Martin, Tennessee was established in 1873 at the intersection of Nashville and Northwestern Railroad and the Mississippi Central Railroad on land belonging to the heirs of Captain William Martin. Due to the expansive bramble briars and desolate hardwoods in the area, the original settlement was named Green Briar Glade. After the completion of the Illinois Central Railroad, it was renamed Frost Depot to honor a Mississippi Central Railroad official. Soon after, George W. Martin, M.P. Martin, and W.H. Martin sold the property to Mississippi Railroad company agents for a whopping five dollars. In search of a more appropriate name to market the land to potential settlers, the small town name “Martin” was derived to honor Captain William Martin.
Original Land Transaction between the Martin family and the Mississippi Central Railroad
Captain William Martin was born in Halifax County, Virginia in 1806. He and his wife, Sarah Glass, moved to Weakley County in 1832. They settled the area with two 4-horse teams, $2,000 in cash, and 5-6 slaves. He grew economically through tobacco farming, and when he recognized the significance of the railroad, he began to establish connections with local railroad agents in hopes to add a route that would pass through his property. In 1852, he gave $5,000 of his own money to secure the construction of the railway to no avail. The citizens were then requested to levy a tax for funds. The Tennessee Supreme Court did not approve the railway expansion until 1857. The railroad was completed in 1861.
Just prior to seeing the completion of the new track, Captain Martin died and left 2,500 acres of land to his five children. In 1873, his son, George W. Martin, campaigned to have the Mississippi Central Railroad rerouted through Martin's estates to serve its people, and the city was named to honor Martin. Within two years, Martin gained 500 townspeople and nearly 30 merchants. The population increased until 1878 when the fatality rate reached 52 due to the yellow fever epidemic.
The railroad industry greatly influenced the success of this newfound town through the 20th century. The Hall-Moody Institute was established in 1900. In early 1927, the University of Tennessee bought the Hall-Moody Institute and began a junior college which is now a prosperous public university that attributes youth and economic growth to Martin, TN.
Currently, Martin is the largest city in Weakley County with a population of about 11,000 people, and it continues to grow tremendously. Over the past year, fifteen new businesses have surfaced, the university population has increased, and we can't wait to see how our small town will thrive in the future!