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DeKalb Co., TN Districts

"Changing Boundaries"

1860 Map Showing Approximate District Boundaries

1860 District Map of DeKalb Co. TN

OUR SOURCE

Whitney, Henry D., “The Land Laws of Tennessee”, W. H. Anderson & Co., 1893, pgs 772-839

Often times, when searching for our families on the census, we come to a 'brickwall' and ask ourselves, "What happened? Did our families disappear into thin air?" Yet we can check land deeds, family tradition, etc., and know that one piece of land has been passed through the family for generations. The neighbors on the previous census are still there - but 'our own families' have just vanished. Well the answer may just be a boundary change which could explain why some of your and my families records appear in one county, then another, and then another and somehow even make their presence back to the 'original county' that they first appeared. This can be very confusing and frustrating for those of us who are not familiar with the history of the formation of the county where our ancestors lived.

D. Mitchell Jones and myself, using the above source, have attempted to illustrate the various land laws between 1839 and 1871 which affected or changed the boundaries of DeKalb Co., TN and/or its various districts. Many more boundary changes occurred in DeKalb County up into the 1900’s - though they were not as major as the ones listed below. We can say that area, which is presently DeKalb County, has at one time, been in Cannon, Smith, Warren and White Counties prior to establishment of DeKalb County, Tennessee as we know it today.

Comments in red are those of D. Mitchell Jones, who grew up in DeKalb County and still has very close connections to its people and land. He has spent many years researching his area families and the history of the county.


DeKalb County, Tennessee

1839-Chapter 2. Passed Dec 11.

An Act to make more public an act passed December 11th, 1837, establishing DeKalb County.

Section 1
Be it enacted, etc, That the act passed the 11th day of December 1837, establishing DeKalb County, but which was not published in the book purporting to contain all of the acts passed by the General Assembly of Tennessee during their regular Session in 1837-38, is hereby declared to be in full force, and everything done in accordance with the provisions of said act, since its passage, is declared to be as valid and binding as if said act had been published in the book containing the acts passed in 1837-8.

Section 2
Said Act is in the following words, viz: An Act to establish the county of DeKalb, in honor of Baron DeKalb the friend of American liberty, who fell at the battle of Camden, in the war of the Revolution.

Section 2
The county of DeKalb shall be bounded as follows, viz: Beginning at the corner between Smith and Cannon Counties, on the Wilson County line, near Alexandria, and running thence south twenty[three degrees east, with the old line between Smith and Wilson Counties, eight miles to a point in said line; thence south forty-eight east, eleven miles and three-quarters, to the Warren County line at John Martin’s; thence north eighty-three degrees east, seven miles to point twelve miles north from McMinnville; thence south eight degrees east, four miles and three-quarters, to Caney Fork River, at mouth of Barren Creek; thence down said river with its meanders to the mouth of Townsend’s’ Creek; thence to an Oak on the road from Sparta to Dibrell’s ferry, four miles from said ferry; thence north, thirty-seven and half degrees east, nine miles and three-fourths, to a point on the stage road from Sparta to Carthage; thence north two miles, to a corner between White and Jackson Counties, on Cane Creek; thence south, seventy-five degrees west, sixteen miles and half, so as to strike the northwest corner of Cannon County, on the Caney Fork River; and thence with the line run by Thomas Durham, between Smith and Cannon Counties, to the beginning.

1842-Chapter 90. Passed Feb 3

Alteration to lines counties of Wilson, Cannon, and DeKalb…so as to include Samuel Greer in Cannon County, thence with the dividing ridge that divides the waters of Smith’s Fork from Sander’s Fork, so as to include John Sneed in the county of Cannon, thence down Smith’s Fork to the DeKalb County line….

1844-Chapter 57. Passed Jan 2.

That dividing line between Cannon and DeKalb Counties, be so altered at the dwelling house of Alfred Hancock as to include the same in Cannon County.

1848-Chapter 99. Passed Jan 31.

Section 1
That the dividing line between the counties of Smith and DeKalb, be so changed as to include John Reynold’s residence and farm in the county of DeKalb, commencing where said dividing line crosses Smith’s Fork, running down said Smith’s Fork with its meanderings, which is said Reynold’s line to his east boundary; thence south with his line, to where it intersects the aforesaid dividing line. . .

Section 2
That the line dividing the counties of Smith and DeKalb, be changed so as to include the farm and residence of Jesse D. Allen in the county of DeKalb.

1850-Chapter 139. Passed Feb 1.

Section 1
That the dividing between the counties of Smith and DeKalb, be so altered and changed as to include Nicholas Smith, Andrew Vantreece, and John Robinson’s residences and farms, and others, in the county of DeKalb, to-wit: Beginning at the south bank of Smith’s Fork, where the line of DeKalb County leaves said creek with its meanders, to where the road crosses the same, some three or four hundred yards below said Smith’s mill, and thence east with said Robinson’s north boundary, to the top of the ridge-and thence northeast with the dividing ridge between the waters of Long Branch and Cove Hollow, to Caney Fork River, near the mouth of Cove Hollow, thence up said rive to the DeKalb County line.
(This added area north of Temperance Hall to District 15. At this time Long Branch and area from Cove Hollow down Caney Fork River was not in DeKalb County, but remained in Smith County.DMJ)

Section 2
That the line between the counties of Smith and DeKalb be so changed as to include the farm and residence of John F Goodner, in the county of DeKalb, to-wit: Beginning at Jesse D. Allen’s northeast corner, running northeast with said Goodner’s line to his northeast corner, and thence southeast with said Goodner’s line to the DeKalb County line.

1852-Chapter 262. Passed Feb 2.

Section 1
That the dividing line between the counties of Smith and DeKalb, be so altered and changed, as to include the dwelling houses of H. H. Sullivan, John Corley and William H. Christian, in the county of DeKalb; to-wit: beginning on the north boundary line of DeKalb County near H. H. Sullivan southwest corner, running thence in a northeastern direction to the big road leading to Carthage, near the said Christian’s, and thence with said road to the DeKalb County line.
(These individuals were not including on 1850 DeKalb County census but should be on the 1860 census.DMJ)

Section 4
That dividing line between the counties of Warren and DeKalb, be so changed as to include the farm of J. N. Murphey, in the county of DeKalb, and that the south boundary line of the said Murphey’s tract of land shall be the dividing line between said counties of Warren and DeKalb.

(Murphey was not on 1850 DeKalb County census DMJ)

1854-Chapter 320. Passed Feb 11.

Establishment of Putnam County

Section 10
That so much of the county of DeKalb, as lies north of the south boundary line, of the county of Putnam be attached to Putnam . …Beginning at the northeast corner of said DeKalb County, and running south the east boundary of said county, crossing the Falling Water near the falls; with said line one and half miles to a corner on the White County line; thence in a north-western direction, crossing said Falling Water between the mouth of Cane Creek and Riley Medley’s old place on said river, and crossing Mine Lick Creek, bearing twelve miles from the town of Smithville to the north boundary line of DeKalb County line. That so much of the fractional part of the county of Smith as lies east of the Caney Fork River, and a line running from the mouth of Rock Spring Creek in a northern direction to the eastern boundary line of said Smith is in county of Putnam.
(This act took away that part of District 8 of DeKalb County that had been part of Jackson County before DeKalb County was established. This land became the 8th District of Putnam Co., TN. The part of District remaining in DeKalb County had previously been part of White County before DeKalb County was established. It also took the Wolf Creek area (District 16) from Smith County and made it part of Putnam County. DMJ)

Section 21
That the line between the counties of Smith and DeKalb, be and the same is so changed as to run as follows: Beginning on the DeKalb County line on the extreme height of the ridge, above J. Robinson’s, and with the meanders of said ridge, north of Long Branch, crossing said branch above Hopewell meeting-house, to the DeKalb County line near Thomas J. Findley’s, so as to include the present residence of T. W. Fitts, William Jones, James Jones, and Thomas J. Findley, and make them citizens of the county of DeKalb.

(This added part of Long Branch area to DeKalb County, and also part of area west of Caney Fork River north of Cove Hollow to point just before you get to present day Center Hill Dam..DMJ)

1855-Chapter 27. Passed Nov 20.

Section 1
That the county lines between DeKalb and Putnam be so changed as to commence where the DeKalb line crossed the old line that divided Smith and Jackson, near Elijah Smith’s, running north with the main direction of said line so as to include Thomas and Abner Harper, and on to the top of the ridge between Buffalo Valley and Wolf Creek; thence with the main directions of said ridge to said creek just below Jesse Hale’s; thence down said creek to its mouth; thence up the river with its meanders to the DeKalb County line, near James Jones’.
(This is part of the area that became the 16th District of DeKalb County and the area commonly called the Wolf Creek area. Later the Laurel Hill Post Office would be established in this area to serve Wolf Creek and Buffalo Valley area of Putnam Co., TN. However not all of 16th District was in this act as it appears the section west of were Laurel Hill School was located remained in Smith County. The old line that divided Smith and Jackson Counties ran from a point on Cumberland River S22E through Buffalo Valley to a point on Little Hurricane Creek. At this point it intersected with the old White County line. Elijah’s Smith land was just north of this point. DMJ)

1856-Chapter 122. Passed Feb 28.

Section 23
That the county line between the counties of DeKalb and Warren be so changed as to embrace the residence and premises of John Martin, Jr., in DeKalb County.

Section 6
That the county line between DeKalb and Putnam Counties that now runs through the lands of Bird Sexton, Willis Coggins and Loyd P Coggins be changed as to embrace in DeKalb County the residences and all the lands annexed thereto, belonging to the said above mentioned persons.

(This act probably made most of Wolf Creek (District 16) part of DeKalb County. Willis Coggins owned a mill near the mouth of Wolf Creek which is just below present day Center Hill Dam.DMJ)

1858-

Section 3
That the county line between the counties of DeKalb and Putnam be so changed as to include the farm of Claiborne Vaughn in DeKalb County.
(This added more land to District 16.DMJ)

1858-Chapter 47. Passed March 4.

Section 4
That the lines between the counties of DeKalb and Smith shall hereafter run as follows, to-wit: Beginning on the DeKalb County line on the extreme height of the ridge above J. Robinson’s, running thence with the meanders of said ridge to the Caney Fork River at Thompson’s Bluff, intersecting the DeKalb County line on the opposite bank of said river at Bird Sexton’s so as to include F. Starns, B. Crassel, C. Starns, J. Williams and J. Kerloy in DeKalb County.
(This added the rest of the Long Branch area and area on northwest side of Center Hill Dam to DeKalb County.DMJ)

1858-Chaper 83. Passed March 20.

Section 8
That the line between the counties of Wilson and DeKalb be changed to run as follows: Beginning at Pallace Laurence’s south corner, which is on the Wilson And DeKalb County line, running thence with said Pallace Laurence’s southern boundary to Thomas J. Kidwell’s farm, thence with said Kidwell’s southern and western lines, and the said Pallace Laurence’s boundary to the Wilson County line, including alone into DeKalb County the farms of the said Laurence and Kidwell.

Section 9
That the line between the counties of DeKalb and Smith be changed to run as follows: Beginning on a birch tree on the line of Smith and DeKalb Counties, on the western corner of Louisa D. Dowell’s tract of land, and running thence north with the said Louisa D. Dowell’s western boundary to the north-western corner of a tract of land owned by J. F. and James Goodner, thence with the north-eastern boundary to Hickman’s Creek, thence up said creek to William Floyd’s eastern boundary, thence with said boundary to the lands of Jacob Measel’s, and with his eastern boundary to the lands of William Grindstaff, thence with said Grindstaff’s eastern boundary to the lands of Martin Foutche’s eastern boundary to the present county line between DeKalb and Smit. The line so changed with taek the entire lands of J. F. and James Goodner, Louisa D. Dowell, William Floyd, Lucy Preston, Jacob Measles, William Grindstaff and Martin Foutche into DeKalb County.

1858-Chaper 129. Passed March 15.

Section 8
That the county line between the counties of DeKalb and Putnam, be so changed as to run as follows, to wit: Beginning on the line between said counties, on the top of a large ridge, near Gordon Maxwell’s; running with said ridge, a north-west direction, to the Caney Fork River below Joseph Mitchell’s; thence up said river to the old line.
(This added more area to District 16. DMJ)

1860-Chapter 100.

Section 5
That all the lands of Jonathan Pickett be attached to DeKalb County.

Section 10
That the line between the county of DeKalb and county of Cannon be so changed as to detach that portion of Charles Hutchinson’s farm, which lies in the county of DeKalb, from said county of DeKalb, and attach the same to the county of Cannon.

Section 12
That the line between the counties of Wilson and DeKalb be so changed as to include in the county of DeKalb the land belonging to James P Doss, embraced in the tract in which he now lives.

1860-Chapter 135. Passed March 19.

Section 1
That the county line between DeKalb and Smith Counties be changed as follows: Beginning at Benj. Thomason’s land, running north with the county line, forty-two poles to his north-west corner; thence east ninety-eight poles; thence north twenty-five degrees east twenty-six poles; thence north with James Jones’, sixty-two poles thence east thirty poles; thence west thirty poles; thence north forty poles; thence east thirty poles to Andrew William’s line; thence north with his line, one hundred and ten poles; thence east one hundred poles to Asa Washer’s line; thence north twenty-three ploes; thence sixty-five degrees east seven poles; thence north fifty-five poles; thence east sixty poles; thence north eighty-four poles; thence east one hundred and eighteen poles; thence south fifty-eight poles; thence south seventeen degrees west twenty-six poles, to Granderson Hardcastle’s line; thence forty degrees east twenty-six poles; thence south sixty-two degrees east twenty-six poles; thence south sixty-two degrees east fourteen poles to a beech corner belonging to the heirs of James Arnient; thence east with the line seventy-six plles to John Helmanstaller’s line; thence north {with} his line fifty-four poles; thence east with Young Malone’s line one hundred and fifteen poles; thence north twenty poles;l thence south sixty-five degrees east thirty-six poles, to B. Malone’s line; thence north with his line forty-five degrees east twenty-two poles; thence east eighty poles; thence north thirty-four poles; thence south thirty seven degrees east fourty-four poles; thence east with C. Denny’s line eighty poles to Daniel Driver’s west boundary line; thence north with his line one hundred and thirty-four poles; thence east one hundred and thirty-five poles; thence south ninety-four poles; thence south forty-six degrees east twenty poles; thence south eighteen degrees east forty-six to Charles Washer’s line; thence south eighty-five degrees east twenty-two poles; thence south sixty-five degrees east twenty-eight poles to Thos. Driver’s line; thence north fifty-two degrees east one hundred poles; thence north fifty-seven degrees east forty-two poles; thence north sixty-five degrees east fifty four poles; thence north sixty-five degrees east fifty-four poles ( Repeat of previous direction is this error in typing up lawDMJ); thence north sixty degrees east eighty poles; thence forty degrees east eighty poles; thence seventy degrees east one hundred and twenty poles; thence south twenty poles; thence south seventy degrees east ninety poles; thence south thirty degrees east twenty poles; thence south seventy-fuve degrees east forty poles. Thence south eighty degrees east one hundred and seventy-six poles. ‘ thence south five degees east ninety-four poles to Smith’s Fork, at the mouth of a gully, near John Lamberson’s fence; thence up the creek north sixty-five degrees west eighty-four poles; thence up said creek, twenty degrees west one hundred poles; thence east, crossing Smith’s Fork, forty poles; thence south fifty poles; thence south sixty-one degrees east one hundred and sixteen poles; thence east with Kelly’s line sixty-six poles, to the road leading from Smithville to Lancaster, near john Rody’s house; thence with said road south thirteen degrees east sixty poles; thence south forty-five degrees east one hundred poles; thence south sixteen degrees east thirty poles; thence with said road south eight degrees east six poles; thence south forty-two degrees east forty-two poles; to the DeKalb County line, near said road; thence north with the various corners of said line to the beginning.

1860-Chaper 196 Passed March 23

Section 10
That the county line between the counties of DeKalb and Cannon be so changed as to run as follows, to-wit: Beginning, at the branch at Derby mill, running up the branch to the Woodbury road, near the Camp-Ground Spring, and thence east with the main road to the old county line.

1860-Chapter 210 Passed March 24

Section 2
That the land of Levi Fouch, and the land of Jane Turny, lying in Wilson County, be attached to DeKalb County.

1860-Chapter 211 Passed March 24

Section 2
That the eighth section of the act passed the third day of March 1854, chapter 181, changing the county line between the counties of DeKalb and White; so as to include the lands and possessions of Charles Dewey, in the county of White, be, and same is hereby repealed.

1867-Chapter 12. Passed Dec 2.

Section 1
That the county line between the counties of DeKalb and White, be so changed as to include in the county of White the lands of Lafayette Jones and Andrew J. Jones.

Section 2
That the county line between Cannon and DeKalb, be so changed as to include the lands of James Shehane, George W. Derlong, John Derling, James Anderson and Hiram Morris, in th county of Cannon.

1867-Chapter 23. Passed Dec 13.

Section 3
That the county line beween the counties of Wilson and DeKalb, be so changed as to include with the county of DeKalb that portion of the lands of Edie Ways and Thomas West, of DeKalb County, which is situated in the county of Wilson.

1868-Chapter 5. Passed Dec 14.

Section 2
That the second section of an act passed December 2, 1867, entitled “An act to change the line between the counties of DeKalb and White,” be, and the same is hereby repealed, except so far as the lands now owned by Hiram Morris and George W Darting and A. P. Midenix.

1869-Chapter 39. Passed Feb 25.

Section 15
That the county line between Wilson and DeKalb Counties, which now runs through the tract of land and farm of two hundred and sixty-eight and a half acres of land on Pertel’s Creek, of M. M. Brien, Sr, be soon changed as to embrace and include the whole said tract of land and farm in DeKalb County.

1870-Chapter 48. Passed Jan. 21.

Section 2
That the line between the counties of White and DeKalb be so changed as to include the residence and lands of George W. Hutchings and John Edwards, in the county of White.

1870-Chapter 118. Passed July 7.

Section 1
That the 10th section of chapter 196 of the acts of 1859-60, which detaches from the county of Cannon a portion thereof, and attahes the same to the county of DeKalb be, and same is hereby repealed, and the said territory is hereby re-attached to the county of Cannon, so that the dividing line between the said counties shall be as it was previous to the passage of said law.

1871-Chapter 12. Passed Oct 31.

Section 1
That the county line between the counties of Smith and DeKalb be changed as follows: Beginning at the north east corner of William Grandstaff’s lands, and the north-west corner of John Jones’ lands, running thence eastwardly with said Jones’ north boundary line, so as to include the lands of said Jones in the county of DeKalb.

Section 2
That said John Jones be attached to the first district of DeKalb County, and that this act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it.


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