Kentucky County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some Kentucky records have simply disappeared. For genealogists doing research in Kentucky there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia
The Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives holds early vital records for the state of Kentucky up to 1911. Probate and land records can also be found there. Although, many records can also be found in county clerk offices.
The date when a county was organized, the date when records were first recorded there, and legal enactment dates may be different. The beginning dates of some records are on inventory sheets from the Kentucky Historical Society and Kentucky Department for Libraries. Since some counties were formed from another, land records may be available from the time before a county was first organized. Court record dates apply to records that can be found at the county seat. However, not all records are extant from the original listed date.
Researchers should contact the appropriate county courthouse or county official in the county of interest. Note that there are two county courthouses each in the counties of Kenton and Campbell. Also, researchers should check the records available at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives.
You will find several types of court records that are most likely to have details useful to your genealogical research. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
List of Kentucky Counties
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Allen||1815||Barren and Warren Counties||Scottsville|
|Anderson||1827||Franklin, Mercer and Washington Counties||Lawrenceburg|
|Ballard||1842||Hickman and McCracken Counties||Wickliffe|
|Barren||1798||Green and Warren Counties||Glasgow|
|Bell||1867||Knox and Harlan Counties||Pineville|
|Boyd||1860||Carter, Lawrence and Greenup Counties||Catlettsburg|
|Boyle||1842||Lincoln and Mercer Counties||Danville|
|Bracken||1796||Campbell and Mason Counties||Brooksville|
|Breathitt||1839||Clay, Estill and Perry Counties||Jackson|
|Bullitt||1796||Jefferson and Nelson Counties||Shepherdsville|
|Butler||1810||Logan and Ohio Counties||Morgantown|
|Campbell||1794||Harrison, Mason and Scott Counties||Alexandria & Newport|
|Carroll||1838||Gallatin, Henry and Trimble Counties||Carrollton|
|Carter||1838||Greenup and Lawrence Counties||Grayson|
|Clark||1792||Bourbon and Fayette Counties||Winchester|
|Clay||1807||Madison, Floyd and Knox Counties||Manchester|
|Clinton||1835||Wayne and Cumberland Counties||Albany|
|Edmonson||1825||Grayson, Hart and Warren Counties||Brownsville|
|Elliott||1869||Carter, Lawrence and Morgan Counties||Sandy Hook|
|Estill||1808||Clark and Madison||Irvine|
|Fayette||1780||one of the three original counties||Lexington|
|Floyd||1800||Fleming, Mason and Montgomery Counties||Prestonsburg|
|Franklin||1794||Woodford, Mercer and Shelby Counties||Frankfort|
|Gallatin||1798||Franklin and Shelby Counties||Warsaw|
|Garrard||1796||Madison, Lincoln and Mercer Counties||Lancaster|
|Green||1792||Lincoln and Nelson Counties||Greensburg|
|Hancock||1829||Daviess, Ohio and Breckinridge Counties||Hawesville|
|Harrison||1793||Bourbon and Scott Counties||Cynthiana|
|Hart||1819||Hardin and Barren Counties||Munfordville|
|Henry||1798||Shelby County||New Castle|
|Hickman||1821||Caldwell and Livingston Counties||Clinton|
|Jackson||1858||Rockcastle, Owsley, Madison, Clay, Estill and Laurel Counties||McKee|
|Jefferson||1780||one of the three original counties||Louisville|
|Johnson||1843||Floyd, Morgan and Lawrence Counties||Paintsville|
|Kenton||1840||Campbell County||Covington & Independence|
|Knott||1884||Perry, Breathitt, Floyd and Letcher Counties||Hindman|
|Laurel||1825||Whitley, Clay, Knox and Rockcastle Counties||London|
|Lawrence||1821||Floyd and Greenup Counties||Louisa|
|Lee||1870||Owsley, Breathitt, Wolfe and Estill Counties||Beattyville|
|Leslie||1878||Clay, Harlan and Perry Counties||Hyden|
|Letcher||1842||Perry and Harlan Counties||Whitesburg|
|Lincoln||1780||one of three original Kentucky counties||Stanford|
|Magoffin||1860||Floyd, Johnson and Morgan Counties||Salyersville|
|Martin||1870||Lawrence, Floyd, Pike and Johnson Counties||Inez|
|McCreary||1912||Wayne, Pulaski and Whitley Counties||Whitley City|
|McLean||1854||Muhlenberg, Daviess and Ohio Counties||Calhoun|
|Meade||1823||Hardin and Breckinridge Counties||Brandenburg|
|Menifee||1869||Powell, Wolfe, Bath, Morgan and Montgomery Counties||Frenchburg|
|Metcalfe||1860||Barren, Monroe, Adair, Cumberland and Green Counties||Edmonton|
|Monroe||1820||Barren and Cumberland Counties||Tompkinsville|
|Montgomery||1796||Clark County||Mount Sterling|
|Morgan||1822||Floyd and Bath Counties||West Liberty|
|Muhlenberg||1798||Christian and Logan Counties||Greenville|
|Nicholas||1799||Bourbon and Mason Counties||Carlisle|
|Oldham||1823||Henry, Shelby and Jefferson Counties||La Grange|
|Owen||1819||Scott, Franklin, Gallatin and Pendleton Counties||Owenton|
|Owsley||1843||Clay, Estill and Breathitt Counties||Booneville|
|Pendleton||1798||Bracken and Campbell Counties||Falmouth|
|Perry||1820||Clay and Floyd Counties||Hazard|
|Powell||1852||Clark, Estill and Montgomery Counties||Stanton|
|Pulaski||1798||Green and Lincoln Counties||Somerset|
|Robertson||1867||Bracken, Nicholas, Harrison and Mason Counties||Mount Olivet|
|Rockcastle||1810||Pulaski, Lincoln, Knox and Madison Counties||Mount Vernon|
|Rowan||1856||Fleming and Morgan Counties||Morehead|
|Russell||1825||Cumberland, Adair and Wayne Counties||Jamestown|
|Simpson||1819||Allen, Logan and Warren Counties||Franklin|
|Spencer||1824||Shelby, Bullitt and Nelson Counties||Taylorsville|
|Todd||1819||Christian and Logan Counties||Elkton|
|Trigg||1820||Christian and Caldwell Counties||Cadiz|
|Trimble||1837||Henry County, Oldham County and Gallatin Counties||Bedford|
|Warren||1796||Logan County||Bowling Green|
|Wayne||1800||Pulaski and Cumberland Counties||Monticello|
|Webster||1860||Hopkins, Union and Henderson Counties||Dixon|
|Wolfe||1860||Owsley, Breathitt, Powell and Morgan Counties||Campton|
List of Kentucky Extinct Counties
Kentucky contains some counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes. Those counties are:
- Beckham: was formed from Carter Co. and from Lewis and Elliott Counties. It was dissolved by the state Court of Appeals on 29 Apr 1904 as not being formed in accordance with the state constitution. Only marriage and postal records remain.
- Josh Bell: Formed just after the Civil War, on February 5, 1867, from portions of Harlan and Knox Counties. Originally named Josh Bell County at its formation, the name was changed to Bell County by the legislature on January 31, 1873.
List of Kentucky Counties with Burned Courthouses
The damage to courthouses greatly has a bearing on genealogists in every way. No only are these historic structures torn from our lifetimes, so are the records they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they’re lost forever. Although they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason that nearly all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist.
- Allen County Courthouse – a courthouse fire on 2 Oct 1902 destroyed some records.
- Anderson County Courthouse – Two courthouse disasters, on 26 Oct 1859 and on 13 Jan 1915, resulted in some record loss. However, only Order Book D and Mortgage Book B were lost.
- Ballard County Courthouse – Most records were destroyed in a courthouse fire on 17 Feb 1880.
- Bath County Courthouse – No records seem to have been lost in a courthouse fire on 21 May 1864.
- Bell County Courthouse – Records were lost in fires in 1914 and 1918. Also records were damaged with some loss in a flood in 1976.
- Boone County Courthouse – Some records may have been destroyed in the late 1880s due to a fire.
- Bourbon County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a fire on 8 May 1872.
- Boyle County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a courthouse fire in 1860.
- Bracken County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a fire on 20 Apr 1848.
- Breathitt County Courthouse – The courthouse or the jail was burned during the Civil War by Confederate troops. A fire in 1873 destroyed most of the county’s records.
- Breckinridge County Courthouse – Records were saved from a fire on 28 Dec 1864, though some records were lost to a fire in Feb 1958.
- Butler County Courthouse – The courthouse was burned in 1872.
- Caldwell County Courthouse – A courthouse fire on 15 Dec 1864 destroyed some records.
- Calloway County Courthouse – A courthouse fire destroyed some records in 1906.
- Carlisle County Courthouse – A courthouse fire destroyed some tax records on 22 Oct 1980.
- Christian County Courthouse – The courthouse burned in December 1864 and destroyed some records.
- Clay County Courthouse – On 20 Jan 1936, there was a courthouse fire.
- Clinton County Courthouse – Most records were lost in a courthouse fire in 1864. Another fire in 1980 destroyed some records.
- Crittenden County Courthouse – The courthouse was burned by guerillas on 25 Jan 1865 destroying some records. More records were destroyed in a fire which occurred in May 1870.
- Cumberland County Courthouse – Records were lost in courthouse fires on 3 Jan 1865 and on 3 Dec 1933.
- Daviess County Courthouse – No records were lost in a courthouse fire on 4 Jan 1865.
- Elliott County Courthouse – Some records were destroyed in a courthouse fire on 19 Dec 1957.
- Estill County Courthouse – Soldiers either set fire to the courthouse or the jail (depending on the source) in Oct 1864. In any case, the courthouse collapsed in 1865.
- Fayette County Courthouse – Most records for before 31 Jan 1803 were destroyed by fire. A second fire on 14 May 1897 also destroyed some early records.
- Floyd County Courthouse – Some records were destroyed by fire in Apr 1808.
- Graves County Courthouse – Fire destroyed courthouse records in 1864 and on 18 Dec 1887.
- Grayson County Courthouse – Three courthouse fire destroyed some or all redords of the time. The first was on 24 Dec 1864. The second was on 16 Jun 1896 from which three record books were saved. No records were lost in the fire of 3 Apr 1936.
- Hardin County Courthouse – A fire destroyed records on 23 Dec 1864, and on 6 Dec 1932.
- Harlan County Courthouse – The courthouse burned in Oct 1863, but the county clerk’s records were saved.
- Harrison County Courthouse – A fire on 24 Jan 1851 destroyed some records.
- Hart County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a courthouse fire on 3 Jan 1928.
- Henry County Courthouse – A loss of some records occurred due to a fire in 1804.
- Hopkins County Courthouse – Courthouse fire destroyed records in 1829 and in Dec 1864.
- Jackson County Courthouse – There was a courthouse fire in 1949.
- Larue County Courthouse – No records were lost in a fire set by guerrillas on 21 Feb 1865.
- Laurel County Courthouse – A courthouse fire occurred on 9 Dec 1958.
- Magoffin County Courthouse – No records were lost in a courthouse disaster in 1957.
- Marion County Courthouse – Morgan’s Raiders burned the clerk’s office destroying all records on 5 Jul 1863.
- Marshall County Courthouse – Records were lost in two courthouse disasters in 1888 and Dec 1914.
- Martin County Courthouse – A courthouse fire in 1892 destroyed records.
- McCreary County Courthouse – Courthouse fires destroyed some records in 1927 and in 1951.
- McLean County Courthouse – There was a courthouse fire in 1903.
- Meade County Courthouse – A tornado on 3 Apr 1794 destroyed the courthouse and some records.
- Mercer County Courthouse – A courthouse fire occurred on 15 May 1928.
- Metcalfe County Courthouse – There were reportedly courthouse fies in Mar 1865, and in 1867 or 1868.
- Monroe County Courthouse – Records were lost in courthouse fires on 22 Apr 1863 and in 1888.
- Montgomery County Courthouse – Fires on 4 Mar 1851 and 2 Dec 1863 destroyed many records.
- Morgan County Courthouse – Courthouse records were lost twice: in Oct 1862 and in 1925.
- Ohio County Courthouse – The courthouse burned on 20 Dec 1864.
- Oldham County Courthouse – A courthouse fire occurred in 1873.
- Owsley County Courthouse – In Jan 1929 and again on 5 Jan 1967, there were courthouse fires. In the 1929 fire, all records were destroyed.
- Perry County Courthouse – Some records were lost in courthouse disaster in 1885 and in 1911.
- Pike County Courthouse – No records were lost in a courthouse disaster in 1977.
- Powell County Courthouse – The courthouse was burned by guerrillas in the Spring of 1863, and the jail was burned in 1864. Records were lost in both fires.
- Pulaski County Courthouse – Fires in 1838 and on 7 Dec 1871 destroyed some records.
- Rockcastle County Courthouse – A fire destroyed most early records in 1871.
- Rowan County Courthouse – Courthouse fires on 21 Mar 1864 and in the 1890s destroyed many records.
- Russell County Courthouse – No records were lost in a courthouse disaster in 1976.
- Scott County Courthouse – Many records were destroyed on 9 Aug 1837 and again in 1876.
- Simpson County Courthouse – Most records were destroyed in a fire 16 May 1882.
- Spencer County Courthouse – Courthouse fires occurred on 25 Jan 1865 and again in 1914. No records were lost in the 1914 fire.
- Taylor County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a courthouse fire on 25 Dec 1864.
- Trigg County Courthouse – Courthouse fires on 13 Dec 1864, 13 Jan 1892, and 29 Nov 1920 destroyed many records
- Trimble County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a courthouse fire in 1952.
- Warren County Courthouse – A courthouse fire destroyed some records in 1864.
- Washington County Courthouse – Two fires, one in 1795, and the second in 1814 destroyed courthouses, though some records were saved.
- Wayne County Courthouse – A fire in 1898 destroyed its fourth courthouse.
- Whitley County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a courthouse disaster in 1930.
- Wolfe County Courthouse – Records were lost in courthouse fires in 1886 and 1913.
- Woodford County Courthouse – A fire destroyed many records on 11 Oct 1965.