Gleason was originally known as Oakwood in 1850. It was named after a large oak tree that was right beside W.W. Gleason’s store. Once the railroad was built in the area, a settlement slowly began to develop. The community was incorporated as a town in 1871. The name was then changed to “Gleason” after W.W. Gleason who was a prominent businessman in both Gleason and Dresden. Gleason is 119 miles northeast of Memphis, 75 miles east of the Mississippi River, and 125 miles west of Nashville.
Gleason is known as the ball clay mining center of the world, as more ball clay is mined here than anywhere else. Four major companies ship clay used for thousands of purposes all over the United States and to foreign countries. Products manufactured from this clay range from china to brick and tile. Other industries in Gleason fabricate machinery for the clay processing plants and manufacture polystyrene bags.