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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)

Fentress County, Tennessee

Fentress County Education, Geography, and History

Fentress County, Tennessee Courthouse

Fentress County is a county located in the state of Tennessee. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 17,959. Its county seat is Jamestown.

Etymology - Origin of Fentress County Name

Named in honor of James Fentress (1763- 1843), speaker of the state house, chairman of Montgomery County Court, commissioner to select seats for Haywood, Carroll, Gibson and Weakley counties.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

History of Fentress County

Created 1823 from Morgan, Overton and White counties; named in honor of James Fentress (1763- 1843), speaker of the state house, chairman of Montgomery County Court, commissioner to select seats for Haywood, Carroll, Gibson and Weakley counties.

Fentress County was formed in 1823 from Morgan, Overton and White counties. (Private Acts of Tennessee 1823, Chapter 302).

There was a fire at the Fentress County courthouse in 1905.

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
The Tennessee General Assembly created Fentress County from parts of Overton and Morgan Counties on November 28, 1823. The county was named in honor of James Fentress, the Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, who had assisted in passing the enabling legislation for the new county. Fentress County is located in northeast Middle Tennessee on the picturesque Cumberland Plateau. The county initially formed the state's border with Kentucky, but when Pickett County was established in 1881, that part of Fentress was included in the new county. The 2000 population of the county was 16,625.

The history of the county is diverse, ranging from farming to mining to German immigration. Established in 1828, Jamestown, the county seat, also was named in honor of James Fentress. The settlement was once called Sand Springs because several fine springs bubbled up from the sandy soil. Today, a city park named Mark Twain Park in honor of the Clemens family, who once carried water from the spring, surrounds the only remaining spring. Jamestown was a small agricultural trade center for most of its history. Important agricultural products included corn, small grains, livestock, tobacco, poultry, and pumpkins. In 1928 the York Institute constructed its modern campus on the outskirts of Jamestown, and during the 1930s the town's population expanded from 857 to over 1,200 residents. During these years industry became more important in the county as six manufacturing firms located in Jamestown by the 1940s. Coal, barite, ore, and natural gas mining already had opened new economic avenues; indeed, the coal mining towns of Davidson and Wilder were the second and third largest communities in the county in 1941. The Fentress Coal and Coke Company and the Davidson Mining Company operated both communities as virtual company towns; they were the scenes of bitter and violent strikes in 1932-33. Unemployed miners later worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority at Norris and for the Civilian Conservation Corps at LaFollette and Cumberland Homesteads. Find more from the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: FENTRESS COUNTY

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 499 square miles (1,292 km2), of which, 499 square miles (1,291 km2) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1 km2) of it (0.07%) is water.

Fentress County includes part of Dale Hollow Reservoir and is drained by forks of the Obey and Cumberland Rivers.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Pickett County (north)
  • Scott County (east)
  • Morgan County (southeast)
  • Cumberland County (south)
  • Overton County (west)
  • Putnam County (southwest)


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