Shelbyville, Tennessee

Shelbyville is a city in Bedford County, Tennessee, United States. It had a population of 20,335 residents at the 2010 census.[5] Shelbyville, the county seat of Bedford County,[6] was laid out in 1810 and incorporated in 1819.[7] The town is a hub of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry and has been nicknamed "The Walking Horse Capital of the World".

Shelbyville, Tennessee
Downtown Shelbyville
The Walking Horse Capital of the World and The Pencil City
Location of Shelbyville in Bedford County, Tennessee.
Coordinates: 35°29′20″N 86°27′8″W
CountryUnited States
Named forIsaac Shelby[1]
  MayorWallace Cartright
  Total18.6 sq mi (48.2 km2)
  Land18.6 sq mi (48.2 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
755 ft (230 m)
  Density1,107/sq mi (427.3/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)931
FIPS code47-67760[3]
GNIS feature ID1269993[4]


Shelbyville is in Middle Tennessee on a Highland Rim limestone bluff upon the banks of Duck River, which flows around the southern and eastern sides of town.[8]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.6 square miles (48.2 km2), all land.[5]


Historical population
Est. 201821,864[2]7.5%

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 16,105 people, 6,066 households, and 4,155 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,041.3 people per square mile (402.0/km²). There were 6,550 housing units at an average density of 423.5 per square mile (163.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.14% White, 14.98% African American, 0.70% Asian, 0.35% Native American, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.02% from other races, and 1.78% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 14.55% of the population.

Of the 6,066 households, 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 16.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.5% were non-families. A total of 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,593, and the median income for a family was $30,465. Males had a median income of $23,754 versus $16,065 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,260. About 14.4% of families and 25.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.4% of those under age 18 and 22.1% of those age 65 or over.


Shelbyville is known as "The Pencil City" because of its historical importance as a center of wood-cased pencil manufacturing.[11][12] It is still a site for manufacture of writing instruments. In 1982, National Pen Corporation purchased its largest competitor, U.S. Pencil and Stationery Company.[13] Sanford Corporation produces the Sharpie, the world's top-selling writing instrument, in the city.[12] It was in Shelbyville in 1991 that the world's longest pencil was produced, a plastic-cased pencil 1,091 feet (333 m) long, weighing 27 pounds (12 kg).[14]

Other major business operations in Shelbyville include manufacturers Calsonic Kansei, Newell Rubbermaid, Cebal America, and Jostens; it is also home to a Tyson Foods facility and a distribution center for Wal-Mart, as well as several nationwide trucking businesses.[12][15]


Shelbyville is at the intersection of U.S. Route 231 and U.S. Route 41A. It was the terminus of a branch line (from Wartrace[16]), located along what is now known as Railroad Avenue, connecting with what was once known as the Saint Louis, Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.[8]

Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration[17] takes place each year during the 11 days and nights prior to Labor Day. It is the largest show for the Tennessee Walking Horse, during which the breed's World Grand Champion and over 20 World Champions are named. The Celebration is a festival event where more than $650,000 in prizes and awards are given. The Celebration began in 1939, and the first winner was Strolling Jim.[18]


K-12 education

Bedford County School District operates primary and secondary schools. Shelbyville Central High School is the local public high school.

After the end of non-penal slavery in the United States the AME Church opened a school for African-American children. The public school system graduated its first black class in 1890. The schools for African-American children operated by the district were East Bedford School and Bedford County Training School for Negroes (a.k.a. John McAdams High School and also Harris High School for Negroes). Schools racially integrated after 1964.[19]

Higher education

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Shelbyville is one of 46 institutions in the Tennessee Board of Regents System, the seventh largest system of higher education in the nation. This system comprises six universities, fourteen community colleges, and twenty-six technology centers. More than 80 percent of all Tennessee students attending public institutions are enrolled in a Tennessee Board of Regents institution.

Local government

The City of Shelbyville, Tennessee Government consists of an elected mayor, six member elected city council, and appointed city manager.[20]

Public media and news outlets

Shelbyville has one news media outlet, the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.[21] It was also the former home of the Shelbyville Free Press.

The Shelbyville Free Press was a digital news media outlet that offered the public a liberal voice and included a multi-platform model in communications including a website,[22] Facebook Page,[23] Twitter,[24] and a United States Press Agency Site.[25] The SFP was a free news outlet and charged no subscription or advertising fees to its readers. It is no longer active.[22]

The Shelbyville Times-Gazette is a traditional printed newspaper, which is subscription-based and charges for advertisements.

Notable people

Shelbyville was featured in Miranda Lambert's video "Famous in a Small Town".

The city was also profiled in the film Welcome to Shelbyville, as part of the PBS documentary film series Independent Lens. The film spotlights recent demographic changes in the community, with a focus on the growing number of immigrants from Latin America and Somalia (both Somalis and people from the Bantu minority ethnic group).

Shelbyville was also featured in GADA film's Our Very Own (2005 Film), directed by Cameron Watson. The film, dubbed "a love story to Shelbyville", highlighted some of the peculiar and humorous memories of Shelbyville in the 1970s. The film follows five teenagers who are determined to meet Shelbyville's own Sondra Locke. Filmed in 2004, it highlights the square, Capri Theater, Pope's Cafe, Central High School, Duck River Dam, TWHNC, and many other landmarks.

Shelbyville was mentioned in the lyrics of Nashville country duo Birdcloud's song "Saving Myself For Jesus"


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2013-02-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  3. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  4. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Shelbyville city, Tennessee". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  6. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  7. History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present. Goodspeed Publishing Company. 1886. pp. 873–874.
  8. "Chapter VIII: Tennessee Group - Bedford County". Narrative of Cholera Epidemic of 1873. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1875. p. 163.
  9. "Census of Population and Housing: Decennial Censuses". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  10. "Incorporated Places and Minor Civil Divisions Datasets: Subcounty Resident Population Estimates: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 11 June 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  11. Musgrave Pencil Company History, Musgrave Pencil Company website, accessed April 23, 2008
  12. "". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-06-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. Martin, Doug. "Sanford Pencil Factory Tour". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  15. Economic Development Guide Archived 2006-10-28 at the Wayback Machine, Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, 2003
  16. "Saber charge pushes Rebels out of Shelbyville". Murfreesboro Post. September 28, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-02., with a link to an April 1863 Shelbyville area map Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  17. "The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration Website". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  18. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-16. Retrieved 2011-12-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. Lovett, Bobby L. The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2005. ISBN 1572334436, 9781572334434. p. 77.
  20. "Shelbyville". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  21. "Shelbyville Times-Gazette - Shelbyville, Tennessee". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  22. Archived 2015-04-09 at the Wayback Machine
  23. "Log In or Sign Up to View". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  24. "ShelbyvilleFreePress (@FreePressTN) - Twitter". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  25. "Rodney Reece Thompson Cheramie - United States Press Agency News (USPA News)". United States Press Agency News (USPA News). Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  26. Dobie, Bruce (June 20, 2002). "Jim Cooper Runs Again". The Nashville Scene. Retrieved October 9, 2017. A resident of Shelbyville during his congressional days, Cooper grew up in decidedly genteel circumstances.
  27. "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: River Side Farmhouse". National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  28. "National Register of Historic Places Inventory--Nomination Form: Gov. Prentice Cooper House". National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  29. Simpson, John A. (2003). Edith D. Pope and Her Nashville Friends: Guards of the Lost Cause in the Confederate Veteran. Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee Press. p. 32. ISBN 9781572332119. OCLC 428118511.
  30. "Local trainer continues history of excellence". 14 February 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  31. "Joe Jenkins | Society for American Baseball Research". Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  32. Young, Josh (May 3, 1997). "THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY". The Independent. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  33. "Gadsden Times - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 10 October 2017.
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