Van Buren County was established, 3 January 1840, by an act of the Tennessee General Assembly.  The County was formed from parts of Bledsoe, Warren and White counties and was named for President Martin Van Buren, 1782-1862, eighth president of the United States, 1837-1841.
          The first inhabitants of the region now known as Van Buren County were the "Paleo People" who roamed the Cumberland Plateau in search of herds of the largest animals long extinct.  Next came the "Archaic People," then the "Woodland People". There were no permanent Indian settlements in this area in historical times although the land was claimed by the Cherokee.
          Around 1760 the long hunters began passing through the area on their way to middle Tennessee near the Cumberland river, among these was Thomas Sharp Spencer for whom the county seat was named.
          As more and more people poured into the area the most desirable land in the valleys and along the rivers was soon claimed.  Much of the land on the mountain sides and top was the last to be granted.  Coal and wood products continue to be the leading resources of the county.
          According to the Handy Book for Genealogists, 8th edition, Everton Publishers, Van Buren County was formed in 1840 from Bledsoe, Warren and White counties.
          The Tennessee Blue Book, 1991-1994, Nashville, TN, page 353, tells us that Van Buren County was established in 1840 and named in honor of Martin Van Buren, U.S. Senator from New York, 1821-28, Governor of New York, 1829, Secretary of State to President Jackson, 1829-31, vice president of the United States, 1833-37, eighth president of the United States, 1837-41.
          Land Laws of Tennessee, Henry D. Whitney, 1893 found on microfilm L-49, pages 775 and 776, in the Tennessee State Library and Archives, for the year 1840 in Chapter 59 gives us the following origin of Van Buren County:
          "An Act to establish the county of Van Buren. Passed, Jan 3. Section 1. Be it enacted. Etc., That a new county be established, to be known and distinguished by the name of Van Buren, in honor of Martin Van Buren, President of the United States, the boundaries of which shall be as follows: Beginning at the mouth of Rocky River, near Rock Island, and running thence up Rocky River a straight line south twenty-five degrees west ten miles, to the head of Dyer's Hollow; thence south about twelve degrees east, twelve miles and a half, to a point in Savage's old turnpike road, one-half mile east of Hill's old stand, on the Cumberland Mountain; thence south about seventy-five degrees east, with said road, eight miles, to the Marion County line; thence north twenty-five degrees with the line of Marion County, six miles; thence north sixty-eight degrees east, with the line of Marion County, ten miles, to the line of Bledsoe County; thence north twenty degrees east, with the line of Bledsoe County, twenty-five miles; thence south sixty-seven degrees west down the Caney Fork River, touching the same at various points, seventeen miles, to the first point, twenty-seven and a half miles to the beginning. Sec. 14. Should the boundary lines of Van Buren County, as designated in the first section of this act, approach nearer to the county seat of either of the old counties from which the territory constituting the county of Van Buren is taken than is prescribed by the constitution, it shall be the duty of the County Court of Van Buren to appoint some surveyor, who shall re-run and re-mark such line or lines so as not to violate the constitutional rights of such old county, and said surveyor shall make a report to the County Court of said county of Van Buren, which report so made shall be recorded by the clerk of said county, and such line or lines so run shall be the established line or lines of said county."
          Van Buren County was authorized Jan. 3, 1840, by the 23rd Assembly, Session 1, which was convened Oct. 7 1839.
          Van Buren County is in an area of Middle Tennessee that was Cherokee land until their cession, called DEARBORN'S TREATY, 7 January 1806: 
"... the Cherokee Nation of Indians... relinquish all right, title, interest, or claim...  to all that tract of country which lies to the northward of the river Tennessee, and westward of a line to be run from the upper part of the Chickasaw Old Fields, at the upper point of an island called Chickasaw Island, on said river, to the most easterly head of the waters of that branch of Tennessee River called Duck River..."
          The United States Census records provide another aspect of the history of an area. The census records give the big picture of an area every ten years not only for future planning of federal funding according to socio-economic conditions, but how an area has progressed or retrogressed. For genealogists, the value of the census is invaluable. The mention in this year, 1998, of doing a statistical or sampling census for the year, 2000, has raised a loud hue and cry by any and all serious, responsible, thinking people.
          Thus back to genealogists for census purposes, the area that became Van Buren County would be covered mainly by two different county censuses, White and Warren and somewhat by Bledsoe. The 1810 census for White, Warren and Bledsoe counties are missing, as are all 1810 Tennessee censuses, except the Rutherford County census. The 1820, 1830, and 1840 White, Warren and Bledsoe counties' censuses are extant.
          Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, Wm Thorndale and Wm Dollarhide, shows no Van Buren census until 1850.  There is an 1841 Van Buren County tax list that might serve as a substitute.