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Bolton High School enjoys a rich and unique history in Shelby County, Tennessee. The current campus exists on the former Hoboken Plantation that was owned by Wade H. Bolton. Upon his death in 1869, the prominent land owner set aside 1,200 acres for the founding of an agricultural college. Bolton operated as an agricultural college and teachers' preparatory school from 1887 to 1911, whereupon it became part of the Shelby County School system. By 1925, Bolton had been designated as a secondary school and has remained a part of Shelby County Schools ever since.

Wade Bolton is buried in Elmwood cemetery. The statue atop his grave shows him as he was in life, carrying a heavy cane, with wrinkled clothing, his vest buttoned crookedly, and his shoes untied.

The administration of Wade Bolton's will involves Bolton High School in the oldest active court case in Shelby County. As a result of this bequest, Bolton High School exists as the only land grant secondary school in the state of Tennessee. In its more than 100 years of service to Shelby County, Bolton High School has proven to be an integral part of the history and education of the citizens of Northeast Shelby County.

Since its reestablishment as a Shelby County Schools' high school, the Bolton High School campus and the school population have experienced dramatic change. The surrounding area continues to develop as a suburban community, even though at the present time the student body is drawn from Bartlett, Lakeland, and unincorporated areas of Northeast Shelby County.