Rural Heritage Trust















From the pages of Arlington: A Short Historical Writing of the Town
by Rachel Herring Kennon Burrow 1962


   In 1818 the portion of Tennessee, now known as Shelby County, was ceded to the United States by the Chickasaw Indians. Previous to 1818, North Carolina, while Tennessee was under Territorial Government, made large grants of lands to individuals. Early pioneer settlers made journeys from North and South Carolina, Virginia, and other neighboring states to establish homes for their families in this area, which was basically a wilderness at that time.

   In 1856 a railroad, the Memphis & Ohio, now the L & N, or Louisville & Nashville, ran to Bond’s Station (now Ellendale), to Brunswick, Pea Point, and on to the community now known as Arlington. The purpose of this railroad was to attract shipping to the Fayette County community of Withe. The station was known as Withe Depot, but the community was known as Haysville because General Samuel J. Hays, who attended West Point Military Academy, donated the depot land. The Civil War, which began soon after the rail were ready, halted the growth of Haysville.

   All the land surrounding Withe Depot belonged to General Hays until 1868 when the executor of his estate laid off a town and sold the lots at public sale. The village began to grow. The streets of the town were named for important men of the day. A second incorporation of the town of Arlington is recorded in 1900. The town had been incorporated as Haysville in 1878. The name was changed to Arlington in 1883. The Post Office at Arlington was established as Withe Depot in 1866, and became the Arlington Post Office in 1885.

   In 1881, the Memphis Conference of the Methodist Church began to make plans to locate a high school at Arlington. This was done with the establishment of the Methodist Church in the community, known at the time as Withe Depot. The school which was called the Memphis District High School opened for its first session in 1884 and by 1885, one hundred had been enrolled. The first graduating class was in 1888. In 1895, the Memphis District High School was taken over by the public school system of Shelby County.

   Mrs. L.W. Hughes (Mabel W.) was elected Superintendent of Shelby County Schools in 1909 and served until 1915. She was succeeded in office by her sister, Charl Ormond Williams, who served eight years. While Miss Charl Williams was Superintendent of Shelby County Schools, she was elected president of the National Educational Association (NEA); then resigned and went to Washington, D.C. to join the staff of the NEA as Secretary of Extension. During the time she was serving on the staff of the NEA, she was elected president of the National Association of Business and Professional Women, the first teacher ever elected to that position.

   Arlington is a community of long standing historical church congregations originating in the 19th century, such as The Church of the Holy Innocents (Episcopal), Arlington Methodist Church, The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. of Arlington, Arlington Baptist Church. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church is the oldest church in Arlington, having been established in 1871. In 1906 the Memphis Presbytery appointed the Reverend C.A. Davis as missionary of the entire Memphis area. He sponsored the Arlington church and served as its pastor for nearly fifty years. The church was officially named David Memorial Church by the Presbytery in 1945.

   The Arlington Cemetery, located on a hill southeast of town, was first begun as a community project in 1909. Before that time, most families had a family burial plot. The Holy Innocents Cemetery was established in 1881 with the burial of a young child. The cemetery was built on the property in 1882. In 1883, Ephraim Edward and Sarah Louisa Butler Greenlee deeded the one-acre lot with the church building and the graveyard to the "Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Tennessee," reserving the right for themselves and their family to be buried on the property. Members of the some of the founding families of Arlington are buried in the Holy Innocents Cemetery. The last burial in the cemetery occurred in 1987. The church building was dismantled in 1929, and some of the lumber was used to improve other buildings in the community. In 2003, the Diocese of West Tennessee deeded the property to the APTA. In 2017, a church replica was rebuilt as an open air building, utilizing the original window frames from the late 1800. As a chapel, it can be used for small weddings, teas, prayer services, etc.

   Samuel Young Wilson opened “Wilson’s Store” in 1893. The present two-story brick building was constructed in 1913, and an extensive remodeling of the interior was completed in 1955. It was always the aim of S.Y. Wilson and Company to have on hand at all times items used and needed by the people in the area which are supplies of groceries, farm implements, hardware items, dry gods, and most other needs.

   By the end of the 19th Century, the community boasted its own post office, physician, druggist, cotton gin, lumber store, several general stores, blacksmith, meat market, and an undertaker. The heart of Arlington is now known as Historic Depot Square.

   The first automobiles in Arlington were those owned by Mr. Etheridge and Mr. W.J. Harrell. In 1905, the Arlington Bank and Trust Company was established. Its first officers were H.S. Griffin, S.Y. Wilson, A.H. Murray, C.P. Stewart and Dr. J.P. Douglas. The first telephone exchange in Arlington was installed in 1910 by Cumberland Telephone Company. Humphreys Flower Farm was a large operation for more than one hundred years dating back to Civil War years. Highway 70 reached Arlington in 1927, and business places began locating on the new highway. Highway 70 was made into a four-lane highway from Memphis to Arlington in 1953.

   The Rachel H. K. Burrow Museum is located in Historic Depot Square on the corner of Chester and Walker Streets. It was originally built as a bank in 1905. Following the closing of the bank in the early 1930's, the building was used as a community center where Miss Sarah Robinson taught dancing to the children of the community. It currently displays local historical items and changing special exhibits. This site is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Doctor Malcolm A. Baker came to Arlington in January 1952 and used this building for his medical office. After he moved his office, the first library in Arlington was started in the building in 1957. The museum is listed on the National Register for Historic Places. This one-room building was built as a bank and was once Arlington's library. Maintained and operated by the Arlington Chapter of the APTA (Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities), it is filled with local memorabilia and historical items.

For current information about Arlington, please visit the official website:


Or, contact:
Arlington City Hall
5854 Airline Road
Arlington, TN 38002


APTA (Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities-Arlington Chapter




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