Tennessee Counties
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Tennessee Counties

There are ninety-five counties in the State of Tennessee. The oldest county is Washington County, founded in 1777. The most recently formed county is Chester County (1879)

Claiborne County, Tennessee

Claiborne County Education, Geography, and History

Claiborne County, Tennessee Courthouse

Claiborne County is a county located in the state of Tennessee. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 32,213. Claiborne County was established on October 29, 1801, created from Grainger and Hawkins counties and extended the southern boundary to Anderson County. It was named for Virginia tidewater aristocrat William C. C. Claiborne, one of the first judges of the Tennessee Superior Court and one of the first representatives in US Congress from Tennessee Its county seat is Tazewell.

Etymology - Origin of Claiborne County Name

Named in honor of William C. C. Claiborne (1775-1817), judge of the superior court of Tennessee, US congressman and senator, governor of the Mississippi Territory and of Louisiana.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

History of Claiborne County

Created 1801 from Grainger and Hawkins counties; named in honor of William C. C. Claiborne (1775-1817), judge of the superior court of Tennessee, US congressman and senator, governor of the Mississippi Territory and of Louisiana.

Claiborne County was formed in 1801 from Grainger and Hawkins counties. (Acts of Tennessee 1801, Chapter 46).

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 442 square miles (1,144 km2), of which, 434 square miles (1,125 km2) of it is land and 7 square miles (19 km2) of it (1.65%) is water.

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
The Tennessee General Assembly formed Claiborne County in 1801 from parts of Grainger and Hawkins Counties and named it for William C.C. Claiborne, Tennessee's first congressional representative. The most important historic feature of Claiborne County is the Cumberland Gap, located south of the convergence of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. Native Americans called this natural gateway to the north and west the "Warrior's Path." In 1750 Dr. Thomas Walker claimed discovery of the gap and named it Cumberland Gap in honor of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the son of King George II and Queen Caroline. In 1775 Daniel Boone led thirty men through the gap and opened a road west to settlement.

The first settlement occurred in the Powell Valley along the Clinch River. Shortly afterwards, settlements were established at Sycamore Creek and Fort Butler. In 1801 the town of Tazewell was laid out as the county seat of Claiborne County. The town received a post office in 1804, and James Graham served as the first postmaster. The county court met three times in the homes of John Hunt and Elisha Walling before a small frame courthouse was erected in 1804 on land belonging to John Hunt Sr., probably the first settler in the area and the first sheriff of Claiborne County. A jail was constructed at the same time as the courthouse, and a second jail was built in 1819. Luke Bower, one of the first Watauga settlers, was the first attorney in Claiborne County. The first merchant was William Graham, a native of Ireland. Graham had extensive real estate holdings, and around 1800 he completed a stone residence known as the Graham-Kivett house. Other historic buildings include the Parkey house, also thought to have been built by Graham, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War and survived the great fire of 1862. A frontier church at Springdale on Little Sycamore Creek was erected by Drew Harrell and the Reverend Tidence Lane sometime around 1796. Find more from the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: CLAIBORNE COUNTY

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Bell County, Kentucky (north)
  • Lee County, Virginia (northeast)
  • Hancock County (east)
  • Grainger County (southeast)
  • Union County (southwest)
  • Campbell County (west)
  • Whitley County, Kentucky (northwest)


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