The Town of Munford can trace its origins to the early 1850s when the Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church moved to the current site of the Munford Presbyterian Church in downtown Munford. Soon afterward, a small, unplanned village grew up around the growing Methodist church that would officially be named “Mt. Zion” after the Post Office opened there in 1856.
The Methodist church was not Mt. Zion’s only claim to distinction. The young town was the home to the Tipton Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, founded in 1853, the second oldest Masonic Lodge in Tipton County. For many years, Mt. Zion was the home of the Memphis District High School (also once known as the Dyersburg District High School) and was operated by the Memphis Conference of the Methodist Church. This fine educational institution was later leased and then purchased by the Tipton County Board of Education. This school was the forerunner of the present Munford Elementary, Junior High, and High Schools.
In 1874, Mt. Zion’s Post Office was closed. When Mt. Zion re-applied to the United States Post Office Department in 1886 to have their old Post Office re-opened, the Post Office Department approved the application with one exception. The town would have to come up with another name for their Post Office. The reason behind the government agency’s request was simple. They claimed that if the name of Mt. Zion was re-instated, it would cause confusion among postal employees when sorting mail between Mt. Zion, Tennessee, and Mt. Zion, Pennsylvania. It may be noted that at that time, the common abbreviation for Tennessee was “Tenn.” and the common abbreviation for Pennsylvania was “Penn.” In print and especially in script, the names of these two towns would look very similar to postal employees attempting to sort the mail. In the days before zip codes existed, mail could have easily been routed to the wrong place because of the similarities in the town names causing serious delays in delivery. The newly appointed Postmaster, G.B. Sale, asked his daughter, Lola, to help him come up with a suitable name for the Post Office. She chose the name of “Munford” in memory of the late Col. R.H. Munford of Covington, a long time public servant who had served over the years as the Tipton County Court Clerk, County Register of Deeds, and Clerk and Master of the Chancery Court, as well as serving as Mayor of Covington at one time.
Although the Post Office after 1886 was known as Munford, parts of the town would continue to be known as Mt. Zion. The town’s name formerly became Munford in 1905, when Munford was incorporated by an Act of the Tennessee General Assembly. S.H. Bass was elected as its first Mayor.
Today, Munford is one of Tennessee’s fastest-growing towns and is Tipton County’s second-largest incorporated area, having a population of 4,708 in 2000.
Courtesy of David A. Gwinn, Tipton County Genealogist and Historian