Kentucky Cities and Counties
The Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation in 1942 that required cities to file certain documents with the Secretary of State’s Office. To enforce city participation, additional legislation was passed in 1980. This legislation, now codified as KRS 81.045, requires cities to submit incorporation date, classification status and boundary information.
These records are now available on-line in a searchable format. The database includes information from 1942 to 1980 filings as a matter of historical interest.
County Formation Table
|COUNTY||FORMED||PARENT COUNTY||COUNTY SEAT|
|Anderson||1827||Franklin, Mercer, Washington||Lawrenceburg|
|Boyd||1860||Carter, Greenup, Lawrence||Catlettsburg|
|Breathitt||1839||Clay, Estill, Perry||Jackson|
|Campbell||1795||Harrison, Mason, Scott||Alexandria, Newport|
|Carroll||1838||Gallatin, Henry, Trimble||Carrollton|
|Clay||1807||Floyd, Knox, Madison||Manchester|
|Edmonson||1825||Grayson, Hart, Warren||Brownsville|
|Elliott||1869||Carter, Lawrence, Morgan||Sandy Hook|
|Floyd||1800||Fleming, Mason, Montgomery||Prestonsburg|
|Franklin||1795||Mercer, Shelby, Woodford||Frankfort|
|Garrard||1797||Lincoln, Madison, Mercer||Lancaster|
|Hancock||1829||Breckinridge, Daviess, Ohio||Hawesville|
|Jackson||1858||Clay, Estill, Laurel, Owsley, Madison, Rockcastle||McKee|
|Johnson||1843||Floyd, Lawrence, Morgan||Paintsville|
|Knott||1884||Breathitt, Floyd, Letcher, Perry||Hindman|
|Laurel||1826||Clay, Knox, Rockcastle, Whitley||London|
|Lee||1870||Breathitt, Estill, Owsley, Wolfe||Beattyville|
|Leslie||1878||Clay, Harlan, Perry||Hyden|
|McCreary||1912||Pulaski, Wayne, Whitley||Whitley City|
|McLean||1854||Daviess, Muhlenberg, Ohio||Calhoun|
|Magoffin||1860||Floyd, Johnson, Morgan||Salyersville|
|Martin||1870||Floyd, Johnson, Lawrence, Pike||Inez|
|Menifee||1869||Bath, Montgomery, Morgan, Powell, Wolfe||Frenchburg|
|Metcalfe||1860||Adair, Barren, Cumberland, Green, Monroe||Edmonton|
|Morgan||1823||Bath, Floyd||West Liberty|
|Oldham||1824||Henry, Jefferson, Shelby||LaGrange|
|Owen||1819||Franklin, Gallatin, Scott, Pendleton||Owenton|
|Owsley||1843||Breathitt, Clay, Estill||Booneville|
|Powell||1852||Clark, Estill, Montgomery||Stanton|
|Robertson||1867||Bracken, Harrison, Mason, Nicholas||Mt. Olivet|
|Rockcastle||1810||Knox, Lincoln, Madison, Pulaski||Mt. Vernon|
|Russell||1826||Adair, Cumberland, Wayne||Jamestown|
|Simpson||1819||Allen, Logan, Warren||Franklin|
|Spencer||1824||Bullitt, Nelson, Shelby||Taylorsville|
|Trimble||1837||Gallatin, Henry, Oldham||Bedford|
|Webster||1860||Henderson, Hopkins, Union||Dixon|
|Wolfe||1860||Breathitt, Morgan, Owsley, Powell||Campton|
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Cities
Regarding This Website
- Why isn’t our city listed on your database? Cities that comply with KRS 81.045form the basis of the Secretary of State’s Kentucky Cities Website. New cities incorporated under KRS 81.050 and KRS 81.060, both enacted in 1980, are also included on this website. We have added information from the 1942-1980 filings as a matter of historical interest.
- Why does your listing of “County Seats” list 122 cities if there are only 120 counties? Two Kentucky counties have two cities identified as county seats. Campbell County lists Alexandria and Newport as the county seat. Kenton County lists Independence and Covington as the county seat. (reference: Kentucky Counties Fact Sheet, published by the Public Records Division of the Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives.)
- What is an Area Development District (ADD)? An ADD is a regional organization that assists in the formulation and implementation of human resource and infrastructure related plans. On March 30, 1967, Gov. Ned Breathitt signed Executive Order 67-233 which divided Kentucky into 15 multi-county regions for planning purposes. Gov. Louie Nunn’s Executive Order 71-267, signed Nov. 16, 1971, established ADDs as the official regional planning and development agencies for their respective areas. In 1972, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted legislation (now found in KRS 147A 050-140) which provided the basic organizational structure.
- Why doesn’t a link to our city’s website appear on the Secretary of State’s city page? We are making a concerted effort to include all non-commercial links to city websites. Due to changes in URL addresses and the constant development of new city websites, we are not always aware of additions and revisions that need to be made. Please notify us of any non-commercial city links that should appear on your city page by contacting the Land Office, Secretary of State, Capitol Building, Frankfort, KY 40601 or 502-564-3490. Those links will be tested and added.
- Who compiled the Census information for the Cities Database? The Kentucky State Data Center, University of Louisville, supplied the city population totals for this website. There are two categories: (1) United State Decennial Census for 1970 through 2000; and (2) city population estimates for 1990 through 1999. As the Kentucky Data Center receives copies of city filings, such as annexations and deannexations from the Secretary of State’s Office, population estimates are adjusted to reflect boundary changes. Population estimates will be revised and forwarded to the Secretary of State’s Office for periodic updates. For other demographic information regarding Kentucky, visit the Kentucky State Data Center’s website at: http://www.cbpa.louisville.edu/ksdc.
- What are your references for incorporation & establishment dates as well as historical notations? Filings by the city government, Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly, The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Glenn Clift’s publication on Kentucky Cities, and research by Dr. Eugene Harrell, former director of the Secretary of State’s Land Office.
- Please tell us about the pictures of Kentucky Cities on your website. Several photographs of Kentucky cities were generously donated to our website by Dr. Gene Burch, Frankfort, KY. We invite you to share your photographs of Kentucky cities on our website. Information on submitting photographs is included on the city pages. If more than one picture is submitted and approved for inclusion on a city page, the pictures will appear in random sequence.
- What is “The Gold Book” ? This publication is a directory of state and federal government, state employees, state legislators, state judiciary, area development districts, educational institutions, city and county officials, news media and other professional listings and associations. For more information, contact Clark Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 24766, Lexington, KY 40524, phone 1-800-944-3995, fax 606-233-7421, or on-line at http://www.clarkpublishing.com. The Secretary of State’s Office will receive periodic updates from The Gold Book. If you see corrections that need to be made, please send that information to the Gold Book at Clark Publishing, Inc.
- Frequently the term “Commonwealth” is used to refer to Kentucky. What is a Commonwealth? According to The Historical Atlas of Kentucky & Her Counties, by Wendell H. Rone, Sr., the two designations “Commonwealth” and “State” were synonymous in the late 1700s. The Historical Atlas states:
“The term Commonwealth goes back to the time of Oliver Cromwell when he created the Commonwealth of States or Colonies of Great Britain. ‘Commonweal’-for the good of all-was the meaning implied. Virginia, Massachusetts, & Pennsylvania were Commonwealths of Great Britain. A Commonwealth in America is a State having its immediate outgrowth from one of the original Colonies.” In his article in The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Ron Bryant states: “Commonwealth is a part of the official name of Kentucky, as decided by the first Assembly on June 4, 1792…The first use of the word commonwealth in official documents regarding Kentucky occurred in 1785, when the inhabitants of the Kentucky District petitioned Virginia to recognize Kentucky as a ‘free and independent state, to be known by the name of the ‘Commonwealth of Kentucky’.”