County Named, 1818

Historical Marker #1067 in Williamsburg commemorates Whitley County's namesake, Colonel William Whitley.

Arguably one of Kentucky's hardest-fighting settlers, Whitley was born in Virginia in 1749. He came to Kentucky in 1775. Although he first settled in present-day Lincoln County, he and his family moved to the safer confines of the nearby Fort Logan (Stanford). Whitley served under George Rogers Clark during the Revolutionary War, was a state legislator, and fought multiple campaigns against several Native American tribes.

During the War of 1812, the sixty-four year old Whitley volunteered to fight. On October 5, 1813, he led a charge at the Battle of the Thames and was killed in action.

Although known for his fighting nature, Whitley influenced racing. He built a track at Sportsman's Hill, his home near Stanford. While English races ran clockwise, races on Whitley's track ran in the opposite direction, ensuring him a place in racing history. Today, most American races still run counterclockwise.

Whitley's House, Sportsman's Hill, is preserved as a Kentucky State Historic Site. Whitley County, formed in January 1818, was named in his honor.


William Whitley

William Whitley

Portrait of William Whitley. Oil on canvas. Image Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

William Whitley House

William Whitley House

William Whitley, who moved to the Kentucky frontier in 1775, constructed this brick house between 1787 and 1794. The house, known as Sportsman's Hill, was constructed in the Flemish bond pattern. The Whitley Park Association and other local civic clubs restored the house between 1948 and 1955. It became a Kentucky state park on February 25, 1938, and is now known as the William Whitley House State Historic Site,. Image Courtesy of Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

William Whitley's House

William Whitley's House

William Whitley's House. ca 1913. Image Courtesy of Kentucky Historical Society View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Stuart Sanders, “County Named, 1818,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed June 25, 2017,


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