The land between
the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers was purchased from the
Chickasaw Indians in
1818. The Jackson Purchase--named for Andrew Jackson--was divided
between Tennessee and Kentucky. Tennessee's portion became known as West
Tennessee. Settlers soon swarmed in and the Tennessee General Assembly
created the County of Henry on November 7, 1821. The county was named in
honor of Revolutionary War patriot and statesman, Patrick Henry. Henry
County became the gateway for the settlement of West Tennessee and
beyond. The town of Paris was established as the county seat on
September 23, 1823, and became West Tennessee's oldest incorporated
municipality. The town was named for the French capital in honor of Lafayette, who visited Tennessee in the early
A two-room "dogtrot" cabin of small poplar logs was erected in 1823 to
the county's first courthouse. Court was held in the north room
while pies and liquor were sold in the south room. During the War Between the States, the courthouse lawn was the setting
for the organization of military units including the Fifth Tennessee
Infantry Regiment led by Lieutenant-Colonel J.D.C. Atkins.
Henry County sent more than 2,500 volunteers to the Confederacy and was
given the title "Volunteer County of the Volunteer State" for providing
more volunteer soldiers per capita than any other county in Tennessee.
The Civil War came to the county after Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered a
Union force into Paris. On March 11, 1862, four companies and a battery
of artillery consisting of 500 men attacked the Confederate encampment
which numbered 400 soldiers.
After this "duel between artillery and Enfield rifles" had gone on for
35 minutes, the
Federals retreated back toward Paris Landing. The Battle
of Paris ended with 20 Confederates killed or wounded and left the
Federals with four killed, five wounded and one captured.
On March 21, 1864, Governor Isham G. Harris was involved in a skirmish
near Mansfield where two Confederates were wounded. The Union soldiers
retreated with two killed, including their major in command, and several
Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest began his Johnsonville Campaign at Paris
Landing on October 29, 1864. He captured four Union gunboats, 14
transports, 20 barges, 26 pieces of artillery, $6,700,000 worth of
property and 150 prisoners on the Tennessee River.
Another war also had a significant impact on Henry County. Camp Tyson,
named for Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Tyson, was built near the Routon
community in 1941. The camp was the only barrage balloon training center
in the U.S. Army during World War II. Thousands of American servicemen
were trained for the Barrage Balloon Service of the Coast Artillery
Corps. In addition, Camp Tyson held German prisoners of war.
Henry County's first tourist attraction, Sulphur Well, was created by
accident in 1821 when an artesian well of sulphur water was struck in an
attempt to locate a large salt bed on a Chickasaw reservation.
Eventually a summer resort was erected at the site to accommodate the
large numbers of people who came to drink the water which was thought to
have health benefits. Many sought refuge at Sulphur Well during the 1837
yellow fever epidemic.
In 1944, Sulphur Well was covered by TVA's Kentucky Lake, the largest
man-made lake in the United States and the second largest in the world.
Paris Landing State Park was created in 1945 and the lake soon became a
popular recreation destination. Paris became known as the "Capital City
of Kentucky Lake" and tourism took on an important role in the area's