The Collierville Town Square
In July of 1866, Collierville, like much of the South, was beginning to recover from the ravages of war. Three years earlier, "Mister Collier's Village" consisting of several homes and a general store a few hundred yards east of the square on Mt. Pleasant Road, was burned, by order of General William T. Sherman, en route to begin his infamous "march to the sea". This action was taken to deny cover for the Confederate forces that had surrounded the town and were threatening the occupying Union Army's fortification.
Two notable citizens joined company to rebuild what Sherman and his army had left in shambles. Doctor Virginius Leake and Constable Harrison H. Irby, neighboring plantation owners and soon to be in-laws, purchased from Amy Kimmel of Franklin County, Ohio, 50 and 1/4 acres, which would become the center of the town as we now know it. The purchase price was two thousand dollars.
They laid out the new town, based on the traditional towns of Virginia, from whence they both originated. They designed a subdivision of lots on three sides of the "Public Square". Leake and Irby set aside 2 acres already designated for a new railroad station on the south side of the square, adjacent to the Memphis and Charleston Rail Road.
Shortly thereafter, Doctor Leake built his office on the northwest corner of "The Square", on lot number one of the Leake and Irby Subdivision, as recorded in plat book D page 403 in the Shelby County Court House. The first lots sold were to Robert Waters on September 24th, 1866 for the sum of two hundred dollars. Mr. Waters was to build his drug store on lot number 5 and a future building on lot number 6. In the sales agreement, Mr. Waters was granted, by Leake and Irby, an equal interest in the "Public Square" as were all subsequent purchasers of lots in this Subdivision.
Originally the Public Square had a picket fence surrounding it on all four sides and deer were kept within. The square had a concrete walk similar to the one existing. It ran diagonally, from corner to corner and around the perimeter. The early residents said it was to represent the Confederate Flag. Later, a two story bandstand was built in the center where the walks crossed. The bandstand and several buildings on the square were destroyed by a tornado in 1955.
"The Square" has been the center of commerce and community pride since it's conception, thanks to these two gentlemen, their descendants and the town fathers who came after.
This monument is placed here in the year 2006 by the descendents of Virginius Leake and Harrison H. Irby to honor these men for their contribution in making Collierville the community of character it has grown to be.
Dr. Virginius Leake was a Tennessee state senator at the time of his death in 1873