Unicoi County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Unicoi County

Unicoi County, Tennessee ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page. Guide to Unicoi County (established 1875) 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.


Unicoi County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Unicoi County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Unicoi County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: March 23, 1875
County Seat Erwin
Website: unicoicounty.org/live/relocation-resources/government/
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The County was named for Cherokee word for "fog-draped" or "hazy". The County is located in the northeast area of the state. [1]

Quick Dates

Unicoi County's civil records start the following years:[2]

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1908 1876  1908  1880  1876  1876 

County Courthouse

Unicoi County Tennessee courthouse.jpg
In the 1780s, this county's land fell within the bounds of the State of Franklin.

Unicoi County Courthouse
100 Main St.
Erwin, TN 37650
Phone: 1-423-743-9541

Many historic records are currently being rehoused and prepared for public usage. They will be available in the fall of 2011. The Register of Deeds is currently open (July 26, 2010).[3]

County Clerk has marriage and probate records from 1875.
Clerk Circuit Court and Chancery Court has divorce and court records.
Register of Deeds has land records from 1875. [4]

Unicoi County Clerk
Birth, marriage and probate records
P.O. Box 340
100 Main St., Suite 100
Erwin, TN 37650
Phone: 1- 423-743-3381

Unicoi County Register of Deeds
Land records
P.O. Box 305
Unicoi County Courthouse,Suite 202
Attn: Register of Deeds
100 Main Ave.
Erwin, TN 37650
Phone: 1-423-743-6104

County Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
P.O. Box 2000
Erwin, TN 37650
Phone: 1-423-743-3541

Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m.-noon (County Clerk)


Unicoi County takes its name from a Native American term for the Appalachian Mountains

East Tennessee county established in 1875. Originally part of the pioneer Watauga Settlements, from 1784 to 1788, this land was also claimed by the abortive, short-lived State of Franklin.[5]

Unicoi is a Native American Cherokee term for the Appalachian Mountains. It is believed to mean "white or fog-draped."[6]

In August 1784 delegates from Washington County (including land that eventually became Unicoi County) and other western North Carolina counties which had split off from Washington County (all now in Tennessee), declared their Independence from North Carolina because of perceived neglect, and misuse by North Carolina’s legislature. By May 1785 they petitioned to be admitted to the United States as the new State of Franklin. The Franklin statehood request was denied. By 1789 the hopes for a State of Franklin faded. North Carolina became a state in 1789 and ceded her westernmost counties to the United States. The ceded counties, including most of Washington County (and eventually Unicoi), became the Southwest Territory. In 1796 the Southwest Territory was admitted to the United States as the new State of Tennessee.

Parent County

1875 - Unicoi County was established 23 March 1875 from Washington and Carter Counties. Early records may be found under Washington and Carter Counties.
County seat: Erwin [7]

County Pronunciation

  1. Hear it spoken (Voice of Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch, 2010)
  2. Hear it spoken[8] (female)

Boundary Changes

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

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.


Populated Places

Banner Hill Earnestville Lillydale Riverview
Briggs (hist.) Erwin Limestone Cove Rock Creek
Brownlow (hist.) Fordville (hist.) Loganton (hist.) Rocky Fork
Bumpus Cove Flag Pond Love Station Shallowford
Chestoa Harris Mill Marbleton Unaka Springs
Clearbranch Hulan Hollow Pleasant Garden Unicoi
Coffee Ridge Indian Creek (hist.) Rice Bend Woodby Hill
Davis Springs Kittyton (hist.) River Hill

Neighboring Counties


Getting Started

Use the free Search for Surnames at Mountain Press's website to quickly search a variety of published Unicoi County biography and cemetery 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

African American

United States African Americans
Tennessee African Americans


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

Additional Cemetery Resources


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1880 3,645
1890 4,619 26.7%
1900 5,851 26.7%
1910 7,201 23.1%
1920 10,120 40.5%
1930 12,678 25.3%
1940 14,128 11.4%
1950 15,886 12.4%
1960 15,082 −5.1%
1970 15,254 1.1%
1980 16,362 7.3%
1990 16,549 1.1%
2000 17,667 6.8%
Source: "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau.
1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of Unicoi 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.

1810 - 1891



1890 Lost 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. Unicoi 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 Male Voters







Many of your ancestors may be found in court records as defendants, plaintiffs, witnesses, or jurors. Court records can establish family relationships and places of residence, occupations, and other family history information.


DNA Double Helix.png
DNA has been collected from men claiming descent from the following Unicoi County historic residents. Attempts have not been made to verify the lineages of those tested.
  • Vinson - Descendant of Vinson family, migrated from Russell Co., VA to Unicoi Co., TN at the turn of twentieth century. Y-DNA 12 Marker Test, FTDNA (Kit 23453). Genetic signature available online (labelled V-2 in Haplogroup J), courtesy: The Vinson DNA Project, World Families Network.

Family Histories

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 Unicoi, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 9,000 entries.



The original Unicoi County Deed Books are held at the County Courthouse. In the 1970s, TSLA microfilmed Deed Books 1-7 (1876-1903), Trust Deed Book 1 (1876-1899), and Index to Deeds and Mortgages (1876-1920). FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 972739-972744.

Local Histories


Washington CountyCarter CountyGreene CountyMadison CountyYancey CountyMitchell CountyTN UNICOI.PNG
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War of 1812
  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul. 1961):95-98. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes Unicoi County pensioners (p. 97.)
Civil War

Online Records

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Unicoi County:


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 Unicoi County click on the following town:


Obituaries may mention birth, marriage, spouse, parents, and living family members.  Obituaries for residents may be found in:


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 records of Unicoi County, Tennessee 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 US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a.
East Tennessee Roots
Genealogical articles with abstracts of Unicoi County, Tennessee 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 US/CAN Book 976.8 D25e.
Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin
Genealogical articles with abstracts of Unicoi County, Tennessee records have been published in the Watauga Association of Genealogists Bulletin (39+ vols., 1972-present), the journal of the Watauga Association of Genealogists. The organization has posted tables of contents for most volumes on their website. Back issues are available for purchase. The Family History Library has a complete collection FHL US/CAN Books 976.897 B2w, including Margaret W. Hougland and Betty Jane Hylton's Bulletin Subject Index: The First Thirty Years, 1972-2001 (Johnson City, Tenn.: Watauga Association of Genealogists, 2002) FHL US/CAN Book 976.897 B2w index 1972-2001.

Probate Records

The original Unicoi County wills are held at the County Courthouse. In the 1970s, TSLA microfilmed wills covering the date range 1876-1947. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Film 972738.

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, 1876-1947
  • Wills, 1947-1963, Vol. 2
  • Bonds, 1876-1937, Vol. 1
  • Bonds, 1837-1957, Vol. 2


The original Unicoi County Tax Books 1876-1899 are kept at the County Courthouse. In the 1970s, TSLA microfilmed these records. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Film 972745.

The following Unicoi County tax records have been abstracted:[9]

  • 1798 - 1798 Tax List, Carter County, East Tennessee Roots, Vol. 9, No. 4. For possible FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Periodicals. Includes digital images of the original source; covers area that later became Unicoi County.

Vital Records

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

Delayed Births

When the Social Security Administration was created in 1935, the agency asked for birth certificates as proof the applicant qualified for entry into the program. Most Tennesseans who wished to apply were born prior to the 1908 state law that first required the issuing of birth certificates. Beginning in 1935, Tennessee began to issue Delayed Birth Certificates thru an application process that required supporting documents.[10]

Ancestry.com, in partnership with the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has added an index to and scanned images of the 1869-1909 delayed birth records of Tennessee. The indexes to these records at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Library and Archives web page are free to search at TSLA on Ancestry - indexes are free, images require subscription.


The original Unicoi County Marriage Books are kept at the County Courthouse and TSLA. In the 1970s and 1980s, the TSLA microfilmed Marriage Books 1 to 16 (1876-1955). FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 972735, 1928855-1928860.

State Marriage Records

The following Unicoi County marriage records have been indexed:

  • 1876-1904 - Padgett, Hilda Britt. Unicoi County, Tennessee Marriages, 1876-1904. Erwin, Tenn.: H.B. Padgett, 1989. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8982 V2p.

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Unicoi 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.
  • 1908-1936 - Nikazy, Eddie M. Unicoi County, Tennessee Death Record Abstracts 1908-1936. Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1997. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8982 V28n.

For deaths of Methodists in Unicoi County (or what later became Unicoi County) between the 1830s and the 1920s, try searching the following records:

Societies and Libraries

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

The Unicoi County Historical Society
405 Ohio Ave.
Erwin, TN 37650
Phone: 1-423-743-6307
Located at Unicoi County Public Library
Facebook page

Watauga Association of Genealogists
Upper East Tennessee
P.O. Box 117
Johnson City, TN 37605-0117
Publications: The Bulletin (May and October)

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

Unicoi County Public Library
201 Nolichucky Avenue
Erwin, TN 37650-1239
Phone: 1-423-743-6533
Fax: 423-743-0275
Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Family History Centers

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. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.

Unicoi County Tennessee Genealogy Websites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Unicoi County, Tennessee

Unicoi County Tennessee Genealogy References

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Unicoi, Tennessee" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicoi_County,_Tennessee accessed 09 Jan 2019
  2. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey (W.P.A.), 1941; "Earliest County Records," Tennessee State Library and Archives.
  3. Telephone conversation with Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch, July 26, 2010.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Unicoi County, Tennessee page 644, At various libr40ries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  5. J. Mark Lowe, "The Land Grant Processes of North Carolina and Tennessee," Lecture, Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, Knoxville, Tenn., August 21, 2010.
  6. "List of counties in Tennessee," Wikipedia.
  7. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 644. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  8. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  9. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  10. http://www.tn.gov/tsla/history/vital/vital.htm
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/6/64/Igitennessees.pdf.