Editor’s note: This series will run weekly throughout 2016 to highlight Bartlett’s history in honor of its 150th anniversary this year.
One of Bartlett’s elegant mansions of the past was born in 1841, when native Virginian Elijah Pulliam began amassing his local land holdings and erecting a suitable place to raise a large family. His obituary, written in the poetic style of the time to honor a respected citizen, gives a glimpse of the man behind the mansion.
Obituary of Elijah Pulliam
Elijah Pulliam was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Oct. 5, 1799. He moved to Madison County, Alabama in 1823; professed religion at Jordan’s Campground, near Huntsville, in 1825, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
He was married to Pamela Nelson Massey, June 25, 1829. He moved to Shelby County, Tennessee, near Bartlett in 1838, where he died in great peace and holy triumph, December 5, 1884 and was buried in his family burying ground, surrounded by a host of weeping relatives and friends December 7.
It would be difficult indeed to say too much in regard to the beautiful character and useful life of this our deceased brother and father in Christ. He was a most devoted husband, and affectionate father and a most consistent, useful and happy Christian. He loved his Church and was ever an able supporter of her institutions.
He possessed a large degree of that charity or love which suffereth long and is kind. The writer never knew or heard of his speaking evil of any one.
He grew old gracefully; he seemed free from that gloom and moroseness which come to many in old age. Even during his last illness, which was protracted and severe, not a murmur escaped his lips, but he was always patient, resigned and happy. He remarked to the writer that his way was clear and that he was only waiting on the shore for the call of the Master. His life was a living epistle, read and known of all men. His death was an exemplification of the language of the Psalmist: “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of man is peace.
Brother Pulliam was the father of thirteen children, eight of whom had preceded him to enter a better land. His sorely bereaved wife, his companion for more than fifty-five years, and five children, expect to meet him in heaven. — J. P. Walker, Pastor
His adult life
There is nothing known of Elijah’s childhood or why he moved to Alabama, but he lived there from 1823 until 1838, during which time he married Pamela Nelson Massey and had three children: Joseph, John and Edward.
He bought a tract of land in 1838 and in 1841 bought a 160-acre tract adjoining the previous purchase and built a two-story mansion he called Glendale.
It was built in the Greek Revival style, out of soft red brick made on the plantation, select timber and walls three bricks thick. The two-story house had six columns on a long porch with a wide entrance hall, off of which large rooms opened.
The upstairs rooms were as spacious as the ones below and the interior woodwork was made of solid poplar. This home was one of the oldest homes in Shelby County for many years.
The Shelby County Census of 1850 lists Elijah and Pamela Pulliam and seven children, four having been born in Tennessee: Susan, Lucy Ann, Mary and Henry. Two of their neighbors were Reuben Massey and J. A. Massy, brothers of Pamela Pulliam.
The Bond family was also from Alabama and after John Bond moved to Shelby County he went back to Alabama and married Susan Edwards Massey, a sister of Pamela Pulliam and brought her back to Shelby County.
Elijah’s son Henry is mentioned in the diary of William T. Bond, Miss Kate Bond’s father, as they were good friends and ran around together. Elijah Pulliam served for several years as a magistrate from Civil District 7 and was sometimes called “Squire” Pulliam.
At the age of 82 he was struck in his buggy as he was crossing the RR tracks in Bartlett. He was seriously injured and convalesced for a time at Dr. Blackwell’s home.
Elijah Pulliam died in 1884, and Pamela Massey Pulliam died in 1892. They were buried in a small graveyard a short distance from their home. Some of their daughters married Massey cousins, and the Masseys had large family burying grounds where the daughters may have been buried. The burying grounds are said to have been destroyed.
Elijah left Glendale and 396 acres of his 900-acre holding to Pamela Pulliam. After Pamela’s death on Feb. 9, 1892, her granddaughter, Ada B. Massey, inherited and later sold the old Glendale tract with 70 acres.
In 1910 the old Glendale trace was bought by Charles Middleton Bryan (1879-1941), a Memphis attorney, whose name was given to the road on which the home is located. He farmed the land and called it Killarney Farm.
In 1927 the home was bought by the Herbert Fielding family, who lived there until 1968 when it was purchased by Clinton R. and Marcella Pearson. On Feb. 16, 1969 the Pearsons hosted a well-attended open house at Glendale for the Pulliam descendants.
The Pearsons made extensive renovations to the house, adding bathrooms, a heating and air conditioning system and swimming pool, and they redecorated throughout. The décor was in keeping with the period in which the home was built, and many antique pieces were put in the home to retain the historic charm.
Glendale was just north of Interstate 40 on Charles Bryan Road, which had originally gone across the interstate, and picked up again on the south side. (The property was probably just across Appling Farms Parkway from The Great American Home Store.)
At some point the home became vacant and started deteriorating while the area around it became more valuable for commercial/retail property. In the early 2000s developers were looking at the property and a call went out to restore Glendale, but unfortunately it was demolished shortly after that. Glendale went the way of many of the stately old homes in the Bartlett area.
Written by Suzanne Griffith Coleman, special to the Express. Sources: “Bartlett, A Beautiful Tennessee City” by Jonathan K. T. Smith, and files in the Bartlett Museum.