Pickett County

Pickett County

Pickett County was formed in 1879 from
Fentress and Overton counties

(Acts of Tennessee 1879, Chapter 34)

The county seat is Byrdstown.

There was a fire at the Pickett County courthouse in 1934.


Selected Published County Histories
  • History & Genealogy of Families in Pickett County  (Pickett County Book Committee, 1991) [surname index]*
  • History of Pickett County, Tennessee  (Huddleston, 1973)*

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


Published Local Records
  • 15th Census of the United States, 1930: Pickett County, Tennessee (Gann, 2005) [name index]
  • Gone But Not Quite Forgotten: Pickett County Cemeteries  (Pierce,  1994) [surname index]*
  • Pickett County Cemetery Book: Bye and Bye (Norris, 2002) [alphabetical listings]
  • Pickett County Census, 1900  (Pierce, 1988) [name index]*
  • Pickett County, TN Death Certificates, 1914-1925  (Gray,  1999) [alphabetical listings]*
  • Pickwick Landing Reservoir Cemeteries  (Douthat,  1987) [surname index]*
  • Pioneer Families of Pickett County, Tennessee  (Huddleston,  1968)*
  • Thirteenth Census of the United States, Pickett County, Tennessee: 1910 census  (Pierce, 1990) [surname index]*
  • Veterans of Pickett County (Hassler, Groce & Maiwald, 2004) [alphabetical listings by war]


Local Records on Microfilm 

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

Earliest records include:

  • marriages from 1934
  • wills from 1933
  • deed index from 1934
  • chancery court minutes from 1934
  • county court minutes from 1934
  • circuit court minutes from 1935
  • tax books from 1932


Newspapers on Microfilm

Newspapers were published in Byrdstown.  Scattered early issues are available from 1963, and a complete run begins in 1963.  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

Search for Manuscripts Material in our Catalog 


Census Records
  • Census on microfilm for Pickett County:  1820-1880, 1900-1930
  • State-wide census index:  1820-1880
  • State-wide census index on microfilm  (Soundex):  1880,  1900-1930
  • Pickett County census records in book form:  1900*,  1910*, 1930*


Additional Research Aids for Pickett County


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


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Pickett County Formation Act



"An Act to create a new county off of Overton and Fentress, in the state of Tennessee."


SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, That a new county is hereby established to be composed of portions taken from Overton and Fentress counties, to be known and designated by the name of Pickett.

SECTION 2. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the county of Pickett shall be bounded as follows:  Beginning on the southeast corner of Clay County, at a point eleven miles northeast of Livingston, running thence south sixty degrees east, toe the Livingston and Albany Road, to a point eleven miles from Livingston, running by Jackson Winningham;  thence south fifty degrees east to a black oak on the Jamestown and Livingston Road, eleven miles southeast of Livingston; thence south twenty degrees east to the west of fork of Obey’s River; thence to a rock marked No. 5, near Ledford’s;  thence north forty degrees east to a rock marked E.G. Smith and John Harman; thence north twelve degrees east to the Jamestown and Livingston Road; thence northwardly to the east fork of Obey’s River at a point eleven miles from Jamestown, thence northwardly to the Dry Creek and Jamestown Road to a stake eleven miles from Jamestown;  thence in a northwardly direction to the Jamestown and Albany Road to a stake near the Gatewood stand;  thence north sixty degrees east to the Kempton Gap of the mountain;  thence east up Ratter’s fork of Wolf River to a cliff marked X;  thence east to the Scott County line;  thence north to the Kentucky line;  thence west with said line to the northeast corner of Clay County;  thence with the line of said county to the beginning, containing about 300 square miles.

SECTION 3. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That for the purpose of organizing the county of Pickett, W. W. Goodpasture, Jackson Winningham, L. T. Smith, J. N. Huddleston, Sr., M. F. Hurt, W. A. Gilreath and E. D. Wright, shall be, and are hereby appointed, Commissioners on the part of the several fractions of the counties of Overton and Fentress, who shall, before entering on the discharge of their duty, take an oath before some Justice of the Peace, faithfully and impartially, to discharge all the duties incumbent upon them in this act; and in all cases of vacancy, that may occur among said Commissioners, previous to the organization of the County Court, of said county of Pickett, the same shall be filed by remaining Commissioners, and all vacancies occurring after the organization of such court shall be filled by said court of the county of Pickett. Said Commissioners shall enter into such bond and security as may be required by the said County Court of Pickett, and payable to the Chairman thereof, conditioned for the faithful performance of their duties as required by this Act.
  A majority of said Commissioners shall constitute a board, competent to do all things herein enjoined them. They shall keep a record of all their proceedings as Commissioners, which shall be returned to the County Court of Pickett County at its first session, and the same shall be recorded by the clerk thereof on the records of said court, and they shall make such returns after the organization of said court as shall be directed thereby.

SECTION 4. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of said Commissioners, first giving thirty days notice in two or more public places in each fraction, of the time and place to open and hold an election, in two of more places in each of the fractions proposed to be stricken off from the counties of Overton and Fentress, in order to ascertain whether two-thirds of the voters residing in each of the said fractions, are in favor of, or opposed to the formation of said new county of Pickett, and all persons qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly residing in said fractions, shall be entitled to vote in said election, and each voter who is in favor of the formation of the new county, shall have on his ticket "New County" and each voter opposed to the new county of Pickett shall have on his ticket "Old County" and if, after counting the votes cast in said election it shall appear that there are two-thirds of the legal votes cast in each of said fractions in favor of the new county, then in that case the county of Pickett shall be, and is hereby declared the county, with all the powers, privileges and advantages, and subject to all the liabilities and duties with other counties in the state.

SECTION 5. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That in order to carry into effect and make certain and accurate the provisions in the 4th section of this act, said Commissioners are hereby empowered and authorized to canvass and take the census of the qualified voting population in the bounds of the several fractions proposed to be stricken off from the counties of Overton and Fentress.

SECTION 6. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That for the due administration of justice, the different courts to be holden in the said county of Pickett shall be held at such place or places, as may be designated by said Commissioners until the seat of justice shall be located and all writs and other process issuing from said Courts returnable to the place, shall be legal, and the courts of the County of Pickett, shall be under the same rules, regulations and restrictions, shall have, exercise and possess the same power and jurisdiction as prescribed by law for holding courts in other counties, and said county shall be attached to the 16th Judicial Circuit, and the 1st Circuit and Chancery Courts shall be held at the time designated by the judge of said Circuit.

SECTION 7. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That all officers, civil or military, now holding office in said county, shall continue to hold their offices and exercise all the functions and powers thereof until others are elected and qualified according to this act; Provided, That nothing in this act shall deprive the counties from which the fractions have been taken, having exercised and holding jurisdiction over the county of Pickett and the citizens thereof, in as full and ample a manner as they now have, until the election of county officers takes place, according to this act.

SECTION 8. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That said Commissioners are hereby empowered, and it shall be their duty, to appoint five qualified and suitable persons to divide said county into not less than 8 civil districts, designating boundaries and places for holding elections in said districts and perform all the duties relating thereto, which, by the laws of the state, such Commissioners are required to do.

SECTION 9. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the Commissioners appointed by this act, shall appoint such person or persons, as they may think proper, and hold the election for county officers of said county of Pickett, and such person or persons so appointed, shall have power to appoint deputy clerks and judges, and by himself and deputies to administer all the necessary oaths and perform all other duties, now made the duties of sheriffs or other officers holding similar elections, and it shall be the duty of such persons so appointed together with their deputies after giving fifteen days notice to open the polls and hold an election in each one of the civil districts in said county for district and county officers, and the officers so elected shall hold their offices until the next regular election, for the different officers so elected takes place in other counties in the state.

SECTION 10. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of the above named Commissioners, so soon as convenient, after the full and complete organization of the said county of Pickett to select and put in nomination two or more suitable locations for the seat of justice of the county of Pickett, having a due regard for the health and convenience of a majority of the citizens of said county, neither of which places shall be more than two and one-half miles from the supposed or probable center of said county of Pickett which places shall be voted for by the legal voters of said county and the site nominated receiving the largest number of votes shall be, and is hereby declared to be, the seat of justice of the said county of Pickett, and shall be known by the name of Byrdstown.

SECTION 11. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it shall be the further duty of said Commission to obtain a good and sufficient title to twenty acres of land, upon which the seat of justice of said county is located, by the vote of the people, and said Commission shall lay off said land into town lots of proper size with the necessary streets and alleys, reserving ___ acres for a public square and a suitable lot for a county jail.

SECTION 12. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it shall be the duty of said Commission to superintend the building of such public buildings as the County Court of said county may direct to be built, and shall let the same out, and shall take bonds with ample security, payable to themselves, and successors in office, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or their contract, the proceeds of the sales of all donations, bonds, town lots, or other gifts that may be made, in consideration of the location of the seat of justice for said county of Pickett, or otherwise, shall be a fund in their hands to pay the necessary expenses in organizing said county and paying for the erection of public buildings ordered to be built by the County Court, and should any surplus remain it shall be their duty to pay over the same to the trustee to be accounted for by him as other funds in his hands.

SECTION 13. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That said Commissioners of Pickett County, be, and they are hereby authorized, to exercise all powers and privileges conferred on them by this Act, and any and all other powers not in violation of the Constitution of the state, that may be necessary and proper for the complete setting up an organization of said county of Pickett.

SECTION 14. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That the fractions composing said county of Pickett shall be liable for their pro rata of the debts contracted and owing by the counties from which they were taken and shall also receive their portion of any stocks or credits belonging to said old counties.

SECTION 15. BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it;   Provided, that this act shall not be so construed as to violate the Constitutional rights  of the old counties of which it is composed.


Passed on February 25, 1879

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Pickett 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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Pickett County in General
  • Biographical directory, TN General Assembly, 1796-1969 (Pickett 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.
  • Effectiveness of best management practices in preventing degradation of streams caused by silvicultural activities in Pickett State Forest, TN. Cookeville, TTU Center for the Management, Utilization & Protection of Water Resources, 1990. 197 pp.
  • Glenn, Leonidas C. The northern TN coal field included in Pickett [& other] counties. Nashville, TN Div. Geol., 1925. 478 pp. (its Bulletin #33-b).
  • Holt, C.L. Seventy years in the Cumberlands. N.p., 1970. pp.
  • Huddleston, Tim L. History of Pickett County, TN. Collegedale, College Press, 1973. 330 pp.
  • Huddleston, Tim L. Pioneer families of Pickett County, TN. Collegedale, College Press, 1968. 180 pp.
  • Jillson, Willard R. The geology of Pickett County, TN; a reconnaissance field study designed as an aid in oil & gas exploration. Frankfort, KY, Roberts Print. Co., 1948. 109 pp.
  • Mitchell, Carrie L. An analysis of the possibilities for local support of education in Pickett County, TN. TN Polytechnic Institute thesis, 1960. 82 pp.
  • Pelren, David W. Effectiveness of best management practices for timber harvest in Pickett State Forest, TN. TTU thesis, 1990. 107 pp.
  • Pickett County History Book Committee. History & genealogy of families of Pickett County, TN. Byrdstown, the committee, 1989. 1190 pp.
  • Pickett County, TN, 1980-1987: an economic analysis. Nashville, TN Dept. Emp. Sec., 1988. 12 pp.
  • Sanders, Charles H. An educational & economic survey of Pickett County, TN. UT thesis, 1924. pp.
  • Smith, Charles C. A social & economic survey of Pickett County. Vanderbilt U. thesis, 1928. 98 pp.
  • Soil survey, Fentress & Pickett counties, TN. Washington, D.C., US GPO, 1995. 117 pp.
  • TN Dept. Transportation [county maps] issued periodically.
  • Upper Cumberland Development District. Comprehensive water & sewage plan: Pickett County TN. Cookeville, the district, 1971. 51 pp.
  • US Geol. Survey [topographic maps] issued periodically. Quadrangles: Frogue, Albany, Dale Hollow Reservoir, Byrdstown, Moodyville, Pall Mall, Sharp Place, Bartnell SW, Alpine, Riverton.
  • White, Linda C. "Champ Ferguson: a legacy of blood." TN Folklore Soc. Bull. 44 (1978), pp. 60-70.
  • Wright, Absolom B. Autobiography of Rev. A.B. Wright of the Holston Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Ed. by J.C. Wright. Cincinnati, Cranston & Curtis, 1896. 447 pp.

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Cordell Hull Birthplace
  • Evins, Joe L. "The Cordell Hull birthplace & memorial." THQ 31 (1972), pp. 111-128.
  • Nance, Benjamin C. Historical research & archaeological testing at the Cordell Hull Birthplace State Historic Site, Pickett County, TN. Nashville, TN Div. Arch.,1992. 100 pp.


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