Tatum was established in 1885 when the Santa Fe Railroad was built through the town. The townsite was donated by the Tatum family settlers in the area. Tatum was on the earlier Trammel's Trace, a prominent foot and horseback trail from Conway, Arkansas, to Nacogdoches. It is currently a trade center for lumber, farm and dairy enterprises. Tatum hosts excellent fishing in nearby lakes and streams and offers woodlands hunting as well.