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Where did Memphis get its name?

by Chris Butsch
Memphis egypt

Compared to Nashville and Knoxville, why does Memphis sound oddly … Egyptian? Well, because it is.

Memphis was founded in 1819 by three men: a Nashville judge named John Overton, a former general named James Winchester and future president Andrew Jackson. The trio named the city after the capital of ancient Egypt. Though their exact line of reasoning is uncertain, it’s possible that they thought the nearby Mississippi River evoked the mighty Nile and envisioned America’s Memphis as a hub for culture, transit and trade.

Or perhaps they had lunch with the founders of Cairo, Illinois, Thebes, Kentucky and Carthage, Michigan.

Chris Butsch

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