Marker dedication denotes McKenzie's origin
A new historical marker resides in the downtown McKenzie park. A Saturday
ceremony was abbreviated by heavy storms as Mayor Patty Edwards and Martha McKenzie
Carpenter, the great granddaughter of founder James Monroe McKenzie attempted to dedicate
Mrs. Carpenter said she pursued the idea of erecting the marker at the urging of Dr.
Howard Smith and wife, Marion.
Last week, crews from the McKenzie Public Works Department and Carroll County Electric
cleared an area for the marker. It is situated just north of the gazebo and west of the
Because the inclement weather/forced the ceremony to be cut short, Mrs. Carpenter was not
able to give her prepared speech, but did pass along the contents of that text to The
"We are here to dedicate this marker to James Monroe McKenzie for his contribution to the
development of this little town. Some newcomers may have wondered where the town got its
name. James Monroe McKenzie was born February 14,1818 and probably was named for President
James Monroe who came to office about that time. He came to West Tennessee with his
father. Captain John, along with some settlers - Sneads, Gilberts, Pates, Ridleys, Bowdens,
and others. Little communities sprang up where these families staked their claims.
The railroad began coming through in the 1850s taking land for the right-of-way as they
needed it. The Memphis and Ohio line, later the L&N, was the first line with passenger
and freight service from Memphis to Bowling Green, beginning in 1861. The N&W had begun
laying track from Nashville to the west but the Civil War interrupted the construction.
After the war, work continued and eventually the two lines crossed at McKenzie. In March
1861, James Monroe had donated 10 acres of land on the north side of the N&W tracks to
construct a depot. Subsequently a passenger depot was built right at the crossing and a
freight office a little to the west. They called this McKenzie Station. When the town was
incorporated in 1869, the name 'stuck' When scheduled train travel was established, the
railroads had to publish timetables so they had to name the stops. In 1870, a 112' x 20'
freight platform was built on each side of the freight office with rail sidings on each
side. Later a concrete platform was laid between the main line and the freight siding."
The script continued by reading, "James Monroe worked for good schools, churches and
government. He married Martha Louisa Coleman and they had eight children. The two oldest
boys, James Albert and John David practiced medicine in Bradford for many years and came
back here to retire. They build identical houses on Stonewall, one of which was razed two
years ago. Malcolm became an attorney, practicing in McKenzie and Huntingdon before going
to Oklahoma, where he practiced law and was an agent for the Pawnee Indians. Today the
name Malcolm McKenzie is still known in the legal profession in Oklahoma City and Tulsa
through some of Malcolm's children. Clinton Atkin was the youngest son and he too went
west. He was there when the land was opened up for homesteaders so all his life he was
involved in real estate and oil. He is the one who gave McKenzie its first swimming pool
My grandfather, George W. was station agent for the railroads in McKenzie and in Dickson
for 55 years, James Monroe also had three daughter, Callie, Sally, and Gussie who marked
local businessmen and lived near the rest of their family.
James Monroe died in 1873 before Mt. Olivet (cemetery) was established. He could have been
buried in the Gilbert Cemetery or on McKenzie land, but it is assumed he was moved to
Mount Olivet where his wife and all the children and spouses are buried.
McKenzie has always been a good place to live. Folks were interested in having good
schools, good churches and keeping an eye on their children. The town has responded to
national emergencies, sending their boys to the service, supporting the Red Cross and War
Bond campaigns. There have always been those planting flowers to make the town pretty,
book clubs to keep up to date on what was going on, and church circle meetings. Many
former McKenzians and their children have excelled in the field of education, military,
athletics and religion. I am sure the young people coming up now will accomplish even more
with the opportunities open to them today. And when they become famous, I hope they will
always mention they got their station in this little town, even if it's through a great
grandfather or grandmother. I hope those who choose to leave McKenzie will always have a
longing to return someday. I honestly believe the happiest people in the world are those
who were born and raised here and never left. I still get home sick sometimes and when I'm
on the way up here, along about Jarrell Switch, the air seems to smell better, the trees
greener, and I drive a little faster."
submitted by Jere R Cox