Benton County was formed in 1835 from Humphreys County
(Private Acts of Tennessee 1835-36, Chapter 30).
The county seat is Camden.
Selected Published County Histories
- Benton County (Smith, 1979) [name index]*
- Benton County, Tennessee : A Pictorial History (Francis, 2016)
- Cowell's Chapel in Benton County, Tennessee and its Pioneer Families (Smith, 1978) [surname index]*
- Goodspeed's Benton County History (1990) [name index]
- Historic Benton : A People's History of Benton County, Tenn. (Smith, 1975) [partial name and surname index]
- History of Benton County, Tennessee, to 1900 (Smith, 1970) [partial name index]
- History of Tennessee From the Earliest Time to the Present : Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Carroll, Henry and Benton Counties (Goodspeed, 1978)
Additional county and community histories can be found at the Bibliography of Tennessee Local History Sources: Benton County. The items in the bibliography may not all be available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Published Local Records
- 1850 U.S. Census of Benton County, Tennessee (Brown, 1978)*
- 1880 Census Benton County, Tennessee (Sistler, 1990)*
- 1880 U.S. Census of Benton County, Tennessee (Brown, 1978)*
- Abstract of the 1840 United States Census for Benton County, Tennessee (Smith, 1977)*
- Benton Co., Tennessee, Carroll Co., Tennessee, Henry Co., Tennessee, Houston Co., Tennessee, Stewart Co., Tennessee : Enumeration of Male Inhabitants [1891 enumeration of male voters] (Reed, 1989) [name listing by county]
- Benton County, Tenn. Deeds [June 1830-April 1843] (Willis, 1999) [name index]
- Benton County, Tennessee, 1860 and 1870 Census (Brown, 1977)*
- Benton County, Tennessee : Administration, Guardian, Clerk, Trustees, Probate of Deeds, Records of Wills, Scholastic Population, 1836-1855 (James, 1991?) [name index]*
- Benton County, Tennessee, Cemetery Records (Daughters of the American Revolution. Tennessee. Glover's Trace Chapter, 1979)
- Benton County, Tennessee, Heritage Notes (Smith, 1975) [surname index]*
- Benton County, Tennessee Marriage Book #1, 1846-1850 (Douthat, 1981) [name index]
- Benton County, Tennessee, Marriage Record Book [1846-1851] (WPA, 1937?) [name index]
- Benton County, Tennessee Marriages, 1832-1957 (Hillis, 1962)
- Cemetery Listings of Benton County, Tennessee (Benton County Genealogical Society, 1997) [surname index]*
- Death Notices from Benton County, Tennessee Newspapers [vol. 1 1876-1891; vol. 2 1892-1900; vol. 3 1901-1910; vol. 4 1911-1920] (Benton County Genealogical Society, 2010) [name index]*
- Families and Histories, Benton County, Tennessee [vol. 1 1836-1986; vol. 2 1836-1992] (Benton County Genealogical Society, 1987-) [name index]*
- Family Bible Records of Benton County, Tennessee (Smith, 1976) [surname index]*
- Genealogical Gleanings in Benton County, Tennessee (Smith, 1974) [surname index]
- Higgins Funeral Home Records, 1928-1987, Benton, Tennessee (Blankenship, 1993) [name index]
- Index of Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Miscellaneous Records of Benton County, Tennessee, 1836-1855 (Taylor, 1980) [alphabetical listing (index only)]
- Minutes of the County Court of Benton County : Book no. 2, 1842-1854 [2 vols.] (WPA, 1941)
- Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1850 (Seventh Census) for Benton County, Tennessee (Embry, 1961) [alphabetical listing]
- Tombstone Inscriptions from Black Cemeteries in Benton County, Tennessee (Smith, 1995) [surname index]
- United States Direct Tax Commission, District of Tennessee, Benton County, 1865-1866 (Smith, 1992) [surname index]
- Wills of Benton County, Tennessee, 1836-1910 (Benton County Genealogical Society, 2009) [name index] *
Local Records on Microfilm
An inventory of microfilmed Benton County records is available on our website. Individual reels of microfilm may also be purchased.
Earliest records include:
- marriages from 1838
- wills from 1836
- deed index from 1836
- chancery court minutes from 1854
- county court minutes from 1842
- circuit court minutes from 1836
- tax books from 1836
The following reels are available on interlibrary loan from the Library and Archives:
- County Court Clerk - Misc. V.1 & V.2 -- May 1836 - Sept. 1855 (#59, 1 reel)*
- Deed Index -- 1836-1950 (#183, 1 reel)*
- Insolvent Estates -- Jul. 1852 - Dec. 1943 (#37, 1 reel)*
- Marriage Records -- Dec. 1838 - Dec. 1873 (#38, 1 reel)*
- Wills -- 1855-1968 (#64, 1 reel)*
- WPA Records, Benton County (Record Group #107, Roll 3, 1 reel) Roll includes Marriage Records, vol. 1 (1846-1851) and County Court Minutes, Book 2, Pts. 1 & 2 (1842-1854).*
Newspapers on Microfilm
Newspapers were published in Camden. Scattered early issues are available from 1876, and a complete run begins in 1915. Microfilms are loaned to Tennessee libraries. Individual reels may also be purchased. An Inventory of Newspapers on Microfilm at the Library and Archives is available on our website.
Selected Manuscripts Material
- Cypress Baptist Church Minute Book. Benton County, 1821-1900 (Microfilm Manuscript #1434, 1 reel)*
- Irl Ramon Barker Papers, 1898-1994 (Microfilm Manuscript #1715, 1 reel)*
- Jonathan K. T. Smith Genealogical Collection, Benton County (Microfilm Manuscript #851, 2 reels)*
- M. L. Travis Daybook, 1843-1861 (Microfilm Manuscript #489, 1 reel)*
- West Tennessee Funeral Home Records: Benton, Carroll, Gibson, Henry, and Weakley Counties (Microfilm Manuscript #1786, 86 reels)*
Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog
- Census on microfilm for Benton County: 1840-1880, 1900-1930
- State-wide census index: 1840-1880
- State-wide census index on microfilm (Soundex): 1880, 1900-1930
- Benton County census records in book form: 1840*, 1850*, 1860*, 1870*, 1880*
Additional Research Aids for Benton County
- County Index to Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications
- Early Tennessee Tax Lists at the Tennessee State Library and Archives
- Funeral Home Records at the Tennessee State Library and Archives
- Index to Tennessee Death Records 1908-1912
- Index to Tennessee Death Records 1914-1933
- School Census Records
- Tennessee World War I Veterans
* Indicates this title may be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the Library and Archives.
Benton County Formation Act
"An Act providing for the division of Humphreys County and to lay off the county of Benton."
SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, That from and after the first day of January, 1836, the county of Humphreys shall be and the same is hereby declared divided, making the Tennessee River the dividing line of said county.
SECTION 2. BE IT ENACTED, That there shall be a new county laid off including all that part or section of country, west of the Tennessee River, formerly included in the county of Humphreys, to be called, known and designated in this state by the county of Benton, to have and possess all the rights and privileges, known to any other county in this state, by any general law or usage.
SECTION 3. BE IT ENACTED, That George Camp, sen., Green Flowers, Ephraim Perkins, Lewis Brewer, and John F. Johnson, be and they are hereby appointed commissioners for said county, whose duty it shall be to purchase and fix on some suitable situation within two miles of the centre of said county of Benton, for the purpose of locating a town, which shall be the county seat of said county, and called and known by the name of Cambden, and it shall be the duty of said commissioners or a majority of them to purchase said situation, and take a deed of conveyance to themselves and their successors in office for the use of the said county of Benton, for any number of acres not exceeding forty, and they shall lay off said town on the said situation so purchased, in lots of a convenient size, with a public square and such streets and alleys as they may deem most convenient and suitable for purchasers and a location of said town.
SECTION 4. BE IT ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of said commissioners or a majority of them, so soon as said town shall be laid off, and the lots surveyed, to advertise in some newspapers in this state, the sale of the lots of said town at least two months previous to the sale thereof, when it shall be the duty of said commissioners to offer said lots for sale on a credit of one or two years to the highest bidder, and take from the purchasers such security for the purchase money as they shall deem most expedient to secure the purchase money; which purchase money, when paid, the commissioners shall appropriate to the erection of public buildings, and give to the purchasers such deed or deeds of conveyance as will invest the purchasers or their assigns, with the fee simple to said lot or lots; PROVIDED, nothing herein contained, shall prevent said commissioners from taking bond and security for the purchase money, and making a deed of conveyance at the time of the sale.
SECTION 5. BE IT ENACTED, That said commissioners shall take all bonds and notes arising from the sale of said lots payable to themselves and their successors in office which notes may be assignable as other promissory notes are by the existing laws, and it shall be the duty of said commissioners to superintend the building of the court house and jail, and other necessary public buildings, and shall let out such buildings as the county court of said county shall order to be built, upon such terms and conditions as the said court shall direct, and shall take bond with sufficient securities from the person or persons to whom the same is let, payable to the themselves and their successors in office, in double the amount of their contract or contracts, conditioned for the faithful performance thereof; and the proceeds of the sale of lots aforesaid and such tax as may be collected in pursuance of this act shall be a fund in the hands of said commissioners for the payment of the purchase money for the tract of land on which said town shall be located, and defraying the expenses of erecting public buildings; and when said buildings are completed, said commissioners shall by order of the county court pay over all surplus moneys to the county trustee for county purposes.
SECTION 6. BE IT ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of said commissioners, before they enter on any of the duties required of them by this act, to enter into bond and security, in the penalty of one thousand dollars each, payable to the chairman of the county court of Humphreys County and his successors in office, to faithfully and honestly discharge all the duties of a county commissioner for said county; and they shall moreover take an oath before some justice of the peace, to faithfully and honestly discharge all the duties enjoined on them by this act, which bonds shall be filed in the county court clerk's office, of the county of Benton, and suit may be brought on the same for a breach thereof, in the name of the chairman of the county court of Benton County.
SECTION 7. BE IT ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of the county and circuit courts, to hold their terms of said Court at the house of Samuel H. Burton on Cypress creek in said county, until a courthouse shall be erected; and all writs, process returns, recognizances, and other proceedings shall be made returnable at the house of the said Samuel H. Burton, until a majority of the County Court shall certify and order that the court house of said county is ready for the transaction of business when they shall be returned at the court house in the town of Cambden.
SECTION 8. BE IT ENACTED, That in case either or any of said commissioners shall die, resign, remove or refuse to act, it shall be the duty of the county court to supply such vacancy as they shall occur; and the said commissioners shall, from time to time, when required, to lay before the county court detailed statements of all the money, notes or other instruments received by them as commissioners, with a full statement of the disbursements and how the same has been applied and for what purposes.
SECTION 9. BE IT ENACTED, That the county court of said county shall have full power and authority to lay a tax on all taxable property in said county to the full amount of the state tax for the purposes of building said court house and jail, and the money, when collected, shall be paid over to said commissioners for the purposes aforesaid.
SECTION 10. BE IT ENACTED, That the county court of said county shall allow said commissioners from time to time such compensation for their services as they may deem sufficient.
SECTION 11. BE IT ENACTED, That all officers, civil and military, in said county shall continue to hold their offices and exercise all the powers and functions thereof until others are elected under the provisions of the amended constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof; and the said county of Benton shall elect her officers, civil and military, under the amended constitution, at the same time and under the same rules and regulations prescribed by law for the election of officers in other counties in this state, and the citizens of the said county of Benton, in all elections for governor, members of congress and members of the general assembly shall vote with the county of Humphreys until the next apportionment of members of the General Assembly, agreeably to the provisions of the fifth section of the tenth article of the amended constitution.
SECTION 12. BE IT ENACTED, That nothing in this act contained shall be so construed as to prevent the county of Humphreys from entering up judgments, or the sheriffs of said county from selling under such judgments, any lands or other property within the bounds of said county of Benton for taxes and charges that are due from the citizens of said county of Benton, for the present or any preceding year.
Passed on December 19, 1835
Benton County Bibliography
PLEASE NOTE that the Tennessee State Library and Archives does not hold copies of all of the items listed in this bibliography. Please check the Tennessee State Library and Archives Online Catalog or visit the Ask Us a Question! webpage to contact the Library and Archives and verify we have an item in our collection. We will respond to e-mail requests promptly; response time may vary, depending on the amount of research required to answer your question and the unique nature of your request. If you need immediate assistance you may call the reference desk at (615) 741-2764 or visit us in person.
Benton County in General
- Adair, Lou H. The Sims site: analysis of the tool assemblage & cultural inferences. MSU Press, 1972. 70 pp.
- Arthur, D. Little, Inc. The opportunity for industrial development in Benton, Houston, & Humphreys counties, TN: report to the Area Development Administration. Cambridge, MA, n.p., 1964. 135 pp.
- Benton County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
- Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (Benton County, Preliminary #13). Nashville, TSLA, 1970. 36 pp.
- Bishop, David L. Dickey ecology station, Benton County, TN. Clemson U. thesis, 1979. 34 pp.
- Families & histories, Benton County, TN, 1836-1992. Marceline, MO, Walsworth Pub. Co., 1992. 2 vols.
- Goodspeed's history of TN (Benton County, pp. 832-846, 935-954). Goodspeed, 1887.
- Hershey, Robert E. Mineral resources summary of the Seventeen Creek quadrangle, TN. Nashville, TN Div. Geol., 1966. 24 pp.
- Lewis, Thomas M. N. Eva, an archaic site. Knoxville, UT Press, 1961. 174 pp.
- Lewis, Thomas M.N. "The Nuckolls site." TN Arch. 14 (1958), pp. 61-79.
- Peacock & Associates. Future plan, 1969-1990, Benton County, TN. Murfreesboro, 1969. 167 pp.
- Robbins, Charles D. Old 23rd district: a genealogical & historical sketch of the people who settled the old 23rd district of Benton County, TN, including the Lick Creek community. Paris, the author, 1984. 99 pp.
- Runions, Iza L. TN teacher in IL. Mechanicsburg, IL, The Minuteman, 1988. 47 pp.
- Seeber, R. Clifford. A manual of public service agencies in Benton [& other] counties in TN, August, 1942. Murray, KY, TVA, 1942. 118 pp.
- Smith, Herschel K. The compendium. N.p., 19--? 84 pp.
- Smith, Jonathan K. Benton County. MSU Press, 1979. 136 pp.
- Smith, Jonathan K. Benton County, TN, heritage notes. Memphis, R. H. Harris, 1975. 114 pp.
- Smith, Jonathan K. Cowell's Chapel in Benton County, TN & its pioneer families. Memphis, Padmoor, 1978. 167 pp.
- Smith, Jonathan K. Historic Benton: a people's history of Benton County, TN. Memphis, the author, 1975. 283 pp.
- Smith, Jonathan K. An historical survey of the road system of Benton County, TN. Memphis, the author, 1976. 88 pp.
- Smith, Jonathan K. A history of Benton County, TN, to 1900. Memphis, J. Edge Co., 1970. 151 pp.
- Soil survey, Benton County, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1941, 1953.
- TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
- US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Poplar Creek, McKinnon, Manleyville, Big Sandy, Harmon Creek, Bruceton, Camden, Johnsonville, Seventeen Creek, Rockport, Hustburg, Holladay, Sugar Tree, Daniels Landing.
- Community information, Big Sandy, TN, Camden, TN. Jackson, West TN Industrial Assn., n.d.
- TN Valley Authority. Social & Ec. Research Div. Analysis of the community readjustment problem in the town of Big Sandy. Knoxville, TVA, 1939. 39 pp.