Although fighting duels was illegal in the State of Tennessee by the early nineteenth century, the Dueling Oaks of Memphis reigned over skirmishes of honor as late as 1870. The oak grove earned its name from its location almost into Mississippi, where dueling was still in fashion. Tennessee gentlemen journeyed by train to the 640-acre home of William Joyner to fight their duels — the earliest recorded between William Gholson and Albert Jackson in 1837, and the last in 1879 between Edward Hamblin and Major Ed Freeman.
Like much of Tennessee, the land around the Dueling Oaks saw extensive activity during the Civil War. It was rumored to be the site of a bloody massacre by Sherman’s soldiers, and the scene of the hanging of a Confederate spy. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s troops staged their 1864 raid on Memphis from near Dueling Oaks.
The land was originally owned by William Measles, a Cherokee who was adopted into the Chickasaw Nation.
Heritage Tree, 2014 • Nominated by Jim Cortese