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)

De Kalb County, Tennessee

De Kalb County Education, Geography, and History

De Kalb County, Tennessee Courthouse

DeKalb County is a county located in the state of Tennessee. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 18,723. Its county seat is Smithville. The county was created by the General Assembly of Tennessee on December 2, 1837 and was named for Revolutionary War hero Major General Johann de Kalb.

Etymology - Origin of De Kalb County Name

Named in honor of Johann DeKalb (1721-1780), German baron who came with Lafayette to America in 1777, became a Revolutionary army officer and was killed in action at Camden.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

History of DeKalb County

DeKalb County was formed in 1837 from land in Cannon, Warren and White counties. The county was named in honor of Johann DeKalb (1721-1780), German baron who came with Lafayette to America in 1777, became a Revolutionary army officer and was killed in action at Camden.. Historian Will T. Hale believes that the first settlers in the county were at Liberty and came from Maryland in 1797. If so, Adam Dale was the first settler. He may have come over the Cumberland Mountains, although some sources claim he came down the Ohio, up the Cumberland to Nashville, and then overland about 56 miles

 DeKalb County was formed in 1837 from Cannon, Jackson and White counties. (Acts of Tennessee 1839-40, Chapter 2).

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
The Tennessee General Assembly established DeKalb County in December 1837 and named it in honor of Johann DeKalb, a German general who died while serving in the American Revolution. The county seat was located on fifty acres donated by Bernard Richardson and named Smithville by the general assembly in honor of Samuel Granville Smith of Jackson County, a state senator and Tennessee's secretary of state. Smithville's population in 1998 was 4,229. A widely attended Fiddler's Jamboree has been held annually on the square on the July Fourth weekend since 1971.

Liberty is the oldest town in DeKalb County. By 1807 it had been laid off in half-acre lots by its founder, Adam Dale, DeKalb County's first settler, who arrived in 1797 from Maryland. Dale, along with John and Leonard Fite and probably Stephen Robinson, cut a road into the Liberty area from Nashville. In 1805 Dale's friends and relatives followed these groundbreakers to the area. Find more from the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: DEKALB COUNTY

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 329 square miles (852 km2), of which, 305 square miles (789 km2) of it is land and 24 square miles (63 km2) of it (7.42%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Putnam County (northeast)
  • White County (east)
  • Warren County (south)
  • Cannon County (southwest)
  • Wilson County (west)
  • Smith County (northwest)


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