Flowery language of 1800s recalls Bartlett’s early days

Bartlett-Sesq-logo-SMALL-WEEditor’s note: This series will run weekly throughout 2016 to highlight Bartlett’s history during its sesquicentennial year.

In 1982, The Bartlett Express ran the following excerpt from the April 14, 1866, edition of The Daily Memphis Argus, offering an interesting perspective on early Bartlett.

Patricia LaPointe, a doctoral candidate in history at Memphis State University, provided this lively view of the state of man, journalism and Bartlett.

1866 excerpt

Wearied with the monotonous hum-drum of the city, tired of its gaudy gew-gaws; its human butteflies and heartless worms, and fully determined to breathe the pure air, perfumed by the fresh wild flowers, your correspondent proceeded to the depot of the Memphis and Ohio Railroad, and having secured a seat in one of the magnificent passenger coaches which the company has provided for their patrons, I waited with impatience the signal to go. The bright rays of the sun meanwhile shedding a flood of glory on every object. The spring birds caroled their martin songs from the young leaf coverts gaily, as we were borne swiftly along through field and forest, and before the register had marked 9 o’clock on the dial plate, the cars stopped at Bartlett, the new suburban city that is springing into existence, eleven miles from your city, on the Memphis and Ohio Railroad.

Bartlett is pleasantly, and beautifully situated on the line of Memphis and Ohio Railroad. The ground on which it is built rises into a beautiful elevation, which culminates at the distance of five hundred yards from the depot, in a plateau, commanding a view of the town. The crest of this hill or elevation is adorned by some pretty residences, among which is the mansion of Major G. M. Bartlett, for whom the place was named, the residence of Mr. Oglesby, and the “Anchorage.” This name has been bestowed by the proprietor of the grounds upon this spot, and is suggestive of the intention to remain securely anchored at this place, but I will have something more to say of the “Anchorage” before I am done with the letter.

Since the conclusion of the war and the re-opening of the railroad, there has been a great deal of improvement going on at this little city. A large number of building have been erected, and now for the neat and recherché country residences, we know of no place in West Tennessee that can boast a superiority over this. There is one neat church edifice, a fine Masonic hall, a hotel, an extensive carriage and blacksmith shop, three physicians, and consequently three family apothecaries, one grocery and one variety store, one livery stable, and numerous beautiful private residences.

The educational and social aspects of the place are very pleasant and encouraging. The people who constitute its population are noted for their high social standard. Through the polite attentions of our friend H.L. Priddy, Esq., I visited and was introduced to the principals of the “Bartlett Academy,” Prof. J.A. Rosseau and lady at their pretty residence, the “Anchorage.” Prof. Rosseau is a man of untiring energy and perseverance, and overcomes obstacles by grappling with the difficulty, and persistently urging his point. He is universally esteemed by the community and is one of those whom society delights to honor. Mrs. Rosseau is a model lady, full of life and vivacity, educated and refined in manners, genial and free in conversation. She moves among the young lady pupils of “Bartlett Academy” as their ideal of womanly perfection.The institution over which Professor and Mrs. Rosseau preside now numbers eighty-five pupils, forty of whom belong to the male, and forty-five to the female department. Here the young gentlemen are trained to habits of industry and thoughtfulness. Here they begin to climb the rugged hill that leads to the temple of knowledge. Here they begin to comprehend the object for which they must fight the battle of life. Prof. Rosseau’s pupils presented a fine, intelligent appearance. Under the guidance of Mrs. Rosseau the young ladies are trained to the same useful habits. The light and more engaging accomplishments of the sex are here attainable. The school is furnished with three elegant pianos, and the young ladies have every facility for becoming good musicians.The Academy is now in a very flourishing condition, and if Bartlett could boast nothing else, it would be honor enough to have such a school, presented over by such minds as control the youths at the “Anchorage.”

Among the substantial evidence of progress here visible, we may mention the extensive shop of Mr. Gotten. This gentleman came to Bartlett some months ago, and has already established an enviable reputation as a thoroughly practical business man. J. B. Mercer, Esq. has just build a splendid mansion on Mercer Avenue. Dr. Wright has also erected for himself a handsome dwelling.
One of the most attractive features of the new city is the refined taste exhibited by a portion of, if not all of its inhabitants, in the cultivation of flowers. You cannot imagine what a charm seems to gather a country home surrounded by shrubbery and flowers. One of the most beautiful flower gardens it has been the fortune of your correspondent to see, is that at the residence of Mr. John H. Priddy. Mrs. Priddy is passionately fond of flowers, and takes the greatest interest in their cultivation. Flowers of almost every variety in the floral kingdom is here carefully cultivated. Indeed ’tis a lovely spot, and none other than a gentle and refined taste could be the instrument in creating or directing the creation of so fairy-like place. With such feeling do I bid the flowery homes of Bartlett adieu.

Yours truly,

West Tennessee

Written by Sue Griffith Coleman, special to the Express.