Monday, January 01, 1990

1828 Founders' Document

Here is a transcript of the document filed in 1828 in the Shelby County Register's Office that establishes the public Promenade in downtown Memphis.


The undersigned proprietors of the land on which the town of Memphis has been laid off, having been informed that doubts have arisen in relation to their original intention concerning the same, for the purpose of removing such doubts, do hereby make known and declare the following as their original and unequivocal designs and intentions in relation thereto:

First. All the ground laid off in said town as streets or alleys, we do say that it was always our intention that the same should forever remain as public streets and alleys, subject to the same rules and regulations as all streets and alleys in towns or cities, forever obligating ourselves, heirs or assigns, and by these presents, we do bind ourselves, our heirs, etc., that the above streets and alleys shall continue eastwardly as far as lots are laid off, and the streets, though not the alleys, as far east as Bayou Gayoso, agreeably to the last survey and sale.

Second. In relation to the ground laid off in said town as public squares, viz: Court, Exchange, Market and Auction Squares, it was the intention of the proprietors that they should forever remain as public grounds, not subject to private appropriation, but public uses only, according to the import of the above expressions, Court, Exchange, Market and Auction Squares.

Third. In relation to the piece of ground laid off and caled the "Promenade," said proprietors say that it was their original intention, is now, and forever will be, that the same should be public ground for such use only as the word imports, to which heretofore, by their acts, for that purpose, it was conceived all right was relinquished for themselves, their heirs, etc., and it is hereby expressly declared, in conformity with such intention, that we, for ourselves, heirs and assigns, forever relinquish all claims to the same piece of ground caled the "Promenade," for the purpose above mentioned. But nothing herein contained as to the Promenade shall bar the town from authorising one or more ferries to be kept by the proprietors, their heirs or assigns, opposite said Promenade and the mouth of any of the cross-streets on Mississippi Row.

Fourth. In relation to the ground lying between the western boundary of the lots from No. 1 to 24 inclusive, and the same line continued in a direct course to the south bank of the Bayou Gayoso and the eastern margin of Wolf and Mississippi Rivers, and between Jackson street extended to the river and the said south bank of the bayou, it was the original intention of the proprietors that there should, on said ground, forever be a landing or landings for public purposes of navigation or trade, and that the same should be forever enjoyed for those purposes, obligatory on ourselves, heirs and assigns; but all other rights not inconsistent with the above public rights incident to me soil, it never was the intention of the proprietors to part with, such as keeping a ferry or ferries on any of the public ground, an exclusive right which they always held sacred, and never intended to part with in whole or in part.

Fifth. The first block of ground lying east of lots Nos. 329 and 330 and north of Poplar street, being 148 1/2 feet square, having heretofore been used as a public burying-place, the same is hereby given, granted and conveyed forever to the town of Memphis, provided the practice of burying henceforward cease therein.

Sixth. Inasmuch as they have been advised that it is the general wish of the citizens of the town that the public burying-place should be so moved out of the town, and being applied to by the corporation of Memphis for the purchase of four acres of ground on the Second Bayou for a burying-ground, in consideration of their desire to furnish said town of Memphis with every convenience which it wants, whether natural, sacred or commercial may require, they do hereby give, grant, bargain and sell forever to the citizens of the town of Memphis, and all their heirs and assigns forever, for a public burying-ground, subject to such regulations as to them may appear requisite, the following described lots of ground, viz. : Beginning at a black gum on the south bank of the Second Bayou; thence south twelve degrees east twenty poles seven and a half links to a stake, with white oak and a black oak pointers; thence south seventy-eight degrees west thirty poles to a stake, with a black gum pointer; thence north twelve degrees west twenty poles seven and a half links to a black oak on the bank of the Bayou, a gum and beech pointers near the mouth of a small ravine; thence up the south bank of the Second Bayou to the beginning, containing four acres, and including the present burying-ground; and they further declare and acknowledge that there shall forever be kept open a right of way not less than twenty feet wide from some point on the Alabama road, as it now runs opposite to the grave-yard, directly to it.

In witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hands and seals this 18th September, 1828.

Jno. Overton, [seal.] One of the proprietors.
Jno. C. McLemore, [seal.]
Geo. Winchester, [seal.]
Wm. Winchester, [seal.] Surviving Owner by M. B. Winchester, Special Agent and Attorney in fact.
Witness: Rich. S. Williams, Wm. Lawrence, M. B.

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