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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 18,723
 • 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 2010 census, the population was 18,723. 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%
Est. 2015 19,182 2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA DeKalb County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid DeKalb County

As of the census of 2000, there were 17,423 people, 6,984 households, and 4,986 families residing in the county. The population density was 57 people per square mile (22/km²). There were 8,409 housing units at an average density of 28 per square mile (11/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.58% White, 1.43% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.62% from other races, and 0.94% from two or more races. 3.63% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,984 households out of which 30.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.10% were married couples living together, 11.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 25.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county, the population was spread out with 23.30% under the age of 18, 8.50% from 18 to 24, 29.30% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 97.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,359, and the median income for a family was $36,920. Males had a median income of $29,483 versus $20,953 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,217. About 11.80% of families and 17.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.00% of those under age 18 and 20.10% of those age 65 or over.




Unincorporated communities

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