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White County, Tennessee
Map of Tennessee highlighting White County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the U.S. highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location in the U.S.
Founded September 11, 1806
Seat Sparta
Largest city Sparta
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

379 sq mi (983 km²)
377 sq mi (975 km²)
3 sq mi (7 km²), .74%
 - (2000)
 - Density

61/sq mi (24/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

White County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of 2000, the population was 23,102. Its county seat is Sparta6.


On September 11, 1806, an act of the Tennessee General Assembly created White County out of Smith County, responding to a petition signed by 155 residents of the area. The origin of the county's name is in dispute, officially and widely held to be named after the first known white settler of the area, John White. However, some historians dispute this claim, and instead suggest that the county was named after Revolutionary War hero General James White, founder of Knoxville. A temporary county seat was established near Rock Island, now in Warren County. Three years later a permanent seat of justice for the county was established on the banks of the Calfkiller River and named Sparta.

In 1840, White County became a destination for people from all over the country when Christopher Haufmann erected a large hotel on Bon Air Mountain, a part of the Cumberland Plateau. The hotel was located near some mineral springs as well as being at a high altitude, both thought to be health-bringing, and those with ailments came from far and wide to partake of the "cures" advertised by the resort. During this time, the Tennessee Supreme Court (including then-Judge Andrew Jackson) often met in Sparta, and the town was even considered by the Legislature as a potential site for the state capital, narrowly missing out to Nashville.

The Civil War impacted White County heavily, even though no major battles were fought in the area. Being on the border between the pro-Union East Tennessee and pro-Confederate Middle Tennessee, the county saw its share of bloodshed from partisans (called "bushwhackers") of both sides. One famous Confederate guerrilla was Champ Ferguson, who caused much mayhem and destruction before he was arrested on May 28, 1865. During the War, White County provided the Confederacy with 19 companies, and the Federals with one.

Over the following decades, White County slowly rebuilt from the ashes of war. The county was connected to the outside world by railroad, mainly because of the booming coal mining industries being started on Bon Air Mountain. The mountain was rich in bituminous coal, and enterprising local businessmen were quick to realize the profit potential that represented. Several mining towns sprang up on the plateau part of the county, including Bon Air, Eastland, and Ravenscroft. The coal mining industry employed thousands of White County men for decades, but as the 20th century went on, the mines started to close and the people started to move away, and the industry had vanished by the time of World War II.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 983 km² (379 sq mi). 975 km² (377 sq mi) of it is land and 7 km² (3 sq mi) of it (0.74%) is water.

Geographic features[]

Major highways[]

  • U.S. Highway 70
  • State Highway 26
  • State Highway 84
  • State Highway 111
  • State Highway 135
  • State Highway 136
  • State Highway 285
  • State Highway 289

Adjacent counties[]


Age pyramid White County[1]

As of the census² of 2000, there were 23,102 people, 9,229 households, and 6,774 families residing in the county. The population density was 24/km² (61/sq mi). There were 10,191 housing units at an average density of 10/km² (27/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 96.63% White, 1.64% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.23% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. 1.03% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 9,229 households out of which 30.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.50% were married couples living together, 10.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.60% were non-families. 23.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.50% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 27.90% from 25 to 44, 25.40% from 45 to 64, and 15.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 96.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,383, and the median income for a family was $34,854. Males had a median income of $26,706 versus $20,346 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,791. About 11.20% of families and 14.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.90% of those under age 18 and 13.90% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns[]

Cities and towns[]

Unincorporated communities[]


Public schools[]

  • White County High School
  • White County Middle School
  • BonDeCroft Elementary School
  • Cassville Elementary School
  • Central View Elementary School
  • Doyle Elementary School
  • Findlay Elementary School
  • Northfield Elementary School
  • Woodland Park Elementary School

Private schools[]

  • Heritage Christian Academy

Local culture[]

Like many rural areas, White County has developed a few unique cultural features. One prominent feature is the term "yert," the use of which is believed to be solely found in White County residents and former residents. It is used primarily as a form of greeting, but sometimes is used to show elation or as a euphemism for other four letter words. "Yert" is usually accompanied by a motion of the arm that resembles the act of pulling a tractor-trailer horn. The origin of the term is not known.

Notable residents[]


  1. ^ Based on 2000 census data

External links[]

Coordinates: 35°56′N 85°27′W / 35.93, -85.45

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at White County, Tennessee. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.