Difference between revisions of "McNairy County, Tennessee Genealogy"

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*'''1874 - 1955''' - {{RecordSearch|1681020|Tennessee Deaths and Burials 1874-1955}} at [https://www.familysearch.org/search/ FamilySearch.org] — index
*'''1874 - 1955''' - {{RecordSearch|1681020|Tennessee Deaths and Burials 1874-1955}} at [https://www.familysearch.org/search/ FamilySearch.org] — index
*'''1908-1933''' [https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10076/tennessee-deaths-1908-1933?s=275764761 Tennessee Deaths, 1908 - 1933] at MyHeritage ($) — index
*'''1908 - 1958''' - [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2376 Tennessee Death Records 1908 - 1958 ] at [http://home.ancestry.com/ Ancestry.com] — index and images $
*'''1908 - 1958''' - [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2376 Tennessee Death Records 1908 - 1958 ] at [http://home.ancestry.com/ Ancestry.com] — index and images $

Latest revision as of 12:22, 25 June 2020

McNairy County, Tennessee ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page. Guide to McNairy County (established 1823) 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.

McNairy County, Tennessee
Boundary map of McNairy County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting McNairy County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: October 8, 1823
County Seat Selmer
Website: www.mcnairycountytn.org
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Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named Judge John McNairy. The County is located in the southwest area of the state. [1]

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

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1881 1861 1925 1855 1823 1857 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]



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


McNairy County Courthouse
170 Court Ave.
Selmer, TN 38375
Phone: 1-731-645-3511

County Clerk has marriage records from 1861, some birth, death and cemetery records.
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce records.
Register of Deeds has land records. [3]

McNairy County Archives
170 Court Ave., Basement level
McNairy County Courthouse
Selmer, TN 38375
Phone: 1-731-645-7095

Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri. 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays and weekends

History[edit | edit source]

West Tennessee county. Established 1823.

The county is named after "John McNairy, judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Tennessee."[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1823--McNairy County was established 8 October 1823 from Hardin County.
County seat: Athens [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

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

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 MapofUS.org website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

  • Fire.png

1881 Fire damaged courthouse records.[8]

  • Lost marriage records: 1823 to 1860
  • Lost probate records: 1823 to 1871

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

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:[9]

Unincorporated communities
  • Purdy
  • Rose Creek
  • West Shiloh

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

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 McNairy 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
Tennessee African Americans

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county
Findagrave.com Family History Library Findagrave.com
TNGenWeb WorldCat BillionGraves
TNGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Tombstone Project Gravestones
TNGenWeb Cemeteries Interment
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1830 5,697
1840 9,385 64.7%
1850 12,864 37.1%
1860 14,732 14.5%
1870 12,726 −13.6%
1880 17,271 35.7%
1890 15,510 −10.2%
1900 17,760 14.5%
1910 16,536 −6.9%
1920 18,350 11.0%
1930 19,901 8.5%
1940 20,424 2.6%
1950 20,390 −0.2%
1960 18,085 −11.3%
1970 18,369 1.6%
1980 22,525 22.6%
1990 22,422 −0.5%
2000 24,653 10.0%
2010 26,075 5.8%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of McNairy 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 McNairy, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project®.

1810 - 1891


  • Brown, Albert 1830 and 1840 census index for McNairy Co., Tennessee Bethel Springs, Tennessee : Albert Brown, c1998 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X22


  • Brown, Albert 1830 and 1840 census index for McNairy Co., Tennessee Bethel Springs, Tennessee : Albert Brown, c1998 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X22

1840 Pensioners




  • McNairy County Genealogical Society (Selmer, Tennessee) McNairy County, Tennessee, 1870 census Selmer, Tennessee : McNairy County Genealogical Society, 1992 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X2m 1870


  • Sistler, Samuel D. 1880 census McNairy County, Tennessee Nashville, Tennessee: B. Sistler and Associates, 2002 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X29
  • Brown, Albert McNairy Co., TN, 1880 census: McNairy County Tennessee record Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, 1995 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X28


  • Brown, Albert McNairy County, Tennessee, research records : the 1890 tax record of McNairy county Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, c1994 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 R4b (Contents: Index to Confederate Veterans pension application, index of widows who applied for Confederate pensions, index to B.G. Brazeltons, 1885 history of Hardin County, Tennessee and funeral records of McNaire County, Tennesse, 1947-1957.)

1891 Male Voters


  • McNairy County Genealogical Society (Selmer, Tennessee) McNairy County, Tennessee, 1900 census Selmer, Tennessee: McNairy County Genealogical Society, c1992 FHL US/CAN book 976.829 X2


Church[edit | edit source]

Court[edit | edit source]

Family Histories[edit | edit source]

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 McNairy, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 46,000 entries.


  • Auten - Langston, Kathryn. Auten News. [Newsletter] Lavon, Texas: K. Langston, 1997-2002. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.27305 Au81a.
  • Ballard - Miller, Lynne D. Texas Ballards. Lincolnton, North Carolina: L.D. Miller, 2000. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 B212mtx.
  • Birchett - See Combs.
  • Brooks - Brooks, Moses Edward. Descendants of James Brooks. Unknown: unknown, 1974. Available at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Cain - Truett, Earl A. William Hardin Cain, His Descendants and the Founders of Northwest Lafayette County, Mississippi. 2 vols. Oxford, Miss.: E.A. Truett, 1978-1980. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 C123t ff.
  • Combs - Cooke, Katherine Joss. The House that Grew. Alexandria, Va.: K.J. Cooke, 1988. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 C733ck.
  • Dawson - Ebrom, Janet Dawson and Gregory Alan Dawson. Dawson -- Deaton, Pioneers to Texas. San Antonio, Texas: Dawson Books, 1989. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D327e.
  • Deaton - Wilson, Larry M. Genealogy of the Family of Deaton. Kansas City, Missouri: L. Wilson, 1993. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D349w; digital version at BYU Family History Archives.
  • Donnell - Frame, Peggy Campbell. The Albert Franklin Donnell Family. Aztec, N.M.: P.C. Frame, 2005. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D718f; digital version at BYU Family History Archives..
  • Ellis - Family Records of the Ellis and Leonard Families. MSS., microfilmed in 1965; FHL US/CAN Film 414865.
  • Harris - Crockett, Barbara Jean Harris. Barbara's Book: A Compilation of Harris History. Fenton, Michigan: B.J.H. Crockett, 1981. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H24cb.
  • Harris - Gohr, Glenn W. James David Harris: His Kith and His Kin: A Compilation of Harris History. Springfield, Missouri: G.W. Gohr, 1990. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H24go.
  • Hightower - Hales, Samuel Dale. A History of Some English Speaking People Called Hales, Hendricks, Hightower and Hearne Who Lived in the South and in Texas, 1634-1934. Shawnee Mission, Kansas: S.D. Hales, 1975. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H137hs.
  • Hurst - Branch, Virginia. The Hurst Nation: A Family History. 2 vols. Paragould, Ark.: V. Branch, 1987-1991. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 H943b ff.
  • Richards - Richards, James P. Richards Family Genealogical Records, 1743-1978. Typescript, FHL US/CAN Film 1320608 Item 31.
  • 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.

Land[edit | edit source]

  • McNairy County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1823 and is located at the Courthouse, Selmer, Tennessee 38375-2194; Telephone: (731) 645-5446.  Land and property records include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries.
  • The Family History Library has microfilm copies of deeds 1823-1903 with indexes 1835-1901; land grants 1823-1961.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Wright, Marcus Joseph. Reminiscences of the Early Settlement and Early Settlers of McNairy County, Tennessee. Washington, D.C.: Commercial Pub. Co., 1882. Available at FHL US/CAN Film 599232. Digital version at Google Books.

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.

Maps[edit | edit source]

Chester CountyHardin CountyHardeman CountyTishomingo CountyAlcorn CountyTippah CountyTN McNAIRY.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

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

Additional resources include:

War of 1812[edit | edit source]
  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Jan. 1961):20-23. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes McNairy County pensioners (pp. 20-21).
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. Civil War service men from McNairy 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 McNairy County.

Confederate Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from McNairy County:

Civil War Battle[edit | edit source]

The following Civil War Battles were fought in McNairy County:

Map showing Civil War battles fought in Tennessee.

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 McNairy County click on the following towns:

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 Genealogical.com. Includes McNairy 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 McNairy 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.
Back Trackers
Publication of the McNairy County Genealogical Society, Selmer, Tenn. The Family History Library has Vols. 1-4 (1991-1994): FHL US/CAN Book 976.829 B2b.
Family Findings
Genealogical articles with abstracts of McNairy 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 to retrieve them.
McNairy County History and Genealogy Newsletter
The Family History Library has volume 12 no. 3 and 4 FHL US/CAN 976.829 D25n
The Newsletter is indexed in PERiodical Source Index (PERSI)
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 McNairy County, Tennessee Genealogy ancestors went to prison!

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

The County Court has responsibility for the probate records of McNairy County. Many records are held by the McNairy County Archives.

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, 1872-1936
  • Bonds, 1861-1947
  • Bonds, Letters, 1865-1932
  • Insolvent estate records, 1873-1941
  • Inventories, 1865-1931
  • Settlements, 1865-1936

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

  • 1865 - 1896 - Brown, Albert. McNairy Co., Administrators Record Index, 1865-1896. Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, 1994. (FHL book 976.829 P22b.)
  • 1858 - 1967 - Brown, Albert. McNairy County, Tennessee Record, Will Index, 1858-1967: From Court Minute Books and Will Books. Bethel Springs, Tennessee: A. Brown, 1993. (FHL book 976.829 P28ba.)
  • 1872 - 1936 - Kennedy, Nancy Wardlow. Will Book Abstracts of McNairy County, Tennessee. Selmer, Tennessee: N.W. Kennedy, (199-?). Indexed. (FHL book 976.829 P28k.)

Taxation[edit | edit source]

The original McNairy County Tax Books 1867-1882 were microfilmed by TSLA. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Films 983095-983096.

The following McNairy County tax records have been abstracted:[11]

  • 1890 - Brown, Albert. McNairy County, Tennessee, Research Records: The 1890 Tax Record of McNairy County. Bethel Springs, Tenn.: A. Brown, 1994. FHL US/CAN Book 976.829 R4b.

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 McNairy County during the first few years of its existence. In 1838, a law was passed mandating the practice.[12] The following publication, based on early newspapers, helps to alleviate this genealogical obstacle:

The following McNairy County marriage records have been indexed:

  • 1758 - 1958 - Brown, Albert. Husbands, Wives, Marriages, 1758-1958. Bethel Springs, Tenn.: Albert Brown, c1998. FHL US/CAN Book 976.829 V2b. Reconstructed marriage records, prepared by genealogists.
  • 1861 - 1865 - 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.
  • 1861 - 1869 - Historical Records Survey (Tennessee) Marriage records, 1861-1869, McNairy County, Tennessee Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1943. FHL US/CAN Film 24750 items 4-6
  • 1861 - 1961 - McNairy County, Tennessee County Court Clerk Marriage records (McNairy County), 1861-1961 Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee State Library and Archives, 19??-1988. FHL US/CAN Film 983068-76 and 1928775-78.
  • 1896 - 1950 - Tennessee County Court (McNairy County) Marriage licenses (McNairy County, Tennessee), 1896-1950 Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1999. FHL US/CAN Film 2155958 and 2156162 item 1
  • 1911 - 1926 - McNairy County Genealogical Society (Selmer, Tennessee) Marriages of McNairy County, Tennessee, 1911-1926 Selmer, Tennessee: McNairy County Genealogical Society, c1992. FHL US/CAN Book 976.829 V2m

State Marriage Records

  • 1780 - 2002 - Many county marriage records are indexed with images at Ancestry.com's Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 ($). Be aware that this index is not complete for all counties.
Divorce[edit | edit source]

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of McNairy County divorce papers in diverse County Courthouse records, see the following resources:

  • 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 McNairy County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try searching the following records:

Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

See also a List of Tennessee Archives, Libraries, Publications, Historical & Genealogical Societies

Irving Meek, Jr. Public Library
204 W Main St.
Adamsville, TN 38310
Phone: 1-731-632-3572
Email: adamsvillelibrary@centurytel.net
Mon., Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tues., Thurs. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Jack McConnico Memorial Library
225 Oak Grove Rd
Selmer, TN 38375
Phone: 1-731-645-5571
Mon., Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tues., Thurs. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

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
E-mail: efrank@memphis.edu

Family History Centers
[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Libraries

Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: McNairy County, Tennessee

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "McNairy, Tennessee" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McNairy_County,_Tennessee accessed 27 Dec 2018
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), McNairy 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), McMinn County, Tennessee page 642, At various libr40ries (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), 642. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  7. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  8. Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State.
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "McNairy County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McNairy_County,_Tennessee, accessed 4 December 2019.
  10. Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State
  11. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  12. Gale Williams Bamman, C.G., "Research in Tennessee," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 2 (June 1993):105. FHL 973 B2ng v. 81
  13. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/8/88/Igitennesseel.pdf.