The History of Davidson County, Tennessee

Davidson County, located in the state of Tennessee, is named after a general of the American Revolution, William Lee Davidson. He died in 1781 at the Battle of Cowan's Ford while opposing General Cornwallis and the British crossing the Catawba River. His request for the county to be named after him was formally granted on May 17 of that year. The county has a rich history, with archaeological sites that attest to its long-standing occupation by Native Americans.

It is also home to many of the state's most famous educational and cultural institutions, such as Belmont, Fisk, Lipscomb, Tennessee State, Trevecca, and Vanderbilt universities; the Grand Ole Opry; the Tennessee State Museum; the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Davidson County was ceded to the Southwest Territory six years before Tennessee became a state. It was created in the last year of the American Revolution and had to establish an entire regiment of Patriot Militia for the war. In 1784, it was grouped together with Washington, Sullivan, Greene counties to form an independent judicial district known as the Washington District. The Davidson County Criminal Court was created by the legislature in 1842 and presided over by a district judge until 1854. The Ellington Agricultural Center in southern Davidson County was developed from Rogers Caldwell's estate in Brentwood Hall and contains an excellent rural and agricultural history museum.

Important tributaries of the Cumberland in Davidson County include Whites Creek, Manskers Creek, Stones River, Mill Creek, and Harpeth River. Before Davidson County had its first district court, three more had already been created in other districts of the state. It is known that a single-circuit judge was able to properly hear and resolve cases in Davidson County until 1895 when it became necessary to give him some relief. The law provided that the county judge of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County would act as the judge of the new court. While the Davidson County District Court has had an uninterrupted existence since 1810, the chancery court as an independent entity was not formed until 1846.

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