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

County Facts
County seat: Benton
Organized: November 28, 1839
Parent County(s): McMinn, Bradley[1]
Neighboring Counties
Bradley  • Cherokee (NC)  • Fannin (GA)  • McMinn  • Monroe  • Murray (GA)
See County Maps
Polk County Tennessee courthouse.jpg
Location Map
Location of Polk County, Tennessee.PNG
TGW 45x45.jpg This user is a member of TNGenWeb Project, an organization that has adopted some pages in the wiki.

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for then-governor and future president James K. Polk. The County is located in the southeast area of the state. [2]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Polk County Courthouse
6239 Highway 411
Benton, TN 37307
Polk County Courthouse Phone: 423-338-4522
Polk County Clerk Phone: 423-338-4526
Polk County Register of Deeds Phone: 423-338-3100
Polk County Clerk of Court Phone: 423-338-4524
Register of Deeds has land records.
County Clerk has marriage and probate records. [3]

County Pronunciation

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

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

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[6]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1908 1894 1908 1840 1894 1873 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

1895 and 1935 Fires damaged courthouse records.[7]

  • Lost deeds: 1839 to 1893
  • Lost marriage records: 1839 to 1893
  • Lost probate records: 1839 to 1872

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

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

  • 1839--Polk County was established 28 November 1839 from McMinn and Bradley Counties. Early records may be found under McMinn and Bradley Counties.
  • County seat: Benton[8]

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

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

Apalachia Coletown Maggies Mill Postelle
Archville Columbus (hist.) McAllister Hill Probst
Austral Conasauga McFarland Reesetown
Ball Play Copperhill McGeetown Reliance
Belltown Delano McHarg Rymers
Belltown Hill Ducktown Newtown Servilla
Benton Farner Oak Grove Staffordtown
Benton Springs Fetzerton (hist.) Ocoee Stewardtown
Benton Station Grassy Creek Old Patty Sylco
Boonville (hist.) Grief (hist.) Oldfort Towee
Camp Ocoee Hambright Parksville Turtletown
Caney Creek Harbuck Patterson Mill Wetmore
Chable (hist.) Isabella Patty Willis Springs
Chanceytown Linsdale Pine Ridge

History Timeline[edit | edit source]

President James Knox Polk (1795-1849)

Additional Information
East Tennessee county.

The county is named after President James Knox Polk (1795-1849).[9]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

Business, Commerce, and Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • Miller, Alan N. East Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1778 to 1911. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2000. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2m. Digital version at World Vital Records ($). Purchase at Includes Polk County.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of Polk County, Tennessee online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.


Additional Cemetery Resources

Census Records[edit | edit source]

1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of Polk 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 Polk County, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project®.



1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners


1850 Agricultural Census

  • Green, Linda L. Tennessee 1850 Agricultural Census. 2 vols. Woodbridge, Va.: L.L. Green, 2000. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2g v. 1 ff. Polk County is included in Vol. 1.




  • Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census, Polk County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: Byron Sistler & Associates, 1991. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2s 1880. Free Lookups Available!

1891 Male Voters


  • Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society. Polk County, Tennessee 1900 U.S. Census. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2000. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2p 1900.


  • Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society. Polk County, Tennessee 1910 U.S. Census. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2000. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2p 1910.



  • Presswood, Marian Bailey and Jo Ann Finnell. Polk County 1930 U.S. Census. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society, 2003. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 X2p 1930.

Church Records[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.

  • Polk County Church Records
- FamilySearch Catalog - Polk County Church Records
  • Church histories tell when a church started in the area, who the early members were, give data about church leaders, etc.
- FamilySearch Catalog - Polk County Church History
  • If the records you need are not through the Family History Library, contact the church(es) in the area where your ancestor lived.Two sites that give information about churches in Polk County are:
- List of Polk County churches with addresses and phone numbers (Yellowbook)
- List of Polk County churches (TN HomeTownLocator)


  • 1879-1943 Old Friendship Baptist Church Records. Polk County, 1879-1943.TSLA Reel #348 FHL 840019
  • 1879-1900 Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Vital Statistics from 19th Century Tennessee Church Records. Nashville: Sitler and Associates, 1979. FHL 976.8 K29s vol.1 Index to original Old Friendship Baptist Church Records. Polk County, 1879-1943.

Court Records[edit | edit source]

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.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Funeral Homes[edit | edit source]

Genealogies[edit | edit source]


  • The Heritage of Polk County, Tennessee, 1839-1997. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County Historical and Genealogical Society (Tennessee), 1997. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 H2h.
  • Baily - Baily Family Bible Records, ca. 1838-1958. MSS., FHL US/CAN Film 1697633 Item 8.
  • Barnes - See Longley.
  • Cantrell - See Longley.
  • Curd
  • Hildebrand - Clemmer, Sudie, J.D. Clemmer, and George F. Mellen. Nancy Ward and the Hildebrand Family of Polk County, Tennessee: Reprinted Newspaper Clippings from the J.D. Clemmer Scrapbooks. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County News, 1962. FHL US/CAN Film 908921 Item 7.
  • Hood - Hood, Dellmann Osborne. The Tunis Hood Family. Portland, OR: Metropolitan Press, 1960. Available at FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H761h; digital version at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Land - Land, Barbara and Gary Land. The Land's & the Staige's. 2 vols. Ukiah, Calif.: B. & G. Land, 1994. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 L299L ff.
  • Langley - See Longley.
  • Longley - Matthews, Addah Longley. Genealogy, Curd-Longley, Cantrell-Barnes. North Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 1966. Available at Ex Libris; digital version at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Quintrell - Quintrell: Family Bible Records, 1830-1941. MSS., FHL US/CAN Film 1307616 Item 61.
  • Ward - Bell, Annie W.B. Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman Nancy Ward. Typescript, 1961. FHL US/CAN Film 875418 Item 2.
  • Ward - Clemmer, Sudie, J.D. Clemmer, and George F. Mellen. Nancy Ward and the Hildebrand Family of Polk County, Tennessee: Reprinted Newspaper Clippings from the J.D. Clemmer Scrapbooks. Benton, Tenn.: Polk County News, 1962. FHL US/CAN Film 908921 Item 7.
  • Ward - Holland, Hubert G. Nancy Ward A/K/A Cherokee Rose and Beloved Woman. Typescript, FHL US/CAN Film 1750757 Item 14.
  • Whitson - McDuffee, Ted Ransom. Duff to McDuffee on One Leaf: The Family History James H. Duff-McDuffee and Nancy Ann Whitson with Ancestors and Descendants. Knoxville, Tenn.: Tennessee Valley Pub., 1999. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D873m.
  • Young - Stein, Carl F. Some Descendents of James Pickens Young 1815: of Polk, Rhea, Hamilton, Blount, & Knox Counties, Tenn., Cherokee, & Gaston Counties, North Carolina. Family Group Sheets. FHL US/CAN Film 2055385 Item 2.

Guardianship[edit | edit source]

Land and Property Records[edit | edit source]

Early Polk County Deed Books are lost. In 1970, TSLA microfilmed surviving Deed Books 1 to 10 (1897 to 1911), Trust Deed Books 1 to 4 (1894-1911) and a General Index (1897-1938). FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 1012141-1012149.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • History of Polk County 1839-1999. TNGenWeb

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

McMinn CountyMonroe CountyBradley CountyCherokee CountyMurray CountyFannin CountyTN POLK.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military Records[edit | edit source]

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

Additional resources include:

War of 1812

  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Apr. 1961):49-52. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes Polk County pensioners (p. 50).

Civil War

Online Records

Regiments. Men in Polk County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (part of a large regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Polk County:

Confederate Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Polk County:

Naturalization and Citizenship[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

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 Polk County click on the following cities or towns:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Other Records[edit | edit source]

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Genealogical periodicals can contain unique sources and can be local, regional, or statewide. The following periodicals cover this county:

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records

School Records[edit | edit source]

Tax Records[edit | edit source]

The original Polk County Tax Books 1893-1902 were microfilmed by TSLA in 1970. Copies of their films are also available at the Family History Library: FHL US/CAN Films 1012150-1012151.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Birth[edit | edit source]

Marriage[edit | edit source]

Online indexes and Records

Book Abstracts and Indexes

  • 1894-1907 - Marriage Records, Polk County, Tennessee, 1894 through 1907: Volumes 1, 2, 3. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 V2j. Abstracts names of brides, grooms, and officiators, along with marriage dates.
  • 1894-1907 - Polk County Marriages: Vol. 4 Sept. 1894 - Sept. 1907, v. 1 - 4. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 V28b. Abstracts names of brides, grooms, officiators, and bondsmen, dates of marriage, with vol. and pg numbers and "extra" information.
  • 1894-1970 - Polk County, Tennessee Marriages 1894 through 1970. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8875 V28p. Free Lookups Available! Abstracts names of brides, grooms, officiators, with marriage dates for early marriages; more detail with recent marriages, includes vol. and pg. numbers.

Death[edit | edit source]

Divorce[edit | edit source]

  • W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FamilySearch Books Online

Research Facilities[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

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.

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Benton Public Library
126 Polk Street
Benton, TN 37307
Phone: 423-338-4536

Museums[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society
P. O. Box 636
Benton, TN 37307

East Tennessee Historical Society
601 S. Gay St.
P.O. Box 1629
Knoxville, Tennessee 37901-1629
Phone: 865-215-8824

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Polk, Tennessee" in wikipedia accessed 03 Jan 2019
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  5. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  6. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  7. Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State.
  8. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Tennessee.At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  9. "List of counties in Tennessee", Wikipedia.