2020: Grant County's Bicentennial

Grant County turns 200 years old in 2020. As part of an ongoing celebration of our county's bicentennial, we will be providing weekly updates on the history of Grant County. In addition, we ask you to share photos, maps, and information of Grant County’s history with us on our Facebook page. We hope you enjoy the information we've collected!


Added March 30:

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, on February 12, 1820, the idea of separating from Pendleton County to form a new county was discussed by a group of men who met in the home of Henry Childres. On April 10, 1820, the Acting Governor Gabriel Slaughter approved the separation and the first Grant County Fiscal Court met in session on the same day. The Fiscal Court members were: Jediah Ashcraft, William Layton, Nathaniel Henderson, Samuel Simpson, John Sipple, Benjamin McFarland, and William Woodyard. The seven men were sworn in along with the first Sheriff of Grant County, William Arnold, Esq.

Added April 6:

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, long before any European explorer set foot in Kentucky, prehistoric people inhabited the land. There are traces of five distinct cultures:

  • Before 6000 B.C. – Paleo-Indians of the Ice Age were nomadic hunters of large mammals. Many of their artifacts have been found along Eagle Creek.
  • 6000 B.C. – 1000 B.C. – Archaic people traveled during warm months to gather plants and nuts. Their artifacts have been found throughout the county.
  • 1000 B.C. – 900 A.D. – Woodland people were hunters, fishermen and farmers. They grew squash, sunflowers, and maize.
  • 800 B.C. – 800 A.D. – Adena people developed from the Woodland people. They were more dependent on farming, gathering other plant food, and hunting wild game. In addition, they made their own pottery.
  • 1,200-1,650 A.D. – Fort Ancient people lived in small villages. Their diet consisted of maize, beans, squash, fish, and wild game. They made pottery, knives, picks, and hoes. There is evidence that they traded these items with Europeans for other goods.

Added April 13:

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, when Europeans arrived, the land that is now Grant County was part of a large buffer zone between the Cherokee nation in Southern Kentucky and Tennessee, and the Shawnee, Miami, and lesser tribes to the north of the Ohio River. This land was used for hunting, but not occupied until settlements began in the 1770’s. The first Kentucky Settlement was in Harrodsburg on June, 16, 1774 by James Harrod.

Added April 20:

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, by 1780 settlers were pouring into Kentucky due to the Virginia land laws that provided generous land grants and land purchase options to war veterans and families. This influx of people caused the Virginia Legislature to divide Kentucky into three counties: Fayette, Lincoln, and Jefferson. The land of present-day Grant County was part of Fayette County. Fayette County was named after the General LaFayette. The county seat was established in Lexington. In 1788, the Virginia Legislature created Woodford County, which included present-day Grant County. As the population continued to grow Kentucky finally became a state in 1792, and the number of counties continued to grow. Present-day Grant County was part of Scott County in 1791, Campbell County in 1794, and Pendleton County in 1798.

Added April 27:

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, the “dry ridge” path, which ran through present-day Grant County south to present-day Georgetown, was an important north-south path used by pioneers. In 1788, John Filson surveyed a road through the Kentucky wilderness to develop a town on the north side of the Ohio River called Losantiville, now Cincinnati, Ohio. This road is now the present route of the Norfolk Southern Railroad between Erlanger and Georgetown.

Added May 4

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, there is some dispute as to how or why the county is named “Grant”. The Kentucky Historical Society credits the county name to two brothers, John and Samuel Grant, from North Carolina, who established Grant’s Station in 1779. The brothers were the sons of William and Elizabeth Boone Grant and nephews of Daniel Boone. The brothers were instrumental in the settlement of Northern Kentucky.

Added May 11

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, William Arnold, veteran of the Revolutionary War, donated 2.5 acres for the construction of public buildings in the newly formed Grant County. The settlement was initially called Philadelphia, but when it was realized that another town had the same name it was changed to Williamstown to honor Arnold. The first structures to be built were the jail and a “stray animal pen” which were completed by the fall of 1820. The first courthouse was completed in 1821. The public square was completed in 1822. The courthouse was replaced, in the same location, in 1856, with a larger building. A Post Office was constructed in the Williamstown area in 1816, prior to the formation of the county.

Added May 18

The city of Williamstown also celebrates its 200th birthday this year. William Arnold, a former Revolutionary War officer, was wounded in Yorktown. After the war, Virginia rewarded him and other citizen soldiers with land grants. In order to develop and grow this land, he donated 1.5 acres for the county’s public buildings. He also provided timber for houses for three years free of charge. Water for the community was available at a large spring on the site. Twenty-five acres were surveyed for a town including the Public Square. The town had 99 quarter acre lots. There was a Main Street, two cross streets, and four alleys. In 1824, General Marquis de LaFayette, another Yorktown hero, stopped in Williamstown to visit his friend Arnold, as he travelled from Lexington to Cincinnati.

Added May 25

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad: by 1790, land along the northern part of the dry ridge was settled by three brothers, John, Robert and William Sanders. In 1829, John W. Finley purchased over 400 acres of land which included the present site of Crittenden. In 1831, he decided to establish a new town called Sanders, for the three Sanders brothers. Unfortunately, in 1834, he received word the town could not be incorporated under that name because another town had that name. Mrs. John W. Finley suggested naming the town for the statesman John J. Crittenden who was elected to the U.S. Senate three times, was Governor of Kentucky, and twice appointed Attorney General of the United States. The town of Crittenden was finally incorporated in 1837.

Added June 1

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, by 1790, the community of Sherman was built around a tavern in 1812. Louis Myers settled this area with a Virginia land grant for his service in the Revolutionary War. In 1832 he sold the land to Louis Cason, whose family owned the land until 1975, when it was purchased by Dr. John Flege. In 1865, Sherman had a U.S. Post Office but it was discontinued and reestablished off-and-on until it was permanently discontinued in 1969. The community consisted of a hotel, grist mill, general store, blacksmith, physician, school, and churches.

Added June 8

According to History of Grant County, Kentucky edited by John B. Conrad, by 1790, an Indian trail followed the crest of a “dry ridge” which separated the Licking River and the tributaries of the Kentucky River. This dry ridge was used by Colonel John Bowman as a war road from 1779-1780. This trail was called the Dry Ridge Trace. In 1788, John Filson surveyed the road. In 1790, it became a public road. Today, it is the route of the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

Only one community on the Dry Ridge Trace is today named Dry Ridge. It is believed the community took this name because of the nearby “Old Church on the Dry Ridge” which was established in 1791. The first post office in Grant County was established in Dry Ridge in 1815. One of the first to settle this area was James Theobald. He settled the land before 1799. Theobald appraised estates, opened new roads, and served as a Justice of the Peace.