Difference between revisions of "Decatur County, Tennessee Genealogy"

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*Decatur County Church Records
*Decatur County Church Records
:- Family History Library Catalog - {{FHL|524631|subject-id|disp=Decatur County Church Records}}
:- FamilySearch Catalog - {{FHL|524631|subject-id|disp=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.
*Church histories tell when a church started in the area, who the early members were, give data about church leaders, etc.
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*[http://www.kqzyfj.com/41100y1A719PSRVZRWQPRQUXRWTR?sid=familysearchwikiGenForum&url=http://genforum.com/tn/decatur/ Decatur County, TN Genealogy Forum] (GenForum)  
*[http://www.kqzyfj.com/41100y1A719PSRVZRWQPRQUXRWTR?sid=familysearchwikiGenForum&url=http://genforum.com/tn/decatur/ Decatur County, TN Genealogy Forum] (GenForum)  
*[http://www.tngenweb.org/decatur/ Decatur County, TNGenWeb] (USGenWeb)  
*[http://www.tngenweb.org/decatur/ Decatur County, TNGenWeb] (USGenWeb)  
*{{FHL|Tennessee%2C+Decatur|subject|disp=Family History Library Catalog}} (FamilySearch)  
*{{FHL|Tennessee%2C+Decatur|subject|disp=FamilySearch Catalog}} (FamilySearch)  
*[http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/usa/TN/decatur.html Mailing List: TNDECATU-L (Decatur County, Tennessee List)] (RootsWeb)  
*[http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/usa/TN/decatur.html Mailing List: TNDECATU-L (Decatur County, Tennessee List)] (RootsWeb)  
*[http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/usa/TN/misc.html#WEST-TNCHAT Mailing List: WEST-TNCHAT-L (West Tennessee Chat List)] (RootsWeb)  
*[http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/usa/TN/misc.html#WEST-TNCHAT Mailing List: WEST-TNCHAT-L (West Tennessee Chat List)] (RootsWeb)  

Revision as of 00:18, 19 July 2014

United States Gotoarrow.png Tennessee Gotoarrow.png Decatur County

Decatur County, Tennessee genealogy and family history research page. Guide to Decatur County (established 1845) 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.

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Online Records
Decatur County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Decatur County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Decatur County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: 1845
County Seat Decaturville
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Decatur County Tennessee Quick Dates

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

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

Decatur County Tennessee Courthouse

Decatur County Courthouse
 PO Box 488;
Decaturville, TN 38329-0488
Phone: 731.852.3417 

County Clerk has marriage records from 1869.
Register of Deeds has land records. [2]

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

Decatur County Tennessee History

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

West Tennessee county.

The county is named after U.S. naval officer Stephen Decatur (1779-1820).[3]

Parent County

1845--Decatur County was created November 1845 from Perry County. 
County seat: Decaturville [4]

County Pronunciation

  1. Hear it spoken[5] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[6] (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

For a list of record loss in Tennessee counties see: Tennessee Counties with Burned Courthouses


1869 and 1927 -- Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.[7]

  • Marriages lost 1845 to 1869
  • Probate lost 1845 to 1869
  • Nearly all records, except deeds, lost in 1869 fire.[8]

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

Decatur County Tennessee 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
{{FHL|Tennessee%2C+Decatur%2C+Scotts+Hill|subject|disp=Scotts Hill}}
{{FHL|Tennessee%2C+Decatur%2C+Surgar+Tree|subject|disp=Sugar Tree}}
Yellow Springs

Neighboring Counties

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy Resources


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, 1930, and 1940 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
- FamilySearch 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. [9]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.



More than a dozen genealogies have been published about Decatur County, Tennessee Genealogy families. To view a list, visit Decatur County, Tennessee Genealogy.


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

Civil War

Civil War service men from Decatur 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 Decatur County.

Confederate Soldiers 

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Decatur 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 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!


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

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, 1869-1927 (Vol. 1)
  • Bonds, 1869-1975
  • Bonds, Letters, 1869-1930 (3 vols.)
  • Insolvent estate records, 1869-1941
  • Inventories, 1869-1905
  • Settlements, 1869-1913 (4 vols.)


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:[10]

  • [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

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


Marriages were not officially recorded in Decatur County until 1838, when a law was passed mandating the practice.[12] 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 indexed:

  • 1869-1895 - Decatur County Marriage Index 1869-1895 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch - free.[11]
  • 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
  • Tennessee County Marriages, 1790-1950 - covers all counties in Tennessee.
  • 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:

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy Societies and Libraries

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

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

Family History Centers

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy Websites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Decatur County, Tennessee

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy References

  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. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Decatur County, Tennessee page 639, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. "List of counties in Tennessee", Wikipedia.
  4. 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.
  5. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  6. Voice of Louise Lynch, Archivist, Williamson County, Tennessee Archives (2010).
  7. Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State (accessed 31 March 2014).
  8. Robert M. McBride, Tennessee County Data (Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee States Library and Archives, 1966), 20.
  9. WPA. Guide to Church Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville: Tennessee State Planning Commission, 1942. FHL 976.8 K23w
  10. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/images/6/60/Igitennesseea.pdf.
  12. 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)