“History of Harlan County”

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


“History of Harlan County.”  [Note in hand of Katherine Pettit 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 second in U.S.