Johnson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 23,356. Its county seat is Paintsville. The county was formed in 1843 and named for Richard Mentor Johnson, War of 1812 general, United States Representative, Senator, and Vice President of the United States. Johnson County is classified as a moist county, which is a county in which alcohol sales are not allowed (a dry county), but containing a "wet" city, in this case Paintsville, where alcoholic beverage sales are allowed.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Formation
- 1.2 Civil War era
- 1.3 John C. C. Mayo
- 2 Geography
- 3 Transportation
- 3.1 Major highways
- 3.2 Air
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Education
- 5.1 Public
- 5.1.1 Johnson County Schools
- 5.1.2 Paintsville Independent Schools
- 5.2 Private
- 5.3 Colleges
- 6 Attractions
- 6.1 Kentucky Apple Festival
- 6.2 Parks and recreation
- 6.3 Museums
- 6.4 Historical sites
- 6.5 Points of interest
- 7 Miscellaneous
- 8 Communities
- 8.1 City
- 8.2 Unincorporated communities
- 9 Notable residents
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Eastern Kentucky around 1820. Future Johnson County is marked in red.
Johnson County was formed in 1843 from land given by Floyd County. At that time, its county seat of Paintsville had already been a chartered city for nine years. Homes had been built in Paintsville as early as the 1810s.
Many of the families at the beginning of Johnson County's formation were of Scottish, Irish, English, or German descent. Also, a fact lost to most historians is the large population of French Huguenots who were confused as English because they fled via England en route to the United States. Many of these settlers migrated from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia following their participation in the Revolutionary War.
For about its first twenty-five years, Johnson County and Paintsville struggled along. Roads and highways were nonexistent. Mail and supplies reached Johnson County from the Bluegrass region by horseback and steamboat. Years later, stage coaches began to connect eastern Kentucky and Johnson County to the bluegrass region and the rest of civilization.
Civil War era
As Johnson County and its county seat had begun to thrive, in 1860 the Civil War became a disrupter. Like other border areas, brothers fought against brothers, tearing families apart. Johnson County was not only part of a border state during the Civil War, but it was a border county as well.
Sometime between 1860 and 1862, the county enacted an ordinance that neither the Union or Confederate flags were to be flown within the county. This was repealed quickly after Colonel James Garfield's Union brigade marched through Paintsville on its way to defeat the Confederate cavalry at the Battle of Middle Creek in Floyd County.
John C. C. Mayo
Following the Civil War, Thomas Jefferson Mayo moved to Paintsville to fulfill a role as a gifted and talented teacher. He fathered John C. C. Mayo, an important figure in the development of eastern Kentucky. The county citizenry is divided on their loyalty to his memory. Some
would say he was a benefactor who assisted in the development of Paintsville, and as a result, Johnson County. That he helped develop banks, churches, streets, public utilities and railroad transportation. Others would say he was directly responsible for the huge influence coal companies had over the county's vast coal resources and the reason the region remains so economically depressed to this day.
The funeral procession of John C.C. Mayo through Paintsville in Johnson County, 1914.
Coal was important for Johnson County and the rest of eastern Kentucky even before the Civil War, but its development halted at the start of the war. Financing was slow to return to the coal industry in eastern Kentucky and this inhibited development in Johnson County. The people were suspicious of outsiders and Mayo, a school teacher, was a known quantity and one of their own. So he was invaluable in helping the coal industry to gain a firm foothold in the coal fields of eastern Kentucky and to the industrialized north which spurred the development of railroads in the area. Carpetbaggers from the North became a common sight in the area. It was during this time that many of the citizens of Johnson County were given misleading information and sold all mineral rights to their property for pennies on the dollar of what the rights were worth. In some cases, for a new shotgun. It was also during this time that many people lost their property due to a strange rash of fires in several county seats, destroying deeds and records of ownership, which paved the way for land-grabbers to take what the owners did not want to relinquish.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway first opened its Paintsville depot on September 1, 1904, following 25 years of work connecting it to Lawrence County. The rails were paid for by donations, stocks and bonds, and the hard work of local citizens.
History shows that the rail companies leaked information and frequently changed planned routes to create bidding wars and to finance the rails. In most instances, the companies retained ownership of the rights of way and rails as a condition of service. Following the development of the railroad, tens of thousands of tons of coal were being transported out of eastern Kentucky by 1910.
Mayo went on to be a political lobbyist, and eastern Kentucky's only member of the Democratic National Committee. He had influence in electing Kentucky's governors, members of Congress and the election of President Woodrow Wilson. It is speculated that it was these deep political connections that provided him with aid when charges of wrongdoing were levied against him due to his rapid acquisition of vast mineral rights in eastern Kentucky as he was subsequently found not guilty by a governor he had helped to elect.
He died on May 11, 1914, after becoming ill following a trip to Europe. During his life, he built a historic mansion in Paintsville which has become known as Mayo Mansion.
A typical mountain vista.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 264 square miles (680 km2), of which 262 square miles (680 km2) is land and 2.2 square miles (5.7 km2) (0.8%) is water.
The county's highest point is Stuffley Knob, with an elevation of 1,496 feet (456 m). Its lowest point is the Levisa Fork on the Lawrence County border, with an elevation of about 550 feet (168 m).
- Lawrence County (north)
- Martin County (east)
- Floyd County (south)
- Magoffin County (southwest)
- Morgan County (northwest)
- U.S. Route 23
- U.S. Route 460
- Kentucky Route 40
- Kentucky Route 321
- Kentucky Route 3
Big Sandy Regional Airport, located in adjacent Martin County, is the nearest airport. It is used as a general aviation airport.
The nearest airport that provides commercial aviation services is Tri-State Airport, which is located 55 miles (89 km) northeast in Ceredo, West Virginia.
|U.S. Decennial Census