200 YEARS(+/-) in a Nutshell
Before 1783 Dickson County was a part of the “Cumberland country”..that just means an area west of the mountains. In 1783 the county of Davidson was created by an act of the North Carolina legislature, and Dickson County was a part of that subdivision. Three years later the northeastern part of Davidson had grown enough to become a county within itself and the general assembly of North Carolina created Sumner County for it. Two years later in 1788, the legislature carved another division from Davidson, giving it the name of Tennessee County. Clarksville was designated the county seat. This area included all of the territory inside of Dickson, Montgomery, Robertson, Houston as well as parts of Hickman, Humphreys and Stewart. In the following year North Carolina ceded her western lands to the Federal Government, and the Territory South of the Ohio was established to include all of the Tennessee Counties. A territorial government was organized and by 1795. To be admitted to the union as a separate state, a population of 60,000 people had to inhabit the region. The territory legislature authorized a census and the population was found to be 67,000 Whites and over 10,000 Negros.
Because of Middle Tennessee’s fear of East Tennessee’s dominance an election was held to determine whether the people of the entire territory favored immediate admission. Over 2,500 people voted against it. Tennessee County, of which Dickson was a part (with a population of 1,941 voted 231 to 58 against immediate admission. East Tennessee heavily favored immediate admission to statehood. Despite Federalist opposition in the nation’s capital, Tennessee in 1796 became the 16th state of the union. In that year, a constitutional convention was called and was held in Knoxville. Five representatives attended from Tennessee County. During that time, Tennessee county was abolished and the area became Robertson and Montgomery. Dickson remained a part of these local units of government until it was created by state legislature in 1803.
By the time Dickson was formed many settlers were already established in the area. During this time it is known that Montgomery BELL, John NESBITT, Abraham CALDWELL and James Richard NAPIER had settled on BARTON’s Creek; that a Revolutionary soldier named Christopher STRONG along with Molton DICKSON, James MARTIN, Robert HARPER, had settled on JONES Creek; that George TUBBS and William WARD had settled on JOHNSON’s Creek; that Minor BIBB, Edward TIDWELL, John BROWN, Milton JOHNSON, and William and Thomas GENTRY had staked out claims on TURNBULL Creek; and that William HOGINS and Thomas PETTY had established homes on Piney River. During the time of 1800-1810 the population of Tennessee doubled. During this time Dickson was receiving its share of the growth.
During this time many Revolutionary War soldiers received a grant of 640 acres in what is now Dickson County. Many recipients never ‘took up their claim’, but sold it. John HOGG, a North Carolinian, (for example) and his brother Samuel were to be found in Bedford County. From there, John Hogg sold John K WYNNE of Wilson County his 640 acres on Yellow Creek in Dickson County. He received only one dollar per acre for it.
The Legislature of 1803 convened, and was acted upon passing a bill on October 25, 1803, creating DICKSON COUNTY. The county was named for William DICKSON, a Nashville physician and statesman who served in Congress at that time. Although DICKSON never lived in the county named for him, his cousin Molton DICKSON and other relatives played roles in its early development. The legislature of 1803 also named the first county court and set the convening date for the first session Monday, February 1804. IT was held at the home of Robert NESBITT on Barton’s Creek. But, because the roads were in such poor condition due to the weather, the meeting was officially on March 19th as a two day session.
Attending that first meeting were Montgomery BELL, Sterling BREWER, William CARROLL, Robert DRAKE(appointed county court clerk pro tempore), Drury CHRISTIAN(temporary sheriff), David DICKSON (announced his candidacy for office of County Court Clerk and was elected), Robert WEAKLEY (was named Sheriff), James Walker (was elected Register of Deeds),Robert DRAKE(chosen Commissioner of Revenue), John LARKINS(elected Trustee, William CALDWELL (Ranger), James FENTRESS (County Surveyor), John HALL(became Coroner). N.A.McNAIRY was the first lawyer admitted to the bar and was elected as the first County Solicitor. A jury was appointed for the first session of the court and a provision for a road to extended from the farm of William TEAS on Yellow Creek to the Montgomery County line was voted on . The court adjourned to meet again in June.
In 1804 a commission composed of Montgomery BELL, Robert DUNING, Sterling BREWER, John DAVIDSON, and George CLARK. They were to study terrain, for a central suitable location for a courthouse, prison, and stocks. They were authorized to purchase not more than 40 acres…to be laid off in town lots. These lots were to be sold for to provide the income for the construction of the courthouse, jail and stocks. If the sale of the lots did not provide the required funding, a tax would be levied to cover the difference. Charles STEWART a property acres for the new county seat. The offer was accepted by the commissioners and a survey of STEWART’s land began. The precise site of Charlotte was chosen when the commissioners stopped to rest near a spring and determined that the abundance of water and general location to be appropriate to build a town. It was named CHARLOTTE, in honor of Charlotte REEVES ROBERTSON, wife of the Father of Middle Tennessee.