Carter County, Tennessee

Tenn Map

Carter County is located in East Tennessee, one of the state's three "grand divisions."
Carter County, TN, was formed June 1, 1796, from Washington County, TN.

History of Carter County

History of Carter County - Goodspeed

Biographical Appendix of Carter County - Goodspeed

Carter County Family Records

Carter County Pensioners -- 1835

Topography and Migration Patterns of Carter County

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Carter County

30AL 30MZ 40AL
40MZ 50AZ 60AZ

Post a Carter County Query

View Posted Carter County Queries

Carter County Genealogy Research Helps

Carter County Historic Sites

Web About the Tennessee GenWeb Project

We Celebrated Tennessee's 200th Birthday in 1996!

Carter County History

Early History

For the pre-statehood history of Carter County, see the Washington County home page.

The Formation of Carter County


Carter County was formed from Washington County.  In January 1796, delegates met at Knoxville for a constitutional convention.  The Tennessee General Assembly organized Carter County from Washington County on April 9, 1796, before Tennessee was officially a state.  On June 1, 1796, President George Washington signed the bill admitting Tennessee to the Union as the sixteenth state.  Carter County was named for Landon Carter.  Elizabethton, the county seat, was named for Elizabeth M cLin Carter, wife of Landon Carter.

The Divisions of Carter County

Carter County is the parent county of two other Tennessee counties.  Johnson County was created from the northeastern section in 1836.  In 1875, Unicoi County was created by the separation of the southern area of Carter County an d the southeastern area of Washington County.

Return to top of page

Carter County Topography and Migration Patterns


Carter County, Tennessee, is located in the Northeastern area of the state.  It is bounded on the north by Sullivan County, on the east by Johnson County, on the south by Unicoi County and the North Carolina state line and on the west by Washington C ounty.

Return to top of page

Answers to Frequently-Asked Questions about Carter County Research

Question:   Was Carter County ever part of North Carolina?

Answer:   Yes but not as Carter County.  It was part of the "Washington District" organized in 1775.  In 1777, the district became Washington County, NC.  Carter County was later formed from Washington County.

Question:   Is the Carter County Seal displayed on this page official?

Answer:   Yes.  The seal was designed in May 1974 by Denton C. Sansom, the Director, Elizabethton-Carter County Civil Defense.   It was adopted as the official seal by a County Court Resolution.  The center of the seal de picts the west end of the covered bridge and is enclosed in a triangle with the words: Agriculture, Industry and Tourism. The three sides are Rhododendron representing the Rhododendron on Roan Mountain.

Return to top of page

Carter County Historic Sites

The Covered Bridge

Covered Bridge The Covered Bridge was built in 1882 by Dr. E. E. Hunter, contractor, with the help of George Lindamood and three carpenters.  The cost was $3,000 for construction and $300 for approaches.

The 134 ft. bridge spans the Doe River from Hattie Avenue on the west bank to 3rd street on the east bank.  At the time of construction, it was a main connection between Historic "Olde Town" Elizabethton on the eastern side of the Doe River and the d eveloping "New Town" on the western side of the river.  The Covered Bridge has survived many floods including the "Great May Flood of 1901" which destroyed all other bridges in the county that crossed Doe River.

The bridge has been termed an "engineering feat".  It is one of the two covered bridges in Tennessee identified by a Tennessee Historical Commission marker.  "Covered Bridge Days", a festival which includes Country and Gospel music, a parade and arts and crafts fair, is held each June near the bridge.

Return to top of page

Sycamore Shoals

Reconstructed Fort Sycamore Shoals was the location of three important events that shaped the history of this region.

One - It was here, in 1772, that the first majority-rule system of American democracy, The Watauga Association, was established.  The "Articles of the Watauga Association" established an independent government, based on democracy as we know it today, four years before the American Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson.

Four years later, many of the signers of the "Articles" would petition the state of North Carolina to be part of the state government.  To view the petition, please visit the The Watauga Petition, use BACK to return.

Two - On March 17, 1775, the Transylvania Company, led by Richard Henderson, was involved in the largest private real estate transaction in United States' history.  For the price of 2,000 pounds sterling and 8,000 pounds in goods, he purchased 20 million acres of land, from the Cherokee Indians, that included the Cumberland River watershed and lands on the Kentucky River.  During th ese dealings, the local settlers "purchased" the right to remain on the Cherokee land that they were living on in the Watauga settlement.  One of the minor chiefs, Dragging Canoe, opposed to the selling of the Cherokee ancestral hunting grounds, warn ed the whites that they were purchasing a "dark and bloody ground".  He and his band of disaffected warriors would wage war against the settlers for the next twenty years.

Three - Fort Watauga was built here and used as a base to defend the frontier against the Indians and the British.  In July, 1776, the settlers at the fort, withstood a two weeks siege by the Cherokees, led by Old Abrams.  After the siege had been broken, the settlers, led by John Sevier, invaded the Cherokee's main towns, putting each to the torch.  This invasion made safe the area immediately surrounding the settlements.

Muster at Sycamore Shoals In late September, 1780, the Overmountain Men mustered here for their march to Kings Mountain, SC, to give battle to Colonel Ferguson, who had threatened to march over the mountains and lay waste to their land with "fire and sword".  Ferguson was kil led and most of his army captured.  This battle was the turning point of the Revolutionary War in the south.  It saved the Patriot cause, which had suffered so many military defeats in this region and set off the events that led to the surrender of Cornwallis's Army at Yorktown the next year.

Return to top of page

The Carter Mansion

Carter Mansion The Carter Mansion was built around 1780 by John and his son, Landon Carter.  It is the oldest frame house in Tennessee.  John Carter was elected as Chairman of the Court under the terms of the "Articles" of the Watauga Association.  The ho use is possibly the only remaining link to the Watauga Association and the first government west of the mountains.
The house was used as a private residence by the Thomas family up until only a few years ago but three of its rooms still retain their original wall finishes including an original mural in an upstairs room.  The Carters are buried in a small family c emetery to the east of the mansion.  The site is now maintained by the Tennessee State Parks.

Return to top of page

Sinking Creek Baptist Church

Sinking Creek Church Sinking Creek Baptist Church is the oldest church in Tennessee.  It was organized about 1772 in Washington County (now Carter County) and is the oldest church in Tennessee still in existence at its original location.
About December 20, 1772, John and James Chastain, Baptist preachers from Virginia, came to the Watauga Settlement to visit their sister who was the wife of James Edens Sr.  On December 25, 1772, in a tenant's house on the property of Charles Robertson, near the location of the church, the Chastain brothers began a great revival.  This may have been the first assembly that met to worship God in what is now the state of Tennessee.

Return to top of page

Visit our Friends and Neighbors in Tennessee
Johnson County Sullivan County Unicoi County Washington County
Visit our Friends and Neighbors in North Carolina
Ashe County Avery County Mitchell County Watauga County

BackReturn to TNGenWeb Home

M This page was created by Jackie and Dawn Trivette Peters from a format designed by Billie R. McNamara.

©Copyright 1996 - present by Jackie And Dawn Trivette Peters  All rights reserved. If you have questions, please contact

The TNGenWeb Project makes no claims or estimates of the validity of the information submitted and reminds you that each new piece of information must be researched and proved or disproved by weight of evidence.  You a re welcome to copy information found at the Carter County TNGenWeb site for personal use and share information with other researchers or genealogical organizations, but this information may not be sold or used in a commercial project without expressed permission.  If copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information.