AHGP Transcription Project

Breathitt County

Breathitt County, the 89th in order of formation; erected in 1839, out of parts of Clay, Perry, and Estill counties, and named in honor of Gov. Breathitt; is in the eastern part of the state, on the headwaters of the Kentucky River; bounded north by Wolfe, Morgan, and Magoffin counties, east by Magoffin, south by Perry, and west by Owsley and Wolfe; the surface hilly, with rich valleys; the soil based on red clay, with sandstone foundation; abounds in coal and iron ore, the former shipped in considerable quantities down the Kentucky River; salt has been manufactured to some extent.

Jackson, the county seat is named after Gen. Andrew Jackson; population in 1870, 54.
Strongville is about 7 miles south.
Crockettsville (established February, 1847) about 15 miles south west of Jackson.

Members of the Legislature from Breathitt County

Thos. P. Cardwell, 1865-69.

House of Representatives
Wm. Day, 1859-61;
Thos. P. Cardwell, 1863-05, and 1871-73;
John Deaton, 1867-69;
Isaac B. Combs, 1869-71.

John Breathitt, late governor of Kentucky, (for whom this county was called) was native of the state of Virginia. He was the eldest child of William Breathitt, and was born on the ninth day of September, 1780, about two miles from New London, near the road leading to Lynchburg. His father removed from Virginia, and settled in Logan County, Kentucky, in the year 1800, where he raised a family of five sons and four daughters. The old gentleman was a farmer, possessed of a few servants and a tract of land, but not sufficiently wealthy to give his children collegiate educations. The schools of his neighborhood (for it should be remembered the Green River country was a wilderness in 1800), afforded but few opportunities for the advancement of pupils. John, the subject of this notice, made the best use of the means for improvement placed within his reach, and by diligent attention to his books, made himself a good surveyor. Before he arrived at age, he received an appointment as deputy surveyor of the public lands, and in that capacity, surveyed many townships in the state of Illinois, then a territory of the United States.

John Breathitt taught a country school in early life, and by his industry and economy, as teacher and surveyor, he acquired property rapidly, consisting mostly in lands, which were easily obtained under the acts of the assembly appropriating the public domain. After his earnings had secured a capital capable of sustaining him a few years, he resolved to read law, which he did under the direction of the late Judge Wallace. He was admitted to the bar as a qualified attorney, in February, 1810. His industry and capacity for business, soon secured him a lucrative practice; and from this time he rapidly advanced in public estimation.

In 1810 or '11, he was elected to represent the county of Logan in the house of representatives of the general assembly, and filled the same office for several years in succession. In 1828, he was elected lieutenant governor of the commonwealth, the duties of which station he filled with greet dignity and propriety. In 1832, he was elected governor, but did not live to the end of his official term. He died in the governor's house, in Frankfort, February 21, 1834.

Gov. Breathitt was twice married, first to Miss Whitaker, daughter of Wm. Whitaker, of Logan County, Kentucky, and then to Miss Susan M. Harris, daughter of Richard Harris, of Chesterfield County, Virginia, whom he survived also. He left a son and daughter by the first wife, and by the last a daughter. In politics. Gov. Breathitt acted most earnestly with the Democratic Party, and espoused with singular warmth the election of Gen. Jackson to the Presidency in 1828 and 1832. His success in accumulating enabled him to assist his father and to educate liberally his brothers and sisters. The same spirit made him courteous and popular in his profession, and in politics a great favorite with his party. Had he not been taken at the early age of 47, scarcely an honor within the gift of the people but he would have obtained.

Source: History of Kentucky, Volume II, by Lewis Collins, Published by Collins & Company,
Covington, Kentucky, 1874

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