According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the county has a total area of 621.46 square miles (1,609.6 km2), of which 620.35 square miles (1,606.7 km2) (or 99.82%) is land and 1.11 square miles (2.9 km2) (or 0.18%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 13,754 people, 5,697 households, and 3,760 families residing in the county. The population density was 22 people per square mile (9/km²). There were 6,554 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.98% White, 0.60% Black or African American, 0.38% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 0.76% from two or more races. Approximately 0.76% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 5,697 households out of which 29.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.60% were married couples living together, 8.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.00% were non-families. 30.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.40% under the age of 18, 7.00% from 18 to 24, 24.40% from 25 to 44, 22.60% from 45 to 64, and 20.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 89.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $28,242, and the median income for a family was $36,134. Males had a median income of $25,635 versus $18,820 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,378. About 11.30% of families and 14.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.20% of those under age 18 and 14.10% of those age 65 or over.