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TN History for Kids

Decatur County

A mural in Decaturville

Some of the communities in Tennessee have amusing names, and Decatur County has its share. Two of our favorites are Tie Whop and Lick Skillet.

An 1831 map that shows Perry County

According to local historian Lillye Younger, this is how Lick Skillet got its name: “In the early days, before streamlined highways, there was a lot of camping in nearby woods. The story goes that a group of campers cooked a big meal. One camper was late arriving and when he began to search for some food, all he found was the empty skillet. Being very hungry, he licked the skillet and from that day, the community has been known as Lick Skillet.”

Here's another tidbit about Decatur County:

Maps are interesting things; the thing to remember about maps is that they sometimes have mistakes. As you can see from this 1831 map, Decatur County didn't used to exist; Perry County once included land on the east and west sides of the Tennessee River. But in spite of what this map seems to indicate, the county seat of Perry County was never Barrysville, on the east side of the river, but Perryville, on the west side of the river.

A current highway map shows Perry County

In 1846 the part of Perry County west of the river was turned into Decatur County. The county seat of Perry County ended up at a place called Linden, which as you can see here, is in the middle of what we now call Perry County. Decatur County put its courthouse at a place called Decaturville.

By the way, Perryville had an interesting history. It was an important stop on the Tennesee River, and among the famous Tennesseans who visited Perryville were Andrew Jackson, David Crockett, James K. Polk and Sam Houston.

Unfortunately, the Perryville that they would have remembered is gone now, flooded when the Tennessee Valley Authority built Kentucky Dam.



Here is a photo of the Decatur County Courthouse.

Decatur County

County seat: Decaturville

Population (2015 estimate): 11,660