MEMPHIS, TEXAS. Memphis, the county seat of Hall County, is at the junction of U.S. Highway 287, State Highway 256, and Farm Road 1547, in the northeastern part of the county. It had its beginning in 1889, when J. C. Montgomery purchased land for a townsite north of Salisbury on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway.
This land had been previously owned by W. H. Robertson, who had a dugout near Parker Creek. Montgomery and Robertson, with Rev. J. W. Brice and T. J. Woods, Jr., of Dallas, formed a townsite company and presented a plat early in January 1890. P. M. Kelly opened a law office. A rooming house (later the Memphis Hotel), a general store, a drugstore, and several residences were soon erected. For a time the new town was without a name. Several suggestions were submitted to federal postal authorities but with negative results. Finally, as the story goes, Reverend Brice, while in Austin, happened to see a letter addressed by accident to Memphis, Texas, rather than Tennessee, with the notation "no such town in Texas." The name was submitted and accepted, and a post office was established on September 12, 1890, with Robertson as postmaster. In the meantime Hall County was being organized. Memphis was engaged in a heated county seat battle with neighboring Salisbury and Lakeview. In the election Memphis won with a total of eighty-four votes. County officers were elected in June, and a school district was subsequently formed.
Since Memphis was without a depot and trains did not stop there, certain citizens sought to remedy that situation by smearing the tracks with lye soap. A subsequent agreement was struck between town promoters and railroad officials. In 1891 a depot was built, and businesses were moved on wheels from Salisbury to the new county seat, where a courthouse of homemade bricks was constructed in 1892. Memphis thus enjoyed a boom period. Two saloons, a bank, numerous stores, blacksmith shops, and livery stables attested to its role as a shipping and trading center for area ranchers and farmers
The population was 3,332 in 1960 and 3,352 in 1980. Memphis
reported eighty-one businesses in 1984. United States Congressman
Jack Hightower comes from Memphis. The route of the annual Cotton
Boll Enduro, a 125-mile cross country motorcycle event held in
late October, begins and ends at Memphis. In 1990 Memphis had
a population of 2,465.
Text from the Handbook of Texas Online