National Register Listings in
McNairy County, Tennessee

The largest underground lake in the United States is located in Tennessee. The Lost Sea, located in Sweetwater, Tennessee, covers over four acres and is home to a variety of unusual creatures, including blind fish and crayfish.
McNairy County, Tennessee has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1823. The county was named after John McNairy, a prominent judge and one of the first judges appointed by President George Washington to serve on the U.S. District Court. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Chickasaw, and remained untouched by settlers until the early 19th century.

The first European settlers arrived in the area in the early 1800s, attracted by the fertile land and natural resources. The county quickly developed into a rural agricultural community, with cotton becoming the dominant crop. The growth of the cotton industry led to an increase in population, and the county seat was established in 1823 in the town of Purdy. During the Civil War, McNairy County was divided, with some residents supporting the Union and others siding with the Confederacy. This division led to conflict and skirmishes between opposing factions throughout the war.

In the late 19th century, McNairy County experienced significant changes with the arrival of the railroad. Rail lines were laid, connecting the county to larger markets and opening up opportunities for economic growth. The timber industry became an important part of the county's economy, with vast forests providing resources for logging and lumber mills. The county also saw the establishment of schools, churches, and other institutions that helped shape the community.

The 20th century brought further development and modernization to McNairy County. Advances in technology and transportation made a significant impact, and the county saw the construction of new roads and highways, improving access to other areas. Agriculture remained a vital part of the local economy, but new industries, such as automobile manufacturing and textiles, also emerged. Today, McNairy County continues to thrive as a diverse community, offering a mix of small-town charm and economic opportunities for its residents.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of McNairy County, Tennessee.

  • 1819 - McNairy County was established on October 8, 1819.
  • 1820 - The county was named after Judge John McNairy, one of the original judges of the Tennessee Supreme Court.
  • 1822 - The town of Purdy was established as the county seat.
  • 1836 - A courthouse was constructed in Purdy.
  • 1861-1865 - McNairy County, like much of Tennessee, experienced significant turmoil during the American Civil War.
  • 1870 - Shiloh National Military Park was established, memorializing the Battle of Shiloh that took place in McNairy County and neighboring Hardin County.
  • 1890s - The West Tennessee State Normal School was established in Adamsville, later becoming the University of Memphis Lambuth Campus.
  • 1921 - The town of Selmer became the new county seat, replacing Purdy.
  • 1935 - The McNairy County Hospital was established, later renamed McNairy Regional Hospital.
  • 1980s - McNairy County experienced a decline in population and economic activity.
  • 2000s - Efforts were made to revitalize the county, including the establishment of the McNairy County Economic Development Council.