Long, long ago wild berries grew in abundance around Portland.
It has been said that early pioneers would notice each spring that the legs of the deer were stained a brilliant red. The stains were from the ripened strawberries that grew wild in the fields.
Pre-1800’s Before the 1800s Native Americans lived and hunted the land. They had stained legs from the juice of wild strawberries growing in the area.
1828 In 1828 this area was settled by Thomas Buntin. The community was then called Hazlenut Thicket. This was the home of Thomas Buntin.
1854 In 1854 Cold Springs School was built and used on Sundays for church. Cold Springs School is located in Richland Park in Portland. It was also used as a Hospital for Confederate Soldiers during the Civil War.
In 1858 Thomas Buntin donated land to build a railroad depot. Buntin was the station agent and also the postmaster.
1858 L & N railroad laid tracks through Sumner Country in 1858. The towns name was changed to Richland.
Name changed in 1888 Railroad administrators and postal authorities, decided that Richland would become Portland. The new name was activated on April 10, 1888. There were actually two towns names Richland which caused confusion for the railroad. Many feared a train wreck could occur if the conductor traveled to the wrong Richland. There was also the inconvenience to postal customers because their mail would be delivered to the wrong address.
This is a photo of a train wreck that occurred in Portland.
1885 In 1885 Uncle Billy McGlothlin decided to take advantage of the great Portland strawberry soil and pioneered the strawberry industry. He used the new Railroad system to transport the berries. The area soon became the Strawberry Capitol of Tennessee.
The first strawberry patch was planted on the ground where the Farmers Bank now stands. Berries were sold in cups or bushel baskets. They sold for as much as $15.00 a bushel.
In the early years as many as 10,000 pickers would gather in Portland to harvest the berries. At the end of the day the tickets were turned in for cash. Pickers were given tickets for the number of quarts or gallons of strawberries they picked.
The Donoho Brothers, John and Jim, came to Portland in 1905. They purchased the famous Opie Read farm and opened Donoho Nursery. They began to experiment with different varieties of berries. They introduced the Aroma, the berry which has been growing the best ever since and which made Portland famous as the Strawberry Capital. Some of the strawberry types were: Gandy, Klondike, Lady Thompson, and Mitchell’s Earl.
1917 Portland gets electricity. It is shipping out 30 railcars full of strawberries daily.
1920s The farmers would spend all day and night loading strawberries into the railroad cars. In the 1920s a crating factory was built to hold all the berries. Portland shipped 30 railroad carloads of berries each day.
1941 Mr. Bryant, a teacher, and Mr. Patton, who started Patton’s Nursery, and Mrs. Boucher organized the first Strawberry Festival. Portland’s first Strawberry Festival Held. The Festival had no floats it’s first year, but had a float the second year. It was made by students at Sumner County High School.
The crowning of the queen was the highlight of the festival. The first beauty pageant was very different from the one today. The girls were selected by marching from the first traffic light in Portland to the old Kerley’s store, which is now the Farmers Bank.
First prize was 5 dollars, second place received three dollars and third place received two dollars. Prizes were given for the best strawberries. The first Strawberry Festival cost 7 dollars for ribbons, nails, tacks, cardboard, and thread.
1961 Portland High School opens Three elementary schools open in Portland. J. W. Wiseman Clyde Riggs Watt Hardison 1998