In the early days of Tennessee, the court system differed from what we know today. The local County Courts of Pleas and Quarter Sessions presided over minor civil matters (below $50) in each county whereas the Superior Courts of Law and Equity presided over disputes involving sums $50 or greater, criminal matters and appellate matters. There were five District Courts with the Hamilton District being held at the courthouse in Knoxville, Tennessee. This court served the middle counties of the East Tennessee region. The other District Courts were the Washington District held at Jonesboro, the Winchester District held at Carthage, the Robertson District held at Clarksville, and the Mero District held at Nashville. Each of these District Courts was presided over by three traveling Superior Court judges who traveled from District to District to hear cases.
By 1809 this system had become unwieldy. In 1810, the Superior Court of Law and Equity was reorganized with criminal matters and larger civil cases being transferred to newly created local circuit courts with appellate matters retained in the renamed Supreme Court of Errors & Appeals.
The Hamilton District Superior Court of Law and Equity records are maintained by the Knox County Archives and are indexed here but be advised many of the cases heard in this court involve disputes held throughout the East Tennessee region, not just Knox County.
Copies of the original records can be obtained from the Knox County Archives. Please contact us by phone or e-mail for a price quote.