Bourbon County, Kentucky

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Bourbon County, Kentucky
Bourbon county, kentucky courthouse.jpg
Bourbon County Courthouse in Paris, Kentucky
Map of Kentucky highlighting Bourbon County
Location in the state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location in the U.S.
Founded 1785
Named for House of Bourbon
Seat Paris
Largest city Paris
 • Total 291.66 sq mi (755 km2)
 • Land 291.43 sq mi (755 km2)
 • Water 0.23 sq mi (1 km2), 0.08%
 • (2010) 19,985
 • Density 66/sq mi (25/km²)
Congressional district 6th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Bourbon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 19,985.[1] Its county seat is Paris, Kentucky.[2]

Bourbon County is the remnant of what was previously a much larger Bourbon County, established as part of Virginia in 1785,[3] and comprising what are now thirty-four modern Kentucky counties. The area later became known as Old Bourbon in reference to its historical expanse. It was originally part of the French province of Louisiana, then after 1763 became part of Virginia, but was transferred to the newly formed Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1792.

The county is best known for its historical association with bourbon whiskey, although no bourbon whiskey is currently made within Bourbon County.[4][5][6]

Bourbon County is part of the Lexington–Fayette Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Bourbon County was established in 1785 from land given by Fayette County, Virginia,[7] and named after the French House of Bourbon,[8] in gratitude for Louis XVI of France's assistance during the American Revolutionary War. Bourbon became part of the new state of Kentucky when it was created in 1792.

The courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1872 and 1901, resulting in the loss of county records.[9]

Old Bourbon[edit]

In 1780, Kentucky County, Virginia, was divided into three counties of Virginia: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln, called the District of Kentucky. Formed in 1786 from Fayette County, Bourbon County, Virginia, originally comprised 34 northeastern counties of Kentucky's 120 current ones, including the current Bourbon County.[10][11][12] The area later became known as Old Bourbon in reference to its historical expanse.

Birthplace of Bourbon Whiskey[edit]

See also: Bourbon whiskey

Whiskey was an early product of the area, and whiskey barrels from the area were marked Old Bourbon when they were shipped downriver from the local port on the Ohio River.[12][13] As it was made mostly from corn (maize), it had a distinctive flavor, and the name bourbon came to be used to distinguish it from other regional whiskey styles, such as Monongahela, a product of western Pennsylvania, which may have generally been a rye whiskey. The use of the term Old in the phrase Old Bourbon, was likely misconstrued as a reference to the aging of the whiskey rather than part of the name of the geographic area.[12] The port, originally known as Limestone, now Maysville, was in Bourbon County until the borders were redrawn in 1789 when it became part of the Mason County of Virginia, and it is now in Mason County, Kentucky.[12] Thirty-four modern Kentucky counties were once part of the original Bourbon County, including the current county of that name.[11]


According to the 2000 United States Census, the county has a total area of 291.66 square miles (755.4 km2), of which 291.43 square miles (754.8 km2) (or 99.92%) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.60 km2), or 0.08%, is water.[14]

There are no sizable lakes in the county, although there are several streams. Primary among these is Stoner Creek, on which the county seat is situated. This large stream is a principal tributary of the South Fork of the Licking River.

The county's topography is predominantly gently rolling hills. Due to agricultural development, very little of the county's land area can be characterized as forested, though deciduous trees are a common feature of the landscape.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 7,837
1800 12,825 63.6%
1810 18,009 40.4%
1820 17,664 −1.9%
1830 18,436 4.4%
1840 14,478 −21.5%
1850 14,466 −0.1%
1860 14,860 2.7%
1870 14,863 0.0%
1880 15,956 7.4%
1890 16,976 6.4%
1900 18,069 6.4%
1910 17,462 −3.4%
1920 18,418 5.5%
1930 18,060 −1.9%
1940 17,932 −0.7%
1950 17,752 −1.0%
1960 18,178 2.4%
1970 18,476 1.6%
1980 19,405 5.0%
1990 19,236 −0.9%
2000 19,360 0.6%
2010 19,985 3.2%
Est. 2012 19,978 0.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]
2012 Estimate[16]

As of the United States Census[17] of 2000, there were 19,360 people, 7,681 households, and 5,445 families residing in the county. The population density was 66 per square mile (25 /km2). There were 8,349 housing units at an average density of 29 per square mile (11 /km2). The racial makeup of the county was 90.38% White, 6.94% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.36% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. 2.60% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 7,681 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.70% were married couples living together, 12.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.10% were non-families. 24.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.00% under the age of 18, 8.10% from 18 to 24, 28.60% from 25 to 44, 24.70% from 45 to 64, and 13.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $35,038, and the median income for a family was $42,294. Males had a median income of $30,989 versus $23,467 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,335. About 12.30% of families and 14.00% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.10% of those under age 18 and 11.90% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns[edit]


Adjacent counties[edit]

As of 1785:

Modern-day counties[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Bourbon County". Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Why Spelling Matters, The Chuck Cowdery Blog, February 24, 2009 ("bourbon whiskey is not made in Bourbon County").
  5. ^ Graham, Colleen, Whiskey (Whisky) Wisdom,, Accessed October, 2011 ("where no bourbon is made today").
  6. ^ Bourbon - The True American Whiskey, The Fifty Best, Accessed October, 2011 ("In fact, no bourbon is actually made or sold in Bourbon County today").
  7. ^ Collins, Lewis (1882). Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2. Collins & Company. p. 26. 
  8. ^ The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 34. 
  9. ^ Hogan, Roseann Reinemuth (1992). Kentucky Ancestry: A Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research. Ancestry Publishing. p. 197. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 
  10. ^ City of Cynthiana, "Early History of Kentucky County Virginia"
  11. ^ a b The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, John T. Edge, volume editor, Volume 7: Foodways, p. 128.
  12. ^ a b c d Cowdery, Charles K., "How Bourbon Whiskey Really Got Its Famous Name," The Bourbon Country Reader, Volume 3, Number 1, July 1996.
  13. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Bourbon, Straight: The Uncut and Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey, p. 25
  14. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  15. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

Coordinates: 38°12′N 84°13′W / 38.20°N 84.21°W / 38.20; -84.21