Carter County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Guide to Carter County, Tennessee ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Elizabethton
Organized: April 9, 1796
Parent County(s): Washington[1]
Neighboring Counties
Avery (NC)  • Johnson  • Mitchell (NC)  • Sullivan  • Unicoi  • Washington
See County Maps
Carter County Tennessee courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Location of Carter County, Tennessee.PNG
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Carter County was named for General Landon Carter, the son of John Carter of Virginia, who was "chairman of the court" of the first majority-rule system of American democracy, known as the Watauga Association of 1772. The county is located in the northeastern area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Carter County Courthouse
801 E Elk Avenue
Elizabethton, TN 37643
Carter County Website
County Clerk Phone: 423-542-1814
Clerk of Circuit Court 900 E Elk Ave Ste 906, Phone: 423-542-1835

County Clerk has probate records from 1800.
Chancery and Circuit Court has divorce and court records.
Register of Deeds has land record.[3]

Carter County, Tennessee Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1881 1790 1881 1804 1795 1800 1810
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

1933 Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.[5]

  • Lost censuses: 1800, 1810, 1820
  • Many early wills have been lost

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Tennessee county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed at the website.

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[7]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Additional Information

In the 1780s, this county's land fell within the bounds of the State of Franklin Genealogy

The county is named after Landon Carter (1710-1778), Speaker of the State of Franklin senate.[8]

The land of Carter County was first organized by the State of Franklin Genealogy in March 1786 from part of Washington County under the name Wayne (old).[9] Wayne seems to have included at least the present area of Carter and Johnson Counties. However, the Franklin statehood effort collapsed by 1789. Wayne (old) County existed only briefly, its legality is questionable, and little trace remains. It was not recognized by the subsequent North Carolina, Southwest Territory, or Tennessee governments.

In 1796 the first county reconstituted by the new State of Tennessee was Franklin's Wayne (old) County, only it was called Carter County.[10]Now the land on which the lost county of Wayne (old) County was located is known as Carter County and Johnson.[11]

East Tennessee county established in 1796. Originally part of the pioneer Watauga Settlements, from 1785 to 1789, this land was also claimed by the abortive, short-lived State of Franklin Genealogy.[12]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Carter County, Tennessee online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1800 4,813
1810 4,190 −12.9%
1820 4,835 15.4%
1830 6,414 32.7%
1840 5,372 −16.2%
1850 6,296 17.2%
1860 7,124 13.2%
1870 7,909 11.0%
1880 10,019 26.7%
1890 13,389 33.6%
1900 16,688 24.6%
1910 19,838 18.9%
1920 21,488 8.3%
1930 29,223 36.0%
1940 35,127 20.2%
1950 42,432 20.8%
1960 41,578 −2.0%
1970 42,575 2.4%
1980 50,205 17.9%
1990 51,505 2.6%
2000 56,742 10.2%
2010 57,424 1.2%
Source: "".

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of Carter County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Tennessee Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than nationwide online indexes.

See Tennessee Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.

See Carter County, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project®

Tennessee, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1810-1891 - Ancestry ($)


1800 Lost, but a substitute is available, see Carter.

1810 Lost, but a substitute is available:

  • Sherrill, Charles A. The Reconstructed 1810 Census of Tennessee: 33,000 Long-lost Records from Tax Lists, Court Minutes, Church Records, Wills, Deeds and Other Sources. Mt. Juliet, Tenn.: C.A. Sherrill, 2001. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2s 1810.

1820 Lost[13]


1820 Manufactures

The original manufactures schedules for the Eastern and Western Districts of Tennessee are kept at the National Archives, Washington, D.C. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 1024517-1024518.

These records have also been abstracted:

1820 Census of Manufactures

  • 1820 Census of Manufactures: Carter County, East Tennessee Roots, Vol. 7, No. 3 ():114. For availability, see Carter.


1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners




  • Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census - Tennessee: Transcription for Carter County. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 198-?. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8984 X2s 1880.

1890 Lost, but substitutes are available:

  • Reed, Sue S. Enumeration of Male Inhabitants of Twenty-one Years of Age and Upward, Citizens of Tennessee, January 1, 1891, as Provided for by an Act of General Assembly of Tennessee, Passed January 15, 1891, and Approved January 22, 1891. 8 vols. Houston, Texas: S.S. Reed, 1989. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2r v. 7 1891. Carter County is included in Vol. 7.
  • Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1890 Civil War Veterans Census, Tennessee. Evanston, Ill.: Byron Sister and Associates, 1978. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2s 1890.

1891 Voters

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Church records include baptisms, marriages and burials, as well as information about family members and clues about family migration.For additional information about church records, religions, and religious archives in Tennessee, see Tennessee Church Records.


  • Sinking Creek. Typescript of church minutes (1783-1879) is available online.

Carter County Church Records

- FamilySearch Catalog - Carter County Church Records
  • If the records you need are not through the Family History Library, contact the church(es) in the area where your ancestor lived.Two sites that give information about churches in Carter County are:
- List of Carter County churches with addresses and phone numbers (Yellowbook)
- List of Carter County churches (TN HomeTownLocator)
  • In 1936, a helpful guide to early Carter County church records was published by the Works Project Administration. [14]Use this guide to locate which church records exist and where they were housed in 1936. The Tennessee State Library and Archives has filmed some of these records. To locate which records are available at the TSLA, go to the appropriate "county fact sheet" on the TSLA Web site and scroll down to "selected manuscript material". All filmed church records at the TSLA for Carter county are listed.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Law and Legislation

  • Tennessee State Library and Archives, Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850: Index to Names. January 25, 2005. In addition to creating new laws, legislative acts were often required to obtain a divorce, grant legitimacy to a child, or for appointments to or grant payments for public service. The TSLA has created an index to names that appear in these acts covering the years 1796 to 1850. Online searchable index at TSLA.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

During the War of 1812, American officials reported finding a total of 3 British aliens, some of whom had families, living in Carter County. This information was found in:

  • Kenneth Scott. British Aliens in the United States During the War of 1812. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979, 372-378 (see East Tennessee). FHL US/CAN 973 W4s; digital version at Ancestry ($)

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

More than 30 genealogies have been published about Carter County families. For more information visit Carter County, Tennessee Compiled Genealogies.

Gordon Aronhime (1911-1983) collected information on hundreds of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee pioneers. His note cards, which reference more than 4,000 early settlers of the Holston-Clinch River area and East Tennessee (1770s-1790s), are held at the Library of Virginia. The cards have been digitized and made available online.[15]

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]


The original Carter County Deed Books are held at the [[Carter County, Tennessee Genealogy#Courthouse|Courthouse]. In the 1970s, the TSLA microfilmed Deed Books A to T (1796-1884), indexes, and Trust Deed Book 1874-1892. Copies of their microfilms are also available at the Family History Library: FHL US/CAN Films 847620-847627, 464080 Item 2, 1011383.

The organization Strictly By Name provides online indexes to early Carter County land records. They offer a research service to photocopy and transcribe microfilm copies of the original documents for a small fee. Available indexes:

  • Deed Book A: 1796-1806
  • Deed Book B: 1806-1815
  • McIver, Mary. Abstracts of Carter County, Tennessee Deeds, 1796-1825. Privately published, 1985. LC 84-90648
  • See Southeastern Genealogy ($) for Deeds Book A, 1796-1806; Book B, 1806-1815; Book C, 1814-1825; Book D, 1825-1836; Book E, 1836-1841; Book F, 1837-1838; Book G, 1838-1841; Book H, 1838-1840; Book J, 1841-1843; Book K, 1843-1847; Book M, 1851-1854; Book N, 1854-1859; Book O, 1858-1866

Local Land Entries Issued by North Carolina

The original Carter County land entries issued by North Carolina are kept at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. On their website, users can bring up a list of land entries issued in Carter County, both before and after it became a part of the state of Tennessee. Years covered: 1801-1820.


  1. Follow this link to conduct a "Call Number Search" using the MARS Catalog on their site.
  2. Using the pull down window, change "Call Numbers starting" to "A MarsID matching."
  3. Type 12.14.1 (Windows Vista users may need to include a period after the last digit, for example 12.14.1.) and click Search. This is the specific MarsID for Carter County.
  4. Click on the entry that is returned: "Tennessee, Carter County."
  5. In the window that pops up, click Show List of Child Records and a list of Carter County land entries will be produced. Browse to find abstracts of the original records.[16]

N.B. You can also search by name through the Basic Search, but it lacks soundex capabilities.

  • Land Entries, Districts 1-13; Land Entries 1824-1828; 1828-1887; Land Surveys 1822-1849; 1824-1828;1849 -1923 Southeastern Genealogy ($)

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Carter County History Book Committee. Carter County, Tennessee, and its People, 1796-1993. Elizabethton TN: Carter County Book Committee, PO Box 176, Elizabethton, TN, 1993. LC 93-60910
  • Co-operative Town Company of Tennessee. The New Co-Operative Town of Tennessee. Knoxville, Tennessee, 1890. Free digital copy.
  • Depew, Michael and Lanette. Images of America. Elizabethton [Tennessee]. Charleston SC: Arcadia Pub., 2004. A pictorial history of Elizabethton, Tennessee.
  • Nave, Robert T. A History of the Iron Industry in Carter County to 1860. Privately published: RT Nave, 509 Woodhaven Dr., Johnson City, TN 37604, 1998. Also includes iron works in now Johnson County.
  • Turner, Francis Marion. Life of General John Sevier New York: The Neale Publishing Co., 1910. Free digital copy.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Sullivan CountyJohnson CountyWatauga CountyAvery CountyMitchell CountyUnicoi CountyWashington CountyTN CARTER.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War
The following Carter County Revolutionary War records are available online through TNGenWeb:

Additional resources include:

War of 1812

  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan. 1960):13-16; Vol. 7, No. 2 (Apr. 1960):40-45. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 7 (1960); digital version at journal website. [Includes Carter County pensioners 7(1):16, 7(2):40.]

Civil War

Regiments. Men in Carter County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (part of a large regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Carter County:

Confederate Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Carter County:

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at the TSLA. Most of these newspapers may be accessed by interlibrary loan to libraries within Tennessee, although there are some newspapers which are not available in or outside of Tennessee. For further information regarding interlibrary loan policies and newspapers not available for interlibrary loan click here.

  • Click Elizabethton For a list of newspapers available at the archives for Carter County.
  • 1908-1925 - Nikazy, Eddie M. Abstracts of Tennessee Death Records for Carter County, Tennessee, 1908-1925. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1992. FHL US/CAN;Book 976.8984 V4ne.
  • Nikazy, Eddie M. Carter County, Tennessee Death, Record Abstracts, 1926-1934. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1994. FHL;US/CAN;Book 976.8984 V4n.

For deaths of Methodists in Carter County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Genealogical periodicals can contain unique sources and can be local, regional, or statewide. The following periodicals cover this county:

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Loose probate files exist at the Carter covering the years 1796 to 1915. They were microfilmed by GSU in 1999: FHL Films 2117645-2117646, 2117648.

Online Records

Book Abstracts or Indexes

  • 1794-1861 - Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Index to Tennessee Wills & Administrations 1779-1861. Nashville, Tenn. Byron Sistler & Associates, Inc., 1990. FHL US/CAN 976.8 P22s. Includes an index to this county's probate records. Free Lookups Available!

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

TSLA microfilmed the original Carter County Tax Books 1860-1880 (gaps) in 1971. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Film 1011384.

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1796 Taxpayers, 1796, East Tennessee Historical Society Publications. Knoxville TN: 1958. Vol. - Iss. 30.
  • 1796 Creekmore, Pollyanna. Early East Tennessee Taxpayers. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1980. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 R4cp and Silas Emmett Lucas's Revised Index FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 R4cp index. Includes 1796 tax list.
  • 1796, 1798 Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Index to Early Tennessee Tax Lists. Evanston, Ill.: B. & B. Sistler, 1977. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 R4s. Includes 1796 and 1798 tax lists.
  • 1796, 1798 Curtis, Mary Barnett. Early East Tennessee Tax Lists. Fort Worth, Texas: Arrow Printing Company, 1964. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 R4c. Includes 1796 and 1798 tax lists.
  • 1798-1798 Tax List, Carter County, East Tennessee Roots, Vol. 9, No. 4. For possible FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Carter. Includes digital images of the original source.
  • 1799 Tax List, 1799, Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin. Johnson City TN: Summer 1972. Vol. 1 Iss. 2.
  • 1834 Tax List, 1834, Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin. Johnson City TN: 1979. Vol. 8 Iss. 1-2; 2000. Vol. 29 Iss. 2; 2001. Vol. 30 Iss. 1.
  • 1836 Douthat, James L. Carter County, Tennessee, 1836 Tennessee, Civil Districts and Tax Lists. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press, 1993. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8984 R4d; Mountain Press provides online surname list.
  • 1874-1877 - Nathaniel Edens Hyder Tax Collection Journal Excerpts, 1874-1877, Distr. 1-4, Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin. Johnson City TN: 2007. Vol. 36 Iss. 1.
  • Tax Digests, Land Entries, Districts 1-13; Land Entries 1824-1828; 1828-1887; Land Surveys 1822-1849; 1824-1828; 1849 -1923 Southeastern Genealogy ($)

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Birth[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes and Records

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1796-1825 - "Carter County, TN - VITALS - Marriages, 1796 - 1825," available online,
  • 1796-1876 - Early East Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. FHL US/CAN 976.8 V2s v. 1.

Death[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Online Titles

  • W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FamilySearch Digital Library.

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Listed below are archives in Carter County. For state-wide archival repositories, see Tennessee Archives and Libraries.

Archives of Appalachia
East Tennessee State University
Sherrod Library, 4th floor
P.O. Box 70295
Johnson City, TN 37614
Phone: 423-439-4338
Houses nearly 18 million manuscripts, 56,000 sound recordings, and 250,000 still and moving images.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Listed below are libraries in Carter County. For state-wide library facilities, see Tennessee Archives and Libraries.

Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library
201 N. Sycamore St.
Elizabethton, TN 37643
Phone: 423-547-6360
Fax: 423-542-1510
The Paty-McCellan-Dungan Archives Room has records, city directories, county records, local history books.

Charles C. Sherrod Library
East Tennessee State University
P.O. Box 70665
Johnson City, TN 37614
Phone: 423-439-4307
The Sherrod Library has genealogical information concerning the East Tennessee Region.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in Carter County. For state-wide genealogical societies, see Tennessee Societies.

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

Research Guides

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Carter, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 17 Dec 2018
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State (accessed 13 March 2016).
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Carter County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Tennessee, accessed DATE.
  8. "List of counties in Tennessee," Wikipedia.
  9. “State of Franklin” in The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture at (accessed 27 June 2010).
  10. Robert M. McBride, "Lost Counties of Tennessee," East Tennessee Historical Society's Publications 38 (1966): 5-6.
  11. Iamvered (Wikipedia User), The Eight Counties of the State of Franklin, circa 1786 at (accessed 27 June 2010).
  12. J. Mark Lowe, "The Land Grant Processes of North Carolina and Tennessee," Lecture, Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, Knoxville, Tenn., August 21, 2010.
  13. Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists: a compiled list of residents of the area covered in 22 east Tennessee counties for which there is (sic) no census records prior to 1830 (Fort Worth, Texas: Arrow Printing, 1964) [[FHL Book 976.8 R4c]].
  14. WPA. Guide to Church Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville: Tennessee State Planning Commission, 1942. FHL 976.8 K23w
  15. "Original Virginia Records Imaged and Indexed Online," Arlene Eakle's Virginia Genealogy Blog, 12 October 2008.
  16. J. Mark Lowe, "The Land Grant Processes of North Carolina and Tennessee," Lecture, Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, Knoxville, Tenn., August 21, 2010.
  17. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at