Located midway between Memphis and Birmingham, Alabama, Tupelo is situated in the heart of one of the most historic regions in the South.
Home to the powerful Chickasaw Indian Nation, the natives defended their territory first against the Spanish, then the French. Two major battles were fought in this vicinity in 1736, known today as the Battle of Ackia.
In the late 1830's, the Chickasaw were forced, along with other Native American Nations, on the Trail of Tears. The Treaty of Echota, made it mandatory for tribes to exchange land in the east for lands west of the Mississippi River. The toll on the native nations was devastating.
The historic Natchez Trace passes through the Tupelo area. Early settlers from the Ohio and Cumberland Valley used this path to return home after floating their goods down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.
By the time of the Civil War, there was a small settlement and a railroad siding here. This made Tupelo of interest to both the Confederate and Union Forces. Two significant battles ensued; the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads on June 10, 1864, was a major victory for Southern General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Battle of Tupelo, one month later, was considered a draw. Civil War enthusiasts can visit both sites maintained by the National Park Service.
On January 8, 1935 a boy was born in Tupelo who would go on to be King! Elvis Aaron Presley came into the world in a two room house built by his father, grandpa and uncle. Elvis had a twin brother, Jessie, who was sadly stillborn. Vernon and Gladys Presley struggled to make end meets and eventually lost the house.
The Presley family attended the Assembly of God church where gospel music would become and remain an influence on Elvis his entire life. In 1946, Elvis popped in to Tupelo Hardware with his mom. Elvis was keen to purchase a .22 caliber rifle, but Gladys persuaded him to look at guitars instead. Store employees allowed him to strum the strings and he was hooked. His pastor taught him how to play and he was often spotted around town with his guitar in hand.
Elvis Presley™ © 2016 ABG EPE IP LLC
Today, a visit to Elvis' birthplace includes the two-room house, the Elvis Museum, his childhood church and more. Tupelo Hardware is still a fixture on Main Street and folks there love to tell the story of Elvis buying his first guitar. Then it's on to Johnnie's Bar-B-Q Drive-In where you can enjoy a cheeseburger sitting in the exact booth Elvis did!
For more holiday ideas on this region, visit our Deep South section.