A Brief History of Carroll County

On November 7, 1821, the Tennessee State Legislature established the counties of Carroll, Henry, Hardin and McNairy. One week later Governor William Carroll, for whom the county was named, issued commissions for public officials for the new county. It was not until the following Spring that the commissioners arrived in the county and took the oath of office at R. E. C. Dougherty's residence near McLemoresville. On April 18, 1822, Sterling Brewer and James Fentress were appointed to select a site for the new county seat. It was decided that a bluff on the north bank of Beaver Creek, on the lands of Memucan Hunt, would be the most appropriate site for the county seat. The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions would hold its first session there on December 9, 1822. The first county building was built the same year and was nothing more than a single story log hut with a dirt floor. The county seat was originally named Huntsville but was changed the following year to Huntingdon because of similar named community elsewhere in the state.

By the middle and late 1820's settlers rapidly migrated into the county. Small communities such as Christmasville, Sandy Ridge, Buena Vista, Carrollton (later McLemoresville), South Carroll and Maple Creek sprang up practically overnight. For the next three decades the county's population and in economy grew at a swift pace. The beginning of the Civil War would change that dramatically as the whole country became embroiled in a long and bloody conflict. No major battles were fought in the county but raiding parties from both the Union and Confederate sides did travel through the region. The most famous of those was General Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid through the county in late December of 1862.

Following the war, the county struggled through the depression and reconstruction period of the 1870's. Alvin Hawkins, a resident of Huntingdon, was elected Carroll County's first Governor of Tennessee in 1880. He presided in office until 1883. The century ended on an optimistic note as all the county's major communities continued to grow and prosper.

Through the early part of the 20th century, the county expanded it services constructing roads, building schools and attracting industry. The Great Depression took its toll on the county in the early 1930's but recovered by the mid-1930's. In 1936, another Carroll County native was elected as governor of the state. Gordon Browning of Atwood, and later Huntingdon, served as Governor from 1937 to 1939 and again from 1950 to 1952. Presently the county has shown a steady economic and population growth but still has a very unique rural quality.

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[ Credits ] 2009, Gordon Browning Museum.