Fentress County

Fentress County

Fentress County was formed in 1823 from
Morgan, Overton and White counties

(Private Acts of Tennessee1823, Chapter 302)

The county seat is Jamestown.

There was a fire at the Fentress County courthouse in 1905.


Selected Published County Histories
  • Davy Crockett and Others in Fentress County (Hogue, 1955)*
  • Fentress Countians in the Great War (Crouch, 2017)  [alphabetical by surname]
  • Fentress County History as I Reviewed It (Pinckley, 1987)
  • Fentress County, Tennessee Pictorial History: Volume 1, the First One Hundred Years (1998) [surname index]*
  • Hill Country History "as I Renewed It" (Pinckley, 1989)
  • History of Buffalo Cove, Fentress County, Tennessee (Peavyhouse, 1969?)*
  • History of Fentress County, Tennessee (Fentress County Historical Society, 1987)*
  • History of Fentress County, Tennessee, the Old Home of Mark Twain's Ancestors (Hogue, 1920) [name index]
  • Little Crab as I Knew It (Pinckley, 1986)
  • Local History as I Pursued It (Pinckley, 1988)
  • Mark Twain's Obedstown and Knobs of Tennessee; A History of Jamestown and Fentress County, Tennessee (Hogue, 1950)
  • Mountain History "as I Rescued It" (Pinckley, 1990)
  • Musings on Fentress County Education  (Crouch, 2015)
  • One Hundred Years in the Cumberland Mountains Along the Continental Line (Hogue, 1933)*
  • Wilma R. Pinckley Recalls-- Journeys Down Memory Lane (Pinckley, 1994)*
  • Wilma Recalls-- Our Upper Cumberland Heritage (Pinckley, 1993)*
  • Wilma Recalls-- Treasured Memories (Pinckley, 1992)*

Additional county and community histories can be found at the Bibliography of Tennessee Local History Sources: Fentress County. The items in the bibliography may not all be available at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.  


Published Local Records
  • 1850 Fentress County Census (Scott County Historical Society, 1985?) [surname index]*
  • 1860 Fentress County census (Scott County Historical Society, 1985?) [surname index]*
  • 1860 Fentress County, Tennessee, Census (Ramsey, 1994) [surname index]*
  • 1872 Tax Records, Fentress County, Tennessee (Hatfield, 1991) [name index]*
  • 1880 Census, Fentress County, Tennessee (Sistler, 1993) [alphabetical by head of household]*
  • 1880 Federal Census of Fentress County, Tennessee (Hatfield, 1986) [surname index]
  • 1900 Federal Census of Fentress County, Tennessee (Hatfield, 1991) [name index]*
  • 1910 Federal Census of Fentress County, Tennessee (Hatfield, 1989) [surname index] *
  • 1920 Census of Fentress County, Tennessee (Ramsey, 1994) [surname index]*
  • *Big Fentress County Census, 1820-1890 [includes 1820 census of Overton & White counties, and 1890 census of TN Civil War veterans of Fentress County] (Norris, 2002)  [alphabetical listing]*
  • Cemetery Records, Fentress County, Tenn. (Wheeler, 1988) [surname index]
  • Cumberland Co., Tennessee, Fentress Co., Tennessee, Jackson Co., Tennessee, Loudon Co., Tennessee, Morgan Co., Tennessee, Overton Co. [1891 enumeration of male voters] (Reed, 1990) [name index]
  • Early Records, Fentress Co., TN: 1830 - 1840 - 1850 Census, 1833 Enumeration (Hatfield, 1988) [surname index]
  • Entry Books of Fentress County, Tennessee: Volumes A, B & C, 1824 to 1901 (Hatfield, 1990) [name index]*
  • Fentress County Footprints (Norris, 2001) [alphabetical listing]*
  • Fentress County, Tennessee, Deed Book A and B, 1824-38 (WPA, 1938) [name index]
  • Fentress County, Tennessee, Entry Book A, 1824-1836 (WPA, 1936) [name index]
  • Fentress County, Tennessee Hints and Clues (Norris, 2001) [alphabetical]
  • Fentress County, Tennessee, Minutes Book, vol. 1, 1842-44 (WPA, 1937) [name index]
  • Fentress County, Tennessee Veterans: Honoring County Veterans who Served Their Country Well (Fentress County Historical Society, 2013)  [name index]
  • Fentress County, Tennessee, Vital Statistics, 1914 through 1925 (Wiefering, 1994) [name index]*
  • Funeral Home Records from Jennings Funeral Home: Jamestown, Fentress Co., TN, Formerly Jamestown Funeral Home [vol. 1 Nov. 1957 - Feb. 1973; vol. 2 Feb. 1973 - Dec. 1983] (Ellis & Posey, ????) [name indexes]*
  • Private Acts of Fentress County, Tennessee (McIntyre, 1994)
  • Seventh Census of the United States, 1850, Fentress County, Tennessee: Free Population Schedules (Carpenter, 1969) [surname index]


Local Records on Microfilm 

An inventory of microfilmed Fentress County records is available on our website.  Individual reels of microfilm may also be purchased.   

Earliest records include:

  • marriages from 1905
  • wills from 1905
  • deed index from 1820
  • chancery court minutes from 1854
  • county court minutes from 1894
  • circuit court minutes from 1854
  • tax books from 1897

The following reels are available on interlibrary loan from the Library and Archives:

  • *Deed Index -- 1820-1904   (#6, 1 reel)*
  • *WPA Records, Fentress County (Record Group #107, Roll 18, 1 reel). Roll includes Entry Book A (1824-1836),  Deed Book A & B (1824-1838) and Circuit Court Minute Book 1 (1842-1844).*


Newspapers on Microfilm

Newspapers were published in Allardt and Jamestown.  Scattered early issues are available from 1891, and a complete run begins in 1962.  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
  • Albert Houston Roberts Papers, 1859-1938   (Microfilm Manuscript #1394, 20 reels)*
  • Albigence Waldo Putnam Papers, 1775-1869   (Microfilm Manuscript #140, 1 reel)*
  • B. M. Colditz Diaries, 1870-1872, 1885-1889   (Microfilm Manuscript #68, 1 reel)*
  • Myrtle Crowley Goss Papers, 1862-1963   (Microfilm Manuscript #1395, 1 reel)*

Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog 


Census Records
  • Census on microfilm for Fentress County:  1830-1880, 1900-1930
  • State-wide census index:  1830-1880
  • State-wide census index on microfilm  (Soundex):  1880,  1900-1930
  • Fentress County census records in book form:  1830*, 1840*, 1850*, 1860*, 1870*, 1880*, 1900*, 1910*, 1920*


Additional Research Aids for Fentress County

*   Indicates this title may be borrowed on interlibrary loan from the Library and Archives.


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Fentress County Formation Act


"An Act to reduce Overton County to its constitutional limits, and to form a new county out of part of the counties of Overton and Morgan."

SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, That Jonathan Douglass, of the county of Overton, be, and he is hereby, appointed surveyor to reduce Overton County to its constitutional limits, beginning at the north-east corner of Jackson County, on the east bank of Cumberland River, in the Kentucky line; running thence east with the Kentucky line, so far that by running south parallel with the eastern boundary of the said county of Jackson, until it strikes the Morgan County line; thence with the same to the Cumberland Road, and with that westwardly to the line of the said county of Jackson, and with the same to the beginning, will leave Overton County its constitutional limits.

SECTION 2. BE IT ENACTED, That a new and distinct county be, and the same is hereby, established east of the county of Overton, to be known and distinguished by the name of Fentress County; beginning at the north-east corner of the said county of Overton, (when reduced,) in the Kentucky line; running thence east, with the Kentucky line, to the south fork of Cumberland River; thence up the same as it meanders, to the Clear Fork; thence up the same to the forks where Pile's Turnpike was formerly kept, where Richard Butler now lives, so as to leave said Butler in Morgan County; thence up the right-hand fork of the said Clear Fork, to its head or source; from thence a direct line to the south-east corner of Overton (when reduced;) thence northwardly with the line of Overton County to the beginning.

SECTION 3. BE IT ENACTED, That, for the due administration of justice, the Court of Pleas and Quarter-Sessions, and the Circuit Courts in said county, shall be holden at the house of George Helms, until otherwise provided for, under the same regulations and restrictions, and shall exercise and possess the same powers and jurisdiction, as is possessed by said courts in other counties in this state.

SECTION 4. BE IT ENACTED, That sheriff of Fentress County shall hold an election at the place of holding courts in said county, on the first Thursday and succeeding days in April next, for the purpose of electing field-officers for said county of Fentress, under the same rules and regulations as are prescribed by law in similar cases; and the militia of said county of Fentress shall constitute the ___ regiment and shall become a part of the ___ brigade.

SECTION 5. BE IT ENACTED, That elections for company officers for the county of Fentress, shall be held at such places as the commandant of militia in said county may appoint; which said elections shall be held on such days as may be directed by said commandant.

SECTION 6. BE IT ENACTED, That the surveyor appointed by the first section of this act, shall be allowed the sum of two dollars per day, and the chain-carriers and markers who may be employed by said surveyor, shall each be allowed the sum of one dollar per day, for their services in running and marking said lines, to be paid equally by the counties of Overton and Fentress, out of any moneys not otherwise appropriated.

SECTION 7. BE IT ENACTED, That the county of Fentress shall be a part of the district for electing Governor, Representatives to Congress, Electors to elect a President and Vice President of the United States, and Members to the General Assembly, to which the county of Overton now belongs, and that elections be held at the place of holding courts in said county, (and such other places as the court may establish,) at the time, and in the manner, by law directed; and the sheriff, or returning officer of said county, shall make return of the polls of said election to the sheriff of Overton County, shall make return of the polls of said election to the sheriff of Overton County, in the town of Monroe, on the day next succeeding each election.

SECTION 8.That such Justices of the Peace as may have been heretofore appointed, and which may fall within the bounds of the county of Fentress, be, and they are hereby, continued in office: And provided nevertheless, that nothing in this act contained, shall be so construed as to prevent the sheriffs of Overton and Morgan counties from collecting the taxes which may be due within their respective counties for the present year, or any preceding year.


Passed on November 28, 1823

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Fentress 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! web page 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.

Subjects :

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Fentress County in General
  • The Appalachian-Ozark area: Fentress County, TN. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1934. 5 pp. (Rural problem areas survey report #20).
  • Atkinson, Luther. Remembrances. N.p., 1992. 88 pp. (taken from the author's newspaper columns).
  • Best of the Fentress County Bluegrass & Crafts Festival. Cookeville, WCTE- TV, 1983. 1 videocassette, 60 min.
  • Biographical directory, TN General Assembly (Fentress County, Preliminary #20). Nashville, TSLA, 1970. 49 pp.
  • Butts, Charles. Geology & oil possibilities of the northern part of Overton County, TN & of adjoining parts of Clay, Pickett & Fentress counties. Nashville, Williams Print. Co., 1919. 45 pp.
  • Clarke, James N. To those seeking homes & health: Fentress County, TN, its advantages. Allardt, the author, 1883. 11 pp.
  • Ensor, Allison. "The birthplace of Samuel Clemens: a new Mark Twain letter." TN Studies in Lit. 14 (1969), pp. 31-34.
  • Fellowship United Baptist Church, 1857-1992. Jamestown, Courier, 1993. 83 pp.
  • Fentress County Hist. Soc. History of Fentress County, TN. Dallas, TX, Curtis Media Corp., 1987. 707 pp.
  • Fentress County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
  • Fentress, Willie B. "James Fentress." AHM 7 (1902), p. 178.
  • Glenn, Leonidas C. The northern coal field included in Fentress [& other] counties. Nashville, TN Div. Geol., 1925. 478 pp. (TN Geol. Survey Bull. 33-B).
  • Goodpasture, Albert V. "Mark Twain, southerner." THM (ser. 2), 1 (1931), pp. 253-260. (reprinted in TN old & new, vol. 2, pp. 280-287).
  • Hogue, Albert R. Davy Crockett & others in Fentress County who have given the county a prominent place in history. Jamestown, n.p., 1955. 32 pp.
  • Hogue, Albert R. History of Fentress County, TN, the old home of Mark Twain's ancestors. Nashville, Williams Print. Co., 1916. 165 pp. (reprinted 1994 by Genealogical Pub. Co.).
  • Hogue, Albert R. John M. Clemens, the father of Mark Twain. N.p., 1927. 7 pp.
  • Hogue, Albert R. Mark Twain's Obedstown & Knobs of TN: a history of Jamestown & Fentress County, TN. Jamestown, Cumberland Print. Co., 1951. 91 pp.
  • Hogue, Albert R. One hundred years in the Cumberland Mountains along the continental line. McMinnville, Standard Print. Co., 1933. 92 pp. (reprinted 1977 by Fentress County Hist. Soc.).
  • Humphrey, Valerie L. "The burial customs of Fentress County, TN." 1973. 10 pp. (student paper, Riedl Collection, UT Library)
  • Kort, John R. An economic profile of Fentress County, TN: a statistical overview. Knoxville, UT Tech. Assistance Center, 1975. 81 pp.
  • Newsletter. Vol. 1, 1989-. Fentress County Hist. Soc.
  • Patton, C.D. Conflict in the Cumberlands. N.p., n.d. 85 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Fentress County history as I reviewed it. Jamestown, Fentress Courier, 1987. 160 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Hill country history as I renewed it. Jamestown, Courier, 1989. 112 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Little Crab as I knew it. Jamestown, Courier, 1986. 52 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Local history as I pursued it. Jamestown, Courier, 1988. 80 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Mountain history as I rescued it. Jamestown, Courier, 1990. 140 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Our upper Cumberland heritage. Jamestown, Courier, 1993. 80 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Wilma recalls: local history. Jamestown, Courier, 1991. 124 pp.
  • Pinckley, Wilma R. Wilma recalls-- treasured memories. Jamestown, Courier, 1992. 132 pp.
  • Soil survey, Fentress & Pickett counties, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1995. 117 pp.
  • Study of natural gas availability in Fentress County, TN for development of a gas transmission system for the TN Dept. Ec. & Comm. Dev. Oct. 19, 1981. Tulsa, OK, Keplinger & Associates, Inc., 1981. 2 vols.
  • TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
  • TN Taxpayers Assn. Report upon its survey of the finances & management of the government of Fentress County, TN, an analysis of the county's income, expenditures & indebtedness, 1934. Nashville, TN Taxpayers Assn., 1935. 107 pp.
  • TN Valley Authority. Ind. Div. Agricultural-industrial survey of Fentress County. Knoxville, TVA, 1934. var. pp.
  • TN Valley Authority. Regional Soils Database. Important farmland in Fentress County, TN. Nashville, TVA, 1981. 1 map.
  • Tharp, Mel. "Johnson rods, horseshoe bread & other TN colloquialisms." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 40 (1983), pp. 74-77.
  • Tharp, Mel. "A social study of mountain folk humor." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 43 (1977), pp. 186-187.
  • US Farm Sec. Admin. Survey of agricultural labor conditions. Washington, D.C., n.p., 1937. 11 vols. in 1.
  • US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Moodyville, Pall Mall, Sharp Place, Barthell SW, Riverton, Jamestown, Stockton, Honey Creek, Wilder, Grimsley, Burrville, Rugby, Clarkrange, Jones Knobb.
  • Wheeler, Hazel. The history of Wilder, Davidson, Highland Junction, Sandy & the hollow. N.p., 1992. 60 pp.
  • Wright, Rev. A. B. Autobiography of Rev. A. B. Wright. Cincinnati, Cranston & Curts, 1896. 447 pp. (reprinted 1977 by Fentress County Hist. Soc.).

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  • Allardt, a history. Jamestown, Fentress Courier, 1986. 132 pp.
  • Allardt Missionary Society, Allardt, TN. The Allardt cookbook. (5th ed., rev.) Allardt, Lola Gernt & June Bagse, 1953. 76 pp.
  • Clarke, James N. & Annetta Gerntt. "History of Allardt." THM 9 (1925-26), pp. 185-189.

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Buffalo Cove
  • Peavyhouse, Will C. A history of Buffalo Cove, Fentress County, TN. N.p., 1969. 32 pp.

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  • Hale, William T. True stories of Jamestown & its environs. Nashville, Methodist Pub. House, 1907. 156 pp.
  • Wheeler, Hazel. Jamestown: back then... & now: containing 194 photographs reminiscent of the past & the progress in recent years. N.p., 1990. 100 pp.
  • Wright, Absalom B. "Jamestown Circuit". (In Autobiography of Rev. A. B. Wright of the Holston Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, pp. 63-78, 94-173)

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  • Crabtree, Font F. The Wilder coal strike of 1932-33. George Peabody College thesis, 1937. pp.

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Alvin York & York Institute
  • Alvin C. York Industrial Institute (Jamestown, TN): information about the Alvin C. York Industrial Institute, "America's tribute to Sergeant York." Jamestown, n.p., 1927. 16 pp.
  • Andrews, Peter. Sergeant York: reluctant hero. Illustrated by Charles Brey. NY, Putnam, 1969. 95 pp. (juvenile).
  • Birdwell, Michael E. The making of the movie Sergeant York: a journey from reality to myth. TTU thesis, 1990. 113 pp.
  • Cowan, Samuel K. Sergeant York & his people. NY, Funk, 1922. 292 pp. (reprinted 1960 by Fentress County Hist. Soc.).
  • Hoobler, James A. "Sergeant York Historic Area." THQ 38 (1979), pp. 3-8.
  • Humble, R.G. Sgt. Alvin C. York: a Christian patriot. Circleville, OH, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union, 1966. 41 pp.
  • Kinder, Sambra R. A brief history of the early years of the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute. Carson Newman College thesis, 1990. 56 pp.
  • Lee, David D. Sergeant York: an American hero. Lexington, KY, U. Press of KY, 1985. 162 pp.
  • McGaw, Robert A. "A likeness to Sergeant York." THQ 27 (1968), pp. 329- 340.
  • Pattullo, George. The second elder gives battle. Nashville, Brandon Print. Co., 1919. 19 pp.
  • Ridout, George W. The greatest soldier of the war: story of Sergeant Alvin York, the Christian soldier who went through the great war winning the highest honors ever given a private, his testimony & life sketch. Louisville, KY, Pentecostal Pub. Co., 1923. 16 pp.
  • Sergeant York: a Warner Bros./ First National picture; directed by Howard Hawks; produced by Jesse L. Lasky & Hal B. Wallis; screen play by Abem Finkel, Harry Chandlee, Howard Koch & John Houston. MGA/UA, 1969. 137 min.
  • Sergeant York & Red Dust. [2 complete radio dramas; sound recording]. Pelican, 1973. (Sergeant York originally broadcast Jan. 18, 1942, starring Gary Cooper with Joan Leslie & Walter Brennan; Red Dust originally broadcast Oct. 6, 1949, starring Clark Gable & Ann Southern.)
  • Sergeant York: the man behind the hero: unit containing four lesson plans. Murfreesboro, MTSU, 1992. 18 pp. (elementary school lesson plans)
  • Shanks, Maudean W. History of Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute, Jamestown, TN, 1926-1992. Allardt, the author, 1994. 345 pp.
  • Skeyhill, Thomas J. Sergeant York, last of the long hunters. Philadelphia, PA, Winston, 1930. 240 pp. (reprinted 1993 by Christian Book Gallery, St. John, IN.).
  • Testimony of German officers & men anent Sergeant York. Fort Humphreys, D.C., Army War College, 1936. 26 pp.
  • Weddle, Ethel H. Alvin C. York, young marksman. Indianapolis, IN, Bobbs- Merrill, 1967. 200 pp. (juvenile fiction)
  • York, Alvin C. Sergeant York, his own life story & war diary. NY, Doubleday, 1928. 309 pp.
  • York Farm, Pall Mall, TN. Washington, D.C., National Park Service, 1991. 1 sheet.
  • York, Gracie Williams. The reminiscences of Mrs. Alvin "Sergeant" York. Glen Rock, NJ, MCA, 1976. (series: TN Regional Oral History Collection of the Memphis Public Library, pt. l, no. 8)

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