Meigs County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Meigs County, Tennessee ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page. Guide to Meigs County (established 1836) genealogy, history, and courthouse sources including birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, wills, deeds and land records, Civil War records, Revolutionary War records, family histories, cemeteries, churches, tax records, newspapers, and obituaries.

Meigs County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Meigs County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Meigs County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: January 20, 1836
County Seat Decatur
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Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for Colonel Return J. Meigs, who was to become the county's name source, operated a federal Indian agency across the river in Rhea County until 1817. The County is located in the southeast area of the state. [1]

Meigs County, Tennessee Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1909 1836 1909 1836 1835 1836 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]


Meigs County Tennessee courthouse.jpg

Meigs County Courthouse, Decatur, Tenn.


Meigs County Courthouse
Main Street P O Box 218
Decatur, TN 37322
Phone: 1-423-334-5747

County Clerk has marriage and probate records from 1836.
Clerk Circuit Court has divorce and court records.
Register of Deeds has land records. [3]

Meigs County Clerk
Marriage and probate records
17214 State Highway 58 N.
Decatur, TN 37322
Phone: 1-423-334-5747

Meigs County Register of Deeds
Land Records
P.O. Box 246
Decatur, TN 37322
Phone: 1-423-334-5228

Meigs County Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
17214 State Hwy. 58, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 205
Decatur, TN 37322
Phone: 1-423-334-5821

Mon.-Tues. and Thurs.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Sat. 8:30 a.m.-Noon
Closed Wednesdays

History[edit | edit source]

East Tennessee county. Established 1836.

The county is named after Revolutionary War hero and Indian Agent Return Jonathan Meigs (1740-1823).[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1836--Meigs County was established 20 January 1836 from Cherokee Indian Lands.
County seat: Decatur [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

  1. Hear it spoken[6] (female)
  2. Hear it spoken[7] (female)

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

For animated maps illustrating Tennessee county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation Tennessee County Boundary Maps" (1777-1985) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]


1904 and 1964 Fires damaged courthouse records.[8]

  • Lack of marriage records: 1836 and 1837
  • Lost deeds: 1836 to 1878

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Places/Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[9]

Unincorporated communities

Resources[edit | edit source]

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Use the free Search for Surnames at Mountain Press's website to quickly search a variety of published Meigs County biography, cemetery, census, court, guardianship, land, marriage, and tax records. To determine which books are being searched, or to search each publication's index individually, click here. You are now equipped with a checklist of books to pull off the shelves at a genealogy library, or a wish list for your personal book collection.

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

United States African Americans
Tennessee African Americans

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Tombstone Transcriptions Online Tombstone Transcriptions in Print List of Cemeteries in the county Family History Library
TNGenWeb WorldCat BillionGraves
TNGenWeb Archives Linkpendium
Tombstone Project Gravestones
TNGenWeb Cemeteries
See Tennessee Cemeteries for more information.

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 4,794
1850 4,879 1.8%
1860 4,667 −4.3%
1870 4,511 −3.3%
1880 7,117 57.8%
1890 6,930 −2.6%
1900 7,491 8.1%
1910 6,131 −18.2%
1920 6,077 −0.9%
1930 6,127 0.8%
1940 6,393 4.3%
1950 6,080 −4.9%
1960 5,160 −15.1%
1970 5,219 1.1%
1980 7,431 42.4%
1990 8,033 8.1%
2000 11,086 38.0%
2010 11,753 6.0%
Source: "".

1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of Meigs County are available online. For tips on accessing census records online, see Tennessee Census. If you're having trouble finding your ancestors in online indexes, try checking printed indexes. Created by local experts familiar with the area's families, these indexes are often transcribed more accurately than nationwide online indexes.

See Tennessee Population Schedule Indexes: Fiche, Film, or Book for more information about statewide printed indexes.

See Meigs, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project®.

1810 - 1891


1840 Revolutionary War Pensioners


  • Broyles, Bettye J. A Compendium of Rhea and Meigs Counties, Tennessee, 1808 through 1850. 1980. FHL US/CAN Book 976.883 V2b.
  • Broyles, Bettye J. Meigs County, Tennessee Census and Marriage Records, 1850 through 1900. 1983. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2b. Includes 1850 census.
  • Maddux, Agnes. Tennessee Population Schedule of the United States Census of 1850, Meigs County. n.p.: n.p., n.d. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2p 1850.


  • Broyles, Bettye J. Meigs County, Tennessee Census and Marriage Records, 1850 through 1900. 1983. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2b. Includes 1860 census.


  • Broyles, Bettye J. Meigs County, Tennessee Census and Marriage Records, 1850 through 1900. 1983. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2b. Includes 1870 census.


  • Broyles, Bettye J. Meigs County, Tennessee Census and Marriage Records, 1850 through 1900. 1983. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2b. Includes 1880 census.
  • Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census, Meigs County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: Byron Sistler & Associates, 1991. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2s 1880.

1891 Male Voters


  • Broyles, Bettye J. Meigs County, Tennessee Census and Marriage Records, 1850 through 1900. 1983. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8836 X2b. Includes 1900 census.

Church[edit | edit source]

Court[edit | edit source]

  • Rhea county Historical and Genealogical Society (Spring City, Tennessee) and Bettye J. Broyles Meigs County, Tennessee County Court minute book 1, 1836-1841; town of Decatur commission minutes, 1836-1840; Trustees book of claims, 1836- 1845; Strays taken up by ranger, 1836-1845; Decatur, Tennessee: Rhea County Historical and Genealogical Society, 1992. FHL US/CAN book 976.8836 P28  Free lookups available!

Family Histories[edit | edit source]

This bibliography will eventually identify all known family histories published about residents of this county. Use this list to:

  • Locate publications about direct ancestors
  • Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
  • Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors)


As of August 2010, a query for persons born in Meigs, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 10,000 entries.


  • Blackwell - Saylor, Ronald. The Blackwell Researcher's Newsletter. Grass Valley, Calif.: J. Saylor, 1998-. FHL 929.27305 B568b.
  • Carter - Ross, Ernest Lafayette and William C. Carter. John Andrew Hickman, John Carter, Lewis Carter: Some Ancestors and Descendents. Cleveland, Tenn.: E.L. Ross & W.C. Carter, 1979. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 C245r.
  • Lillard - Lillard, Jasper Worth. The Lillard Collection. MSS. FHL US/CAN Film 570830-570832.
  • Qualls - Curtis, John T. and Grace Curtis. Qualls Cousins: Families and Descendants of Nathan Qualls Sr. of Meigs County, Tn. Tularosa, N.M.: J. Curtis, 1992. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 Q25c.
  • Rhinehart - Ferris, Dixie Rhinehart Calder. Caswell Rhinehart Family Journal, 1844 to 1997. Cary, N.C.: D.R.C. Ferris, 1997. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 R345f.
  • Rothwell - Fischer, Myra Smith. A Rothwell Book: Comprising the Descendants of Claiborne Rothwell of Albemarle County, Virginia, through Nine Generations and Interesting Sketches About Some of His Descendants. Memphis, Tennessee: M.S. Fischer, 1964. Available at FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 R746f; digital version at Heritage Quest Online ($).
  • Tillery - Taylor, Patty Hughes. Discovering Our Tillery Family -- Yesterday and Today: Descendants of Samuel Thomas Tillery. Atkins, Ark.: P.H. Taylor, 2001. FHL FAM HIST Book 929.273 T463tp.

Land[edit | edit source]

The original Meigs County Deed Books do not survive before 1879. TSLA microfilmed Deed Books A to 3 (1879-1964). FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Film 455527-455541. The following records serve as substitutes and may help to alleviate some of the record loss:

Law and Legislation[edit | edit source]

  • Tennessee State Library and Archives, Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850: Index to Names. January 25, 2005. In addition to creating new laws, legislative acts were often required to obtain a divorce, grant legitimacy to a child, or for appointments to or grant payments for public service. The TSLA has created an index to names that appear in these acts covering the years 1796 to 1850. To read more about this valuable resource Click here. The searchable index is available at the TSLA; another version is available at World Vital Records.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Roane CountyMcMinn CountyBradley CountyHamilton CountyRhea CountyTN MEIGS.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Migration[edit | edit source]

  • Vincent, Don. 800 Missouri Families. 5 vols. Seattle, Wash.: n.p., 1988-1990. FHL US/CAN Book 977.8 D2v ff. Discusses Missouri families with Meigs County origins.

Military[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]
War of 1812[edit | edit source]
  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Jan. 1961):20-23. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes Meigs County pensioners (p. 23).
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. Civil War service men from Meigs County served in various regiments. Men often joined a regiment or a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are the military units that were formed in or had many men from Meigs County.

Confederate Soldiers

Union Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Meigs County:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

  • Many Tennessee newspapers are filmed and available at TSLA. Most of these newspapers may be accessed by interlibrary loan to libraries within Tennessee, although there are some newspapers which are not available in or outside of Tennessee. For further information regarding interlibrary loan policies and newspapers not available for interlibrary loan click here. For a list of newspapers available at the archives for Meigs County click on the following town:

Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • Miller, Alan N. East Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1778 to 1911. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2000. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2m. Digital version at World Vital Records ($). Purchase at Includes Meigs County.

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Tap into the minds of local experts. Editors of genealogical periodicals publish unique sources that researchers who are new to their area would not likely discover. This type of material may be found in local, regional, or statewide genealogical society journals. The following periodicals cover this county:

Ansearchin' News
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Meigs County, Tennessee have been published in Ansearchin' News, the quarterly magazine of the Tennessee Genealogical Society. To view a list of these articles, visit their county index. To read digitized versions of the first 36 years of articles (Vols. 1-36), browse their archive or conduct a surname search. The Family History Library has a complete collection of the Ansearchin' News quarterly FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a.
East Tennessee Roots
A genealogical article with abstracts of Meigs County, Tennessee records has been published in East Tennessee Roots (10 vols.). A subject index to this publication's articles is available online. Surname indexes to Volumes 9 and 10 are also available online. The Family History Library has collected most issues of East Tennessee Roots FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 D25e.

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Learn if your Claiborne County, Tennessee Genealogy ancestors went to prison! (Courtesy TSLA)

Private Papers[edit | edit source]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

The original Meigs County Will Books are kept at the County Courthouse. In 1964, TSLA microfilmed Wills, Inventories, and Settlements for the years 1836-1964. FHL copies: FHL Films 455524-455526.

Online Records

FamilySearch has placed scans of the following records online in the Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927 collection. These are browse-only collections. Handwritten indexes may be found at the front or back of some volumes:

  • Wills, 1836-1964 (4 vols.)
  • Inventories, Sales, Wills, 1850-1858
  • Guardian records, 1836-1850
  • Insolvent estate records, 1876-1958
  • Probate records, 1836-1962 (6 vols.)
  • Settlements, 1837-1929 (4 vols.)

The following Meigs County probate records have been abstracted and/or indexed:

  • 1836 - 1861 Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Index to Tennessee Wills & Administrations 1779-1861. Nashville, Tenn. Byron Sistler & Associates, Inc., 1990. FHL US/CAN 976.8 P22s. Includes an index to this county's probate records. Free Lookups Available!

Taxation[edit | edit source]

The original Meigs County Tax Books (1839-1863, 1872-1883, 1940-1964) are held at the County Courthouse. TSLA microfilmed these records in 1964. FHL copies: FHL US/CAN Film 455551-455556.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

See also How to order Tennessee Vital Records or order electronically online.

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriage[edit | edit source]

Marriages were not officially recorded in Meigs County until 1838, when a law was passed mandating the practice.[11] The following publication, based on early newspapers, helps to alleviate this genealogical obstacle:

The following Meigs County Courthouse marriage records have been indexed:

  • 1838 - 1870 - Lucas, Silas Emmett and Ella Lee Sheffield. 35,000 Tennessee Marriage Records and Bonds 1783-1870. 3 vols. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1981. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 V2t v. 1 ff. Abstracts include names of brides, grooms, bondsmen, marriage bond dates, and officiators for weddings in this county for the roughly specified years. Marriage data taken from an index card file at TSLA. Authors do not specify whether or not the card index completely indexes this county's marriages.
  • 1838 - 1865 - Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Early East Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. Nashville, Tenn.: Byron Sistler & Associates, Inc., 1987. FHL US/CAN 976.8 V2s v. 1. (Indexes names of brides and grooms, and marriage dates for weddings in this county for the specified years.) Free Lookups Available!
Divorce[edit | edit source]

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Meigs County divorce papers in diverse County Courthouse records, see the following resources:

  • W.P.A. Guide to Public Vital Statistics in Tennessee. Nashville, Tenn.: The Tennessee Historical Records Survey, 1941. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 A3gp.
Death[edit | edit source]

For deaths of Methodists in Meigs County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try searching the following records:

Societies and Libraries[edit | edit source]

See also a List of Tennessee Archives, Libraries, Publications, Historical & Genealogical Societies

Meigs County Historical Museum and Society
200 Smith Ave.
Decatur, TN 37322
Phone: 1-423-334-4424

East Tennessee Historical Society
601 S. Gay St.
P.O. Box 1629
Knoxville, Tennessee 37901-1629
Phone: 865-215-8824

Meigs-Decatur Public Library
120 Memorial Drive
Decatur, TN 37322
Phone: 1-423-334-3332
Hours: Mon. and Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tues. and Thurs. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Family History Centers
[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Libraries

Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Meigs County, Tennessee

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Meigs, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 27 Dec 2018
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Meigs County, Tennessee. Page 638-645 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 637-640.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Meigs County, Tennessee page 642, At various libr40ries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. "List of counties in Tennessee," Wikipedia.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 642. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Joyce Gaston Reece, Friends of the Archives Historical and Preservation Society, Monroe Co., TN., Secretary and American Local History Network, Board of Directors, Vice President (2010).
  7. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  8. Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State (accessed 13 March 2016).
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "Meigs County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Tennessee#Communities, accessed 4 December 2019.
  10. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  11. Gale Williams Bamman, C.G., "Research in Tennessee," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 2 (June 1993):105. FHL US/CAN Book 973 B2ng v. 81 (1993)
  12. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at
  13. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at