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

Kentucky Counties

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

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Adair1801Green CountyColumbia
Allen1815 Barren and Warren CountiesScottsville
Anderson1827 Franklin, Mercer and Washington CountiesLawrenceburg
Ballard1842Hickman and McCracken CountiesWickliffe
Barren1798Green and Warren CountiesGlasgow
Bath1811Montgomery CountyOwingsville
Bell1867 Knox and Harlan CountiesPineville
Boone1798 Campbell CountyBurlington
Bourbon1785 Fayette CountyParis
Boyd1860Carter, Lawrence and Greenup CountiesCatlettsburg
Boyle1842Lincoln and Mercer CountiesDanville
Bracken1796Campbell and Mason CountiesBrooksville
Breathitt1839Clay, Estill and Perry CountiesJackson
Breckinridge1799Hardin CountyHardinsburg
Bullitt1796Jefferson and Nelson CountiesShepherdsville
Butler1810Logan and Ohio CountiesMorgantown
Caldwell1809Livingston CountyPrinceton
Calloway1822Hickman CountyMurray
Campbell1794Harrison, Mason and Scott CountiesAlexandria & Newport
Carlisle1886Hickman CountyBardwell
Carroll1838Gallatin, Henry and Trimble CountiesCarrollton
Carter1838Greenup and Lawrence CountiesGrayson
Casey1806 Lincoln CountyLiberty
Christian1796 Logan CountyHopkinsville
Clark1792Bourbon and Fayette CountiesWinchester
Clay1807Madison, Floyd and Knox CountiesManchester
Clinton1835Wayne and Cumberland CountiesAlbany
Crittenden1842Livingston CountyMarion
Cumberland1798Green CountyBurkesville
Daviess1815Ohio CountyOwensboro
Edmonson1825Grayson, Hart and Warren CountiesBrownsville
Elliott1869Carter, Lawrence and Morgan CountiesSandy Hook
Estill1808Clark and MadisonIrvine
Fayette1780one of the three original countiesLexington
Fleming1798Mason CountyFlemingsburg
Floyd1800Fleming, Mason and Montgomery CountiesPrestonsburg
Franklin1794Woodford, Mercer and Shelby CountiesFrankfort
Fulton1845Hickman CountyHickman
Gallatin1798Franklin and Shelby CountiesWarsaw
Garrard1796Madison, Lincoln and Mercer CountiesLancaster
Grant1820Pendleton CountyWilliamstown
Graves1821Hickman CountyMayfield
Grayson1810Hardin CountyLeitchfield
Green1792 Lincoln and Nelson CountiesGreensburg
Greenup1803Mason CountyGreenup
Hancock1829Daviess, Ohio and Breckinridge CountiesHawesville
Hardin1792Nelson CountyElizabethtown
Harlan1819Knox CountyHarlan
Harrison1793Bourbon and Scott CountiesCynthiana
Hart1819Hardin and Barren CountiesMunfordville
Henderson1798Christian CountyHenderson
Henry1798Shelby CountyNew Castle
Hickman1821Caldwell and Livingston CountiesClinton
Hopkins1806Henderson CountyMadisonville
Jackson1858Rockcastle, Owsley, Madison, Clay, Estill and Laurel CountiesMcKee
Jefferson1780one of the three original countiesLouisville
Jessamine1798Fayette CountyNicholasville
Johnson1843Floyd, Morgan and Lawrence CountiesPaintsville
Kenton1840Campbell CountyCovington & Independence
Knott1884Perry, Breathitt, Floyd and Letcher CountiesHindman
Knox1799Lincoln CountyBarbourville
Larue1843Hardin CountyHodgenville
Laurel1825Whitley, Clay, Knox and Rockcastle CountiesLondon
Lawrence1821Floyd and Greenup CountiesLouisa
Lee1870Owsley, Breathitt, Wolfe and Estill CountiesBeattyville
Leslie1878Clay, Harlan and Perry CountiesHyden
Letcher1842Perry and Harlan CountiesWhitesburg
Lewis1806Mason CountyVanceburg
Lincoln1780 one of three original Kentucky countiesStanford
Livingston1798Christian CountySmithland
Logan1792Lincoln CountyRussellville
Lyon1854Caldwell CountyEddyville
Madison1785Lincoln CountyRichmond
Magoffin1860Floyd, Johnson and Morgan CountiesSalyersville
Marion1834Washington CountyLebanon
Marshall1842Calloway CountyBenton
Martin1870Lawrence, Floyd, Pike and Johnson CountiesInez
Mason1788 Bourbon CountyMaysville
McCracken1825Hickman CountyPaducah
McCreary1912Wayne, Pulaski and Whitley CountiesWhitley City
McLean1854Muhlenberg, Daviess and Ohio CountiesCalhoun
Meade1823Hardin and Breckinridge CountiesBrandenburg
Menifee1869Powell, Wolfe, Bath, Morgan and Montgomery CountiesFrenchburg
Mercer1785Lincoln CountyHarrodsburg
Metcalfe1860Barren, Monroe, Adair, Cumberland and Green CountiesEdmonton
Monroe1820Barren and Cumberland CountiesTompkinsville
Montgomery1796Clark CountyMount Sterling
Morgan1822Floyd and Bath CountiesWest Liberty
Muhlenberg1798Christian and Logan CountiesGreenville
Nelson1784Jefferson CountyBardstown
Nicholas1799 Bourbon and Mason CountiesCarlisle
Ohio1798Hardin CountyHartford
Oldham1823Henry, Shelby and Jefferson CountiesLa Grange
Owen1819Scott, Franklin, Gallatin and Pendleton CountiesOwenton
Owsley1843Clay, Estill and Breathitt CountiesBooneville
Pendleton1798Bracken and Campbell CountiesFalmouth
Perry1820Clay and Floyd CountiesHazard
Pike1821Floyd CountyPikeville
Powell1852
Clark, Estill and Montgomery CountiesStanton
Pulaski1798Green and Lincoln CountiesSomerset
Robertson1867Bracken, Nicholas, Harrison and Mason CountiesMount Olivet
Rockcastle1810 Pulaski, Lincoln, Knox and Madison CountiesMount Vernon
Rowan1856Fleming and Morgan CountiesMorehead
Russell1825Cumberland, Adair and Wayne CountiesJamestown
Scott1792Woodford CountyGeorgetown
Shelby1792Jefferson CountyShelbyville
Simpson1819Allen, Logan and Warren CountiesFranklin
Spencer1824Shelby, Bullitt and Nelson CountiesTaylorsville
Taylor1848Green CountyCampbellsville
Todd1819 Christian and Logan CountiesElkton
Trigg1820Christian and Caldwell CountiesCadiz
Trimble1837Henry County, Oldham County and Gallatin CountiesBedford
Union1811Henderson CountyMorganfield
Warren1796Logan CountyBowling Green
Washington1792Nelson CountySpringfield
Wayne1800Pulaski and Cumberland CountiesMonticello
Webster1860Hopkins, Union and Henderson CountiesDixon
Whitley1818Knox CountyWilliamsburg
Wolfe1860 Owsley, Breathitt, Powell and Morgan CountiesCampton
Woodford1788Fayette CountyVersailles


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.