TNFlag TNFlag
History, Location, and Geography
Sumner County


Tennessee formed the western lands of North Carolina in the days before statehood. In the year 1772, Joseph Drake, Isaac Bledsoe, and Casper Mansker traveled through parts of Middle Tennessee and discovered three licks, which bore their names, that is: Bledsoe's Lick, Mansker's Lick, and Drake's Lick. News of the abundance of game and fertility of the soil traveled fast, and soon other families began to arrive. The population was sufficient by 1786 to establish a county, which was named after Colonel Jethro Sumner, an officer of the Revolution.

Sumner County was created on November 17, 1786, from the eastern part of Davidson County and is the second-oldest county in Middle Tennessee. Between 1777 and 1788, six counties had been formed to give the people a political voice and some form of organized government. Three counties were in East Tennessee (Washington, Sullivan, and Greene), and three were in Middle Tennessee (Davidson, Sumner, and Tennessee).

North Carolina finally ceded its western lands, the Tennessee country, to the federal government when it ratified the United States Constitution in 1789. Congress designated the area as the Territory of the United States, South of the River Ohio. It was also known as the Southwest Territory and was divided into three districts--two for East Tennessee and the Mero District on the Cumberland.

In 1795, a territorial census showed enough population for statehood. Congress approved the admission of Tennessee on June 1, 1796. It became the sixteenth state of the Union.

On October 26, 1799, Wilson and Smith Counties were carved from part of Sumner County. Macon and Trousdale Counties on the east were later formed from parts of old Sumner County.

On November 6, 1804, an act was passed by the Legislature to provide a county seat for Sumner County. It was named Gallatin in honor of Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.

Location and Geography

Present day Sumner County is bounded on the north by Simpson and Allen Counties in Kentucky. On the east lie Macon and Trousdale Counties, Tennessee. The southern boundary is the Cumberland River, which separates Sumner and Wilson Counties. On the southwest is Mansker's Creek, which forms the line between Sumner and Davidson Counties. Robertson County lies beyond the western edge of Sumner.

Sumner County is divided into two nearly equal parts by the Ridge, which extends through the county from southwest to northeast. It is a part of the Highland Rim to the Great Central Basin of Middle Tennessee. South of the Ridge lies a slope that descends to the Cumberland River. Towns south of the Ridge include Gallatin, Saundersville, Hendersonville, and Bethpage.

North of the Ridge lie the Rim Lands. Streams called the East Fork, Middle Fork, Caney Fork, and other branches of North Drake's Creek (a tributary of the Barren River in Kentucky) run generally northwest north of the Ridge. Smaller ridges and highlands lie between them. Some towns north of the ridge include White House, Portland, and Mitchellville.

Compiled by Danene Vincent.

Return to Sumner County Main Page