Edmonson County, Kentucky

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Date: 10 Sep 2016
Location: Edmonson County, Kentuckymap
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Edmonson County

Profile for Edmonson County, Kentucky, including General Information and Resources for Genealogical Research.
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Bill Vincent

Edmonson County, Kentucky
This county has more natural wonders than any other in the State, the most famous of which is Mammoth Cave.[1]


Edmonson County is roughly divided into northern and southern halves by the Green River. It is bordered by the counties of Grayson to the north, Butler to the west, Warren to the south, and Hart and Barren, to the east.
Edmonson County spans areas lying in both the Pennyrile and Western Coal Field regions of Kentucky. The elevation ranges from 412 to 900 feet above sea level. It has a total area of 308 square miles (800 km2), of which 303 square miles (780 km2) is land and 5.1 square miles (13 km2) (1.7%) is water. The highest point in Edmonson County is about 900 ft above sea level.[2]

Edmonson County Timeline of Events

Native Americans use Mammoth Cave
  • 2000 B.C.E.: First Native Americans use Mammoth Cave.[3]
  • 1776: Kentucky County, Virginia raised from Fincastle County.
  • 1779: John Swadden Sanders and brothers Joseph, Joshua, and Samuel were early settlers in The Forks region, between the Nolin and Green Rivers. (See Early Settlers of the Forks Historical Marker.)
  • 1780: Jefferson and Lincoln Counties raised from Kentucky County. (Parts of both would eventually become Edmonson County.)
  • 1785: Nelson County raised from Jefferson County.
  • 1792: Logan County raised from Lincoln County.
  • 1793: Hardin County raised from Nelson County.
  • 1797: Warren County raised from Logan County.
  • 1798: John Houchin is first non-native to enter Mammoth Cave[4]
  • 1799: Barren County raised from Warren County (and Green County.)
  • 1810: Grayson County raised from Hardin County (and Ohio County.)
  • 1819: Hart County raised from Warren County (and Barren County.)
  • 1825: Edmonson County[5][6] is formed, and named for Captain John Edmonson[7], Revolutionary War Veteran who died during War of 1812 at battle of River Raisin, 22 Jan 1813.

    Land south of the Green River was provided by Warren County, territory north of Green River and west of Nolin River is taken from Grayson County, and the forks area between the two rivers is extracted from Hart County.
Brownsville, Kentucky (by Jason Minton)
  • 1828: Brownsville, the county seat (previously called Mt. Pleasant), is laid out by Joseph R. Underwood and Stephen T. Logan and named for Jacob Brown, Commanding General of the United States army, 1821-1828. (See Brownsville Historical Marker.)
  • 1861: Civil War skirmish at the Green River, not far from current bridge on Hwy. 259 at Brownsville. (See Civil War Skirmish Historical Marker.)
  • 1873: Current Courthouse erected in Brownsville.
  • 1920: Kyrock (Ky Rock Asphalt Company) begins operation, becoming the world’s largest producer of natural rock asphalt. (See Kyrock Historical Marker.)
  • 1925: Floyd Collins[8][9], a local cave explorer, captures the attention of the entire world when he is trapped in a narrow cave passage from 30 Jan 1925 until 16 February 1925, dying shortly before his rescue can be accomplished. His plight gains the sympathy of the entire nation, fueled by daily newspaper updates.[10] (See Sand Cave Historical Marker.)
Green River Valley looking Northwest from the National Park
  • 1941: Mammoth Cave National Park MCNP at Wikipedia is established on 1 July 1941, residing mostly within Edmonson County. The land is purchased from over 100 owners and includes some of the finest farm land in Edmonson County.
  • 1957: Kyrock operations cease, depriving residents of a major source of employment and income.

Edmonson County Maps

Edmonson County Communities

1850 Map of Kentucky shows area of Edmonson County
west of Bear Creek (shaded violet) in Grayson County

Edmonson County Library

The Edmonson County Public Library is a small, local library and a good resource for family history in the area. The library occasionally sells books written by local historians.

Attractions and Features

Mammoth Cave (by Daniel Schwen)
  • Mammoth Cave National Park[11]
    United States National Park created around the public entrances to Mammoth Cave, the longest cave in the world, with over 365 explored miles.
Nolin Lake (by Ken Crawford)
Large recreational area that lies mostly within northern Edmonson County. It was created in 1963 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by damming the Nolin River[12]
Derives its name from Explorer and hunter Benjamin Lynn[13][14]
Green River near Mammoth Cave (by code poet)
Beautiful, winding river that passes through the northern section of Brownsville and Mammoth Cave National Park, feeding a deep underground river within the cave itself. Around 1961, the KY Corps of Engineers told Ernest Lane that in places it was the deepest river in the world, relative to its width.[15]

Edmonson County Historical Markers

Highway Markers in Edmonson County
(Click Link for Details)


Marker Number: 802
Location: Brownsville, KY 70, 101
Established 1828 and named for Jacob Brown, Commanding General of the United States army, 1821 until death, 1828, age 53 years. Defended New York state frontier against British in War of 1812, engaging them at Ogdensburg, Sackett's Harbor, Chippewa, Ft. Erie and Niagara. Gen. Brown was not a technical soldier; he was a natural leader of men.

Chameleon and Chalybeate Springs

Marker Number: 2484
Location: Hwy. 101 & Hwy. 311 S., Chalybeate Springs
Chameleon Springs- Pioneer “long hunters” often camped at mineral springs located nearby. In 1804, their campsite became the location of Chameleon Springs Hotel. A summer resort with five different mineral waters and many activities, it operated until the early 1930s. An 1825 meeting at Bryan’s Tavern at Chameleon Springs formally established Edmonson County.
(Reverse) Chalybeate Springs- Discovered by Dr. William Ford in the early 1800s, the springs were famous for their supposed healing powers. The Chalybeate Springs Hotel provided dancing, dining, horse racing, golf, tennis, and fox hunting. Andrew Jackson is said to have visited often after his presidency. A popular resort for more than 100 years, it closed during World War II.

Civil War Skirmish

Marker Number: 607
Location: Near Green River Bridge, Brownsville, KY 259
Brig. Gen. T. C. Hindman's force, reconnoitering to protect Bowling Green portion of CSA defense line, approached Brownsville on Nov. 20, 1861. They skirmished here with the Union cavalry regiment of Colonel James S. Jackson, posted at Leitchfield. The Union loss was 7 killed, 5 wounded; CSA, one wounded. Confederates succeeded in obtaining vital medical supplies.

County Named, 1825

Marker Number: 797
Location: Brownsville, KY 70, 101
For Captain John Edmonson, b. 1764, Va. In War of Revolution a private in company led by father. Battle of King's Mountain, 1782. Came to Ky., 1790. In War of 1812, raised rifle company in Fayette County. Killed at battle of River Raisin, Jan. 22, 1813. One of nine leaders killed then for whom Ky. counties are named. Edmonson formed from Grayson, Hart, Warren counties.

Early Settlers of the Forks

Marker Number: 2108
Location: Near jct. KY 728 & 1827
John Swadden Sanders and brothers Joseph, Joshua, and Samuel were among earliest settlers of Forks region, between Nolin and Green Rivers. Sanders family first came to Ky., 1779. John later settled in present-day Edmonson Co., ca. 1804; buried at Buzzard Roost. Samuel served as sheriff, magistrate, and justice of peace for Edmonson Co. Presented by Edmonson County Tourism Commission.


Marker Number: 2415
Location: Kyrock Elementary School, Hwy 259 N., Sweeden
Bituminous sandstone, better known as rock asphalt, composed of silica sand that is saturated with oil. Chief deposits in Ky. were found in Edmonson Co. along the Nolin River. Primarily used in road construction, it could be applied without heating and mixing. Ky. Rock Asphalt Co. (KYROCK) was the world’s largest producer of natural rock asphalt from 1920 until it closed in 1957.
(Reverse) Henry “Harry” St. George Carmichael was the first president of KYROCK from 1921 until his death in 1949. The company town of Kyrock included hotels, church, hospital, theater, post office, commissary, railroad, electric & water systems, and school on this site. More than 2000 people depended on KYROCK for their livelihood during WWI and II and the Great Depression.

Marvel Mills Logan

Marker Number: 910
Location: Near Fairview, KY 259
U.S. Senator from Kentucky, March 1931 until his death Oct. 1939. Born, 1875, on this farm, attended Brownsville schools. Admitted to Ky. bar, 1896, practiced here. State Attorney General, 1916-17. Judge on Ky. Court of Appeals, 1927-30. Grand Sire of the World, I.O.O.F. Pioneer promoter of Mammoth Cave as National Park, 1910. Taught Sunday School regularly 35 years.

Mill Hole Farm-Prehistoric Site

Marker Number: 1669
Location: 4 mi. S. of Park City, US 31-W
One mile west is an archaeological site located about 200 yards southeast of Federal style house built in early 1800s. Variety of stone implements found on this five-acre site indicates long span of occupation. There is evidence of hunting, stone tool manufacturing and domestic activities; earliest non-cave site in region. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 1978.

Nolin Furnace

Marker Number: 1396
Location: Information Center at Moutadier Camp Ground, KY 2067
Also called Baker Furnace after its ironmaster, John H. Baker; was built in 1848, a mile north, by Craddock & Co. The top of the stone stack, about 40 ft. high originally, is still visible when water in Nolin Reservoir is low. Using steam power, charcoal fuel, it produced pig iron, kettles, andirons and other articles from local ore. Last blast in 1850.
(Reverse) Iron Made in Kentucky - A major producer since 1791, Ky. ranked 3rd in US in 1830s, 11th in 1965. Charcoal timber, native ore, limestone supplied material for numerous furnaces making pig iron, utensils, munitions in the Hanging Rock, Red River, Between Rivers, Rolling Fork, Green River Regions. Charcoal-furnace era ended in 1880s with depletion of ore and timber and use of modern methods.

Sand Cave

Sand Cave
Marker Number: 1385
Location: Old entrance road to Cave area, KY 255
Floyd Collins was first to explore Sand Cave. Fallen rock trapped him in narrow passage 150 ft. from entrance, Jan. 30, 1925. Rescuers reached him with food and heat for short time. Aid cut off by shifting earth closing passage. Engineers sank 55-foot shaft but were unable to reach Collins' body until February 16. Rescue attempt publicized worldwide. Aroused sympathy of nation.

Edmonson County Books

  • Edmonson Co., KY: Family Histories, 1825-1989. Turner Publishing. 1989. ISBN: 978-0938021261 (View at Amazon)
  • Downs, Barry W. The Sanders Family of Edmonson County, Kentucky: First Families of the Forks. B.W. Downs. 1989 (View at Amazon)
  • Simon, James. Sunfish, Kentucky: An Oasis of Catholicism. Lulu.com. 2014. ISBN: 978-1312035110 (View at Amazon)
  • Whittle Charles E. Edmonson County Flashlights in Folklore. Mrs. C.E. Whittle. 1984. (1932)(View at Amazon)

Historical Monograpgh of 1908

Edmonson County[1]
(Revised 1907 by M. M. Logan and Miss Ora E. Hazelip.)
Edmonson county was formed in the year 1825 from parts of Warren, Grayson and Hart, and was the seventy-ninth county in the order of formation. It was named for Capt. John Edmonds, who was killed in the battle of the River Raisin in 1813. It is bounded by Grayson on the north, by Hart on the east, by Warren on the south and by Butler on the west, and contains 275 square miles.
There is hardly a county in the State that has greater water facilities. Green river flows through the county from east to west and divides the county into equal parts. Both Nolin river and Bear creek flow into Green river from the north and each of them is navigable for several miles. There are a number of large creeks that flow into Green River which are used for the purpose of floating out timber.
The surface of the county is generally broken and hilly, the most valuable farming land being found in the river and creek bottoms. The southern part of the county next to Warren is level as well as the western part of the county joining Grayson and Butler.
The chief source of wealth of the county has been the great quantity of valuable timber which consists of poplar, oak, chestnut, hickory, ash, walnut, sycamore, gum and beech. Owing to this timber's proximity to navigable water it is very valuable, but by far the greater quantity of it has long since been worked into ties and saw logs. It appears that the most valuable timber is all gone, but the timber that had practically no value a few years ago is now worth more than what was considered the valuable timber. There is yet a vast quantity of land covered with timber, chiefly red oak, beech, gum, elm and sycamore. Numerous companies dealing in ties and lumber operate in this county and at all times there can be found any number of their agents. By reason of the extensive business of these companies, the money supply has been abundant for a number of years. The laborer who works in timber earns from $1.50 to $2.50 per day. There is now an unusual demand for men to work in timber. Large boundaries of timber are waiting to be made into ties or cut into saw logs.
By reason of the construction of Lock and Dam No. 6 on Green River, navigation has been extended to Mammoth Cave and also up Nolin to Dismal Rock, a distance of about twelve miles. Boats run regularly from Mammoth Cave to Bowling Green and lower Green River, thus furnishing an ideal method of transportation if it were not for the fact that the freight rates are out of all reason.
Capitalists are beginning to turn thier attention towards the mineral resources of this county. Almost the whole of the north side of the county is underlaid with coal and asphalt, and iron is found in abundance. Coal beds have not been developed to any considerable extent, but there is no question about there being coal in almost inexhaustable quantities. Capitalists are gradually buying the coal lands. It would be difficult to find more extensive fields of asphalt than are to be found in Edmonson County, between Nolin river and Bear creek and in the forks of Nolin and Green rivers. Between the two last mentioned rivers is -to be found asphalt in liquid form. What are commonly called "tar springs" can be found in various places. At these places the asphalt runs out from the ground and flows for considerable distance, and apparently it is doing an extensive business. There is one plant in Edmonson county operating an asphalt mine.
Farming lands in the county are worth from $5.00 to $50.00 per acre; while mineral lands sell from $3.00 per acre up. There has been a great advance of lands of all kinds within the last few years.
This is not a farming county, but corn is raised in several parts and especially in the rich river bottoms. Farmers have begun to grow wheat and a little tobacco is still grown.
The roads are deplorable. The old fashioned dirt road system is in vogue and the roads have not been worked in fifty years. The people of the county are beginning to talk about better roads and it is very probable that within a short time our county will have a system of roads equal to that of any county in this section of the State.
Brownsville is the county seat and was laid off and established in 1825 by Joseph R. Underwood and Stephen T. Logan. Prior to that time the village had been called Mt. Pleasant. At the present time there are about 500 or 600 inhabitants in the town and it is growing rapidly. It is located on the south bank of Green river and is about the center of the county.
This county has more natural wonders than any other in the State, the most famous of which is Mammoth Cave. The Colossal Cavern, Grand Avenue Cave and Canter's Cave are attracting wide attention. The scenery on Green and Nolin rivers is unexcelled and especially is this true of Nolin. The mouthiof Balloo Creek on Nolin river is worth traveling hundreds'of miles to see and Dismal Rock, Whistling Mountain and the Bluffs of Second creek are other natural wonders on the same river.
Edmonson is located in the Second Appellate, Third Congressional, Eighth Judicial, Eleventh Senatorial, and Twenty-fifth Legislative, districts.
The postoffices in the county are, Brownsville, Mammoth Cave, Proctor's Cave, Chaumont, Elko, Rocky Hill Station, Arthur, Chalybeate. Nick, Cedar Bluff Mills, Chill, Segal, Asphalt, Grassland, Sweeden, Bee Spring, Goff, Sunfish, Nash, Huff, Big Reedy, Ollie, Cade, Stockholm, Straw and Bee. There are two Rural Free Delivery routes that come into this county, R. F. D. No. 2, Oakland, Ky., and R. F. D., Smiths Grove, Ky.
The local option law is in force throughout the county.

Edmonson County Records

Original County Documents

The Edmonson County Court Clerk maintains Searchable Digitized Records which are a major resource for genealogical research. The digitization project was orchestrated by former county clerk, Larry "Butch" Carroll with the assistance of a government grant.

Among others, the Searchable Records include:
  • Marriage Records
  • Land Sales and Leases
  • Wills
  • Power of Attorney Assignments
  • Affidavits of Descent

Birth Records

Cemetery Records

Census Records

Death Records



Land Records



School Records


Misc Records


Local obituaries can usually be found in the Edmonson County News, which offers no online resources. However, many local obituaries are posted online by the Bowling Green Daily News (formerly known as the Park City Daily News) and also by WBKO, a Bowling Green radio station. Several local funeral homes also have online obituaries.
Mass Media:
Funeral Homes:

Edmonson County Online Resources

KY Statewide Online



  1. 1.0 1.1 Handbook of Kentucky, Kentucky Bureau of Agriculture, Labor and Statistics, Hubert Vreeland. Globe printing Company, 1908, pages 416-417.
  2. Highest Point in Edmonson County
  3. Prehistoric Mammoth Cave
  4. John Houchins & Mammoth Cave
  5. Edmonson County in KY Atlas
  6. Edmonson County in Wikipedia
  7. Capt. John Edmonson at WeRelate
  8. Floyd Collins at Wikipedia
  9. Floyd Collins by National Park Service
  10. Murray, Robert K. and Roger W. Brucker. Trapped!: The Story of Floyd Collins ISBN: 9780813101538 (at Amazon)
  11. MCNP at Kentucky Tourism
  12. Nolin River at Wikipedia
  13. Benjamin Lynn History
  14. Restoration of 1782 Church
  15. Bill Vincent: Personal Knowledge

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I am so excited to find this Edmonson County, Kentucky Project on WikiTree. I started genealogy research right at a year ago. I then took a trip to Mammoth Cave in Oct 2018 with my daughters. We did a couple cave tours and heard from Park Rangers about families buried in the State Park. It was AFTER we returned home that I learned of many of my ancestors being included in the graves there on park grounds! (Reuben Vincent 1792-1874 and others). I so wish I had known about it before our trip. We live in Florida and aren’t able to travel much.
posted by Lisa (Ball) Gustafson