Overton County, Tennessee was formed in 1806 from Jackson County, Tennessee and Indian lands. The county was named for Andrew Jackson's friend Judge John Overton, Judge of the State Supreme Court, and co-founder, with Andrew Jackson and James Winchester, of Memphis. In 1835 the county seat was moved from Monroe to Livingston. There was an election in 1835 to see if the people preferred Monroe or Livingston. Jesse Eldridge and ten others who favored Monroe, started out to vote but stopped overnight in the Oakley community. Eldridge, who personally favored Livingston, arose early in the morning and released the horses of the others who favored Monroe. He then rode to Monroe and voted.
Overton County was originally a part of Davidson County and later Jackson County. In 1805 Moses Fisk surveyed the first village in what is now the community of Hilham. On September 12, 1806, the area of Overton County was established by the state legislature as a county. The Indian Territory that had been within, in which Cherokee Chief Nettle Carrier presided over, was conceded to Tennessee for use by the white man. Overton County, at one time, included part of the territory that eventually became Fentress, Clay, Pickett, and Putnam counties, and since many of the early records of these counties have been partially or entirely destroyed, the extant records of Overton County are important.
The original courthouse was burned by Captain John Francis and a band of Confederate guerillas from Kentucky in April of 1865. This sensless act so close to the end of the Civil War might have destroyed all early County Records had it not been for County Register of deeds James Richardson. Mr. Richardson had hidden the county deed books in the cellar of his home. A few record books in the offices of the County Clerk, the circuit Court Clerk and the clerk and master were also saved.
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