Decatur County History

Formation of County

The land that was to become Decatur County was part of a strategic purchase made in 1818 by General Andrew Jackson and Governor Isaac Shelby of Kentucky. Representing the United States, Jackson and Shelby paid the Chickasaw Indians $300,000 for West Tennessee and West Kentucky, thereby opening up a vast new frontier for settlement. Following the transactions, the government sent five surveyors into West Tennessee to apportion it into five districts and to divide the districts into counties.  The Lexington District, surveyed by Samuel Wilson, included Perry County, split by the Tennessee River.

The creation of Decatur County from Perry County stemmed from the inconvenience of having the county seat, Perryville, divided by the Tennessee River.  In 1845, 200 citizens from the west side of the river, led by Samuel Brasher, petitioned for a new county.  Consequently, the November session of the Tennessee General Assembly in that same year passed an act to form a new county out of that part of Perry County lying west of the Tennessee River to be known and distinguished by the name of Decatur in honor of and to perpetuate the memory of Commodore Stephen Decatur of the United States Navy, of whose services our nation should be proud and whose memory should be revered.  Commodore Decatur had won fame in the naval war with Tripoli and had later served with great distinction in the War of 1812.

From Tennessee County History Series: Decatur County by Lillye Younger 1979. ISBN 0-87870-077-3