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Bartlett in pictures
By Clay Bailey   - 05/05/2010

The Commercial Appeal

More Info on This Book: Bartlett

Robert Dye had a head start on producing a book about Bartlett's past.

Dye's firsthand knowledge of the area came from growing up on the family spread just south of the suburb. Additionally, his father, also Robert, a freelance photographer, had shots of the area, particularly Bartlett High in the 1950s.

The city was smaller back in those days. But even people who didn't live within the city limits attended its churches and schools, making them part of the community.

"You were known by your family," said Dye, 49, recalling how people were familiar with the Dye property near Raleigh-LaGrange. "The people who knew you probably knew your father and grandfather. You don't have that anymore."

Dye's memories, his research and his father's photographs all went into the book "Images of America: Bartlett."

The 126-page pictorial history was released last month. Dye will have a book signing Saturday at the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center. Royalties from the book will go to the Bartlett Historical Society.

"It's been in the works probably about a year," said Sue Griffith Coleman, director of the Bartlett Museum, run by the Historical Society in the old Gotten house. Dye is a member of the group.

"We've wanted to do it for several years, and he agreed to do it."

The paperback contains more than 200 pictures illustrating Bartlett's past, from buildings that long ago disappeared from the suburban landscape to portraits of the people who led Bartlett, originally known as Union Depot, into its 1866 incorporation.

The book includes names like Nicholas Blackwell, the town's doctor and for whom Bartlett High was originally named; Samuel Bond and Nicholas Gotten, and Gabriel M. Bartlett, the suburb's namesake and its first mayor.

"(People) see there really was an Elmore and a Blackwell and a Bartlett," Dye said. "These are historical names, but there was an actual person."

The cover features a picture of Kate Bond, who grew fields of flowers on the family homestead near Stage and Kate Bond roads.

"People see the family names, and they see the street names in Bartlett and put them together," Coleman said. "It brings the history to light."

The book is published by Arcadia Publishing, which has handled local history books in its Images of America series, since 1994. Arcadia has more than 5,000 titles under its name, several from the Memphis area, including a similar history of Collierville, Beale Street and a couple on Memphis music.

Dye previously did work for Arcadia on "The Mid-South Fair: Celebrating 150 Years" in 2006, and separate works on Memphis and Shelby County.

For long-time residents, the book is a reminder of the small town that was Bartlett's past. For the thousands who have moved there in the last few decades, it gives them a sense of the community.

"It's always nice to know where you've come from," Dye said.

"Always good to know there wasn't always a Walgreens on every corner."

-- Clay Bailey: 529-2393

Buying the book

"Images of America: Bartlett," $21.99, Arcadia Publishing.

Available at local retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing at (888) 313-2665 or arcadiapublishing.com Copies are for sale through the Bartlett Historical Society at the Bartlett Museum, 2969 Court Street, (901) 373-8433.

Buy It Now: Bartlett $21.99

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