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White County, Tennessee

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White County is located in Middle Tennessee, one of the state's three "grand divisions."
White County was formed in 1806 from Smith and Jackson Counties.

Your county coordinator is Misty Walker.


You can also visit FamilySearch's Research Wiki for White County to locate additional information. There are a lot of research materials, and visitors can add their own materials. Visit it here

Brief History of White County
Topography and Migration
of White County
White County FAQ
White County Research Help
1820 White County Census On-line
1891 Taxpayer Enumeration
Post a White County Query
View Posted White County Queries
White County Historic
Sites and Stories
Soundex Calculator
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Mailing Lists
White County Archives
Goodspeed's History of
White County
Old Occupations
Cemetery Resources
Images of White County
Beginner's Guide to the
Federal Census
White County Minute Books
(1806-48, incomplete)
Surname Search Engine
Search all pages within
White County
Pictures from the Past
Can you identify these people?
DNA Testing Info here
... and here
Civil War
About the TNGenWeb Project
Meet Your County Coordinator

White County History

John White (1751-1846) was a Revolutionary War soldier, fifer, surveyor, and frontiersman. In 1789, John left Amelia County, VA, and moved his family to the Cumberland Mountains in what is now Tennessee. John had to fight the Cherokee Indians for the right to live on the land, for the Cherokee were not confined to the Cumberland Plateau until the 2nd Treaty of Holston in 1791. By 1800, dozens of new settlers had come to the "Mountain District", including more kin of John White.

Meanwhile, the movement West continued. In 1785, a highway was opened between Knoxville and Nashville, and hundreds of settlers passed through the area. Bon Air Springs, on this highway, developed as the first resort area in the South. Further settlement led to the establishment of the town of Sparta in 1802.

In 1806, a petition for county organization, signed by 155 residents, was presented to the General Assembly in Knoxville. On Sep 11, 1806, White County was formed, partitioned from Smith and Jackson Counties. It was a huge area, encompassing all of what is now White and Warren Counties, and parts of the counties of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Franklin, Grundy, Putnam, and Van Buren.

Over the next few decades, White County was itself partitioned, causing the eventual move of the County Seat from it's original location near the White homestead to Sparta, where it remains. Because of this partitioning, early research should also include Putnam, Van Buren, and Warren counties.

It should be noted that, while the state of Tennessee accepts John White as the person after whom White County was named, some genealogists have asserted that the county was actually named after James White, the founder of Knoxville.

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White County Topography and Migration

White County is in Middle Tennessee, in the Cumberland Mountains, midway between Nashville and Knoxville, and covers an area of 377 square miles. Called "the Mountain District", it's scenery is said to rival the Swiss Alps. The Center Hill Lake and Recreation Area lies at the eastern boundry of the county, the "Calf Killer" River runs through the middle of the county, and the beautiful Caney Fork River runs around the southwestern border, near the Warren and DeKalb County lines. Earliest migration was by frontiersmen coming through the Cumberland Gap, but later settlement was due in part to a highway between Knoxville and Nashville that was opened in 1785.

Many of the early settlers of White County came from Hyde County, NC. For more information, visit Hyde County Migration.

For mapping services, try the sources below:

For Census maps, go here.

For more current information about the area, go here.

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about White County Research

Question: Where is White County located?

Answer: White County is in Middle Tennessee, midway between Nashville and Knoxville. It is bounded by Putnam, Warren, Van Buren, DeKalb, and Cumberland Counties.

Question: What is the population?

Answer: In the 2000 Federal Census, county population was 23,102.

Question: What towns are included in the county?

Answer: The largest town in the county is Sparta, the county seat, with a population of just under 4,600. Other communities nearby include Bon Air, Bon DeCroft, Cassville, De Rossett, Doyle, Quebeck, and Walling.

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White County Research Help

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White County Historic Sites of Interest

Wild man of White County.

Ancient graves of White County.

The Rock House Shrine, built as a stage coach inn in the 1840s, is operated by the Rock House Chapter of the DAR. It is on Highway 70, east of Sparta, TN.

Mount Gilead Cemetery is south of Sparta, near Doyle, TN. Operated by Mount Gilead Methodist (Episcopal) Church (founded in 1826), it contains graves dating back to the mid-1850s.

Depending on your point of view, the local hero of White County may be "Champ" Ferguson, a notorious Confederate guerilla leader. After the war, he and his unit were promised amnesty, but, in the usual pernicious Federal way, he was instead singled out and hanged for "war crimes", one of only two Confederates so distinguished. Picture here

His last request was to be buried in the rebel soil of White County. Tombstone here

Trial records of "Champ" Ferguson
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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Go to Jackson County page

Go to Putnam County page

Go to Smith County page

Go to Warren County page

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Page last updated: February 12, 2017