PHOTO: Buford Pusser Foundation
County Seat: Selmer
McNairy County is most famous as the home of a sheriff whose life has been glorified in the movies. Buford Pusser was the sheriff of McNairy County in the late 1960s--a time when a lot of people in the county were making whiskey illegally. Pusser took on the moonshiners, as they were known, and raided 42 stills in his first year as sheriff. Later, his life was chronicled in a 1973 movie called Walking Tall.
The original McNairy County Courthouse
Here's another story about McNairy County: Originally its courthouse was located at a town called Purdy. But when the Mobile & Ohio Railroad was being planned, railroad officials asked the people of Purdy to invest $100,000 in the new venture. The people of Purdy refused, and in 1858 the railroad line was built four miles west of Purdy.
After the Civil War a lot of people in McNairy County wanted to move the courthouse to a point near the railroad. The issue was debated for more than 20 years before finally, in 1891, a courthouse was built at a new town called Selmer, which had been developed by an Alabama businessman named P.H. Thrasher.
According to the memoirs of a West Tennessee-born judge named John Pitts, "Mr. Thrasher intended to name the town for Selma, Alabama, but misspelled the name in reporting it to the post office department, and so it has remained to this day, 'Selmer.'"
Here is the current McNairy County Courthouse.