Jay G. Cisco, distinguished journalist, historian, businessman, diplomat, and archaeologist, was born in New Orleans on April 25, 1844. After serving in the Confederate army during the Civil War, he traveled in Europe and worked briefly as a newspaperman. In January 1870 Cisco married Mildred George Pursley. The couple had eight children.
In 1875 Cisco settled his family in Jackson in Madison County and established Cisco's Bookstore. His discovery of ancient Native American relics in small mounds on Market Street and on a nearby farm awakened a passion for local archaeology. Throughout the 1880s, Cisco excavated many of the county's eleven mound sites and displayed relics in his small office museum.
Cisco is best known for his efforts as editor and historian. In 1883 he established and edited the Forked Deer Blade, a newspaper recognized for its breezy, excellent writing and vigorous editorial policies. His stand on many controversial topics, such as his support for prohibition, occasionally prompted Cisco to carry a gun for protection. Following appointment by President Grover Cleveland as U.S. minister to Mexico in 1888, Cisco returned to Nashville, where he served as assistant industrial and immigration agent for Tennessee with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. During this period, he established his reputation as a historian. His writings include “Madison County” for The American Historical Magazine (1902) and Historic Sumner County, Tennessee (1909). He died in Nashville in 1922.