Prior to 1873, Greenfield was a small farming community known as Old Hall. With the completion of the Illinois Central Railroad, just east of the community, the residents of Old Hall were drawn closer to the tracks. A new town was soon planned and surveyed upon the lands of Joseph H. Ward and Samuel Baker. Once the land was made available to the public the population boomed and within one year it jumped from 150 to 550 residents (1874).
The conductor of the first train is credited with naming Greenfield. The story goes that the conductor was so impressed by the large fields of green wheat in the vicinity he bestowed the name Greenfield to the new town. By the mid 1880’s, there were five general stores, two dry-goods stores, six groceries, two drug stores, three saloons, one grist/saw mill, two steam cotton gins, two box factories, one hotel, a livery stable and several small industries and businesses. Greenfield was initially incorporated as a city on November 9, 1880 (according Goodspeed s history of the region) but may not have been officially incorporated until April 7, 1905.
During the early and middle part of the 20th century, the city prospered from the rail transportation business and related services. An area of Greenfield that received much notoriety locally was early Soup Street. It was on this old city block where shady characters and unsavory groups gathered. The most acclaimed gang from Soup Street was the Dirty Dozen which was a group of petty thieves who operated in northwestern Tennessee. The Crack was the name of their establishment and was reputed to have been a source of illegal alcohol sales during the prohibition days.
Greenfield, TN (1911) Willie Ray and Charlie Grooms (Ray & Grooms) were dealers in mules and horses during 1911. Shown in photograph are ( L to R ) Ben Busby, J.N. Ray, Z.W. Grooms, Early Deming, Earnest Mullins, R. J. Grooms, (on horse) Dean Grooms, W.J. Rodgers, Mr. Lane, Virg Williams (on horse), Willie Ray, Charlie Grooms, Jim Kirby, Hardy Parish, Jim Clements, Will Terrell, two mules and a fine looking milk cow. Following the invention the automobile and farm tractor the need for horse and mules quickly declined. Photograph courtesy of “Life and Times of Greenfield”, and the late Joe W. Stout.