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Tennessee Deed History

Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and was later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was the first state created from territory that was under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

There are 95 counties in Tennessee. The oldest county, Washington, was founded in 1777 and was originally established as part of North Carolina. After that, it was part of the State of Franklin, which was an early—and failed—attempt to create a 14th state before Kentucky and Vermont were admitted to the Union. The three counties in the Washington District broke off from North Carolina to form the State of Franklin. After that, the county of Washington was part of the Southwest Territory before the Southwest Territory became Tennessee.

The Watauga Association, a semi-autonomous government created in 1772 by settlers in present-day Elizabethton, Tennessee, provided the basis for what is now Tennessee. The Watauga Association is regarded as the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians and was established in part to provide a place to conduct public business, such as the recording of deeds and wills. The Watauga Association eventually changed its name to the Washington District. The first county clerk in Washington County was John McMahan, whose term began in 1778 and ended in 1789.