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VIP Magazine Jackson TN
The VIP Magazine is a free Monthly Magazine placed in many
businesses in the Jackson area and surrounding towns.
This article is the first of the Magazine's series of
community profiles of West Tennessee towns and cities in VIP Jackson.
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stated in the Magazine.
Trenton: A Tea-riffic Town
VIP Community Profile
The town of Trenton (pop: 4800) was originally known as Gibson-Port to honor
Thomas Gibson, a younger brother of Colonel John H. Gibson, for whom the county is named. Trenton is the oldest town in Gibson County.
According to Emily Walker, a local historical researcher, the name of the town was changed to Trenton in 1825 after Trenton, New Jersey, the capital of that state, at the urging of William Carroll, then governor of the state of
Tennessee, who was from a part of Pennsylvania near the New Jersey line." Another line of thought about the origin of the town's name comes from Frederick M. Culp, local historian and former Peabody High School history teacher. H A few years ago I discovered that Trenton's name may have come from the perpetuation of one of George Washington's great victories, the Battle of Trenton in 1776, when he attacked the Hessians," Culp said.
Trenton was chosen as county seat in 1825. "They laid the town out in lots, which were offered for sale in 1825 and advertised in the Jackson newspaper," Culp explained. Incorporated on December 17, 1847, Trenton celebrates November 2, 1825 as her birthday.
The present Courthouse was built in 1899 and is considered one of the most handsome in the state. The first Courthouse was built in 1841 and was used unti11899, when it was torn down to build the present Courthouse, which was completed in 1901,n Culp said. In 1976 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Newly elected City Mayor Tony Burriss, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio who has lived in Trenton for 28 years, retired from education after serving 30 years as a band director. "One of my top priorities is finding good jobs for the people of West Tennessee, " said Mayor Burriss. "The western part of the state will need to be aggressive in the future in recruiting industrial and retail opportunities that will spring up as a reaction to the big car manufacturers who are settling in the states surrounding Tennessee."
Other Trenton activities:
*Retail business: "I'm also concerned about people shopping and doing business in the city of Trenton so that our businesses will stay here."
* Downtown revitalization: "There are some great things going on downtown privately. A few people like Winter Hodges are taking older downtown buildings and renovating them. Our downtown is looking a lot better, and we have a few new downtown businesses like a coffee shop, which is attracting a lot of buzz. Our beautification committee is redoing the landscaping around Court Square, and it looks better than it has in a long, long time."
* Heritage tourism: "Tourism is the best kind of money there is. You don't have to share it with anyone. We're excited about the Teapot Festival because it brings people into town. Hopefully...they will come back here to see the teapots again or visit some of the sites and homes. We're very interested in tourism because industry is a fading thing in this country. "
The Gibson County Visual Arts Association and the Nite Lite Theatre are two of the leading cultural organizations in Trenton. Residents of Gibson County are seeking a site for a new multi-purpose cultural arts center.
Area attractions include the Teapot Collection housed in the Trenton City Hall, the Freed House (Villa Freed), Oakland Cemetery, and Shady Acres Park. The Battle of Trenton
self-guided driving tour is a new offering.
Trenton is the location of the world's largest collection of porcelain veilleuses theieres or night-Iight teapots, which were assembled by Doctor Frederick C. Freed, a native of Trenton who was born in 1889. The unique collection of 525 ornate porcelain teapots, many in the shape of human figures or animals, is housed in the Trenton City Hall (731/855-2013; www.teapotcollection.com)
The teapots provide a theme around which the town organizes its week Long Trenton Teapot Festival, which is held annually beginning the last weekend of April and running through the first week in May. This year the festival dates are April 26 through May 4, and the events calendar includes a revived Historical Home Tour on Sunday, May 4 from 2-4 p.m.
The Freed House (or Villa Freed) at 304 Baton Street (731/855-9016 or 855-1091) is a late 19th century Victorian house built after the Civil War by Julius Freed, a dry goods store owner. The home was willed to the City of Trenton as a memorial to Julius and Henrietta Freed. The land on which the Freed home was built was the site of the first school for girls in Gibson County. In 1852 it was incorporated as a private school and called the Odd Fellows Fe-male Collegiate Institute. During the Civil War the school was seized by Federal troops and used as a hospital and campground. (731/855-2013)
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, the Freed House is available for tours, meetings and receptions. Call the City Hall at 731/855-2013 for more information.
Oakland Cemetery, located two blocks from the historic district of Trenton, was established in 1823. Margaret Daveiss Hess, the first woman to plead a case in a United States Court, is buried there along with two colonels and two majors in the Confederate Army. The site is where General Nathan Bedford Forrest placed his artillery during the Battle of Trenton on September 20, 1862. General Forrest was successful in capturing the Trenton depot from the Union forces and taking 700 prisoners. This campaign through west Tennessee continued 15 days and was declared a complete success by Confederate authorities.
The cemetery is included in a self-guided driving tour of the Battle of Trenton, available to visitors at City Hall. A gazebo, built in 1896, has been restored and maintained by a dedicated group of concerned citizens who have worked to restore the gazebo, add a Veterans Wall and beautify the old cemetery.
Shady Acres Park, located on Manufacturers Row, offers a walking tour of trees on the grounds. There are over 50 different species of trees in this 32-acre in-town park. Noteworthy trees have been labeled with the common names as well as proper names to aid in their identification. (731/ 855-2013)
The Gibson County Fair, to be held August 4-9, is the oldest continuous fair in the South. It began in 1855 and was interrupted only by the Civil War. (731/ 855-7637; www.gibsoncountyfair.org)
Trenton is the home of Quentin Rankin, an attorney who was killed by the Night Riders at Reelfoot Lake; Peter Taylor (1917-1994), a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, considered to be one of the finest American short story writers ("A Summons to Memphis," "The Old Forest and Other Stories" et al); and Dave Brown, meteorologist at WMC-1V in Memphis and former Grand Marshall of the Teapot Festival.