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Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Gabriel Maston Bartlett 1821-1876

The Man for Whom the City of Bartlett, TN is Named Born on November 27, 1821 in Robertson County, TN. Gabriel Bartlett grew up on the family farm near Cedar Hill. He came to Shelby County in the mid-1840s as a young man and married Elizabeth Glasgow of Fayette County in 1846. He bought a tract of land near Greenbottom (now Shelby Center) and worshipped at Pisgah Methodist Church. In 1848 he was elected Justice of the Peace for Civil District 7 and served until his death. He was a charter member of Woodlawn Masonic Lodge 211 established in 1854. Elizabeth died in 1851 during childbirth, leaving one son, Thomas; 3 other children died in infancy and are buried in Bartlett-Ellendale Cemetery. Gabe as he was called, stood 6' 4"; had dark auburn hair, blue eyes and an impressive "presence". With increased respect in the community he came to be addressed as Major Bartlett. He had a quick mind, played the fiddle and had a good singing voice. He was active in church, possessed an even temperament, taking things in his life as they came. He befriended many, was known as the poor man's friend and his home was always open to young people. In 1854 Major Bartlett married Rebecca E. Cross of Fayette County. They moved to Union Depot where Gabriel bought 373 acres. They had five children, son Robert, and 4 others who died in infancy. In 1855 he was elected state representative, served one term which he said was enough. In 1859 he employed an engineer to lay out a (Continued on other side) village within his property and sold off parcels. He was successful in business pursuits and by 1860 had amassed a considerable fortune. During the Civil War he sympathized with the North and, along with others, lost valuable livestock to Federal troops. In 1864 Bartlett, Gould & Heath opened 210 Front Street, Memphis as grocers, cotton factors and commission merchants. In 1865 the town decided to incorporate. The citizens endeavored to secure a name for the place by which the depot and post office should be named and wisely settled upon the name "Bartlett" in honor of the pioneer settlers in the area. The charter for Bartlett, TN was approved by legislative act on December 13, 1866 and on May 3, 1867 Gabriel Bartlett was elected the first mayor and served until 1870. Financial problems took a great toll on his health in the 1870s and he died on June 18, 1876 while visiting his sister's home near Cedar Hill where his boyhood days had been spent. He is buried in an unmarked grave next to his parents in the family cemetery in Robertson County. Major Bartlett's fellow justices of the peace memorialized him stating "Few men by their enterprise, intelligence and devotion to the public interest in the immediate localities in which they live have contributed more to the development of the moral, social, intellectual and industrial interests of communities than he did."