Putnam County, Tennessee Genealogy
Middle Tennessee county. Established 1842.
- 1 Quick Dates
- 2 County Courthouse
- 3 History
- 4 Places/Localities
- 5 Resources
- 5.1 Getting Started
- 5.2 Research Guides
- 5.3 African American
- 5.4 Cemeteries
- 5.5 Census
- 5.6 Church
- 5.7 Court
- 5.8 DNA
- 5.9 Family Histories
- 5.10 Land
- 5.11 Local Histories
- 5.12 Maps
- 5.13 Military
- 5.14 Newspapers
- 5.15 Periodicals
- 5.16 Prisons
- 5.17 Probate
- 5.18 Taxation
- 5.19 Vital Records
- 6 Libraries
- 7 Societies
- 8 Web Sites
- 9 References
Putnam County's civil records start the following years:
Putnam County Courthouse
29 N. Washington
Cookeville, TN 38501
Putnam County Clerk
Marriage and probate records
Birth and death 1925-1940
Incomplete birth and death 1908-1912
P.O. Box 220
Cookeville, TN 38503
Putnam County Register of Deeds
P.O. Box 487
Cookeville, TN 38503
Putnam County Circuit Court Clerk
421 E. Spring Street, Room 1C, Suite 49A
Cookeville, TN 38501
Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
1842--Putnam County was established 2 February 1842 from White, Overton, Jackson, Smith and DeKalb Counties. Early records may be found under White, Overton, Jackson, Smith and DeKalb Counties.
County seat: Cookeville 
"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.
1898--Fire damaged records
- Lost census: 1890
- Lost marriage records: 1842 to 1878
- Lost probate records: 1842 to 1875
- Arlene Eakle, When the Records are Gone in Tennessee Genealogy Blog
- Burned Counties Research in FamilySearch Wiki
- Michael John Neill, Burned Counties in Family History Circle
|Avoton (hist.)||Double Springs||Monterey||Sand Springs|
|Bilbrey||Goffton||Peekville (hist.)||Silver Point|
|Boma||Holladay||Poplar Grove||Twin Oak|
|Brotherton||Hudsonburg (hist.)||Post Oak|
|Cookeville||Marchbanks (hist.)||Rocky Point|
Use the free Search for Surnames at Mountain Press's website to quickly search a variety of published Putnam County family Bible, cemetery, court, marriage, private papers, 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.
- Genealogical "Fact Sheets" About Tennessee Counties: Putnam County, courtesy: TSLA. (Identifies published county histories, published local records, census records, newspapers and local records on microfilm, and select manuscripts.)
Tennessee cemetery records often identify birth, death, relationship, and military information, as well as religious affiliation.
- 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.
- Find A Grave also gives a list of cemeteries in Putnam County linking to the information about the people buried there,
- Putnam Co. TN Cemetery Records, part of the TNGenWeb Cemetery Database, lists many cemeteries in the county, often with indexes and transcripts of the burials.
- Putnam County, Tennessee, USGenWeb Tombstone Transcription Project lists many cemeteries in the county and has transcripts of the tombstones arranged by cemetery.
- The Family History Library Catalog lists some records of cemeteries in Putnam county. Some of the books or others may be on Google Books or available at public libraries.
- Charles A. Reeves Jr. has created a detailed map showing the locations of Putnam County cemeteries. It may be purchased for a small fee through his website.
- TNGenes.net has 180+ cemeteries photographed.
1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population censuses of Putnam 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.
- McComb, Joyce B. The First Putnam County, Tennessee, United States Census, 1860. Lexington, South Carolina : J.B. McComb, 1989. FHL 976.867 X2m 1860
- McGee, Norman T. 1870 United States Census of Putnam County, Tennessee. Arrington, Tennessee : Lilac Hill Pub., 1989. FHL 976.867 X2m 1870
- McGee, Norman T. 1880 United States Census of Putnam County, Tennessee. Arrington, Tennessee : Lilac Hill Pub., 1989. FHL 976.867 X2m 1880
- Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census, Putnam County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: B. Sistler and Associates, 1991. FHL 976.867 X2s 1880
1890 - Lost, but substitutes are available:
- Reed, Sue S. Enumeration of Male Inhabitants of Twenty-one Years of Age and Upward, Citizens of Tennessee, January 1, 1891, as Provided for by an Act of General Assembly of Tennessee, Passed January 15, 1891, and Approved January 22, 1891. 8 vols. Houston, Texas: S.S. Reed, 1989. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2r v. 5 1891. [Putnam County is included in Vol. 5.]
- Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1890 Civil War Veterans Census, Tennessee. Evanston, Ill.: Byron Sister and Associates, 1978. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2s 1890.
- Clark, Fred L. The United States Twelfth Census of Putnam County, Tennessee, 1900. Quebeck, Tennessee : F.L. Clark, 1994. FHL 976.867 X28v 1900
- Wilkerson, Azilee, Fred L. Clark, ed. The United States thirteenth Census of Putnam County, Tennessee, 1910. Quebeck, Tennessee : F.L. Clark, 1992. FHL 976.867 X2w 1910
- Grime, John Harvey. History of Middle Tennessee Baptists: With Special Reference to Salem, New Salem, Enon and Wiseman Associations. Nashville, Tennessee: Baptist and Reflector, 1902. Includes names changes for places in Middle Tennessee. Free digital copy.
It is anticipated that this bibliography will eventually identify all known family histories published about residents of this county. Use this list to:
- Locate publications about direct ancestors
- Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
- Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" [Friends, Associates, and Neighbors]
The Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc. has uploaded a free "Index to the Charles Leonard Collection" on their website. It contains "a name index to family research files at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville TN."
- [Dyer] Preator, Richard E. The Descendants of James Dyer and Jane Finn of Jackson Co. Tennessee. Salem, Mass.: Higginson, 1998. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 D988p.
- [Maxwell] Maxwell, Harry L. Descendants of Samuel Maxwell of Putnam County and Jackson County, TN. Cookeville, Tenn.: H.L. Maxwell, [199-?]. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 M451mh.
The following County Revolutionary War records are available online through TNGenWeb:
War of 1812
- Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Apr. 1961):49-52. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. [Includes Putnam County pensioners (p. 50).]
- Head, Thomas A. Campaigns and battles of the Sixteenth Regiment, Tennessee Volunteers, in the war between the states, with incidental sketches of the part performed by other Tennessee troops in the same war.1861-1865. Nashville, Tennessee: Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1885. Free digital copy.
- USGenWeb Archives, Putnam County Tennessee Archives, (accessed 1 Feb 2012). Civil War Records.
- Tennessee State Library and Archives, Tennessee Confederate Pension Applications : Putnam County, (accessed 1 Feb 2012). Includes soldier's name, county, pension #, unit or widow.
- United States Pension Bureau, List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883: Giving the Name of Each Pensioner, the Cause for ... (Washington Printing Office; 1883), (accessed 1 Feb 2012). Online at Internet Archive. Putnam County, page 369.
- Civil War Soldiers From Putnam County, (accessed 1 Feb 2012). Compiled by Maurine Ensor Patton & Christine Spivey Jones.
- Extracts taken from the Putnam County Herald [19--?] FHL book 976.867 B38. Digital version available at BYU Family History Archives.
- Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at 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 Putnam County click on the following city or town:
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 Putnam County, Tennessee records 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 Putnam 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.
- Overton County Historical Society Newsletter
- "This newsletter, although called 'Overton County,' covers all the area in Overton, Fentress, and Pickett County, Tennessee along with Monterey in Putnam County" - Vol. 7, no. 4 p. 2
Family History Library has volume 1 - 8 FHL US/CAN 976.8684 B2n.
Indexed in PERiodical Source Index (PERSI)
For further information see Overton County Historical Society website: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tnoverto/OCHS/index.htm
- The Upper Cumberland Researcher
- Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Putnam 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 Putnam County ancestors went to prison!
- Inmates of the Tennessee State Penitentiary 1851-1870, free index available online, courtesy: TSLA.
Probate records are court records created after an individual’s death that relate to a court’s decisions regarding the distribution of the estate to the heirs or creditors and the care of any dependents. You may find the names of married daughters or other relatives and their residences; or information about the adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. Probate records do not always give an exact date of death, but the death usually occurred within a few months of probate. These documents are important to family history researchers because they usually exist for time periods before civil birth and death records were kept.
The Putnam County Court has responsibility for the probate records.
The following Putnam County probate records have been abstracted, indexed, or both:
- Works Progress Administration. Putnam County, Tennessee, Miscellaneous Records. Nashville, Tennessee: Byron Sistler & Assoc., 1936. This indexed book includes diaries, letters, wills, indentures, and other misellaneous records from private collections. (FHL book 976.867 P2p.)
The following Putnam County tax records have been abstracted:
- [1854-1855] "Putnam County, Tennessee - Tax Book Index 1854-1855," The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 1, No. 3 ():10-. For access, see Periodicals.
- [1854-1855] W.P.A. Putnam County, Tennessee Tax List 1854-1855. 2005 reprint, Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press. Free online surname index; purchase details.
-  Paessler, Jane Park. "Putnam County, Tennessee 1855 Tax List," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 1995):7-12; Vol. 42, No. 2 (Summer 1995):61-63. For possible FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Periodicals.
-  Tax List, 1858, The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter 1999). For access, see Periodicals.
- [1860s] "Putnam County, Tennessee - Civil War Tax List," The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 3, No. 3 ():3-. For access, see Periodicals.
- [1870-1872] Civil District No. 16, 1870-72, The Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Fall 1992).
-  Freeman, Mitzi P. "Putnam County, TN - Tax Records - 1883," [6 Districts] available online, courtesy: USGenWeb Archives.
-  Road Taxpayers List, 1913, The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Winter 1998). For access, see Periodicals.
- Delinquent Railroad Taxes, The Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring 1986). For access, see Periodicals.
The original Putnam County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. Due to fire, the marriage records of Putnam County are lost until 1879.
The following Putnam County marriage records are microfilmed:
- [1879-1995] Available at the TSLA.
- [1878-1952] Available at the Family History Library. Includes index through 1985.FHL 1928809
The following Putnam County marriage records are abstracted and/or indexed:
- Bartlett, Bess Beatrice. Extracts Taken from the Putnam County Herald. Manuscript. FHL 976.867 B38b Free digital copy.
- [1878-1882] Smith, Willie D. Marriage Records of Putnam County, Tennessee, 1878-1882. Signal Mountain, Tennessee : Mountain Press, 1996. FHL 976.867 V2s
- Tennessee County Marriages, 1790-1950 - covers all counties in Tennessee.
- Many county marriage records are indexed with images at Ancestry's Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. ($) Be aware that this index is not complete for many counties.
Putnam County is not included in Sistler's Early Middle Tennessee Marriages.
In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Putnam County divorce papers in diverse County Courthouse records, see:
- W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 A3gp.
- Tennessee Deaths and Burials 1874-1955 at Record Search Pilot at FamilySearch. Name index with extracted death certificate information. Search by surname then browse through the results. You may need to supply variant spellings of the names.
For deaths of Methodists in Putnam County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try:
- Smith, Jonathan K.T. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, the Nashville Christian Advocate. [1847-1914] 10 vols. [Jackson, Tenn.]: J.K.T. Smith, 1997-2003. FHL US/CAN Books 976.855/N1 V48s 1847-1851 ff; digital versions at David Donahue Memorial: Tennessee Records Repository. [Website expands upon the publications and includes deaths from the 1830s, 1840s, 1910s and 1920s.]
Putnam County Library
50 East Broad St.
Cookeville, TN 38501
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The "Tennessee Room houses many items of interest to those doing research in genealogy."
Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
PO Box 330948
Nashville, TN, USA 37203-7507
The society serves the 40 counties of middle Tennessee of which Putnam 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
Family History Centers
981 S Walnut
This is not a mailing address. Due to limited staff, Family History Centers are unable to respond to mail inquiries.
- Family History Library Catalog (FamilySearch)
- Mailing List: TN-ROOTWALKER-L (North Central Tennessee Genealogy List) (RootsWeb)
- Mailing List: TN-UPPER-CUMBERLAND-L (Upper Cumberland Tennessee Region Genealogy List) (RootsWeb)
- Putnam County, TN Family History and Genealogy Message Board (Ancestry)
- Putnam County, TN Genealogy and Family History (Linkpendium)
- Putnam County, TN Genealogy Forum (GenForum)
- Putnam County, TNGenWeb (USGenWeb)
- Putnam County, TN History, Records, Facts and Genealogy (MyTennesseeGenealogy)
- Rootwalker: Genealogy Pages for Northern Middle TN Free Genealogy Resources for the Region
- Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey (W.P.A.), 1941; "Earliest County Records," Tennessee State Library and Archives.
- "List of counties in Tennessee," Wikipedia.
- The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 643. (FHL Collection Ref Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
- Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
- The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.