Breckinridge County, Kentucky

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Breckinridge County, Kentucky
Breckinridge County, Kentucky courthouse.jpg
Breckinridge County, Kentucky courthouse in Hardinsburg
Map of Kentucky highlighting Breckinridge County
Location within the U.S. state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location within the U.S.
Named forJohn Breckinridge
Largest cityHardinsburg
 • Total586 sq mi (1,518 km2)
 • Land567 sq mi (1,469 km2)
 • Water18 sq mi (47 km2), 3.2%
Population (est.)
 • (2018)20,388
 • Density35/sq mi (14/km2)
Congressional district2nd
Time zoneCentral: UTC−6/−5

Breckinridge County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,059,[1] its county seat is Hardinsburg, Kentucky.[2] The county was named for John Breckinridge (1760–1806), a Kentucky Attorney General, state legislator, United States Senator, and United States Attorney General,[3][4] it was the 38th Kentucky county in order of formation.[5]

Breckinridge County is now a wet county, following a local option election on January 29, 2013, but it had been a dry county for the previous 105 years.


The area presently bounded by Kentucky state lines was a part of the U.S. State of Virginia, known as Kentucky County when the British colonies separated themselves in the American Revolutionary War. In 1780, the Virginia legislature divided the previous Kentucky County into three smaller units: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. In 1791, this area was separated into the State of Kentucky; it became effective on June 1, 1792. From that time, the original three counties were divided several times. A portion of Jefferson County was split off as Nelson County in 1784; a portion of Nelson was split off as Hardin County in 1792; the present Breckinridge County was split off from Hardin in 1799.

In August 1779, Sinclair Hardin (first cousin of Captain William Hardin, the founder of Hardin's Fort), was killed by Shawnee Indians while taking a drink at Big Springs, he was the first white settler in Breckinridge County to be killed by Native Americans.[6][7] The Indian threat continued for several years. However, the only sizable expedition against the Native Americans that Breckenridge County settlers took part in culminated in the Battle of Saline Creek in August 1786, in Illinois;[6][7] the battle only lasted a few minutes, with fierce hand-to-hand combat. Between 18 and 30 Shawnee warriors were killed, with six more wounded; the remainder of the Shawnee fled. Captain William Hardin had commanded the Kentucky volunteers, many of whom also were killed or wounded. Hardin's militia brought home 16 Shawnee scalps, nine captured horses, 17 muskets, and "a mighty nice sword".[7]

The Judge-Executive of Breckinridge County from 1801 to 1805 was William Comstock. Jo Allen was the county clerk, and Ben Huff was the sheriff.[8]

When Abraham Lincoln's father, Thomas Lincoln, moved from the Knob Creek Farm, his last Kentucky home, after November 11, 1816, he traveled through Breckinridge County, working at odd jobs for several weeks.[9] Thomas Lincoln took his family from the Knob Creek Farm (Abraham Lincoln's birthplace in present-day Hodgenville) to Elizabethtown.[10] After visiting the Brumfield family, the Lincolns traveled about twelve miles west, passing the First Regular Baptist Church of Mill Creek; the Lincolns followed the old pioneer trail (established in 1802) through Vine Grove (Viney Grove), and after crossing Otter Creek, they traveled through what is now Flaherty (Breckinridge County) to the town of Big Spring.[9] Their journey from Flaherty passed the Woolfork brick house at Jackey's Grove, then on to Big Spring. Big Spring is located where the boundaries of Hardin, Meade (established 1823), and Breckinridge counties meet; the Lincolns next passed Hopkins Otey Wale's farm in the area between Harned and Garfield in Breckinridge County, which until the Civil War, was known as the Prince of Wales.[9] Wales owned about 2,000 acres of land on both sides of U.S. Route 60, and was centered about where "Dead Man's Curve" is now. Thomas Lincoln, at the time, was almost destitute, they spent the night at the inn, for which Lincoln paid his way by splitting wood. At that time, Abraham Lincoln was 7 years of age. There was no room for him at the supper table, so he was sent to the kitchen to eat with the slaves. However, the slaves would not sit with that "poor white trash", he was obliged to sit in a corner alone.[9]

The Lincolns followed the trace of the old pioneer Salt Lick Trail through Vine Grove, Flaherty, and Big Spring to U.S. Route 60 near Harned's Station; the Lincolns followed the most direct route by way of the Lost Run Road to Harned, and from Harned, the Lincoln family pursued a straight course over what is now Federal Highway 60 to the town of Hardinsburg. Colonel David R. Murray was the first person in Breckinridge County who came in contact with Thomas Lincoln's family as they migrated westward in their ox-cart. Colonel Murray talked to the Lincolns, and being well informed concerning the surrounding country, he directed them to a vacant log cabin, where they might secure rest and shelter.[10] Murray's slave Minerva, after seeing the condition of the children, went back into the house, and came back immediately with a plate heaped with slices of homemade bread covered with butter, a pitcher of milk, and some cups, she seated the children on the steps of Murray's house and fed the Lincoln children.[10]

Thomas Lincoln and his family spent two or three weeks in Hardinsburg and occupied a small cabin near the southern edge of town, what is now the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Camp in Hardinsburg.[11] Local residents gave them food and a cow for milk.[12] From Hardinsburg, the Lincoln family took the Yellow Banks Road to Cloversport. In Cloversport (then Joesville, named after Joe Huston), Thomas Lincoln, Nancy, Sarah, and 7-year-old Abraham Lincoln spent one night in the home of Mrs. Kittie Monroe's father in Cloverport above Clover Creek.[10] Mrs. Kittie Monroe was the wife of James Monroe.

The Lincolns left Kentucky by crossing the Ohio River at Cloverport[13] on a log ferry operated by Jacob Weatherholt,[14] from above the mouth of Clover Creek,[10] through Thompson's Ferry,[9] which operated on the Ohio River near Anderson Creek, to Tobinsport, Indiana; the next day, the Lincoln family made their way down to Rock Island (Indiana), and camped at "Lafayette Spring"

named so because that is where the Mechanic, the steamboat Marquis de Lafayette was on, wrecked on May 8–9, 1825. The next day (December 1816), the Lincoln family stopped at Troy, and then moved on toward their new home to take up a Federal Land Claim near Little Pigeon Creek (within the Little Pigeon Creek Community) in what was then Perry County and is now Spencer County, Indiana.[9][10]

During the American Civil War, raiding Kentucky Confederate cavalry burned the courthouse, as it was being used by Union troops as a barracks, though most of the records were saved. On March 12, 1865, Jerome Clarke, a well known Confederate guerrilla, claimed by some to have been Sue Munday, was captured near the Breckinridge–Meade County line,[15] he was hanged three days later in Louisville.[16] Afterward, his trial drew heavy criticism.

During the nineteenth century, the Victoria Coal Mines, named in honor of British Queen Victoria, were the first to produce coal oil, and Cloverport exported it to Great Britain, where it was used to light Buckingham Palace.

United States Supreme Court Justice Wiley Blount Rutledge, Jr., who served on the High Court from 1943 to 1949, was born at Tar Springs in 1894, when his father was pastor of Cloverport Baptist Church.

On June 6, 1932, at Hardinsburg, Sam Jennings became the penultimate person to be publicly executed in the United States.

In the 1950s, Rough River Dam State Resort Park was developed at the southern border of the county.

A third courthouse fire nearly destroyed county records in 1958.

Breckinridge County High School won the 1965 and 1995 Kentucky High School Athletic Association's Boys' Basketball tournaments.

The Breckinridge County Archives, formed in 1984, was the first state-funded archival repository in the history of the United States and is known across the nation as an excellent resource for genealogical and historical research.[citation needed]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 586 square miles (1,520 km2), of which 567 square miles (1,470 km2) is land and 18 square miles (47 km2) (3.2%) is water.[17]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201820,388[18]1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[19]
1790-1960[20] 1900-1990[21]
1990-2000[22] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[23] of 2000, there were 18,648 people, 7,324 households, and 5,309 families residing in the county; the population density was 33 per square mile (13/km2). There were 9,890 housing units at an average density of 17 per square mile (6.6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.84% White, 2.86% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.09% from other races, and 0.90% from two or more races. 0.72% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,324 households out of which 31.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.60% were married couples living together, 8.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% were non-families. 24.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.90% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 26.00% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,554, and the median income for a family was $36,575. Males had a median income of $31,004 versus $19,371 for females; the per capita income for the county was $15,402. About 11.80% of families and 15.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.60% of those under age 18 and 19.00% of those age 65 or over.


Breckinridge County has three school systems:


Breckinridge County Public Library is located at 112 South Main Street in Hardinsburg, Kentucky.


Incorporated Communities[edit]

Unincorporated Communities A–L[edit]

Unincorporated Communities M–Z[edit]

Notable natives[edit]


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[24]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 73.9% 6,484 22.3% 1,960 3.8% 330
2012 63.1% 5,025 35.5% 2,825 1.5% 119
2008 62.0% 5,281 36.5% 3,110 1.5% 131
2004 65.5% 5,580 33.9% 2,884 0.7% 56
2000 63.9% 4,763 34.8% 2,595 1.3% 95
1996 46.4% 3,151 43.5% 2,956 10.2% 690
1992 41.9% 2,941 44.4% 3,113 13.7% 959
1988 58.0% 3,841 41.8% 2,765 0.3% 17
1984 62.1% 4,432 37.4% 2,669 0.4% 31
1980 52.7% 3,629 45.9% 3,163 1.4% 99
1976 44.2% 2,698 54.8% 3,347 1.1% 66
1972 64.3% 3,574 34.5% 1,921 1.2% 68
1968 47.3% 2,779 34.5% 2,024 18.2% 1,070
1964 36.7% 2,167 63.2% 3,733 0.2% 11
1960 55.9% 3,979 44.1% 3,136 0.0% 0
1956 56.7% 3,784 43.0% 2,867 0.3% 20
1952 52.0% 3,078 47.8% 2,828 0.3% 16
1948 46.4% 2,407 50.5% 2,623 3.1% 160
1944 52.9% 3,292 46.5% 2,889 0.6% 37
1940 49.4% 3,258 50.0% 3,296 0.6% 37
1936 46.6% 2,898 51.9% 3,233 1.5% 94
1932 45.7% 3,237 53.8% 3,814 0.5% 34
1928 61.5% 4,783 38.4% 2,987 0.0% 3
1924 53.4% 3,832 45.0% 3,230 1.6% 118
1920 53.9% 4,368 45.7% 3,702 0.4% 29
1916 53.2% 2,549 45.4% 2,172 1.4% 68
1912 25.9% 1,163 43.8% 1,967 30.3% 1,359

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 37°46′N 86°26′W / 37.77°N 86.43°W / 37.77; -86.43


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 34.
  4. ^ "Brekinridge County". The Kentucky Encyclopedia. 2000. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  5. ^ Collins, Lewis (1882). Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Vol. 2. Collins & Co. p. 26.
  6. ^ a b Jolly, Henry C. April 25, 1902. "Interesting History of Indian Bill Hardin". The Breckinridge Democrat.
  7. ^ a b c Perrin, W.H. 1885. A History of the State of Kentucky. pp. 1039–1042; 1081, 1082. Retrieved from [1] and [2]
  8. ^ Breckinridge Bicentennial Committee Program. Accessed from Breckinridge Historical Archives.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Gregory, Edward. (1938). "At the End of the Trail: The Story of the Journey of Thomas Lincoln and His Family Through Hardin and Breckinridge Counties, Kentucky, to Indiana in 1816." Retrieved November 27, 2014 from [3].
  10. ^ a b c d e f McMurtry, R. Gerald. (December 1937). The Lincoln Migration from Kentucky to Indiana. Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp. 385–421. Retrieved from [4].
  11. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 1003.
  12. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 1003, Thompson, William, History and Legend of Breckinridge County, Kentucky.
  13. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 73.
  14. ^ Affidavits in support of Kentucky Historical Marker No. 1003, on file with the Kentucky Historical Society
  15. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 536.
  16. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 540.
  17. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  18. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  19. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  20. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  21. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  22. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  23. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  24. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved June 29, 2018.