Breckinridge County, Kentucky

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Breckinridge County, Kentucky
Breckinridge County, Kentucky courthouse.jpg
Breckinridge County, Kentucky courthouse in Hardinsburg, Kentucky
Map of Kentucky highlighting Breckinridge County
Location in the state of Kentucky
Map of the United States highlighting Kentucky
Kentucky's location in the U.S.
Founded 1800
Named for John Breckinridge
Seat Hardinsburg
Largest city Hardinsburg
 • Total 585.53 sq mi (1,517 km2)
 • Land 572.41 sq mi (1,483 km2)
 • Water 13.12 sq mi (34 km2), 2.24%
 • (2010) 20,059
 • Density 17/sq mi (7/km²)
Congressional district 2nd
Time zone Central: 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 formed in 1799 and was named for John Breckinridge (1760–1806), an Kentucky Attorney General, state legislator, United States Senator, and United States Attorney General.[3] Breckinridge County is a wet county following a local option election on January 29, 2013 but was a prohibition or dry county for the prior 105 years.


Breckinridge County was established in 1799 with land given by Hardin County. Breckinridge was the 38th Kentucky county in order of formation.[4]

In 1816, when future United States President Abraham Lincoln was seven years old, his father, Thomas Lincoln and his family spent a few weeks in Hardinsburg and occupied a small cabin near what is now the Kentucky FFA Leadership Training Camp in Hardinsburg.[5] Local residents gave them food and a cow for milk.[6] The Lincolns left Kentucky by crossing the Ohio River at Cloverport,[7] on a log ferry operated by Jacob Weatherholt.[8]

During the American Civil War, Confederate cavalry burned the local courthouse, which was being used by Union troops as a barracks, but most of the records were saved. On March 12, 1865, Jerome Clarke, a notorious Confederate guerrilla, reputed by some to have been Sue Munday, was captured near the Breckinridge-Meade County line[9] and was hanged three days later in Louisville.[10] Afterward, his trial drew heavy criticism.

During the nineteenth century, the Victoria Coal mines, named in honor of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, were the first to produce coal oil, and Cloverport exported coal oil 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, while his father was pastor of Cloverport Baptist Church.

On June 6, 1932, at Hardinsburg, Sam Jennings became the second last 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 prides itself as the champion of 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.


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 585.53 square miles (1,516.5 km2), of which 572.41 square miles (1,482.5 km2) (or 97.76%) is land and 13.12 square miles (34.0 km2) (or 2.24%) is water.[11]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 3,430
1820 7,485 118.2%
1830 7,345 −1.9%
1840 8,944 21.8%
1850 10,593 18.4%
1860 13,236 25.0%
1870 13,440 1.5%
1880 17,486 30.1%
1890 21,034 20.3%
1900 20,534 −2.4%
1910 21,034 2.4%
1920 19,652 −6.6%
1930 17,368 −11.6%
1940 17,744 2.2%
1950 15,528 −12.5%
1960 14,734 −5.1%
1970 14,789 0.4%
1980 16,861 14.0%
1990 16,312 −3.3%
2000 18,648 14.3%
2010 20,059 7.6%
Est. 2012 20,071 0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[12]
2012 Estimate[13]

As of the census[14] 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.

Cities and towns[edit]


Breckinridge County has two school districts:

Notable natives[edit]


Breckinridge County Public Library is located at 112 South Main Street in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. The library is open Monday from 8:30-7:30, Tuesday through Friday from 8:30-4:30, and Saturday from 8:30-12:30 Central Standard Time.

See also[edit]

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


  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. ^ The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Volume 1. Kentucky State Historical Society. 1903. p. 34. 
  4. ^ Collins, Lewis (1882). Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2. Collins & Company. p. 26. 
  5. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 1003.
  6. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 1003, Thompson, William, History and Legend of Breckinridge County, Kentucky.
  7. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 73.
  8. ^ Affidavits in support of Kentucky Historical Marker No. 1003, on file with the Kentucky Historical Society.
  9. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 536.
  10. ^ Kentucky Historical Marker No. 540.
  11. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  12. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.