Lauderdale County

Lauderdale County

Lauderdale County was formed in 1835 from
Dyer, Haywood and Tipton counties

(Private Acts of Tennessee 1835-36, Chapter 28)

The county seat is Ripley.

There was a fire at the Lauderdale County courthouse in 1869.


Selected Published County Histories
  • History of Tennessee From the Earliest Time to the Present: Together With a Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Lauderdale, Tipton, Haywood and Crockett (Goodspeed, 1978)
  • Key Corner, the Birthplace of Civilization in West Tennessee (WPA, 1936)
  • Lauderdale County (Morris, 2012)
  • Lauderdale County From Earliest Times; An Intimate and Informal Account of the Towns and Communities, Its Families and Famous Individuals, Written by Descendants of Its Pioneer Citizens  (Peters, 1957) [name index]*
  • Lauderdale County's Volunteer 200 Day Project: Celebrate Our Court House, Thursday, June 1, 1995 (1995)
  • Old Times in West Tennessee. Reminiscences - Semi-historic - of Pioneer Life and the Early Emigrant Settlers in the Big Hatchie Country. By a Descendent of One of the First Settlers (Williams, 1873)*
  • Pictorial History of Lauderdale County, Tennessee  [5 vols.] (Morris, 2009-2014)
  • Visions of Lauderdale County, Past and Present  (Hellums and McCauley,  1998) [name index]

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


Published Local Records
  • Lauderdale Co., Tenn., Court Minutes, vol. A, 1836-44 (WPA, 1936) [name index]
  • Lauderdale Co., Tenn., Court Minutes, vol. B, 1844-52 (WPA, 1936)
  • Lauderdale Co., Tenn., Wills, Inventories, & Sales, 1837-44, 1844-49 (WPA, 1936)
  • Lauderdale County, Tenn., Marriage Register vol. A, 1838-57 & vol. B 1866 (WPA, 1936) [name index]
  • Lauderdale County, Tennessee, 1840 Census, 1850 Census, and 1850 Mortality Schedule (Davis, 1983) [surname index]
  • Lauderdale County, Tennessee, Court Minutes, Book D, 1856-1861 (WPA, 1937)
  • Lauderdale County, Tennessee, Inventory, Sales Bills, & Wills, 1849-55 (WPA, 1937)
  • Lauderdale County, Tennessee Marriages, 1838-1867 (Davis, 1983) [name index]*
  • Lauderdale County, Tennessee Marriages, 1867-1886 (Davis, 1983) [name index]
  • Lauderdale County, Tennessee, Minute Book C, 1852-56 (WPA, 1936)
  • Private Acts of Lauderdale County, Tennessee (McIntyre & McCroskey, 1993)


Local Records on Microfilm

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

Earliest records include:

  • marriages from 1838
  • wills from 1837
  • deed index from 1836
  • chancery court minutes from 1856
  • county court minutes from 1836
  • circuit court minutes from 1836
  • tax books from 1843


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

  • Administrator's and Guardian Settlements -- 1847-1882 (#33, 1 reel)*
  • Deed Index -- 1836-1902 (#37, 1 reel)*
  • Insolvent Estates -- 1849-1905 (#17, 1 reel)*
  • Marriage Bonds -- 1838-1886 (#18, 1 reel)*
  • Probate of Deeds, Wills, Inventories -- 1836-1847 (#16, 1 reel)*
  • Wills -- 1837-1868 (#35, 1 reel)*
  • WPA Records, Lauderdale County (Record Group #107, Roll 49,  1 reel). Roll includes County Court Minute Books A-D (1836-1861), Inventories, Sales, Bills & Wills (1837-1855), Marriage Register Volumes A&B (1838-1856) and Key Corner, the Birthplace of Civilization in West Tennessee (undated).*


Newspapers on Microfilm

Newspapers were published in Halls and Ripley.  Scattered early issues are available from 1876, and a complete run begins in 1964.  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
  • Carson General Store and Woods Grocery Store Account Books. Lauderdale County, 1853-1855, 1885 (Microfilm Manuscript #368, 1 reel)*
  • Clay and Sinclair's General Store Account Book. Ripley, 1859-1860 (Microfilm Manuscript #336, 1 reel)*
  • Indian Creek Baptist Association Minutes. Wayne County, TN and Lauderdale County, AL, 1867-1911  (Microfilm Manuscript #1012, 1 reel)*
  • Lauderdale County Miscellaneous Records, 1840-1973 (Microfilm Manuscript #554, 1 reel)*
  • Mary's Chapel Baptist Church Records. Lauderdale County, 1902-1948 (Microfilm Manuscript #577, 1 reel)*

Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog 


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


Additional Research Aids for Lauderdale County

* Indicates this title may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan from the Library and Archives.


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Lauderdale County Formation Act



"An Act to establish the county of Lauderdale."


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 between the Big Hatchee and Forked Deer rivers, and west of the county of Haywood, to be known and distinguished by the name of LAUDERDALE, in honor of, and to perpetuate the memory of Colonel James Lauderdale, who fell at the battle of New Orleans on the night of the 23d December, 1814; beginning where the west boundary line of Haywood County crosses the Big Hatchee River, running thence down the said river with its main channel, and with the main channel of the upper mouth of said river, to the main channel of the Mississippi River; thence up the said river to the old channel at Needham's cut off; thence up the said old channel to the mouth of the canal connecting the Forked Deer River with said old channel; thence in a direct line east to the Forked Deer River; thence up said Forked Deer River to a point one mile due north of the two sycamores known as the Key Corner;  thence due east to the South fork of the Forked Deer River; thence up the same to the northern boundary line of Haywood County; thence in a south-western direction, through said county of Haywood, so as to cut off so much of said county of Haywood as will reduce it to six hundred and twenty-five square miles, to the west boundary line of said county; thence with said west boundary line to the beginning.

SECTION 2. BE IT ENACTED, That for the due administration of justice, the different courts to be holden in said county of Lauderdale, shall be holden at the house of Samuel Lusk, until the seat of justice for said county shall be located, and a suitable 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 other precepts returnable to either place, shall and may be returnable to the place to which the said courts may have been removed by the county court aforesaid. And the said courts to be holden in and for the said county of Lauderdale, shall be under the same rules regulations and restrictions, and shall have, hold, exercise and possess the same powers and jurisdiction as is possessed by said courts in other counties in this state.

SECTION 3. 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 be elected under the provisions of the amended constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof; and said county of Lauderdale 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 other counties in this state; and the said county of Lauderdale, shall be placed upon an equal footing, possess equal powers and privileges in all respects, as other counties in the state; Provided, nothing in this act contained, shall be so contained as to deprive the counties of Tipton, Haywood and Dyer from having, holding and exercising jurisdiction over the territory composing said county of Lauderdale, and the citizens thereof, in as full and ample a manner as they now have, until the election of county officers under the amended constitution: Provided, also, nothing in this act contained shall be so construed as to prevent the counties of Tipton, Haywood and Dyer from entering up judgments or the sheriffs of said counties from selling under such judgments, any lands within the bounds of said county of Lauderdale, for taxes, costs and charges for the present or any preceding year, nor to prevent the sheriffs of either of said counties of Haywood, Tipton or Dyer from collecting from the citizens of said county of Lauderdale any taxes due for the present or any preceding year.

SECTION 4. BE IT ENACTED, That the citizens of the county of Lauderdale, in all elections for governor, for members of Congress, and for members of the General Assembly, shall vote with the counties from which they may have been stricken off, until the next apportionment of members of the General Assembly, agreeable to the provisions of the 5th section of the 10th article of the amended constitution.

SECTION 5. BE IT ENACTED, That Blackman Coleman, David Hay, Nicholas T. Perkins, Samuel Owen and Howell Taylor, all of Haywood County, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners, (a majority of whom can act) who shall, on or before the first Monday in January next, proceed to fix on a place as near the centre of said county as an eligible site can be procured, at least within five miles of the centre of said county, at which site said commissioners shall procure by purchase or otherwise at least fifty acres of land, for which they shall cause a deed or deeds to be made to themselves and their successors in office, by general warrantee; and the said commissioners shall report and return all their proceedings relative to and concerning said county, to the county court of said county, and it shall be the duty of the clerk of said court to record the same.

SECTION 6. BE IT ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of the county court of said county to appoint five commissioners, to whom the commissioners appointed by this act shall convey the land acquired for the use of said county, on which it shall be the duty of the commissioners appointed by the county court to cause a town to be laid off, with as many streets and of such width as they may deem necessary, reserving at least four acres for a public square, and a lot sufficient for building a jail.  And the said town, when so laid off, shall be known by the name of Ripley.

SECTION 7. BE IT ENACTED, That the commissioners of said county shall sell the lots in said town, on a credit of at least twelve months, first giving due notice thereof in one or more newspapers printed in this state, and shall take bond with sufficient securities, from the purchasers of said lots, payable to themselves and successors in office, and shall make titles in fee simple as commissioners to the respective purchasers of said lots.

SECTION 8. BE IT ENACTED, That the proceeds of the sales of the lots aforesaid, shall be a fund in the hands of said commissioners for defraying the expenses incurred in the purchase of said tract of land on which the said county seat is located, and also for defraying the expenses of erecting public buildings.

SECTION 9. BE IT ENACTED, That the said commissioners shall superintend the building of the court house, jail, and other necessary public buildings; and shall let out such buildings as the county court in 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 themselves and their successors in office in the sum of ten thousand dollars, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or their contracts.

SECTION 10. BE IT ENACTED, That the said commissioners, before they enter upon the duties of their office assigned them by this act, shall take an oath or affirmation that they will truly and faithfully execute and perform the different duties by this act enjoined on them, according to the best of their judgment, and, moreover, shall enter into bond with approved security, payable to the chairman of the county court of Lauderdale County, and his successors in office, in the sum of five thousand dollars, conditioned for the due and faithful performance of the duties enjoined upon them by this act, which bond shall be deposited in the clerk's office in said county, and shall not be so construed as to make one of the commissioners security for another.

SECTION 11. BE IT ENACTED, That the said commissioners shall keep a fair and regular statement of all monies by them received and expended, which statement, when required, shall from time to time, be laid before the county court; but said commissioners shall not be called on oftener than once a year, and when the necessary public buildings are completed, the said commissioners shall, by order of the county court, pay over all surplus money to the county trustee for county purposes, and they shall be allowed by the county court a reasonable compensation for their services.

SECTION 12. BE IT ENACTED, That the first five commissioners mentioned in this act shall each be entitled to receive as compensation for their services, the sum of three dollars for each day they may be absent from home and necessarily employed in performing the duties required of them by this act, to be paid by the said county of Lauderdale, out of any monies in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

SECTION 13. BE IT ENACTED, That John R. Howard, of Henry County, be and he is hereby appointed to run and mark the dividing line between the said counties of Haywood and Lauderdale, and to reduce the said county of Haywood to six hundred and twenty-five square miles, and the line between the counties of Dyer and Lauderdale, and that he have full power to employ chain carriers, who shall receive a reasonable compensation for their services, to be paid by the said county of Lauderdale;  and the said Howard shall receive the sum of two dollars and fifty cents for each day he may be necessarily employed in the business required by this act, to be paid by the county of Lauderdale.

SECTION 14. BE IT ENACTED, That should the county court of Lauderdale not be organized in time to appoint the commissioners to lay off the town and sell the lots, it shall and may be lawful for the county court of Tipton to appoint them, and the said county court of Tipton shall take the bonds and securities of said commissioners payable to the chairman of the county court of Lauderdale and his successors in office, and do and perform any other act or acts required by this act until the organization of said county court of Lauderdale, and it shall be as good and binding as if done by the county court of said Lauderdale.


Passed on November 24, 1835

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Lauderdale 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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Lauderdale County in General
  • Allred, Charles E. Farm housing in TN, with regional comparisons. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1937. 45 pp. (its Monograph #26)
  • Allred, Charles E. Home conveniences on TN farms, with regional comparisons. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1937. 41 pp. (its Monograph #30)
  • Atkins, Samuel W. Cotton production practices in type-of-farming area 3, southwestern TN, 1947. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1950. 35 pp. (its Rural research series monograph #257)
  • Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (Lauderdale County, Preliminary #45-A). Nashville, TSLA, 1974. 32 pp.
  • Emergency operations plan, Ripley-Lauderdale County, TN. Nashville, TEMA, 1987. 1 vol.
  • Flood insurance study: Lauderdale County, TN, unincorporated areas. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1987. 11 pp.
  • George Peabody College for Teachers. Div. of Surveys & Field Studies. Schools of Lauderdale County, TN; a survey report. Nashville, the division, 1947. 190 pp.
  • Gerslaecker, Fredrich. The wanderings & fortunes of some German emigrants. NY, n.p., 1848.
  • Goble, William E. Farm equipment in six west TN counties, 1948. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1949. 56 pp. (its Monograph #248)
  • Goodspeed's history of TN (Lauderdale County, pp. 797-808, 842-885). Goodspeed, 1887.
  • Lauderdale County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
  • McKinney, Colin P. History of Lauderdale County, TN. N.p., the author, 1946. 157 pp.
  • Memphis State University. Institute of Criminal Justice. Comprehensive plan 1975 for Fayette-Lauderdale-Tipton counties. Memphis, the institute, 1975. 39 pp.
  • Peal, Charles T. Management practices of selected cotton producers in Lauderdale County, TN. N.p., 1968. 115 pp.
  • Peters, Kate J., ed. Lauderdale County from earliest times: an intimate & informal account of the towns & communities, its families & famous individuals, written by descendants of its pioneer citizens. Ripley, Sugar Hill-Lauderdale County Library, 1957. 377 pp.
  • Rice, R.E., ed. "The Shadrach Rice diary 1826-1862." WTHSP 15 (1961), pp. 105-116.
  • Soil survey, Lauderdale County, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1990. 161 pp.
  • Taylor, Oliver R. Public education in Lauderdale County, 1910-1950. MSU thesis, 1953. 69 pp.
  • TN Dept. Education. Lauderdale County schools survey report. Nashville, the department, 1962. 1 vol.
  • TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
  • US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Fowlkes, Bonicord, Gates, Chestnut Bluff, Durhamville, Turnpike.
  • Williams, Joseph S. Old times in west TN; reminiscences-- semi-historic-- of pioneer life & the early emigrant settlers in the Big Hatchie country, by a descendent of one of the settlers. Memphis, W.G. Cheeny, 1873. 295 pp.

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Fort Pillow
  • Cimprich, John & Robert E. Mainfort. "Dr. Fitch's report on the Fort Pillow massacre." THQ 44 (1985), pp. 27-39.
  • Davis, Abraham. What about Fort Pillow...? N.p., the author, 1964. 40 pp. (chapter 1 of the author's What about this General Forrest?)
  • Fuchs, Richard L. An unerring fire: the massacre at Fort Pillow. Rutherford, NJ, Fairleigh Dickinson U. Press, 1994. 190 pp.
  • Hansen, Joyce. Which way freedom? N.p., 1986. 120 pp. (a work of fiction in Walker's American history series for young people)
  • Jordan, John L. "Was there a massacre at Fort Pillow?" THQ 6 (1947), pp. 99- 133.
  • Lentz, Perry. The falling hills. NY, Scribner, 1967. 468 pp. (fiction; reprinted 1993 by USC Press)
  • Macaluso, Gregory J. The Fort Pillow massacre: the reason why. NY, Vantage Press, 1989. 116 pp.
  • Mainfort, Robert C. Archaeological investigations at Fort Pillow State Historic Area, 1976-1978. Nashville, TN Div. Archaeology, 1980. 198 pp.
  • Maness, Lonnie E. "The Fort Pillow massacre: fact or fiction?" THQ 45 (1986), pp. 287-315.
  • Maness, Lonnie E. "Fort Pillow under Confederate & Union control." WTHSP 38 (1984), pp. 84-98.
  • US Congress. Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Fort Pillow massacre, & returned prisoners. NY, Johnson Reprint Corp., 1970. 128 pp. (38th Congress, 1st session, House. Report #65 & 67)
  • Williams, Edward F., ed. Confederate victories at Fort Pillow. Memphis, Nathan Bedford Forrest Trail Comm., 1973. 48 pp.

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Fort Prudhomme
  • Klutts, William A. "Fort Prudhomme: its location." WTHSP 4 (1950), pp. 28- 40.
  • Young, J.P. "Fort Prudhomme: was it the first settlement in TN?" THM 2 (1916), pp. 235-244 (reprinted in TN old & new, vol. 1, pp. 51-60)

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  • Davis, Bettie B. Gates, TN, now & then. Gates, the author, 1986. 116 pp.
  • Flood insurance study: town of Gates, TN, Lauderdale County. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1987. 7 pp.

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  • Community information, Halls, TN. Prepared by the Office of the Mayor, Halls, TN & West TN Ind. Assoc. Jackson, the association, 1988. 27 pp.
  • Flood insurance study: Halls, TN, Lauderdale County. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1987. 8 pp.

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  • Flood insurance study: town of Henning, TN, Lauderdale County. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1988. 8 pp.
  • Henning homecoming '86: come celebrate! Covington, Covington Pub. Co., 1986. 36 pp.

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  • Community information, Ripley, TN. Prepared by Ripley Chamber of Commerce & West TN Ind. Assoc. Jackson, the association, 1988. 33 pp.
  • Flood insurance study: town of Ripley, TN, Lauderdale County. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1987. 10 pp.


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