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120 County Preview: Lewis County

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Lewis County, Kentucky

Once a part of Virginia, this county officially became Kentucky's on June 1, 1792 as settlers continued moving west and exploring. It was the 48th county in the states history, and its biggest city is Vanceburg.

Population: 13,080

Virginia legislature divided the previous Kentucky County into three smaller units: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. In 1791, this area was separated into the State of Kentucky; it became effective on June 1, 1792. From that time, the original three counties were divided several times. A portion of Fayette County was split off as Bourbon County in 1785; a portion of Bourbon was split off as Mason County in 1788; in 1806 the present Lewis County was split off from Mason.

This city was named after Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 – October 11, 1809), who was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Their mission was to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, establish trade with, and sovereignty over the natives near the Missouri River, and claim the Pacific Northwest and Oregon Country for the United States before European nations. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him Governor of Upper Louisiana in 1806. He died of gunshot wounds in what was either a murder or suicide, in 1809.

Lewis County is known for having some of the nation's best oak lumber. Its northern border of the Ohio River separates it from the state of Ohio, and its border from the river is the longest of all the Kentucky counties.

Notable Names

  • James Baird (1873-1953) - Quarterback at the University of Michigan (1892–1895). After graduation served as an Assistant Coach for the football program from 1897 to 1898. Later as a Civil Engineer, his construction company executed the building of prominent buildings such as the Lincoln Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

  • Charles A. Baird (1870-1944) - University of Michigan's first Athletic Director from 1898 to 1909. Hired legendary coach Fielding H. Yost. Oversaw construction of Ferry Field. Older brother of James Baird.

  • Thomas Marshall (1793–1853) – United States Army general of the Mexican–American War.

  • Thomas Massie - Current Congressman, Kentucky's 4th Congressional District

  • Ralph Davis, - University of Cincinnati Basketball. Started on two NCAA Final Four teams for the Bearcats. Went on to play professional basketball in the American Basketball Association (ABA) for the Cincinnati Royals, a Pre-NBA merger franchise which is now the Sacramento Kings.

  • Faith Esham, (b. 1948) - Famous opera performer and recitalist. Voice Professor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University since 2000.

  • Thomas H. Paynter - United States Senator 1907-1913

  • George M. Thomas - (American politician, November 23, 1828 – January 7, 1914) Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky's 9th district: In office March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1889. Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives: In office 1859–1863, 1872–1873. Commonwealth's Attorney for the tenth judicial district 1862–1868. Was elected Lewis county judge in 1868. Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in 1871. Circuit Judge of the fourteenth judicial district from 1874 to 1880 and United States District Attorney from 1881 to 1885. Elected as a Republican to the Fiftieth Congress (March 4, 1887 – March 3, 1889). Was appointed Solicitor of Internal Revenue by President William McKinley on May 20, 1897, and served until May 31, 1901.

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