Tue February 26, 2013
James Winchester, one of the founders of Memphis, was born in Maryland in 1752. He served under George Washington in the American Revolution, endured capture by the British, and moved to Middle Tennessee after his release.
By 1785, Winchester had build a fortified home in this still untamed wilderness, survived Indian attacks, which killed his brother and several friends, and started a family with his young wife, Susan.
In 1804, Winchester, a savvy businessman and land speculator, became a major partner in the West Tennessee land deal that would give birth to the city of Memphis. His dream was to establish a trade center on the Mississippi River, starting with the land he acquired between today’s Union Avenue and the Pyramid.
The venture was interrupted by the War of 1812, during which General Winchester was once again imprisoned by the British. After the war, he returned to his investments and became a booster for his dream city. On a visit in 1819, Winchester, impressed by the river’s grandeur, proposed the name Memphis.
James Winchester died in 1826 without seeing Memphis prosper, but his son, Marcus, the city’s first mayor, helped make his father’s dream a reality.