Today’s Kentucky counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

Pre Kentucky Counties

Before Statehood, Kentucky was part of Virginia. In 1776, the counties of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains became known as Kentucky County.

Kentucky County was abolished on June 30, 1780, when it was divided into Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln counties of Virginia.

Eventually, the residents of Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln counties petitioned for a separation from Virginia. Ten constitutional conventions were held in Danville between 1784 and 1792, in the Constitution Square Courthouse.

On December 18, 1789, Virginia gave its consent to Kentucky statehood. The U.S. Congress gave its approval on February 4, 1791. Kentucky officially became the 15th state in the Union on June 1, 1792.

Kentucky Counties Today

Today, Kentucky is divided into 120 counties.  States bordering Kentucky are IllinoisIndianaMissouriOhioTennesseeVirginia, and West Virginia.


Fun Facts about Kentucky Counties

Counties by Year

County Size Facts

County Population Facts

Kentucky City Facts

Kentucky’s 10  largest cities are:

  1. Louisville (620,000) is in Jefferson County
  2. Lexington (321,959) is in Fayette County
  3. Bowling Green (67,067) is in Warren County
  4. Owensboro (57,265) is in Daviess County
  5. Covington (40,640) is in Kenton County
  6. Hopkinsville (31,577) is in Christian County
  7. Richmond (31,364) is in Madison County
  8. Florence (29,951) is in Boone County
  9. Georgetown (29,098) is in Scott County
  10. Henderson (28,757) is in Henderson County

Boundary Changes of Kentucky Counties from 1776-1939

This Interactive Map of Kentucky Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from 1776 to 1939.

List of Kentucky Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct Kentucky 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.

The below counties formerly within the area of the State of Kentucky no longer exist:

Beckham County, Kentucky

Created February 9, 1904 from Carter, Lewis and Elliott Counties. It was dissolved on April 29, 1904 by the state Court of Appeals for not being formed in accordance with the state constitution. Only marriage and postal records remain. It was also proposed to name the county Hardscrabble County then Goebel County before settling on Beckham County.

Josh Bell County, Kentucky

Created 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.

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