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Arlington - A History
Settlers came to the area in the 1830's and many of their descendants still live in town. The Town was known as Haysville initially, named after the original landowner, Mr. Samuel Jackson Hays, a descendant of President Andrew Jackson. The area saw its first growth spurt with the development of the Memphis and Ohio railroad and the creation of the Withe Depot. By 1856, about two hundred people called Haysville home, but growth ceased with the onset of the Civil War, as many residents joined the cause, some never to return. Another nearby disaster, the outbreak of Yellow Fever in Memphis in 1878, also contributed to the stagnant population, as the town fathers quarantined this area and forbid outsiders from entering the town.
In 1883, the name of the town was changed to Arlington, a name suggested by Captain Henry Pitman. He had visited the national cemetery in Virginia and thought it was the most beautiful spot on earth.
A real treat for the early citizens of Arlington was to board a westbound train for Memphis, sometimes becoming and overnight adventure in the big city. However, most of the necessities of life could be found within its own Town square. By the end of the 19th Century the community boasted of its own post office, physician, druggist, cotton gin, lumber store, several general stores, a blacksmith, a meat market, and an undertaker. The center of our square then, as it is today, was S.Y. Wilson & Company. In the early 1900's, it furnished for its customer practically everything imaginable - meat, groceries, sewing notions, clothes, feed, and seed.
The community received its charter from the State of Tennessee in December 1900, with a population at the time of slightly over 600. Like many small communities, Arlington suffered losses during the World Wars. The 1950 census shows only 465 residents; however, it grew to 651 in 1960, 1,172 in 1990, and on its centennial in 2000, Arlington was home to over 2,300 people.
Today, our long-time residents can attest to the changes that have been made. By the centennial, the Town could boast of a new post office, a fire department that had received statewide recognition for its excellence, a collection of stellar community schools, churches, banks, businesses and a vibrant industrial district. The Town is now seeing another surge of growth, with new residential subdivisions, new parks, and continued commercial growth.
Our citizens are our greatest resource. Combined with community organizations, youth sports programs, and community events like Arlington in April, the 4th of July Star Spangled Celebration, Depot Square's Christmas tree lighting, the Christmas Parade, and annual barbeque festival, Arlington maintains a small-town quality of life. Arlington may no longer be a best kept secret in Shelby County, but its people and charm continue and remind us all to preserve our past while planning our future.