Located in Charlotte, TN, The Promise Land Community was established and settled by former slaves during the Reconstruction Period (1870-1875).
Deed records and Census reports reveal that some of the early settlers were Nathan Bowen, Joe Washington Vanleer, William Gilbert, John Grimes, Jeff Edmondson, Charles Redden, George Primm, and U.S. Colored Troop Veterans brothers, John and Arch Nesbitt, Clark Garrett, Landin Williams, and Ed Vanleer.
In time the community encompassed approximately 1,000 acres with more than 50 homes, several stores, three churches, and an elementary school.
Many of the early settlers were former slaves at the nearby Cumberland Furnace. The Furnace continued to serve as a source of employment for many of the residents after emancipation.
Deed records reveal that many of the early settlers became landowners. Some of the descendants of these early settlers continue to own inherited property in the community.
As the Civil Rights Era approached in the mid-1950s, this once thriving community had diminished to only a few remaining families. Today, only the St. John Promise Land Church and the old Promise Land School Building remain.
In 2007 the Promise Land School Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In July 2010 a Civil War Trails Marker was placed on the site of the historic school building in recognition of the Civil War records of John and Arch Nesbitt and their contributions to the community.
Administered by a non-profit corporation and supported by the Tennessee Department of Tourism, the Civil War Trails Marker is a multi-state program that identifies, interprets, and creates driving tours of great and lesser-known Civil War sites.
Although many of the families have moved away, the community itself remains dear in the hearts of former residents and descendants. The Promise Land Heritage Association (formerly the Promise Land Community Club), a non-profit historic preservation and community service organization was established in 1988 to preserve and interpret the history of the community.
The Promise Land Heritage Association (PLHA) administers and oversees the operation of the Promise Land Historic Site. At the Promise Land Heritage site the following activities and events are offered:
- Interpretative tours and re-enactments
- Educational and cultural enrichment programs
- Traveling exhibitions
- Annual Community Festival
- Rental facilities for retreats and special events (weddings, family reunions, concerts, and other outdoor events)
The Promise Land Historic Site is located at 707 Promise Land Road, Charlotte, TN. Tours are offered by appointment.
Inquiries and contributions may be mailed to:
P.O. Box 331
Charlotte, TN 37036