McNairy County, Tennessee Genealogy

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

County Facts
County seat: Selmer
Organized: October 8, 1823
Parent County(s): Hardin[1]
Neighboring Counties
Alcorn (MS)  • Chester  • Hardeman  • Hardin
See County Maps
Location Map
McNair County Tennessee.png
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County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

McNairy County was named Judge John McNairy and is located in the southwestern area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

McNairy County Courthouse
170 Court Ave.
Selmer, TN 38375
County Courthouse Phone: 731-645-3511
County Clerk Phone: 731-645-3511
Clerk Circuit Court Phone: 731-645-1015
Register of Deeds Phone: 731-645-3656
County Archives Phone: 731-645-7095

County Clerk has marriage records from 1861, some birth, death, and funeral records
Clerk of Circuit Court has divorce records
Register of Deeds has land records[3]

McNairy 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 1861 1925 1855 1823 1857 1810
*Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

  • 1881 Fire damaged courthouse records.[5]
  • Lost marriage records: 1823 to 1860
  • Lost probate records: 1823 to 1871

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

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • 1823--McNairy County was established 8 October 1823 from Hardin County.
  • County seat: Selmer[6]

For animated maps illustrating Tennessee county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free 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
  • Purdy
  • Rose Creek
  • West Shiloh

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

Additional Information
West Tennessee county. Established 1823.

The county is named after "John McNairy, judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Tennessee."[8]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

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

  • West Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1821 to 1889. 2006. By Alan N. Miller. Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield Company. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2man. Online at MyHeritage ($). Includes McNairy County.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of McNairy 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.


Additional Cemetery Resources

Census Records[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1830 5,697
1840 9,385 64.7%
1850 12,864 37.1%
1860 14,732 14.5%
1870 12,726 −13.6%
1880 17,271 35.7%
1890 15,510 −10.2%
1900 17,760 14.5%
1910 16,536 −6.9%
1920 18,350 11.0%
1930 19,901 8.5%
1940 20,424 2.6%
1950 20,390 −0.2%
1960 18,085 −11.3%
1970 18,369 1.6%
1980 22,525 22.6%
1990 22,422 −0.5%
2000 24,653 10.0%
2010 26,075 5.8%
Source: "".

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of McNairy 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 McNairy, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project®.



  • Brown, Albert 1830 and 1840 census index for McNairy Co., Tennessee Bethel Springs, Tennessee Albert Brown, c1998 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X22


  • Brown, Albert 1830 and 1840 census index for McNairy Co., Tennessee Bethel Springs, Tennessee Albert Brown, c1998 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X22

1840 Pensioners




  • McNairy County Genealogical Society (Selmer, Tennessee) McNairy County, Tennessee, 1870 census Selmer, Tennessee McNairy County Genealogical Society, 1992 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X2m 1870


  • Sistler, Samuel D. 1880 census McNairy County, Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee: B. Sistler and Associates, 2002 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X29
  • Brown, Albert McNairy Co., TN, 1880 census: McNairy County Tennessee record Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, 1995 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X28


  • Brown, Albert McNairy County, Tennessee, research records the 1890 tax record of McNairy county Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, c1994 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 R4b (Contents: Index to Confederate Veterans pension application, index of widows who applied for Confederate pensions, index to B.G. Brazeltons, 1885 history of Hardin County, Tennessee and funeral records of McNaire County, Tennesse, 1947-1957.)

1891 Male Voters


  • McNairy County Genealogical Society (Selmer, Tennessee) McNairy County, Tennessee, 1900 census Selmer, Tennessee: McNairy County Genealogical Society, c1992 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X2


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]


As of August 2010, a query for persons born in McNairy, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 46,000 entries.


  • Auten - Langston, Kathryn. Auten News. [Newsletter] Lavon, Texas: K. Langston, 1997-2002. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.27305 Au81a.
  • Ballard - Miller, Lynne D. Texas Ballards. Lincolnton, North Carolina: L.D. Miller, 2000. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 B212mtx; digital version at FamilySearch Digital Library.
  • Birchett - See Combs.
  • Brooks - Brooks, Moses Edward. Descendants of James Brooks. Unknown: unknown, 1974. Available at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Cain - Truett, Earl A. William Hardin Cain, His Descendants and the Founders of Northwest Lafayette County, Mississippi. 2 vols. Oxford, Miss.: E.A. Truett, 1978-1980. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 C123t ff.
  • Combs - Cooke, Katherine Joss. The House that Grew. Alexandria, Va.: K.J. Cooke, 1988. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 C733ck.
  • Dawson - Ebrom, Janet Dawson and Gregory Alan Dawson. Dawson -- Deaton, Pioneers to Texas. San Antonio, Texas: Dawson Books, 1989. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D327e.
  • Deaton - Wilson, Larry M. Genealogy of the Family of Deaton. Kansas City, Missouri: L. Wilson, 1993. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D349w; digital version at BYU Family History Archives.
  • Donnell - Frame, Peggy Campbell. The Albert Franklin Donnell Family. Aztec, N.M.: P.C. Frame, 2005. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D718f; digital version at BYU Family History Archives..
  • Ellis - Family Records of the Ellis and Leonard Families. MSS., microfilmed in 1965; FHL US/CAN Film 414865.
  • Harris - Crockett, Barbara Jean Harris. Barbara's Book: A Compilation of Harris History. Fenton, Michigan: B.J.H. Crockett, 1981. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H24cb.
  • Harris - Gohr, Glenn W. James David Harris: His Kith and His Kin: A Compilation of Harris History. Springfield, Missouri: G.W. Gohr, 1990. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H24go.
  • Hightower - Hales, Samuel Dale. A History of Some English Speaking People Called Hales, Hendricks, Hightower and Hearne Who Lived in the South and in Texas, 1634-1934. Shawnee Mission, Kansas: S.D. Hales, 1975. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H137hs.
  • Hurst - Branch, Virginia. The Hurst Nation: A Family History. 2 vols. Paragould, Ark.: V. Branch, 1987-1991. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H943b ff.
  • Richards - Richards, James P. Richards Family Genealogical Records, 1743-1978. Typescript, FHL US/CAN Film 1320608 Item 31.
  • Wharton - Wharton, Richard. Richard Wharton papers, 1863-1906. Book contributor: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A diary, letters and other writings including his service in the Confederate Army , letters relating to family matters, a genealogy of the Wharton family, poems and speeches. Free digital copy.

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

  • 1823-1838; 1838-1845; 1861-1865; 1866-1868; 1868-1869 Images of Deeds ($)
  • McNairy County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1823 and is located at the Courthouse, Selmer, Tennessee 38375-2194; Telephone: (731) 645-5446.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 1823-1903 with indexes 1835-1901; land grants 1823-1961.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Wright, Marcus Joseph. Reminiscences of the Early Settlement and Early Settlers of McNairy County, Tennessee. Washington, D.C.: Commercial Pub. Co., 1882. Available at FHL US/CAN Film 599232. Digital version at Google Books.

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Chester CountyHardin CountyHardeman CountyTishomingo CountyAlcorn CountyTippah CountyTN McNAIRY.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War
The following McNairy 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. 8, No. 1 (Jan. 1961):20-23. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes McNairy County pensioners (pp. 20-21).

Civil War

Online Records

Regiments. Men in McNairy 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 McNairy County:

Confederate Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from McNairy County:

Civil War Battle
The following Civil War Battles were fought in McNairy County:

  • April 29-June 10, 1862 - Corinth See Map showing Civil war battles in Mississippi.
  • October 5, 1862 - Hatchie's Bridge, also known as Davis Bridge and Matamora[9]
Map showing Civil War battles fought in Tennessee.

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at 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 McNairy County click on the following towns:

  • 1794-1851 - Lucas, Silas Emmett. Marriages from Early Tennessee Newspapers 1794-1851. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1978. FHL 976.8 V2L.
  • 1847 - 1851 - Smith, Jonathan K.T. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, the Nashville Christian Advocate. [1847-1914] 10 vols. [Jackson, Tenn.]: J.K.T. Smith, 1997-2003. FHL US/CAN Books 976.855/N1 V48s 1847-1851 ff; digital versions at David Donahue Memorial: Tennessee Records Repository. Website expands upon the publications and includes deaths from the 1830s, 1840s, 1910s and 1920s. (Largely Methodist?)

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 County Court has responsibility for the probate records of McNairy County. Many records are held by the McNairy County Archives.

Online Records and Indexes

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1865-1896 Brown, Albert. McNairy Co., Administrators Record Index, 1865-1896. Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, 1994. (FHL book 976.829 P22b.)website
  • 1858-1967 Brown, Albert. McNairy County, Tennessee Record, Will Index, 1858-1967: From Court Minute Books and Will Books. Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, 1993. (FHL book 976.829 P28ba.) website
  • 1872-1936 Kennedy, Nancy Wardlow. Will Book Abstracts of McNairy County, Tennessee. Selmer, Tennessee: N.W. Kennedy, (199-?). Indexed. (FHL book 976.829 P28k.)

School Records[edit | edit source]

Social Security Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

The original McNairy County Tax Books 1867-1882 were microfilmed by TSLA. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 983095-983096.

Book Abstracts and Indexes[10]

  • 1890 Brown, Albert. McNairy County, Tennessee, Research Records: The 1890 Tax Record of McNairy County. Bethel Springs, Tenn.: A. Brown, 1994. FHL US/CAN Book 976.829 R4b.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Online indexes and Records

Book Abstracts and Indexes

Death[edit | edit source]

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

Irving Meek, Jr. Public Library
204 W Main St.
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: 731-632-3572

Jack McConnico Memorial Library
225 Oak Grove Rd
Selmer, TN 38375
Phone: 731-645-5571

West Tennessee Heritage Study Center
Paul Meek Library
10 Wayne Fisher Dr.
Martin, TN 38238
Phone: 731-881-7065
Houses a variety of genealogical resources including materials relating to the following counties in Tennessee: Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardin, Haywood, Henderson, Henry, Houston, Humphreys, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Perry, Shelby, Stewart, Tipton, Wayne, Weakley and Carlisle (KY), Fulton (KY), and Hickman (KY) counties in Kentucky.

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Listed below are societies in McNairy 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, "McNairy, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 27 Dec 2018
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists : United States of America, 10th ed., (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002) McNairy County, Tennessee, p.641
  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.
  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, "McNairy County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Tennessee, accessed 4 December 2019.
  8. "List of counties in Tennessee," Wikipedia.
  9. Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State
  10. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at