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From An Illustrated History of the People and Towns of Northeast Shelby County
and Southeast Tipton County


   Rosemark was not this community’s original name. The area was named Richland (rich land) to reflect the unusually rich soil, generally Memphis silt loam, and the relatively flat topography found here. Richland changed its name to Rosemark in 1890 when it was determined that it could not become a post office, because there was already a Richland post office in Tennessee. New names were proposed at a town meeting at Thompson’s General Store, placed in a hat, and the name Rosemark, submitted by Mr. Tarkington, was drawn. The named Richland was retained by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, the Masonic Lodge and “Thompson’s” Store. Rosemark is located at the intersection of four major land grants made to John Gray Blount and Thomas Blount on July 18, 1788. On February 26, 1891, William L. Thompson was appointed postmaster for the newly named Rosemark post office. The post office was established in Thompson’s Store where it was maintained for the next sixteen years.

   Rosemark is an intact representative example of a rural agricultural district in Shelby County. Cotton production was the driving force behind the development of the town and the resulting commercial and residential development of the community. Tied to agriculture was the industrial infrastructure represented by the cotton gin at the heart of the district. Agricultural development in Rosemark continued to evolve in the 20th century, particularly with diversification efforts in the Depression era and mechanization during the post-World War II period. The district is significant architecturally as it represents an early to mid-twentieth century rural historic district with numerous intact farmhouses and associated agricultural buildings, several intact commercial structures, and an intact gin and lint house. With major urban sprawl throughout Shelby County, this is one of the few intact rural communities remaining. The period of significance ranges from c. 1890 with the construction the first extant building in the district until 1963.

   Rosemark is bounded by the settlement of Big Creek on the west, Barretville on the north, Mudville and Stewartville on the east. The central intersection is Rosemark Road and Kerrville-Rosemark Road, with Austin Peay Highway (TN 14) running along the eastern side of town from Raleigh to Tipton County.


By the 1830s, settlers were beginning to arrive in the Rosemark area. By the 1840s, George Smith had established a plantation along what is the southern end of Rosemark Road, the Stewart plantation existed on Brunswick Road to the east, and the James McNitt Alexander plantation was west of Big Creek. It was the arrival in the 1850s of the Gragg, McCalla, Raymond, McEwen, Wilson, Reid, Barret, Witherington, and other families that began the creation of a non-plantation based community.


   By 1859 steps were taken to create the first church and school in the new community. On August 16, 1861, fifteen men signed a pledge for the construction of an Associate reformed Presbyterian Church and a school near what is now the intersection of Rosemark Road and Kerrville-Rosemark Road. While a school building appears to have been built, construction of the church was delayed because of the intervening War between the States. At the close of the War in 1865, interest in building a church was renewed.

   In the 1800s this area, known for its rich and fertile farm land, attracted settlers from the Carolinas, East and Middle Tennessee who were pioneering the “Great West.” Associate Reformed Presbyterians (ARP) arrived and established Salem Church in Tipton County. In 1856 Salem fostered a mission station in a new community, now known as Rosemark, in Shelby County. ARP adherents from Lincoln County, Tennessee soon followed and began worshipping in the home of Robert and Nancy McCalla.

   On August 16, 1861, fifteen men pledged to build both “a church and a schoolhouse” on the site. The land had been donated by Robert McCalla. The covenanting families were Gragg, Hutchison, McCalla, McQuiston, Parkinson, Raymond, Rogers, and Sloan. Delayed by the Civil War, their efforts resumed when Rev. J.H. Strong of Salem Church was called to organize the new congregation. In the fall of 1866, Memphis Presbytery formally recognized Richland ARP Church. The present structure, the third sanctuary, was completed in 1950 and the fellowship hall in 1993. The congregation has remained on this site throughout its history.



  In the early days, Richland had a saw mill with a mill pond, for the floating of logs, in the center of the town, as well as a church and school. A second church, Rosemark Presbyterian Church, U.S., was added in 1878. Merchants arrived and Richland Farmers’ Mercantile Association (Thompson’s) Store and Moore Brother’s Store, both general mercantile stores, were constructed and John Cole opened a small store. These three stores were located on Rosemark Road just south of the intersection with Kerrville-Rosemark Road. The Rosemark Bank building with apartments upstairs was constructed next to Thompson’s Store. A corral was built next to the store for livestock that would be “furnished” to sharecroppers. A cotton gin was constructed on Moore Brothers’ property next to the corral.

Thompson’s General Store

Moore Brothers Gin

   A small group of Rosemark (Richland) residents decided to organize a Presbyterian church. They chose a Christian denomination that originally came to the “new world” in the 1700s. It would not be easy. Memphis presbytery had difficulty acquiring a quorum due to the deaths of so many ministers and elders from yellow fever. Such sad events meant that sometimes church business just had to wait.


   In 1878, a church named Big Creek Presbyterian Church was officially organized. The new church was located in a white frame building on the southeast corner of the intersection of Miller and Mudville Roads. Built on a slight hill, it faced Mudville Road. While the new church was being built, the small congregation often met for worship in their homes. After thirty-five years of faithful service in the original location, the congregation decided to build a new brick church at 8592 Kerrville-Rosemark Road. A member of the Southern Presbyterian denomination (P.C.U.S.), the church held its first service in the new building in 1918. With the reunion of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian churches in 1983, the original relationship that existed before the Civil War was restored. Rosemark First Presbyterian Church, P.C.U.S.A., is now one with many other Presbyterian churches throughout the nation.


   Rosemark Telephone Company & Rosemark Telephone Exchange Museum
In 1911 the community founded a cooperative telephone company, the Rosemark Telephone Company, which had its own building, operators and maintenance personnel. It was located on Kerrville-Rosemark Road. The Rosemark Telephone Company bound Rosemark and nearby communities together while linking them with the rest of the country. The cost of a telephone was $2.00 per month, and it cost 10 cents to place a call to Memphis.

   Today, the Rosemark Telephone Exchange Museum is located at the intersection of Kerrville-Rosemark Road and Rosemark Road, and is open on selected dates for viewing.


   On December 31, 1892, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee chartered # 576 of Free & Accepted Masons to meet at Stewartville, located on the east side of Brunswick Road just north of the intersection of Kerrville-Rosemark Road. A factor led to the decline of Lodge # 576 was that many of its members were called to service during World War II. After World War II, there was interest in re-establishing a local Masonic lodge and a charter creating Richland Lodge # 748 F. & A. M. in 1948. The lodge building was completed in 1955 on land next to the Rosemark School. The lodge still fulfills its charitable functions, raising money for worthwhile causes and providing a place for fellowship, education and advancement of its members.


   Dr. Peter John Flippin was born in Oakland, Tennessee and graduated in 1897 from the Memphis Hospital Medical College, later the University of Tennessee Medical School. Dr. Flippin provided medical care to white and African-American citizens of Rosemark and surrounding communities for five decades and was honored by the University of Tennessee for providing fifty years of medical service. “Doc” Flippin customarily extended credit to members of the community, forgoing payment until after the crops were harvested, or accepted whatever payment they could afford. He was one of the leading citizens of the community, serving as a successful farmer, church elder, bank vice-president and member of numerous organizations. He delivered over 1300 babies in northern Shelby and southern Tipton Counties, many of whose descendants still live in the area. Dr. Flippin retired from medical practice in 1947. He died in Rosemark in 1950, leaving a legacy of service to the people of the community.

   Pleasant Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church has over 100 years of history. At first, Mudville Presbyterian was the name of the church. This was due to the location and to please some of the faithful members. It has been told that a huge mud hole was in front of the church back in the 1880s and that is when the name Mudville was given to the church. The earliest record that has been found was from 1867 when Mr. and Mrs. John Sink, part of the Farley Hill family, became the first couple to marry in the church.

   The first building was erected some time before 1867 and stood near the center of the Mudville Cemetery facing south. In 1912, the church was moved to the present location and was remodeled under contractor William McCreight, whose name runs throughout the history of the church. In 1936, the church was destroyed by fire due to a defect in the coal stove used for heating. Everything was burned and all church records were destroyed. During the time the new building was under construction, Sunday School members met in various homes. In less than a year, the church members erected the present church building.



   On the north and south side of Pleasant Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church are situated two cemeteries – Rosemark Cemetery and Mudville Cemetery. Located on the north side, the cemetery known as both Mudville and Pleasant Union has been in existence since the mid-1880s. The church and cemetery separated themselves legally and financially several years ago, and the cemetery assumed the name Mudville Cemetery.

   Rosemark Cemetery was established in 1909. The initial cemetery property was deeded to Richland Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1907. Prior to the development of the cemetery, Rosemark residents and church members were most often buried in either private family cemeteries, Salem A.R.P. Cemetery or in the Mudville Cemetery. A cemetery committee recommended the purchase of two acres just south of Pleasant Union Church on Brunswick Road. A plat was drawn by T.C. McQuiston on linen cloth, and that drawing remains in the hands of those who oversee the cemetery. In 1976, a perpetual care fund was established and is managed through Richland A.R.P. Church.


   Later Anthony Chapel School was built in the area, west of Brunswick Road and just north of Mulberry Road, to educate African-American children from Mudville, Barretville and Rosemark. In May, 2015, a historical marker was dedicated by Historic Archives of Rosemark and Environs, Inc. and the Shelby County Historical Commission stating:

    "Anthony Chapel School, Greenwood AME Church & Cemetery. At the turn of the 20th century, John Wesley Stewart, an African-American farmer, began lobbying for a school to educate African-American children in the Greenwood community. At the time the children were either taught by itinerant teachers or they walked to Tipton County schools. In 1925 the community became part of Shelby County in a boundary shift. In 1927 the family of Paul Barret, a county school board member, sold a tract of family land for the school. A year later a two-room building was opened and named Anthony Chapel Elementary School for Anthony R. Barret, an early settler of the area and Paul Barret’s grandfather. Near this site was the original brush-arbor Greenwood Cemetery with graves of individuals born before the 1865 Emancipation Proclamation."

   Greenwood AME Church originated as a brush-arbor church north of Mulberry Road in either 1874 or 1878. A wood frame building which faced the east was constructed. At that time, Mulberry Road was a dirt road and the road to the church was a steep trail. Due to the difficulty of reaching the church grounds, the building was torn down in 1924 and the lumber was used to construct a new church at the current site of the Greenwood A.M.E. Church at 8017 Donnell Road, a more accessible location.


   Richland School opened in 1892 in a small frame building built on the property of the Richland ARP Church. The early school was always the center of community activities. In 1912, wagonettes provided transportation allowing consolidation of students. Rosemark School grew from an elementary school to a high school and remained a high school until 1930 when it reverted to a county elementary school. After the closure of the elementary school in 1967, the property was sold to a private, Tipton-Rosemark Academy.

   Tipton-Rosemark Academy, dual-accredited through the Southern Association of Independent Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, began in 1965, when a group of citizens became concerned about the quality of their children's education because prayer and the Bible had been removed from public schools. It was their desire that Christian teaching remain a part of their children's education. They established an elementary school (1-8) in a house in Munford and named it Tipton Academy. A new school facility was built in Brighton in 1967 and doubled in 1970 with a kindergarten facility being added. In 1970 the Academy also purchased Rosemark School from Shelby County to expand its system to include grades 9-12 and named this Rosemark Academy.

   In 1986, the seventh and the eighth grades were moved to the high school campus as the initial step in consolidation of all grades (K-12) on the Rosemark campus. During the 2011-2012 school year as part of the "Many Dreams, One Vision" campaign, the structure housing the original gym was renovated into a Performing Arts Center and Chapel. The 14,000 square-foot facility now features retractable stadium-seating for 350 people, banquet seating for 400, a 46 foot stage, concession stand, a fine arts classroom, a construction area, and prop and dressing rooms. A strong commitment to the TRA vision continues today with alumni families and new families still choosing Tipton-Rosemark Academy for their children.


   The annual Rosemark Country Fair is held on the last Saturday of September at the intersection of Rosemark Road and Kerrville-Rosemark Road. Admission is FREE and there is Family Fun For All.
* Farm Equipment, Antique Cars, Food Vendors, Bee Exhibit, Livestock, RC Aircraft, Herding Dogs,
Live Entertainment Artists, 4-H, Home & Garden Exposition, 5k Run, Storytelling and Much More! *
For information, directions, exhibitor forms, etc. visit: www.rosemarkhistoricdistrict.com or
Rosemark Historic District on Facebook



Rosemark Vineyards, 8605 Kerrville-Rosemark Road



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.

For more information about H.A.R.E.


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