Demographics and Statistics
Wilson County was established by the Tennessee General Assembly on Oct. 26, 1799, three years after Tennessee became a state. Today, Wilson County spans 571 square miles and the population is 109,803.
On Nov. 13, 1801, the town of Lebanon was authorized. On Nov. 23, 1819, the City of Lebanon was officially incorporated. Lebanon, originally called "one of the prettiest of Tennessee's country towns", became a center of commerce, culture and education. Cumberland University opened in September, 1842 with 45 students. Its first permanent building, located on the southeastern corner of College and East Spring Streets, near the Town Square, was burned during the War Between the States. The new building at the present location was built in 1896.
Lebanon was home to the famous Castle Heights Military Academy, established in 1902. The school was originally a prestigious private boys and girls school, but was later changed to an all-male military academy. The school closed in the 1980's, following the decline of military schools during the Vietnam War era. The school's "Main" building is now preserved as the City of Lebanon Administration Building (City Hall).
After the World War II, Lebanon experienced business and industrial growth with the opening of the first Industrial Park in Tennessee by Mayor William D. Baird. These included Hartmann Luggage, TRW and more recently the corporate headquarters of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.
Much of the historic Town Square still remains, and is filled with antique and gift shops.
Settled near the same time (1797) as Lebanon and nestled in among the hills of eastern Wilson County is the small town of Watertown. Originally known as the Three Forks Community, Watertown was renamed for the Waters family who resided there. In the early 1900's, a massive fire that made national headlines burned the town. The town rebuilt and today looks much the same as it did back then. Watertown is the Home of the Original Mile-long Yard Sale, and plays host to several Excursion Trains from Nashville each year. Watertown’s current population is 1,405.
The latest incorporated town in Wilson County is Mt. Juliet. Located in the western Wilson County, Mt. Juliet was formed in 1835 and incorporated in 1973. There are two theories as to how Mt. Juliet got her name. Some historians believe she was named for "Aunt Julie" Gleaves who was the guardian angel of the area, always helping people and caring for the sick and needy. However, Julia Gleaves was only 18 when Mt Juliet was formed and did not live here until 1850. The more accepted story of how Mt Juliet received its name is from a castle in Kilkenny County, Ireland. There is speculation that someone from this area may have had an association or family heritage with that castle. Mt Juliet is, today, known by many as the Purple Martin Capitol of Tennessee. It is home to entertainers Charlie Daniels and Tracy Lawrence.
With recent annexations, the City of Mt. Juliet now spans more than 20 square miles and the population is 25,234.