Historical Overview of Madison County

Introduction

Located in east-central Kentucky where the rolling hills of the Bluegrass meet the foothills of the Appalachians, the land encompassing Madison County has a long history. The largest county in the Bluegrass, it contains 446 square miles and ranks twenty-first in size among Kentucky's 120 counties. Four geographic regions provide suh distinct differences in soil, elevation, and topography that the history of the county is as much a consequence of the geographical features as it is a product of the endeavors of its people.

Centuries before the entry of European settlers, this physiographically varied land provided food, shelter, and safety to human inhabitants. Prehistoric peoples roamed the hills, hunted game along the creek bottoms, fished in the many streams, and eventually cultivated food in the fertile valleys. (See MA-161.) By the seventeenth century the American Indian tribes of the Shawnee, Cherokee, and Wyandotte hunted throughout the Kentucky River basin area.

As the entranceway for the white settlement of land beyond the Appalachians, Kentucky was accessible from the south by mountain gaps and from the north by waterways. The same was true on a smaller scale for Madison County. The Kentucky River which forms the north and northwest boundaries of the present-day county was a major source of transportation and communication, providing passage to the land from the Ohio River. Despite the river access, the earliest routes into the county were from the passable southern terrain along creeks, such as Muddy Creek, Paint Lick Creek, Otter Creek, and Silver Creek that flow northward to the Kentucky River.

Woodcut of Daniel Boone and his Dog

Early History

The first white man to enter Madison County's area were probably professional Indian trader John Findley, Daniel Boone, and four companions who came into the region in 1769 on a hunting and exploration expedition. The following year Boone's brother Squire went back to North Carolina to replenish supplies, leaving Daniel to explore as far as far as the Falls of the Ohio at present day Louisville. (See MA - 161.) In July Squire Boone communicated his return to Kentucky to Daniel by carving "1770 Squire Boone" on a prominent rock in the Southern section of the area that became Madison County, near a campsite they had previously made. Now famous, Squire Boone's rock is displayed today inside the Madison County Courthouse their (MAR - 65). In 1774 a group of 5 adventurers led by Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina formed the Transylvania Company to obtain land west of the Appalachians from the Indians. Henderson successfully purchase from the Cherokees neither nearly 20,000,000 acres of land including present day Madison County. Daniel Boone was employed by the company in 1775 to cut a trail into the land through the Cumberland Gap and to establish a settlement on the south bank of the Kentucky river.

Boone and his crew of 30 men marked a path that would become known as the Wilderness Trace (later called road). Originally only a bridle path that wound through the county's  north-south axis, it provided access to settlers from Virginia and North Carolina via the Cumberland Gap. Remnants of it still exist in Madison County near U.S. 25 South and Red House Road, KY 388. When Indians attacked them near the present-day Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, Captain John Twetty fell mortally wounded. The party hastily constructed a small pallisaded log enclosure about six feet high to repulse their attackers. This temporary fortification called Twetty's Fort after the man whose burial place lay inside, is considered to have been the first fort erected in Kentucky.

Sketch of Fort Boonesborough

Pressing on, the men reached the Kentucky River and built another small fort near the mouth of Otter Creek. When Richard Henderson arrived in April with about forty settlers, he directed the construction of a larger fortification nearby. Called Fort Boone, it consisted of approximately twenty-six single room, one story log structures joined by a stockade wall having two-story block houses at each of the four corners. Thus guarded by the Fort, the Wilderness Road became safer for settlers.

In 1775 the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, refused to recognize the existence of a Transylvania Colony. The following year the state of Virginia created Kentucky County, which included the area now occupied by Madison County, out of a portion of Fincastle County. Having a town plat of twenty acres divided into 119 lots, streets, and it Commons area, in 1779 Boonesborough (originally spelled Boonsborough) became the first town in Kentucky County to be chartered by Virginia. Kentucky County was divided into three counties in 1780--Jefferson, Fayette, and Lincoln--with the area comprising today's Madison County being a part of Lincoln County.

Establishment of Madison County

The Virginia Assembly in 1779 encouraged migration to Kentucky by providing Revolutionary War veterans with land grants. The legislature also sold land through treasury warrants and granted four-hundred-acre claims to settlers after one year's residence and production of a corn crop.

In 1785 settlers, many having moved south of Fort Boone to the banks of Otter, Silver, and Tates Creeks, petitioned Virginia's legislature to separate from Lincoln County. Their request was approved, and the new county was established on August 22, 1786. It was named for Virginia statesman James Madison who later became the fourth president of the United States (1809-1817). The sixth Virginia county in the Kentucky area, Madison originally extended east-southeastward to the present Kentucky-Virginia state line and included land that now comprises five counties and a portion of nine others.

Madison countians, like other Kentuckians, grew discontented under Virginia's control within a short period of time. Under-representation in the Virginia legislature as well as confusion over land claims increased their aggravation and caused them to call for statehood. Three delegates from Madison County attended the convention of 1792, which wrote a constitution preparing Kentucky for admission to the Union as the fifteenth state.

During the early years of Madison County's existence, Boonesborough thrived as a community. It contained over one hundred houses by 1790, a commons of over five hundred acres, a warehouse, a ferry, and a post office. When Kentucky became a state in 1792, thirty-three citizens of Madison County offered the new Commonwealth considerable land and money to select Boonesborough as the new state capital. After the rejection of their proposal, the prosperity and population of the town rapidly declined. Frequent flooding also retarded growth, and little remained by the 1820's to identify Boonesborough as a town.

Madison County's first courthouse, a stone and wood structure, was built in 1788 in the town of Milford, overlooking Taylor's Fork on Silver Creek. Ten years later the Kentucky legislature authorized the removal of the county seat to land owned by Colonel John Miller. Miller was a Revolutionary War veteran, a farmer, and one of Madison County's first three state representatives. When he came to Kentucky in 1784, Colonel Miller bought William Hoy's 1,000-acre pre-emption for $1,000, settled along Otter Creek, and erected a house and barn near the present site of the Madison County Courthouse. The county court acquired two acres of Miller's land for public buildings on a hill surrounding his barn, and the court records were removed from Milford. Bitter opposition resulted, ceasing only after a reputed four-hour fight and a $1,600 payment to angry Milford residents. In spite of the compensation, Milford never recovered from the loss, and resentment continued.

On July 4, 1798, Madison County's new county seat was officially named "Richmond" in honor of Colonel Miller's birthplace in Virginia. The trustees of Richmond ordered that fifty acres of land owned by Colonel Miller and Colonel James Barbour be surveyed and laid off into lots and streets by surveyor Major John Crooke. Robert Rodes, one of the trustees, was named superintendent to oversee the construction of a new courthouse. Tyra Rodes designed a two-story brick courthouse which was built in 1799 on the site of John Miller's barn. This structure, consisting of eight rooms and an underground brick vault, stood for over fifty years until the present courthouse was erected in the same location.

The county's early history was dominated by one particular leader, General Green Clay. Having arrived in the area in 1780, he purchased 1,400 acres of land in 1785 from the Reverend John Tanner of Tates Creek. Green Clay wielded tremendous influence on the political and economic affairs of Madison County as a county court magistrate for nearly forty years. A self-made entrepreneur, Clay developed a vast empire, owning over 40,000 acres by 1800 as sell as ferries, taverns, warehouses, grist mills, distilleries, toll roads, and slaves. Green Clays descendants played significant roles in county, state, and national history. Particularly noteworthy is his son Cassius Marcellus Clay who became an antislavery advocate.

Agriculture, Industry, and Business

Settlers from the east, most of whom were farmers, quickly increased the population of the young county. In fact, the economy of Madison County, like that of the majority of the state, has been primarily agrarian since the settlement period. Corn was the most important crop raised by early Madison County farmers. The soil proved fertile for raising other crops as well, including rye, oats, hemp--first grown in 1775--and flax.

Old Water Mill near Berea

Tobacco became a valuable cash crop very early in the county's history, and by 1787 the Madison County Court used tobacco as a medium of exchange. Farmers stored their cut tobacco in large privately owned wooden warehouses before inspection and weighing by court-appointed inspectors. In fact, three tobacco warehouses operated in Madison County by 1798. Tobacco production and warehouse activity continued to increase, and tobacco remained one of the most important crops for Madison County farmers throughout the nineteenth century. With the introduction of burley tobacco in the late nineteenth century, production of the leaf quickly dominated Madison county agriculture. Since then, income from burley has constituted a major portion of the county's revenue.

Beef cattle, hogs, and mules combined to make Madison County the largest livestock producer in the state by the 1840's. The county also remained Kentucky's leading wool and sheep producer well into the nineteenth century. Although early residents never established horse breeding farms on the scale of those in the central Bluegrass, the raising, racing, and sale of horses was a pursuit of many farmers, with some Madison countians becoming horse enthusiasts. The county was second in the state in cattle production in 1870, outranked only by Bourbon County. Beef cattle continue to be important in this county where more that two-thirds of the land is devoted to agriculture.

Industries also played a vital role in the early economic development of Madison County. Distilleries were operating on the south side of the Kentucky River by 1783. The production of distilled liquor from corn became a profitable enterprise, competing with the raising of tobacco and livestock as the primary economic activity throughout the nineteenth century in Madison County.

Numerous industries such as hemp rope factories, furniture-making shops, a cotton- spinning mill, wool-carding factories, and a nail factory flourished in the early nineteenth century. Madison County had fifty-four establishments for manufacturers by 1860, the largest of these producing staple provisions, followed by the production of distilled liquors. The industrial establishments remained essentially unchanged until 1885 when a new creamery opened. These types of industrial interests continued to be important until after World War II. At that time a number of light manufacturing plants such as Gibson Greeting Cards and Westinghouse began producing in Madison County.

Businesses were established and expanded as agrarian wealth increased and as demand for services and merchandise grew. Colonel John Miller's Tavern, a log house located on the corner of First and Main Streets in Richmond, served as the first hotel in Madison County. In the first half of the nineteenth century, taverns, called ordinaries, served as social centers for the county's predominantly rural population. They were usually located on major routes between towns and settlements. Agricultural production also led to a diversity of retail and processing businesses by the 1840's: farm implement stores, blacksmith shops, and tanneries, as well as furniture stores, tailors, booteries, millineries, and dry goods stores.

Although a volunteer fire department had been established by 1817, Richmond's businesses suffered from many fire disasters throughout the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, according to an 1876 D.G. Beers and Company Map, a variety of businesses operated in the town. Eight attorneys, two physicians, one dentist, one jeweler, and one insurance salesman offered their services in Richmond. In addition, there were four banks, three livery stables, one furniture store, three clothing stores, two hotels, and one distillery.

Some of Madison County's biggest internal changes from 1850 to 1900 were evident in the increasing number of its business institutions, especially newspapers and banks, organized by prominent citizens such as James B. McCreary, Alexander Tribble, William M. Irvine, and J. Stone Walker. The Berea Citizen has published continuously from 1899 to the present. Also, the Irvine and Walker Bank, begun in 1874 and reorganized in 1897, continues today after a series of merges as Chase Bank of Madison County.

Religion and Culture

add the First Baptist Church

The earliest recorded religious service in Kentucky took place at Boonesborough in May 1775. The Baptists represented the first religious denomination in the county, with the Tates Creek Baptist Church being organized between 1783 and 1785. The first Methodist congregation, Proctor's Chapel, now Red House Methodist Church, was organized in 1790 near Boonesborough. A Presbyterian congregation, called the Silver Creek Church, was also formed in 1790 at Round Top near Milford.

Congregations of the Disciples of Christ were established in the 1830's in several rural areas and in Richmond in 1844. The First Baptist Church congregation on Irvine Street in Richmond, the earliest church organized by blacks, was also founded in 1844. Before that time blacks and whites had worshiped together. Roman Catholics organized in 1858 and the Episcopalians in 1871 in Richmond.

Madison countians enjoyed a variety of cultural and social activities. Mills served as social gathering places as well as marketplaces. Another source of both social and economic exchange was Richmond's public marketplace that opened officially in 1810 on the east side of the courthouse square. A 26'x40' roofed markethouse was constructed on Main Street in 1812 and removed in 1852 after the construction of the new courthouse. In spite of the loss of a markethouse, Court Day in Richmond (the first Monday of each month when the circuit court convened) offered social exchange and entertainment as much as the opportunity to trade farm goods and livestock until the late 1940's.

The county fair, begun in 1833, advertised and sold local produce in a carnival atmosphere which included livestock shows and horse racing. Reportedly, the first racetrack in Richmond was located on the land that is now the Richmond Cemetery. More formal entertainment was offered at Green's Opera house in Richmond which operated from 1872 until it was destroyed by fire in 1887. Throughout the nineteenth century citizens were entertained and enriched by their participation in philosophical societies; men's and women's organizations, such as the Cecilian Club and the Masons; and county events ranging from militia musters and political debates to circuses, traveling shows, foxhunting, and chicken fights.

From the early twentieth century until 1932 numerous traveling Chautauquas offered Madison countians cultural enrichment. Some of the nation's greatest men, both black and white, such as William Jennings Bryan, Dr. George Washington Carver, and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, spoke to large crowds in Richmond and Berea.

Schools in Madison County

Early schools of the small, private, or "subscription," type operated under primitive conditions with inadequate supplies. Tuition was often paid in agricultural produce such as tobacco, which was considered legal tender. Some school buildings were used also as church houses. Even after public education was established in 1830, private academies flourished, patronized by wealthier families who scorned the public or so-called "pauper" schools.

add Madison Female Insititute

One private academy is particularly noteworthy: Madison Female Institute. When it was incorporated in 1858, a large brick residence located on a hilltop south of downtown Richmond was enlarged to accommodate the school, and ten acres were divided into lawns, gardens, and tennis courts. Following the Civil War Battle of Richmond in August 1862, the building served briefly as a Union army hospital where teachers and students helped care for the wounded. Madison Female Institute attracted students from all over the South and became famous as a finishing school. The property was leased in 1919 to the City Board of Education for ninety-nine years; today, it is the location of Madison Middle School.

In 1939 Model School of Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College merged with Madison High School. The merged schools remained until 1962. In the 1960's in response to federal court rulings the old black high school in Richmond, Richmond High School, was merged with Madison High School. In 1989 Madison High became Madison Middle School and high school students went to Madison Central High School. In response to population increase Madison Southern High School was created in the 1980's. Berea Independent School continues to be the only independent public school in the county.

Colleges and Universities

add Early Berea College Buldings

Berea Mission School was founded in 1855 to educate blacks and whites together on a basis of equality, making it one of the first interracial schools in the United States. Established as a result of efforts made by two antislavery Kentuckians, the Reverend John Gregg Fee and Cassius Marcellus Clay, Berea was named after the Biblical town where "men are open minded." Clay had invited Fee to come to The Glades in southern Madison County to preach a series of sermons during the summer of 1853. The following year citizens of The Glades invited Fee to return to organize a Christian mission church, community, and school along anti-slavery lines. Fee accepted, and the community and school of Berea began. The school became Berea College in 1869.

In 1859 proslavery proponents initiated attacks on Berea supporters, forcing the school to close and the leaders to flee Kentucky. When it reopened after the Civil War, black students were admitted and the community as well as the institution grew rapidly. Students, regardless of race or sex, utilized talents and skills in place of payment of college expenses, thus establishing Berea's craft tradition. Berea College, including its adjunct primary and preparatory departments, was the most desirable school for blacks in the state and one of the most attractive for whites.

When the Kentucky legislature passed the Day Law in 1904, preventing racial integration in schools, Berea assisted in establishing Lincoln Institute in Shelby County to provide education for blacks. The college in Madison County continued to expand its programs by emphasizing the education of Appalachian youth. After the repeal of the Day Law in 1950, blacks could again enroll at Berea College. One hundred and thirty years after its organization, Berea College still provides high quality education to all races at low cost and within the context of Christian faith and ethics.

Aerial view of Eastern Kentucky State College, 1959. EKU Archives

Southern Presbyterian churchmen established Central University in Richmond in 1874 after citizens of Madison County pledged $112,000. The campus facilities were erected on a forty-acre site, now part of Eastern Kentucky University. Financial problems and declining enrollment during the 1890's forced Central University to merge in 1901 with Centre College; an institution of the Northern Presbyterian Church. After Central University closed, Walters Collegiate Institute, a boys' preparatory school, used the campus for five years.

In 1906 Kentucky established two normal schools for the training of teachers. Madison County leaders, including Judge A.R. Burnam, Jere A. Sullivan, and W. Rodes Shackelford, campaigned to have the Walters Institute campus selected as the site of one of the normal schools. To induce the state to choose Richmond, Walters Institute trustees donated most of the buildings and property that the institute had received from Central University.

The normal school gradually evolved into what is now Eastern Kentucky University. Eastern experienced a period of unparalleled expansion under the leadership of Dr. Robert R. Martin in the 1960's and 1970's. As a multipurpose regional university with an enrollment of over 16,000 in 2018, EKU makes a large contribution to the economic and cultural life of Madison County.

Towns and Villages

Formal town planning has played a limited role in Madison County due to the county's rural nature. Most of the small communities developed along creeks, on railroad lines, as crossroads hamlets, or as small industrial towns. 

Although many of the county's early settlements were abandoned as changing conditions made their locations disadvantageous, some towns, such as Paint Lick, succeeded in adapting. Paint Lick was settled in the 1770's on both sides of the Paint Lick Creek, where an early trail crossed the creek. Its name reputedly derived from settlers' descriptions of the peeled tree trunks that served as Indians' means of marking the salt licks along the creek. In the late 1860's a branch of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the first railroad in the county, operated from Stanford, Kentucky, to Richmond, passing through Paint Lick. The arrangement and sort of buildings in Paint Lick today are indicative of the revitalization brought to the community by the railroad.

Many early communities arose at the intersection of roads. Crooksville, one of these crossroad hamlets, was the village home of Major John Crooke, a well-known teacher and surveyor, who came to Madison County in 1789 and served as the second county surveyor for fifty-two years. He also taught school in his home, and many young men studied surveying under him.

The Kirksville community became a viable crossroads township during the 1840's. It was originally known as Bagdad and later called Centerville because of its equidistant location between Silver and Paint Lick Creeks and its almost equidistant location between Richmond and Lancaster in Garrard County. Samuel Kirkendall opened a general store and a carding factory there in the 1830's, and fellow residents honored the distinguished merchant by renaming the town Kirksville in 1845. By that time the community also boasted a church, a small school, a blacksmith shop, and a harness shop.

Add View on Main Street of Waco

Other communities developed around industrial or manufacturing concerns. Bybee village grew around the Bybee pottery that was established in the first half of the nineteenth century by the Cornelison family. Nearby Waco also developed into a rural industrial town around 1843 because of the pottery industry. In 1847 it was named for Waco, Texas, and during the Civil War was the scene of a raid on Union sympathizers by some of John Hurt Morgan's Confederate Cavalry. The town served the Louisville and Atlantic Railroad around 1900 and saw much activity because of the railroad. College Hill is located north of Waco and was named for Texas Seminary, a small, private secondary school established there in 1868. The short-lived school changed its name to College Hill Seminary after the town of College Hill incorporated in 1873.

After the advent of the railroad, the Red House community, perhaps named for a prominent house of that color, became a thriving trade center and one of the many L&N Railroad stops in Madison County. By the 1880's Red House had grown enough to receive its own post office. The town of Baldwin, named for a local landowning family, experienced a similar growth and obtained a post office in 1890.

At the mouth of Tates Creek on the Kentucky River lies Valley View, named in 1890 for its picturesque vista of the river valley and hills beyond. The town was a flourishing lumber-producing community by1900 and boasted a population of more than 1,000 inhabitants. The Three Forks Railroad, also called the "Riney-B" (Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine, and Beattyville), entered Madison County at Valley View, traversing the river just west of the Valley View ferry crossing. Today, only the railroad bridge's concrete piers remain, while the still-operating Valley View Ferry celebrated its bicentennial in 1985.

add Main Street of Berea

When Berea College and community leaders returned after the Civil War, postal service was re-established at a blacksmith shop about a mile north of Berea. In 1882 Berea became a rail station on the Kentucky Central Railroad, later the L&N.

Although the community of Berea grew around the school, it did not incorporate until 1890. One of its first ordinances was the establishment of a license fee to be paid by craftsmen and peddlers who ran booths and vended their goods from wagons, especially during the annual college commencement day fair. This heritage of craft production and merchandising has continued throughout the years to make Berea today a national crafts center.

In the first decades of the twentieth century the major function of the town of Berea was to serve the college. Boone Tavern on the edge of the college campus provided modest lodging for travelers on Dixie Highway (U.S. 25). A hotel, restaurant, and a store operated near the passenger depot to accommodate rail travelers. The college provided most of the employment in the town, operating the utilities, a hospital, schools, and a newspaper. Gradually, the college's influence on the town lessened, and a growing industrial base developed. By the early 1980's Berea had more industrial jobs than Richmond, a city three times its size.

Richmond, the county seat, had a telephone system in 1879, the only one in the state outside of Louisville. The gas works, a private corporation, was chartered in 1873; the electric light company was chartered in 1884; and a water works corporation was chartered in 1888. Richmond continued to develop gradually until after World War II, when it began to grow rapidly.

Transportation

Transportation has been a major concern of the people of Madison County since the settlement period. At first, the Kentucky River and the navigable streams were primary routes. In fact, the river served as the major transportation route for agricultural produce to market in New Orleans as early as the 1780's.

Add Boonesborough ferry

The only roads giving access to the area in the early history of the county were the Wilderness Road, buffalo traces, and pathways alongside creek banks. Roads and bridges were constructed and improved during the 1800's. The Wilderness Road was maintained by the county court, and new roads, such as Barnes Mill Road, Goggins Lane, and Hagan's Mill Road, were given the names of the county magistrates who requested the construction to provide access to their land or millsites. Many private toll road companies constructed gravel roads called "macadam" to improve road conditions during the mid-nineteenth century. Toll gates and houses were erected every five miles to collect money to pay for the toll keepers' profits and the construction of the improved roads. Only one state-owned turnpike, the Lexington-Richmond Pike, operated in 1852.

Ferry rights at the Kentucky River were granted in 1779 to Colonel Richard Calloway, one of the original settlers of Boonesborough. Other ferries were soon established, so that fifteen operated in the county by the 1840's. Ferries continued in several locations on the Kentucky River in Madison County until the 1950's, at which time the Valley View Ferry became the only one left in the county.

Bridges gradually replaced ferries during the nineteenth century. Two new bridges--one across Paint Lick between Madison and Garrard Counties and one over Silver Creek--were constructed in 1857. A wood and steel bridge was built in 1870 over the Kentucky River at Green Clay's ferry landing. In 1946 this bridge, called Clay's Ferry Bridge, was replaced by a high, reinforced concrete bridge which later became the northbound lane of Interstate 75. In 1994 construction began on making the bridge into six lanes with the widening of I-75.

Although stage coach lines, running on narrow dirt roads, linked Madison with neighboring counties from the 1840's until the early twentieth century, their popularity ended with the advent of the railroad. During the last quarter of the century, several railroad lines were built throughout the county, one of which, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, served as a major North-South line between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia. Railroads connected the established towns and allowed for the development and growth of settlements along their routes.

add Union Station

Richmond and Berea both experienced tremendous growth due to their accessibility by rail. Warehouses were built along the tracks, and Richmond and Berea both constructed freight depots. Two railroads intersected in Richmond in 1900, the Louisville and Atlantic line and the Louisville and Nashville line, each with its own passenger depot. Mule-drawn street cars, buggies, or wagons carried travelers from either of the two depots to any one of a number of hotels. By the 1920's many miles of first-class track penetrated a large area of the county. Railroads flourished until the Great Depression of the 1930's, when automobiles and trucks began to supplant them. The only railroad line that remains today, the Louisville and Nashville (now CSX Railroad), has had no passenger service since 1968.

Slavery, the Civil War, and Post-war Black History

Slaves were brought into the county as early as 1775, and the percentage of slaves in the total population increased substantially during the first half of the nineteenth century. Slaves, like land, were considered property, a source of labor, and a sign of wealth. By 1850 blacks constituted approximately 34% of the county's total population, with the largest numbers in Richmond and Kirksville. Few Madison County slaveowners before the Civil War followed the example of emancipationist Cassius M. Clay and freed their slaves. Contrary to the sentiments of the majority of people in the county, the small community of Berea, led by the Reverend John G. Fee and John A.R. Rogers and his wife Elizabeth, strongly promoted antislavery activities.

Madison countians experienced the Civil War firsthand in 1862 when a contingent of the Confederate Army of Tennessee under the command of Major General Edmund Kirby Smith invaded Kentucky in August. They met and defeated their first opposition in Madison County at Big Hill near Berea on August 23. Union Brigadier General Malon D. Manson ordered his troops to repel the Confederate invaders, but this effort was met with defeat in the battle of Richmond on August 29 and 30, 1862. From Big Hill at the extreme southen end of the county to the Richmond Cemetery, buildings were damaged from artillery fire and heavy casualties were inflicted as Confederate forces drove Federal troops through Richmond, forcing them to retreat northward. The courthouse as well as many public and private buildings served as hospitals after the battle. For three months the fenced courthouse square became a stockade to contain almost 1,000 Northern prisoners of war until their release. Smith's Confederate army advanced westward to join General Braxton Bragg. Their unified force met Union troops under Major General Don Carlos Buell at the Battle of Perryville on October 8, in what proved to be a strategically important Union victory.

The relative social status of blacks and whites in Madison County remained virtually unchanged after the abolition of slavery, although blacks were allowed to vote for the first time in 1866. After emancipation, Madison County blacks experienced the greatest opportunities for advancement in Berea. Because of segregation and restricted job opportunities, they tended to have a lower standard of living and a higher death rate than whites; consequently, many of them migrated out to the area during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century.

Influential black leaders in Madison County such as the Reverend Madison Campbell (1823- 1896), a former slave, the Reverend H. Dunson (1816-1893), and educator/poet Henry Allen Laine (1870-1955) used their powers of communication to ameliorate racial tensions and help the plight of their people. The rural and city churches and the Colored Chautauqua organized by Laine served as the major forms of social and cultural activities for blacks. Health and educational conditions have improved in recent years for blacks who now comprise approximately 6% of the total population.

The New Century

The first thirty years of the twentieth century in Madison County were years of struggle; progress appeared to be slowed by tradition, economic stagnation, and poor educational opportunities. Changes, however, did occur. Rural isolation was lessened by the telephone and popularity of the automobile. Madison County's population increased in the 1920's, and businesses seemed stable and prosperous. New church edifices appeared in Berea and Richmond. Chain stores also arrived in Richmond during the twenties. The Bluegrass Ordnance Depot, located six miles south of Richmond, was established in 1941 with approximately 14,650 acres of land used for storage of materials and ammunition. Currently disposal of chemical weapons at the Depot is a major unresolved issue.

Unprecedented population growth, economic development, and cultural change have marked the county's history since the 1940's. With the rapid growth of Eastern Kentucky University in the sixties, education has become the largest single growth industry in the county. Increasingly as Lexington/Fayette County has experienced phenomenal growth, a considerable portion of population and business is spilling over into Madison County. Cultural tourism, with the development of Fort Boonesborough State Park, White Hall Historic House, and the crafts industry in Berea is also a major source of revenue as Madison County approaches the 21st century.

Historical Overview