Lake County, Tennessee Genealogy

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United States Gotoarrow.png Tennessee Gotoarrow.png Lake County

Lake County, Tennessee genealogy and family history research page. Guide to Lake County (established 1870) 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.

Hand and keyboard.jpg Tennessee
Online Records

Lake County, Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded June 24, 1870
County Seat Tiptonville
Address Lake County Courthouse]
229 Church Street
Tiptonville,TN 38079-1162
Phone: 1-731-253-8926
Lake County Website

Quick Dates

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

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1908 1883 1908 1870 1870 1871

County Courthouse 

Lake County Courthouse, Tiptonville, Tenn.

Lake County Courthouse
229 Church Street
Tiptonville,TN 38079-1162
Phone: 1-731-253-8926

County Clerk has probate records from 1870 and marriage records from 1883. Clerk Chancery and Circuit Court have divorce records.
Registrar and Tax Assessor have land records. [2]

Genealogy mail requests are forwarded to the County Historian

Mon., Wed. and Fri. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Thurs. 8 a.m.-Noon


Reelfoot Lake, Lake and Obion counties, Tenn.

West Tennessee county. Established 1870.

The county is named after Reelfoot Lake.[3]

Parent County

1870--Lake County was created 24 June 1870 from Obion County. 
County seat: Tiptonville [4]

County Pronunciation

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

Boundary Changes

County boundaries have not changed since its creation.

"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

Some county records were discarded and passed to the keeping of a private citizen. In 1995 they were given to the University of Tennessee at Martin, where they are now among the manuscript holdings. These include: Tiptonville city record book 1900-1926 (MS 61); Lake County licenses, registers, and misc records 1896-1920 (MS 62); Lake County tax record ledgers 1875-1915 (MS 63).

  • Lost census: 1890
  • Lost marriage records: 1870 to 1883

Although these are not burned records, applying strategies used for burned counties may aid in compensating for their loss. For further information on researching in burned counties, see the following:


Populated Places

Bessie Four Points Mooring Ridgely
Blue Bank Grays Camp New Markham Tiptonville
Cates Hathaway Owl City Wright
Cottonwood Grove Haynes Owl Hoot Wynnburg
Cronanville Keefe Phillippy
Estes Pond Madie Proctor City

Neighboring Counties



Research Guides

African American

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans


  • Douthat, James L. Lake 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.


1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population censuses of Lake 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


  • Sistler, Samuel D. 1880 census Lake County, Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee : Byron Sistler and Associates, 2002 FHL US/CAN book 976.812 X2

1890 - Lost, but 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. 3 1891. [Lake County is included in Vol. 3.]
  • 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.



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 Lake, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 2,500 entries.

  • Lake County Historical Society. History and Families Lake County, Tennessee: 1870-1992. Paducah, Ky.: Turner Pub. Co., 1993. FHL US/CAN Book 976.812 H2h.



  • Lake County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1870 and is located at Courthouse, 116 S. Court, Tiptonville, Tennessee 38079; Telephone: (731) 253-7582. Land and property records include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries
  • The Family History Library has microfilmed copies on deeds 1870-1914 with indexes 1870-1969; and land entry books 1893-1929.

Local Histories



War of 1812

There were no War of 1812 pensioners or widows of pensioners living in Lake County on 2 January 1883.[7]

Civil War

Civil War service men from Lake 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 Lake County.

Confederate Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Lake County:

Civil War Battle

The following Civil War Battle was fought in Lake County

February 28-April 8, 1862 = New Madrid/Island No. 10[8]

Map showing Civil War battles in Missouri


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 Lake 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 [Includes Lake 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:

Family Findings
Genealogical articles with abstracts of Lake 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. Volume 2, No. 4 (Oct. 1970) was a special issue devoted to Lake County records in honor of its centennial anniversary.
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 to retrieve them.
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


The County Court has responsibility for the probate records of Lake 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, 1871-1943
  • Bonds, Letters, 1896-1940 (2 vols.)
  • Settlements, 1872-1916


The original Lake County Tax Books 1878-1879 are kept at the County Courthouse. In 1976, TSLA microfilmed these records. FHL copy: FHL US/CAN Film 1007798 Item 2.

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

  • [1891] Moore, Leslie. "Lake County, Tennessee 1891 Voter's List," Districts 1-4 available online, courtesy TNGenWeb.

Vital Records


Marriages were not officially recorded in Lake County during the first few years of its existence. In 1838, a law was passed mandating the practice.[10] 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 976.8 V2L.

The following Lake County Courthouse marriage records have been indexed:

  • 1883-1895 - Lake County Marriage Index 1883-1895 in International Genealogical Index at FamilySearch - free.[11]
  • 1883-1953 - Lake County, Tennessee County Court Clerk Marriage bonds (Lake County, Tennessee), 1883-1953 Nashville, Tennessee : Tennessee State Library and Archives, 1976-1988. FHL US/CAN Film 1007781-83and 1928747
  • 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.

For deaths of Methodists in Lake County (or what became Lake County) between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:

Societies and Libraries

Lake County Historical Society
122 LeDuke St.
Tiptonville, TN 38079

Ridgely Public Library
134 N Main St.
Ridgley, TN 38080
Phone: 1-731-264-5809
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 1-5 p.m.

Tiptonville Public Library
126 Tipton St.
Tiptonville, TN 38079
Phone: 1-731-253-7391
E-mail: tipvle@bellsouthnet
Hours:  Mon - Fri 12:30 - 5 pm

West Tennessee Heritage Study Center
Paul Meek Library
University of Tennessee at Martin
Phone: 1-731-881-7094
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

Family History Centers

Web Sites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Lake County, Tennessee


  1. "Earliest County Records," Tennessee State Library and Archives.
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Lake County, Tennessee page 641, At various libr40ries (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), 641. (FHL Collection Ref Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  5. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  6. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  7. Heritage Preservation Services, War of 1812 fckLRfckLRThere were no War of 1812 pensioners or widows of pensioners living in Lake County on 2 January 1883.<ref>Hermione D. Embry, "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Oct. 1960):90-93. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 7 (1960); digital version at [ journal website. [Discussion of Lake County on page 92.]
  8. Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State, (accessed 15 August 2012)
  9. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  10. Gale Williams Bamman, C.G., "Research in Tennessee," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 2 (June 1993):105. FHL 973 B2ng v. 81
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at