Mayfield, Kentucky

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Mayfield is a city in Graves County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 10,349 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Graves County[1]. Mayfield is in the center of the Jackson Purchase, an eight-county region purchased by Isaac Shelby and Andrew Jackson from the Chickasaw Indians in 1818.



According to Story of Mayfield Through a Century, 1823-1923,[2] published by D. Trabue Davis in 1923, Mayfield was established as the county seat of Graves County in 1821, and the county was formally organized in 1823. John Anderson is thought to have been the first settler, arriving in 1819 at a location on Mayfield Creek about two and a half miles from the eventual site of Mayfield. In December 1821 he was appointed county court clerk and moved to the place that became Mayfield. Davis relates "an interesting story" of how the town got its name: that a gambler named Mayfield was kidnapped around 1817 at a racetrack near what became Hickman, Kentucky. He was carried to the site of what is now Mayfield, carved his name into a tree, and was killed trying to escape. The creek in which he was said to have drowned was named Mayfield Creek, and later the town received the same name.

The completion of the Memphis, New Orleans and Northern Railroad in 1858 connected Mayfield to the larger world. Beginning with the establishment of the Mayfield Woolen Mills in 1860, the manufacture of clothing was a major industry in Mayfield for a century. The town was also a large market for loose-leaf tobacco.

During the Civil War, the Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky, including Mayfield, was the area of strongest support for the Confederate cause. On May 29, 1861, a group of Southern sympathizers from Kentucky and Tennessee met at the Graves County Courthouse to discuss the possibility of aligning the Purchase with West Tennessee. Most records of the event were lost, possibly in an 1887 fire that destroyed the courthouse. In 1907, Fulton County judge Herbert Carr declared in a speech that the Mayfield Convention adopted a resolution for secession, and a historical marker in front of the courthouse also proclaims this as fact. However, the surviving records of the meeting, authored by a Union sympathizer, make no mention of this resolution, and historian Berry Craig opines that the convention believed the whole of Kentucky would eventually secede and make a resolution for the Purchase to break away unnecessary. Records do show that the convention adopted resolutions condemning President Lincoln for "waging a bloody and cruel war" against the South, urging Governor Beriah Magoffin to resist Union forces and praising him for refusing to answer Lincoln's call for soldiers, and condemning the provision of "Lincoln guns" to Union sympathizers in Kentucky. The convention also nominated Henry Burnett to represent Kentucky's First District in Congress. The Mayfield Convention was a precursor to the later Russellville Convention, which formed the provisional Confederate government of Kentucky.[3]

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