Breathitt County, Kentucky

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Breathitt County, Kentucky
Breathitt County Kentucky Courthouse.jpg
Breathitt County Kentucky Courthouse in Jackson
Map of Kentucky highlighting Breathitt County
Location in the state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location in the U.S.
Founded 1839
Named for John Breathitt
Seat Jackson
Largest city Jackson
 • Total 495 sq mi (1,282 km2)
 • Land 492 sq mi (1,274 km2)
 • Water 2.9 sq mi (8 km2), 0.6%
 • (2010) 13,878
 • Density 28/sq mi (11/km²)
Congressional district 5th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Breathitt County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 13,878.[1] Its county seat is Jackson, Kentucky.[2] The county was formed in 1839 and was named for John Breathitt who was Governor of Kentucky from 1832 to 1834. Breathitt County is a prohibition or dry county.


Breathitt County was formed on February 8, 1839 from portions of Clay County, Estill County and Perry County. It was named after Governor John Breathitt.[3]

During World War I, Breathitt County attained national prominence by filling its quota of service men by volunteers. No men had to be drafted from Breathitt, the only county in U.S. with this record. During the war 3,912 men registered, 405 volunteered; of 324 called, 281 were inducted and 43 rejected. Kentuckians ranked among highest in nation in physical fitness. Currently, a Kentucky Historical Marker sits beside the old county court house lawn commemorating this achievement and is headlined, "Breathitt Volunteers". It is Kentucky Historical Marker #904. Military veterans of Breathitt County are also honored with a stone walls memorial. The memorial is erected beside the old county courthouse in downtown Jackson, Kentucky. The stone walls list all military service rendered by its citizens since the formation of Breathitt County. Kentucky State Highway 15 in Breathitt County is named "Breathitt County Veterans Highway" by resolution of the County Court. In June 2013, state highway 476 in Breathitt County was named the "Robinson Forest Highway" by resolution of the County Court. It is to honor the forest in the county and its founder Mr. E.O. Robinson.[citation needed]

Breathitt County shares a colorful political history also with political struggles between early leaders of the county. One such incident occurred at a polling place where a shoot-out had cost one or two voters their lives. The Democratic Party in Breathitt County has had influence in the county for a century, but in recent decades the Republican Party has had made a standing to voters of the county. US first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Lady Bird Johnson visited Breathitt county. Mrs. Roosevelt dedicated the old Breathitt County high school in Jackson. And Mrs. Johnson dedicated the current Breathitt High School gym on her tour of the county along with the late Marie R. Turner, who was superintendent of the Breathitt County schools and political activist in Breathitt County. Women in Breathitt county have been more active in politics in recent memory with the late superintendent Marie R. Turner being a democratic activist. Betty Cornett, the first woman county judge-executive when her husband county judge-executive Robert E. Cornett died. Helen Combs was the first woman county magistrate from district #3 when her husband, magistrate J. W. Combs died and Combs ran for her own term. Rose Wolfe, became the first woman mayor for the city of Jackson, Kentucky. The late Seldon Short was a Republican activist for Breathitt County. The preacher from Vancleve, just north from Jackson, brought issues of Breathitt county to his party in the state and national levels of the Republican Party. The late Lester Smith, a former mayor of Jackson was a Republican activist. The late Democratic county judge-executive Nim Henson served more terms as county judge in memory and died in office. The local nursing home in Jackson is named in his honor. Many more political leaders of Breathitt county can be learned by visiting the Breathitt county museum in Jackson or the county court clerk's office at the old courthouse in Jackson.[citation needed]

The first people of Breathitt county were Cherokee Indians living in the mountains in Breathitt county. The first "white" settlers were Irish, Scottish, English, French or German descent. Relatives of Some of the notable last names that helped settle the county still exist, Allen, Bowling, Back, Cockrell, Combs, Campbell, Clemons, Deaton, Fletcher, Fugate, Haddix, Hargis, Hudson, Herald, Henson, Johnson, Mann, Miller, McIntosh, Neace, Noble, Napier, Russell, Sizemore, Smith, Turner, White.[citation needed] Breathitt county was a remote area with mountain trails and many creeks. Many people traveled by horseback and there were many little communities with country stores because depending where one lived, going to the county seat of Jackson could be a day trip or two. When state highway 15 came to Breathitt county, and county roads were graded by bulldozers, travel in the county began to be easier. By the 1970s, many parts of Breathitt county had roads where a car could travel up and down a mountain hollow or valley side.[citation needed]

Timber and coal mining have been the two most natural resources that brought jobs and grew the county's economy. Timber industry was vibrant until the late 1960s when coal mining began to bring in more money and more men went to coal mining. After the late 1980s, the coal mining boom in Breathitt county slowed to where coal mining families looked other places to find work. Currently, both industries are still sluggish in the Breathitt county area.[citation needed]

Breathitt county has many mountain walking trails and an Elk viewing area. The city of Jackson has a small park in town called the Lester Smith Park and the other two parks in Jackson are the Kiwanis Park and Douthitt Park. At Crockettsville (near Buckhorn) is a yearly festival that raises money for a children's home. Country singers from all around come and sing. The Honey festival in downtown Jackson is on Labor Day weekend in September. And a new fair called the Breathitt Heritage Fair is in October with Douthitt Park hosting booths and singing events.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 495 square miles (1,280 km2), of which 492 square miles (1,270 km2) is land and 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2) (0.6%) is water.[4]

The North and Middle Forks of the Kentucky River pass through the county as the main water sources.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 2,195
1850 3,785 72.4%
1860 4,980 31.6%
1870 5,672 13.9%
1880 7,742 36.5%
1890 8,705 12.4%
1900 14,322 64.5%
1910 17,540 22.5%
1920 20,614 17.5%
1930 21,143 2.6%
1940 23,946 13.3%
1950 19,964 −16.6%
1960 15,490 −22.4%
1970 14,221 −8.2%
1980 17,004 19.6%
1990 15,703 −7.7%
2000 16,100 2.5%
2010 13,878 −13.8%
Est. 2013 13,545 −2.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
1790-1960[6] 1900-1990[7]
1990-2000[8] 2010-2013[1]

As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 16,100 people, 6,170 households, and 4,541 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 per square mile (12/km2). There were 6,812 housing units at an average density of 14 per square mile (5.4/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 98.69% White, 0.39% Black or African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.08% from other races, and 0.43% from two or more races. 0.66% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,170 households, out of which 34.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.00% were married couples living together, 14.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.40% were non-families. 23.80% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county the population was spread out, with 25.50% under the age of 18, 10.00% from 18 to 24, 28.90% from 25 to 44, 24.00% from 45 to 64, and 11.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 97.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $19,155, and the median income for a family was $23,721. Males had a median income of $26,208 versus $20,613 for females. The per capita income for the county was $11,044. About 28.10% of families and 33.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.90% of those under age 18 and 26.80% of those age 65 or over.


Coal companies[edit]


Jackson Independent Schools[edit]

Jackson Independent Schools is a school district that educates students inside and outside the city limits of Jackson, Kentucky.

Breathitt County Schools[edit]

Breathitt County Schools is another school district with an array of schools within the city limits of Jackson, Kentucky and throughout the county.

  • L.B.J. Elementary School – Jackson, Kentucky (Opened 1970)
  • Highland-Turner Elementary School – Canoe, Kentucky (Opened 1992)
  • Rousseau Elementary School (CLOSED 2013) – Rousseau, Kentucky
  • Marie Roberts-Caney Elementary School – Lost Creek, Kentucky (Expanded School Opened 1996)
  • Sebastian Middle School – Jackson, Kentucky (Opened 1975)
  • Breathitt County High School – Jackson, Kentucky (New School Opened 1982)

Private schools[edit]

  • Mount Carmel School – Vancleve, Kentucky
  • Oakdale Christian Academy – Jackson, Kentucky
  • Riverside Christian School – Lost Creek, Kentucky

Higher education[edit]

Breathitt Area Technology Center[edit]

The Breathitt Area Technology Center serves both the Jackson Independent and the Breathitt County school districts. The school is located in Jackson, Kentucky on the campus of Breathitt County High School. The school is operated by the state of Kentucky. While most of the funding comes from the state, much of the equipment is purchased with federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act funds, which are aimed at advancing technical education.

The focus of the school is that of technical education. The Breathitt ATC offers the following technical programs:

  • Automotive Technology
  • Construction Technology
  • Electrical Technology
  • Health Sciences
  • Office Technology

UK Robinson Station[edit]

The community of Quicksand is the location for the University of Kentucky Robinson Station. This agriculture research facility is a pivotal asset in Breathitt County, furthering the scientific studies in the areas of agriculture and forestry.

Health Care[edit]

  • Breathitt County Family Health Center, Jackson, Kentucky

Breathitt County health care providers were featured in a November 23, 2013 Washington Post article: "In Rural Kentucky, Health-Care Takes Back Seat as the Long-Uninsured Line Up"[11]


  • Altro
  • Bays
  • Caney
  • Canoe
  • Chenowee
  • Clayhole
  • Crockettsville
  • Elkatawa
  • Evanston
  • Flintville
  • Fugates Fork
  • Hardshell
  • Hayes Branch
  • Jackson (county seat)
  • Lost Creek
  • Morris Fork
  • Ned
  • Nix Branch
  • Noble
  • Noctor
  • Oakdale
  • Quicksand
  • Riverside
  • Rose Branch
  • Rousseau
  • Sebastians Branch
  • Smith Branch
  • South Fork
  • Turners Creek
  • Vancleve
  • War Creek
  • Watts
  • Wilstacy

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 34. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ Arch Coal - Hazard Complex
  10. ^ US Coal Corporation :: Operations
  11. ^ McCrummen, Stephanie (2013-11-23). "In Rural Kentucky Health-Care Debate Takes Back Seat as the Long-Uninsured Line Up". Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-11-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • T.R.C. Hutton, Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°31′N 83°19′W / 37.52°N 83.32°W / 37.52; -83.32