Nutbush, Tennessee

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Nutbush, Tennessee
Nutbush unincorporated.jpg
Location in the state of Tennessee
Location in the state of Tennessee
Coordinates: 35°41′53″N 89°24′29″W / 35.69806°N 89.40806°W / 35.69806; -89.40806Coordinates: 35°41′53″N 89°24′29″W / 35.69806°N 89.40806°W / 35.69806; -89.40806
CountryUnited States
358 ft (109 m)
(2000) of the Nutbush voting precinct
 • Total259
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code731
Nutbush grocery store (2004)

Nutbush is a rural unincorporated community in Haywood County, Tennessee, in the western part of the state.[1] It was established in the early 19th century by European-American settlers who brought along or bought enslaved African Americans as workers to develop the area's cotton plantations. The African Americans built houses and churches that still stand.

Agriculture is still the most important element of the rural economy, focused on the cultivation and processing of cotton. This has been the commodity crop since the antebellum years, when its cultivation depended on slave labor. As of 2006, cotton was processed in one cotton-processing plant in the community.

Nutbush is best known as the birthplace and childhood home of singer Tina Turner, who described the town in her 1973 song "Nutbush City Limits". In 2002, a segment of Tennessee State Route 19 near Nutbush was named "Tina Turner Highway" in her honor.[3][4][5] This is also the home town of blues pioneer musicians and recording artists Hambone Willie Newbern and Sleepy John Estes.[6]


In 2000, the population of the Nutbush voting precinct (TN 3976) was 259. Of those, 42 were White (16.22%), 215 Black (82.01%), and two were of another ethnicity (0.77%). At that time 190 people (73.36%) were aged 18 or older.[7]


Cotton processing in Nutbush (2004)

The community's main source of income is agriculture (especially cotton).

After the abolition of slavery, freedmen worked at sharecropping as the primary means of income. They cultivated plots of land, mostly for growing cotton, in return for paying a share of the crop to the landowner.

Modern machines such as the cotton picker have superseded manual cultivation; many farm workers left the area for cities during the Great Migration of the early 20th century. As of 2006, one cotton-processing plant in Nutbush is the only agricultural industry in the community.

Lagoon Creek Peaking Facility is run by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Nutbush. From eight gas turbines, the power plant generates electric power for the area in times of high demand.[8][9]


Scenic view onto Tennessee State Route 19 (2004)

The Nutbush community was established in the early 19th century by settlers from Virginia and North Carolina. Descended from immigrants from England, they traveled westward to the Mississippi River delta in western Tennessee. They developed this area for cotton and were dependent on the use of slave labor.[10]

These settlers founded Trinity United Methodist Church in 1822. During the slavery years, black slaves were encouraged to attend the church under white supervision. More than 50 Civil War soldiers, both Confederate and Union, are buried in the Trinity Cemetery associated with the church. The Trinity Cemetery is mentioned as one of the best-kept cemeteries in the county.[11]

They also had a white Woodlawn Church (it is no longer active). Under state law, most slave congregations had to be ministered by white pastors. In 1846, the young slave Hardin Smith, who was sold from Virginia, was allowed to preach to a slave congregation at an evening service at the white Woodlawn Church; it was the first time an area congregation was pastored by a slave.[10][12]

After the American Civil War, the Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1866 by Hardin Smith and other freed slaves of the community, aided by some members of the white Woodlawn Baptist Church. The freedmen soon withdrew from white supervision, as did most black Baptists in the South, establishing their own regional and national associations by the end of the century.[13][14]

Woodlawn Baptist Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 for its historical significance.[15]

In 1881 a U.S. Post office was opened in Nutbush; it was closed in 1905.[16]


Nutbush is located at 35°41′53″N 89°24′29″W / 35.69806°N 89.40806°W / 35.69806; -89.40806 (35.6981330, -89.4081280), at an elevation of 358 feet (109 m).[1]

Cotton fields and hills dominate the landscape of the surrounding area. Nutbush is situated on the southeastern edge of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area with a high earthquake risk.

Postal and telephone[edit]

The U.S. ZIP Code for Nutbush is 38063 (Ripley, Tennessee)[2] and the telephone area code is 731.[17]

Notable Residents[edit]

The early Black musicians and singers from the Nutbush churches recorded and influenced an international audience.[6] Prominent recording artists include Hambone Willie Newbern and Sleepy John Estes. Harmonica player Noah Lewis of Henning, Tennessee is buried in an area cemetery near Nutbush.[6]

Nutbush is the childhood home of singer Tina Turner.

Nutbush is best known as the childhood home of singer Tina Turner, then known as Anna Mae Bullock. At age 16, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri.

After her birth in 1939, Bullock was raised in Nutbush, Brownsville, and Ripley by her maternal grandmother and extended family in the area. The houses she lived in as a child no longer exist. Wood from her Nutbush/Flagg Grove home was used to build a barn.[18]

Both Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church and Spring Hill Baptist Church in Nutbush were family churches of Tina Turner. She attended and sang in both choirs growing up. Her family members were church officials, musicians and singers; various members are buried in these two cemeteries.[18]

Tina Turner Highway in Nutbush (2004)

In 2002, Tennessee State Route 19 between Brownsville and Nutbush was officially designated as "Tina Turner Highway" in her honor.[3][4][5]

Cultural Influence[edit]


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Nutbush, Tennessee
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-12-30. Retrieved 2006-01-03. DownloadZIPcode
  3. ^ a b Wilder, John S. (January 17, 2002). "SB 2798: Highway Signs - "Tina Turner Highway"" (PDF). Legislation Archives - Bills and Resolutions: 102nd General Assembly. Nashville, TN: Tennessee Senate. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Fitzhugh, Craig (January 22, 2002). "HB 2535: Highway Signs - "Tina Turner Highway"" (PDF). Legislation Archives - Bills and Resolutions: 102nd General Assembly. Nashville, TN: Tennessee House of Representatives. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Associated Press (September 25, 2002). "Highway to Be Named for Tina Turner". AP Online News Wire. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c A History of Tennessee Arts, University of Tennessee Press
  7. ^ Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury
  8. ^ Continental Construction, Co., Inc.
  9. ^ AtlasPower, Inc.
  10. ^ a b The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Rutledge Press
  11. ^ Rootsweb - Haywood County, TN Genealogy
  12. ^ Norris, Sharon, Black America Series: Haywood County Tennessee, Arcadia Publishing, 2000, p. 8
  13. ^ Brooks, Walter H. "The Evolution of the Negro Baptist Church." Journal of Negro History (1922) 7#1 pp: 11-22. in JSTOR
  14. ^ Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The "invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South (1979)
  15. ^ National Register of Historic Places
  16. ^ Tennessee State Library and Archives
  17. ^ BellSouth
  18. ^ a b Information by Sharon Norris, national preservationist, author and researcher of Black America Series: Haywood County, Tennessee.

Further reading[edit]

  • West, Carroll Van & Duncan Binnicker, Margaret (2004). A History of Tennessee Arts. Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-239-5.
  • Norris, Sharon (2000). Black America Series: Haywood County Tennessee. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-0605-2.

External links[edit]