By Lowell Tillman
The story of Nankipoo is not unlike the stories that are told of small communities all over America. I suppose the only thing different about Nankipoo is that it is my town. I have lived my whole life here and I can't imagine living anywhere else. The name Nankipoo came from the name of an Indian chief that was reportable to have been located in this area. In my flower garden I still can dig up on occasion an arrow head or two. I don't know any other details of this tribe, if someone does please let me know. Or at least that's the story I was always told when I was a kid.
Another story of the origin of the name is, a unknown person was working in a local post office and they needed to think of a name for the area. This person had just seen a play and one of the characters was named Nankipoo or maybe Nan-ki-poo.
Nankipoo is located in the hills on a bluff oven the Mississippi River basin. Fifty-five miles north of Memphis in northwest TN. Less than two miles from my home is located the only large flowing natural spring water in a radius of 100 miles. I live on a farm that includes a cedar grove and pecan trees. The neighbors here all know each other even though in today's society no one actually speaks to anyone anymore. It is comforting to know that if you were in trouble you could knock on any door for help.
Nankipoo was established in the 1800s. During this era towns were located sporadically. Each small town had at least a blacksmith shop, and general store. The blacksmith shop provided repair and construction of buggy and harness equipment. But it was the general store that was the heart, sole and center of the town. It was not only where you got the things of life that we needed but it was also a place to get news first hand from the owner or the "old timers". The old timers always seemed to be there at whatever time of the day that you wanted to go. They were always quick to give an opinion on whatever topic you wanted top talk about. Yes, sometimes a topic that you did not. They on most occasions engaged in games of checkers or the most popular dominoes. There were some very intense dominoes games played at that store. I used to watch them play, and wondered if I could someday do that. Time seemed to stand still for the domino players.
Across the road there was an old live oak located on a mound. The tree was probably 90 years old. On a bench built around the tree is where the old timers would go when not playing dominoes. It became known as old timers hill, some say it was called "monkey hill". I wonder what stories were told on that hill?