Old Bethel United Primitive Baptist Church and Cemetery
Organized by 1847 as one of the first churches on Sand Mountain. First meeting house erected 1855; buildings at present site constructed about 1885 and 1927. Preachers included Samuel Tyler, Levi Isbell, and Mark Hyde. Five daughter churches constituted between 1862 and 1895, including nearby Concord in 1870. Cemetery begun 1876. Sarah (Birdwell) Isbell among first white settlers in Madison County, 1805. Ambrose Nall a sailor in Union blockade of the Confederacy. Elijah Isbell and John Bearden veterans of Union cavalry during Civil War.
The Farmer's Exchange was a focal point of commerce during the early years of the young town of Arab. Farmers exchanged their corn, eggs, butter, hides and other agricultural products for a barrel of flour, a stand of lard or other "groceries." William "Bill" Harrison operated the Exchange in this building beginning about 1933, although the structure may be olderhere while still in high school during the Cobb, bought the business from Mr. Harrison about 1939. Basil Cobb continued to work at the Farmer's Exchange and later purchased it, operating it until his retirement in 1982. In 1945 Harrison sold the building, but not the business, to the Myra Leak Hammond family, who owned it until 1999.
First Baptist Church
Founded on September 5, 1912, by 40 charter members, First Baptist Church is the second oldest church located within Arab's original town limits of one square mile. The church was first located just off South Main Street on Fry Gap Road. The Rev. M.K. Taylor, who had previously served for many years at nearby Shoal Creek Baptist Church, was the first pastor. Citizens instrumental in the establishment of First Baptist Church included W.P. "Squire" Marsh and R.J. Riddle, both prominent early settlers and mayors of Arab. When the former building was damaged by a tornado in 1923, the present site was purchased from J.M. Cotton for $300, and a new frame church was erected. The congregation replaced it with a substantial brick church in 1948 that served until 1989, when the present sanctuary was finished.
First United Methodist Church
Founded in 1892 under the leadership of the Rev. B.O.H. Cochran, this is the oldest church congregation inside Arab's original town limits of one square mile. Twenty-eight names were listed on the church's original membership roll. Affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the members built a wooden structure located on First Avenue Northwest in 1893. This building housed the Masonic Hall upstairs and church services downstairs. A second frame building was erected some years later. A larger, brick church was built in 1937. The church consecrated a new sanctuary at this location in May of 2000. Town founder Stephen Tuttle Thompson and Arab's first schoolteacher, Union Army Captain James Walter Elliott, served in many offices of the church from its founding until their deaths. One of their contemporaries and a former Confederate leader, the Rev. M.E. "Bushwhacker" Johnston, pastored the church during the 1890s and was said to have removed his two guns and placed them on the pulpit while he preached.
Gilliam Springs Baptist Church
Gilliam Springs Baptist Church was founded by nine charter members on November 25, 1882, under the leadership of the Rev. P.J. Corley in the Gilliam Springs School. The log school was located on the east side of North Main Street in the vicinity of Brookwood Drive and Tenth Avenue. In 1884 the congregation erected a log church building at this location. A brick church was constructed in 1934, and several additions were added beginning in the early 1960s. Gilliam Springs Baptist Church is older than First United Methodist and First Baptist churches but was built outside the limits of the original Town of Arab. It was annexed in the 1970s, thus becoming the oldest church in Arab.
Shoal Creek Baptist Church
The church was founded on March 14, 1886 by charter members R.J. Riddle, Julie Riddle, W.J. Wright, A.M. Preston, W.B. Scott and F.E. Scott. It is named after Shoal Creek, which rises up less than a mile from the church grounds and empties into the Tennessee River near Paint Rock Bluff. Before the original building was erected in 1887, services were held under a brush arbor. The present sanctuary was built in 1956, the education building in 1979, and the fellowship hall in 1993. Shoal Creek’s first pastor was P.M. Thompson. Montgomery K. Taylor, another of the church’s early pastors, served here for thirty years. He also served as the first pastor of Arab First Baptist during his term at Shoal Creek. As he had requested during his tenure, he was laid to rest behind the church in the grave plot closest to the pulpit. [2012: 788 Shoal Creek Road, Arab]
Stephen Tuttle Thompson (1832-1912)
Founder of the Town of Arab
Indirectly responsible for the naming of the town, Stephen Tuttle Thompson was born Feb. 22, 1832, in Rhea County, Tennessee. He moved to west Marshall County with his parents about 1840 and relocated in 1858 to what became Thompson's Village and later the Town of Arab. Named Arab's first postmaster in 1882, he was required to submit three proposed names for the new post office to the U.S. Postal Department. Desiring that the post office be named after his son, Ranson Arad Riley Thompson, he submitted "Ink," "Blue Bird," and "Arad." The postal department chose "Arad," but, as the result of a clerical error in Washington, D.C., it was misspelled "Arab." Stephen Tuttle Thompson also served as deputy tax assessor and as a county commissioner, elected on the Republican ticket. Thompson's son, J.R.N Thompson, became the first mayor when Arab was incorporated in 1892. Much of the original Town of Arab now stands on land that was formerly the Thompson family farm. Stephen Tuttle Thompson died March 1, 1912, and is buried in the Methodist Church Cemetery.
Western Boundary of Cherokee Nation
Boundary line established between the Cherokee Indian Nation and the United States by Treaty of Chickasaw Council House, September 14, 1816.
The line surveyed by Gen. John Coffee during Fall of 1816, was completed by Col. William Barnett in spring of 1817. The established line remained as the Western Boundary of the Cherokee Indian Nation until their forced removal to Oklahoma Territory in 1837.
It continues to be shown on official Quadrangle Maps, even today.