Skip to content


On January 15, 1810, the “War Hawks” of Congress expressed concern about the Native American presence in Kentucky and extinguished all Cherokee land claims.

January 15, 1811, legislators created two counties.  Localtonians use the Kentucky Secretary of State’s County formation database for dates all counties were created, the dates they became effective, and the order (number) in which the counties were formed.

Kentucky 1811

January 15, 1811, Kentucky created Bath County from Montgomery County and named it for the medicinal springs within the county.  Owingsville is the county seat.  Other localities are Salt Lick and Sharpsburg.  Bath County, the 56th county created, covers 277 square miles.

By David Benbennick

On January 15, 1811, the Commonwealth created Union County from Henderson County and named it for the residents’ unanimous decision to unite and create a new county.  Morganfield is the county seat.  Other cities and towns include Sturgis, Uniontown, Waverly, Breckinridge Center, Bordley, Boxville, Caseyville, Curlew, Dekoven, Grangertown, Grove Center, Henshaw, Pride, Spring Grove, Sullivan, and The Rocks.  The 56th county created, Union County, covers 363 square miles.

By David Benbennick

January 15, 1845, Kentucky created Fulton County from Hickman County and named it in honor of Robert Fulton, inventor of the 1st commercially successful steamboat.  Hickman is the county seat.  Other localities include Fulton, Cayce, Anna Lynne, Ash Log, Beech Grove, Blue Pond, Bondurant, Brownsville, Crutchfield, Ebenezer, Fish Pond, Harmony, Jordan, Kentucky Bend, Ledford, Liberty, Mabel, Miller, Riceville, Sassafras Ridge, State Line, Stubbs, Tyler, Union, and Walnut Grove.  Fulton County was the 99th county created in Kentucky and covers 231 square miles.

1845 Kentucky County Map
By David Benbennick

January 15, 1858, the General Assembly chartered Kentucky University (KU) in Mercer County, led by John B. Bowman.  Classes began in the old Bacon College buildings in Harrodsburg, from which Mr. Bowman had been an 1842 graduate.  KU merged with Transylvania University (TU) after the Civil War hardships.

UK/TU Name Change Trivia Snippet:  In 1865, John Bowman convinced state legislatures to merge KU and TU utilizing the federal Morrill Act that gave each U.S. state money to establish Agriculture & Mechanicals (A&M) schools.  They located the new A&M College of Kentucky on TU land, but locals called it KU.  By 1880, A&M College was commonly known as State College.  In 1908 the schools split, one reverted back to Transylvania University and the other became State University, Lexington.  The latter, in 1916, officially changed the name to the University of Kentucky.

January 15, 1862, Police Officer Benjamin S. Rust, Louisville Police Department, died from gunshots while arresting a wanted man on Newburg Road over stolen mules.

January 15, 1863, Thomas Hart Clay, Henry’s son, began his role as Ambassador to Nicaragua for President A. Lincoln.  He served five months.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Madisonville native Ruby Laffoon, born in 1869 in Hopkins County.  Dubbed the “Terrible Turk from Madisonville,” Laffoon defeated William B. Harrison in the general election by what was then the largest margin of victory in Kentucky gubernatorial history to become our 43rd governor.

On January 15, 1886, Congress presented Daniel Noble of Breathitt County with the Medal of Honor for his action in the Mobile Bay Civil War Battle. In 1864, in a crew on a small boat sent from USS Metacomet, he rescued survivors of the USS Tecumseh, which a “torpedo had sunk.”  The boat crew pulled ten Tecumseh men from the water despite the intense fire.

On January 15, 1990, as Governor W. Wilkinson received a standing ovation from a crowd celebrating MLK Day’s birthday after telling them he would sign a bill to make the day a state holiday, while 250 young protestors chanted outside for the holiday.

January 15, 1900, Carnegie Corporation of New York gave $85,000 to Covington for a new city library.  Today, the old library is the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center which contains five art galleries and a theater.

By Greg5030

January 15, 1914, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge and Laura Clay became the 1st women to address a joint session of the Kentucky legislature.

January 15, 1920, Monroe County native Benton McMillin became the U.S. Minister to Guatemala.  He also served as the 27th governor of Tennessee from 1899 to 1903.

On January 15, 1922, The Saturday Evening Post printed an article stating that a Lexington native, Thomas R.J. Ayres, made the 1st American fire-arm in a hammerless fashion.  He manufactured the gun in Danville.  His son donated the weapon to the Kentucky Historical Department in 1920.

On January 15, 1923, the Kentucky Association Race Track sold again, this time to a Lexington group headed by the Mayor, a State Senator, Matt Winn, and others.  The tack was on its 2nd location.  The 1st Lexington track sat on the grounds of the current Lexington Cemetery known as Boswell’s Woods.

January 15, 1927, the Speed Art Museum opened.  Designed by Louisville architect Arthur Loomis, nearly 2,000 visitors were on hand to view works by more than 100 American and European painters.  Mrs. Speed served as the 1st president and director of the museum.

Localtonians wish a Happy Birthday to Danville native William Richard Higgins, who was born in 1945.  Terrorists captured the U.S. Marine Colonel in Lebanon, where they tortured and eventually killed him in 1990.

January 15, 1969, Marine Corps LTCOL Ermil L. Whisman from Lexington died in the Vietnam War.

January 15, 1971, Frankfort announced the Kentucky Village, the state’s 73-year-old home for delinquent children, would close in two years.

January 15, 1990, Kentuckians and America remembered Martin Luther King, Jr.  Over 300 people stood outside the Capitol for a 2nd year to ask the day to be a paid holiday for state employees.  Inside, Governor W. Wilkinson stated he would sign a bill if the Assembly would pass one.

January 15, 1996, “Youth and the Dream: The Quest for a Just Society” was the theme as more than 2,000 people filled Heritage Hall in Lexington to hear speakers, including three elementary students, speak about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movement he inspired.

On January 15, 1999, Keeneland Racecourse, Harrah’s Entertainment, and lottery giant G-TECH announced they bought Turfway Park for $37 million.  Some Keeneland board members were not pleased, which caused turmoil for weeks.  G-TECH sold its share in 2005.  In 2019, Churchill Downs bought the track for $46 million.

January 15, 2001, Kentuckians and America remember Martin Luther King, Jr.  South Carolina finally recognized the day as a paid holiday for all state employees, the last state to do so.

January 15, 2018, Lexington held their 1st Martin Luther King, Jr. march without two Confederate statutes on the courthouse lawn.

January 15, 2019, Senate President Robert Stivers stated he was “blown away” by revelations there was little to no oversight of the lobbyist in the executive branch.  Businesses often spend $20 million annually lobbying legislatures; however, no accounting system existed for documenting how much they spent on their executive branch clients.  Several criminal cases at the time prompted his Senate Bill 6 and public concern.

January 15, 2021, Kentuckian Robert Bauer told the F.B.I. the Capitol Police shook his hand and said, “It’s your house now,” when he stormed the Capitol on January 6 with his wife.

On January 15, 2023, Governor A. Beshear tweeted, “Thank you, Kentucky. For leading with love, for being there for each other and for helping us build that brighter future. We’ve accomplished a lot together, and we should all be proud to call our great commonwealth home.