When the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (L&N) built its Mineral Branch through Dickson County in the early 1890’s, Hortense, Tennessee was a flag stop located between Sylvia and Pond Switch. It was a fertile region of iron ore deposits and had a spur built to the mines. The post office was in operation from 1894 to 1897 and the Hortense Baptist Church was erected in 1895. Hortense was dedicated in 1913 after William B. Blake, a Nashville attorney, purchased land and sold lots to the colonization group he organized.
The workforce in the mining settlement was predominantly African Americans, most folks coming from Kentucky and remaining in the area from 1879 until 1920. A reduction in train service, the advent of the automobile and the western migration prompted by World War II, all contributed to the demise of this once prosperous community. Some of the first residents were William Mallory, E.W. and Foster Washington, Dick Long, and James Dickerson.