Views of Hamilton County
Blue Rounded Corner
Hamilton County Government Organizational Chart
Hamilton County Government Holidays Schedule
Hamilton County History
The land that would become Hamilton County was acquired through a treaty with the Cherokee Indians, known as the Hiawassee Purchase. Hamilton County was formally established as Tennessee’s 43rd county by an act of the Thirteenth Tennessee General Assembly on October 25, 1819. The county was named in honor of Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury in George Washington’s administration. At the time of the 1820 census, Hamilton County reported 821 residents. Today, Hamilton County boasts an estimated 336,463 residents. Rich in history and blessed with scenic beauty, Hamilton County offers a bounty of cultural and recreational activities as well as a thriving business center
County Hamilton County Municipalities:
  1. Chattanooga
  2. Red Bank
  3. East Ridge
  4. Lookout Mountain
  5. Soddy Daisy
  6. Collegedale
  7. Signal Mountain
  8. Lakesite
  9. Ridgeside
  10. Walden
County Seats and Courthouses
When established in 1819, Hamilton County consisted of the areas southwest of Rhea County, the area south and east of Bledsoe and Marion Counties and land north of the Tennessee River. It did not extend into Ross’s Landing, which was at the time a busy trading post recognized as the center of the Cherokee Nation under the leadership of Chief John Ross.

Original legislation stated that official business would be held at a location designated by Charles Gamble, John Patterson, and William Lauderdale; three men who were instrumental in the establishment of the county who also had previous experience as public servants. The home of Hasten Poe, a sturdy two story log cabin and tavern situated on a busy public road near the three men’s homes, was designated as the official county seat.

In 1822, county court was moved into a crude structure on the farm of Asahel Rawlings, the newly appointed County Clerk. Subsequently, the small town of Dallas with about 1,000 residents sprang up around it. Dallas had a school, a church, several stores, a hotel, and a post office. The town died quickly after the county seat moved in 1840.

In 1840, the citizens of Hamilton County voted to move the county seat to the newly established town of Harrison, named in honor of President Henry Harrison. Located on the south shore of the Tennessee River, Harrison was formerly a Cherokee Indian Village known as Vann Town that had been evacuated in 1838. A substantial, 2-story brick courthouse was built and the keeping of official county records was begun. Harrison quickly grew to about 1,500 people and boasted four hotels, a grocery store, a dry goods store, a drug store and hardware store.

By 1858, the City of Chattanooga, established in 1839, had become the largest city in Hamilton County and the state Legislature passed an act passed requiring that all circuit court business be held there. The city provided quarters for county court proceedings in the Town Hall Building on the corner of 4th and Market in Chattanooga, but the county seat remained in Harrison. Concerns about security at the “remote” Harrison location as the Civil War raged in the area and the courthouse was raided by Union soldiers and official county records were seized in 1863.

Citizens voted in 1870 to move the county seat to Chattanooga. (See side note) For a brief time, court proceedings and records were as held at Kaylor Hall, a theatre and play house on Broad Street and then at James Hall, a large brick building on the on the corner of Market and Sixth Streets. The county then bought the old Hooke and McCallie building on the corner of Market and 4th Street. It had been used as a military prison during the civil war and was retrofitted for use as a courthouse and a jail.

SIDENOTE: Enraged over the moving of the county seat, Harrison residents, along with several Bradley County communities, seceded from Hamilton County and established James County. A new courthouse was built in the small railroad town of Ooltewah using many materials from the evacuated Harrison Courthouse. Almost immediately the new county began having financial problems. After its courthouse burned, James County officially declared bankruptcy in 1919 and its property was annexed back into Hamilton County. However, due to various legal issues, some of the property was not returned to the Hamilton County tax rolls until 1957.

In 1878, the county purchased the block at 7th and Georgia Avenue for construction of a new courthouse. The building was designed by Architect A.C. Bruce and built by Patten and McInturf Contractors for a total of $100,325. This courthouse was a two-story brick structure with stone trim and mansard roofed towers. It featured a tower with four clocks 10 feet in diameter and was considered the grandest building in the city. In 1891, the courthouse was remodeled and expanded at a cost of $50,000. The building was struck by lightning on the evening of May 7, 1910 and it burned to the ground. The City of Chattanooga graciously provided space for the displaced county offices and courts while a new courthouse was constructed. The current courthouse was designed by architect Reubin H. Hunt and built by contractor George A. Fuller at a cost of $350,000. The Neo-Classical design features Tennessee gray marble, a glazed tile roof, and a colored glass dome. More than 5,000 people attended the Dedication Ceremony on Saturday, November 22, 1913. A year-long Centennial Celebration including a historic photo exhibition and a series of special events was held from November 2012 until November 2013.
Form of Government
Hamilton County Census Info (Link to US Census website)
Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Hamilton County Demographics
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