Van Buren County, Tennessee Genealogy

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Tennessee  Gotoarrow.png  Van Buren County

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Middle Tennessee county. Established 1840.

Location of Van Buren County
Van Buren County Boundary Map

Quick Dates

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

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1908  1840  1908  1840  1840  1840 

County Courthouse

Van Buren County Courthouse, Spencer, Tennessee.
Van Buren County Courthouse
Veterans' Square
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-2121

Van Buren County Clerk
Marriage and probate records
Birth records 1925-1938
Death records 1926-1938
500 College Street, Administrative building
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-2121

Van Buren County Register of Deeds
Land records
P.O. Box 9
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-7363

Van Buren County Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
P.O. Box 126
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-2153

Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.


President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)

The county is named after President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862).[2]

Parent County

1840--Van Buren County was established 3 January 1840 from White, Warren, and Bledsoe Counties. Early records may be found under White, Warren, and Bledsoe Counties.
County seat: Spencer [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

  • Census loss: 1890
  • Marriage record loss: Records from 1840, but incomplete.
  • Probate record loss: Records from 1840, but incomplete. [6]

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

Bone Cave Laurelburg Olio (hist.) Sparkman
Caneridge (hist.) Laurel Cove Phiferes Spencer
Chalybeate Lonewood Pine Creek Sweetgum
Cummingsville McElroy Pine Grove Welchland
Gillentine (hist.) Meade (hist.) Riverview White Hill
Harmony Mooneyham Sopha (hist.)

Neighboring Counties


Research Guides

African American

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans


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


Tennessee cemetery records often identify birth, death, relationship, and military information, as well as religious affiliation.
  • 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.
  • Van Buren Co. TN Cemetery Records, part of the TNGenWeb Cemetery Database, lists many cemeteries in the county, often with indexes and transcripts of the burials.


1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of Van Buren 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 Van Buren, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files and scanned images of census microfilm. [The USGenWeb Census Project®].


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1850. Spencer, Tennessee : Van Buren County Historical Society, 1982. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1850


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1860. Spencer, Tennessee : Van Buren County Historical Society, 1982. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1860


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1870. Spencer, Tennessee : Van Buren County Historical Society, 1982. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1870


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1880. Spencer, Tennessee : Van Buren County Historical Society, 1983. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1880
  • Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census Van Buren County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: B. Sistler and Associates, 1999. FHL 976.8657 X2s 1880


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1900. Spencer, Tennessee : Van Buren County Historical Society, 1983. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1900


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1910. Spencer, Tennessee : Van Buren County Historical Society, 1984. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1910


  • Young, Denise, ed.. Van Buren County, Tennessee Census, 1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. Available at Ancestry ($).




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

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 Van Buren, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 19,000 entries.



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.] 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 TSLA; another version is available at World Vital Records.

Local Histories



Revolutionary War

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

Additional resources include:

  • Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Washington, D.C., 1852. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969, and 1991. Reprints include "an Added Index to States." Digital version at Ancestry ($). Tennessee entries abstracted online at Tennesseans in the Revolutionary War, courtesy: TNGenWeb. [Includes veterans from this county; Tennessee section begins on page 381.]

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 Van Buren County pensioners (p. 98).]

Civil War

Native Americans

  • Walker, Opless and Landon D. Medley. Synthesis of Available Data Concerning Indians in Van Buren County, Tennessee. Doyle, Tenn.: Medley Research Group, 1985. FHL US/CAN Book 970.1 S78.


Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at 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 Van Buren County click on the following town:


  • Miller, Alan N. Middle Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1784 to 1902. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2ma. Purchase at [Includes Van Buren County.]
  • Tennesse Bureau of Agriculture, Statistics and Mines. Coal Mines and Mining--Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: A.B. Travel, 1883. Free digital copy.


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 Van Buren County, Tennessee records 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.
The Upper Cumberland Researcher
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Van Buren County, Tennessee have been published in The Upper Cumberland Researcher, the journal of the Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc. To view a list of the first 17 years of these articles, visit their online Seventeen Year Index to The Upper Cumberland Researcher (Vols. 1-17, 1975-1992). The Index contains a "Counties" section beginning on page 19. The Family History Library has most issues through the present FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2u (1975-1993) and FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2u (1994-present).
Van Buren County Journal
Family History Library US/CAN 976.8657 H2v
Van Buren County Historical Society has past journals for sale. Website includes table of contents for each journal.
Indexed in PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) Volumes 1 - 11 (1981 - 2000)


Learn if your Van Buren 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 Van Buren County Court has responsibility for the probate records.

The following Van Buren County probate records have been abstracted, indexed, or both:

  • [1840-1861] 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.]
  • USGenWeb's Van Buren County page has some will abstracts.


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

  • [1812] Combs-Coombs &c. "1812 Warren Co, Tennessee Tax Lists (A Start toward an Annotated List) Index and Search Engine," available online, courtesy: Combs-Coombs &c. Research Group and Warren Co., TNGenWeb. [Benjamin Lockhart's District includes the area that later became Van Buren County.]
  • [1891] Tax List, 1891, Van Buren County Historical Journal, Vol. 6 (1986).

Vital Records


The original Van Buren County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. Due to record loss, there are gaps in the marriage records of Van Buren County. Records are missing from May 1861-Aug 1866 and Sept 1878-Sept 1881.

The following Van Buren County marriage records are microfilmed:

  • [1841-1990] Available at the TSLA. With gaps: 1840-1915 can be interlibrary loaned.
  • [1840-1969] Available at the Family History Library. Each volume is indexed. FHL 583166

The following Van Buren County marriage records have been abstracted and/or indexed:

  • [1840-1861] Marriage Records, 1840-1861, Van Buren County, Tennessee.  Nashville: TSLA, Historical Records Project, 1940.  Typescript. FHL 24846 Item 2
  • [1840-1870] Lucas, Silas Emmett and Ella Lee Sheffield. 35,000 Tennessee Marriage Records and Bonds 1783-1870. 3 vols. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1981. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 V2t v. 1 ff. [Abstracts include names of brides, grooms, bondsmen, marriage bond dates, and officiators for weddings in this county for the roughly specified years. Marriage data taken from an index card file at TSLA. Authors do not specify whether or not the card index completely indexes this county's marriages.]
  • [1840-1875] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Early Middle Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. Nashville, Tenn.: B. Sistler & Associates, 1988. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 V2sb v. 2 ff. [Indexes names of brides and grooms, and marriage dates for weddings in this county for the specified years.]
  • [1840-1935] Rhinehart, Margret. Van Buren County marriage records : book I through book V, May 21, 1840 to September 2, 1935. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1983. FHL 976.8657 V2v
  • 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, Discover Your Ancestors: indicate a surname, marriage "event", no date, and a county name (i.e. Dickson, 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 many counties.
  • [1841-1860] Marriage Records. [8]
  • [1840-1850] Marriage Records: Early–1850. [9]

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Van Buren County divorce papers in diverse County Courthouse records that begin as early as 1840, 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 Van Buren County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:


  • Burritt Memorial Library
    P.O. Box 18
    427 College St.
    Spencer, TN 38585-0018 
    Phone: 1-931-946-2575
    Fax: 1-931-946-2575
    Van Buren County (Caney Fork Region)
    Hours: Mon. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Tues. 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Wed. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thurs. 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun. Closed
    The Burritt Memorial Library is on Facebook


Van Buren County Historical Society 
330 Baker Mountain Rd
Spencer, TN 38585
Publication: Semi-annual: Newsletter; Annual Van Buren County Journal; begun 1981. Table of contents online thru 1992

Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
PO Box 330948
Nashville, TN, USA 37203-7507
The society serves the 40 counties of middle Tennessee of which Van Buren County is one. It publishes The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, a quarterly containing articles of genealogical and historical interest. Little-known Tennessee records are published and indexed, along with family genealogies, Bible records and material submitted by members. There is an alphabetical Index to articles in the Journal 1988-summer 2005

Web Sites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Van Buren 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. "Martin Van Buren," Wikipedia.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 644. (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. Robert M. McBride, Tennessee County Data (Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee States Library and Archives, 1966), 47.
  7. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  8. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 2.) Does not circulate to Family History Centers.
  9. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1992. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 229.) Does not circulate to Family History Centers.