Wayne County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 20,813. Its county seat is Monticello. The county was named for Gen. Anthony Wayne. It is a prohibition or dry county. Wayne County was formed December 13, 1800 from Pulaski and Cumberland Counties. It was the 43rd county and is named for General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, a hero of the American Revolution and the Northwest Indian War. Wayne’s victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers virtually ended the Indian threat against Kentucky settlers.
During the winter of 1861, an act was passed by the Confederate government of Kentucky to rename Wayne County to Zollicoffer County in honor of Felix Zollicoffer, who died at the Battle of Mill Springs. Wayne County is on Eastern Time; however, its western border, shared with Clinton and Russell Counties, is part of the Eastern/Central time zone boundary, as is its southern border with Pickett County, TN. Wayne County was on Central time until October 2000; an account of this change is documented in an article by Dr. Stanley Brunn of the University of Kentucky.
Wayne County, Kentucky – Early History
“Kaintuck – Dark and Bloody Ground”
The name of Kentucky was an Indian word signifying “Dark and Bloody Ground.” The early history of Kentucky has a romantic interest from the personal adventures of the pioneer Daniel Boone, a famous Virginia hunter, who set out in 1769 to explore the region with five companions. So promising was its appearance that he returned to his home and led a party in 1773, which he undertook to settle on the Cumberland River, but difficulties with the Indians drove them back. He was resolute, however, and continued his efforts at settlement, acting also for a North Carolina Company in the purchase of lands from the Indians. The first permanent settlements were made at the beginning of the Revolutionary War and their existence was constantly imperiled by Indian attacks.
Other famous names in the annals of Kentucky are James Harrod and Major George Rogers Clark; the latter was a surveyor as well as a soldier, and by his efforts the region was in 1776 erected into Kentucky County of Virginia, a part of Fincastle County, Virginia. In 1780, it was divided into three counties: Fayette, Jefferson and Lincoln County. In 1790, the counties were divided into nine counties: Mason, Bourbon, Woodford, Fayette, Madison, Jefferson, Mercer, Nelson and Lincoln. By 1900, these counties were divided into the present counties.
The western emigration, which was so active after the close of the war for independence, carried into the country a large number of families from Virginia and North Carolina, who were especially attracted by the richness of its pasture lands. In 1784, the disorder which existed before the final establishment of the United States, 30,000 people began to demand an independent government. They were still seeking this when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. Under this, Kentucky was made in 1790 a territory, and on 1st of June 1792, was admitted into the Union as a state. From its position Kentucky tried to maintain a neutral ground during the Civil War, but finally gave in its adhesion to the Union; but it suffered from constant occupation of its territory by both armies. Its soil is rich, and its fine pasture lands have had much to do with the business of stock-breeding.
Wayne County, Kentucky was created by the State Legislature of Kentucky on December 13th, 1800 from parts of Pulaski and Cumberland Counties. It is now bordered by Clinton, Russell, McCreary and Pulaski Counties. The Cumberland River divides the two counties of Wayne and Pulaski. Wayne County is located in portions of both the Mississippi Plateau and the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field Region. It was divided into three distinct physical regions: the Cumberland Plateau, the Level Plain in the southeast part of county: the Knobs, rolling plains that run through the center of the county and the Pennyroyal or Mississippi Plateau in the northwest part of the county.
The area known as “Kaintuck’ was included in the royal grants to Virginia. In 1769, Daniel Boone and “The Long Hunters” came into the region and stayed two years. Harrodsburg was established in 1774. Benjamin Price and Nathaniel Buckhannon came down the Cumberland River in 1775 and left their canoes at the mouth of Meadow Creek. They walked a short distance to the knoll where they built the county’s first cabin and later they built a fort called Price’s Station. By 1778, they were growing corn nearby. This fort served travelers for two decades.
The county is bordered on the north by the Cumberland River dividing it from Pulaski County. This stream called “Shawanoe” by the Indians, was re-named by Virginia explorer Dr. Thomas Walker in 1750 in honor of the Duke of Cumberland. Virginia’s colonial government realized its strategic importance and dispatched Thomas Hutchins, a British Army Engineer to survey and map it. He finished this task in 1769. This stream along with its two major tributaries, the Big and Little South Forks, provided avenues for the penetration of the remote wilderness by explorers and settlers. After they had become established here, these streams carried their produce to downstream markets and expedited the importation of manufactured goods and commodities. They made it convenient for Wayne Countians to market the area’s tremendous forest resources on canoes, barges, rafts’, flatboats and steamboats that plied their waters from the very earliest times. Many records show the inhabitants transported their hogs to market in Nashville on the Cumberland River.
When Wayne County was created, there were problems that would extend for many decades. Years and years would go by before the boundaries of land would be declared free from error. Virginia issued numerous grants for the military service and many of these were sold to speculators. Headrights were granted giving settlers 100 to 200 acres to settle on. Many times, families came over the mountains thinking they had a land grant, only to find it belonged to someone else. Joshua Jones, a surveyor came to Kentucky with Isaac Shelby to aid in solving the problems of bounty lands and later other surveyors came.
On March 16th 1801, the first county court assembled. The eight justices appointed by Governor James Garrard on 20th of December 1800 were Charles Diberal [Dibrell], Martin Syms [Sims], Edmund N. Cullom, James Montgomery, James Jones, Rawleigh Clack, Samuel Hinds and James Evans. The justices appointed Micah Taul, not quite 16 years of age, to be the County Clerk, protem. Solomon Brents, the first attorney in the county and Archibald Mills were security on the Clerk’s Bond for Micah. When the call came for troops to fight the British in the War of 1812, a company was raised and Micah Taul was elected Captain and they marched to Ohio where they spent the winter. Again in 1813, Taul raised a company which fought at the Battle of the Thames. Later, Micah Taul became a Colonel.
At their June meeting, Joshua Jones was ordered to lay off the land for the Public Square and determine the ground on which the public buildings would be erected. The first courthouse was built of logs in 1801 and was 20 x 30 feet with two floors, two doors and constructed in a workmanlike manner.
The second house was built of good stone, 25 x 35 feet, one chimney on the north side, two stories high, two jury rooms, a law-bay, a thirteen foot ceiling and two coats of plaster.
The Third courthouse was built of brick in 1825 and demolished in 1878. This 45 x 50 foot building had one large room on the first floor and a balcony on the second floor had two jury rooms and a room for the clerk. A fireplace was downstairs and one in each of the balcony rooms. The judge sat on an elevated wooden floor as did the jury, but the half of the large room reserved for spectators was to have a brick floor. The windows had shutters, Venetian blinds and eighteen panes of glass per window. All woodwork was painted green and the interior was plastered and whitewashed. The single room was red. In 1840, the court ordered an annex to the south of this building. It was to be 18 x 24 feet and to include a porch and a room for the clerk. This structure withstood the abuse of the Civil War. It was undamaged by the armies of both the Union and the Confederacy. (Source: Court Order Books).
The fourth Courthouse was erected on a lot purchased from Sophronia Coffey Bobbitt and would be the first one on North Main Street. It was completed in 1878. In 1898, a near-by fire ignited a bird’s nest in its bell tower and the courthouse burned to the ground. The record books were saved, however some of the records were scorched [Especially the 1832-3 Marriage Bonds]. With the demolition of Wayne’s stately fifth courthouse in 1949, the sixth and present county courthouse was erected the following year and is still standing.

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