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History of Gleason, Tennessee

 Also See a Brief History of Gleason by Dr. R. W. Bandy

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Gleason was first organized as a community in 1850. At that time Gleason was called Oakwood, named for a large oak tree that stood next to Mr. W.W. Gleason’s general store. The community, which was settled as a result of the railroad, developed near the railroad tracks. Although growth was slow at first, agricultural products, chiefly cotton and tobacco, kept the town alive. 

On August 6, 1857, a proposition to subscribe stock to the Nashville & Northwestern Railroad to the amount of 2 ¼% of the taxable property of the county was submitted to an election held on that date. The vote polled: For – 1,177; Against – 1,812. After considerable controversy and a final decision by the Supreme Court, the stock, in the amount of $100,000.00 was subscribed, and the taxes to go toward payment collected in three annual installments. By 1861, Gleason had its first completed railroad, the Nashville and Northwestern. 

There were also said to have been four saloons in town by that same year. Joseph Hamilton and Epharian Mobley were Gleason’s first merchants. They were followed by Hamilton, Moore, and others. By 1866, there were five stores, three churches (Baptist, Cumberland Presbyterian, and Methodist), two tobacco houses, mechanic shops, and the Oakwood Lodge #330 F & M. The Masonic Institute was established and a building was erected which could accommodate 300 pupils.

The Oakwood community was incorporated as a town in 1871. The town’s name was changed to “Gleason” (or Gleason Station) in honor of Mr. W.W. Gleason who was a prominent businessman in both Gleason and Dresden. In addition to his businesses, Mr. Gleason held many acres of land in the area which he had obtained through a land grant

North Cedar Street Early 1900's

A Nashville Business Directory, published in 1881 – 1882, described Gleason in the listings as follows:

Gleason Station, Weakley County, on the N.C. & St. L. Railway, formerly know as Oakwood, a prosperous village of about 250 inhabitants. It is 7 miles southwest of Dresden, the county seat, and 127 miles from Nashville. The land surrounding this place is productive, the citizens are sociable and generous, and many improvements in various ways are being made. It has Baptist, Cumberland Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, and a chartered educational institution under the name of Gleason Masonic Male & Female Institute, and a steam saw mill. Cotton tobacco, and wheat are shipped, express Southern, daily mail, with Dr. E. D. Lasater as Postmaster.


The following businesses were listed in that same publication:

Cotton Buyer   

James K. P. Alexander

Physicians   John F. Allman,  J. W. Bandy, Enoch Heath, S.C. Lankford, J. B. Lasater, T. H. Swain
Professor & Teacher Robert W. Bandy
Grocer   John F. Brummitt
Baptist Ministers  Rev. Pleasant W. Cook, Rev. Robert B. Crews
Methodist Ministers  Rev. James C. Crews, Rev. Ruben R. Nelson
Cumberland Presbyterian Ministers Rev. H. C. Johnson,  Rev. W. C. Newberry, Rev. Hiram J. Ray
Shoemakers      C. W. Doss,  Richard Dunlap
Principal (Masonic Male & Female Institute) Mrs. Julia W. Huey
Mills James & James (Wm. D. & Ed. W), Tillman Johnson, A. J. Swaim
General Store  Jones & Casey (Thomas Jones &  Joshua Casey)
General Store  Whitworth & Son ((J. S. & Robert J.)
General Store & Drugs   Lasater Bros (Elias E. & Geo. W.)
Druggist   S.C. Lankford
Barber   Green Looney
Saloon  A.G. Medlock
Blacksmith A.G. Medlock
Tobacco  Drewery M. Pausley,  J. A. Russell
Magistrate and Notary A.M. Smith, J, H, Stigler
Matron at Masonic Male and Female Institute Mrs. S. J. Walton
Livery Stable  J. D. Whitworth


Somewhere around 1900, Gleason boasted two hotels; the Jones Hotel, which was located in the old Horn’s Garage [later K. T. Distributors]; and the Whitworth Hotel, which was located across from the depot. It was said to be the finest hotel between Memphis and Nashville. The rates were $2.00 per day, for very elegantly furnished rooms.


                         Horn's Garage early 1900's                                                Jones Hotel

The Whitworth also had a grand ballroom, where name bands played for dances and entertainment. In the 1903 edition of The Gleason Headlight, this description was made:

A special Christmas party was given by Miss. Fairra Whitworth. Progressive lunch and music were special entertainment. Those present were Misses Lillie Levy, Cary Mitchell, Edwina Lasater, Welborn Whitworth, Myrtle Bobbitt, Wynona Bandy, Mattie Bell Clendennin, Maggie Hunt and Fairra Whitworth. Young gentlemen present were Will Phares, Robert Mathenny, Will Collins, Clyde Walters, Edward Atkins, Curtis Gardner, George Shankle, Walter Walters, Claud Montgomery, L.W. Lyles, and Jodie Adams. The Churchfield Band Played.

Whitworth Hotel

 In 1903, the original charter for the City of Gleason was signed. T. N. Drury was the first Mayor on record and W. H. Williams the first City Recorder. Mr. Drury was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge, as well as Superintendent of the Cumberland Presbyterian Sunday School for twenty-six years. His opponent for Mayor was Ed Sions, a traveling man who sold fruit trees.

Later, the Mayor was J. P. M. Deck, with D. F. Terrell as Recorder, and A. M. Dunlap, J.W. Bandy, W. V. Overall, and R. W. Curry as Aldermen.; Guy Hodges was Marshall.

By 1913, R. J. Whitworth was Mayor; J. P. M. Deck was Recorder and I. J. Tatum, E. A. White, J. C. Ammons, and J. B. Brummitt were Aldermen; Guy Hodges was Marshall.

The following item was taken from a 1913 issue of the Gleason Herald:

"At a recent meeting of the board of Gleason, a reward of $25 was offered for the arrest and conviction of any person guilty of bootlegging within the corporation or within a radius of one mile. Mayor Whitworth said that if  a fine of $5.00 or $10.00 does not keep the peace, then a $25 fine will be levied. The town officials have been and still are going to do all they can to make our little town a good moral place, and it is the duty of every law abiding citizen to stand behind their officers in this work, and help make Gleason a better town morally. We cannot let a lot of people who do not respect themselves, nor others, run over our officers and give our town a bad name to the outside world."

This article, also  from a 1913 newspaper, concerns city business:

"Have you heard anyone kicking about the Proposition to issue more bonds for putting in electric lights, and for graveling the streets? No, of course not !! Nobody could object to these improvements. This is just a step in the right direction, and we must boost the projects."

Since 1913, some of the other Mayors of Gleason have been: W.W. Bandy, Doc Brummitt, Monroe Cochran, Lester McCaleb, Jesse Margrave, Frank Margrave, Jr., Bob Owen, Charlie Huggins (who held the office from 1963 to 1982) and L. Jack Dunning, the present Mayor.

City officials listed in 1928, were: Mayor, J.C. Ammons; Aldermen, A.D. Bobbitt, R. A. Nantes, W. F. Newberry, W. L. McCaleb; Recorder, J. D. Bradberry and Marshall, S. J. Carlton.

After McCaleb's stock barn was torn down and his livestock business moved to McKenzie the new City Hall was built in 1963 on it's present site. The previous City Hall was a small space on Cedar St. (Highway 22) in the J. C. Dellinger Building.

In 1980, the population of Gleason was 1,350. It had a volunteer fire department which included two fire trucks and a rescue van. The Police Department had four full-time officers and one part time officer.

In 1983, the following city officials were elected: Mayor - L. Jack Dunning; Recorder- Pam Belew; Assistant Recorder - Sherry Stephens; Aldermen - Leon Smith, Richard Horn, T. Ray Campbell and Randy Poole. Also serving the City of Gleason are: Chief of Police - Ken Eason and Director of City Water Works - Alex Edwards. These same officials are still in office in 1987, and the population figure is 1, 356.

 Click Here for A Brief History of Gleason by Dr. R. W. Bandy

Click Here for Gleason Town Charter

The history of the Gleason community provided in Oakwood-Gleason: A Look Back provides an account of Gleason's history up through the time the book was originally published. As some 20 years have now passed since its publication, Gleason Online is providing a "History Update" feature, for each section of the book, for those wishing to add important historical information relevant to the Gleason community. Contributions can be submitted via E-mail attachment by clicking on the "Website Visitor Comments" graphic, provided above.


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