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Dickson County, Tennessee

Coordinates: 36°09′N 87°22′W / 36.15°N 87.36°W / 36.15; -87.36
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Dickson County
Dickson County Courthouse in Charlotte
Dickson County Courthouse in Charlotte
Flag of Dickson County
Map of Tennessee highlighting Dickson County
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 36°09′N 87°22′W / 36.15°N 87.36°W / 36.15; -87.36
Country United States
State Tennessee
FoundedOctober 25, 1803
Named forWilliam Dickson[1]
Largest cityDickson
 • Total491 sq mi (1,270 km2)
 • Land490 sq mi (1,300 km2)
 • Water1.4 sq mi (4 km2)  0.3%
 • Total54,315 Increase
 • Estimate 
56,729 Increase
 • Density111/sq mi (43/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code615
Congressional district7th

Dickson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2020 census, the population was 54,315.[2] Its county seat is Charlotte.[3] Dickson County is part of the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area. Dickson County is home to Tennessee's oldest courthouse in continuous use, built in 1835. This is the second courthouse in Charlotte as the first one, a log building, was destroyed in the Tornado of 1833, which destroyed all but one building on the courthouse square.


Charlotte, Dickson County's capital, was built on 50 acres of land purchased from Charles Stewart. Charlotte was nearly entirely destroyed after a tornado occurred within its city limits, decimating its jail, courthouse, & roughly 80% of the county's records.[1]

On October 25, 1803, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill creating Dickson County, the 25th of Tennessee's 95 counties. It was formed from parts of Montgomery and Robertson counties, and was named for William Dickson, a Nashville physician then serving in the United States Congress.[1] The first court justices included Montgomery Bell, William Doak, William Russell, Sterling Brewer, Gabriel Allen, Lemuel Harvey, Jesse Craft, Richard C. Napier, and William Teas. The county was organized on March 19, 1804, at the home of Robert Nesbitt, and later sessions of the court were held at various county officials' homes until a courthouse was constructed in 1810.

Dickson County was part of the Military Reserve and was widely settled among the Piney and Cumberland rivers. Initially, cotton was among the county's predominant industries before rye, oats, corn and tobacco had overtaken it. A cotton gin was constructed by Robert Jarman in 1807.[1]

General James Robertson built the first ironworks in west Tennessee in Dickson County. Robertson sold his furnace in 1804 to Montgomery Bell who later sold it to Anthony Wayne Van Leer(1769–1855), who the town Vanleer, TN is named after. Van Leer's family was noted in the anti-slavery cause.[4][5] Other important iron manufacturers included Anthony and Bernard Van Leer and George F. and Richard C. Napier. Iron production was chiefly accomplished through slave labor. Although iron production declined in importance in the post-Civil War period, the furnace was still in production in the early 1940s.[1]

Though a county school board was established in 1807, public education received little government support during the nineteenth century. Among the county's early schools were Tracy Academy, Charlotte Female School, Alexander Campbell School, Edgewood Academy and Normal College, Dickson Academy, Dickson Normal School, Glenwylde Academy, and Ruskin Cave College.[1]

The county voted by a wide margin to join the Confederacy on June 8, 1861. Six infantry companies and a battery of artillery were sent to the south by Dickson County. For the guerrilla forces, Yellow Creek and what is now Cumberland Furnace were favorite rendezvous points. No major confrontations had occurred, but the railroad laid by the Union were subject to frequent attacks.[1]

The Nashville and Northwestern Railroads which were constructed through the county's southern portion became a magnet for migrants from the Great Lakes & Great Plains, who settled in the new railroad towns of Dickson (originally called Sneedville), Tennessee City, White Bluff, and Burns. After two railroad lines were further constructed through Dickson, it became the county's hub for the vast majority of railroad travel, and, by the early 1900s was the commercial and cultural center of Dickson County. The growth of Dickson soon overtook that of Charlotte & produced infighting and debate amongst the county's government as to which town was a better county seat.[1]

In July 1917, a mass meeting was held in the Alamo Theatre in Dickson to raise $760 (equivalent to $25,000 in 2016) to pay for the surveying of the Bristol to Memphis Highway through Dickson County. The money was raised in less than 15 minutes by donations from those present at the meeting. State highway surveyors began surveying the route on August 14, 1917. The building of this highway put the county along the route known as the “Broadway of America,” Highway 70.

The county's most prominent recreational area, Montgomery Bell State Park, was constructed by the National Park Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1942. After World War 2, administration of the park was transferred to the state.

The Ruskin Colony and The Coming Nation[edit]

Julius Wayland, publisher of The Coming Nation and the Appeal to Reason.

The Ruskin Colony (or Ruskin Commonwealth Association) was a 250-member, utopian socialist cooperative established in Dickson County in 1894. Initially located near Tennessee City, it relocated to what is now Ruskin. Internal conflict had brought about the dissolution of the colony by 1899.[1]

The Coming Nation, a socialist communalist paper established by Julius Augustus Wayland in Greensburg, Indiana, was relocated to the Ruskin Colony. It was the forerunner of the Appeal to Reason, which later became a weekly political newspaper published in the American Midwest from 1895 until 1922. The Appeal to Reason was known for its politics, giving support to the Farmers' Alliance and People's Party, before becoming a mainstay of the Socialist Party of America following its establishment in 1901. Using a network of highly motivated volunteers known as the "Appeal Army" to increase its subscription sales, the Appeal's paid circulation climbed to over a quarter million by 1906, and half a million by 1910, making it the largest-circulation socialist newspaper in American history.[6][7]

Governor Frank G. Clement[edit]

On November 4, 1952, Frank G. Clement (1920–1969) of Dickson was elected Governor of Tennessee. He served as governor from 1953 to 1959, and again from 1963 to 1967. Known for his energetic speaking ability, he delivered the keynote address at the 1956 Democratic National Convention. The Hotel Halbrook, where Clement was born, still stands in Dickson, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today the Hotel operates as the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 491 square miles (1,270 km2), of which 490 square miles (1,300 km2) is land and 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) (0.3%) is water.[8]

Dickson County is bordered on the northeast by the Cumberland River. The Harpeth River passes along the county's eastern border.

Ruskin Cave, site of the former socialist colony, is located 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Dickson.

Adjacent counties[edit]

State protected areas[edit]


Historical population
2023 (est.)56,729[9]4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]
1790-1960[11] 1900-1990[12]
1990-2000[13] 2010-2014[2]
Age pyramid Dickson County[14]

2020 census[edit]

Dickson County racial composition[15]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 46,994 86.52%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 1,931 3.56%
Native American 181 0.33%
Asian 310 0.57%
Pacific Islander 4 0.01%
Other/Mixed 2,313 4.26%
Hispanic or Latino 2,582 4.75%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 54,315 people, 19,198 households, and 13,030 families residing in the county.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 43,156 people, 16,473 households, and 12,173 families residing in the county. The population density was 88 people per square mile (34 people/km2). There were 17,614 housing units at an average density of 36 units per square mile (14/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 93.25% European American, 4.58% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.47% from other races, and 1.01% from two or more races. 1.12% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 16,473 households, out of which 35.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.30% were married couples living together, 11.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.10% were non-families. 22.30% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 26.60% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 30.70% from 25 to 44, 22.90% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $39,056, and the median income for a family was $45,575. Males had a median income of $32,252 versus $23,686 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,043. About 8.10% of families and 10.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.90% of those under age 18 and 11.80% of those age 65 or over.

By 2005 the county had a population that was 92.0% non-Hispanic white, 4.4% African-American and 1.7% Latino.


Historically, Dickson County has been a Democratic stronghold; Ulysses Grant carried it in 1868, but after that, it did not vote Republican again until Nixon's 1972 landslide.[17] It has trended powerfully Republican starting in the beginning of the 21st century. An early sign of this could be seen in its back-to-back votes for Reagan in 1984 and George H. W. Bush in 1988, even though it had generally voted Democratic in elections in which the Democratic nominee was losing substantially worse nationally than Dukakis was in 1988 (for example, giving Adlai Stevenson over 70% of its vote in both of his runs). Not only this, but George H. W. Bush was even able to slightly improve on Reagan's vote share, despite the small national swing towards the Democrats in 1988.

However, in the subsequent three elections, Bill Clinton recaptured the county by double digit margins, and Tennessee native Al Gore carried it by over 8%. In 2004, it switched to giving George W. Bush a 10.2% margin, however, and, as of 2020, has voted Republican in every subsequent election, giving the Republican nominee an increased vote share every time. Neither Hillary Clinton in 2016 nor Delaware native Joe Biden in 2020 was able to reach so much as a third of the county's vote.

United States presidential election results for Dickson County, Tennessee[18]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 17,643 72.54% 6,106 25.10% 574 2.36%
2016 13,233 70.77% 4,722 25.25% 744 3.98%
2012 11,296 63.34% 6,233 34.95% 306 1.72%
2008 11,677 59.82% 7,506 38.45% 336 1.72%
2004 10,567 54.76% 8,597 44.55% 134 0.69%
2000 7,016 45.10% 8,332 53.56% 208 1.34%
1996 5,283 38.20% 7,458 53.93% 1,088 7.87%
1992 4,450 31.58% 7,863 55.79% 1,780 12.63%
1988 5,343 50.71% 5,129 48.68% 64 0.61%
1984 5,846 49.52% 5,809 49.21% 150 1.27%
1980 3,636 34.74% 6,622 63.27% 209 2.00%
1976 2,285 25.61% 6,551 73.43% 86 0.96%
1972 3,645 56.55% 2,619 40.63% 182 2.82%
1968 1,291 18.99% 2,034 29.91% 3,475 51.10%
1964 1,281 21.33% 4,724 78.67% 0 0.00%
1960 1,928 32.71% 3,930 66.68% 36 0.61%
1956 1,247 24.38% 3,799 74.29% 68 1.33%
1952 1,415 25.22% 4,196 74.78% 0 0.00%
1948 485 15.42% 2,337 74.31% 323 10.27%
1944 600 20.07% 2,379 79.57% 11 0.37%
1940 527 15.88% 2,784 83.88% 8 0.24%
1936 402 16.50% 2,022 82.97% 13 0.53%
1932 369 15.50% 2,007 84.33% 4 0.17%
1928 891 38.42% 1,428 61.58% 0 0.00%
1924 516 22.73% 1,648 72.60% 106 4.67%
1920 1,412 39.70% 2,145 60.30% 0 0.00%
1916 1,008 31.96% 2,105 66.74% 41 1.30%
1912 448 18.03% 1,689 67.97% 348 14.00%

County Commission[edit]

The 12-member county commission is the legislative body of Dickson County. One commissioner is elected from each of the county's 12 commission districts. The county mayor chairs the commission.


Commissioners are charged with appropriating funds for the county departments, setting the property tax rate and creating personnel policies for county employees.


The commissioners are chosen in the August general elections and serve four-year terms. These elections coincide with the state's gubernatorial primaries and begin September 1 of each non-presidential even-numbered year.

Commission meetings[edit]

The county commission meets for a work session the first Monday evening of each month. Regular sessions are held the third Monday evening of each month. At this meeting, matters are brought before the commission for action. When meeting dates fall on holidays, the meeting is generally held the next evening.

Current Commissioners[edit]

County Commissioners (2022–present)[19]
District Commissioner
1 Randy Simpkins
2 Ray Ledger
3 Dwight McIllwain
4 Stacey Batey
5 James Dawson
6 Becky Spicer
7 Carl Buckner
8 Jody Britt
9 Mike Petty
10 Danny Williams
11 Rusty Grove
12 Cindy Gray

County Officials[edit]

Dickson County has various elected officials to carry out the necessary duties of the county government.

County Officials are chosen in the August general elections, along with the County Commissioners, and serve four-year terms. These elections are on the first Thursday in August and coincide with the state's gubernatorial primaries. The terms begin September 1 of each non-presidential even-numbered year. The exception to this is the Assessor of Property whose election occurs on the same schedule but in the presidential election years.

Current County Officials
Office Name Duties Citation
Mayor Bob Rial Is the chief executive officer of the county and manages the day-to-day operation of the office and any aspect of county government that is not specifically designated to another elected official. He also appoints members of county boards and commissions and county department heads which are subject to confirmation by the County Commission. He also serves as a nonvoting member of each committee of the county commission and of each board, commission or authority of county government. [20]
Assessor of Property Jenny Heath Martin discovering, listing, classifying, and valuing all taxable property in the county for tax purposes [21]
Clerk Luanne Greer numerous duties, including: overseeing vehicle, marriage, county beer, and business licenses; handling the issuance of Notary Publics; titling of vehicles.

Also: clerk of the County Commission, maintaining the official County Commission Minutes

Register of Deeds Shelly Yates primary function: recording and preserving documents, including, but not limited to: deeds, powers of attorneys, mortgages, liens, contracts, leases, military discharges, judgments, greenbelt assessments, and subdivision plats; provides information to attorneys, realtors, surveyors, appraisers, lending institutions and the general public [23]
Highway Chief Administrative Officer Jackie Hodges Oversees the Highway Department; maintain county roads, including paving, grading, tar & sealing, ditching, salting and snow removal [24]
Sheriff Tim Eads The chief law enforcement official of the county. Also is responsible for the management of the jail. [25]
Trustee Glynda Barrett Pendergrass Acts as treasurer of Dickson County Government, including the Dickson County School System; collects all real and personal property taxes; keeps an account of all money received for County Government; invests temporarily idle County funds; disperses sales tax revenues [26]

Department Heads[edit]

The Mayor makes the appointments for non elected county government departments.

Dickson County Government Department Heads[27]
Department Head
Accounts and Budgets Don Hall
Emergency Medical Service (Ambulance) Donny Bear
Archives Pam Edwards
Emergency Management Agency/Fire Rob Fisher
Maintenance W. H. Batey
Planning and Zoning David Darnell
Solid Waste Management Jim Lunn

Judicial Branch Officials[edit]

The judicial officials are chosen in the August general elections, along with other elected officials and county commissioners, and serve four-year terms (with the exception of the General Sessions and the Juvenile Court Judges, who serve an eight-year term, with elections coinciding with every other gubernatorial primary). These elections coincide with the state's gubernatorial primaries and they assume office on September 1 of each non-presidential even-numbered year.

Current Judicial Officials
Office Name Duties Citation
Circuit Court Clerk Pam Lewis acts as the principal administrative aide to the Circuit Court; provides assistance in the areas of the courtroom administration and records management, docket maintenance, revenue management, maintenance of court minutes; holds the position of jury coordinator for the court system. [28]
Clerk and Master Lynn Collins deals with all types of civil cases such as divorces, custody, child support, adoptions, worker's compensation, contracts, debts, and property disputes; acts as the principal administrative aide to the Chancery Court; provides assistance in the areas of the courtroom administration and records management, docket maintenance, revenue management, maintenance of court minutes; collects Delinquent Taxes [29]
General Sessions/Juvenile Court Clerk Leslie Shelton some of the entities served: Dickson County Sheriff's Office, TN Department of Safety Troopers, Judicial Drug Task Force, TWRA, Department of Conservation, Tennessee ABC, TBI, Burns City Officers, Cities of Charlotte and Vanleer [30]
General Sessions Court Judge Craig Monsue files and manages the court files and dockets for both criminal and civil cases; attends court session, administers oaths, and retains, preserves, and files all papers. [30]
Juvenile Court Judge Jarred Creasy handles cases for: conservatorships, guardianships, paternity, legitimation, name changes, minors settlement cases, and child support; custody cases involving dependent and neglected children and cases of termination of parental rights; delinquent, unruly and traffic cases for juveniles and contributing cases for adults [30]


The Dickson County School District serves the entirety of the county. Since 2012, the current Director of Schools is Dr. Danny L. Weeks.[31]

Serving around 8,500 students, the Dickson County School System ranks 23rd in student population among 142 school districts in Tennessee. The District employs around 1,200 people.[32]

Board of education[edit]

The Dickson County Board of Education is a committee of six elected officials responsible for governing the counties' educational system. Each member represents one of the six districts that make up Dickson County. The Board was created and empowered by State Law with authority to oversee the operation of Dickson County Schools. The Board meets every 4th Thursday of the month unless otherwise noted.[33]

The Board chooses the Director of Schools. Dr. Danny Weeks is the Director of Schools and has been in that position since 2012.

Current Board Members[34]
District Name Notes
1 Kirk Vandivort Chair[35]
2 Sonya Brogdon
3 Steve Haley
4 Phil Chadwick
5 Joe Underwood
6 Aaron Parker


Prior to the 1920s, numerous private high schools and colleges existed in Dickson County. These included the Tracy Academy, Charlotte Female School, Alexander Campbell School, Edgewood Academy and Normal College, the Dickson Academy, Dickson Normal School (where Hattie Carraway, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, was educated), Glenwylde Academy, and Ruskin Cave College. Most of these closed before or during the Great Depression.[1] As is typical of most Tennessee counties, all public schools of the county are currently operated by a single county-wide school district.


The Dickson County Board of Education operates 16 schools.[36]

Elementary Schools

  • Centennial
  • Charlotte
  • Dickson
  • Oakmont
  • The Discovery School
  • Sullivan
  • Stuart-Burns
  • Vanleer
  • White Bluff

Middle Schools

  • Charlotte
  • Burns
  • Dickson
  • William James

High Schools

  • Creek Wood
  • Dickson County

Alternative School

  • New Directions Academy

Higher Education[edit]

Dickson County is home to two campuses for higher education.

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Dickson, under the Tennessee Board of Regents, provides career and technical education programs. Some programs include administrative office technology, automotive technology, computer information technology, cosmetology, various health programs (dental, nursing, etc.), digital graphic design, HVAC/refrigeration, mechatronics, and welding, among many others.[37]

Nashville State Community College maintains a satellite campus in Dickson, offering associate degrees to prepare students to transfer to four-year universities or enter the workforce.[38]




Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jackson, George E. (March 1, 2018) [October 8, 2017]. "Dickson County". Tennessee Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 5, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Dickson County, Tennessee". www.census.gov. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  3. ^ "Dickson County, TN". County Explorer. National Association of Counties. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  4. ^ "Anthony Wayne Van Leer". Van Leer Archives. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  5. ^ "Saint James Episcopal Church History". International Architecture Database.
  6. ^ Davenport, Tim. "The Appeal to Reason: Forerunner of Haldeman-Julius Publications". Big Blue Newsletter. 2004 Q-III (3). Archived from the original on September 14, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  7. ^ Simkin, John. "Appeal to Reason". Spartacus Educational. Archived from the original on October 15, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2023". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 14, 2024.
  10. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  12. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  13. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Based on 2000 census data
  15. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  16. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  17. ^ "County winners, 1836-2016". Google Docs. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  18. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  19. ^ "County Commissioners". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  20. ^ "Mayor's Office". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  21. ^ "Assessor of Property". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  22. ^ "County Clerk". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  23. ^ "Register of Deeds". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  24. ^ "Highway Chief Administrative Officer". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  25. ^ "Administration". dicksoncountysheriff.org. Dickson County Sheriff's Office. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  26. ^ "Dickson County Trustee". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  27. ^ "Mayor's Administration". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  28. ^ "Circuit Court". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  29. ^ "Chancery Court". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  30. ^ a b c "General Sessions Court". dicksoncountytn.gov. Dickson County, TN. Retrieved August 6, 2023.
  31. ^ "Director of Schools". www.dcstn.org. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  32. ^ "About Us". www.dcstn.org. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  33. ^ "School Board". www.dcstn.org. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  34. ^ "Board Members". www.dcstn.org. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  35. ^ "Vandivort is new Dickson Co. School Board chairman". The Tennessean. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  36. ^ "Schools". www.dcstn.org. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  37. ^ "Programs | TCAT Dickson". tcatdickson.edu. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  38. ^ "Dickson". Nashville State Community College. February 17, 2019. Retrieved February 18, 2019.

External links[edit]

36°09′N 87°22′W / 36.15°N 87.36°W / 36.15; -87.36