Fayette County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Fayette County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Fayette County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Fayette County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: September 29, 1824
County Seat Somerville
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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Tennessee  Gotoarrow.png  Fayette County

West Tennessee county. Established 1824.

Quick Dates

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

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1924 1848  1925  1830 1838  1846 

County Courthouse

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

Fayette County Courthouse
P.O. Box 218
1 Court Square
Somerville, TN 38068-0218
Phone: 1-901-465-5219

Fayette County Clerk
Birth and Death 1925-1929
Marriage from 1838 except 1918 - 1925 lost in fire
P.O. Box 218
1 Court Square, Room 101
Somerville, TN 38068
Phone 1-901-465-5213

Fayette County Register of Deeds
Land records
P.O. Box 99
1 Court Square
Somerville, TN 38068
Phone: 1-901-465-5251

County Chancery Court-Clerk and Master
Court records
P.O. Box 220
Somerville, TN 38068
Phone: 1-901-465-5217

Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.


The Marquis de Lafayette

The county is named after Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834).[2]

Parent County

1824--Fayette County was created 29 September 1824 from Hardeman and Shelby Counties.
County seat: Somerville[3]

County Pronunciation

  1. Hear it spoken[4] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[5] (male)

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

1925 -- Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.

  • Lack of marriage records: 1824 to 1837
  • Lost probate records: 1824 to 1836
For further information on researching in burned counties, see the following:

Places / Localities

Populated Places 

For a list of locations in this county and information about each location online, through some helpful websites, please click on Populated Places Table for Fayette County

Neighboring Counties


Research Guides

African American

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans

The Runaway Slave Blog is a free online resource where runaway slaves listed in pre-1865 West Tennessee newspapers are identified. Some of the runaway ads appeared in Fayette County newspapers.


  • Douthat, James L. Fayette County, Tennessee Biographies. 1887; reprint, Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press. Free Surname Index and purchase details at Mountain Press website.


  • 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.


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

1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners


  • Carpenter, Mrs. V.K. Seventh census of the United States, 1850 : Fayette County, Tennessee, free population schedules Huntsville, Arkansas : Century Enterprises, 1969 FHL US/CAN book 976.821 X2


  • Felldin, Jeanne Robey and Tucker, Charlotte Magee 1860 United States census, Fayette County, Tennessee, surname index Tomball, Texas : Genealogical Publications, c1976 FHL US/CAN book 976.8 A1


  • Sistler, Samuel D. 1880 census, Fayette County, Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee : Byron Sistler and Associates, 2003 FHL US/CAN book 976.821 X22


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.

  • Fayette County Church Records
- Family History Library Catalog - Fayette County Church Records
  • 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 Fayette County are:
- List of Fayette County churches with addresses and phone numbers (Yellowbook)
- List of Fayette County churches (TN HomeTownLocator)
  • In 1936, a helpful guide to early Fayette 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 Fayette County are listed. Many of these filmed records are also available at the Family History Library.


  • [1832-1901] Mt. Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church Records. Fayette County, 1832-1901. Manuscript. TSLA Reel #361
  • [1832-1900] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Vital Statistics from 19th Century Tennessee Church Records.Nashville: Sitler and Associates, 1979.  FHL 976.8 K29s vol.2   Index to original Mt. Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church Records. Fayette County, 1832-1901.


  • [1890-1970] Moscow Methodist Church Records. Fayette County, 1890-1970. Typescript. TSLA Reel #360
  • [1890-1900] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Vital Statistics from 19th Century Tennessee Church Records.Nashville: Sitler and Associates, 1979.FHL 976.8 K29s vol.2   Index to original Moscow Methodist Church Records. Fayette County, 1890-1970.
  • Historical Records Project. Immanuel Episcopal Church Minutes, La Grange, Tennessee.Typescript. FHL 24645 Includes index.
  • Historical Records Project. St. Thomas Episcopal Church Minutes and history, Somerville, Tennessee. Typescript. FHL 24645 Item 1


  • [1847-1935] Church Records 1847-1935. Mount Pleasant Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Fayette County, Tennessee). Manuscript. TSLA Reel #225 FHL 570860 Item 2



DNA Double Helix.png
DNA has been collected from men claiming descent from the following Fayette County residents. Attempts have not been made to verify the lineages of those tested.
  • [Brown] Descendant of Robert Brown, b. 1790s, d. 1833 Fayette County, Tennessee. Y-DNA 67 Marker Test, FTDNA (Kit 15512). Genetic signature available online (labeled Group No. 29), genealogical description available online, courtesy: Brown/Browne/Braun DNA Study. 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 Fayette, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 10,000 entries.

  • Matthews, Paul A. Early Families of the Memphis Area: Profiles of 135 Families of Fayette, Shelby and Tipton Counties in Tennessee, Crittenden County, Arkansas and DeSoto and Marshall Counties in Mississippi: With Historical Time Lines and Photographs of Those Counties. Memphis, Tennessee: Descendants of Early Settlers of Shelby and Adjoining Counties, 2008. FHL US/CAN Book 976 D2m.


  • [Alexander] Irwin, Frank Lewis. The Irwins and Their Kinfolk the Alexanders and Crawfords Who were Early Settlers (1837) in Fayette County, Tennessee. MSS., Fayette County Library.[7]
  • [Allen] Moore, Elizabeth Allen. The Allens of Fayette County, Tennessee and Related Families. 1980.
  • [Burrows] Burrows, George H. Burrows. Memphis, Tenn.: G.H. Burrows, [1996?]. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 B946bg.
  • [Crawford] Irwin, Frank Lewis. The Irwins and Their Kinfolk the Alexanders and Crawfords Who were Early Settlers (1837) in Fayette County, Tennessee. MSS., Fayette County Library.[8]
  • [Irwin] Irwin, Frank Lewis. The Irwins and Their Kinfolk the Alexanders and Crawfords Who were Early Settlers (1837) in Fayette County, Tennessee. MSS., Fayette County Library.[9]
  • [Ivy] Hamilton, Hance H. The Genealogy of the Ivy/Ivey Family of Hickory With, Tennessee. 1998.
  • [Jones] Shaw, Dan. Mange and Jennie Jordan Jones: The Saga of a Fayette County Couple. 1995.
  • [McCraw] McCraw, Carol J., Joy Rushing, and Joyce AuBuchon. It is McCraw Not McGraw. Bountiful, Utah: Family History Publishers, Inc., 1998.
  • [Reeve] See Rives.
  • [Rives, Rivers] Morris, Whitmore. The Descendants of William Christopher Rives and Mary Rivers. San Antonio, TX: Unknown, 1934. Available at FHL US/CAN Film 873458; digital version at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • [Rogers] Rogers, Robert W. Rogers Genealogy with Ancestry of Rogers Families at Belmont; District 4, Fayette County, Mason, Tennessee. 1982. Available at Fayette County Library. [10]
  • [Thurman] Thurman, John P. John P. and Sallie Ecklin Thurman Papers1884-1896. Southern Historical Collection, Manuscripts Department, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Free digital copy.
  • [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, courtesy: Internet Archive.


Fayette County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1825 and is located at Courthouse, P. O. Box 99, Somerville, Tennessee 8068-0218; Telephone: (901) 465-5251. Land and property records include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries.

The Family History has microfilm copies od deed books 1825- 1890 and land entries 1821-1881.

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



Revolutionary War

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

Additional resources include:

War of 1812

Civil War


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 Fayette County click on the following 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 Fayette 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 Fayette 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 Fayette 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 Fayette 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 Fayette County.

The following Fayette County probate records have been indexed:

  • [1836-1861] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Index to Tennessee Wills & Administrations 1779-1861. Nashville, Tenn. Byron Sistler & Associates, Inc., 1990. FHL US/CAN 976.8 P22s. [Includes an index to this county's probate records.]


The following Fayette County tax records have been abstracted:

  • [1836] West, Betsy F. "Fayette County, Tennessee Tax List - 1836," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring 1975):30-35; Vol. 22, No. 2 (Summer 1975):90-95; Vol. 22, No. 3 (Fall 1975):140-144; Vol. 22, No. 4 (Winter 1975):188-192. For FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Periodicals.
  • [1874] Taxpayers, 1874, Old Timer Press. Ripley MS: Mar 1982. Vol. 1 Iss. 9.

Vital Records


Marriages were not officially recorded in Fayette County until 1838, when a law was passed mandating the practice.[11] 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 Fayette County Courthouse marriage records have been abstracted and/or indexed:

  • [1838-1857] Historical Records Project Marriage records, 1838-1857, Fayette County, Tennessee Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1939. FHL US/CAN Film 24645 items 3-6
  • [1838-1963] Fayette County (Tennessee) County Court Clerk Marriage records (Fayette County, Tennessee), 1838-1963 Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1976-1997. FHL US/CAN Films
  • [1838-1873] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Early West Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. Nashville, Tenn.: B. Sistler & Associates, 1989. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 V2sb v. 1 ff. [Indexes names of brides and grooms, and marriage dates for weddings in this county for the specified years.]
  • 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 Fayette 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 Fayette County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:

Societies and Libraries

Fayette County Historical Society
PO Box 304
Somerville, TN 38068
Somerville-Fayette County Library
216 W Market St
Somerville, TN 38068
Phone: 1-901-465-5248
Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thurs. 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
The Historical Room contains county records, state records, family histories, obituaries, cemetery records, and church records
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: 901-475-6608
E-mail: efrank@memphis.edu

Family History Centers

Web Sites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Fayette 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 Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  5. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  6. WPA. Guide to Church Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville: Tennessee State Planning Commission, 1942. FHL 976.8 K23w
  7. Fayette County, Tennessee: A Partial Bibliography, updated 12/30/2002.
  8. Fayette County, Tennessee: A Partial Bibliography, updated 12/30/2002.
  9. Fayette County, Tennessee: A Partial Bibliography, updated 12/30/2002.
  10. Fayette County, Tennessee: A Partial Bibliography, updated 12/30/2002.
  11. 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)