Located just outside of Nashville, Sumner County is its own unique destination
Sumner County is located on the central northern border of Tennessee, in what is called Middle Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 160,645. Its county seat is Gallatin, and its largest city is Hendersonville. The county is named for American Revolutionary War hero General Jethro Sumner.
Sumner County is part of the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is made up of eight cities, including Gallatin, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, Millersville, Mitchellville, Portland, Westmoreland, and White House. Sumner County is 25 miles northeast of Nashville, Tennessee.
Prior to the European colonization of North America, the county had been inhabited by various cultures of Native Americans for several thousand years. Nomadic Paleo and Archaic hunter-gatherer campsites, as well as substantial Woodland and Mississippian-period occupation sites and burial grounds, can be found scattered throughout the county, particularly along the waterways. The majority of these sites exist along natural waterways, with the highest concentration occurring along what is now known as the Cumberland River. Mississippian period earthwork mounds can still be seen in Hendersonville, and most notably, at Castalian Springs. Long before Europeans entered the area, Native Americans made use of the natural hot springs for their medicinal and healing properties.
British colonial longhunters traveled into the area as early as the 1760s, following existing Indian and buffalo trails. By the early 1780s, they had erected several trading posts in the region. The most prominent was Mansker’s Station, which was built by Kasper Mansker near a salt lick (where modern Goodlettsville would develop). Another was Bledsoe’s Station, built by Isaac Bledsoe at Castilian Springs. Sumner County was organized in 1786, just 3 years after the end of the American Revolutionary War, when Tennessee was still the western part of North Carolina.
The county was developed for agriculture: tobacco and hemp, and blooded livestock. Numerous settlers came from central Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region, where these were the most important products. Middle Tennessee had fertile lands that could be used for similar crops and supported high-quality livestock as well. The larger planters depended on the labor of enslaved African Americans, but Middle Tennessee had a lower proportion of slaves in the population than in West Tennessee, the plantation area of Memphis and the Delta, where cotton was cultivated.
During the American Civil War, most of Tennessee was occupied by Union troops from 1862. This led to a breakdown in civil order in many areas. The Union commander, Eleazer A. Paine, was based at Gallatin, the county seat. He was notoriously cruel and had suspected spies publicly executed without trial in the town square. He was eventually replaced because of his mistreatment of the people.
In 1873 the county was hit hard by the fourth cholera pandemic of the century, which had begun about 1863 in Asia. It eventually reached North America and was spread by steamboat passengers who traveled throughout the waterways, especially in the South on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. An estimated 120 persons died of cholera in Sumner County in 1873, mostly during the summer. The disease was spread mainly through contaminated water, due to the lack of sanitation. About four-fifths of the county’s victims were African Americans. Many families, both black and white, lost multiple members. In the United States overall, about 50,000 persons died of cholera in the 1870s.
As of the census of 2010, there were 160,645 people, 60,975 households, and 44,593 families living in the county. The population density was 303.68 persons per square mile. The housing unit density was 115.26 units per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 89.67% White, 6.42% African American, 1.02% Asian, 0.29% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, and 1.45% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origins constituted 3.93% of the population.
Out of all of the households, 26.08% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 57.05% were married couples, 4.37% had a male householder with no wife present, 11.72% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.87% were non-families. 22.07% of all householders were made up of individuals, and 8.29% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.05.
The age distribution was 25.29% under the age of 18, 62.10% ages 18 to 64, and 12.61% ages 65 and over. The median age was 38.6 years. 51.20% of the population were females, and 48.80% were males.
The median household income in the county was $54,916, and the median family income was $65,313. Males had a median income of $46,606, versus $35,256 for females. The per capita income was $26,014. About 7.3% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.9% of those under the age of 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 and over.
Schools in the county are governed by the Sumner County Board of Education. The twelve-member group consists of eleven elected representatives from each of the eleven educational districts in the county, as well as the Director of Schools. The members serve staggered four-year terms; the Director serves under contract with the Board of Education. The board conducts monthly meetings that are open to the public.
- Saint John Vianney Catholic Elementary School (K–8)
- Southside Christian School (K–12)
- Sumner Academy (K–8)
- John Paul II High School
- Aaron Academy (K-12)