Meigs County

Meigs County

Meigs County was formed in 1836 from Rhea County

(Private Acts of Tennessee 1835-36, Chapter 34)

The county seat is Decatur.

There were fires at the Meigs County
courthouse in 1904 and 1964.


Selected Published County Histories
  • History of the Thomas N. Turner Farm in Meigs County, Tennessee (Reno, 2007) [name index]
  • Meigs County, Tennessee: A Documented Account of its European Settlement and Growth (Lillard, 1975) [name index]*
  • Rhea and Meigs Counties (Tennessee) in the Confederate War (Allen, 1908)*

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


Published Local Records
  • 1840 United States Census, Meigs County, Tennessee (Broyles, 1983) [name index]*
  • 1850 Meigs Co. Tn. Census (Broyles & Snell, 1985) [surname index]
  • 1870 Meigs County, Tennessee [census] (Maccus, 19??) [surname index]
  • 1880 Census, Meigs County, Tennessee (Sistler, 1991) [alphabetical by surname]*
  • Chickamauga Reservoir Cemeteries (Douthat, 1986)*
  • Compendium of Rhea and Meigs Counties Tennessee 1808 Through 1850 (Broyles, 1980) [alphabetical by surname]
  • Marriage Records, 1838-1902 [vol. 1& 2 1838-46, 1846-57; vol. 3 1857-81; vol. 4 1881-95; vol. 5 1895-1902] (WPA, 1937-38) [name index]
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, 1870 Census (Maddux, 19??)
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Cemetery Records (Meigs County Historical Society, 1996) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee Census and Marriage Records: 1850 Through 1900 (Broyles, 1983) [surname index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, County Commissioners, 1836-1840 (WPA, 1936)
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, County Court Minute Book [county court minutes 1836-1841; town of Decatur commission minutes 1836-1840; trustee's book of claims 1836-1845; strays taken up by ranger 18366-1845] (Broyles, 1992-) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee Marriages, 1851-1865 (Sistler, 1988) [alphabetical]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee Records, 1836-1881 (Boyer, 1984) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, School Book, vol. 1, 1838-1848 (WPA, 1941) [name index]
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Vital Statistics, 1914 through 1925 (Wiefering, 1993) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Vital Statistics, 1926 through 1930 (Wiefering, 1997) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Vital Statistics, 1931 through 1935 (Wiefering, 1998) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Vital Statistics, 1936 through 1941 (Wiefering, 1999) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Vital Statistics, 1942 through 1946 (Wiefering, 1999) [name index]*
  • Meigs County, Tennessee, Wills, Inventories, and Sales, Vol. 1, 1836-50 (WPA, 1937)
  • Minutes of the County Court of Meigs County ... [vol. 1 1836-1841; vol. 2 1841-1846] (WPA, 1939) [name index]
  • Tennessee Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1850 Meigs County (Maddux, 1966) [name index]
  • Watts Bar Resevoir [sic] Cemeteries (Douthat, 1986) [surname index]


Local Records on Microfilm

An inventory of microfilmed Meigs 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 1902 (deeds from 1879)
  • chancery court minutes from 1854
  • county court minutes from 1836
  • circuit court minutes from 1844
  • tax books from 1839


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

  • Marriages -- 1838-1916 (#16, 1 reel)*
  • Wills, Inventories, & Settlements -- 1836-1881 (#34, 1 reel)*
  • WPA Records, Meigs County (Record Group #107, Roll 59, 1 reel). Roll includes County Court Minutes, Vols. 1 & 2 (1836-1841, 1841-1846), School Book, Vol. 1 (1838-1848), Wills, Inventories, Sales, Vol. 1 (1836-1850), Marriage Records, Vols. 1-5 (1838-1902) and County Commissioners (1836-1840).*


Newspapers on Microfilm

Newspapers were published in Decatur.  Scattered early issues are available from 1898.  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
  • Allen Family Papers—Addition, 1834-1942
  • Bradley County Miscellaneous Records, 1835-1960 (Microfilm Manuscript #561, 4 reels)*
  • Eastanallee Baptist Association Records, 1891, 1908-1913, 1916-1923 (Microfilm Manuscript #276, 1 reel)*
  • Eaves and Eaves Store Ledger Books. Meigs County, 1891-1951 (Microfilm Manuscript #1224, 2 reels)*
  • Good Hope Baptist Church Records. Meigs County, 1898-1969 (Microfilm Manuscript #277, 1 reel)*
  • Goodfield Baptist Church Records. Meigs County, 1827-1879 (Microfilm Manuscript #671, 1 reel)*
  • Hiwassee Baptist Association Records. Kingston, 1878-1967 (Microfilm Manuscript #319, 1 reel)*
  • Lillard Family Papers, 1806-1913 (Microfilm Manuscript #117, 2 reels)*
  • McKenzie's General Store Account Book. Meigs County, 1935-41 (Microfilm Manuscript #325, 1 reel)*
  • Moore Collection of Ledgers and Church Register. Meigs County, 1830-1920 (Microfilm Manuscript #1225, 1 reel)*
  • Notes on the History of Meigs County, by Jasper Worth Lillard, 1866-1947 (Microfilm Manuscript #158, 1 reel)*
  • Pisgah Baptist Church of Christ Records. Decatur, 1846-1905 (Microfilm Manuscript #1516, 1 reel)*
  • Robert C. Powell Daybook and Ledgers, 1839-1840, 1857-1894 (Microfilm Manuscript #218, 4 reels)*
  • Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (Meigs County, Tenn.) Records, 1923-1942; 1954-1965 (Microfilm Manuscript #1602, 1 reel)*
  • Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Records. Meigs County, 1840-1895 (Microfilm Manuscript #275, 1 reel)*
  • Walnut Grove Baptist Church Records. Decatur, 1910-1963 (Microfilm Manuscript #321, 1 reel)*
  • William Abel Store Ledger Books. Meigs County, 1840-1896 (Microfilm Manuscript #1222, 1 reel)*
  • William Moses Grant Medical Ledgers. Meigs County, 1870-1920 (Microfilm Manuscript #1223, 1 reel)*

Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog 


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


Additional Research Aids for Meigs County


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


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Meigs County Formation Act



"An Act to establish the county of Meigs, in honor of Colonel Return J. Meigs, deceased; a patriot and soldier of the American Revolution of 1776."


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 county of McMinn and the Tennessee River, to be known by the name of Meigs County, in honor of Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, deceased, a patriot and soldier of the revolution of 1776; to be composed of that part of Rhea County lying south of Tennessee River, and bounded as follows: - beginning at a point below William Blythe's on the Tennessee River, where the line divides the counties of Rhea and Hamilton; thence running a south east course, with said line, dividing the counties of Rhea and Hamilton to Wilson Nevins’, where the Rhea County line intersects the McMinn County line; thence a north east course with said McMinn line, to a large ridge above the mouth of Price's Creek; thence with said dividing line between the counties of Rhea and McMinn, to the eight mile tree or stake, near Bottom's mills, on Sugar Creek; thence a north west course with the line dividing the counties of Rhea and Roane, at or near the mouth of White's Creek, on the Tennessee River; thence down the main channel of said river to the beginning.

SECTION 2. BE IT ENACTED, That for the due administration of justice, the county court and the circuit court in said county shall be held at the house of John Stewart, until otherwise provided for, under the same regulations and restrictions, and shall exercise and possess the same power and jurisdiction as possessed by said courts in other counties in this state.

SECTION 3. BE IT ENACTED, That all officers, civil and military in said county of Meigs, shall continue to hold their offices, and exercise all the powers thereof, until others are elected under the provisions of the amended constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof; and the said county of Meigs shall elect for others, civil and military, under the amended constitution, at the same time, and under the same rules and restrictions, and in the same manner that may be provided for the electing of officers in other counties in this state; and the said county of Meigs shall be placed upon an equal footing, possess equal powers and privileges, in all respects, as other counties in this state; Provided, nothing in this act contained shall be so construed as to deprive the county of Rhea from having, holding and exercising jurisdiction over the territory composing said county of Meigs, 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 county of Rhea from entering up judgments, or the sheriff of said county from selling, under such judgments, any lands within the bounds of said county of Meigs, for taxes, costs and charges, for the present or any preceding year, not to prevent the sheriff of said Rhea County, from collecting from the citizens of said county of Meigs, any taxes due for the present or any preceding year.

SECTION 4. BE IT ENACTED, That the citizens of the county of Meigs, in all elections for governor, members of congress and for members of the general assembly shall vote as heretofore, with the county of Rhea, until the next apportionment of members of the general assembly, agreeable to the provisions of the fifth section of the tenth article of the amended constitution.

SECTION 5. BE IT ENACTED, That James Blevins, James Lillard, William Keer, Andrew Kincannon, John Randals and Elisha Sharp, all with the county of Meigs, be and they are hereby appointed commissioners, a majority of whom can act, who shall, on or before the first Monday in May next proceed to fix on a place, as near the center of said county as an eligible site can be procured, at least within three miles of the center of said county; at which site the 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 successors in office, by general warranty; 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 county 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 three acres for a public square and a lot sufficient for building a court house and jail, and said town, where so laid off, shall be known as Decatur, in honor of the late Commodore Stephen Decatur of the United States navy.

SECTION 7. BE IT ENACTED, That the commissioner 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 title, in fee simple, as commissioners, to the respective purchasers.

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 the 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 the court house and 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 security, from the person or persons to whom the same is let payable to themselves and 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 offices assigned them by this act, shall take an oath as affirmation that they will truly and faithfully execute and perform the different duties by this act enjoined upon 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 Meigs 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 him 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 said commissioner shall keep a fair and regular statement of all money by them received and expended; which statement, when required, shall, from time to time, be laid before the county court; but said commissioner shall not be elected no oftener than once a year; and when all 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 six commissioners mentioned in this act, shall be entitled to receive, as compensation for their services, the sum of two 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 court of Meigs, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

SECTION 13. BE IT ENACTED, That should the county court of Meigs not be organized in time to appoint the commissioners to lay off the town and sell the lots that it shall and may be lawful for the county court of Rhea to take the bond and security of said commissioners, payable to the chairman of the county court of Meigs, 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 Meigs; and it shall be as good and binding as if done by the county court of said county of Meigs.


Passed on January 20, 1836

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Meigs 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.

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Meigs County in General
  • Allen, Valentine C. Rhea & Meigs counties, TN in the Confederate war. N.p., 1908. 126 pp.
  • Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (Meigs County, Preliminary #9). Nashville, TSLA, 1969. 37 pp.
  • Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs day book #2. Compiled by James L. Douthat, transcribed by Bettye J. Broyles. Signal Mountain, Institute of Historic Research, 1993. 95 pp.
  • Decatur-Meigs County Tomorrow. Economic development agenda. Decatur, Decatur-Meigs County Tomorrow, 1988. 18 pp.
  • Flood insurance study: Meigs County, TN, unincorporated areas. Washington, D.C., FEMA, 1990. 14 pp.
  • Fox, John S. TVA land policies: the case of Meigs County, TN. UT thesis, 1977. 114 pp.
  • Goodspeed's history of east TN (Meigs County, pp. 815-817, 1032-1046). Goodspeed, 1887.
  • Lillard, Stewart. Meigs County, TN: a documented account of its European settlement & growth. Sewanee, U. of the South, 1975. 202 pp. (2d ed., 1982, Southern Hist. Press, 222 pp.)
  • Long, Grady M. "Folk medicine in McMinn, Polk, Bradley & Meigs counties, TN, 1910-1927." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 28 (1962), pp. 1-8.
  • Meigs County, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
  • Polhemus, James H. Archaeological survey of proposed 10 acre rockfish rearing pond area on Sugar Creek, Meigs County, TN. Knoxville, n.p., 1974. 5 pp.
  • Rogers, E.G. "Switching for water." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 21 (1955), pp. 108- 111.
  • Soil survey, Meigs County, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1921, 1974.
  • Swingle, George D. Mineral resources summary of the Ten Mile quadrangle, TN. Nashville, TN Div. Geol., 1969. 6 pp.
  • TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
  • TN Valley Authority. Ind. Div. Agricultural-industrial survey of Meigs County, TN. Knoxville, TVA, 1934. var. pp.
  • TN Valley Authority. Reservoir Property Management Dept. Summary of community readjustment studies, Meigs County. Knoxville, TVA, 1940. 35 pp.
  • US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Spring City, Ten Mile, Pattie Gap, Evensville, Decatur, Tranquility, Graysville, Big Spring, Goodfield, Soddy Island, Birchwood, Charleston.


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