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Dyer County

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The Tennessee General Assembly established Dyer County in 1823 and named it in honor of Colonel Robert H. Dyer. John McIver and Joel H. Dyer donated sixty acres for the new county seat, named Dyersburg, at a central location within the county known as McIver's Bluff. The first courthouse was built on the square in 1827. The present Classical Revival-style courthouse, designed by Asa Biggs in 1911, centers a downtown historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Fertile soil and plentiful stands of timber made Dyer County rich farming country. The early profitable crops of corn and tobacco were replaced in the post-Civil War era by a reliance on cotton, and the timber industry expanded. Situated at the head of steamboat navigation on the Forked Deer River, Dyersburg grew as a river town, especially once the Grey Eagle made the first successful steamboat trip in 1836. 

The county's first industrial boom dates to 1879, when the steamboat Alf Stevens shipped timber from A. M. Stevens Lumber Company of Dyersburg to St. Louis markets. The Stevens company established a large sawmill in 1880 and opened a planing mill in 1885. The Bank of Dyersburg opened in 1880, while another timber industry, Nichols & Co. Wooden Bowl Factory, began operations in 1881. The arrival of the Newport News and Mississippi Valley Railroad in 1884 further expanded market possibilities; a branch line, the Dyersburg Northern, soon linked the county seat to Tiptonville. The new railroad links encouraged the creation of new industries and businesses. In 1884, for example, investors established the Dyersburg Oil Company, a cottonseed factory. 

Between 1909 and 1914 Dyersburg became the junction point for three different lines, led by the Illinois Central Railroad. The Illinois Central expanded its facilities throughout the county, building in 1920 a new combination depot at the town of Newbern, a major cotton and livestock shipping point. Listed in the National Register, this depot survives and is one of only two Amtrak passenger stops in Tennessee. Newbern is the county's second largest incorporated city. Smaller villages include Trimble, Fowkles, Finley, Bogota, and Heloise, the county's sole Mississippi River village.  The great Mississippi River floods of 1927 and 1937 devastated western Dyer County, especially lands between the Obion and Mississippi Rivers.

During World War II the Halls Air Base, located at the border of Lauderdale County and Dyer County, created many civilian jobs as it trained hundreds of B-17 bomber pilots. An emergency landing strip was also built in Dyersburg. After the war agriculture in Dyer County began to shift from cotton into new crops. By the mid-1980s soybeans composed the largest crop by far, followed by wheat, milo, corn, and cotton. Industry continued to expand and the county became a regional medical, educational, retail and distribution center.