Cannon County was established on January 31, 1836, when the state legislature took portions of Rutherford, Smith, and Warren Counties to create the new county of Cannon, named in honor of Whig Governor Newton Cannon. (Two years later, the legislature added a portion of Wilson County, creating the present county boundaries.) The county's first settlers moved to present-
The first village of any size, however, was Danville, which became the initial county seat. Its name was soon changed to Woodbury to honor Levi Woodbury, the Democratic secretary of the treasury. In 1836 Henry Trott and William Bates laid out new lots for Woodbury, and their plan adapted the earlier linear street plan of Danville into a central courthouse square plan. The present Cannon County Courthouse, built in 1935, features a striking Colonial Revival design by Nashville architect George Waller and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Other local properties in the National Register are the Houston House, a vernacular Greek Revival-
Woodbury has always served as the county's seat of government and primary town, but it never had a railroad connection and remained largely isolated from major transportation networks until the completion of the original Memphis-
Villages in Cannon County include Readyville, Auburntown, Bradyville, and Gassaway. Crisp was a smaller African American village centered around a segregated black school and church.
During the Civil War Cannon County residents raised seven infantry companies for the Confederacy. Union soldiers also came from the county; most served in the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, which was largely based in Liberty in adjacent DeKalb County. Small skirmishes and reconnaissance movements characterize most of the military activity within the county. Guerrilla warfare also was common. During World War II the maneuvers of the Second Army included parts of Cannon County, and local citizens in Woodbury established a USO center for the soldiers.
Since its creation Cannon County has been Democratic in its political loyalties and has produced two notable party leaders. In the late 1800s and early 1900s William Cannon Houston was the county's most prominent politician. Cannon established the Woodbury newspaper, practiced law, and served in the state legislature as a young man; from 1904 to 1918 he served in the United States Congress and often entertained important southern Democratic leaders at his home on the outskirts of Woodbury. Throughout the mid-