Rural Heritage Trust














Gratitude by Ruth Billingsley
Co-Editor of An Illustrated History of the People and Towns of Northeast Shelby County
and Southeast Tipton County


    Gratitude was a typical farming community located in Northeast Shelby County at the eastern portion of the Millington-Arlington Road and Gratitude Church Road. It existed as early as the 1840s and was centered around the Gratitude Methodist Church and cemetery. A one room school was located on the grounds of the church in the 1890s, part of the Shelby County School system.

    In the 1850s Joshua and Temperance Hughes settled on a 275 acre farm in the area relocating from Lincoln County, Tennessee. The Hughes are buried in the Gratitude Cemetery along with one of their sons who died in 1867. The oldest marker in the cemetery is that of an infant, C. Carr Crenshaw, son of David S. and Clarissa C. Crenshaw, who died in 11846.

    The original one room church was built about 1863. The building had an elevated floor similar to a movie theatre floor. The double doors led to the main floor, where there was a vestibule area with a banister and three steps up to the aisle. The floor slanted down to the pulpit area which was elevated and contained the pulpit and three chairs. Off to the south end was a wider area with a banister where the piano sat. On the floor level was the altar table with a kneeling bench around it for communion. Just behind that next to the front pews was a "pot belly stove” used for heat in the winter and removed in the summer. On the north side of the church facing the pulpit was the “Amen Corner”. Sunday School classes met in various corners of the room.

    The present church was built in 1958-59, consisting of four classrooms. An addition in 1968 added a kitchen, fellowship hall, classrooms and restrooms. The concrete building was bricked and a new roof put on at this time. Stained glass windows were added in 1991-92.

    There was never a store in the Gratitude area, so folks shopped at S. Y. Wilsons in Arlington or at a country store in Bolton. The ice plant was located in Bolton where the ice for the “old ice box” was purchased.

Excerpts from the jacket of An Illustrated History of the People and Towns of Northeast Shelby County and Southeast Tipton County by Historic Archives of Rosemark and Environs (H.A.R.E.):

    On October 19, 1818, the United States Congress ratified the treaty with the Chickasaw Nation ceding West Tennessee to the United States. What followed was the creation of Shelby County in1819 and, to its north, the creation of Tipton County in 1823. Settlers followed quickly. Along the border of Shelby and Tipton counties small communities developed around churches, schools, and country stores. This is the story of the people who have lived there. Over the last 180 years most of the schools and some of the towns of Northeast Shelby County and South Central Tipton County have disappeared. The churches and cemeteries remain and the land is still farmed.

    This illustrated history attempts to capture the stories of those people and places where they lived. Through a series of articles and interviews, maps, photographs, diaries, and letters, you can experience the people who lived on the farms and worked in the towns of Salem, Portersville, Idaville, Kerrville, Armourtown, Bethel, Tipton, Mudville, Macedonia, Gratitude, Barretville, and Rosemark.

    On June 14, 2013 the Rosemark Historic District was placed in the National and Tennessee Registers of Historic Places by the National Park Service the United States Department.

    The Historic Archives of Rosemark and Environs is a non-profit organization whose mission is to document & preserve historic information & items of the Rosemark region for educational purposes. It is primarily responsible for the creation of the Rosemark Historic District. Please consider a tax deductible contribution to help them continue these efforts.




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