History and Facts of Tennessee Counties
Today’s Tennessee counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.
In 1784 the “State” of Franklin was created with 3 original counties of the Washington District. The Lost State of Franklin was short-lived attempt to create a new state in the trans-Appalachian settlement of present-day East Tennessee.
The 3 original counties were Greene, Sullivan and Washington counties. By 1785 they had added 5 more counties (Sevier, Blount, Caswell, Spencer and Wayne) to total 8 counties. In 1789 settlers were allowed re-join North Carolina and Franklin was disbanded.
North Carolina ceded the area to the federal government in 1790, after which the territory to the Ohio River’s south was officially organized as the Southwest Territory by Congress in 1790.
The Southwest Territory existed from May 26, 1790, until June 1, 1796. The State of Tennessee entered the union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796.
Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders with 3 Tennessee counties operate under consolidated city–county governments, a city and county that have been merged into one jurisdiction.
As such, these governments are simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation, and a county, which is an administrative division of a state.
- City of Nashville – Davidson County
- City of Lynchburg – Moore County
- City of Hartsville – Trousdale County
Fun Facts about Tennessee Counties
Counties by Year
- Washington County was the original county created on November 15, 1777.
- Chester County was the last county created on March 1, 1879.
County Size Facts
- Shelby County (755 sq mi) is the largest county in Tennessee.
- Trousdale County (114 sq mi) is the smallest county in Tennessee.
County Population Facts
- Pickett County (5,077) is the least populated county in Tennessee.
- Shelby County (927,644) is the most populated county in Tennessee.
Tennessee City Facts
Tennessee’s 10 largest cities (2017 est.) are:
- Nashville – Davidson County (667,560) is in Davidson County
- Memphis (652,236) is in Shelby County
- Knoxville (186,239) is in Knox County
- Chattanooga (177,571) is in Hamilton County
- Clarksville (150,287) is in Montgomery County
- Murfreesboro (131,947) is in Rutherford County
- Franklin (74,794) is in Williamson County
- Jackson (67,005) is in Madison County
- Johnson City (66,677) is in Washington County
- Bartlett (58,622) is in Shelby County
Boundary Changes of Tennessee Counties from 1777 to 1985
This Interactive Map of Tennessee Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of Tennessee from 1777-1985.
List of Tennessee Counties
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Notes|
|Anderson County||06 Nov 1801||Knox and Grainger Counties||Joseph Anderson (1757–1837), U.S. Senator from Tennessee and first Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury.||Clinton|
|Bedford County||03 Dec 1807||Rutherford County||Revolutionary War officer Thomas Bedford, a large landowner in the area||Shelbyville|
|Benton County||19 Dec 1835||Humphreys County||Creek War veteran David Benton (1779–1860), an early settler in the county.||Camden|
|Bledsoe County||30 Nov 1807||Roane County and Indian lands||Anthony Bledsoe (1739-1788), Revolutionary War soldier, surveyor, and early settler in Sumner County||Pikeville|
|Blount County||11 Jul 1795||Knox County||William Blount (1749–1800), governor of the Southwest Territory and later U.S. Senator||Maryville|
|Bradley County||10 Feb 1836||Indian lands||Tennessee state legislator Edward Bradley.||Cleveland|
|Campbell County||11 Sep 1806||Anderson and Claiborne counties||Virginia House of Burgesses member Arthur Campbell (1743–1811), who was a negotiator of Indian treaties.||Jacksboro|
|Cannon County||31 Jan 1836||Rutherford, Smith and Warren counties||Governor of Tennessee Newton Cannon (1781–1841).||Woodbury|
|Carroll County||07 Nov 1821||Indian lands||Governor of Tennessee William Carroll (1788–1844).||Huntingdon|
|Carter County||09 Apr 1796||Washington County||Speaker of the "Lost State of Franklin" Senate Landon Carter (1760–1800).||Elizabethton|
|Cheatham County||28 Feb 1856||Davidson, Dickson, Montgomery and Robertson counties||Tennessee state legislator Edward Cheatham.||Ashland City|
|Chester County||01 Mar 1879||Hardeman, Henderson, McNairy and Madison counties||Tennessee state legislator Robert I. Chester.||Henderson|
|Claiborne County||02 Jun 1870||Grainger and Hawkins counties||Governor of Louisiana and Governor of Mississippi Territory William C. C. Claiborne (1775–1817).||Tazewell|
|Clay County||29 Oct 1801||Jackson and Overton counties||U.S. Speaker of the House and Secretary of State Henry Clay (1777–1852).||Celina|
|Cocke County||24 Jun 1870||Jefferson County||William Cocke (1747–1828), one of Tennessee's first U.S. Senators.||Newport|
|Coffee County||09 Oct 1797||Bedford, Warren and Franklin counties||John Coffee (1772–1833), frontiersman, planter, and veteran of Creek War and War of 1812.||Manchester|
|Crockett County||20 Dec 1845||Haywood, Madison, Dyer and Gibson counties||Davy Crockett (1786–1836), frontier humorist, Congressman, and defender of the Alamo.||Alamo|
|Cumberland County||16 Nov 1855||White, Bledsoe, Rhea, Morgan, Fentress and Putnam counties||The Cumberland Mountains.||Crossville|
|Davidson County||18 Apr 1783||Part ofÃ‚ North Carolina||William Lee Davidson (1746–1781), a Brigadier General who died at the Revolutionary War Battle of Cowan's Ford.||Nashville|
|Dekalb County||18 Nov 1845||Franklin, Cannon, Jackson and White counties||U.S. naval officer and War of 1812 hero Stephen Decatur (1779–1820).||Smithville|
|Decatur County||11 Dec 1837||Perry County||Johann de Kalb (1721–1780), a German-born baron who assisted the Continentals during the American Revolutionary War.||Decaturville|
|Dickson County||25 Oct 1803||Montgomery and Robertson counties||U.S. Representative William Dickson (1770–1816).||Charlotte|
|Dyer County||16 Oct 1823||Indian lands||Tennessee state legislator Robert Henry Dyer.||Dyersburg|
|Fayette County||29 Sep 1824||Indian lands||Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette (1757–1834), a French-born general in the American Revolutionary War.||Somerville|
|Fentress County||28 Nov 1823||Morgan, Overton and White counties||Tennessee state legislator James Fentress.||Jamestown|
|Franklin County||03 Dec 1807||Rutherford County and Indian lands||Publisher, scholar, orator, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790).||Winchester|
|Gibson County||21 Oct 1823||Indian lands||John H. Gibson, a soldier of the Natchez Expedition and the Creek War.||Trenton|
|Giles County||14 Nov 1809||Indian lands||U.S. Senator and Governor of Virginia William B. Giles (1762–1830).||Pulaski|
|Grainger County||22 Apr 1796||Hawkins and Knox counties||Mary Grainger Blount, wife of William Blount and "first lady" of the Southwest Territory, which later became Tennessee.||Rutledge|
|Greene County||18 Apr 1783||Washington County||American Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene (1742–1786).||Greeneville|
|Grundy County||29 Jan 1844||Coffee, Warren and Franklin counties||U.S. Attorney General Felix Grundy (1777–1840).||Altamont|
|Hamblen County||08 Jun 1870||Jefferson, Grainger and Greene counties||Early settler Hezekiah Hamblen.||Morristown|
|Hamilton County||25 Oct 1819||Rhea County and Indian lands||First U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757–1804).||Chattanooga|
|Hancock County||07 Jan 1844||Hawkins and Claiborne counties||President of the Continental Congress John Hancock (1737–1793).||Sneedville|
|Hardeman County||16 Oct 1823||Hardin County and Indian lands||Thomas Jones Hardeman, Creek War and War of 1812 soldier, later a member of the Republic of Texas legislature.||Bolivar|
|Hardin County||13 Nov 1819||Indian lands||Joseph Hardin, legislator of the Southwest Territory and State of Franklin.||Savannah|
|Hawkins County||18 Nov 1786||Sullivan County||U.S. Senator Benjamin Hawkins (1754–1816).||Rogersville|
|Haywood County||03 Nov 1823||Indian lands||Judge John Haywood (1762–1826), called "the father of Tennessee history."||Brownsville|
|Henderson County||07 Nov 1821||Indian lands||James Henderson, an officer of the War of 1812.||Lexington|
|Henry County||07 Nov 1821||Indian lands||Revolutionary-era orator and Virginia legislator Patrick Henry (1736–1799).||Paris|
|Hickman County||03 Dec 1807||Dickson County||Edwin Hickman, a longhunter killed by Native Americans near the present-day site of Centerville.||Centerville|
|Houston County||23 Jan 1871||Dickson, Humphreys, Montgomery and Stewart counties||Sam Houston (1793–1863), Tennessee governor and congressman, president of the Republic of Texas, U.S. Senator from Texas, and Texas governor.||Erin|
|Humphreys County||19 Oct 1809||Stewart County||U.S. Representative Parry Wayne Humphreys (1778–1839).||Waverly|
|Jackson County||06 Nov 1801||Smith County and Indian lands||U.S. President Andrew Jackson (1767–1845).||Gainesboro|
|Jefferson County||11 Jun 1792||Greene and Hawkins counties||U.S. President and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826).||Dandridge|
|Johnson County||02 Jan 1836||Carter County||Thomas Johnson, an early settler of Carter County along the Doe River.||Mountain City|
|Knox County||11 Jun 1792||Greene and Hawkins counties||Henry Knox (1750–1806), the first U.S. Secretary of War.||Knoxville|
|Lake County||24 Jun 1870||Obion County||Reelfoot Lake||Tiptonville|
|Lauderdale County||24 Nov 1835||Haywood, Dyer and Tipton counties||James Lauderdale, who was killed in the War of 1812.||Ripley|
|Lawrence County||21 Oct 1817||Hickman County and Indian lands||U.S. naval officer and War of 1812 hero James Lawrence (1781–1813).||Lawrenceburg|
|Lewis County||21 Dec 1843||Hickman, Lawrence, Maury and Wayne counties||Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809), explorer of the American West.||Hohenwald|
|Lincoln County||14 Nov 1809||Bedford County||U.S. Secretary of War Benjamin Lincoln (1733–1810).||Fayetteville|
|Loudon County||02 Jun 1870||Roane, Monroe, Blount and McMinn counties||Fort Loudoun, which was named for John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun, who led British and American forces during the French and Indian War.||Loudon|
|Macon County||18 Jan 1842||Smith and Sumner counties||U.S. Senator Nathaniel Macon (1758–1837).||Lafayette|
|Madison County||07 Nov 1821||Indian lands||U.S. President James Madison (1758–1836).||Jackson|
|Marion County||20 Nov 1817||Indian lands||Francis Marion (1732–1795), the "Swamp Fox" of the American Revolutionary War.||Jasper|
|Marshall County||20 Feb 1836||Giles, Bedford, Lincoln and Maury counties||U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall (1755–1835).||Lewisburg|
|Maury County||16 Nov 1807||Williamson County and Indian lands||Tennessee state legislator Abram Poindexter Maury (1801–1848).||Columbia|
|McMinn County||13 Nov 1819||Indian lands||Governor of Tennessee Joseph McMinn (1758–1824).||Athens|
|McNairy County||08 Oct 1823||Hardin County||John McNairy, judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Tennessee.||Selmer|
|Meigs County||20 Jan 1836||Rhea County||Return Jonathan Meigs (1740–1823), an officer in the Continental Army who was for many years a federal Indian and military agent in Tennessee.||Decatur|
|Monroe County||13 Nov 1819||Indian lands||U.S. President James Monroe (1758–1831).||Madisonville|
|Montgomery County||09 Apr 1796||Tennessee County||John Montgomery (c. 1750–1794), leader of the Nickajack Expedition.||Clarksville|
|Moore County||14 Dec 1817||Bedford, Lincoln and Franklin counties||Tennessee state legislator William Moore.||Lynchburg|
|Morgan County||15 Oct 1817||Anderson and Roane counties||American Revolutionary War officer Daniel Morgan (1736–1802).||Wartburg|
|Obion County||24 Oct 1823||Indian lands||The Obion River.||Union City|
|Overton County||11 Sep 1806||Jackson County and Indian lands||John Overton (1766–1833), one of the cofounders of Memphis, Tennessee.||Livingston|
|Perry County||14 Nov 1821||Humphreys and Hickman counties||U.S. naval officer and War of 1812 hero Oliver Hazard Perry (1785–1819).||Linden|
|Pickett County||27 Feb 1879||Fentress and Overton counties||Tennessee state legislator Howell L. Pickett (1847 - 1914).||Byrdstown|
|Polk County||28 Nov 1839||McMinn and Bradley counties||U.S. President James K. Polk (1795–1849).||Benton|
|Putnam County||02 Feb 1842||Fentress, Jackson, Smith, White and Overton counties||American Revolutionary War officer Israel Putnam (1718–1790).||Cookeville|
|Rhea County||30 Nov 1807||Roane County||U.S. Representative John Rhea (1753–1832).||Dayton|
|Roane County||06 Nov 1801||Knox County and Indian lands||Governor of Tennessee Archibald Roane (1759 or 1760–1819).||Kingston|
|Robertson County||09 Apr 1796||TennesseeÃ‚ and Sumner counties||James Robertson (1742–1814), Tennessee state legislator and founder of the Watauga Settlements.||Springfield|
|Rutherford County||25 Oct 1803||Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties||Griffith Rutherford, chairman of the legislature of the Southwest Territory.||Murfreesboro|
|Scott County||17 Dec 1849||Anderson, Campbell, Fentress and Morgan counties||US. Army general and hero of the Mexican–American War Winfield Scott (1786–1866).||Huntsville|
|Sequatchie County||09 Dec 1857||Hamilton, Marion and Warren counties||Cherokee word believed to mean, opossum, he grins or runs.||Dunlap|
|Sevier County||27 Sep 1794||Jefferson County||John Sevier (1745–1815), governor of the State of Franklin and first Governor of Tennessee.||Sevierville|
|Shelby County||24 Nov 1819||ChickasawÃ‚ Nation lands acquired through the Jackson Purchase||Isaac Shelby (1750–1826), commander at Kings Mountain, first governor of Kentucky, and negotiator of the purchase of the western district from the Chickasaws.||Memphis|
|Smith County||26 Oct 1799||Sumner County and Indian lands||American Revolutionary War officer and U.S. Senator Daniel Smith (1748–1818).||Carthage|
|Stewart County||01 Nov 1803||Montgomery County||Duncan Stewart, Tennessee state legislator and lieutenant governor of Mississippi Territory.||Dover|
|Sullivan County||18 Oct 1779||Washington County||Governor of New Hampshire John Sullivan (1740–1795).||Blountville|
|Sumner County||18 Nov 1786||Davidson County||Jethro Sumner (1733–1785), an American colonist who defended North Carolina against the British in 1780.||Gallatin|
|Tipton County||29 Oct 1823||Shelby County (previouslyÃ‚ ChickasawÃ‚ lands||Jacob Tipton, father of Armistead Blevins, who supervised the organization of Shelby County; Tipton was killed by Native Americans in 1791 in a conflict over the Northwest Territory.||Covington|
|Trousdale County||21 Jun 1870||Wilson, Macon, Smith and Sumner counties||William Trousdale (1790–1872), Creek and Mexican–American War soldier and officer, state senator and Governor of Tennessee.||Hartsville|
|Unicoi County||23 Mar 1875||Washington and Carter County||Native American word for the southern Appalachian Mountains, probably meaning white or fog-draped||Erwin|
|Union County||09 Oct 1797||Grainger, Claiborne, Campbell, Anderson and Knox counties||Either for its creation from parts of five counties or to memorialize East Tennessee's support for preservation of the Union||Maynardville|
|Van Buren County||03 Jan 1840||Warren and White counties||U.S. President Martin Van Buren (1782–1862)||Spencer|
|Warren County||26 Nov 1807||White, Jackson, Smith counties and Indian lands||American Revolutionary War officer Joseph Warren (1741–1775), who sent Paul Revere on his famous midnight ride||McMinnville|
|Washington County||15 Nov 1777||Part ofÃ‚ North Carolina||U.S. President George Washington (1732–1799)||Jonesborough|
|Wayne County||24 Nov 1817||Hickman County||American Revolutionary War General "Mad" Anthony Wayne (1745–1796)||Waynesboro|
|Weakley County||21 Oct 1823||Indian lands||U.S. Representative Robert Weakley (1764–1845).||Dresden|
|White County||11 Sep 1806||Jackson and Smith counties||John White, Revolutionary War soldier and the first European-American settler in the county||Sparta|
|Wilson County||26 Oct 1799||Davidson County||U.S. Representative Hugh Williamson (1735–1819).||Franklin|
|Williamson County||26 Oct 1799||Sumner County||David Wilson, a member of the legislatures of North Carolina and the Southwest Territory.||Lebanon|
List of Old Former / Extinct Tennessee Counties
Tennessee contains some counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes.
The below Tennessee counties no longer exist:
Bell County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Blount County, State of Franklin
Created by Oct 1785 from part of Greene County by the Second General Assembly of Franklin in August 1785.
On February 1, 1789, Blount County was abolished with all other counties in the State of Franklin when the governor of the State of Franklin, formally swore allegiance to North Carolina, effectively ending Franklin’s operation and signaling the region’s return to North Carolina control.
Caswell County, State of Franklin
Created on March 1, 1785 from part of Greene County by The First General Assembly of the State of Franklin convening in Jonesborough.
On February 1, 1789, Caswell County was abolished with all other counties in the State of Franklin when the governor of the State of Franklin, formally swore allegiance to North Carolina, effectively ending Franklin’s operation and signaling the region’s return to North Carolina control.
Christian County, (Proposed) Tennessee
In 1869 another unsuccessful attempt was made to create Grant County in the same general area.
Christiana County, Tennessee
Crocket County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Legislature authorized creation on December 20, 1845 from Dyer, Gibson, Haywood and Madison counties. In October 1846, Circuit Court Judge in Madison County decreed Crocket County’s creation unconstitutional and creation did not take effect.
Cumberland County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Etheridge County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Grant County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Grant County was to be in the same general area as Christian County, which was proposed in 1852 but never organized.
Hanes County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Hanover County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Hatchee County, (Proposed) Tennessee
James County, Tennessee
On March 11, 1890, the Tennessee Legislature authorized the abolition of James County but act was overturned by Tennessee Supreme Court, October 4, 1890.
James County went bankrupt in 1919. On January 20, 1920, James County was reincorporated into Hamilton County and is now extinct.
All records located in Hamilton County. County seat was Ooltewah
Jones County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Noshoba County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Powell County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Sevier County, State of Franklin
Created on March 1, 1785 from part of Greene County by The First General Assembly of the State of Franklin convening in Jonesborough.
On February 1, 1789, Sevier County was abolished with all other counties in the State of Franklin when the governor of the State of Franklin, formally swore allegiance to North Carolina, effectively ending Franklin’s operation and signaling the region’s return to North Carolina control.
Spencer County, State of Franklin
Created on March 1, 1785 from part of Greene County and Sullivan County by The First General Assembly of the State of Franklin convening in Jonesborough. It was named after Samuel Spencer, a judge in North Carolina.
On January 6, 1787, the North Carolina legislature created a parallel-county and called it Hawkins County. It was known by both county names while Frankln’s statehood efforts lasted.
On February 1, 1789, Spencer County was abolished with all other counties in the State of Franklin when the governor of the State of Franklin, formally swore allegiance to North Carolina, effectively ending Franklin’s operation and signaling the region’s return to North Carolina control.
Taylor County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Tennessee County, Tennessee
Created on December 06, 1788 from Davidson County.
On May 26, 1790, The United States created the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio (Southwest Territory), covering the territory ceded in April 1790 by North Carolina.
Tennessee County became a county in the Southwest Territory. Tennessee County was abolished and divided into Montgomery County and Robertson County on April 9, 1796 when Tennessee became the nation’s 16th state.
Records now located in Robertson County. County Seat was Clarksville
Wayne County, State of Franklin
On February 1, 1789, Wayne County was abolished with all other counties in the State of Franklin when the governor of the State of Franklin, formally swore allegiance to North Carolina, effectively ending Franklin’s operation and signaling the region’s return to North Carolina control.
Webster County, (Proposed) Tennessee
Wisdom County, (Proposed) Tennessee