Rutherford County, Tennessee

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Rutherford County, Tennessee
Rutherford county courthouse 9736.JPG
Seal of Rutherford County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting Rutherford County
Location in the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location in the U.S.
Coordinates: 35°50′N 86°25′W / 35.84°N 86.42°W / 35.84; -86.42
Founded October 25, 1803
Named for Griffith Rutherford[1]
• Mayor

Ernest G. Burgess
Seat Murfreesboro
Largest city Murfreesboro
 • Total 624 sq mi (1,616 km2)
 • Land 619 sq mi (1,603 km2)
 • Water 4.7 sq mi (12 km2), 0.8%
Population (est.)
 • (2016) 308,251
 • Density 498/sq mi (192/km²)
ZIP code(s) 37037, 37060, 37063, 37085, 37086, 37089, 37118, 37127, 37128, 37129, 37130, 37131, 37132, 37133, 37153, 37167
Area code(s) 615, 629
Congressional district 4th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Rutherford County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 262,604, growing to an estimated 308,251 in 2016,[2] making it the fifth-most populous county in Tennessee. Its county seat is Murfreesboro,[3] which is also the geographic center of Tennessee. As of 2010, it is the center of population of Tennessee.[4][5]

Rutherford County is included in the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since the turn of the 21st century, it has been the destination of numerous immigrants, who have settled in the area, including many from Somalia and Kurds from Iraq. The proportion of ethnic minorities has risen slowly within the county.


Rutherford County was formed in 1803 from parts of Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties,[1] and named in honor of Griffith Rutherford (1721–1805).[6] Rutherford was a North Carolina colonial legislator and an American Revolutionary War general, who settled in Middle Tennessee after the Revolution. He was appointed President of the Council of the Southwest Territory (the upper chamber of the territorial legislature) in 1794.[7]

Rutherford County strongly supported the Confederacy during the Civil War, having voted 2,392 to 73 in favor of Tennessee's Ordinance of Secession on June 8, 1861.[8] Rutherford County's central location and proximity to Nashville during the Civil War made it a contested area.[9] The county was home to one of the bloodiest battles of the war, the Battle of Stones River, which was fought between December 31, 1861, and January 2, 1862. On July 13, 1862, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest conducted a series of operations in the county known as Forrest's Raid. The raid successfully led to the surrender of Union forces occupying the area.[10] Soon after, Union troops retook the region and occupied it until the end of the war.

Rutherford County is an outlying part of metropolitan Nashville. Since 1970, its population has been increasing rapidly as Nashville becomes a true metropolis. The rate of growth accelerated in the 1990s and continued at a brisk pace into the first decade of the 21st century.


Sunset in Murfreesboro

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 624 square miles (1,620 km2), of which 619 square miles (1,600 km2) is land and 4.7 square miles (12 km2) (0.8%) is water.[11]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]

State protected areas[edit]

  • Flat Rock Cedar Glades and Barrens State Natural Area
  • Gattinger's Cedar Glade and Barrens State Natural Area (part)
  • Long Hunter State Park (part)
  • Manus Road Cedar Glade State Natural Area
  • Overbridge State Natural Area
  • Percy Priest Wildlife Management Area (part)
  • Elsie Quarterman Cedar Glade State Natural Area
  • Fate Sanders Barrens State Natural Area
  • Sunnybell Cedar Glade State Natural Area
  • Stones River Cedar Glade and Barrens State Natural Area
  • Walterhill Floodplain State Natural Area


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 10,265
1820 19,552 90.5%
1830 26,134 33.7%
1840 24,280 −7.1%
1850 29,122 19.9%
1860 27,918 −4.1%
1870 33,289 19.2%
1880 36,741 10.4%
1890 35,097 −4.5%
1900 33,543 −4.4%
1910 33,199 −1.0%
1920 33,059 −0.4%
1930 32,286 −2.3%
1940 33,604 4.1%
1950 40,696 21.1%
1960 52,368 28.7%
1970 59,428 13.5%
1980 84,058 41.4%
1990 118,570 41.1%
2000 182,023 53.5%
2010 262,604 44.3%
Est. 2016 308,251 [2] 17.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
1790-1960[13] 1900-1990[14]
1990-2000[15] 2010-2016[2]
Age pyramid, Rutherford County.[16]

From the 2010 census, there were 262,604 people and 96,731 households residing in the county. The population density was 424 people per square mile (114/km²). There were 96,731 housing units at an average density of 114 per square mile (44/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 79.7% White, 14.0% Black or African American, 3.3% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 2.3% from two or more races. 7.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the 2000 census, there were 182,023 people, 66,443 households, and 47,440 families residing in the county. The population density was 294 people per square mile (114/km²), and there were 70,616 housing units. The racial makeup of the county was 85.73% White, 9.51% Black or African American, 1.90% Asian, 0.29% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.32% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 2.78% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

In 2000 there were 66,443 households out of which 37.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.30% were married couples living together, 11.20% had a female head of household with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 20.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.40% under the age of 18, 13.20% from 18 to 24, 33.50% from 25 to 44, 19.40% from 45 to 64, and 7.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 99.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $46,312, and the median income for a family was $53,553. Males had a median income of $36,788 versus $26,555 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,938. About 5.80% of families and 9.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.50% of those under age 18 and 9.40% of those age 65 or over.

The 2010 census put the population of Rutherford County at 262,604. This represents a greater than 40% population growth since the 2000 U.S. Census. As of 2009, it was estimated that the total minority fraction of the population had grown to almost 20% of the total, with Hispanic population at 5.58%, African-American population at 12.09%, and Asian population at 2.66% of the total.[17]

Government and politics[edit]

The Board of County Commissioners, the county legislative body, consists of 21 members elected for four-year terms from single-member districts based on roughly equal populations. The county mayor is the chief executive officer and is elected from the county at-large.

Political parties[edit]

This area of the state was predominately Democrat following the American Civil War, but the significant minority of African Americans joined the Republican Party. The white-dominated state legislature in the 1880s passed four laws that effectively disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites, particularly due to the requirement of payment of a poll tax in order to register to vote. This reduced the competitiveness of the Republican Party in the state for more than six decades, and thus it effectively held political power only in eastern Tennessee.

Presidential Election Results
Year Democrat Republican
2016 33.9% 36,627 59.6% 64,428
2012 36.8% 36,400 61.6% 60,829
2008 39.69% 40,412 58.79% 59,850
2004 37.49% 31,647 61.84% 52,200
2000 44% 27,360 53.8% 33,445

Since the late 20th century, the majority of white conservatives in Rutherford County shifted toward the Republican Party as the supporters of constitutional state rights. After gaining enforcement of their voting rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, most local African Americans favored the Democratic Party because of national support for policies associated with the civil rights movement among other reasons.

The changing demographics of the county has shown a slow and shifting increase in minorities; however, this small change has resulted in no significant impact to party alignment. In recent years the conservative majority in the county has favored Republican candidates for local, state, and national elections.


The top employers in the county are listed below. Rutherford County government and schools also employ 6,028 individuals.[18]


Smyrna and La Vergne[edit]

The county is also home to Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, a General Mills production facility, and a Whirlpool Corporation plant.




Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hankins, Caneta Skelley (December 25, 2009). "Rutherford County". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved March 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016. Rutherford County and Associated Incorporated Locations". United States Census Bureau. 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Centers of Population by State: 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Geographic Center of Tennessee". The Historical Marker Database. December 31, 2009. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Geological Survey Bulletin, no. 258 (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 268. OCLC 1156805. 
  7. ^ Garrett, William Robertson; Goodpasture, Albert Virgil (1900). History of Tennessee: Its People and Its Institutions. Nashville, TN: Brandon Printing. p. 339. OCLC 1986075. 
  8. ^ Jones, Shirley Ferris (May 29, 2012). "Merry Month of May". The Murfreesboro Post via Rutherford County Historical Society. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  9. ^ "A History of Rutherford County, Tennessee". Rutherford County Historical Society. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ "CWSAC Battle Summaries: Murfreesboro". National Park Service. Retrieved June 17, 2013. 
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  14. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved April 14, 2015. 
  16. ^ Based on 2000 United States Census data
  17. ^ Rutherford County Pop-Facts: Demographic Snapshot Report from the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce
  18. ^ "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report: Rutherford County, Tennessee, For the Year Ended June 30, 2016" (PDF). Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. 2016. p. 301. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 

External links[edit]