Henry County's History

Henry County was the 26th county formed in Kentucky, coming into existence on June 15, 1799 from a portion of Shelby County. The original boundary of Henry County included several miles of frontage on the Ohio River. That frontage was gradually eroded as three neighboring counties were carved out of portions of Henry County during the early 1800's. Oldham County was formed in 1824 (along with parts of Jefferson and Shelby); Trimble County was created in 1837 (along with portions of Gallatin and Oldham) and finally, with the formation of Carroll County in 1838 (again with part of Gallatin and the newly created Trimble), Henry County lost its last bit of land on the Ohio River. All of these counties, along with Owen and Franklin Counties form Henry County's borders today.

First section of the act creating Henry County Reprinted from the Henry County Historical Society Quarterly Review, Apr. 1979

Be it enacted by the General Assembly that from and after the first day of June next, all that part of the county of Shelby included in the following bounds, to wit: Beginning ten miles due north from the public square, on which the court-house of the said county of Shelby is now situated thence west to the Jefferson line thence with said line to the Ohio River, thence up the Ohio with the meanders thereof six miles above the mouth of Corn creek, on a straight line from the mouth thereof, thence a straight line till it strikes the road leading from Shelbyville to the mouth of Kentucky, two miles north of Henry Dougherty's thence a direct line to the Kentucky river two and a half miles above the mouth of Eagle Creek, thence up the Kentucky river and the Franklin line so far till a west course will strike the beginning, shall be one distinct county and called and known by the name of Henry.

Henry County, KY was named for Patrick Henry, Revolutionary War patriot, who in 1785 assigned the first land patent for Drennon Springs, located on Drennon's Lick in the northern portion of the county, between New Castle and the Kentucky River, to George Rogers Clark. The springs, discovered in 1773 by pioneer settlers Jacob Drennon and Matthew Bracken, were a source of salt in the early nineteenth century. In the 1840s and 1850s a spa capitalized on the reputed medicinal qualities of the springs. WESTERN MILITARY Institute operated there in the fall, winter, and spring during the period 1851-61, and during the Civil War Union loyalists used the grounds as a recruiting station. The main hotel and outlying cottages burned March 23, 1865. Among the other private academies that operated in Henry County over the years were EMINENCE COLLEGE in Eminence (185795), Henry County Academy in New Castle (183685), Smithfield College in Smithfield (1866-ca. 1887), and Home College in Campbellsburg (18831927). Henry County is located in the Outer Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. Its elevation ranges from 425 to 950 feet above sea level. In 1990 the population was 12,823 in a land area of 289 square miles, an average of 44.4 people per square mile. The county seat is New Castle. The largest town is Eminence.

Henry County lays claim to two literary figures. Eminence was the birthplace of Hollis SUMMERS (1916-87), a novelist and poet whose works include City Limit (1948), Brighten the Corner (1952), and The Weather of February (1957). New Castle was the boyhood home of Wendell BERRY, who used the countryside scenery there in Nathan Coulter (1960).

For more information about Henry County, Click Here.

For information about the Low Dutch settlement at 6 Mile in Henry County, Click Here.

For a short history of Famous Kentuckians, Click Here.

 NEW!!  Kentucky County Lines - 1784-1834


The American History & Genealogy Project