Bartlett, Tennessee, (population 54,631) originally called Union Depot, is located in the northeast quadrant of Memphis’s metropolitan area. The initial settlement was established in 1829 as the last major way station for stagecoach traffic between Nashville and the Mississippi River. In 1838, Native Americans traveled along Stage Road through Bartlett during forced relocation from their ancestral homelands on what is now known as the Trail of Tears. The City of Bartlett was officially incorporated in 1866 with a population of fewer than 100.
Though the town was a stop on the Memphis-Ohio Railroad and was the home of the county court from 1870 until 1885, Bartlett remained a small farming community from its founding through the first half of the 20th century. City services began to expand in the 1950s and 1960s with the establishment of a municipal water system, a police department, a fire department, and a community library.
In the 1970s, Bartlett’s population grew rapidly, increasing by almost 1400 percent over the decade. This growth can be attributed in part to the city’s annexation of surrounding areas and in part to the migration of some of Memphis’ white population from its urban center in response to desegregation. Population growth continued at a less extreme pace through the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, the town promotes its local history by hosting ongoing public events in its historic downtown, including its annual Fall Festival. This festival includes demonstrations of traditional crafts, displays of historical objects, including an antique car show, and educational booths and activities focused on local history. Since 2011, Bartlett’s Historic Preservation Commission also recognizes outstanding citizen efforts to promote and conserve its local historic places with an awards program.
The Bartlett Historical Society provides costumed docents for public events and operates the Bartlett Museum out of the Gotten House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum hosts monthly speakers and rotating displays relating to local history, and houses a local archive. The histories of the Gotten House and other buildings within the Downtown Historic District are outlined in the Historic Downtown Walking Trail brochure, available at any public building.
Davies Manor, another museum in Bartlett, is housed on a historic plantation and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum offers guided and self-guided tours of its house and grounds, as well as Civil War reenactments and other educational events. Davies Manor, the Gotten House, an official Trail of Tears National Historic Trail marker, and many other historic buildings and markers are featured on the city’s interactive digital tour of Bartlett’s history.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2015.