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Lauderdale County, Tennessee facts for kids

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Lauderdale County
Lauderdale County Courthouse in Ripley
Lauderdale County Courthouse in Ripley
Map of Tennessee highlighting Lauderdale 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 1835
Named for James Lauderdale
Seat Ripley
Largest city Ripley
 • Total 508 sq mi (1,320 km2)
 • Land 472 sq mi (1,220 km2)
 • Water 36 sq mi (90 km2)  7.0%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 59/sq mi (23/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 8th

Lauderdale County is a county located on the western edge of the U.S. state of Tennessee, with its border the Mississippi River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 27,815. Its county seat is Ripley.


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

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. 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. 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.

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

  • Cold Creek Wildlife Management Area
  • Fort Pillow State Park
  • Alex Haley House and Museum (state historic site)
  • Sunk Lake State Natural Area
  • John Tully State Forest
  • John Tully Wildlife Management Area

Major roads

  • Future Interstate 69
  • U.S. Highway 51
  • Tennessee State Route 19 (Tina Turner Highway)
  • Tennessee State Route 87
  • Tennessee State Route 88
  • Tennessee State Route 180
  • Tennessee State Route 181
  • Tennessee State Route 371


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 3,435
1850 5,169 50.5%
1860 7,559 46.2%
1870 10,838 43.4%
1880 14,918 37.6%
1890 18,756 25.7%
1900 21,971 17.1%
1910 21,105 −3.9%
1920 21,494 1.8%
1930 23,406 8.9%
1940 24,461 4.5%
1950 25,047 2.4%
1960 21,844 −12.8%
1970 20,271 −7.2%
1980 24,555 21.1%
1990 23,491 −4.3%
2000 27,101 15.4%
2010 27,815 2.6%
Est. 2015 26,936 −3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2014
USA Lauderdale County, Tennessee.csv age pyramid
Age pyramid Lauderdale County

As of the census 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.

Nutbush TN scenic 2
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. He died on June 5, 1977 in his home of 17 years in Brownsville, Haywood County, Tennessee. Sleepy John is buried at Elam Baptist Church Cemetery in Durhamville, Lauderdale County.

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.


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



Unincorporated communities

Notable natives

Henning Alex Haley Home and Memorial
Alex Haley's boyhood home in Henning (2007)
  • Sleepy John Estes, blues guitarist born in Ripley
  • Alex Haley - author of Roots
  • Jim Hickman - Professional Baseball All-Star
  • Miles O'Keeffe, television and film actor best known for starring in the 1981 film Tarzan, the Ape Man, and the Ator movies.
  • Freeman Arthur country music recording artist
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