Courtesy of David A. Gwinn, Tipton County Genealogist and Historian
Atoka was founded in 1872 along the newly constructed tracks of the Memphis and Paducah Railroad upon the lands of Hugh Thompson. The founders of the new town selected the Indian word “Atoka,” meaning ball ground, as the name of their village.
Located halfway between the towns of Mt. Zion and Portersville on the new railroad line, Atoka soon became the shipping point for lumber and cotton from the surrounding areas. As the retail establishments in town multiplied, the population grew accordingly. By the late 1870s, the population of the little town had grown to around 500 inhabitants.
In 1895, the first Rural Free Delivery Routes were set up by the United States Post Office and Atoka was selected as one of the first three American towns to participate in the program. The town was first incorporated in the nineteenth century but the town leaders allowed the charter to lapse. Atoka was reincorporated in 1911, and the town continues to operate today under that charter.
In 1928, tragedy struck. A tornado leveled the business district and much of the residential district. Many were injured and one resident was killed.
Today, Atoka is a growing bedroom community for Memphis and Shelby County. The town is Tipton County’s third-largest municipality, having a population in 2000 of 3,235.