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Gibson County

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City of Milan Chamber of Commerce

City of Humboldt Chamber of Commerce

 

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The Tennessee General Assembly created Gibson County on October 21, 1823, out of lands ceded by the Chickasaws in the Jackson Purchase. It was named in honor of Colonel John H. Gibson, who served under Andrew Jackson in the Natchez campaign, the Creek Wars, and the New Orleans campaign.

In 1819 Thomas Fite built the first cabin in Gibson County, which was then part of Carroll County. Luke Biggs, Davy Crockett, and others followed.

From its beginning, agriculture has played an important role in Gibson County. Fertile lands along the river bottoms of the North and Middle Forks of the Forked Deer River and the Rutherford Fork of the Obion River and numerous creek bottoms made farming profitable. Diversification has characterized Gibson County's agricultural history. During the last decades of the nineteenth century and until World War I, truck crops (cabbage, tomatoes, and strawberries) were an important source of income. 

Industrial development in the nineteenth century complemented agricultural needs. In the 1800s there were numerous grist, flour, and sawmills scattered along the waterways. Before the Civil War, at least one spinning factory operated within the county. By the 1880s Gibson County had at least one cotton mill and acquired another one at a later, unknown date. Since World War II the county has experienced significant industrial growth. In 1941 a military arsenal was located in Milan. For the first time in the county's history, employees at the Milan Arsenal worked around-the-clock shifts, seven days a week. In addition, the new industry employed a large number of women. Today, Gibson County's industrial sector is as diversified as its agriculture. 

A number of incorporated towns hold special celebrations. Since 1934 Humboldt has been the home of the annual West Tennessee Strawberry Festival. Both the Strawberry Festival Historical Museum and the West Tennessee Regional Center for the Arts are housed in the old City Hall. Milan is the home of the West Tennessee Agriculture Museum. Yorkville, one of the oldest settlements in the county, holds the annual International Washer Tournament each year. Rutherford observes Davy Crockett Days. The restored last Tennessee home of Crockett and the grave of his mother are found here. Kenton, on the Obion County line, is the home of the “White Squirrels,” and the town holds a celebration in their honor each year. For a number of years, Bradford observed the Doodle Soup Festival. Doodle Soup, a delicacy unique to the area, is made from the drippings of cooked chicken. At one time Gibson was known as the truck farming capital of the area. Medina celebrates its location as the midpoint from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

Davy Crockett–hunter, storyteller, and politician–stands out among the notable personalities of Gibson County. Although many Tennessee counties claim Crockett as a citizen, he was living in Gibson County when he announced his candidacy for his term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Peter Taylor, the author of several novels and short stories, is a native of Trenton. Historians Mary U. Rothrock and Samuel Cole Williams both called Gibson County home, and Gentry R. McGee, an early educator, wrote McGee's School History of Tennessee, which was used as a textbook for over thirty years. Andrew D. Holt, a native of Milan, served as president of the University of Tennessee, 1959-70.