About Us

The Polk County Historical & Genealogical Society meets the fourth Sunday in May, November, and February at the First Baptist Church in Benton, at 2:00 p.m. The August meeting is a covered dish picnic held on the fourth Saturday at PCHGS Library located at 140 Commerce Street, Benton, TN. Lunch is served around 12:30.

Reorganized in 1995, the Historical & Genealogical Society publishes a Quarterly, and oversees the preservation of the County's historic sites and heritage. Marian Presswood is presently serving as President. Membership dues are $15 per year. Lifetime memberships are also available for $150. Click here for the membership application.

Although there was an active Historical Society in Polk County in the early 1900s, probably organized by local educator and historian, Mr. J. D. Clemmer, it must have slowly lost steam in the 30s and 40s. Then, the Polk County Historical Society was founded on May 19, 1955, and was incorporated in the State of Tennessee on October 5, 1962. Incorporators were R. E. Barclay, Roy G. Lillard, Miss Sudie Mae Clemmer, Mrs. Ethel Largent and Isham P. Lyle. This Society met annually, and was actively involved in heritage preservation and promotion for many years until the passing of its President and County Historian, Mr. Roy G. Lillard, on January 26, 1991, when it went into a decline from which it never recovered. The charter was revoked in 1994 for failure to file annual reports.

The charter was immediately reinstated, and non-profit status was obtained. The newly organized society added the word "Genealogical" to its name and lost no time in establishing regular quarterly meetings, publishing an award winning Quarterly Newsletter and putting volunteers to work transcribing census, vital statistics and other important county records.

By the end of the first year, the membership had grown from the six people who met to reorganize, to 160 members in several states, and the society was actively involved in many heritage preservation projects which included a publication of Dr. Ben Harris McClary's 1954 Master's Thesis, "Fun, Facts & Philosophy: The Diary of John Coffee Williamson 1858-1861." By the end of the second year, membership was over 200 and a Heritage Book was well under way. The third year saw the completion and publication of the Heritage Book, a first for the County, and membership sky-rocketing to over 300 in 30 states and a couple of foreign countries.2003 membership is around 450 members.

The Society was the recipient of a collection of genealogical and historical resource materials from the estate of member Grayson Newman who passed away in December 1996, and opened a small History Room in April 1997 in order to make the materials available to members and others doing Polk County ancestor research.
In May 2000 PCHGS purchased a pretty little native stone house located at the corner of Commerce and Poplar ( the street behind the Post Office). The historical and genealogical collections of the late Roy G . Lillard were graciously donated by his niece, Jeannine Lillard Scott.

Maintained by volunteer effort, the Library is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a. m. until 3:00 p. m.
The Quarterly/Newsletter is published in May, August, November, and February and is distributed at the quarterly meetings. However, the publication is mailed to all members who are out of town or unable to attend the meetings. Marian Bailey Presswood serves as editor.