Selmer, Tennessee

Selmer is a town in McNairy County, Tennessee, in the southwestern part of the state. The population was 4,396 at the 2010 census and estimated at 4,400 at the 2018 census. It is the county seat of McNairy County.[7] It is named after Selma, Alabama.

Selmer, Tennessee
Selmer City Hall in November 2013.
Selmer City Hall in November 2013.
Location of Selmer in McNairy County, Tennessee.
Location of Selmer in McNairy County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 35°10′20″N 88°35′35″W / 35.17222°N 88.59306°W / 35.17222; -88.59306Coordinates: 35°10′20″N 88°35′35″W / 35.17222°N 88.59306°W / 35.17222; -88.59306
CountryUnited States
Named forSelma, Alabama[2]
 • Total9.57 sq mi (24.79 km2)
 • Land9.55 sq mi (24.73 km2)
 • Water0.02 sq mi (0.05 km2)
449 ft (137 m)
 • Total4,396
 • Estimate 
 • Density449.32/sq mi (173.49/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)731
FIPS code47-66940[5]
GNIS feature ID1301051[6]

Buford Pusser served as the sheriff of McNairy County from 1964 to 1970.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20194,291[4]−2.4%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 4,541 people, 1,935 households, and 1,234 families residing in the town. The population density was 464.5 people per square mile (179.3/km²). There were 2,173 housing units at an average density of 222.3 per square mile (85.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 81.61% White, 15.92% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.37% from other races, and 1.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.54% of the population.

There were 1,935 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.7% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 32.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the town, the population was spread out with 21.3% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $28,494, and the median income for a family was $38,313. Males had a median income of $31,176 versus $21,989 for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,350. About 10.9% of families and 16.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.0% of those under age 18 and 19.9% of those age 65 or over.


County seatEdit

McNairy County Courthouse in Selmer, Tennessee.

In 1890, the county seat of McNairy County was moved from Purdy to Selmer.[10]

Buford PusserEdit

Sheriff Buford Pusser served as the sheriff of McNairy County from 1964 to 1970, and since Selmer is the county seat, the location of the courthouse and the jail, this was his base of operations. His story has been made famous in the Walking Tall movies starring Joe Don Baker and Bo Svenson. The movies were filmed in nearby Henderson.


The oldest existing business in McNairy County is its newspaper, the Independent Appeal, which was founded in 1902. It is located at 111 N. 2nd St. in Selmer. The fourth largest circulation of a weekly newspaper in the state, with an average weekly circulation of 7,200-7,400 and a readership of more than 17,000.

The McNairy County News began publication in 2009. The MCN is located at 252 Mulberry Avenue in Selmer. The paper has an online presence at and a Facebook page, as well as a weekly printed publication each Thursday.


Selmer is located at 35°10′20″N 88°35′35″W / 35.17222°N 88.59306°W / 35.17222; -88.59306 (35.172333, -88.592964).[11]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.8 square miles (25 km2), all land.

Robert Sibley AirportEdit

The Robert Sibley Airport (IATA airport code SZY (ICAO: KSZY)) is located in the area, with no ATC, a 5,002-foot (1,525 m) runway, and at 610 feet (190 m) above sea level. The UN/LOCODE for the town is USSQE. The current manager of Robert Sibley Airport is Chris Tull.

Major highwaysEdit

The major highways U.S. Route 64 (east-west), and U.S. Route 45 (north-south) intersect in this town, making it an important crossroads. In 2009 the Tennessee Legislature designated Highway 45 South, between Interstate 40 and the Mississippi state line, Rockabilly Highway in recognition of the region's contributions to the development of rockabilly music.


The railroad that runs through this small town is owned by Class 1 railroad, Norfolk Southern.

National media attentionEdit

Matthew Winkler homicide, 2006Edit

Selmer became a focus of national news media in late March 2006. A local minister, Matthew Brian Winkler, was shot to death by his wife Mary Carol Winkler at their Selmer home. After Mary was said to have fled Selmer with the couple's three daughters, she was apprehended in Orange Beach, Alabama, and was returned to Selmer for trial. She has confessed to the authorities concerning the shooting of her husband with a shotgun. In trial she stated that her husband both physically and emotionally abused her. This murder/trial can be seen on the television show 'Snapped' Season 6 Episode 1, aired in 2007.

Drag racing catastrophe, 2007Edit

On June 16, 2007, a high-power Pro Modified drag racing car driven by Troy Warren Critchley lost control and killed six young people while performing a burnout routine during a car show charity parade on Mulberry Avenue. Critchley's car left the road and struck part of the crowd attending the Cars For Kids charity parade. Six young people were killed. Two died at the scene of the accident, and four died later at hospitals in Selmer, Jackson and Memphis. A total of 20 others were injured and were transported to various hospitals throughout western and middle Tennessee. Results of a Tennessee Highway Patrol inquiry into the accident have not been announced. Pending lawsuits filed against the city and event organizers ask for more than $US 85 million in damages.[12][13][14]

On March 4, 2008, the McNairy County grand jury returned an indictment against Critchley on six counts of vehicular homicide due to recklessness, a Class C felony, and 22 counts of reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony. Neither Cars for Kids nor the City of Selmer were named in the indictment.[15][16]

On March 20, 2008, Troy Critchley surrendered to authorities and was booked on the charges, with bond set at $35,000. The trial was set for November 3, 2008.[16]

Troy Critchley pleaded guilty to 28 charges of reckless assault and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.[17]

Radio broadcastingEdit

FM stationsEdit

AM stationEdit


Selmer is served by:

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006, pp. 618-625.
  2. ^ McNairy County Archived 2013-02-22 at the Wayback Machine, Tennessee History for Kids. Retrieved: 4 February 2013.
  3. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  6. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  7. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  8. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  9. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  10. ^ "Purdy McNairy Co. TN". Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  12. ^ Car crash claims six lives as mayor urges investigation : Mid-South : Commercial Appeal
  13. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Lawsuits over parade accident cripple charity"
  15. ^ "The Independent Appeal newspaper - March 5, 2008 Grand Jury indicts driver in Cars for Kids tragedy; NO festival this year" Archived March 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b ""Tennessee Department of Safety - Race car driver indicted by special Grand Jury"". Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2008-03-28.
  17. ^[permanent dead link]