History of Gleason,
See a Brief History of Gleason by Dr. R. W. Bandy
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Gleason History Page
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.
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
James K. P.
John F. Allman,
J. W. Bandy, Enoch Heath, S.C. Lankford, J. B. Lasater, T. H. Swain
Professor & Teacher
Robert W. Bandy
John F. Brummitt
Rev. Pleasant W.
Cook, Rev. Robert B. Crews
Rev. James C. Crews,
Rev. Ruben R. Nelson
Rev. H. C. Johnson,
Rev. W. C. Newberry, Rev. Hiram J. Ray
C. W. Doss,
Male & Female Institute)
Mrs. Julia W. Huey
James & James (Wm.
D. & Ed. W), Tillman Johnson, A. J. Swaim
Jones & Casey
(Thomas Jones & Joshua Casey)
Whitworth & Son ((J.
S. & Robert J.)
General Store &
Lasater Bros (Elias
E. & Geo. W.)
Drewery M. Pausley,
J. A. Russell
A.M. Smith, J, H,
Matron at Masonic
Male and Female Institute
Mrs. S. J. Walton
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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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