DeKalb County, Tennessee Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Smithville
Organized: December 11, 1837
Parent County(s): White, Warren, Cannon, Wilson, Jackson[1]
Neighboring Counties
Cannon  • Putnam  • Smith  • Warren  • White  • Wilson
See County Maps
Dekalb County Tennessee courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Location of DeKalb County, Tennessee.PNG
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

DeKalb County was named for Revolutionary War hero Major General Johann de Kalb. The county is located in the central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

DeKalb County Courthouse
1 Public Square
Smithville, TN 37166
DeKalb County Website Phone: 615-597-5711
Circuit Court Clerk Phone: 615-597-5711
County Clerk Phone: 615-597-5177
Clerk and Master Phone: 615-597-4360

County clerk has marriage records from 1848 and probate records from 1854
Chancellor Court clerk has divorce records
Register of Deeds has land records[3]

DeKalb 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
1914 1848 1914 1837 1838 1854 1810
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

  • Marriages recorded between 1837 and 1847 are lost
  • Probate records 1837 to 1846 are lost

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

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:[6]

Unincorporated communities

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Additional Information

Revolutionary War hero Johann de Kalb (1721-1780)

Middle Tennessee county.

The county is named after Revolutionary War hero Johann de Kalb (1721-1780), a German baron.[7]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

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

  • Middle Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1784 to 1902. 2004. By Alan N. Miller. Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield Company. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2ma. Includes DeKalb County.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of DeKalb 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.
1840 5,868
1850 8,016 36.6%
1860 10,573 31.9%
1870 11,425 8.1%
1880 14,813 29.7%
1890 15,650 5.7%
1900 16,460 5.2%
1910 15,434 −6.2%
1920 15,370 −0.4%
1930 14,213 −7.5%
1940 14,588 2.6%
1950 11,680 −19.9%
1960 10,774 −7.8%
1970 11,151 3.5%
1980 13,589 21.9%
1990 14,360 5.7%
2000 17,423 21.3%
2010 18,723 7.5%
Source: "".

1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of DeKalb 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.



  • Parsley, Jorene W. DeKalb County, 1840, Eleven Districts Population. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 1985.FHL 976.8532 X2p 1840

1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners


  • Parsley, Jorene W. Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1850 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 1988. FHL 976.8532 X2p 1850


  • Parsley, Jorene W. Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1860 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley,19-?. FHL 976.8532 X2p 1860


  • Parsley, Jorene W.Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1870 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 198-? FHL 976.8532 X2p 1870


  • Parsley, Jorene W. and Brenda J. Tramel Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1880 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley and B.J. Tramel, 198-? FHL 976.8532 X2p 1880
  • Sistler, Byron. 1800 Census, DeKalb County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: B.H. Sistler, 1993. FHL 976.8532 X2s 1880

1890 Lost, but substitutes are available:

1891 Male Voters


  • Parsley, Jorene W. Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1900 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 1988. FHL 976.8532 X2p 1900


  • Young, Denise, ed.. DeKalb County, Tennessee Census, 1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Available at Ancestry ($)

Church Records[edit | edit source]

List of Churches and Church Parishes

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]

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

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

More than 23 genealogies have been published about DeKalb County, Tennessee families. For more information visit DeKalb County, Tennessee Compiled Genealogies.

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

  • Dekalb County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1838 and is located at Courthouse, Room 205, Smithville, Tennessee 37166; Telephone: (615) 597-517. Land and property records include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries.
  • The Family History Library has microfilm copies of deeds 1838-1897 with indexes 1898-1968; Land entries 1838-1905.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • DeKalb County History. 1915. By Will T. Hale. Nashville, Tennessee: P. Hunter. Online at Internet Archive.
  • The Goodspeed Histories of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren and White Counties: With Biographical Sketches and Aboriginal Map of Tennessee. McMinnville, TN: B. Lomond Press, 1972. Reprint. Originally published: Nashville, TN: Goodspeed Pub. Co., 1887. Online at FamilySearch Digital Library; At various libraries (WorldCat)

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Wilson CountySmith CountyPutnam CountyWhite CountyVan Buren CountyWarren CountyCannon CountyTN DEKALB.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

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

Additional resources include:

War of 1812

Civil War

Online Records

Regiments. Men in DeKalb 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 DeKalb County:

Confederate Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from DeKalb 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. For a list of newspapers available at the archives for Dekalb County click on the following cities or towns:

  • 1794-1851 - Lucas, Silas Emmett. Marriages from Early Tennessee Newspapers 1794-1851. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1978. FHL 976.8 V2L.

For deaths of Methodists in DeKalb 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]

The DeKalb County Court has responsibility for the probate records.

Online Records

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1846-1907 - Majors, Betty Moore. DeKalb County, Tennessee, Genealogy from Administrator's Settlement Books, 1846-1907. Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, 1992. Indexed. (FHL book 976.8532 D2m.)
  • 1838-1861 - 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.
  • USGenWeb's DeKalb County page also has some transcribed wills.

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1839 "DeKalb County, Tennessee 1839 Tax List," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Summer 1993):65-70. For possible FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Periodicals.
  • 1839 - Douthat, James L. 1839 DeKalb County, Tennessee Tax List. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press. Mountain Press provides online surname list.
  • 1846 "DeKalb County, Tennessee Delinquent Property Taxes, 1846," Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 2 (1992):76-.
  • 1906-1907 - "DeKalb County, Tennessee Road Taxpayers, 16th District, 1906-7," Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Fall 1992):116-.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Online Indexes and Records

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1848-1880 - Early Middle Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. FHL|976.8 V2sb|book v. 2. Indexes names of brides, grooms, marriage dates for this county for the specified years.
  • 1848-1900 - Marriages recorded in DeKalb County, Tennessee, 1848-1900. FHL|976.8532 V2p|book

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

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

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 DeKalb County. For state-wide library facilities, see Tennessee Archives and Libraries.

Justin Potter Library
101 S. 1st St.
Smithville, TN 7166-1706
Phone: 615-597-4359
This library holds the now defunct DeKalb County Genealogical Society's collection: Genealogy materials.

Alexandria Branch Library
109 Public Square
P.O. Box 367
Alexandria, TN 37012-0367
Phone: 615-529-9124

Dowelltown Branch Library
Church Street
P.O. Box 87
Dowelltown, TN 37059-0087
Phone: 615-536-5997

Liberty Public Library
103 College Street
Liberty, TN 37095
Phone: 615-536-6116

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

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, "DeKalb, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 18 Dec 2018
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002) DeKalb County, Tennessee, p.639
  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. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "DeKalb County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Tennessee, accessed 12 November 2019.
  7. "Johann de Kalb," Wikipedia.
  8. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at