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The Formation of Henry County

Reprinted from Henry County Historical Society Quarterly Review, Apr. 1979

Henry County was carved out of a portion of Shelby County during the greatest burst of county-making in the history of the Kentucky General Assembly. The second session of the 1798 legislature voted to create 12 counties, including Henry, during an 11-day span between December 10 and December 21. Henry County was approved on December 14, followed later that same day by Green, Gallatin and Muhlenberg counties. Other counties formed during that period were Pendleton, Livingston, Boone, Ohio, Jessamine, Barren, Henderson and Pulaski.

A total of 26 counties were in existence prior to the late 1798 session, while eight of the counties created by that session became effective prior to Henry County. Pulaski County became a county on the same day as Henry--June 15 1799--but had been created earlier in the December session. Thus, conceding the earlier date to Pulaski, Henry County would be the 31st of Kentucky's 120 counties.

The original boundary of Henry County included several miles of frontage on the Ohio River. That frontage was gradually eroded as three neighboring counties were carved out of portions of Henry County during the early 1800's. Oldham County was formed in 1824 (along with parts of Jefferson and Shelby); Trimble County was created in 1837 (along with portions of Gallatin and Oldham); and finally, with the formation of Carroll County in 1838 (again with part of Gallatin and the newly created Trimble); Henry County lost its last bit of land on the Ohio River.

The first section of the act creating Henry County describes the boundaries of the new county:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly that from and after the first day of June next, all that part of the county of Shelby included in the following bounds, to wit: Beginning ten miles due north from the public square, on which the court-house of the said county of Shelby is now situated thence west to the Jefferson line thence with said line to the Ohio River, thence up the Ohio with the meanders thereof six miles above the mouth of Corn creek, on a straight line from the mouth thereof, thence a straight line till it strikes the road leading from Shelbyville to the mouth of Kentucky, two miles north of Henry Dougherty's thence a direct line to the Kentucky river two and a half miles above the mouth of Eagle Creek, thence up the Kentucky river and the Franklin line so far till a west course will strike the beginning, shall be one distinct county and called and known by the name of Henry.