Watkins Overton

Last updated
S. Watkins Overton Jr.
Mayor of Memphis
In office
1949 March 1, 1953
Preceded by James J. Pleasants Jr.
Succeeded by Frank T. Tobey
In office
Preceded by Rowlett Paine
Succeeded by Edward H. Crump
Personal details
Born(1894-06-05)June 5, 1894
Memphis, Tennessee
DiedDecember 2, 1958(1958-12-02) (aged 64)
Memphis, Tennessee

Samuel Watkins Overton Jr. (June 5, 1894 – December 2, 1958) was an American politician and the longest-serving mayor in the history of Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. The 2017 city population was 652,236, making Memphis the largest city on the Mississippi River, the second most populous city in Tennessee, as well as the 26th largest city in the United States. Greater Memphis is the 42nd largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of 1,348,260 in 2017. The city is the anchor of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region, which includes portions of neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, the most populous county in Tennessee. As one of the most historic and cultural cities of the southern United States, the city features a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.


Early life

Samuel Watkins Overton Jr. was born in Memphis on June 5, 1894 to Samuel Watkins Overton Sr. and Mary Hill Overton. Watkins Overton Jr. was also the great-great-grandson of Judge John Overton, the founder of Memphis; his grandfather also served as Mayor. [1] Watkins Overton Jr. graduated with his AB degree from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. During World War I, he served with the Ambulance Corps of AEF. He earned his LLB from the University of Chicago in 1921. He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Delta Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Order of the Coif. After completing law school, Overton entered the practice of law in Memphis. [2]

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John Overton was an American planter, advisor of Andrew Jackson, a judge at the Superior Court of Tennessee, a banker and political leader.

Carroll University university

Carroll University is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and located in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Established in 1846, Carroll was Wisconsin's first four-year institution of higher learning.

Waukesha, Wisconsin Place in Waukesha

Waukesha is a city in and the county seat of Waukesha County, Wisconsin, United States. It is part of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Its population was 70,718 at the 2010 census. The city is adjacent to the Town of Waukesha.

Political career

When Watkins Overton ran for Mayor of Memphis in 1927, aided by the E. H. Crump political machine,. [1] construction of an airport was a major focus of his mayoral campaign. Overton quickly appointed an airport planning commission after his election, and on June 15, 1929, the Memphis Municipal Airport opened for business.

E. H. Crump American politician

Edward Hull "Boss" Crump was an American politician from Memphis, Tennessee. Representing the Democratic Party, he was the dominant force in the city's politics for most of the first half of the 20th century, during which the city had a commission form of government. He also dominated Tennessee state politics for most of the time from the 1920s to the 1940s. He was elected and served as mayor of Memphis from 1910 through 1915, and again briefly in 1940. However, he effectively appointed every mayor elected from 1915 to 1954.

The city was also in debt to the amount of $900,000 when he took control of the city in 1928. During the depression, Overton managed to erase the debt and accumulate a $1 million surplus. He also successfully lobbied for federally funded projects through the WPA and PWA. [3] [4]

His second term ended in acrimony: disgusted by the City Commission, he resigned on March 1, 1953. [5]

Watkins Overton died on December 2, 1958, in Memphis. [6]

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  1. 1 2 "S.W. OVERTON DIES; MEMPHIS LEADER; Ex-Mayor Who Served for 161 Years Was Lawyer--Aide of Crump Machine". The New York Times. 1958-12-03. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  2. History of Tennessee. 1960. p 454.
  3. http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=14
  4. http://www.memphishistory.org/Politics/TheMayorsofMemphis/Biographies4/WatkinsOverton/tabid/254/Default.aspx
  5. "Overton Defends Aide Dismissed by Commission". The Knoxville News-Sentinel. 1953-02-08. p. 8. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  6. "Watkins Overton Dies at Memphis". The Knoxville News-Sentinel. 1958-12-02. p. 15. Retrieved 2019-09-27.