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Decatur County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Guide to Decatur County, Tennessee ancestry, family history and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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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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Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for Stephen Decatur, Jr., who gained national recognition in the First Barbary War, the Second Barbary War, and the War of 1812 by his leadership and achievements at sea. The County is located in the west central area of the state. [1]

Decatur County, Tennessee Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1881 1869 1908 1860 1846 1869 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

Decatur County Tennessee Courthouse[edit | edit source]


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

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. [3]

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[edit | edit source]

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

West Tennessee county.

The county is named after U.S. naval officer Stephen Decatur (1779-1820).[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1845--Decatur County was created November 1845 from Perry County. 
County seat: Decaturville [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

  1. Hear it spoken[6] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[7] (female)

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

[For animated maps illustrating Tennessee county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]


1869 and 1927 Courthouse burned and many records were damaged.[8]

  • Marriages lost 1845 to 1869
  • Probate lost 1845 to 1869
  • Nearly all records, except deeds, lost in 1869 fire.[9]

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

Decatur County Tennessee Places / Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[10]

Unincorporated communities

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy Resources[edit | edit source]

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county WorldCat
TNGenWeb BillionGraves
TNGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Tombstone Project Gravestones
TNGenWeb Cemeteries Epodunk
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.

Census[edit | edit source]

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®

Church[edit | edit source]

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 (Guide to Church Vital Statistics in Tennessee, also FHL 976.8 K23w) was published by the Works Project Administration. 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.

Court[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]

More than a dozen genealogies have been published about Decatur County, Tennessee families. For more information visit Decatur County, Tennessee Compiled Genealogies.

Land[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

  • 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[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Carroll CountyBenton CountyHumphreys CountyPerry CountyWayne CountyHardin CountyHenderson CountyTN DECATUR.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military[edit | edit source]

War of 1812[edit | edit source]
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. 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:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

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:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • 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 Decatur County.

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

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

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Learn if your Decatur County, Tennessee Genealogy ancestors went to prison!

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

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

Online Records

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.)

Taxation[edit | edit source]

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:[11]

  • 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[edit | edit source]

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

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriage[edit | edit source]

Marriages were not officially recorded in Decatur County until 1838, when a law was passed mandating the practice.[13] The following publication, based on early newspapers, helps to alleviate this genealogical obstacle:

The following Tennessee marriage records have been indexed:

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.[14]
  • 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 This book 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. The book then 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
Divorce[edit | edit source]

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.
Death[edit | edit source]

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

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

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
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
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

Family History Centers
[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Decatur County, Tennessee

Decatur County Tennessee Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Decatur, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 18 Dec 2018
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Decatur County, Tennessee. Page 638-645 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 637-640.
  3. 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.
  4. "List of counties in Tennessee", Wikipedia.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 639. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  7. Voice of Louise Lynch, Archivist, Williamson County, Tennessee Archives (2010).
  8. Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State (accessed 31 March 2014).
  9. Robert M. McBride, Tennessee County Data (Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee States Library and Archives, 1966), 20.
  10. Wikipedia contributors, "Decatur County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 12 November 2019.
  11. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  12. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  13. 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)
  14. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at