroad to Murray was completed.

May 24, 1880

Former Sheriff Joel Woodson Ferguson was gunned down by Dan Jones, a saloon keeper at Murray.


The following figures were prepared by the Calloway County Clerk: Number of farms: 1,976; number of acres of land, 217,488; value of lands, $1,230, 555; number of Murray lots, 183; value of town lots, $58,640; number of stores, 54; value of stores, $127,445; total assessed value of taxable property, $1, 230,555; bushels of wheat, 60,000; bushels of corn, 513,680; pounds of tobacco, 2,847,000.


The only geological map of the Jackson Purchase was issued by the Kentucky Department of Geology.


"The Big Snow," as the elders called it, reached a depth of 30 inches.


Local inventor Nathan B. Stubblefield was granted a patent when he created the first wireless communication later known as a radio.

Nathan B. Stubblefield - provided by Bill Kopperud.

1700-1820 | 1820-1839 | 1840-1859 | 1860-1889
1890-1919 | 1920-1939 | 1940-1959 | 1960-1979
1980-1999 | 2000-2019 | 2020-2022



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