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Hopkins County, Kentucky


Hopkins County administrative offices are located at 56 North Main Street, Madisonville, KY 42431; phone: 270-821-8294.

Beginnings [1]

European settlement began in earnest in the late 18th century when families made their way across Kentucky and down the Ohio River. This area was originally part of Henderson County which was created in 1798 and made up a large part of this region of Kentucky. In 1800, Henderson County had a population of just over 1,500 residents who were scattered throughout the territory. Lands in this section of Henderson County were reserved for soldiers who served in the Virginia regiments during the Revolutionary War. Land warrants or grants were issued in tracts according to rank of the soldiers. Subdivisions of large grants were made throughout the county but most soldiers sold their property to others who in turn sold sections of land or settled on the property. In the late 1790s numerous families settled in the central portion of Henderson County which would later become Hopkins County. Hopkins County was created in 1807 with the county seat situated at Madisonville. The county was named in honor of General Samuel Hopkins, a Revolutionary War hero from Virginia who settled in Henderson, Kentucky in 1797.

In its early years of settlement Hopkins County was characterized by numerous small farms with few towns of any size and importance. An examination of the 1807 tax list for the county reveals that most early settlers of the county lived on farms of 200 to 400 acres, although several were as large as 800 acres. Slaveholders were also few in these years and usually owned less than five slaves. The majority of landowners were cited as owning property along the river bottoms and their tributaries.

  1. Philip Thomason, architectural historian, Thomason and Associates, Hopkins County Multiple Properties Listing, nomination document, 1988, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.