Difference between revisions of "Decatur County, Tennessee Genealogy"

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==== Parent County  ====
==== Parent County  ====
'''1845--'''Decatur County was&nbsp;created November 1845&nbsp;from [[Perry County, Tennessee|Perry]] County.&nbsp;<br>'''County seat:''' Decaturville <ref name="Handybook">''[http://www.worldcat.org/title/handybook-for-genealogists-united-states-of-america/oclc/50140092 The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America]'',10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002), 639.</ref>  
'''1845--'''Decatur County was&nbsp;created November 1845&nbsp;from [[Perry County, Tennessee|Perry]] County.&nbsp;<br>'''County seat:''' Decaturville <ref name="Handybook">''The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed''. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 639. ({{FHL|1852055|item}} Ref Book 973 D27e 2002). [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/50140092 WorldCat entry].</ref>
==== County Pronunciation  ====
==== County Pronunciation  ====

Revision as of 13:42, 14 October 2010

United States  Gotoarrow.png  Tennessee  Gotoarrow.png  Decatur County

West Tennessee county established in 1845.

Location of Decatur County, Tennessee
Decatur County Boundary Map

Quick Dates

Decatur County's civil records start the following years:[1]

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1908 1869  1908  1850 1846  1869 

County Courthouse

Decatur County Courthouse, Decaturville, Tenn. Courtesy: Collection: County Court Houses, Flickr by Jimmy Emerson. Used by permission.

Decatur County Courthouse
P.O. Box 488
Decaturville, TN 38329-0488
Phone: 1-731-852-3417

Decatur County Clerk
Marriage records
Phone: 1-731-852-3417

Decatur County Register of Deeds
Land records
Phone: 1-731-852-3712

Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
Phone: 1-731-852-3125

Mon.-Tues. and Thurs.-Fri.8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Wed. and Sat. 8 a.m.-noon


U.S. Naval Officer Stephen Decatur (1779-1820)

The county is named after U.S. naval officer Stephen Decatur (1779-1820).[2]

Parent County

1845--Decatur County was created November 1845 from Perry County. 
County seat: Decaturville [3]

County Pronunciation

Hear it spoken [4]

Did we get the accent right? If not, contact Nathan W. Murphy, murphynw@familysearch.org.

Boundary Changes

"Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free at the My Tennessee Genealogy website. They rely on AniMap 3.0 software.

Record Loss

1869 and 1927 -- Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.

  • Marriages lost 1845 to 1869
  • Probate lost 1845 to 1869
  • Nearly all records, except deeds, lost in 1869 fire.[5]
For further information on researching in burned counties, see the following:

Places / Localities

Populated Places

Cities and Towns:

Bath Springs
Bible Hill
Dixie Mills
Five Forks
Hickory Forks
Lick Skillet
Mount Carmel
Mount Lebanon
Mount Tabor
Pleasant Grove
Pleasant Hill
Point Pleasant
Presley Ridge
Red Walnut
Scotts Hill
Sugar Tree
Yellow Springs

Neighboring Counties


Getting Started

Use the free Search for Surnames at Mountain Press's website to quickly search a variety of published Decatur 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 Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans


Tennessee cemetery records often identify birth, death, relationship, and military information, as well as religious affiliation.

The following websites may contain Decatur County cemetery records:

  • Find A Grave can be searched by the name of a person or family to find where a person is buried. Usually gives birth and death dates often with a picture of the tombstone. May give obituaries, names of family members and links to their information in Find A Grave.
  • Some of the books on Decatur County cemeteries may be on Google Books or available at public libraries.


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



  • Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara 1880 Census, Decatur County, Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee : B. Sistler and Associates, c1993 FHL US/CAN book 976.832 X2


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.

  • Decatur County Church Records
- Family History Library Catalog - Decatur County Church Records
  • Church histories tell when a church started in the area, who the early members were, give data about church leaders, etc.
  • If the records you need are not found in the Family History Library collection, contact the church(es) in the area where your ancestor lived.  Two sites that give information about churches in Bedford County are:
- List of Decatur County churches with addresses and phone numbers (Yellowbook)
- List of Decatur County churches (TN HomeTownLocator)

  • In 1936, a helpful guide to early Decatur County church records was published by the Works Project Administration. [6]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 Decatur County are listed. Many of these filmed records are also available at the Family History Library.



Template:DNA DNA has been collected from men claiming descent from the following Decatur County residents. Attempts have not been made to verify the lineages of those tested.

  • [Doss] Multiple descendants of Rev. John Wesley Doss, b. abt 1809 Virginia, resident of Decatur and Carroll counties, Tennessee. Y-DNA 37 and 67 Marker Tests, FTDNA (Kits 40282, 88650). Genetic signatures available online (labeled Jw-1 and Jw-2), genealogical description available online, courtesy: The Doss DNA Project, World Families. Matches have been found.

Family Histories

It is anticipated that 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 Decatur County, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 10,000 entries.

  • Decatur County, Tennessee History and Families. Paducah, Ky.: Turner's Publishing Co. Publisher's description.



Decatur County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1846 and is located at 22 West Main Street, Decaturville, Tennessee 38329, or P.O. Box 488, Decaturville, TN 38329-0488; Telephone: 731-852-3712. Land and property records may include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries.
The Family History Library has microfilmed deed records 1846-1896 with indexes to 1926 and survey books 1891-1918.

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. 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



War of 1812


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 Decatur County click on the following cities or towns:


  • Miller, Alan N. West Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1821 to 1889. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2006. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2man. Purchase at Genealogical.com. [Includes Decatur County.]


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 Decatur 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.
Family Findings
Genealogical articles with abstracts of Decatur County, Tennessee records have been published in Family Findings, the quarterly of the Mid-West Tennessee Genealogical Society (42+ vols.). The Family History Library has most issues of this quarterly FHL US/CAN 976.8 B2f.
Tables of contents for some volumes are available online, courtesy: TNGenWeb Project:
Many articles from this publication have been reproduced on the TNGenWeb Project website, try this specialized Google search.
West Tennessee Historical Society Papers
Family History Library has Volumes 1 - 16 and 30 FHL US/CAN Book 976.81 B5w. The West Tennessee Historical Society Papers are indexed in PERiodical Source Index (PERSI)
To view Table of Contents and complete articles from 1947 - 2005 see Shelby County Register of Deeds


Learn if your Decatur County ancestors went to prison!


Probate records are court records created after an individual’s death that relate to a court’s decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of any dependents. You may find the names of married daughters or other relatives and their residences; or information about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. Probate records do not always give an exact date of death, but the death usually occurred within a few months of probate. These documents are important to family history researchers, because they usually exist for time periods before civil birth and death records were kept.

The County Court has responsibility for the probate records of Decatur County.


The original Decatur County Tax Books 1888-1889, 1896-1898 are kept at the County Courthouse. In the 1970s, the TSLA microfilmed these records. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Film 979664.

The following Decatur County tax records have been abstracted:[7]

  • [1848] "1849 Land Sales Held in 3 West Tennessee Counties for Unpaid Taxes," [1848 taxpayers in Decatur, Carroll, and Henderson counties], Ansearchin' News, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Winter 1997):12. For FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Periodicals.
  • [1852-1882] Hill, Phyllis. "Decatur County, TN - Misc - Tax Receipts of W.G. Riggs," available online, courtesy: USGenWeb Archives. [Abstracts of receipts Riggs received for paying his taxes, various years between 1852 and 1882.]
  • [1888] Hill, Phyllis. "Decatur County, TN - Land - Property Tax Records, District 12, 1888," available online, courtesy: USGenWeb Archives.
  • [1889] Hill, Phyllis. "Decatur County, TN - Land - Property Tax Records, District 12, 1889," available online, courtesy: USGenWeb Archives.
  • [1896] Hill, Phyllis. "Decatur County, TN - Land - Property Tax Records, District 12, 1896," available online, courtesy: USGenWeb Archives.

Vital Records


Marriages were not officially recorded in Decatur County until 1838, when a law was passed mandating the practice.[8] The following publication, based on early newspapers, helps to alleviate this genealogical obstacle:

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

The following Decatur County Courthouse marriage records have been abstracted and/or indexed:

  • [1869-1898] Historical Records Project Marriage records, 1869-1898, Decatur County, Tennessee Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1939. FHL US/CAN Film 24638 items 3-7,11
  • [1869-1921, 1927-1992] Alexander, Fred and Margie Early marriage records of Decatur County, Tennessee Decaturville, Tennessee : F. Alexander, [1987?] FHL US/CAN Book 976.832 V2a volume 1 and 2 "Early Marriage Records of Decatur County, Tennessee covered all recorded marriages from 1869 to 1921. A fire on March 25, 1927 destroyed all records between March 23, 1921 and March 25, 1927. This book begins with the records following the fire and continues through the year 1992."
  • [1869-1921, 1927-1959] Decatur County (Tennessee) County Court Clerk Marriages (Decatur County, Tennessee), 1869-1921, 1927-1959 Nashville, Tennessee : Tennessee State Library and Archives and History, [197-?]-1988. FHL US/CAN Films 979648-650, 979652 items 1-2, 1928661-663
  • RecordSearch at FamilySearch now includes indexed Tennessee marriages.  This is a free pilot site and still under construction.  At this time, it is best to search from the home page titled Discover Your Ancestors; indicate a surname, marriage "event" and a county name (i.e. Decatur, Tennessee).  Browse through the results for that surname. You may need to supply any variant spellings of the surname in separate searches.
  • Many county marriage records are indexed with images at Ancestry's Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 ($).  Be aware that this index is not complete for all counties.

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Decatur County divorce papers in diverse manuscript collections, see:

  • 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.

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

Societies and Libraries

Decatur County Public Library
20 W Market St
Decaturville, TN 38329
Phone: 1-731-852-3325
E-mail: dcldsl@tds.net
Mon., Thurs., Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tues. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Wed. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sat. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The Tennessee Room holds birth and marriage records, census records, cemetery records, county histories, military records, county deeds, court minutes, newspapers, etc. The director of the Library has volunteered to take pictures of headstones in Decatur county. Check out the Library's website for more information.
Parsons Public Library
535 Tennessee Ave South
Parsons, TN 38363
Phone: 1-731-847-6988
E-mail: parsonslib@netease.net
Mon., Thurs., Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tues. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Wed. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sat. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Decatur County Historical Society
PO Box 700
Decaturville, TN 38329-0700.
West Tennessee Heritage Study Center
Paul Meek Library
University of Tennessee at Martin
Phone: 1-731-881-7060
Hours vary by semester
The Heritage Study Center holds 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, Fulton, and Hickman counties in Kentucky.
West Tennessee Historical Society
P.O. Box 111046
Memphis, TN 38111
Phone: 1-901-475-6608
E-mail: efrank@memphis.edu

Web Sites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Decatur County, Tennessee


  1. 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.
  2. "List of counties in Tennessee", Wikipedia.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 639. (FHL Collection Ref Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  4. Voice of Louise Lynch, Archivist, Williamson County, Tennessee Archives (2010).
  5. Robert M. McBride, Tennessee County Data (Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee States Library and Archives, 1966), 20.
  6. WPA. Guide to Church Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville: Tennessee State Planning Commission, 1942. FHL 976.8 K23w
  7. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  8. Gale Williams Bamman, C.G., "Research in Tennessee," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 2 (June 1993):105. FHL US/CAN Book 973 B2ng v. 81 (1993)