History, Location and Geography of Sumner County, TN
History, Location, and
Tennessee formed the western lands of North Carolina in the days before statehood. In the
year 1772, Joseph Drake, Isaac Bledsoe, and
Casper Mansker traveled through parts of Middle Tennessee and discovered
three licks, which bore their names, that is: Bledsoe's Lick, Mansker's Lick, and Drake's Lick.
News of the abundance of game and fertility of the soil traveled fast, and soon other families
began to arrive. The population was sufficient by 1786 to establish a county, which was named
after Colonel Jethro Sumner, an officer of the Revolution.
Sumner County was created on November 17, 1786, from the eastern part of Davidson
County and is the second-oldest county in Middle Tennessee. Between 1777 and 1788, six
counties had been formed to give the people a political voice and some form of organized
government. Three counties were in East Tennessee (Washington, Sullivan, and Greene), and
three were in Middle Tennessee (Davidson, Sumner, and Tennessee).
North Carolina finally ceded its western lands, the Tennessee country, to the federal
government when it ratified the United States Constitution in 1789. Congress designated the
area as the Territory of the United States, South of the River Ohio. It was also known as the
Southwest Territory and was divided into three districts--two for East Tennessee and the Mero
District on the Cumberland.
In 1795, a territorial census showed enough population for statehood. Congress approved
the admission of Tennessee on June 1, 1796. It became the sixteenth state of the Union.
On October 26, 1799, Wilson and Smith Counties were carved from part of Sumner
County. Macon and Trousdale Counties on the east were later formed from parts of old Sumner
On November 6, 1804, an act was passed by the Legislature to provide a county seat for
Sumner County. It was named Gallatin in honor of Albert Gallatin, the
Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
Location and Geography
Present day Sumner County is bounded on the north by Simpson and Allen Counties in
Kentucky. On the east lie Macon and Trousdale Counties, Tennessee. The southern boundary is
the Cumberland River, which separates Sumner and Wilson Counties. On the southwest is
Mansker's Creek, which forms the line between Sumner and Davidson Counties. Robertson
County lies beyond the western edge of Sumner.
Sumner County is divided into two nearly equal parts by the Ridge, which extends through
the county from southwest to northeast. It is a part of the Highland Rim to the Great Central
Basin of Middle Tennessee. South of the Ridge lies a slope that descends to the Cumberland
River. Towns south of the Ridge include Gallatin, Saundersville, Hendersonville, and
North of the Ridge lie the Rim Lands. Streams called the East Fork, Middle Fork, Caney
Fork, and other branches of North Drake's Creek (a tributary of the Barren River in Kentucky)
run generally northwest north of the Ridge. Smaller ridges and highlands lie between them.
Some towns north of the ridge include White House, Portland, and Mitchellville.
Compiled by Danene
- Click here for a transcript of the history of Sumner
as it appeared in an 1873 issue of the Rural Sun
Includes histories of several individual communities.
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