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Davidson County, Tennessee

Davidson County Education, Geography, and History

County Seat: Nashville
Year Organized: 1783
Square Miles: 502
Court House:

1 Public Square
Nashville, TN 37201-5007

Etymology - Origin of County Name

Named in honor of William Lee Davidson (ca. 1746-1781), colonial soldier, Revolutionary War officer in the North Carolina Third, Fourth and Fifth Regiments who was killed in action at Valley Forge.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

History of Carter County


Created 1783 by Act of North Carolina; named in honor of William Lee Davidson (ca. 1746-1781), colonial soldier, Revolutionary War officer in the North Carolina Third, Fourth and Fifth Regiments who was killed in action at Valley Forge.

Davidson County was formed in 1783 by an act of the state of North Carolina. (Laws of North Carolina, Acts of 1783, Chapter 52).

Davidson County is the oldest county in Middle Tennessee. It dates to 1783, when the North Carolina legislature created the county and named it in honor of William L. Davidson, a North Carolina officer who died in the Revolutionary War on January 1, 1782. The county seat, Nashville, is also the oldest permanent white settlement in Middle Tennessee, founded by James Robertson and John Donelson during the winter of 1779-80. The initial white settlers established the Cumberland Compact in order to establish a basic rule of law and to protect their land titles. Through much of the early 1780s the settlers also faced a hostile response from Native American tribes. As the county's many known archaeological sites attest, the resources of Davidson County had attracted Native Americans for centuries. In fact, the first whites to encounter the area were fur traders, then long hunters, who came to a large salt lick, known as French Lick, in present-day Nashville to trade with Native Americans and to hunt the abundant game.

Nashville has always been the region's center of commerce, industry, transportation, and culture, but it did not become the capital of Tennessee until 1827 and did not gain permanent capital status until 1843. Its story is best told through its individual entry and the hundreds of other entries in this volume that cover significant people, events, and institutions associated with Nashville as the capital city of Tennessee.


Find more from the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: DAVIDSON COUNTY


According to the US Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 526 square miles (1,363 km2), of which, 502 square miles (1,301 km2) of it is land and 24 square miles (62 km2) of it (4.53%) is water.

The Cumberland River flows from east to west through the middle of the county. Two dams within the county are Old Hickory Lock and Dam and J. Percy Priest Dam, operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Important tributaries of the Cumberland in Davidson County include Whites Creek, Manskers Creek, Stones River, Mill Creek, and the Harpeth River

Neighboring Counties:

  • Robertson County, Tennessee - north
  • Sumner County, Tennessee - northeast
  • Wilson County, Tennessee - east
  • Rutherford County, Tennessee - southeast
  • Williamson County, Tennessee - south
  • Cheatham County, Tennessee - west


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