Chester County was formed in 1879 from
Hardeman, Henderson, McNairy and Madison counties
(Public Acts of Tennessee 1879, Chapter 42)
The county seat is Henderson.
There was a fire at the Chester County courthouse in 1933.
Selected Published County Histories
- Brief History of Chester County, Tennessee, Then and Now: An Historical Comparison, Facts of the Past and Present Which the Future Will Want to Remember (Reid, 1967)*
- Chester County, Tennessee, 1882-1995, History and Families (Chester County Historical Society, 1995) [surname index]*
- Chester County, Tennessee, 1882-2001: Pictorial History, Volume II (Chester County Historical Society, 2001) [name index]*
- Goodspeed's Chester County History (1990) [name index]
- History of Tennessee From the Earliest Time to the Present; Together with a Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Henderson, Chester, McNairy (Goodspeed, 1978) [name index]
- History of the Friendship Community of Chester County, Tennessee (King, 1996)
- Reflections (Williams, 1979)
Additional county and community histories can be found at the Bibliography of Tennessee Local History Sources: Chester County. The items in the bibliography may not all be available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Published Local Records
- Burial Locations for Confederate Soldiers in Chester County, Tennessee (Barnes, 1989)
- Cemeteries in Chester County, Tennessee (Jones, 1982) [name index]
- Chester County, Tennessee, Tombstone Records (WPA, 1938)
- Private Acts of Chester County, Tennessee (Lobertini, 1995)
- Service Record Book of Men and Women of Henderson, Tennessee and Community [WWI & WWII] (19??)
- Tombstone Inscriptions, Et Cetera, From the Black Cemeteries of Chester County, Tennessee (Smith, 2000) [surname index]
Local Records on Microfilm
An inventory of microfilmed Chester County records is available on our website. Individual reels of microfilm may also be purchased.
Earliest records include:
- marriages from 1891
- wills from 1891
- deed index from 1891
- chancery court minutes from 1891
- county court minutes from 1891
- circuit court minutes from 1882
- tax books from 1890
The following reels are available on interlibrary loan from the Library and Archives:
- WPA Records, Chester County (Record Group #107, Roll 6, 1 reel). Roll includes Tombstone Records (undated).*
Newspapers on Microfilm
Newspapers were published in Henderson. Scattered early issues are available from 1878, and a complete run begins in 1930. 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
Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog
- Census on microfilm for Chester County: 1900-1930
- State-wide census index on microfilm (Soundex): 1900-1930
Additional Research Aids for Chester 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.
Chester County Formation Act
ACTS OF TENNESSEE 1879, CHAPTER 42:
"An Act to establish a new county out of fractions of Madison, Henderson, McNairy and Hardeman counties, and to repeal an Act passed March 19, 1875, to establish a new county out of the above named territory."
SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, That a new county be, and the same is hereby established, out of fractions of Madison, Henderson, McNairy and Hardeman counties, to be known as Chester County.
SECTION 2. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the county of Chester shall be bounded as follows: Beginning at a stake on the south bank of the middle fork of the Forked Deer River, where the Henderson and Madison county line crosses said river, at a beech and two hickory pointers, thence east with the meanderings of said river to a stake, hickory, elm and hornbeam pointers on the land of Dr. W. E. Tucker; thence with the arc of a circle with the radius of 11 miles; from the town of Lexington 12°93 miles; thence east 1 mile; thence in a southern direction to the northwest corner of Hardin County; thence with said line to the northeast corner of McNairy county; thence south with the McNairy and Hardin County line 1°52 miles; thence west 1°39 miles; thence south to the corner of the old survey of Wisdom County, made under the Act, this to repeal, on the lands of Thomas Wilkerson; thence west 8 miles; thence with the arc of a circle, with the radius of 11 miles, from the town of Purdy 14 miles; thence west 2°53 miles; thence with the arc of a circle with the radius of 11 miles from the town of Bolivar, 8°75 miles; thence north to the Madison County line; thence east with the Madison and Hardeman County line to a stake 10 poles east of the house of Rev. Robert Rainey; thence north 61½ degrees east 9 miles; thence north 26½°east to the Henderson and Madison County line; thence north with said line to the beginning. 278°77 square miles.
SECTION 3. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That for the purpose of organizing the said county of Chester, that J. F. Hamlet, Robert Long, B. H. Brown, J. H. Fry, B. I. Young, A. B. Patterson, J. W. Perkins, J. H. Mitchel, J. M. Simmons, John Barham, John M. Sherell, W. L. Steagall, William Rust, J. M. Reams, M. D. Pare and Able Stewart, shall be, and are hereby appointed Commissioners on the part of the several fractions in which they reside, who shall, before entering on the discharge of their duty, take an oath before some justice of the peace, to faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon them in this Act, and in all cases of vacancy that may occur among said Commissioners previous to the organization of the County Court of said county of Chester, the remaining Commissioners shall fill by appointment said vacancies -- and vacancies occurring after the organization of such court, shall be filled by said court of the county of Chester. The said Commissioners shall enter into such bond and security as may be required by the said County Court of Chester--made payable to the chairman thereof, conditioned for the faithful performance of their duties as required by this act; a majority of said Commissioners shall constitute a board competent to do all things herein enjoined upon them. They shall keep a record of their proceedings as Commissioners, which shall be returned to the County Court of Chester County, at its first term, and the same shall be recorded by the clerk thereof, on the records of said court, and they shall make such returns after the organization of said court, as shall be directed thereby.
SECTION 4. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of said Commissioners, first giving thirty days notice in one public place or more, of the time and place to open and hold an election in one or more places in each of the fractions proposed to be stricken off from the counties of Madison, Henderson, McNairy and Hardeman, in order to ascertain whether two-thirds of the voters residing in each of the said fractions are in favor of, or opposed to, the formation of said new county of Chester, and all persons qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly, residing in said fractions, shall be entitled to vote in said elections, and each voter who is in favor of the formation of the new county, shall have on his ticket, "New County," and each voter opposed to the formation of said new county of Chester, shall have on his ticket, "Old County," and after counting the vote cast in said election, if it shall appear that there are two-thirds of the legal voters in each of said fractions in favor of the new county, then in that case, the county of Chester shall be, and is hereby declared a county, with all the privileges and advantages, and subject to all the liabilities and duties with other counties in this State.
SECTION 5. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That in order to carry into effect, and make certain and accurate, the provisions in the fourth section of this Act, said Commissioners are hereby empowered and authorized to canvass and take the census of the qualified voting population in the bounds of the several fractions proposed to be stricken off from the counties of Madison, Henderson, McNairy and Hardeman, and if for any cause the election as herein provided shall not be held in any of said fractions, on the day appointed, said Commissioners shall provide for another election as herein provided in such fractions.
SECTION 6. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That for the due administration of justice, the different courts to be held in said county of Chester, shall be at such place or places as may be designated by said Commissioners, until the seat of justice shall be located, and all writs and other processes issued from said courts returnable to the place, shall be legal, and the courts of the county of Chester shall be under the same rules, regulations and restrictions of other counties of this state; shall have, "exercise," and possess the same power and jurisdiction as prescribed by law for holding courts in other counties, and said county shall be attached to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, and the first Circuit Court shall be at the time designated by the Judge of said Circuit, and shall be attached to the Tenth Chancery Division, and the Chancery Courts shall be held at the time designated by the judge of said Chancery Division.
SECTION 7. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That all officers, civil or military, now holding office in said county, shall continue to hold their offices and exercise all functions and powers thereof until others are elected and qualified according to the provisions of this act; Provided, That nothing in this act shall deprive the counties from which the fractions have been taken, from exercising and holding jurisdiction over the county of Chester and the citizens thereof, in as full and ample a manner as they now have, until the election of county officers takes place, according to the provisions of this Act.
SECTION 8. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That said Commissioners are hereby empowered, and it shall be their duty to appoint five qualified and suitable persons to divide said county into not less than ten nor more than twelve civil districts, designating boundaries and places for holding elections in said districts, and performing all the duties relating thereto, which by the law of the state such commissioners are required to do.
SECTION 9. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the Commissioners appointed by this act shall appoint such persons as they think proper to open and hold the election for county officers for the said county of Chester, and such persons so appointed shall have power to appoint deputies, clerks and judges, and by himself and deputies to administer all the necessary oaths and perform all other duties that are now made the duty of sheriffs or other officers holding similar elections, and it shall be the duty of such persons so appointed, together with their deputies, after giving fifteen days notice, to open the polls and hold an election in each civil district in said county, for district and county officers, and the officers so elected shall hold their offices until the next regular election for the different officers so elected takes place in other counties.
SECTION 10. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of the above named Commissioners, so soon as convenient after the full and complete organization of the said county of Chester, to select and put in nomination two or more suitable locations for the seat of justice of the said county of Chester, having due regard to health and convenience of a majority of the citizens of said county, neither of which places shall be more than three and a half miles from the supposed or probable center of said county of Chester, which places shall be voted for by the legal voters of said county of Chester, and the site nominated receiving the highest number of votes shall be, and is hereby declared to be the seat of justice of said county of Chester.
SECTION 11. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That is shall be the further duty of said Commissioners to superintend the erection of such public buildings as the County Courts of said county may direct to be built, and shall let the same out publicly, and shall take bond with good and sufficient security, payable to themselves and their successors in office, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or their contracts. The proceeds of all donations, lands, town lots, or other gifts that may be made in consideration of the location of the seat of justice for the said county of Chester, or otherwise shall be a fund in their hands to pay the necessary expenses in organizing said county and paying for the erection of public buildings ordered to be built by the County Court, and should any surplus remain in their hands, it shall be their duty to pay over the same to the Trustee of the county, to be accounted for by him as other county money in his hands.
SECTION 12. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That said Commissioners of Chester County be, and they are hereby authorized to exercise all powers and privileges conferred on them by this act, and any and all other powers not in violation of the Constitution of the state that may be necessary and proper for the complete and setting up and organization of said county of Chester.
SECTION 13. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the citizens of Chester County in all elections for Governor, Members of the General Assembly, Representatives in Congress and Electors for President and Vice President, shall vote with the counties from which they have been respectively stricken off, until the next apportionment agreeable to the provisions of the fifth section of the Tenth Article of the Constitution of the state.
SECTION 14. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the fractions composing the said county of Chester shall be liable for their pro rata of the debts contracted and owing by the counties from which they were taken, and shall also receive their proportion of any stock or credits belonging to said old counties.
SECTION 15. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That an Act passed March 19, 1875, entitled, "An Act to create a new county off of Madison, Henderson, McNairy, and Hardeman counties, in the state of Tennessee," and all other acts and parts of acts in conflict with this act be, and the same are hereby repealed.
SECTION 16. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it.
Passed on March 1, 1879
Chester 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.
Chester County in General
- Archaeological investigations at Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Area: 1974, 1975 & 1978 field seasons. Ed. by Robert C. Mainfort, Jr. Nashville, TN Dept. Conservation, 1980. 108 pp.
- Barnes, Bobby. Burial locations for Confederate soldiers in Chester County, TN. N.p., the author, 1989. 34 pp.
- Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (Chester County, Preliminary #18). Nashville, TSLA, 1968. 43 pp.
- Broster, John B. "Paleo-Indian habitation at the Pierce site (40CS24), Chester County, TN". TN Anthrop. 7 (1982), pp. 93-104.
- Chester County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
- Chester County history: war years. N.p., n.d. 5 pp.
- Chester County Centennial Committee. Chester County, TN, 1882-1982. Henderson, the committee, 1982. 1 vol.
- Community information, Henderson-Chester County, TN. Prepared by city of Henderson & Office of the County Executive & Chester County Chamber of Commerce & West TN Industrial Assoc. Jackson, the association, 1988. 31 pp.
- Goodspeed's history of TN (Chester County, pp. 806-813, 862-869). Goodspeed, 1887.
- Henderson-Chester County, TN, emergency operations plan. Nashville, TEMA, 1987. 1 vol.
- Hilliand, Addie S. "I remember, I remember." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 32 (1966), pp. 121-128.
- Hilliand, Addie. S. "On swallowing punkin seed." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 40 (1974), pp. 119-121.
- Hilliand, Addie S. "Shakespearean proverbs in Chester County, TN." NC Folklore J. 22 (1974), pp. 63-74.
- Hilliand, Addie S. "What'll we give to the baby-o?" TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 40 (1974), pp. 41-46.
- History & families of Chester County, TN. Henderson, Chester County Hist. Soc., 1995. 1 vol.
- Raskopf, B.D. Improving incomes of small farms in Area 6, west TN. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1948. 56 pp.
- Reid, Samuel E. A brief history of Chester County, TN: then & now; an historical comparison, facts of the past & present, which the future will want to remember. Jackson, Long-Johnson, 1924. 24 pp. (reprinted by McCowat-Mercer, 1967).
- Religious history of Chester County, area home demonstration clubs, other area clubs. Henderson, TN Homecoming '86, Chester County Roots Committee, 1985. 1 vol.
- Soil survey, Chester County, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1994. 164 pp.
- TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
- TN Valley Authority. Ind. Div. Agricultural-industrial survey of Chester County. Knoxville, TVA, 1936. var. pp.
- US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Beech Bluff, Luray, Medon, Henderson, Jacks Creek, Enville, Sardis, Silerton, Masseyville, Mt. Peter, Hornsby, Rose Creek.
- Wheatley, Delores. Survey of Chester County with an emphasis on Henderson. N.p., the author, 1968. 132 pp.
- First State Bank, Henderson, TN. Reflections. Henderson, First State Bank, 1979. 47 pp.
- Henderson (TN) Area Centennial. Henderson centennial celebration commemorating 100 years of progress; "from Indians to industry." Jackson, Laycock, 1960. 64 pp.
- Henderson urban transportation study: existing conditions. Prepared by the TN Dept. Transportation, in cooperation with the US Dept. Transportation, FHA, the city of Henderson & Office of Local Planning Assistance. Nashville, TN Dept. Transportation, 1991. 1 sheet.
- Matlock, J.W.L. History of the Methodist Church at Henderson, TN. Henderson, First Methodist Church, 1960. 90 pp.
- Tilley, Nancy H. & W. Clyde Tilley. Unity Baptist Church: a patchwork of history & humor. Jackson, Union U. Press, 1976. 124 p.