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Lauderdale County, Tennessee

Lauderdale County, Tennessee
Lauderdale County Courthouse in Ripley
Map of Tennessee highlighting Lauderdale County
Location in the state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location in the U.S.
Founded 1835
Named for James Lauderdale[1]
Seat Ripley
Largest city Ripley
 • Total 508 sq mi (1,316 km2)
 • Land 472 sq mi (1,222 km2)
 • Water 36 sq mi (93 km2), 7.0%
 • (2010) 27,815
 • Density 59/sq mi (23/km²)
Congressional district 8th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Lauderdale County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 27,815.[2] Its county seat is Ripley.[3]


  • History 1
    • Battle of Fort Pillow 1.1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • National protected areas 2.2
    • State protected areas 2.3
    • Major roads 2.4
  • Demographics 3
  • Culture 4
    • Sleepy John Estes 4.1
    • Veterans' Museum in Halls 4.2
  • Government and infrastructure 5
  • Communities 6
  • Notable natives 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Lauderdale County was created in 1835 from parts of Tipton, Dyer and Haywood counties, and named for Lieutenant Colonel James Lauderdale, who was killed at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.[1]

Battle of Fort Pillow

In 1861, the Confederate States Army built extensive defensive fortifications in Lauderdale County along the Mississippi River and named the site for General Gideon J. Pillow. Because of its strategic location, the fort was taken over by the Union Army in 1864, which had occupied the state since 1862.

In 1864, Confederates attacked and overran the fort's defenders, who were about evenly split between white and black soldiers. As they were reported to have refused to surrender, the Confederates gave them no quarter, but killed black soldiers in twice the proportion of white ones.[4] People in the North considered it a massacre, and blacks used the cry, "Remember Fort Pillow!" to rally during the remainder of the war.

Fort Pillow State Park is home to a museum and also has reconstructed fortifications on the original site of the fort.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 508 square miles (1,320 km2), of which 472 square miles (1,220 km2) is land and 36 square miles (93 km2) (7.0%) is water.[5] The county's western boundary is formed by the Mississippi River, its northern boundary with Dyer County is formed by the Forked Deer River, and its southern boundary with Haywood County is formed by the Hatchie River.[1]

Lauderdale County is situated on the southeastern edge of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area with a high earthquake risk.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

State protected areas

Major roads


Age pyramid Lauderdale County[11]

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 27,101 people, 9,567 households, and 6,811 families residing in the county. The population density was 58 people per square mile (22/km²). There were 10,563 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile (9/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 63.82% White, 34.08% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. 1.16% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Scenic view in Lauderdale County (2004)

There were 9,567 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.70% were married couples living together, 17.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.80% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.80% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 31.20% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 108.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,751, and the median income for a family was $36,841. Males had a median income of $28,325 versus $21,238 for females. The per capita income for the county was $13,682. About 16.20% of families and 19.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.70% of those under age 18 and 26.50% of those age 65 or over.


Sleepy John Estes

Sleepy John Estes was a U.S. blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist, born in Ripley, Tennessee.[13] He died on June 5, 1977 in his home of 17 years in Brownsville, Haywood County, Tennessee.[14][15][16] Sleepy John is buried at Elam Baptist Church Cemetery in Durhamville, Lauderdale County.[16]

Veterans' Museum in Halls

The Veterans' Museum on the grounds of the former Dyersburg Army Air Base in Halls is dedicated to the preservation and documentation of materials related to military activities from World War I to the present day wars and conflicts, as well as documenting the history of the air base itself.

Government and infrastructure

The Tennessee Department of Corrections operates the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in unincorporated Lauderdale County, near Henning.[17] Previously the Cold Creek Correctional Facility was located in the area.[18]


A-7 Corsair II in front of the Veterans' Museum in Halls (2006)

Notable natives

Alex Haley's boyhood home in Henning (2007)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Ann Toplovich, "Lauderdale County," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 21 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ John Cimprich and Robert C. Mainfort, Jr., "Fort Pillow Revisited", 1982, in Race and Recruitment, ed. John David Smith, Kent State University Press, 2013, p. 214
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  9. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  11. ^ Based on 2000 census data
  12. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  13. ^ Biography at from the Encyclopedia of Popular Music - accessed February 2008
  14. ^ Bob Koester and Ray Harmon, Sleepy John Estes, All About Jazz. Retrieved: 17 February 2013.
  15. ^ Brian Dempsey. Sleepy' John Estes"'". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Tennessee Historical Society. Retrieved 16 December 2008. 
  16. ^ a b Norris, Sharon (2000). Black America Series: Haywood County Tennessee. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing.  
  17. ^ "West Tennessee State Penitentiary." Tennessee Department of Correction. Retrieved on September 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "Cold Creek Correctional Facility." Tennessee Department of Correction. February 3, 1999. Updated July 13, 1998. Retrieved on September 26, 2010.

External links

  • Lauderdale Chamber / Economic and Community Development
  • Lauderdale County, TNGenWeb - free genealogy resources for the county
  • Lauderdale County at DMOZ
  • Lauderdale County Department of Education

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