LOCAL HISTORY SCRAPBOOK History of Harlan County

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 27: Scrapbooks, Albums, Gathered Notes

LOCAL HISTORY SCRAPBOOK

tHE lOCAL hISTORY sCRAPBOOK  History of Harlan County is rich with history of Southeastern Kentucky, especially Harlan County.  Did you know that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had mining camps in Harlan County? Did you know that Bell County was once part of Harlan county? Do you know how Harlan got its name?  Was Letcher county once part of Harlan County? How tall is Black Mountain? Read to find out.

“History of Harlan County.”  [Note in hand of Katherine Pettit, co-founder of Pine Mountain Settlement School on margins ?]  [1921]

Kentucky County, Virginia origin in 1776 ; 1790 separated from Virginia ; 1792 Kentucky admitted into the Union as 15th state and 2nd after the 13 Colonies ; Harlan County was 60th county in order of formation ; Harlan County formed in 1819 ; Formed out of parts of Knox and Floyd Counties ; named for Silas Harlan, Virginian who commanded company of scouts in Illinois campaigns of 1779 against Indians under General George Rogers Clark ; 1842 Letcher County was formed from northern part of Harlan County ; 1867 Bell County was formed from southern and southwestern parts of Harlan ; 1878 Leslie County was formed from northwestern part of Harlan county ; Harlan County bounded by Leslie on north, Perry and Letcher Counties on east and State of Virginia on southeast, and by Bell County on west ; Big Black Mountain tallest and most rugged of mountains in state ; Big Black Mountain is 4,400 feet in elevation ; highest elevation is at head of Looney’s Creek ; Great Stone [rock is one mile long and six hundred feet high] or Cumberland mountains on the southern boundary ; Pine Mountain in northern part of county ; 225, 798 acres of prime timber (1921) much now cut away  ; Cumberland River drains much of the county ; none of the streams in county are navigable ; mountain slope wash badly and are not good for farming ; agricultural products include hay, corn, oats, wheat, rye, potatoes, tobacco and demand exceeds supply ; county seat first known as “Mt. Pleasant” in 1904 ; illiteracy is high; only one high school accredited ; State Board of Health organized Public Health Bureau in 1920. Includes Nurse, Director, Sanitary Inspector, Clerical Assistant  ; macadamized road through county planned in 1920 but only 10 miles built ; bridge over Clover Fork was first wagon bridge built ;  coal mining did not prosper until coming of L & N railroad in 1911; Terry Fork Coal Company shipped first load of coal from county in 1911 ; 1920 now 75 mines in county ; Geological Survey notes that 6 million tons of coal mined in Harlan County in 1920 ; 2/3 of coal mined by outside interests such as U.S. Steel at Lynch and International Harvester Company at Benham ; Ford Motor Company at Banner Fork ; AmericanLight and Traction company of Detroit at Wilhoit, Ky ; Kopper’s Company at Coxton supplied coal for coke ovens at Minneapolis ; Edison Motor Company at King, Ky; McCombs Coal Company of Cleveland supplies Upson Nut Company from mines at Elcomb ; population in 1920 estimated to be 35,000; Harlan County led all counties in state with donations to Red Cross campaigns and  was second in U.S.

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