Decherd was founded in the mid 1800’s. Decherd owes its beginning to the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad which was completed in 1851 through what was to become the town of Decherd. The town is named for Peter S. Decherd, who gave the right-of-way to the railroad company with the provision that a depot be located near the “Decherd Plantation”. Mr. Decherd came to Franklin County from Virginia in the early 1800’s. In 1831 he moved from Winchester to a large tract of land about two miles northwest. He and his brothers developed the land into the plantation.
The town was originally incorporated in 1868. From 1885 to 1901 the town was not officially incorporated due to the “Four Mile Law,” which allowed for the selling of liquor within four miles of schools in incorporated communities only. The town was re-chartered by the General Assembly on April 22, 1901. Governor Benton McMillin signed the private act creating the town. Bedford C. McGill became mayor in June of that year, and R. Ross Powell was the first city recorder. The town also had one town marshal. The population in 1900 was about 1000.
In 1890 James W. Terrill, with the help of local citizens, built and established Terrill College on the site where the Decherd Elementary now stands. The college closed in 1903 due to a lack of interest in higher education.
Some of the early settlers in Decherd were William Simons, Simpson West, Carroll Walker, John March, Aaron Lynch, Cyrus Barnes, and Dan Champion. The Martin and Tucker families were also among the first settlers. The railroad played an important part in the prosperity of the town. It became the terminal for branch lines going to Huntsville, Alabama; Fayetteville, Lewisburg, and Columbia, Tennessee. Several trains left Decherd each day going to these towns. Two passenger trains were also in operation at this time. At one time there were eight passenger trains stopping at the Decherd depot. Trains still pass through Decherd today, but the depot is gone, along with the passenger trains.
Decherd is proud of its two largest employers, NISSAN and Henley Supply & Millworks. Nissan opened in 1997, employs over 1,500 employees and are in the process of expanding. Henley Supply and Millworks has been in operation for many years employing a number of employees. Decherd is home to three schools; North Middle School, Decherd Elementary and Good Shepherds Catholic PK-8th grades. Decherd Lions Club has been active since 1957 and currently has 20 members. The club provides glasses for citizens in need and eye screenings for Decherd students. Our little town has two parks, Hank Weddington and John L. Sanders. These parks provide picnic area, walking trails, basketball goals, and playground equipment, both a Little League Field and a Babe Ruth Field for the benefit of our citizens. Our city has over ten churches, among the oldest are the First United Methodist, Decherd Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church of Decherd and Decherd Church of Christ.
The Civil War dominated life in Decherd during the war years. No major battles were fought in the area, but several skirmishes were fought over control of the railroad and Elk River. Federal General Don Buell established headquarters in Decherd in August, 1862 before moving north to encounter Confederate forces under the command of General Braxton Bragg. In 1863, Federals under Colonel John T. Wilder drove a Confederate force from Decherd and destroyed about 300 yards of the railroad between Decherd and Cowan. Telegraph and commissary stores of the Confederate forces were burned in the raid.
Decherd is proud of its past history, but a city must not dwell on the past. The city is looking to the future and the next one hundred years.