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.
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 1800s.
A two-room "dogtrot" cabin of small poplar logs was
erected in 1823 to serve as 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.
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
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.
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
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 wounded.
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
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
The "World's Biggest Fish Fry" emerged as one of
Tennessee's premier annual festivals which draws
tens of thousands of visitors into Paris and Henry
County during the last full week of April.
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