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)

Lake County, Tennessee

Lake County Education, Geography, and History

Lake County, Tennessee Courthouse

Lake County is a county located in the state of Tennessee. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 7,832, making it the fifth-least populous county in Tennessee. Its county seat is Tiptonville.

Etymology - Origin of Lake County Name

Named for Reelfoot Lake, formed by a series of earthquakes in 1811 that dammed the Reelfoot River and altered the course of the Mississippi River, an area now part of the state park system.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

History of Lake County

Created 1870 from Obion County; named for Reelfoot Lake, formed by a series of earthquakes in 1811 that dammed the Reelfoot River and altered the course of the Mississippi River, an area now part of the state park system.

Lake County was formed in 1870 from Obion County (Acts of Tennessee 1870, Chapter 30).

Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture
Located in the northwest corner of Tennessee, Lake County is bounded by Kentucky on the north, Reelfoot Lake and Obion County on the east, the Mississippi River on the west, and Dyer County on the south. The smallest county in the state, Lake County covers 210 square miles. Its flat terrain contains some of the richest soil in the state. The county was named for Reelfoot Lake, which was formed by a series of earthquakes that jolted the region from December 1811 to mid-March 1812. Despite popular legends that attribute the name of the lake to "Chief Reelfoot and his Indian Bride," the lake was named for Bill Jones, whose clubfoot gained him the nickname "Reelfoot Jones." Jones died in March 1839, when he slipped from a foot log, fell into Spring Creek, and drowned. Thereafter the creek was known as "Reelfoot Creek," and since it fed the lake, the shallow body of water acquired the name Reelfoot also.

The Tennessee General Assembly organized Lake County in June 1870, and Tiptonville was designated as the county seat. The first session of court was held on September 5, 1870. Settlers established homesteads along the river and the lake as early as 1827. Until the organization of Lake County, area residents were part of Obion County and traveled to Troy to conduct county business. In recognition of the difficulty associated with crossing the "scatters of the Lake" (a swampy area extending south from the lake to the Obion River), a special Circuit Court was established in 1858 for the portion of Obion County lying west of Reelfoot Lake. The first term of this court was held in June 1858 in the Masonic Hall in Cronanville, the largest village. The men living in this area were exempted from militia duty in Troy. The scatters of the lake were brought under control by digging a dredge ditch from the lake to the Obion River along the boundary line between Lake and Obion Counties. Bridges crossing the ditch replaced the earlier ferry boats. Find more from the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: LAKE COUNTY

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 194 square miles (502 km2), of which, 163 square miles (423 km2) of it is land and 30 square miles (79 km2) of it (15.68%) is water.

 It is the state's northwestern most county, sharing a border with Kentucky and separated from Missouri to the west by the Mississippi River. Reelfoot Lake occupies much of the northern part of the county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Fulton County, Kentucky (north)
  • Obion County (east)
  • Dyer County (south)
  • Pemiscot County, Missouri (west)
  • New Madrid County, Missouri (northwest)


Lake County High School (9-12)
Lara Kendall Elementary School (K-8)
Margaret Newton Elementary School (K-6)

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