The city of Smithville was founded in 1838 as the county seat of DeKalb county. It was named in honor of Samuel Granville Smith, a former state senator and the first mayor of Gainsboro. He died in 1835 while serving as Tennessee’s secretarty of state.
Bernard Richardson donated 50 acres where Smithville currently is. The land was then divided by streets and alleys to form 92 lots with a public square in the middle. The lots were soon auctioned off, and the construction of a courthouse began. Smithville became incorporated in 1843, lost its status in 1877, and then became reincorporated in 1919. Three years later in 1922 Smithville would get electricity.
In 1967 a federal program began in DeKalb called the Model Cities program. The Model Cities program was designed to improve the quality of life in major cities. While serving on the House of Appropriations Committee, Congressman Joe L. Evins was able to convince his colleages that the program should be tried in a rural area. He then suggested that it be DeKalb County, his home town. After this, several million dollars were invested into the county. The county received a new courthouse, city halls and community centers, a vocational school, the middle school, several parks, and the Smithville Airport, to name a few. Since then, the federal government has aided in county projects such as the school systems and housing for elderly and low-income groups.
In 1971, Pulaski native Berry Williams organinzed the Old-Time Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Fair. It was scheduled to be on the 4th of July weekend annually and was held on the public square. The Jamboree is still enjoyed today by more than 50,000 people every year on the square in Smithville.
We would like to specially thank Mr. Tommy Webb for supplying the information for this page. For more info on Smithville and DeKalb County, please check out his books at the Justin Potter Library.
A Bicentennial History of DeKalb County, TN
by Thomas Gray Webb
Published 1995 by Bradley Printing Co, Smithville, TN.
©1995 Thomas Gray Webb