DeKalb County, Tennessee Genealogy

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Tennessee  Gotoarrow.png  DeKalb County

DeKalb County, Tennessee genealogy and family history research page. Guide to DeKalb County (established 1837) genealogy, history, and courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.

DeKalb County, Tennessee
Boundary map of DeKalb County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting DeKalb County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: December 11, 1837
County Seat Smithville
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Quick Dates

DeKalb County's civil records start the following years:[1]

Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1908 1848 1908 1840 1838 1846

County Courthouse

De Kalb County Courthouse
 County Courthouse
Rm 205
Smithville, TN 37166
Phone: 615.597.5159 

County Clerk has marriage records from 1848
and probate records from 1854; Clerk Chancery
Court has divorce records; Reg of Deeds has
land records [2]

DeKalb County Courthouse, Smithville, Tenn.
DeKalb County Courthouse
1 Public Square
Smithville, TN 37166
Phone: 615-597-5159

DeKalb County Clerk
Marriage and Probate records
1 Public Square, Room 205
Smithville, TN 37166
Phone: 1-615-597-5177

DeKalb County Register of Deeds
Land records
1 Public Square, Room 201
Smithville, TN 37166
Phone: 1-615-597-4153

DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
1 Public Square, Room 303
Smithville, TN 37166
Phone: 1-615-597-5711

Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 pm


Revolutionary War hero Johann de Kalb (1721-1780)

Middle Tennessee county.

The county is named after Revolutionary War hero Johann de Kalb (1721-1780), a German baron.[3]

Parent County

1837--DeKalb County was created 11 December 1837 from White, Warren, Cannon, Wilson, and Jackson Counties.
County seat: Smithville [4]

County Pronunciation

  1. Hear it spoken[5] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[6] (female)

Boundary Changes

"Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free at the My Tennessee Genealogy website. They rely on AniMap 3.0 software.

Record Loss

  • Marriages recorded between 1837 and 1847 are lost
  • Probate records 1837 to 1846 are lost

Places / Localities

Populated Places

Alexandria Buckner Johnsons Chapel Smithville
Antioch Cherry Hill Keltonburg Snows Hill
Belk Cross Roads Liberty Temperance Hall
Bethel Dowelltown Midway Watkins
Blue Springs Helton Philippi Williams Crossroads
Bluhmtown Jefferson Pisgah Young Bend

Neighboring Counties


Getting Started

Use the free Search for Surnames at Mountain Press's website to quickly search a variety of published DeKalb County biography, probate, and tax records. To determine which books are being searched, or to search each publication's index individually, click here. You are now equipped with a checklist of books to pull off the shelves at a genealogy library, or a wish list for your personal book collection.

Research Guides

African American

United States African Americans Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans


  • Find A Grave can be searched by the name of a person or family to find where a person is buried. Usually gives birth and death dates often with a picture of the tombstone. May give obituaries, names of family members and links to their information in Find A Grave.


1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of DeKalb County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Tennessee Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than nationwide online indexes.

See Tennessee Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.

See DeKalb County, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. [The USGenWeb Census Project®]


  • Parsley, Jorene W. DeKalb County, 1840, Eleven Districts Population. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 1985.FHL 976.8532 X2p 1840

1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners


  • Parsley, Jorene W. Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1850 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 1988. FHL 976.8532 X2p 1850


  • Parsley, Jorene W. Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1860 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley,19-?. FHL 976.8532 X2p 1860


  • Parsley, Jorene W.Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1870 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 198-? FHL 976.8532 X2p 1870


  • Parsley, Jorene W. and Brenda J. Tramel Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1880 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley and B.J. Tramel, 198-? FHL 976.8532 X2p 1880
  • Sistler, Byron. 1800 Census, DeKalb County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: B.H. Sistler, 1993. FHL 976.8532 X2s 1880

1890 - Lost, but substitutes are available:

  • "1890 Civil War Veterans Census of DeKalb County, Tennessee," available online, courtesy: TNGenWeb.
  1. A-L Index
  2. M-Z Index


  • Parsley, Jorene W. Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1900 for DeKalb County, Tennessee. Smithville, Tennessee: J.W. Parsley, 1988. FHL 976.8532 X2p 1900


  • Young, Denise, ed.. DeKalb County, Tennessee Census, 1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. Available at Ancestry($).




More than 25 genealogies have been published about DeKalb County, Tennessee Genealogy families. To view a list, visit DeKalb County, Tennessee Genealogy.

The Justin Potter Library in Smithville, Tennessee maintains an online list of published genealogies held in their collection. See: An Inventory of Genealogy Books found at the Justin Potter Library.


  • Dekalb County Register of Deeds has Land Records from 1838 and is located at Courthouse, Room 205, Smithville, Tennessee 37166; Telephone: (615) 597-517. Land and property records include transfer of real estate or personal property, mortgages, leases, surveys, and entries.
  • The Family History Library has microfilm copies of deeds 1838-1897 with indexes 1898-1968; Land entries 1838-1905.

Law and Legislation

  • Tennessee State Library and Archives, Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850: Index to Names. January 25, 2005. [In addition to creating new laws, legislative acts were often required to obtain a divorce, grant legitimacy to a child, or for appointments to or grant payments for public service.] The TSLA has created an index to names that appear in these acts covering the years 1796 to 1850. To read more about this valuable resource Click here. The searchable index is available at the TSLA; another version is available at World Vital Records.

Local Histories

  • The Goodspeed Histories of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren and White Counties: With Biographical Sketches and Aboriginal Map of Tennessee. McMinnville, TN: B. Lomond Press, 1972. Reprint. Originally published: Nashville, TN: Goodspeed Pub. Co., 1887. Available at FHL US/CAN Film 924077 Item 2. Digital version available at World Vital Records ($). Available for purchase at Quintin Publications.
  • Hale, Will T. DeKalb County History.  Nashville, Tennessee: P. Hunter, 1915. Free dital copy.



Revolutionary War

The following DeKalb County Revolutionary War records are available online through TNGenWeb:

Additional resources include:

War of 1812

Civil War

Civil War service men from DeKalb County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment)that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from DeKalb County.

Confederate Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from DeKalb County:


Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at the TSLA. Most of these newspapers may be accessed by interlibrary loan to libraries within Tennessee, although there are some newspapers which are not available in or outside of Tennessee. For further information regarding interlibrary loan policies and newspapers not available for interlibrary loan click here. For a list of newspapers available at the archives for Dekalb County click on the following cities or towns:


  • Miller, Alan N. Middle Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1784 to 1902. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2ma. Purchase at [Includes DeKalb County.]


Tap into the minds of local experts. Editors of genealogical periodicals publish unique sources that researchers who are new to their area would not likely discover. This type of material may be found in local, regional, or statewide genealogical society journals. The following periodicals cover this county:

Ansearchin' News
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of DeKalb County, Tennessee have been published in Ansearchin' News, the quarterly magazine of the Tennessee Genealogical Society. To view a list of these articles, visit their county index. To read digitized versions of the first 36 years of articles (Vols. 1-36), browse their archive or conduct a surname search. The Family History Library has a complete collection of the Ansearchin' News quarterly FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a.
The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of DeKalb County, Tennessee have been published in The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, the quarterly of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society (23+ Vols.). To view a list of these articles, visit their online Index to Articles (1988-2005). Surname indexes are also available online for Vols. 2-22. The website also offers back issues for sale in paper and on CD. The Family History Library has a complete collection of this quarterly FHL US/CAN Book 976.85 D25m.
The Upper Cumberland Researcher
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of DeKalb County, Tennessee have been published in The Upper Cumberland Researcher, the journal of the Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc. To view a list of the first 17 years of these articles, visit their online Seventeen Year Index to The Upper Cumberland Researcher (Vols. 1-17, 1975-1992). The Index contains a "Counties" section beginning on page 19. The Family History Library has most issues through the present FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2u (1975-1993) and FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2u (1994-present).


Learn if your DeKalb County, Tennessee Genealogy ancestors went to prison!


The DeKalb County Court has responsibility for the probate records.

FamilySearch has placed scans of the following records online in the Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927 collection. These are browse-only collections. Handwritten indexes may be found at the front or back of some volumes:

  • Wills, 1838-1967 (5 vols.)
  • Bonds, Letters, 1860-1942 (Vols. A-F)
  • Insolvent estate records, 1856-1879, 1899-1946 (Vols. 1-3)
  • Inventories, 1885-1969 (Vols. A-D)
  • Letters, 1888-1914 (Vol. A)
  • Sales, 1878-1886, 1903-1921 (Vols. 1-3)
  • Settlements, 1846-1955 (11 vols.)

The following DeKalb County probate records have been abstracted or indexed:

  • [1846-1907] Majors, Betty Moore. DeKalb County, Tennessee, Genealogy from Administrator's Settlement Books, 1846-1907. Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, 1992. Indexed. (FHL book 976.8532 D2m.)
  • [1838-1861] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Index to Tennessee Wills & Administrations 1779-1861. Nashville, Tenn. Byron Sistler & Associates, Inc., 1990. FHL US/CAN 976.8 P22s. [Includes an index to this county's probate records.]

USGenWeb's DeKalb County page also has some transcribed wills.


The following DeKalb County tax records have been abstracted:[7]

  • [1839] "DeKalb County, Tennessee 1839 Tax List," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Summer 1993):65-70. For access, see Periodicals.
  • [1839] Douthat, James L. 1839 DeKalb County, Tennessee Tax List. Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press. Free online surname index and purchase details.
  • [1846] "DeKalb County, Tennessee Delinquent Property Taxes, 1846," Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 2 (1992):76-. For access, see Periodicals
  • [1906-1907] "DeKalb County, Tennessee Road Taxpayers, 16th District, 1906-7," Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Fall 1992):116-. For access, see Periodicals

Vital Records


The original DeKalbCounty marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. Marriages before August 1848 are lost. The following publication, based on early newspapers, helps to alleviate this genealogical obstacle:

  • Lucas, Silas Emmett. Marriages from Early Tennessee Newspapers 1794-1851. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1978. FHL 976.8 V2L.

The following DeKalb County marriage records are microfilmed:

  • [1848-1991] Available at the TSLA. Marriages 1848-1887 are available for interlibrary loan.
  • [1848-1968] Available at the Family History Library. Indexes are at the front of each volume.FHL 593050

The following DeKalb County marriage records have been abstracted and/or indexed:

  • [1848-1880] Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Early Middle Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. Nashville, Tenn.: B. Sistler & Associates, 1988. FHL 976.8 V2sb v. 2. [Indexes names of brides and grooms, and marriage dates for weddings in this county for the specified years.]
  • [1848-1859] Marriage Records, 1850-1866, DeKalb County, Tennessee.  Nashville: TSLA, Historical Records Project.  Typescript. FHL 24639 Item 4
  • [1848-1900} Parsley, Jorene W. Marriages recorded in DeKalb County, Tennessee, 1848-1900. Smithville, Tennessee : J. W. Parsley, 1990 FHL 976.8532 V2p
  • [1848-1850] Marriage Records: Early–1850. [8]

For deaths of Methodists in DeKalb County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:


Libraries associated with the Dekalb County Library System

Justin Potter Library
101 S. 1st St.
Smithville, TN 7166-1706
Phone: 1-615-597-4359
This library is the home of the now defunct DeKalb County Genealogical Society's collection.
An Inventory of Genealogy Books Found at the Justin Potter Library (2009)

Alexandria Branch Library
109 Public Square; PO Box 367
Alexandria, TN 37012-0367
Phone: 1-615-529-9124

Dowelltown Branch Library
Church Street; PO Box 87
Dowelltown, Tennessee 37059-0087
Phone: 1-615-536-5997

Liberty Public Library
103 College Street
Liberty, TN 37095
Phone: 1-615-536-6116

Family History Centers


The once active DeKalb County Genealogy Society is now defunct. Its collection is currently housed at the Justin Potter Library and includes an extensive collection of Vertical Files, Genealogical Books, Census Records, and lots more. See: An Inventory of Genealogy Books Found at the Justin Potter Library (2009)

Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
PO Box 330948
Nashville, TN, USA 37203-7507
The society serves the 40 counties of middle Tennessee of which Dekalb County is one. It publishes The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, a quarterly containing articles of genealogical and historical interest. Little-known Tennessee records are published and indexed, along with family genealogies, Bible records and material submitted by members. There is an alphabetical Index to articles in the Journal 1988-summer 2005

Web Sites

Wikipedia has more about this subject: DeKalb County, Tennessee


  1. "Earliest County Records," Tennessee State Library and Archives.
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Dekalb County, Tennessee page 639, {WorldCat|50140092|disp=At various libraries (WorldCat)}}; FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. "Johann de Kalb," Wikipedia.
  4. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 639. (FHL Collection Ref Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  5. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  6. Voice of Louise Lynch, Archivist, Williamson County, Tennessee Archives (2010).
  7. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  8. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1992. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 229.) Does not circulate to Family History Centers.