McNairy County

McNairy County

McNairy County was formed in 1823 from Hardin County

(Private Acts of Tennessee 1823, Chapter 96)

The county seat is Selmer.

There was a fire at the McNairy County courthouse in 1881.


Selected Published County Histories
  • 150 Years of Growth and Progress in McNairy County; A Pictorial History of McNairy County, Tennessee    (Whitlow & Wright, 1973) [name index]*
  • 1890's: A Documentation of McNairy County, Tennessee (Kennedy, 1995) [surname index]
  • History of Adamsville, McNairy County, Tennessee (Scott, 2012)
  • History of Tennessee From the Earliest Time to the Present; Together with a Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Henderson, Chester, McNairy (Goodspeed, 1978)
  • McNairy County Blue Book for 1986 (Houston, 1986)
  • Old Purdy, the History of the First County Seat of McNairy County, Tennessee (Adams, 1952)
  • Purdy and Her People, 1825-1891 (Wagoner, 1986)
  • Reflections: A History of McNairy County, Tennessee, 1823 - 1996 (Reflections Committee, McNairy, Tenn., 1996) [surname index]
  • Reminiscences of the Early Settlement and Early Settlers of McNairy County, Tennessee (Wright, 1968) [name index]*
  • Reminiscences of the Early Settlement and Early Settlers of McNairy County Tennessee (Wright, 2012) [name index]

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


Published Local Records
  • 1830 & 1840 Census Index, McNairy County, Tennessee (Brown, 1994) [alphabetical]*
  • 1835, 1840, & 1883 Pensioners Indexes, McNairy County, Tennessee (Brown, 1989) [alphabetical]*
  • 1880 Census, McNairy County, Tennessee (Sistler, 2002) [alphabetical by head of household]*
  • 1890 Tax Record of McNairy County, Tennessee (Brown, 1994) [alphabetical]*
  • Cemeteries, McNairy County, Tennessee, 1824-1984 (Brown, 1993) [alphabetical]*
  • Funeral Records from McNairy County, Tenn. / Copied from the Funeral Records at the Shackelford Funeral Home, Selmer (Brown, 1993) [alphabetical]*
  • History of Liberty Church and School (Brown, 1993) [surname index]
  • Index to Deed Book "A" 1824-18381 (Brown, 1994) [alphabetical]
  • Index to McNairy Co. TN Guardians Settlements: Jul. 1866 - Jul. 1902 (Brown, 1994) [alphabetical]*
  • Index to the 1870 Census, McNairy County, Tennessee (Brown, 1994) [alphabetical]*
  • Land Grant, 1823-1851, McNairy County (Brown, 1992) [name index]*
  • McNairy Co., Tn., 1880 Census (Brown, 1993) [name index for head of household]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee, 1850 Census (Porch, 1975) [surname index]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee, 1860 Census (Brown, 1994) [name index for head of household]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee Administrators Record Index, Dec. 1865 - Sep. 1896 (Brown, 1994) [alphabetical]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee Deed Book [*vol. 1 1823-1838; vol. 2 1838-1845; *vol. 3 1845-1851] (Crumpton, 2003) [name index in each volume]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee, Deed Book A, 1823-1838 (WPA, 1938) [name index]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee, Deed Book "B", 1838-1845 (WPA, 1942)
  • McNairy County, Tennessee, Marriage Books B-D, 1861-1869 (WPA, 1939) [name index]
  • McNairy County, Tennessee, Minutes of Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian, 1869-99 (WPA, 1938) [name index]
  • Marriages, McNairy Co., Tenn., 1861-1881 (Brown, 1993) [alphabetical by bride & groom]*
  • Mt. Zion Cemetery of Enville, Tennessee (Wade, 1984)
  • Sacred High Place: A History of Mount Carmel Cemetery & Meetinghouse, McNairy County, Tennessee (Talbott, 2013) [alphabetical listings in Chapter 4]
  • Tennessee DAR Genealogical Records Committee Report. Miscellaneous Tennessee records [O'Neal Cemetery records, v.2, pp. 31-40] (Daughters of the American Revolution, 1993) [alphabetical for section]
  • Voters in the 26 Jul 1890 Election, McNairy Co., Tennessee (Brown, 1988) [name index]*
  • Will Index, 1858-1967, from Court Minute Books & Will Books (Brown, 1993) [name index]
  • Willbook Abstracts of McNairy County, Tennessee (Kennedy, 1994) [name index]


Local Records on Microfilm

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

Earliest records include:

  • marriages from 1861
  • wills from 1872
  • deed index from 1824
  • chancery court minutes from 1866
  • county court minutes from 1858
  • circuit court minutes from 1856
  • tax books from 1867


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

  • *Deed Index -- 1835-1901  (#24, 1 reel)*
  • *WPA Records, McNairy County (Record Group #107, Roll 53, 1 reel). Roll includes Deed Books A & B (1823-1845), Marriage Books B-D (1861-1869), Church Minutes of Pleasant Ridge, TN, Mar 21, 1869 - Sept 15, 1899 (1869-1899).*


Newspapers on Microfilm

Newspapers were published in Adamsville, Falcon, Purdy and Selmer. Scattered early issues are available from 1857, and a complete run begins in 1969.  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
  • Edmondson Family Papers, 1848-1885
  • Florence (Abernathy) Hockaday Scrapbooks, ca. 1880-ca. 1910 (Microfilm Manuscript #194, 1 reel)*
  • McNairy County Death Records, 1920-1936 (Microfilm Manuscript #1899, 1 reel)
  • Thomas Earl Wade Genealogical Papers (Microfilm Manuscript #1608, 10 reels)*
  • William Riley Thacker Ledger/Journal, ca. 1905-ca. 1919  (Microfilm Manuscript #1718, 1 reel)*

Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog 


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


Additional Research Aids for McNairy County


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


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McNairy County Formation Act



"An Act to establish a new county west of Hardin County."


SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, That a county to be called and known by the name of M’Nairy, be, and the same is hereby established west of Hardin County; beginning at the south-west corner of Hardin County, running thence north with the west boundary of the same twenty-seven and one half miles; thence west, passing the south-east corner of Madison County, to a point three miles west of the first range line in the ninth district; thence south, parallel with said range line, on the south boundary of this state; thence east, on said boundary, to the beginning.

SECTION 2. BE IT ENACTED, That for the due administration of justice for said county, the courts of Pleas and Quarter-Sessions and circuit courts of said county shall be held at the house of Abel V. Maury, near the center of said county, until otherwise provided for by law, viz: The courts of Pleas and Quarter-Sessions, on the second Mondays in January, April, July and October, and the succeeding days, and the circuit courts on the third Mondays in May and November, and the succeeding days, in each and every year, under the same rules, regulations and restrictions, and to have and exercise the same powers and jurisdiction, that other courts of judicature of like grades in this state now or hereafter may have.

SECTION 3. BE IT ENACTED, That the sheriff of said county shall open and hold an election on the first Friday and Saturday in April next, at the place of holding courts for said county for the purpose of electing field offices for the militia of said county under the same rules, regulations and restrictions as are pointed out by law in similar cases; and the militia of said county shall compose the eightieth regiment of Tennessee militia, and be attached to the eleventh brigade.

SECTION 4. BE IT ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of the commandant of said regiment, having been first commissioned and sworn according to law, to divide his regiment into such number of companies as he shall think best for the convenience of said companies; and it shall further be the duty of said commandant to issue writs of election for company officers according to law, as provided for in other cases of elections for captain and subaltern officers.

SECTION 5. BE IT ENACTED, That this act shall take effect, and be in force, from and after the first day of January next.


Passed on October 8, 1823

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McNairy 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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McNairy County in General
  • Alexander, Frank D. Owners & tenants of small farms in the life of a selected community [McNairy County]: a cultural analysis. Vanderbilt U. dissertation, 1938. 474 pp.
  • 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)
  • Atkins, Samuel W. Cotton production practices in type-of-farming area 6, western TN, 1947. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1950. 33 pp.
  • Berry, Willard. The foraminifera of the Ripley formation on Coon Creek, TN. Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, 1929. 20 pp.
  • Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (McNairy County, Preliminary #18). Nashville, TSLA, 1970. 43 pp.
  • Flood insurance study: McNairy County, TN, unincorporated areas. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1991. 9 pp.
  • Goble, William E. Farm equipment in six west TN counties, 1948. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1949. 56 pp. (its Rural research series monograph #248)
  • Goodspeed's history of TN (McNairy County, pp. 819-828, 870-880). Goodspeed, 1887.
  • Hillin, Hank. FBI codename Tennpar: TN's Ray Blanton years. Nashville, Pine Hall Press, 1985. 494 pp.
  • Houston, Leslie. McNairy County blue book for 1986. Selmer, McNairy County Hist. Soc., 1986. 42 pp.
  • Illustrated account of the Mt. Vinson-Shiloh cyclone, October 14, 1909. Adamsville, Wilson Pub. Co., 1909. 36 pp.
  • Lufkin, Charles L. "Divided loyalties: sectionalism in Civil War McNairy County, TN." THQ 47 (1988), pp. 169-177.
  • McNairy County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
  • McNairy County, TN: water use survey, TN-Tombigbee corridor study. Memphis, MSU, 1981. 15 pp.
  • Majors, William R. "Muddy roads, bureaucrats & politics: the trials & tribulations of a rural TN school superintendent in the 1920s." WTHSP 32 (1978), pp. 84-102.
  • Raskopf, B.D. Improving incomes of small farms in area 6, west TN. Knoxville, TN Ag. Exp. Sta., 1948. 56 pp. (its Rural research series monograph #237)
  • Russell, Ernest E. Mineral resources summary of the Michie quadrangle, TN; including the TN portion of the Kendrick quadrangle, MS-TN. Nashville, TN Div. Geol., 1967. 27 pp.
  • Service sector business opportunities for McNairy County, TN. Knoxville, TVA, 1988. 95 pp.
  • TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
  • TN Valley Authority. Ind. Div. Agricultural-industrial survey of McNairy County, TN. Knoxville, TVA, 1934. var. pp.
  • US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Jacks Creek, Enville, Sardis, Silerton, Masseyville, Mt. Peter, Leapwood, Milledgeville, Hornsby, Rose Creek, Purdy, Stantonville, Pittsburg Landing, Pocahontas, Chewalla, Guys, Michie, Counce, Kendrick, Doskie.
  • US Soil Conservation Service. McNairy-Cypress Creek watershed, McNairy County, TN: watershed plan. Washington, D.C., US Soil Conservation Service, 1975. 120 pp.
  • Wade, Bruce. The fauna of the Ripley formation on Coon Creek, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1926. 272 pp.
  • Wagoner, Bill. Stories about Shiloh & the TN Valley area. Adamsville, Banner Pub. Co., 1994. 64 pp.
  • Watershed work plan, Tuscumbia watershed, Alcorn & Prentiss counties, MS, & McNairy County, TN. Spartanburg, SC, Soil Conservation Service, 1964. 47 pp.
  • Whitlow, Charles & Myrlee Wright. 150 years of growth & progress in McNairy County. Jackson, the author, 1973. 82 pp.
  • Wright, Marcus J. Reminiscences of the early settlement & early settlers of McNairy County, TN. Washington, D.C., Commercial, 1882. 96 pp. (various reprints available)

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  • Community information, Adamsville-McNairy County, TN. Prepared by city of Adamsville, McNairy Chamber of Commerce & West TN Industrial Association. Jackson, the association, n.d. 1 vol.

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  • Adams, J. Louis. Old Purdy, the history of the first county seat of McNairy County, TN. Jackson, McCowat-Mercer, 1952. 31 pp. (reprinted in WTHSP 6 (1952), pp. 5-33)

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Buford Pusser
  • Bond, Eddie. Eddie Bond sings the legend of Buford Pusser [sound recording]. Shiloh, Buford Pusser's Museum, 19--. 1 sound cassette.
  • Crawford, Charles W. "The Buford Pusser project": interview with Mrs. Helen Pusser, August 8, 1978. Memphis, Oral Hist. Research Office, MSU, 1983. 62 pp.
  • Morris, W.R. Buford: true story of "Walking tall" sheriff Buford Pusser. Shiloh, Popular Books, 1983. 166 pp.
  • Morris W.R. The legacy of Buford Pusser, a pictorial history of the "Walking tall" sheriff. Paducah, KY, Turner Pub., 1994. 144 pp.
  • Morris, W.R. The state-line mob: a true story of murder & intrigue. Nashville, Rutledge Hill Press, 1990. 192 pp.
  • Morris. W.R. The twelfth of August; the story of Buford Pusser. Nashville, Aurora Pub., 1971. 240 pp. (reprinted 1974 by Toronto)
  • Selmer
  • Community information, Selmer-McNairy County, TN. Prepared by McNairy Chamber of Commerce & West TN Industrial Association. Jackson, the association, 19--. 1 vol.
  • Wagoner, Bill. P.H. Thrasher: Union scout, early pioneer, founder of Selmer, TN. Adamsville, Banner Pub. Co., 1981. 18 pp. (from Bill Wagoner's "Wagon spokes", vol. l, #1)


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