Van Buren County, Tennessee Genealogy

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Van Buren County, Tennessee ancestry, family history, and genealogy research page. Guide to Van Buren County (established 1840) 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.

Van Buren County, Tennessee
Boundary map of Van Buren County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Van Buren County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Location of Tennessee in the U.S.
Founded: January 3, 1840
County Seat Spencer
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Description[edit | edit source]

The County was named for President Martin Van Buren. The County is located in the central area of the state. [1]

Van Buren County, Tennessee Record Dates[edit | edit source]

Known Beginning Dates for Major County Records[2]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1925 1840 1926 1840 1840 1840 1810
Statewide registration for births and deaths began in 1914. General compliance by 1927.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]


Van Buren County Courthouse, Spencer, Tennessee


Van Buren County Courthouse
Veterans' Square P O box 126
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-2121

County Clerk has birth records 1925-1938, death records 1926-1938, marriage andprobate records from 1840.
Clerk and Master has divorce records from 1840.
General Sessions Court has court records from 1840.
Register of Deeds has land records from 1840. [3]
Van Buren County Clerk
Marriage and probate records
Birth records 1925-1938
Death records 1926-1938
500 College Street, Administrative building
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-2121

Van Buren County Register of Deeds
Land records
P.O. Box 9
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-7363

Van Buren County Circuit Court Clerk
Court records
P.O. Box 126
Spencer, TN 38585
Phone: 1-931-946-2153

Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

History[edit | edit source]

President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862)

Middle Tennessee county.

The county is named after President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862).[4]

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1840--Van Buren County was established 3 January 1840 from White, Warren, and Bledsoe Counties. Early records may be found under White, Warren, and Bledsoe Counties.
County seat: Spencer [5]

County Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

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

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]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

  • Marriage records: Records start from 1840, but are incomplete.
  • Probate records: Records start from 1840, but are incomplete. [8]

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

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

Biographies[edit | edit source]

  • Douthat, James L. Van Buren County, Tennessee Biographies. 1887; reprint, Signal Mountain, Tenn.: Mountain Press. Free Surname Index and purchase details at Mountain Press website.

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

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

Additional Cemetery Resources

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 2,674
1860 2,581 −3.5%
1870 2,725 5.6%
1880 2,933 7.6%
1890 2,863 −2.4%
1900 3,126 9.2%
1910 2,784 −10.9%
1920 2,624 −5.7%
1930 3,516 34.0%
1940 4,090 16.3%
1950 3,985 −2.6%
1960 3,671 −7.9%
1970 3,758 2.4%
1980 4,728 25.8%
1990 4,846 2.5%
2000 5,508 13.7%
2010 5,548 0.7%
Source: "".
1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 federal population schedules of Van Buren 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 Van Buren, TN census assignments, including links to transcribed files and scanned images of census microfilm. The USGenWeb Census Project®.

1810 - 1891


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1850. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1982. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1850


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1860. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1982. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1860


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1870. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1982. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1870


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1880. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1983. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1880
  • Sistler, Byron H. and Barbara Sistler. 1880 Census Van Buren County, Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: B. Sistler and Associates, 1999. FHL 976.8657 X2s 1880

1891 Male Voters


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1900. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1983. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1900


  • Rhinehart, Margaret. United States census Van Buren County, Tennessee, 1910. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1984. FHL 976.8657 X2r 1910


  • Young, Denise, ed.. Van Buren County, Tennessee Census, 1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000. Available at Ancestry ($).

Church[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)


As of August 2010, a query for persons born in Van Buren, Tennessee at World Connect, results in more than 19,000 entries.


Land[edit | edit source]

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.] 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 TSLA; another version is available at World Vital Records.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Bledsoe CountySequatchie CountyGrundy CountyWarren CountyWhite CountyCumberland CountyTN VAN BUREN.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

Military[edit | edit source]

Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

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

Additional resources include:

  • Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Washington, D.C., 1852. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969, and 1991. Reprints include "an Added Index to States." Digital version at Ancestry ($). Tennessee entries abstracted online at Tennesseans in the Revolutionary War, courtesy: TNGenWeb. Includes veterans from this county; Tennessee section begins on page 381.
War of 1812[edit | edit source]
  • Embry, Hermione D. "War of 1812 - Tennessee Pensioners on List - January 2, 1883," Ansearchin' News, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul. 1961):95-98. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 B2a v. 8 (1961); digital version at journal website. Includes Van Buren County pensioners (p. 98).
Civil War[edit | edit source]

Online Records

Regiments. Civil War service men from Van Buren 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 Van Buren County:

Confederate Soldiers

Additional sources for Civil War soldiers from Van Buren County:

Native Americans[edit | edit source]

  • Walker, Opless and Landon D. Medley. Synthesis of Available Data Concerning Indians in Van Buren County, Tennessee. Doyle, Tenn.: Medley Research Group, 1985. FHL US/CAN Book 970.1 S78. WorldCat

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 Van Buren County click on the following town:

Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • Miller, Alan N. Middle Tennessee's Forgotten Children: Apprentices from 1784 to 1902. Baltimore, Md.: Printed for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004. FHL US/CAN 976.8 U2ma. Purchase at Includes Van Buren County.
  • Tennesse Bureau of Agriculture, Statistics and Mines. Coal Mines and Mining--Tennessee. Nashville, Tennessee: A.B. Travel, 1883. Free digital copy.

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 Van Buren County, Tennessee Genealogy 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 Book 976.8 B2a.

The Upper Cumberland Researcher
Genealogical articles with abstracts of records of Van Buren 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).
Van Buren County Journal
Family History Library US/CAN 976.8657 H2v
Van Buren County Historical Society has past journals for sale. Website includes table of contents for each journal.
Indexed in Periodical Source Index (PERSI) Volumes 1 - 11 (1981 - 2000)

Prisons[edit | edit source]

Learn if your Van Buren County, Tennessee Genealogy ancestors went to prison!

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

The Van Buren County Court has responsibility for 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:

  • Inventories, Wills, 1840-1883 (Vols. A-B)
  • Bonds, Letters, 1888-1968 (Vols. 1-2)
  • Settlements, 1865-1968 (Vols. 1-4)

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

  • 1840-1861 - Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Index to Tennessee Wills & Administrations 1779-1861. Nashville, Tenn. Byron Sistler and Associates, Inc., 1990. FHL US/CAN 976.8 P22s. Includes an index to this county's probate records.
  • USGenWeb's Van Buren County page has some will abstracts.

Taxation[edit | edit source]

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

  • 1812 - Combs-Coombs &c. "1812 Warren Co, Tennessee Tax Lists (A Start toward an Annotated List) Index and Search Engine," available online, courtesy: Combs-Coombs &c. Research Group and Warren Co., TNGenWeb. Benjamin Lockhart's District includes the area that later became Van Buren County.
  • 1891 - Tax List, 1891, Van Buren County Historical Journal, Vol. 6 (1986).

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]

The original Van Buren County marriage records are kept at the County Courthouse. Due to record loss, there are gaps in the marriage records of Van Buren County. Records are missing from May 1861-Aug 1866 and Sept 1878-Sept 1881.

State Marriage Records

The following Van Buren County marriage records are microfilmed:

  • 1841-1990 - Available at the TSLA. With gaps: 1840-1915 can be interlibrary loaned.
  • 1840-1969 - Available at the Family History Library. Each volume is indexed. FHL 583166

The following Van Buren County marriage records have been indexed:

  • 1840-1895 - Van Buren County Marriage Index 1840-1895 in International Genealogical Index at - free.[11]
  • 1840-1861 - Marriage Records, 1840-1861, Van Buren County, Tennessee. Nashville: TSLA, Historical Records Project, 1940. Typescript. FHL 24846 Item 2
  • 1840-1870 - 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.
  • 1840-1875 - Sistler, Byron and Barbara Sistler. Early Middle Tennessee Marriages. 2 vols. Nashville, Tenn.: B. Sistler & Associates, 1988. FHL US/CAN Book 976.8 V2sb v. 2 ff. Indexes names of brides and grooms, and marriage dates for weddings in this county for the specified years.
  • 1840-1935 - Rhinehart, Margret. Van Buren County marriage records: book I through book V, May 21, 1840 to September 2, 1935. Spencer, Tennessee: Van Buren County Historical Society, 1983. FHL 976.8657 V2v
  • 1841-1860 - Marriage Records. [12]
  • 1840-1850 - Marriage Records: Early–1850. [13]
Divorce[edit | edit source]

In 1940 and 1941, W.P.A. workers pinpointed the location of Van Buren County divorce papers in diverse County Courthouse records that begin as early as 1840, 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 Van Buren County between the 1830s and the 1920s, try searching the following records:

Libraries[edit | edit source]

  • Burritt Memorial Library
    P.O. Box 18
    427 College St.
    Spencer, TN 38585-0018 
    Phone: 1-931-946-2575
    Fax: 1-931-946-2575
    Van Buren County (Caney Fork Region)
    Hours: Mon. 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Tues. 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Wed. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thurs. 12 p.m.-6 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat.-Sun. Closed
    The Burritt Memorial Library is on Facebook

Family History Centers
[edit | edit source]

Societies[edit | edit source]

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

Van Buren County Historical Society 
330 Baker Mountain Rd
Spencer, TN 38585
Publication: Semi-annual: Newsletter; Annual Van Buren County Journal; begun 1981. Table of contents online thru 1992

Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society
PO Box 330948
Nashville, TN, USA 37203-7507
The society serves the 40 counties of middle Tennessee of which Van Buren 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

Van Buren County Tennessee Genealogy Websites[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: Van Buren County, Tennessee

Van Buren County Tennessee Genealogy References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Van Buren, Tennessee" in,_Tennessee accessed 09 Jan 2019
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Van Buren 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), Van Buren, Tennessee page 644, At various libr40ries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. "Martin Van Buren," Wikipedia.
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002), 644. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.
  6. Voice of Lynnae Weller, Kingsport, Tenn. (2010).
  7. Voice of Gene Black, FamilySearch employee, former resident of Bristol, Tenn. (2010).
  8. Robert M. McBride, Tennessee County Data (Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee States Library and Archives, 1966), 47.
  9. Wikipedia contributors, "Van Buren County, Tennessee," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Tennessee, accessed 14 December 2019.
  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
  12. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1994. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 2.) Does not circulate to Family History Centers.
  13. Orem, Utah: Automated Archives, 1992. (Family History Library compact disc number 9 part 229.) Does not circulate to Family History Centers.