Putnam County First Families

Jimmy_Bilbrey_and_wife_BrothertonA collaborative effort between the Friends of the Cookeville History Museum, the Old Walton Road Chapter NSDAR, the Upper Cumberland Genealogical Association, the Putnam County Archives, and the Putnam County Library (hereby referred to as the FFPC Collaborative), has established a certification program to recognize, honor, and perpetuate the memory of early Pioneers who were residents of Putnam County, Tennessee between the years 1842-1844 or first Settlers who were residents of the county by its final formation in 1854. The application files will provide valuable documentation on the family history of many of Putnam County’s founders and will be available for genealogical research.



Eligibility: The applicant must directly descend from an ancestor who settled in Putnam County during 1842-1844 and by February 11, 1854. The applicant must be able to prove residency of the ancestor as well as descent for each generation, including proof of the applicant. Current Putnam County residency is not required. The application must be accompanied by documentation of such descent and the payment of a non-refundable $15.00 application fee per applicant. Applications with documentation for additional qualifying ancestors will be submitted with payment of a non-refundable $15.00 application fee per applicant. Documentation: As a genealogical and historical collaborative, we encourage genealogical research and request photocopies of original documents as proof of lineage. Do not send original documents as they cannot be returned. While primary sources offer the best proof, secondary sources may be considered if primary proof is not available. Residents of surrounding counties/districts in 1850 census that became a part of Putnam County accepted.

 Primary Sources include:

Birth, death, and marriage records, wills and probate records, deeds/land, church, tombstone, Bible, military, letters, pages from diaries, court cases, tax, census records, and other eye-witness accounts.

 Secondary Sources include:

Newspapers clippings (include name of newspaper, location, and date of publication), published biographical histories and/or sketches, private family papers, and other records made by persons who did not witness the event. All documents must include a full citation of source. For secondary sources, a copy of the actual page where the fact was found, plus title of source, author, and page number, must be submitted. Bible records must include a photocopy of the title page with publication date and current owner’s name and address. Lineage society applications are accepted as proof of lineage when a copy of entire application is submitted. Female ancestors should be identified by their maiden name. Exceptions are made in cases where the maiden name/surname cannot be proven. As of August 1, 2013, if an ancestor has already been proven by another individual, the applicant may submit proof only to the nearest common ancestor, if so desired. A citation to the name and First Families number of that individual must be included. This is only applicable initially to those family members who submit applications together.

Inadmissible Documentation:

Hearsay, oral history, or written family group sheets, and online family trees that do not have full citation including title, volume, and page number of source for each fact (marriage, will  etc.) will not be accepted. Evidence that appears to have been altered will not be accepted.

Application form instructions: Complete the First Families Application Form, Line of Descent Chart, and Source Records Sheet. Applicants that have more than one qualifying Ancestor should complete a separate First Families Application Form, Line of Descent Chart, and Source Record Sheet for each ancestor. Additional material is strongly encouraged, such as newspaper articles, photos of people, homes and tombstones, and other material that may be of interest to future researchers. Once an application is approved, a certificate of recognition will be issued to the applicant designating their ancestor as either a Pioneer (1842-1844) or a Settler (1854).

Submitted Materials: All applications and supporting documentation will be retained and available for research purposes. Eligibility shall be determined by a committee appointed by the FFPC Collaborative. The committee’s decision will be final. Incorrect or incomplete applications will be returned for additions and corrections, and the applicant will need to resubmit. 

A check or money order in the amount of $15.00 made payable to First Families UCGA- should be mailed along with the applications and photocopied proofs to:

Cookeville History Museum 

Dept. of Leisure Services

P. O. Box 998

Cookeville, TN 38503-0998

Genealogical research guidance from the FFPC Collaborative may be requested to assist in documenting lineage. Send your question along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the above address.

For more information please contact Sharon Mata sarmata@charter.net


First Families Application Form

 Line of Descent Chart

 Source Record Sheet