Happy 150th: Bartlett plans sesquicentennial festivities


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of historical articles about Bartlett in honor of the city’s 150th birthday.

The year 2016 will be historic for Bartlett. The city will celebrate its sesquicentennial all year.

In 1866, 150 years ago, the village of Union Depot decided to incorporate and changed the name to Bartlett in honor of Gabriel Maston Bartlett, a prominent citizen who had been a leader for many years.

On Dec. 13, 1866, the bill to incorporate Bartlett in Shelby County, Tenn., was passed by the State Legislature. The bill said town government would be constituted of a mayor and five aldermen elected for one-year terms along with a town constable.

The town boundaries were almost one square mile, and the population was under 100. It was a farming community, and citizens commuted to work in Memphis by train.

In 1950 the town’s population had only grown to 501, and the boundaries remained the same.

In the 1950s and 1960s the town grew slowly. Then from 1970 to 1980, through housing growth and annexation, the population grew 1,400 percent.

Bartlett has continued to grow at a steadier pace, and today the population is near 60,000 and the city is just over 32 square miles with a reserve area of over 11 square miles.

Many things happened during those 150 years, and they will be shared during 2016.

During the weekend of April 16-17, the history of Bartlett will come to life in the Bartlett Station and Bartlett Historic District. There will be tours of the Bartlett Museum, along with other historic buildings and churches. People will portray citizens living here long ago, including some who will be portraying their own ancestors.

Get a glimpse of what historic Bartlett looked like. Each week there will be an article on a person or event in Bartlett’s history in The Bartlett Express.

Also check out the Facebook page for the Bartlett Museum for further details in the weeks to come. For now, reserve April 16-17 on your calendar.