The town of Byhalia was founded in 1838 as one of the earliest settlements in Marshall County. Byhalia was originally called Farmington, but soon changed its name to Byhalia, which is Chickasaw for “Great Oaks”. Early settlers from Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas built plantations and homes around the area, several of which still stand. In the 1840s the stagecoach between Memphis and Oxford came through Byhalia, bringing greater attention.
Byhalia entered a period of decline in 1852, when the new railroad bypassed Byhalia for the larger nearby town of Holly Springs. The stagecoach was shut down in 1856. The Civil War devastated much of the town in the 1860s, and Byhalia suffered during the long years of Reconstruction. It wasn’t until a new railway spur from Memphis came to Byhalia in the 1880s that the town began to prosper and grow again. A further population boom followed the creation of a road system and the coming of electricity, in 1925.
Byhalia’s historic downtown is centered on the intersection of Church Street and Highway 309. The majority of the commercial structures downtown were built in the late 19th century boom, between 1880 and 1900. Existing structures include the Citizens Bank building, the McCrary and McLeary buildings, the Byhalia bank, and the charming Byhalia Barber Shop.