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DeKalb County, Tennessee facts for kids

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DeKalb County
Dekalb County Courthouse in Smithville
Dekalb County Courthouse in Smithville
Map of Tennessee highlighting DeKalb County
Location within the U.S. state of Tennessee
Map of the United States highlighting Tennessee
Tennessee's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Tennessee
Founded 1837
Named for Johann de Kalb
Seat Smithville
Largest city Smithville
 • Total 329 sq mi (850 km2)
 • Land 304 sq mi (790 km2)
 • Water 25 sq mi (60 km2)  7.5%
 • Total 20,080 Increase
 • Density 62/sq mi (24/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 6th

DeKalb County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2020 census, the population was 20,080. Its county seat is Smithville. The county was created by the General Assembly of Tennessee on December 2, 1837, and was named for Revolutionary War hero Major General Johann de Kalb.


DeKalb County was formed in 1837 from land in Cannon, Warren and White counties. Historian Will T. Hale believes that the first settlers in the county were at Liberty and came from Maryland in 1797. If so, Adam Dale was the first settler. He may have come over the Cumberland Mountains, although some sources claim he came down the Ohio, up the Cumberland to Nashville, and then overland about 56 miles.

DeKalb County was the site of several saltpeter mines, the main ingredient of gunpowder, and was obtained by leaching the earth from several local caves. Overall Cave was named for Abraham Overall who moved from Luray, Virginia, and settled near the present site of Liberty in 1805. He reportedly had many slaves and owned a large plantation on which Overall Cave is located. Two saltpeter leaching vats in the cave may date from the War of 1812, although this area was mined again during the Civil War. Other caves in DeKalb County that were mined for saltpeter include Avant Cave, located near Dowelltown, Indian Grave Point Cave, located in the Dry Creek Valley, and Temperance Saltpeter Cave, located near Temperance Hall.


Center Hill Lake at Edgar Evins State Park

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 329 square miles (850 km2), of which 304 square miles (790 km2) is land and 25 square miles (65 km2) (7.5%) is water.

Adjacent counties

State protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 5,868
1850 8,016 36.6%
1860 10,573 31.9%
1870 11,425 8.1%
1880 14,813 29.7%
1890 15,650 5.7%
1900 16,460 5.2%
1910 15,434 −6.2%
1920 15,370 −0.4%
1930 14,213 −7.5%
1940 14,588 2.6%
1950 11,680 −19.9%
1960 10,774 −7.8%
1970 11,151 3.5%
1980 13,589 21.9%
1990 14,360 5.7%
2000 17,423 21.3%
2010 18,723 7.5%
2020 20,080 7.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA DeKalb County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid DeKalb County

2020 census

DeKalb County racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 17,526 87.28%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 234 1.17%
Native American 44 0.22%
Asian 76 0.38%
Pacific Islander 5 0.02%
Other/Mixed 746 3.72%
Hispanic or Latino 1,449 7.22%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 20,080 people, 7,704 households, and 5,401 families residing in the county.




Unincorporated communities


The DeKalb County School District consists of five public schools and an adult education center.

  • DeKalb County High School (9–12) – opened 1963
  • DeKalb Middle School (6–8) – opened 1971
  • DeKalb West School (PreK–8) – opened 1973
  • Northside Elementary School (2–5) – opened 2000
  • Smithville Elementary School (PreK–2) – opened 1958

DeKalb County operated two high schools from the 1920s to 1963, Liberty High School and Smithville High School (originally Pure Fountain High School and later DeKalb County High School). In January 1962, Smithville High School burned down, and the present high school was constructed in a different part of town. When the school opened, Liberty High was closed and consolidated with DeKalb County beginning in September 1963.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de DeKalb (Tennessee) para niños

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