Putnam County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Putnam County, Tennessee ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page. Guide to Putnam County (established 1842) 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.

Putnam County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Putnam County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Putnam County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: February 2, 1842
County Seat Cookeville
Website: putnamcountytn.gov
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Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for Israel Putnam, who was a hero in the French and Indian War and a general in the American Revolutionary War. The County is located in the north central area of the state. [1]

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

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1908 1879 1908 1900 1854 1876 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]


Putnam County Courthouse, Cookeville, Tenn. Courtesy: Collection: County Court Houses, Flickr by Jimmy Emerson. Used by permission.

Putnam County Courthouse
 421 E Spring Street
Cookeville, TN 38501
Phone: 931.526.6321
County Clerk has birth and death 1925-1940, incomplete
birth and death records 1908-1912, marriage records
from 1879 and probate records from 1876.
Clerk Chancery Court has divorce and court records from 1900.
Register of Deeds has land records from 1854.
Clerk Circuit Court court records from 1900.
County Historian; Rt. 2, Box 408; Cookeville,
TN has miscellaneous court records. [3] '

Putnam County Clerk
Marriage and probate records
Birtindex.php?p=departments&s=countyclerkh and death 1925-1940
Incomplete birth and death 1908-1912
P.O. Box 220
Cookeville, TN 38503
Phone: 1-931-372-8201

Putnam County Register of Deeds
Land records
P.O. Box 487
Cookeville, TN 38503
Phone: 1-931-526-7101

Putnam County Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
421 E. Spring Street, Room 1C, Suite 49A
Cookeville, TN 38501
Phone: 1-931-528-1508

Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

History[edit | edit source]

Israel Putnam.JPG

Middle Tennessee county.

The county is named after Revolutionary War Major General Israel Putnam (1718-1790).[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1842--Putnam County was established 2 February 1842 from White, Overton, Jackson, Smith and DeKalb Counties. Early records may be found under White, Overton, Jackson, Smith and DeKalb Counties.
County seat: Cookeville [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

  1. Hear it spoken[6] (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 MapofUS.org website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

1860s Courthouse records were damaged in the American Civil War, 1861-1865.[7]


1898 Fire damaged courthouse records.[7]

  • Lost marriage records: 1842 to 1878
  • Lost probate records: 1842 to 1875

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:[8]

Unincorporated communities
  • Double Springs
  • Dry Valley
  • Gentry
  • Paragon
  • Phifer Mountain
  • Pippin
  • Post Oak

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

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 Putnam County family Bible, cemetery, court, marriage, private papers, probate, 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 Gotoarrow.png Tennessee African Americans

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 8,558
1870 8,698 1.6%
1880 11,501 32.2%
1890 13,683 19.0%
1900 16,890 23.4%
1910 20,023 18.5%
1920 22,231 11.0%
1930 23,759 6.9%
1940 26,250 10.5%
1950 29,869 13.8%
1960 29,236 −2.1%
1970 35,487 21.4%
1980 47,690 34.4%
1990 51,373 7.7%
2000 62,315 21.3%
2010 72,321 16.1%
Source: "Wikipedia.org".

1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 federal population censuses of Putnam 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 Putnam County, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files. The USGenWeb Census Project®.

1810 - 1891


  • McComb, Joyce B. The First Putnam County, Tennessee, United States Census, 1860. Lexington, South Carolina : J.B. McComb, 1989. FHL 976.867 X2m 1860


  • McGee, Norman T. 1870 United States Census of Putnam County, Tennessee. Arrington, Tennessee : Lilac Hill Pub., 1989. FHL 976.867 X2m 1870


  • McGee, Norman T. 1880 United States Census of Putnam County, Tennessee. Arrington, Tennessee : Lilac Hill Pub., 1989. FHL 976.867 X2m 1880
  • Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census, Putnam County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: B. Sistler and Associates, 1991. FHL 976.867 X2s 1880

1890 Lost Substitutes are available:

  • Reed, Sue S. Enumeration of Male Inhabitants of Twenty-one Years of Age and Upward, Citizens of Tennessee, January 1, 1891, as Provided for by an Act of General Assembly of Tennessee, Passed January 15, 1891, and Approved January 22, 1891. 8 vols. Houston, Texas: S.S. Reed, 1989. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2r v. 5 1891. Putnam County is included in Vol. 5.
  • Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1890 Civil War Veterans Census, Tennessee. Evanston, Ill.: Byron Sister and Associates, 1978. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 X2s 1890.

1891 Male Voters


  • Clark, Fred L. The United States Twelfth Census of Putnam County, Tennessee, 1900. Quebeck, Tennessee : F.L. Clark, 1994. FHL 976.867 X28v 1900


  • Wilkerson, Azilee, Fred L. Clark, ed. The United States thirteenth Census of Putnam County, Tennessee, 1910. Quebeck, Tennessee : F.L. Clark, 1992. FHL 976.867 X2w 1910

Church[edit | edit source]

Baptist[edit | edit source]
Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

Court[edit | edit source]

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)

The Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc. has uploaded a free "Index to the Charles Leonard Collection" on their website. It contains "a name index to family research files at the Putnam County Library in Cookeville TN."


As of August 2010, a query for born in Putnam, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 30,000 entries.


Land[edit | edit source]

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Jackson CountyOverton CountyFentress CountyCumberland CountyWhite CountyDeKalb CountySmith CountyTN PUTNAM.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

The following County Revolutionary War records are available online through TNGenWeb:

War of 1812[edit | edit source]
  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Apr. 1961):49-52. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes Putnam County pensioners (p. 50).
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. Civil War service men from Putnam 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 Putnam County:

Confederate Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Putnam County:

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

  • Extracts taken from the Putnam County Herald (19--?). FHL book 976.867 B38. Digital version available at FamilySearch Digital Library
  • 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 Putnam County click on the following city or town:

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 Putnam County, Tennessee records 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.
The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Putnam County, Tennessee have been published in The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, the quarterly of the Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society (23+ Vols.). To view a list of these articles, visit their online Index to Articles (1988-2005). Surname indexes are also available online for Vols. 2-22. The website also offers back issues for sale in paper and on CD. The Family History Library has a complete collection of this quarterly FHL US/CAN Book 976.85 D25m.
Overton County Historical Society Newsletter
"This newsletter, although called 'Overton County,' covers all the area in Overton, Fentress, and Pickett County, Tennessee along with Monterey in Putnam County" - Vol. 7, no. 4 p. 2
Family History Library has volume 1 - 8 FHL US/CAN 976.8684 B2n.
Indexed in PERiodical Source Index (PERSI)
For further information see Overton County Historical Society website: Overton County Historical Society website
The Upper Cumberland Researcher
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Putnam County, Tennessee have been published in The Upper Cumberland Researcher, the journal of the Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc. To view a list of the first 17 years of these articles, visit their online Seventeen Year Index to The Upper Cumberland Researcher (Vols. 1-17, 1975-1992). The Index contains a "Counties" section beginning on page 19. The Family History Library has most issues through the present FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2u (1975-1993) and FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2u (1994-present).

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Learn if your Putnam County ancestors went to prison!

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

The Putnam County Court has responsibility for the probate records.

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, 1876-1933
  • Inventories, 1899-1909
  • Settlements, 1878-1918
  • Bonds, Letters, 1874-1907

The following Putnam County probate records have been abstracted, indexed, or both:

  • Works Progress Administration. Putnam County, Tennessee, Miscellaneous Records. Nashville, Tennessee: Byron Sistler & Assoc., 1936. This indexed book includes diaries, letters, wills, indentures, and other misellaneous records from private collections. (FHL book 976.867 P2p.)

Taxation[edit | edit source]

The following Putnam County tax records have been abstracted:[10]

  • 1854 - 1855 - "Putnam County, Tennessee - Tax Book Index 1854-1855," The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 1, No. 3 ():10-. For access, see Periodicals.
  • 1854 - 1855 - W.P.A. Putnam County, Tennessee Tax List 1854-1855. 2005 reprint, Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press. Free online surname index; purchase details.
  • 1855 - Paessler, Jane Park. "Putnam County, Tennessee 1855 Tax List," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 1995):7-12; Vol. 42, No. 2 (Summer 1995):61-63. For possible FHL and online access, as well as indexes, see Periodicals.
  • 1858 - Tax List, 1858, The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Winter 1999). For access, see Periodicals.
  • 1860's - "Putnam County, Tennessee - Civil War Tax List," The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 3, No. 3 ():3-. For access, see Periodicals.
  • 1870 - 1872 - Civil District No. 16, 1870-72,  The Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Fall 1992).
  • 1883 - Freeman, Mitzi P. "Putnam County, TN - Tax Records - 1883," (6 Districts) available online, courtesy: USGenWeb Archives.
  • 1913 - Road Taxpayers List, 1913, The Upper Cumberland Researcher, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Winter 1998). For access, see Periodicals.
  • Delinquent Railroad Taxes, The Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring 1986). For access, see Periodicals.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

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

See Tennessee Vital Records

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

The original Putnam County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. Due to fire, the marriage records of Putnam County are lost until 1879.

State Marriage Records

The following Putnam County marriage records are microfilmed:

  • 1879 - 1995 - Available at the TSLA.
  • 1878 - 1952 - Available at the Family History Library. Includes index through 1985.FHL 1928809

The following Putnam County marriage records have been indexed:

  • Bartlett, Bess Beatrice. Extracts Taken from the Putnam County Herald. Manuscript. FHL 976.867 B38b Free digital copy.
  • 1878 - 1882 - Smith, Willie D. Marriage Records of Putnam County, Tennessee, 1878-1882. Signal Mountain, Tennessee: Mountain Press, 1996. FHL 976.867 V2s

Putnam County is not included in Sistler's Early Middle Tennessee Marriages.

Divorce[edit | edit source]

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Putnam 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 Putnam County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try searching the following records:

Libraries[edit | edit source]

Putnam County Library
50 East Broad St.
Cookeville, TN 38501
Phone: 1-931-526-2416
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The "Tennessee Room houses many items of interest to those doing research in genealogy."

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, Inc.
P. O. Box 575
Cookeville, TN 38503-0575

Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
PO Box 330948
Nashville, TN, USA 37203-7507
The society serves the 40 counties of middle Tennessee of which Putnam County is one. It publishes The Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, a quarterly containing articles of genealogical and historical interest. Little-known Tennessee records are published and indexed, along with family genealogies, Bible records and material submitted by members. There is an alphabetical Index to articles in the Journal 1988-summer 2005

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

981 S Walnut
Cookeville, TN
Phone: 1-931-526-3116

This is not a mailing address. Due to limited staff, Family History Centers are unable to respond to mail inquiries.

Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Putnam County, Tennessee

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Putnam, Tennessee" in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putnam_County,_Tennessee accessed 03 Jan 2019
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Putnam 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), Putnam County, Tennessee page 643, 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), 643. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lost Records: Courthouse Fires and Disasters in Tennessee in Tennessee State Library and Archives in Tennessee Secretary of State (accessed 13 March 2016).
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Putnam County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putnam_County,_Tennessee, accessed 10 December 2019.
  9. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/8/88/Igitennesseel.pdf.
  10. The Heritage Quest Online version of PERSI aided in the compilation of this list.
  11. Genealogical Society of Utah, Parish and Vital Records List (July 1998). Microfiche. Digital version at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/images/8/88/Igitennesseel.pdf.