Main Street (TN-33) in Sneedville
Main Street (TN-33) in Sneedville
Location of Sneedville in Hancock County, Tennessee.
Location of Sneedville in Hancock County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 36°31′55″N 83°12′51″W / 36.53194°N 83.21417°W / 36.53194; -83.21417
CountryUnited States
Named forWilliam Henry Sneed
 • TypeMayor-council
 • MayorWilliam Riley
 • Vice MayorMatthew Waddell
 • Total2.30 sq mi (5.95 km2)
 • Land2.30 sq mi (5.95 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
1,171 ft (357 m)
 • Total1,282
 • Density558.12/sq mi (215.50/km2)
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code423
FIPS code47-69460[6]
GNIS feature ID1303706[7]

Sneedville is the only city in and the county seat of Hancock County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,282 per the 2020 census.


Settlement began in the 1790s, following the American Revolutionary War,[8] as migrants moved into the area from the Piedmont frontiers of Virginia and North Carolina. Such migrants had formed families in colonial Virginia. Among them was a multi-racial group of settlers who became known as Melungeons. They have been documented as having primarily European and sub-Saharan African ancestry. They also have a lesser amount of Native American heritage.

The county historical society asserts that French traders noted encountering the Melungeons in the late 1600s in the area that is now east Tennessee.[9] Such early settlement is not supported by the research of Edward Price, a cultural geographer who wrote a 1950 dissertation on the Melungeons;[10] Dr. Virginia DeMarce, a professional genealogist;[11] and Paul Heinegg, a genealogist;[12] each of whom has documented the migration of ancestors of the first families known as Melungeon from Virginia and North Carolina in the late eighteenth century

When Hancock County was formed from parts of Hawkins and Claiborne counties in the 1840s, Greasy Rock was chosen as the county seat. The city was renamed in honor of William Henry Sneed (1812–1869), an attorney from Knoxville who helped defend the new county when several residents sued in an attempt to block its creation.[13]


Sneedville is located at 36°31′55″N 83°12′51″W / 36.53194°N 83.21417°W / 36.53194; -83.21417 (36.532062, -83.214140).[14]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km2), all land. The Clinch River passes within the city limits.


According to the Köppen climate classification, Sneedville has a humid subtropical climate, typical for Tennessee. The plant hardiness zone is 6b.[15]


Historical population

2020 census

Sneedville racial composition[18]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 1,199 93.53%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 18 1.4%
Native American 11 0.86%
Asian 1 0.08%
Other/Mixed 44 3.43%
Hispanic or Latino 9 0.7%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,282 people, 573 households, and 369 families residing in the town.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 1,387 people living in the city. 97.4% were White, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.1% Asian and 1.7% of two or more races. 0.3% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

2000 census

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 1,257 people, 527 households, and 310 families living in the city. The population density was 551.0 inhabitants per square mile (212.7/km2). There were 593 housing units at an average density of 259.9 per square mile (100.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.69% White, 0.64% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.72% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.24% of the population. Melungeons, a so-called "tri-racial isolate", are also present in this area, especially in the Vardy Valley, on the other side of Newman's Ridge.

Sneedville, viewed from Newmans Ridge

There were 527 households, out of which 27.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.2% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. 38.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 18.4% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $13,281, and the median income for a family was $20,208. Males had a median income of $20,500 versus $15,461 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,173. About 32.9% of families and 36.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 46.9% of those under age 18 and 28.4% of those age 65 or over.

In 2010, Sneedville had the 10th-lowest median household income of all places in the United States with a population over 1,000.[19]

Arts and culture

Museums and related points of interest

The Hancock County Tennessee Historical and Genealogical Society is a non-profit organization located in the Old County Jail. The organization provides access to archival material related to the community and maintains a small museum displaying aspects of traditional mountain life, such as was practiced by the Melungeons.[20] They publish a bi-yearly newsletter called Our Mountain Heritage for members of the society.[21]


Schools in Sneedville include Hancock County Middle/High School and Hancock County Elementary School.


Hancock County Hospital, which opened in 2005, is located in Sneedville.[22]

Notable people

See also

Further reading


  1. ^ "Historical Hancock County". Hancock County Historical Society. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  2. ^ Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006, pp. 618-625.
  3. ^ University of Tennessee, Municipal Technical Advisory Service. "Sneedville". Municipal Technical Advisory Service. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  4. ^ "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Census Population API". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  8. ^ Will Thomas Hale and Dixon L. Merritt, A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans, Vol. 3 (Lewis Publishing Co., 1913), p. 794.
  9. ^ "Historical Hancock County". Home. Hancock County Tennessee Historical and Genealogical Society. 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  10. ^ Price, Edward T. (1953). "A Geographic Analysis of White-Negro-Indian Racial Mixtures in Eastern United States", Annals of the Association of American Geographers 43 (June 1953): 138–155, accessed 18 February 2013
  11. ^ DeMarce, Virginia E. (1992). "'Verry Slitly Mixt': Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South – A Genealogical Study" Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine, National Genealogical Society Quarterly 80 (March 1992): 5–35, scanned online, Historical-Melungeons, accessed 18 February 2013
  12. ^ Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware and Maryland, 1999–2005
  13. ^ William G. Cook, "Hancock County," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 18 February 2013.
  14. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  15. ^ "Zipcode 37869 - Sneedville, Tennessee Hardiness Zones". Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  16. ^ "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  17. ^ "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  18. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  19. ^ "US Census". Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  20. ^ Kennedy, N. Brent. "Hancock County, Home of the Melungeons". Hancock County Tennessee Historical & Genealogical Society. N/A. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  21. ^ "Hancock County Tennessee Historical and Genealogical Society". Home. Hancock County Tennessee Historical and Genealogical Society. 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  22. ^ "Hancock County Hospital". Wellmont Health System. 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  23. ^ "Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver". Artists. Decca Records. 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  24. ^ "Jimmy Martin". Bluegrass Masters. International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor. 2011. Archived from the original on October 31, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  25. ^ Wilusz, Ryan (October 7, 2020). "Crimson Tide parties during COVID-19: Why Morgan Wallen is trending and canceled from SNL". Tennessean. Retrieved October 9, 2020.