Kentucky County Names

Origins of the names of Kentucky Counties

Adair (estab. 1802) Gen. John Adair (1757-1840), commander of Kentucky forces in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815; also Kentucky's eighth governor.

Allen (estab. 1815) Lt. Col. John Allen (1771-1813), Shelbyville lawyer, soldier and state legislator. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Anderson (estab. 1827) Richard Clough Anderson, Jr. (1788-1826), Kentucky legislator and congressman; first minister from the United States to Columbia.

Ballard (estab. 1842) Bland W. Ballard (1761-1853), Indian fighter and scout for Gen. George Rogers Clark; fought in the War of 1812; Kentucky legislator. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Barren (estab. 1799) Named by explorers, Barren County received its namesake due to large treeless expanses visitors found which made the area seem infertile. The expanses were attributed to the burning of trees and brush by the Indians to aid in their buffalo hunts.

Bath (estab. 1811) Formed in 1811, the county was named for the springs in the area that were thought to have medicinal value

Bell (estab. 1867) Joshua Fry Bell (1811-1870), Danville lawyer, congressman, and Kentucky legislator.

Boone (estab. 1799) Daniel Boone (1735-1820), frontiersman.

Bourbon (estab. 1786) As a tribute to their overseas aid during the Revolutionary War, Bourbon County was named after the French royal family.

Boyd (estab. 1860) Linn Boyd (1800-1859), congressman, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; elected Lt. Governor, but died before serving term.

Boyle (estab. 1842) John Boyle (1774-1834), congressman, Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, U.S. District Judge.

Bracken (estab. 1797) Bracken County received its name from Big and Little Bracken creeks, which were named after John Bracken. Bracken was a famed pioneer, hunter and Indian fighter.

Breathitt (estab. 1839) John Breathitt (1786-1834), Kentucky's 11th governor.

Breckinridge (estab. 1800) John Breckinridge (1760-1806), Kentucky Attorney General, legislator, U.S. Senator, U.S. Attorney General.

Bullitt (estab. 1797) Alexander Scott Bullitt (1762-1816), helped draft Kentucky's first constitution; first president of the Kentucky Senate; first Lt. Governor.

Butler (estab. 1810) Gen. Richard Butler (1743-1791), Revolutionary War officer; Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern District; arranged the treaty of 1786 with the Shawnee and Delaware Indians.

Caldwell (estab. 1809) Gen. John Caldwell (1757-1804), participated in the George Rogers Clark Indian Campaign of 1786; Kentucky Senator; Kentucky's 2nd Lt. Governor.

Calloway (estab. 1821) Col. Richard Callaway (1722-1780), one of the founders of Boonesborough; representative of Kentucky County in the Viriginia General Assembly.

Campbell (estab. 1795) Col. John Campbell (1735-1799), Revolutionary War officer; founder of Louisville; state senator.

Carlisle (estab. 1886) John Griggin Carlisle (1835-1910), U.S. congressman; Speaker of the House; Secretary of the Treasury.

Carroll (estab. 1838) Charles Carroll (1737-1832), longest surviving and only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Carter (estab. 1838) Col. William Grayson Carter (?-1850), state senator.

Casey (estab. 1807) Col. William Casey (1754-1816), Virginia pioneer and settler in the Kentucky Green River area.

Christian (estab. 1797) Col. William Christian (1743-1786), secured Jefferson Co. (9,000 acres) for Revolutionary War service.

Clark (estab. 1793) Gen. George Rogers Clark (1752-1818), Kentucky military hero.

Clay (estab. 1807) Gen. Green Clay (1757-1826), military leader in the War of 1812; represented Kentucky County in the Virginia General Assembly; cousin of Henry Clay.

Clinton (estab. 1836) DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), governor of New York; projector of the Erie Canal.

Crittenden (estab. 1842) John J. Crittenden (1787-1863), U.S. Attorney General; Senator; 15th governor of Kentucky.

Cumberland (estab. 1799) Cumberland County was named after the Cumberland River which was named by surveyor and physician, Dr. Thomas Walker (1715-1794), as a tribute to the Duke of Cumberland.

Daviess (estab. 1815) Col. Joseph Hamilton Daveiss (1774-1811), U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Aaron Burr in 1806.

Edmonson (estab. 1825) Capt. John Edmonson (1764-1813), militia man, hero in the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Elliott (estab. 1869) John Milton Elliott (1820-1879), U.S. congressman; Confederate Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Estill (estab. 1808) Capt. James Estill (1750-1782), soldier and frontiersman.

Fayette (estab. 1780) Marquis de LaFayette (1757-1834), French military officer and hero of the Revolutionary War.

Fleming (estab. 1798) Col. John Fleming (1735-1791), pioneer and settler; Indian fighter.

Floyd (estab. 1800) Col. John Floyd (1750-1783), pioneer surveyor and military leader of Jefferson County.

Franklin (estab. 1795) Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), printer, publisher, inventor, statesman, diplomat and scientist.

Fulton (estab. 1845) Robert Fulton (1765-1815), artist; inventor of the 1st commercially successful steamboat.

Gallatin (estab. 1799) Albert Gallatin (1761-1849), Secretary of the Treasury; U.S. minister to France and England.

Garrard (estab. 1797) James Garrard (1749-1822), 2nd Kentucky governor.

Grant (estab. 1820) Col. John Grant (1754-1826), pioneer; salt producer in the Licking Valley.

Graves (estab. 1821) Maj. Benjamin Franklin Graves (1771-1813), legislator, soldier in the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Grayson (estab. 1810) Col. William Grayson, Revolutionary War aide to Gen. George Washington; delegate to the Virginia General Assembly and the Continental Congress.

Green (estab. 1793) Gen. Nathaniel Greene (1742-1786), Revolutionary War hero.

Greenup (estab. 1804) Christopher Greenup (1750-1818), Kentucky's 1st congressman, 3rd governor of Kentucky; clerk of the Kentucky Senate.

Hancock (estab. 1829) John Hancock (1737-1793), President of the Continental Congress; signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Hardin (estab. 1793) Col. John Hardin (1753-1792), Revolutionary War veteran; surveyor, served with George Rogers Clark.

Harlan (estab. 1819) Maj. Silas Harlan (1752-1782), pioneer and Salt River settler; served with George Rogers Clark.

Harrison (estab. 1794) Col. Benjamin Harrison (1745-1808), advocate for Kentucky statehood; framer of the Kentucky constitution; Kentucky legislator.

Hart (estab. 1819) Capt. Nathaniel G.T. Hart (1784-1813), Lexington lawyer and merchant; officer in the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Henderson (estab. 1799) Col. Richard Henderson (1735-1785), founder of the Transylvania Company which acquired portions of Kentucky from the Indians.

Henry (estab. 1799) Patrick Henry (1736-1799), Revolutionary War statesman and patriot; member of the Continental Congress; governor of Virginia.

Hickman (estab. 1821) Capt. Paschal Hickman (?-1813), officer during the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Hopkins (estab. 1807) Gen. Samuel Hopkins (1753-1819), officer in both the Revolutionary War and War of 1812; Kentucky legislator; U.S. congressman.

Jackson (estab. 1858) Gen. Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), military hero and U.S. president.
Jefferson (estab. 1780)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), draftsman of the Declaration of Independence of the United States and the nation's first secretary of state, vice president and president, (180109), statesman responsible for the Louisiana Purchase.

Jessamine (estab. 1799) Its name's origin questionable, historians attribute Jessamine County's name to originate from the jasimine flowers that grow in the area, or the area is named after a Jessamine Creek near Wilmore.

Johnson (estab. 1843) Gen. Richard M. Johnson (1780-1850), hero of the War of 1812; U.S. House of Representatives, senator; U.S. Vice President.

Kenton (estab. 1840) Simon Kenton (1755-1836), Kentucky pioneer, scout, and Indian fighter.

Knott (estab. 1884) J. Proctor Knott (1830-1911), Kentucky governor.

Knox (estab. 1800) Gen. Henry Knox (1750-1806), officer in the Continental Army; 1st U.S. Secretary of War.

LaRue (estab. 1843) John LaRue (1746-1792), pioneer and settler.

Laurel (estab. 1826) No definite origin known, historians attribute Laurel County to be named for the immense growth of mountain laurel and rhododendron shrubs in the area, or the county is named after the Laurel River.

Lawrence (estab. 1822) Capt. James Lawrence (1780-1813), naval hero of the Revolutionary War.

Lee (estab. 1870) Gen. Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), Confederate general, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, who eventually commanded the entire Southern army.
or Gen. Lighthorse Harry Lee (1756-1818), Revolutionary War officer; Virginia governor.

Leslie (estab. 1878) Preston H. Leslie (1819-1907), Kentucky governor; territorial governor of Montana.

Letcher (estab. 1842) Robert P. Letcher (1788-1861), U.S. congressman; Kentucky governor; U.S. minister to Mexico.

Lewis (estab. 1807) Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), explorer; territorial governor of Louisiana.

Lincoln (estab. 1780) Gen. Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810), Revolutionary War officer; Secretary of War for the Continental Congress.

Livingston (estab. 1799) Robert R. Livingston (1746-1813), member of the Continental Congress and Secretary of Foreign Affairs; minister to France; one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence.

Logan (estab. 1792) Gen. Benjamin Logan (1743-1802), soldier, sheriff, Indian fighter, and advocate for Kentucky's statehood in the Virginia legislature.

Lyon (estab. 1854) Chittenden Lyon (1787-1842), congressman and member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.

McCracken (estab. 1821) Virgil McCracken (?-1813), hero in the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

McCreary (estab. 1912) James B. McCreary (1838-1918), lawyer, Confederate officer, Kentucky senator, representative, and governor.

McLean (estab. 1854) Judge Alney McLean (1779-1841), surveyor, founder of Greenville, KY, officer in the War of 1812, and circuit judge.

Madison (estab. 1786) James Madison (1751-1836), member of the Constitutional Convention and U.S. president.

Magoffin (estab. 1860) Beriah Magoffin (1815-1885), judge, senator, Kentucky governor, lawyer.

Marion (estab. 1834) Gen. Francis Marion (1732-1795), officer in the Revolutionary War, known as "The Swamp Fox" for his non-traditional and elusive military tactics.

Marshall (estab. 1842) John Marshall (1755-1835), founder of the U.S. system of constitutional law, including the doctrine of judicial review, defendent in the famous case, Marbury v. Madison (1803), which established the Supreme Court's right to state and expound constitutional law.

Martin (estab. 1870) John P. Martin (1811-1862), Kentucky legislator, U.S. representative and senator.

Mason (estab. 1789) George Mason (1725-1792), American patriot and statesman.

Meade (estab. 1824) Capt. James Meade (?-1813), hero in the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Menifee (estab. 1869) Richard Hickman Menefee (1809-1841), lawyer, legislator and U.S. congressman.

Mercer (estab. 1786) Gen. Hugh Mercer (1725-1777)

Metcalfe (estab. 1860) Thomas Metcalfe (1780-1855), stonemason, Kentucky representative, officer in the War of 1812, Kentucky governor.

Monroe (estab. 1820) James Monroe (1758-1831), president of the United States who issued an important contribution to U.S. foreign policy in the Monroe Doctrine, a warning to European nations against intervening in the Western Hemisphere.

Montgomery (estab. 1797) Gen. Richard Montgomery (1738-1775), Revolutionary War officer.

Morgan (estab. 1823) Gen. Daniel Morgan (1736-1802) Revolutionary War officer and U.S. congressman.

Muhlenberg (estab. 1799) Gen. Peter Muhlenberg (1746-1807), preacher, Revolutionary War officer, and U.S. congressman and senator.

Nelson (estab. 1785) Thomas Nelson (1738-1789), Virginia governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Nicholas (estab. 1800) George Nicholas (1743-1799), lawyer, Revolutionary War officer, advocate of Kentucky statehood, one of the drafters of the Kentucky constitution (known as the "Father of the Kentucky Constitution," and law professor.

Ohio (estab. 1799) Ohio County is named for the Ohio River, which originally formed its northern boundary.

Oldham (estab. 1824) Col. William Oldham (1753-1791), soldier in the Revolutionary War, captain of the Kentucky militia.

Owen (estab. 1819) Col. Abraham Owen (1769-1811), Indian fighter, legislator, member of the state's constitution convention, and hero in the War of 1812.

Owsley (estab. 1843) William Owsley (1782-1862), judge in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Kentucky governor.

Pendleton (estab. 1799) Edmund Pendleton (1721-1803), member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and the First Continental Congress, governor of Virginia, chief justice in the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Perry (estab. 1821) Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819), hero in the War of 1812.

Pike (estab. 1822) Gen. Zebulon M. Pike (1779-1813), frontier explorer and hero of the War of 1812.

Powell (estab. 1852) Lazarus W. Powell (1812-1867), Kentucky governor and senator.

Pulaski (estab. 1799) Count Casimir Pulaski (1748-1779), Polish patriot during the Revolutionary War.

Robertson (estab. 1867) George Robertson (1790-1874)

Rockcastle (estab. 1810) The county is named for the Rockcastle River, which is a tributary of the Cumberland River.

Rowan (estab. 1856) John Rowan (1773-1843), justice in the Kentucky Court of Appeals and U.S. senator.

Russell (estab. 1826) Col. William Russell (1758-1825), Revolutionary War officer, Indian fighter, commander of American forces on the frontier, and Kentucky legislator.

Scott (estab. 1792) Gen. Charles Scott (1739-1813), Revolutionary War officer and Kentucky governor.

Shelby (estab. 1792) Gen. Isaac Shelby (1750-1826), Revolutionary War veteran, Indian fighter, and Kentucky's first governor.

Simpson (estab. 1819) Capt. John Simpson (?-1813), Indian fighter, Speaker in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and officer in the War of 1812. One of those honored after the Battle of River Raisin.

Spencer (estab. 1824) Capt. Spears Spencer, officer in the post-Revolutionary War Indian campaigns.

Taylor (estab. 1848) Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), hero of the Mexican war, and President of the United States.

Todd (estab. 1820) Col. John Todd (1750-1782), Indian fighter who served with George Rogers Clark in Illinois.

Trigg (estab. 1820) Col. Stephen Trigg (1742-1782), Kentucky pioneer, and representative of Kentucky county in the Virginia legislature.

Trimble (estab. 1837) Robert Trimble (1777-1828), justice in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, U.S. district judge, and associate justice in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Union (estab. 1811) The county was named for "the united desire of its residents to form a new county."*

Warren (estab. 1797) Gen. Joseph Warren, Massachusetts physician and Revolutionary War officer.

Washington (estab. 1792) George Washington

Wayne (estab. 1801) Gen. "Mad Anthony" Wayne (1745-1796), Revolutionary War officer, and diplomat that negotiated the treaty (1795) to end Indian raids in Kentucky.

Webster (estab. 1860) Daniel Webster (1782-1852), U.S. congressman and senator, and Secretary of State.

Whitley (estab. 1818) Col. William Whitley (1749-1813), pioneer and Indian fighter.

Wolfe (estab. 1860) Nathaniel Wolfe (1810-1865), representative of Jefferson County in the Kentucky legislature.

Woodford (estab. 1789) Gen. William Woodford, officer in the Continental Army.

Motto: United we stand, divided we fall
Nickname: The Bluegrass State
Population (2000 Census): 4,041,769
Population Rank: 25 of 50 states (2000 Census rank)
Area: 40,411 sq. miles, of which 39,732 is land
Area Rank: 37 of 50 states
Kentucky has 120 counties
Jefferson County has largest population: 693,604 in 2000
Robertson County has smallest population: 2,266 in 2000
Pike County is the largest in area: 787 sq. miles
Gallatin County is the smallest in area: 98 sq. miles
Frankfort is the capital city
Kentucky was admitted as the 15th state on June 1, 1792

 


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