Johnson County

Johnson County

Johnson County was formed in 1836 from Carter County

(Private Acts of Tennessee 1835-1836, Chapter 31)

The county seat is Mountain City.


Selected Published County Histories
  • From This Valley  (Cook,  2003)
  • History of Johnson County, 1986 (Johnson County Historical Society, 1986) [name index]

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


Published Local Records
  • 1880 Census, Johnson County, Tennessee (Sistler, 1994) [alphabetical by surname]
  • Abstracts of Death Records for Johnson County, Tennes[s]ee, 1908 to 1941 (Nikazy, 1992) [name index]
  • Enumeration of Male Inhabitants of Twenty-one Years of Age and Upward, Citizens of Tennessee, January 1, 1891 [Johnson County] (Reed, 1992)
  • Johnson County, Tennessee 1836 Tennessee Civil Districts and Tax Lists (Douthat, 1993) [name index]*
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, 1860 Census (Wilson, 1979) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, 1870 Census (Gentry, 1982) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, 1880 Census (Gentry, 1982) [name index]*
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, 1900 Census (Gentry, 1995) [name index]*
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, 1910 Census (Gentry, 1995) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, 1920 Census (Gentry, 199?) [name index]*
  • Johnson County, Tennessee Bible & Tombstone Records (WPA, 1936) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee Census Records, 1840-50 (Wilson, 1974) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, Court Minutes vol.1, 1836-54 (WPA, 1936)
  • Johnson County, Tennessee Marriage Book 1, 1838-1857 (Douthat, 1982) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, Marriage Records vol.1 & 2, 1838-57, 1857-60 (WPA, 1936) [name index]
  • Johnson County, Tennessee, Tax List, 1836-1839 (Douthat, 1998) [name index]*
  • Johnson County, Tennessee Tax List vol.1, 1836-39 (WPA, 1937) [name index]
  • Johnson County Tennessee Will Book #1, 1827-1860 (Douthat, 1982)
  • Marriage Records of Johnson County, Tennessee, 1796-1880 [2 vols.] (Johnson & Hawkins, 1979) [alphabetical listings]
  • Upon a Lonely Hill: The Cemeteries of Johnson County, Tennessee (Carrier, 1985) [name index]
  • Watauga Reservoir Cemeteries: TVA Grave Removal Records (Douthat, 1992)
  • Wills and Letters of Administration, vol.1, book 1, 1827-1867 (WPA, 1936)


Local Records on Microfilm

An inventory of microfilmed Johnson 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 1856
  • county court minutes from 1836
  • circuit court minutes from 1836
  • tax books from 1836

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

  • Administrator's Settlements -- 1848-1874  (#10,  1 reel)*
  • Deed Index -- 1836-1910  (#19,  1 reel)*
  • Marriage Records -- 1838-1902  (#11,  1 reel)*
  • Settlements -- 1837-1884 [gaps]  (#18,  1 reel)*
  • Wills -- 1836-1932 [gaps]  (#18,  1 reel)*
  • WPA Records, Johnson County  (Record Group #107, Roll 42,  1 reel). Roll includes Wills & Letters of Administration (1827-1867), Tax List (1836-1839), County Court Minutes Book 1 (1830-1854), Marriage Record Book 1 (1838-1857), Marriage Records (1857-1860) and Bible & Tombstone Records (undated).*


Newspapers on Microfilm

Newspapers were published in Mountain City.  Scattered early issues are available from 1882, and a complete run begins in 1954.  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
  • Paul M. Fink Collection, 1862-1869  (Microfilm Manuscript #146, 1 reel)*
  • Shoun Family Papers, 1795-1926  (Microfilm Manuscript #460, 1 reel)*

Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog 


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


Additional Research Aids for Johnson County


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


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Johnson County Formation Act



"An Act to establish the county of Johnson, on the east of Carter County."


SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, That a new distinct county be and the same is hereby established, to be known and distinguished as the county of Johnson; beginning at the line of Sullivan County, at a place called the Rich End, where the cross ridge commences that divides the waters of Beaver Dam and Stoney creeks; thence running with the heights of said ridge to the Iron Mountain; thence with the extreme heights of said mountain to a point opposite the ridge running from said mountain between Dugger's and Vanhouse's; then with said ridge to the Watauga river; then up said river to the mouth of Elk Creek; then with the ridge dividing Elk Creek from the Watauga River, to the North Carolina line; then with the line between Carter County and the North Carolina line to the Virginia line; then with the Virginia line to the corner between Carter and Sullivan counties, from thence to the beginning.

SECTION 2. BE IT ENACTED, That William Gott, Robert Reeve and James O'Brien be and they are hereby appointed commissioners under this act to designate a proper place for the permanent location of the seat of justice for said county, (with due regard to population and territory,) and the said commissioners shall proceed, on or before the first day of March, to the selection of said site.

SECTION 3. BE IT ENACTED, That the county courts shall, at their first or second session appoint five or seven at their discretion, good and lawful men, citizens of said county, commissioners, who shall proceed and procure, by purchase or otherwise, from ten to one hundred acres of land, at such place as the commissioners named in this act may designate, upon which the county seat shall be located, for which they shall cause a deed or deeds to be made to themselves and their successors in office, by general warranty; and said county seat, when so located, shall be called Taylorsville; and the said commissioners, under the direction of said county court, shall proceed to lay off the town into lots, sell the lots, collect and appropriate the monies, and do all other things touching said county or county seat, not mentioned in nor incompatible with this act or the amended constitution.

SECTION 4. BE IT ENACTED, That for the due administration of justice, the different courts to be holden in said county of Johnson, shall be held at the house of Thomas Johnson, deceased, until the county seat shall be located, and a house erected for that purpose; the county court shall, in the intermediate time, have full power to adjourn the courts to such other place in said county as they may deem better suited for the holding of the same, and for the public convenience, and to adjourn to the seat of justice, when in their judgment the necessary arrangements are made, and all writs and all other precepts returnable to either place, shall and may be returned to the place to which the said court may have been removed by the county court aforesaid; and the said court to be holden in and for said county of Johnson, shall be under the same regulations and restrictions, and shall have, hold, exercise and possess the same power and jurisdiction as is provided by said court in other counties in this state

SECTION 5. 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 Johnson shall elect her officers, civil and military, under the amended constitution, at the same time and under the same rules and regulations, and in the same manner that may be provided by law for the election of officers in the other counties of this state; and the said county of Johnson shall placed upon an equal footing, possess equal powers and privileges in all respects, as other counties in this state; Provided, that nothing contained in this act shall be so construed as to deprive the county of Carter from holding and exercising jurisdiction over the territory of the said county of Johnson and the citizens thereof, in as full and ample manner as it now has, until the election of county officers under the amended constitution; Provided, also, that nothing in this act contained shall be so construed as to prevent the county of Carter from entering up judgments, or the sheriff of said county, from selling under such judgments, any lands or other property within the bounds of said new county, and for collecting taxes, costs and charges, for the present or any preceding year.

SECTION 6. BE IT ENACTED, That the citizens of Johnson County, in all elections for governor, members of congress, and for members of the general assembly, shall vote with the county of Carter, until the next apportionment of members of the general assembly, agreeable to the provisions of the 5th section of the tenth article of the amended constitution.

SECTION 7. BE IT ENACTED, That the commissioners appointed by this act, and such as may be appointed by the county court, shall, before entering upon the discharge of the duties assigned by this act, take an oath or affirmation that they will truly and faithfully execute and perform the different duties by this act enjoined, according to the best of their judgment; and those appointed by the court shall enter into bond, with approved security, payable to the chairman of the county court of Johnson and his successors in office, in the sum of five thousand dollars, conditioned for the due and faithful performance of the duties enjoined by this act, and the court of said county of Johnson; which bond, when so taken, shall be deposited in the county court clerk's office in said county.

SECTION 8. BE IT ENACTED, That the said commissioners, appointed by the court aforesaid, shall keep a fair and regular statement of monies, by them received and expended; which statement, when required, shall from (time) to time, be laid before the county courts; and if, after erecting public buildings, there should be a surplus of money, the said commissioners shall pay over the same to the county trustee, to be used for county purposes.

SECTION 9. BE IT ENACTED, That the commissioners appointed by this act, and such as may be appointed by the court of said county, shall receive for each day that they may be necessarily employed in performing the duties assigned or required of them by this act, such sum as the said court may consider a fair compensation for their services, to be paid by the trustee of said county, out of the first monies not otherwise appropriated.

Passed on January 2, 1836


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Johnson 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.

Subjects :

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Johnson County in General
  • Allred, Charles E. Acquisition of farm land by credit corporations in TN. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1938. 49 pp. (its Rural research series monograph #77)
  • Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (Johnson County, Preliminary #11). Nashville, TSLA, 1970. 61 pp.
  • Bonser, Howard J. Costs, returns, & practices in growing snap beans, Johnson County, TN, 1942. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1945. 63 pp. (its Rural research series monograph #182)
  • Churches & institutions of Hamblen, Johnson, Cocke & Greene counties, TN. Milligan College, the college, 1994. 161 pp.
  • Goodspeed's history of east TN (Johnson County, pp. 922-925, 1312-1317). Goodspeed, 1887.
  • History of Johnson County, 1986. Sesquicentennial ed. Johnson County, Johnson County Hist. Soc., 1986. 511 pp.
  • Johnson County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
  • Lawrence, Robert A. "A new manganese mine in Johnson County, TN." Journal TN Acad. Sci. 15 (1940), pp. 396-401.
  • Scott, Samuel W. & Samuel P. Angel. History of the 13th regiment, TN volunteer cavalry, USA. Knoxville, n.p., 1903. 510 pp.
  • Soil survey, Johnson County, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1946.
  • TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
  • TN Valley Authority. Ind. Div. Agricultural-industrial survey of Johnson County, TN. Knoxville, TVA, 1934. var. pp.
  • US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Shady Valley, Laurel Bloomery, Grayson, Carter, Doe, Mountain City, Baldwin Gap, Watauga Dam, Elk Mills, Sherwood, Zionville.

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Watauga Academy
  • Crowe, Dan. Old Butler & Watauga Academy. Kingsport, the author, 1983. 72 pp.
  • Jennings, George. The history of Watauga Academy of Butler, TN. Appalachian State U. thesis, 1950. pp.


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