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Perry County, Tennessee
Perry County Tennessee Courthouse.JPG
Perry County Courthouse in Linden
Map of Tennessee highlighting Perry County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location in the U.S.
Founded November 14, 1819
Named for Oliver Hazard Perry[1]
Seat Linden
Largest town Linden
Area
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

423 sq mi (1,096 km²)
415 sq mi (1,075 km²)
8.1 sq mi (21 km²), 1.9%
Population
 - (2020)
 - Density

8,366 increase
19/sq mi (7/km²)
Congressional district 7th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website www.perrycountygov.com
Footnotes: FIPS county code 47135

Perry County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2020 census, the population was 8,366.[2] Its county seat and largest town is Linden.[3] The county is bisected east-to-west by US Highway 412 and north-to-south by State Route 13. Perry County is the most sparsely populated county in Tennessee, with an average population density of 18.6 persons/square mile.[4] Additionally, Perry County is one of the most economically disadvantaged counties in Tennessee.[5] Mousetail Landing State Park is located in the county.

History[]

Pre-history and Native American settlement[]

Little information exists on the settlement of the area that would become Perry County by non-native persons prior to 1818.[6] The remains of pre-historic megafauna have been discovered in the county. In September 1820, the skeletal remains of a large animal, possibly a megalonyx, were discovered in an unidentified cave. The remains were reportedly recovered by a Nashville museum operator and collector, but have since been lost.[7]

Archeological evidence suggests a significant population of mound building Native Americans in the county, with a number of mounds located near the Tennessee River at Lady's Bluff.[8] Archaeological surveys conducted in the 1970s and 1980s discovered evidence of early Archaic through late Woodland settlement concentrated in bottomlands in the Tennessee River basin near Mousetail Landing, with evidence of Paleoindian occupation in one site.[9] Arrowheads and spear tips associated the Mississippian, Woodland, and Copena cultures have been found along the Tennessee River tributaries in the western half of the county.[10]

Formation and early history[]

1836 map depicting Perry County

Permanent settlement by Europeans and enslaved Africans began shortly after 1806, when the area that would become Perry County was acquired from Native Americans. The area was found to have very productive bottom lands with an abundance of water, timber, and wild game. The earliest settlers likely arrived from nearby counties in Middle Tennessee, although some did immigrate to the area from North Carolina, Alabama, and Kentucky.[11]

Between 1810 and 1812, the first gristmill in the area was established on Cane Creek.[12] In 1818 the first known European birth in the territory that would become Perry County happened on Toms Creek. Some of the early settlers were veterans of the War of 1812, and some had probably received land grants in the area from the state of North Carolina for service in the American Revolution. In 1819, the Tennessee General Assembly passed an act providing "that a new county be established north of Wayne, west of Hickman, and south of Humphreys, by the name of Perry County, beginning at the southeast corner of Humphreys, running west, thence south, thence east, thence north to place of beginning, and to include all the territory lying between Humphreys, Hardin, Wayne and Hickman Counties." The county, named in honor of Oliver Hazard Perry, was officially organized that same year in the home of James Dixon near Lick Creek, which still stands today.[6]

1842 map of Perry County

In 1820, the first court in the county was held in the same house under a Judge Humphreys, and the first school was established by Ferney Stanley on Toms Creek. In 1821, the county seat was established in Perryville, a river port located on the west bank of the Tennessee River. In 1830, the settlement of Beardstown was established on a high bluff overlooking the Buffalo River.[6][1]

By the early 1830s, significant deposits of iron ore had been discovered in the county. Sufficient quantities were being extracted to justify the construction of a large iron ore furnace on Cedar Creek near the Tennessee River between 1832 and 1834.[6] At its peak, it processed 1,400 tons of pig iron annually, using both free and enslaved labor, and taking advantage of the most advanced "hot blast" smelting techniques available at the time. The furnace shut down in 1862, during the Civil War, and was never brought back in to service. The Cedar Grove Iron Furnace is the only twin-stack iron furnace remaining in Tennessee. In addition to iron ore, some marble mining was conducted in the county in the middle of the 19th century.[13][14][15]

In 1846, Decatur County was formed from the portions of Perry County west of the Tennessee River.[16] The seat of government and courts were then temporarily relocated to a small town known as Harrisburg, located near the geographic center of the county.[1] Around 1844, the community of Flatwoods, originally known as Whitaker's Bluff, was established along the Buffalo River in the southern part of the county by a group of settlers from Halifax, North Carolina.[17] In 1847, forty acres located approximately three miles north of Harrisburg on the west bank of the Buffalo River were donated to the county by David B. Harris for the building of a new county seat named Linden. The land was divided into plots and a public square, and the plots were sold off to provide funds for the construction of public buildings. Linden was established as the county seat in 1848, where it remains today, and is the largest municipality in the county. A temporary structure to house the court was built in 1848, and was replaced by a wooden frame building in 1849. Harrisburg no longer exists as a organized entity or recognized location.[6]

In 1850, it was reported that there were 10 grist mills, a saw mill, a furnace, and two tanneries in operation within the county. Additionally, 21 churches were organized, as well as 23 schools enrolling 685 students. Corn was the primary agricultural product at this time, thought oats, sweet potatoes, and tobacco were also grown in smaller quantities.[18] In 1854, Lobelville was established as a post-village on the west bank of the Buffalo River about five miles north of Beardstown by a French trader named Henri de Lobel.[1]

Civil War[]

In 1861, Perry County voted in favor of secession by a margin of 780 to 168.[19] Even though the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of secession, the Unionist sentiment was strong and pervasive throughout the war, with men from the county volunteering for both sides in the conflict. About 300 men joined the Confederate Army, with about 200 joining the Union Army.[6] Both pro-Union and pro-Confederate irregular and guerilla forces were organized in Perry County, and were known to have conducted raids on neighboring counties.[20] Due to the rural, isolated nature of the region, away from the major railway lines and with only limited access to large landings on the Tennessee River, there were no large-scale engagements in the county.[6] In February 1862, the Cedar Grove Iron Furnace was partially destroyed when it was shelled by Union gunboats USS Conestoga, USS Tyler, and USS Lexington.[14]

Before dawn on 12 May 1863, a flotilla under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Ledyard Phelps composed of USS Champion, USS Covington, USS Argosy, and USS Silver Cloud landed elements of the Union Army's 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, led by Lt. Col. William Breckenridge, a native of Perry County, on the Tennessee River 12 miles west of Linden. The small force of 55 mounted cavalry approached Linden at daybreak on the same day, which was controlled by a small detachment of Confederate forces under Lt. Col. William Frierson. The Confederate forces, totaling about 100 men, were preparing to depart Linden to join General Van Dorn's force at Spring Hill and were taken completely by surprise. After a short skirmish against pickets, the Union cavalry captured Lt. Col Frierson and 46 of his officers and men and killed three more before reinforcements could arrive. During this engagement, the county courthouse, which was being held by the Confederate forces, was burned, destroying most of the records of the early history of the county.[21][6] The only Union losses during the engagement were one horse.[22] Breckenridge then returned to the Tennessee River and transferred his prisoners to the awaiting riverboats for transporation to Cairo, Missouri.[23] Intelligence gathered from the Confederates captured in the engagement provided significant details to Union leadership on the size, location, and intentions of Confederate forces in the Middle Tennessee, including plans to re-capture Fort Henry and attack Union forces under General Rosecrans.[22] The amphibious landing and battle was recounted on the front page of the Sunday, 17 May 1863 edition of the New York Times.[24] No further action took place in the county until 27 September 1864, when a detachment of Confederate cavalry conducted a raid on the county, skirmishing with Federal forces near Beardstown.[13][25]

Reconstruction and the late 19th century[]

A sepia-tint black and white photograph of the front of an old two story brick building with a large porch and portico behind a wooden fence. A man stands in the doorway, a small painted sign advertising a lawyer's services is hung near the front door, and a gazebo is located to the right of the building.

The 1868 Courthouse in Linden

Martial law was lifted in the county in April 1865, when the civil court held its first session since the beginning of the war. In 1868, a new two-story brick courthouse was built to replace the one burned during the Civil War.[6] From about 1880 to 1884, the first regular newspaper in the county, entitled the Linden Times (later re-named The Perry County News), was published weekly. A second newspaper, the Linden Mail was published from 1896 to 1910.[26]

In the late 19th century, the county was largely known for its tanneries and peanut cultivation, producing over 500,000 bushels of peanuts per year by 1886. In 1887, Congress authorized the construction of a railroad bridge across the Tennessee River connecting Perry and Decatur County. The Tennessee Midland Railroad laid tracks from Lexington, Tennessee to Perryville, and while a terminus allowing the transfer of goods from rail to river shipping was constructed in Perryville, the bridge was never built and the railroad was never extended into Perry County.[27] A second attempt to bring a railroad to Perry County was started around 1890 when construction was started on the Florence Northern Railroad, which was intended to eventually pass through Linden on its way from Florence, Alabama to Paducah, Kentucky.[28] In 1894 the railroad was purchased by a Chattanooga company after about 30 miles had been graded, but construction was never completed.[29]

20th and 21st century[]

1934 map of Perry County

By 1910, the population of the county peaked at 8,815. It then proceeded to decline to a low of 5,238 individuals in 1970, a number not seen since the census of 1830.[30] During the First World War a Selective Service Board was established in Linden. Over 1,500 men registered for the draft, and 254 individuals from Perry County served in the United States military from 1917 to 1919. Of those who served 10 were wounded and 27 were killed, a nearly 15% casualty rate. [31]

In 1928, a new court house was built in Linden after the one built in 1868 burned in the early 20th century.[32] Also opening in 1928 was the first bridge across the Tennessee River in the county, connecting Perry County with Decatur County. The bridge, named after World War I Medal of Honor recipient Alvin C. York, was opened on July 5, 1930 as part of a major road building program to provide additional links between Memphis and Nashville. This bridge was later demolished and replaced by a modern concrete bridge in 1986.[33] The construction of the road bridge and completion of the highway reduced demand for rail service in the area. Service to the rail terminal at Perryville was discontinued in 1936, removing the possibility of a rail connection to the county for the foreseeable future.[27]

By the 1930s, Perry County had acquired a reputation as a hotbed of illicit alcohol production. Its isolated nature on the eastern edge of a Federal law enforcement district meant that prohibition officers rarely operated in the area, allowing moonshine operations to run unimpeded. Liquor would be distributed to dealers in neighboring Hickman County for sale.[34]

In 1971, an Old Order Mennonite community was established along Cane Creek near Lobelville. Both English as well as Plattdeutsch and Pennsylvania German speaking families settled in the area from other areas of Tennessee, from nearby states such as Arkansas, and internationally from Belize. This community generally avoids motor vehicles, except in certain limited situations sanctioned by their church, and most families are not connected to the electric grid.[35]

In 2007, the Perry County Chamber of Commerce began a concentrated marketing effort to increase nature and ecological tourism in the area, using the slogan "Perry County: It's Just Our Nature".[13] In 2008, the first annual Blooming Arts Festival was held in Linden.[36]

Geography and geology[]

Perry County is located on the western edge of Middle Tennessee. The topography of Perry County is highlighted by high ridges separating creeks flowing into the county's two rivers, typical of the Western Highland Rim region of Tennessee. The highest point in Perry County is approximately 980 ft (299m) above sea level, located on an unnamed ridge in the far southeastern portion of the county near the borders of Lewis County and Wayne County.[37] Lady's Bluff, located approximately 11 miles west of Linden, is the tallest bluff on the lower Tennessee River, and overlooks the section of the river known as The Narrows.[38]

Topography and hydrography[]

A black and white aerial view of a bay on a lake with a small fishing boat with two men aboard in the foreground.

Toms Creek embayment on the Tennessee River

Two rivers are found in the county. The county's western border is formed by the Tennessee River, which drains most of the western part of the county. The Buffalo River runs south to north through the middle of the county, and empties into the Duck River just north of the county line in Humphreys County. A small portion of the northwest corner of the county drains into the Duck River, outside of the county. The water table is high due to the hard substrate, creating numerous springs and shallow wells, and is charged by the Highland Rim aquifer. Typical spring and well yields range from 1 to 400 gallons per minute.[11]

Buffalo Ridge bisects the county from north to south between the Tennessee and Buffalo rivers. The ridge reaches approximately 700ft (210m) above sea level, with a topographic prominence of about 300ft (90m). Eight smaller spur ridges extend to the west from the main crest of Buffalo Ridge about nine miles, creating the drainages for nine major creeks that flow into the Tennessee River. These creeks are, from north to south, Blue Creek, Crooked Creek, Roans Creek, Toms Creek, Lick Creek, Spring Creek, Cypress Creek, Marsh Creek, and Cedar Creek. To the east of the Buffalo River, additional ridges run east to west, similar to the terrain west of Buffalo Ridge. These ridges form the basins for the main tributaries of the Buffalo River in the county (Coon Creek, Brush Creek, Hurrican Creek, Short Creek, and Cane Creek).[39]

Large tracts of natural wetlands exist within the county. One estimate based on analysis of satellite photography by the Tennessee Valley Authority estimated approximately 5,200 acres of forested wetlands and 1,200 acres of non-forested wetlands. These wetlands occur primarily along stream courses, and are some of the most productive wildlife habitat in the region.[11]

Soil and geology[]

Soil deposits from the three river drainages located in the county have created fertile bottom lands that are used intensively for agricultural purposes. The soil profile is generally very deep, with slopes suitable for agriculture and building construction. The ridge tops are well drained, loamy, with significant chert rock deposits. Reserves of chert, sand, gravel, limestone, and phosphate can be found in the county. Cherty limestone deposits are the most extensive geologic feature of the county, and an impermiable siltstone and shale base below the chert formations has led to the emergence of numerous fresh water springs.[11]

Iron ore is extremely abundant in the county, with numerous deposits located west of Buffalo Ridge.[39] Blue and gray limestone outcrops are present in most valleys of the county. These limestone formations are part of the Lobelville formation of the Silurian Lockport Group and of the Lower Helderberg Group.[40] Significant numbers of fossils have been found in this limestone.[39]

Protected areas[]

National protected area[]

  • Lady's Bluff Small Wild Area

State protected area[]

  • Mousetail Landing State Park

Adjacent counties[]

Weather and climate[]

Climate chart for Perry County, Tennessee
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
2.9
 
45
33
 
 
4.3
 
49
35
 
 
3.7
 
60
43
 
 
3.8
 
69
50
 
 
3.7
 
79
59
 
 
3.5
 
87
66
 
 
4.8
 
89
69
 
 
4.0
 
89
68
 
 
3.3
 
83
62
 
 
3.1
 
71
52
 
 
2.3
 
58
42
 
 
3.5
 
50
37
temperatures in °Cprecipitation totals in mm


Perry County has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), characterized by hot, humid summers and cold winters.[41] The average winter temperature is 47.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average summer temperature is 75.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The record low of -18 degrees Fahrenheit occurred on January 24, 1963, and the record high of 105 degrees Fahrenheit occurred on July 17, 1980. Average seasonal snowfall is 5.5 inches. Thunderstorms are relatively common in the county, with an average of 53 days per year seeing thunderstorm activity, usually between May and August.[11]

Sixteen tornadoes have been reported in Perry County since the first was recorded in 1909. Of these, 14 have been reported since 1999. The deadliest tornado recorded in the county happened on May 27, 1917, when five people were killed and 67 injured in an estimated EF/4 scale event.[42] Perry County was struck during the May 5, 1999, tornado outbreak, being hit by the strongest tornado reported during the outbreak, killing three people and causing substantial damage to the town of Linden.[43] Another deadly tornado hit the county during the December 23, 2015, outbreak with two killed.[44] Template:Tornado Chart

Flora and fauna[]

About 80% of the county is wooded.[11] Numerous species of economically important timber trees are found in the county, including white oak, walnut, black oak, hickory, and chestnut oak. [39] 561 species of wild plants have been collected in the county.[45] Perry County has numerous native game species, including whitetail deer, rabbit, eastern wild turkey, gray squirrel, and fox squirrel. Bobwhite quail are present in the county, however the population is low due to a lack of suitable habitat. Mourning dove populations are typically low in the county, however large numbers transit the area during seasonal migrations. Common migratory waterfowl found in the county include wood duck, mallard, gadwall, Canada goose. The Buffalo River and its tributaries are noted for their good nesting habitat for wood duck. Mink, muskrat, and beaver are found throughout wetlands in the county, and large populations of bobcat, opossum, gray fox, striped skunk, coyote, as well as numerous species of reptiles, amphibians, and birds are found throughout.[11]

Wildlife reintroduction[]

By the late 1940s, fewer than 1,000 whitetail deer were found in the state, having been hunted to the brink of extirpation. In the early 1930s, the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission, United States Forest Service, Tennessee Valley Authority, and United States Navy began re-stocking efforts on public lands in the State. In 1949, the Game and Fish Commission's first reintroduction effort in Perry County began on public lands, expanding to private lands in the 1950s. Populations large enough to sustain limited hunting activity were established by the 1950s.[46] In 1960, 30 deer were harvested in the county; by 1996, that number had risen to nearly 2,200. [11]

By the 1950s, wild turkeys had been eliminated from the county. A reintroduction and habitat management program was started by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (the successor agency to the Game and Fish Commission), leading to the successful return of the species to the county. While overall numbers are moderate, good population numbers are found locally within parts of the county.[11]

Demographics[]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1820 2,384
1830 7,094 197.6%
1840 7,419 4.6%
1850 5,821 −21.5%
1860 6,042 3.8%
1870 6,925 14.6%
1880 7,174 3.6%
1890 7,785 8.5%
1900 8,800 13.0%
1910 8,815 0.2%
1920 7,765 −11.9%
1930 7,147 −8.0%
1940 7,535 5.4%
1950 6,462 −14.2%
1960 5,273 −18.4%
1970 5,238 −0.7%
1980 6,111 16.7%
1990 6,612 8.2%
2000 7,631 15.4%
2010 7,915 3.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[30]
1790-1960[47] 1900-1990[48]
1990-2000[49] 2010-2020[2]

Age pyramid Perry County in 2000[50]

2020 census[]

Perry County racial composition[51]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 7,700 92.04%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 195 2.33%
Native American 41 0.49%
Asian 26 0.31%
Pacific Islander 1 0.01%
Other/Mixed 276 3.3%
Hispanic or Latino 127 1.52%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 8,366 people in 2,929 households residing in the county. The average household size was 2.68. A language other than English was spoken at home by 6.5% of the population. [2]

2010 census[]

As of the 2010 United States census, there were 7,915 people, and 2,977 households residing in the county. The average household size was 2.55. The population density was 19.1 people per square mile. There were 4,599 housing units. The racial makeup of the county was 95.8% White, 1.5% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.2% Asian, and 1.5% from two or more races. 1.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[52]

Economy[]

Agriculture makes up a significant portion of the economy of Perry County. In 2017, 287 farms were in operation, averaging 215 acres each. Over 35,000 acres of land were utilized for a variety of agricultural activities, including crop production, forestry, and pasture land. A 2018 study showed agriculture and supporting industries contributed $49.6 million to the county's economy, with 525 jobs (about 17% of total employment in the county).[5] According to the USDA, over 23,000 acres of land in Perry County, about 10% of the county, are rated as prime farmland. One 1999 survey revealed that 3,200 acres of land were planted to corn, 2,600 were planted to soybeans, and another 300 acres were left fallow as part of a conservation program. Additional smaller acreages were planted with sorghum, snap beans, watermelons, and sweet corn. Pasture and hay production utilize nearly 30,000 acres of farmland in the county. [11]

Tourism in Perry County has increased in recent years, though it remains limited by a lack of accommodations. In 2020, Mousetail Landing State Park reported that campsites were full most weekends, with over 3,100 rentals that year. This number was up from 2,149 in 2019. The increase in visitors was probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic encouraging outdoor activity.[53] The park reportedly generated $14.3 million in economic impact to the county in 2021.[54] Only one hotel operates in Perry County, the Commodore Hotel in Linden.[55]

The earliest known bank in Perry County was organized by 1890 as the Linden Bank and Trust.[56] This bank, after a series of mergers and buy-outs, is a branch of FirstBank.[57] The other bank operating in the county, the Bank of Perry County, was organized in 1905 as the Bank of Lobelville. By 1975, it had opened branches in both Lobelville and Linden.[56]

The low population and lack of significant transportation connections in the county never allowed economic activity to expand significantly beyond agriculture and forestry, with some limited light industry and tourism.[2] As of 2021, the county was listed as an Appalachian Regional Commission distressed county, ranking it at or near the bottom of Tennessee counties in terms of poverty rate, unemployment, and income.[5]

Perry County ranks below the statewide average in numerous economic indicators. Perry County's Gini coefficient is .54, indicating a significantly higher level of income inequality than the rest of Tennessee.[58] In 2019, the poverty rate in the county was estimated at 16.1%, three percent higher than the statewide average. The median household income was $41,034, and the per capita income was $27,970. Typical of many rural counties, the rate of broadband internet adoption and availability remains low, with about 59% of households reporting access to broadband internet, compared to 78% statewide.[2][59]

Property values in the county are significantly below the statewide average. In 2019, the median value of owner-occupied housing was $88,100, compared to $167,200 statewide. The rate of owner-occupied housing however, was significantly higher at 82% versus 66%.[2][59]

Unemployment[]

Perry County was severely impacted by the economic recession of 2008 and 2009. Unemployment reached nearly 29%, making it the highest in the state of Tennessee, and one of the highest in the United States. The massive amount of unemployment was due to the closure of a major automotive parts plant that employed a significant portion of the county's residents.[60] In April 2020, seasonally unadjusted unemployment peaked again at over 24%, compared to the state average of 15.6%. In 2020, a rubber parts manufacturer that was the largest employer in Lobelville shut down, significantly adding to the county's unemployment rate.[61] As of December 2021 unemployment had fallen to 7.9%, which was still substantially higher than the state average of 3.3%.[62][63]

Government[]

The government of Perry County is overseen by a County Mayor and a County Commission. The County Mayor is elected at-large every four years. The County is divided into six districts, each of which elect two Commissioners to the County Commission. Commission meetings are held monthly. Additional elected officials include the property assessor, register of deeds, sheriff, county trustee, and road superintendent.[64]

Politics and elections[]

Historically, like most of Middle Tennessee, Perry County was overwhelmingly Democratic. It voted to elect for Warren G. Harding in his record popular vote landslide of 1920, but otherwise no Republican presidential candidate managed to carry the county up to 2004. It did, though, give a plurality to segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace in 1968, but became one of only six Wallace counties[lower-alpha 1] to vote for George McGovern against Richard Nixon’s 3,000-plus-county landslide of 1972.

Since 2000, Perry County has seen a very rapid trend towards the Republican Party.[65] In 2016, indeed, this historically Democratic county was only marginally less Republican than traditional Unionist Republican bastions of East Tennessee.

United States presidential election results for Perry County, Tennessee[66]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 2,775 80.95% 615 17.94% 38 1.11%
2016 2,167 75.90% 597 20.91% 91 3.19%
2012 1,578 60.21% 992 37.85% 51 1.95%
2008 1,596 53.20% 1,329 44.30% 75 2.50%
2004 1,522 48.32% 1,579 50.13% 49 1.56%
2000 1,165 40.65% 1,650 57.57% 51 1.78%
1996 747 31.31% 1,444 60.52% 195 8.17%
1992 708 24.25% 1,889 64.71% 322 11.03%
1988 854 41.14% 1,208 58.19% 14 0.67%
1984 948 41.82% 1,316 58.05% 3 0.13%
1980 783 35.08% 1,401 62.77% 48 2.15%
1976 520 23.63% 1,660 75.42% 21 0.95%
1972 900 48.10% 937 50.08% 34 1.82%
1968 519 25.58% 726 35.78% 784 38.64%
1964 514 26.31% 1,440 73.69% 0 0.00%
1960 645 37.13% 1,076 61.95% 16 0.92%
1956 694 39.43% 1,052 59.77% 14 0.80%
1952 762 39.00% 1,192 61.00% 0 0.00%
1948 459 26.26% 1,196 68.42% 93 5.32%
1944 387 33.42% 771 66.58% 0 0.00%
1940 332 23.66% 1,068 76.12% 3 0.21%
1936 210 18.90% 896 80.65% 5 0.45%
1932 182 20.38% 705 78.95% 6 0.67%
1928 359 36.82% 616 63.18% 0 0.00%
1924 268 34.99% 494 64.49% 4 0.52%
1920 747 51.91% 692 48.09% 0 0.00%
1916 483 41.96% 663 57.60% 5 0.43%
1912 379 32.15% 664 56.32% 136 11.54%
1908 678 46.89% 756 52.28% 12 0.83%
1904 584 43.71% 752 56.29% 0 0.00%
1900 608 41.36% 851 57.89% 11 0.75%
1896 572 36.36% 1,000 63.57% 1 0.06%
1892 371 32.23% 710 61.69% 70 6.08%
1888 527 38.22% 849 61.57% 3 0.22%
1884 447 38.47% 715 61.53% 0 0.00%
1880 223 26.96% 604 73.04% 0 0.00%



Cities and towns[]

A top-down aerial view of a small, rural town. A river flanked by fields runs along the right side of the frame, while the rest of the town is surrounded by forest.

Aerial view of Linden. U.S. Route 412 crosses the northern part of the town from west to east, while Tennessee State Route 13 passes east of the town from north to south.

City[]

  • Lobelville

Town[]

  • Linden (county seat)

Unincorporated communities[]

  • Beardstown
  • Bunker Hill
  • Chestnut Grove
  • Flatwoods
  • Pine View
  • Spring Creek

Incorporated communities by population[]

Place Population Founded
Linden 997 1848
Lobelville 919 1854

Transportation[]

Transportation infrastructure in Perry County includes one federal highway, numerous state highways, and one general aviation airport. No railroads or interstate highways are present within the county.[67][68] According to a 2015 study, Perry County commuters drove alone to work at the highest rate of any county in Tennessee, reflecting low access to carpooling opportunities or public transportation.[69]

Major highways[]

  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 US-412
  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 [[Template:Infobox road/TN/link TN|Template:Infobox road/TN/abbrev TN]]
  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 [[Template:Infobox road/TN/link Sec|Template:Infobox road/TN/abbrev Sec]]
  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 [[Template:Infobox road/TN/link TN|Template:Infobox road/TN/abbrev TN]]
  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 [[Template:Infobox road/TN/link Sec|Template:Infobox road/TN/abbrev Sec]]
  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 [[Template:Infobox road/TN/link Sec|Template:Infobox road/TN/abbrev Sec]]
  • Template:Jct/plate/TN/1 [[Template:Infobox road/TN/link Sec|Template:Infobox road/TN/abbrev Sec]]

Airports[]

A top-down aerial view of a small general aviation airport with one runway running north to south. A tarmac and small hangar are to the east of the runway, and the airport is surrounded by woodland.

Aerial view of James Tucker Airport (M15)

Perry County is served by a small public general aviation airport, James Tucker Airport, located south of Linden.[70] A private-use helipad (FAA identifier 5TN8) was located at the now-closed Perry Community Hospital in Linden.[71]

Pipelines[]

Tennessee Gas Pipeline operates a natural gas pipeline that bisects Perry County. A pumping station for the line is located in Lobelville, and was one of the largest pumping stations in the United States when it was constructed.[72] This station and sections of the nearby pipeline are a listed EPA Supefund site.[73] This pipeline and pumping station was the subject of a suit against Tennessee Gas Pipeline alleging the release of PCB contaminates into the local environment.[74]

Education[]

Perry County has one unified school district, the Perry County School System, with four schools. It is managed by the Perry County Board of Education.[75] The county's lone high school, Perry County High School, was established in 1963 in Linden with the consolidation of the high schools in Linden and Lobelville. The consolidation was controversial for a number of reasons. Due to the distance from Linden, as well as concerns that the new school would not be ready for the beginning of the 1963 school year, numerous parents and school administrators in Lobelville resisted the consolidation. In 1963 a special district had been granted to Lobelville by the state legislature, however the State Board of Education said the district did not qualify for any funds and would not be accredited in an effort to force the consolidation of the county's school districts. A group of Lobelville parents sued to keep the school district open, with volunteer teachers filling in for the 1963 school year.[76] The case went to the Tennessee Supreme Court where it affirmed in 1964 that the State Board of Education was within its rights to deny funding to the special school district, and the consolidation went forward with the Lobelville school closing later that year.[77]

The county's high school graduation rate is very high, at 97.5%, versus a statewide average of 90.4%.[58] Approximately 75% of the population over age 25 has a high school diploma or equivalent, while 12% have a bachelor's degree or higher. Both are significantly below the statewide average of 87% and 27%, respectively.[2][59]

In 1947, the county established a board and funding for a public library. By 1986 two public libraries had been established, one in Linden and another in Lobelville.[78]

High school

  • Perry County High School

Primary schools

  • Linden Elementary School
  • Linden Middle School
  • Lobelville Elementary School

Media and entertainment[]

Throughout its history, numerous radio stations and newspapers have existed in Perry County. Today, the county is served by two radio stations, one each on the AM and FM bands, as well as one weekly newspaper. In the early 20th century, a number of small newspapers were published for short periods of time, including the Linden News in 1913 and the Advocate in 1923. By 1924, the Perry Countian began publication, and continued until merging with the then-new Buffalo River Review in 1978.[26] As of 2022, Buffalo River Review continues publication weekly.[79]

In 1957, the film Bandits of the Natchez Trace starring Zachary Scott, Marcia Henderson, and William Campbell and directed by Alan Crosland, Jr. was filmed in Flatwoods. Numerous locals appeared as extras in the lost film which chronicled the life of John Murrell, a bandit who operated in the area in the early 19th century.[80]
Print

  • The Buffalo River Review

Radio

  • WOPC (FM)
  • WMAK (AM)

Health and healthcare[]

In November 2020, the sole hospital in the county, Perry Community Hospital in Linden, announced it would be closing temporarily.[81] Shortly prior to this, the hospital had announced cessation of all services except for the emergency room. The hospital did not re-open, however, and as of 2022 there were no plans to re-open.[82] Prior to its closure, the hospital had over $2 million in accounts payable due. In 2019, the hospital had come under investigation by insurance provider BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee for over $4.5 million in overpayments due to improper billing practices.[83]

Perry County is served by a local health department that provides basic healthcare services, including vaccinations, disease testing, primary care, and pediatrics.[84] In addition to services provided by the health department, a small clinic funded by a Rural Health Initiative Grant was constructed in 1979 to provide essential outpatient services in the county.[85]

As of 2019, 14.5% of the county's population under the age of 65 lacked health insurance. Additionally, 15.6% of the population under the age of 65 was disabled.[2]

COVID-19 pandemic[]

As of early March 2022, Perry County has experienced a total of 2,327 COVID-19 cases, along with 48 deaths and 59 hospitalizations.[86] Additionally, as of March 7, 2022, Perry County had the 6th lowest vaccination rate in the state, with only 41% of the population fully vaccinated, over 10 percent lower than the state average.[87][88]

Sports and athletics[]

While Perry County does not currently host any professional or semi-professional athletics teams, at least two semi-professional baseball organizations have operated in Perry County. In the early 1920s, both Lobelville and Linden fielded teams.[89] Linden's team, the Owls, won at least three state baseball championships.[90]

Perry County high school athletic teams have achieved some notability in state-wide competitions, especially in basketball. In 1955, Linden High School began a three-year streak of winning the state high school basketball championship.[91] Following Linden High School's consolidation with Lobelville High School, Perry County High School again won basketball state championships in 1976, 1977, and 1997.[92]

Notable individuals[]

  • Kelsie B. Harder - Professor and onomastician (name scholar)
  • Kirk Haston - Politician and former professional basketball player
  • Clyde Milan - Professional baseball player and manager with the Washington Senators
  • Thetus W. Sims - Politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Tennessee § Perry County

Notes[]

  1. ^ The others were the fellow secessionist white-majority Middle Tennessee counties of Houston and Stewart, plus the three Alabama Black Belt counties of Bullock, Lowndes and Wilcox where Negro voter registration was severely delayed after the Voting Rights Act.

References[]

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  7. ^ (Summer 2018) "Curious Men and their Curiosities: Ralph E. W. Earl's Nashville Museum and the Precedent of Charles Willson Peale". Early American Studies 16 (3). DOI:10.1353/eam.2018.0019. 
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  29. ^ (1894) "Railroad Construction". Manufacturers' Record 26 (11). 
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  34. ^ "Hickman 'Stole' Its Whisky Reputation From Perry County". The Nashville Banner. 28 May 1933. 
  35. ^ (2018) "The Pure Church movement". Journal of Amish and Plain Anabaptist Studies 6 (1): 73–99. DOI:10.18061/1811/86024. 
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  50. ^ Based on 2000 census data
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  53. ^ "Record Breaking Year for Mousetail State Park". Perry County Government. https://web.archive.org/web/20220729143234/https://chamber.perrycountytn.com/visit-shop-stay/parks-recreation-2/mousetail-landing-state-park/mousetail-has-record-breaking-year. 
  54. ^ "Mousetail's Economic Impact: $14.3 Million In Fiscal Year 2021". Buffalo River Review. 23 March 2022. 
  55. ^ "Where to Stay". Perry County Government. https://web.archive.org/web/20210729150526/https://www.theperrychamber.com/where-to-stay. 
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  77. ^ "Parents Lose School Fight". Kingsport Times. UPI. 16 July 1964. 
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