Paducah, Kentucky

Historical Marker #918 at Paducah in McCracken County notes the county's namesake, Virgil McCracken, who was killed during the War of 1812.

Virgil McCracken's parents were early Kentucky settlers who lived near present-day Frankfort and then in Woodford County. The family was, sadly, well-familiar with military casualties. Virgil's father, Cyrus, was killed in Ohio in 1782 while fighting under George Rogers Clark. Virgil, a state legislator representing Woodford County, would also be killed in the service.

Described "as an intelligent, patriotic and fearless man," at the outbreak of the War of 1812, McCracken raised a company and was commissioned captain in the 1st Kentucky Riflemen. Marching into present-day Michigan with General James Winchester's army, McCracken was wounded at the Battle of River Raisin. After the fight, McCracken was captured by a Native American soldier and was never seen again. He was likely one of forty to sixty Kentuckians massacred by the Native Americans.

When a new county was formed in January 1825, it was named McCracken County in his honor. Paducah is the county seat.

The marker reads: "McCracken county seat, founded by Gen. William Clark of Lewis and Clark Expedition at confluence of Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. Named for legendary Indian Chief Paduke. Home of Vice Pres. Alben Barkley and birthplace of Irvin S. Cobb. First occupied in Civil War by Gen. U. S. Grant. Became supply base of his Miss. River campaign. Great Atomic Energy plant nearby.

(Reverse) McCracken County - Formed, 1824, from Hickman County. Named for Captain Virgil McCracken of Woodford County, Ky., who was killed in Battle of River Raisin near Detroit during War of 1812. Area 237 square miles. Ohio and Tennessee Rivers brought industry dependent on river transportation. First county seat at Wilmington, 1825, and moved to Paducah, 1832. Government is County Commission."

Marker #918 was dedicated in 1966.