Historical Marker #1126 commemorates the town of Paintsville, the county seat of Johnson County.
Located at the junction of the Big Sandy River and Paint Creek, the first Anglo visitors arrived in 1750, when Dr. Thomas Walker led an expedition into the area to explore a land grant. After Walker's exploration, Colonel John Preston and others bought tracts of the wilderness. In 1790, Preston established a trading post called Paint Lick Station after the colorful Native American markings on the trees and the salt licks surrounding the area.
In the early nineteenth century, a North Carolinian, Rev. Henry Dickson, gained possession of the land at the mouth of Paint Creek. There, he established the first permanent residence in Paintsville. The first town was legally established by the General Assembly in 1834. When Johnson County was formed by the General Assembly in 1843, Paintsville was chosen as the county seat.
The first courthouse was built in Paintsville around 1850, and the first school was completed about a year later. Paintsville's largest period of growth occurred in the early twentieth century when hometown entrepreneur John C.C. Mayo began amassing land rights to the rich coal lands of eastern Kentucky. This attracted numerous companies and railroads to the area, and Mayo donated much time and money to the development of the town.