The community from which the city of Bartlett grew was first called Union Depot and Green Bottom. It was the last major way station in Tennessee along the stagecoach route from Nashville westward and came into being about 1830. When the Memphis & Ohio Railroad took the place of the stages, Bartlett continued as a depot. This was a farming community, with major plantations along Stage Road.
On November 1, 1866, with a population of less than 100, the city was officially incorporated and the name changed to Bartlett. Upon incorporation, Bryan Wither was named the city's inaugural mayor. It was named for Major Gabriel M. Bartlett, a planter, whose homeplace was located on the old Raleigh-Somerville Road (Stage Road) at the present location of Bartlett Station Plaza.