BENTON COUNTY


PHOTO: Thomas R Machnitzki
County seat: Camden

Benton County contains the saddest monument to country music you will ever find.

On March 5, 1963, a small plane crashed here, killing three members of the Grand Ole Opry--Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Harkshaw Hawkins. Today, country music fans visit the site of the crash, which contains markers and a bulletin board you see here.


You can see Johnsonville State Historic Park from the Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.
Also of interest in Benton County: Only once in recorded world history has an army of cavalry defeated a naval force. This Confederate victory, known as the Battle of Johnsonville, took place in Benton and Humphreys counties; the sites of the battle are preserved at the Johnsonville State Historic Park and Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.

Click
here to take a Tennessee History for Kids tour.

A pearl, straight out of the Tennessee River


Shifting to geography, Benton County is also the site of the only freshwater pearl farm in North America. Click here to take our virtual tour of the Tennessee River Pearl Farm.
Thomas Hart Benton
PHOTO: Library of Congress

Finally, counties are usually named for one person. But Benton County is named for two people who never met each other and weren’t related to each other but who had the same last name.

Got it?

Originally, Benton County was named for Thomas Hart Benton, a
Missouri senator who once got in a fight with Andrew Jackson when he lived in Tennessee. But in 1852 the Tennessee legislature passed a bill that kept the county’s name but made it clear that it was, from that point onward, officially named for a citizen of the Benton County named David Benton.

Why? Because at the time, Senator Benton had become a very vocal critic of slavery, which was offensive to many slaveholding people in Tennessee.

By the way, Benton County, Tennessee, isn't the only place where something such as this occurred. There used to be a Benton County in Alabama, but hatred of Thomas Hart Benton resulted in that county being renamed Calhoun County. (For more about this, read pages 239 through 243 of Lies Across America by James Loewen).



Here's the Benton County Courthouse.