Gleason was first organized in 1850 as the community of Oakwood. The name Oakwood derived from a prominent old oak tree that grew beside W. W. Gleason s general store. The development of Gleason was greatly enhanced as the Nashville and Northwestern Railroad completed its construction through the town in 1860. Cotton and tobacco became the main agricultural products to be shipped from the town following the Civil War. In 1871, Gleason was incorporated as a town and by 1889 there were five stores, three churches, two tobacco houses, two hotels, four saloons, a blacksmith shop and a lodge. Gleason s burgeoning size led to its charter as a city in 1903.
Early in the 20th century the sweet potato became city s number one agricultural export. The popularity of the sweet potato brought forth a nickname for the city which is still in use today, Tatertown . The early part of the 20th century also saw the introduction of the clay industry to Gleason as major deposits were found in the region. The clay industry began to successfully develop in the mid 1930's and has since become an economical mainstay for the city. Gleason, at present, has a population of 1,402 (1990).