Polk County, Tennessee Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
(Redirected from Polk County, Tennessee)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Polk County, Tennessee ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page. Guide to Polk County (established 1839) genealogy, history, and courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.

Polk County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Polk County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Polk County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: November 28, 1839
County Seat Benton
Website: www.polkgovernment.com
Adopt-a-wiki page
TGW 45x45.jpg This page adopted by:
TNGenWeb Project
who welcome you to contribute.
Adopt a page today

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for then-governor (and future president) James K. Polk. The County is located in the southeast area of the state. [1]

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

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1908 1894 1908 1840 1894 1873 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]


Polk County Tennessee courthouse.jpg

Polk County Courthouse, Benton, Tenn.


Polk County Courthouse
6239 Highway 411
Benton, TN 37307
Phone: 1-423-338-4522

Register of Deeds has land records.
County Clerk has marriage and probate records. [3]

Polk County Clerk
Marriage and probate records
P.O. Box 158
6239 Hwy 411, #102
Benton, TN 37307
Phone: 1-423-338-4526

Polk County Register of Deeds
Land records
P.O. Box 293
6239 Hwy 411
Benton, TN 37307
Phone: 1-423-338-3100

Polk County Clerk of Court
Court records
P.O. Box 256
6239 Highway 411
Benton, TN 37307
Phone: 1-423-338-4524

Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

History[edit | edit source]

President James Knox Polk (1795-1849)


East Tennessee county.

The county is named after President James Knox Polk (1795-1849).[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1839--Polk County was established 28 November 1839 from McMinn and Bradley Counties. Early records may be found under McMinn and Bradley Counties.
County seat: Benton [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

  1. Hear it spoken[6] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[7] (male)

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

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

Record Loss[edit | edit source]


1895 and 1935 Fires damaged courthouse records.[8]

  • Lost deeds: 1839 to 1893
  • Lost marriage records: 1839 to 1893
  • Lost probate records: 1839 to 1872

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

Places/Localities[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:[9]

Unincorporated communities
Ghost towns
  • Alaculsy
  • Apalachia
  • Apalachia Station
  • Bonnie
  • Broad Shoals
  • Caney Creek
  • Hidgon's Store
  • McFarland
  • McHarge
  • Old Dutch Settlement
  • Probst
  • Smith Creek Village
  • Sylco

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Use the free Search for Surnames at Mountain Press's website to quickly search a variety of published Polk County biography, court, land, and military records. To determine which books are being searched, or to search each publication's index individually, click here. You are now equipped with a checklist of books to pull off the shelves at a genealogy library, or a wish list for your personal book collection.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county
Findagrave.com Family History Library Findagrave.com
TNGenWeb WorldCat Billion Graves
TNGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Tombstone Project Gravestones
TNGenWeb Cemeteries
Billion Graves
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 3,570
1850 6,338 77.5%
1860 8,726 37.7%
1870 7,369 −15.6%
1880 7,269 −1.4%
1890 8,361 15.0%
1900 11,357 35.8%
1910 14,116 24.3%
1920 14,243 0.9%
1930 15,686 10.1%
1940 15,473 −1.4%
1950 14,074 −9.0%
1960 12,160 −13.6%
1970 11,669 −4.0%
1980 13,602 16.6%
1990 13,643 0.3%
2000 16,050 17.6%
2010 16,825 4.8%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

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

1810 - 1891


1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners


1850 Agricultural Census

  • Green, Linda L. Tennessee 1850 Agricultural Census. 2 vols. Woodbridge, Va.: L.L. Green, 2000. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2g v. 1 ff. Polk County is included in Vol. 1.




  • Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census, Polk County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: Byron Sistler & Associates, 1991. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2s 1880. Free Lookups Available!

1891 Male Voters


  • Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society. Polk County, Tennessee 1900 U.S. Census. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2000. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2p 1900.


  • Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society. Polk County, Tennessee 1910 U.S. Census. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2000. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2p 1910.



  • Presswood, Marian Bailey and Jo Ann Finnell. Polk County 1930 U.S. Census. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2003. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2p 1930.

Church[edit | edit source]

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.

  • Polk County Church Records
- FamilySearch Catalog - Polk County Church Records
  • Church histories tell when a church started in the area, who the early members were, give data about church leaders, etc.
- FamilySearch Catalog - Polk County Church History
  • 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 Polk County are:
- List of Polk County churches with addresses and phone numbers (Yellowbook)
- List of Polk County churches (TN HomeTownLocator)


  • 1879 - 1943 Old Friendship Baptist Church Records. Polk County, 1879-1943TSLA Reel #348 FHL 840019
  • 1879 - 1900 Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Vital Statistics from 19th Century Tennessee Church Records. Nashville: Sitler and Associates, 1979. FHL 976.8 K29s vol.1   Index to original Old Friendship Baptist Church Records. Polk County, 1879-1943.

Court[edit | edit source]

Family Histories[edit | edit source]

This bibliography will eventually identify all known family histories published about residents of this county. Use this list to:

  • Locate publications about direct ancestors
  • Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
  • Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors)


As of August 2010, a query for persons born in Polk, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 20,000 entries.

  • The Heritage of Polk County, Tennessee, 1839-1997. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society (Tennessee), 1997. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 H2h.


  • Baily - Baily Family Bible Records, ca. 1838-1958. MSS., FHL US/CAN Film 1697633 Item 8.
  • Barnes - See Longley.
  • Cantrell - See Longley.
  • Curd
  • Hildebrand - Clemmer, Sudie, J.D. Clemmer, and George F. Mellen. Nancy Ward and the Hildebrand Family of Polk County, Tennessee: Reprinted Newspaper Clippings from the J.D. Clemmer Scrapbooks. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County News, 1962. FHL US/CAN Film 908921 Item 7.
  • Hood - Hood, Dellmann Osborne. The Tunis Hood Family. Portland, OR: Metropolitan Press, 1960. Available at FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H761h; digital version at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Land - Land, Barbara and Gary Land. The Land's & the Staige's. 2 vols. Ukiah, Calif.: B. & G. Land, 1994. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 L299L ff.
  • Langley - See Longley.
  • Longley - Matthews, Addah Longley. Genealogy, Curd-Longley, Cantrell-Barnes. North Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 1966. Available at Ex Libris; digital version at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Quintrell - Quintrell: Family Bible Records, 1830-1941. MSS., FHL US/CAN Film 1307616 Item 61.
  • Ward - Bell, Annie W.B. Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman Nancy Ward. Typescript, 1961. FHL US/CAN Film 875418 Item 2.
  • Ward - Clemmer, Sudie, J.D. Clemmer, and George F. Mellen. Nancy Ward and the Hildebrand Family of Polk County, Tennessee: Reprinted Newspaper Clippings from the J.D. Clemmer Scrapbooks. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County News, 1962. FHL US/CAN Film 908921 Item 7.
  • Ward - Holland, Hubert G. Nancy Ward A/K/A Cherokee Rose and Beloved Woman. Typescript, FHL US/CAN Film 1750757 Item 14.
  • Whitson - McDuffee, Ted Ransom. Duff to McDuffee on One Leaf: The Family History James H. Duff-McDuffee and Nancy Ann Whitson with Ancestors and Descendants. Knoxville, Tenn.: Tennessee Valley Pub., 1999. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D873m.
  • Young - Stein, Carl F. Some Descendents of James Pickens Young 1815: of Polk, Rhea, Hamilton, Blount, & Knox Counties, Tenn., Cherokee, & Gaston Counties, North Carolina. Family Group Sheets. FHL US/CAN Film 2055385 Item 2.

Land[edit | edit source]

Early Polk County Deed Books are lost. In 1970, TSLA microfilmed surviving Deed Books 1 to 10 (1897 to 1911), Trust Deed Books 1 to 4 (1894-1911) and a General Index (1897-1938). FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 1012141-1012149.

Law and Legislation[edit | edit source]

  • 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. To read more about this valuable resource Click here. The searchable index is available at the TSLA; another version is available at World Vital Records.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

McMinn CountyMonroe CountyBradley CountyCherokee CountyMurray CountyFannin CountyTN POLK.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

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

Additional resources include:

War of 1812[edit | edit source]
  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Apr. 1961):49-52. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes Polk County pensioners (p. 50).
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. Civil War service men from Polk County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from Polk County:

Confederate Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Polk County:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

A local volunteer through Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is willing to do free obituary lookups in Polk County newspapers.

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 Polk County click on the following cities or towns:

Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • Miller, Alan N. East Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1778 to 1911. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2000. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2m. Digital version at World Vital Records ($). Purchase at Genealogical.com. Includes Polk County.

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Tap into the minds of local experts. Editors of genealogical periodicals publish unique sources that researchers who are new to their area would not likely discover. This type of material may be found in local, regional, or statewide genealogical society journals. The following periodicals cover this county:

Ansearchin' News
Genealogical articles with abstracts of Polk County, Tennessee Genealogy records have been published in Ansearchin' News, the quarterly magazine of the Tennessee Genealogical Society. To view a list of these articles, visit their county index. To read digitized versions of the first 36 years of articles (Vols. 1-36), browse their archive or conduct a surname search. The Family History Library has a complete collection of the Ansearchin' News quarterly FHL Book 976.8 B2a.

East Tennessee Roots
Several genealogical articles with abstracts of Polk County, Tennessee Genealogy records have been published in East Tennessee Roots (10 vols.). A subject index to these articles is available online. Surname indexes to Volumes 9 and 10 are also available online. The Family History Library has collected most issues of East Tennessee Roots FHL Book 976.8 D25e.

The Pellissippian
Several genealogical articles with abstracts of Polk County, Tennessee Genealogy records were published in the The Pellissippian (25 vols., 1980-2004), the quarterly of the Pellissippi Genealogical and Historical Society. The society has posted tables of contents for all 25 volumes on their website. They also have back issues available for purchase. The Family History Library has acquired the first 20 volumes FHL Book 976.8 D25p.

Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly and Newsletter
This quarterly has been in publication since 1995. For more information, visit the society's website. Most issues are available at the Family History Library: FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 D25p.
Index found in PERIodical Source Index (PERSI)

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Learn if your Polk County, Tennessee Genealogy ancestors went to prison!

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records

FamilySearch has placed scans of the following records online in the Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927 collection. These are browse-only collections. Handwritten indexes may be found at the front or back of some volumes:

  • Wills, 1873-1940s (3 vols.)
  • Bonds, Letters, 1890-1965 (6 vols.)
  • Insolvent estate records, 1895-1932
  • Letters, 1903-1964
  • Settlements, 1894-1936 (3 vols.)

Taxation[edit | edit source]

The original Polk County Tax Books 1893-1902 were microfilmed by TSLA in 1970. Copies of their films are also available at the Family History Library: FHL US/CAN Films 1012150-1012151.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

See also How to order Tennessee Vital Records or order electronically online.

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriage[edit | edit source]

The original Polk County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. In 1970, TSLA microfilmed Marriage Books 1 to 18 (1894-1970). FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 840021-840023, 1013614, 1012138-1012139.

State Marriage Records

Polk County's marriage records have been abstracted multiple times. As a guide to lead you back to the original sources, Blankenship's book surpasses the others for the early years, as she cites original volume and page numbers. The following is a list of these publications:

  • 1894 - 1907 - Jones, Viola H. Marriage Records, Polk County, Tennessee, 1894 through 1907: Recorded in Volumes 1, 2, 3. Louisville, Tenn.: V.H. Jones, 1987. FHL;US/CAN Book 976.8875 V2j. Abstracts names of brides, grooms, and officiators, along with marriage dates.
  • 1894 - 1907 - Blankenship, Nelly M. Polk County Marriages: Vol. 4 Sept. 1894 - Sept. 1907, v. 1 - 4. Murfreesboro, Tenn.: F.M. Blankenship, 1992. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 V28b. Abstracts names of brides, grooms, officiators, and bondsmen, dates of marriage, along with volume and page numbers and "extra" information.
  • 1894 - 1970 - Poteet-Pitts, Jennie Vee. Polk County, Tennessee Marriages 1894 through 1970. Louisville, Tenn.: V.H. Jones, 1995. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 V28p. Free Lookups Available! Abstracts names of brides, grooms, and officiators, along with marriage dates for early marriages; greater detail for more recent marriages, including volume and page numbers.
Divorce[edit | edit source]

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Polk County divorce papers in diverse County Courthouse records, see the following resources:

  • W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 A3gp.
Death[edit | edit source]

For deaths of Methodists in Polk County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try searching the following records:

Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

See also a List of Tennessee Archives, Libraries, Publications, Historical & Genealogical Societies

Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society
P. O. Box 636
Benton, TN 37307

East Tennessee Historical Society
601 S. Gay St.
P.O. Box 1629
Knoxville, Tennessee 37901-1629
Phone: 1-865-215-8824
E-mail: eths@east-tennessee-history.org

Benton Public Library
Hwy 411
Benton, TN 37307
Phone: 1-423-338-4536

Family History Centers
[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.

Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Polk County, Tennessee

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Polk, Tennessee" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polk_County,_Tennessee accessed 03 Jan 2019
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Polk County, Tennessee. Page 638-645 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 637-640.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Polk County, Tennessee page 643, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. "List of counties in Tennessee", Wikipedia.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 643. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  7. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  8. [http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/lost-records-courthouse-fires-and-disasters-tennessee Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee] in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State.
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "Polk County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polk_County,_Tennessee, accessed 10 December 2019.