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Geography

According to the census bureau, the county has a total area of 584 square miles (1,513 km2), of which 583 square miles (1,510 km2) is land and 1 square mile (2.6 km2) is water.

Adjacent Counties

National Protected Area

History

Pre Civil War

Williamson County was originally inhabited by at least five Native American cultures, including tribes of Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Shawnees. White settlers had settled here by 1798, and on October 26, 1799, the Tennessee General Assembly created Franklin and Williamson County. In 1800 Abram Maury laid out Franklin, the county seat, which was carved out of part of a land grant he purchased from Major Anthony Sharp.[1] “The county was named in honor of Dr. Hugh Williamson of North Carolina who was a colonel in the North Carolina militia and served three terms in the Continental Congress.”[4]

Many of the early inhabitants of the county were recipients of Revolutionary War land grants. Those veterans who chose not to settle here often sold large sections of their land grants to speculators, who in turn subdivided the land and sold off smaller lots. Prior to the Civil War, the county was the second wealthiest in the state; its resources of timber and rich soil (farmed for a diversity of crops including rye, corn, oats, tobacco, potatoes, wheat, peas, barley, and hay) provided a stable economy, as opposed to reliance on one cash crop.[4]

Civil War

Williamson County was severely affected by the war. Three battles were fought within the county: the Battle of Brentwood,[5] the Battle of Thompson’s Station,[6] and one of the bloodiest battles in the war, the Battle of Franklin.[7] The large plantations that were part of the economic foundation of the county were ravaged, and many of the county’s youth were killed during the war.[4] Many Confederate casualties of the Battle of Franklin lie in the McGavock Confederate Cemetery near the Carnton plantation house. This cemetery, containing the bodies of 1,481 soldiers, is the largest private Confederate cemetery in America.[1]

Post Civil War

The agricultural and rural nature of the county remained much the same for the first part of the 1900s. “Most residents were farmers who raised corn, wheat, cotton and livestock.”[4] One of the first major manufacturers to establish operations in the county was the Dortch Stove works, which opened a factory in Franklin. The factory later became the Magic Chef factory, producing electric and gas ranges. After falling into disuse, this factory complex was restored in the late 1990s and is considered a “model historic preservation adaptive reuse project.”[1]

Since the completion of the Interstate Highway System and the rapid expansion of Nashville in the mid-20th century, Williamson County has seen tremendous growth. Between 1990 and 2000, the county’s population increased 56.3 percent.[1]