Explore Johnson County, Kentucky

Tour curated by: The ExploreKYHistory Team

Formed in 1843, Johnson County is located in eastern Kentucky along the Big Sandy River.

Johnson County has a rich history to explore including the improbable story of Jennie Wiley, important Civil War action, and much more.

We hope you find this app helpful in exploring the people, places, and stories of Johnson County.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #571 in Johnson County commemorates Jennie's Creek, which is named for the famed frontier heroine Virginia Wiley. The creek was named for Wiley after she crossed the water to escape from Native Americans who had held her…

Historical Marker #608 in Johnson County commemorates arrival of Union troops in Paintsville in January 1862. That month, those soldiers fought in the Battle of Middle Creek in Floyd County, which proved to be an important Union victory. In…

Historical Marker #700 in Johnson County commemorates John Hunt Morgan's 1864 retreat through Paintsville to Virginia. This was during Morgan's last Kentucky raid during the Civil War. Morgan's command consisted of approximately…

Historical Marker #735 in Johnson County commemorates Jenny (Jennie) Wiley and her daring escape from the Native Americans who held her captive for nearly a year. Virginia Sellards Wiley was born about 1760 in Pennsylvania. When Jennie was a small…

Historical Marker #736 in Johnson County commemorates Harman Station, the first permanent settlement in eastern Kentucky. Matthias Harman, a Pennsylvania-born Virginian, became acquainted with Kentucky's Big Sandy River valley in the mid 1700s.…

Historical Marker #903 in Johnson County commemorates Dr. Thomas Walker and his first expedition through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. While on this expedition, Dr. Walker and his companions camped at present-day Paintsville in 1750. Thomas…

Historical Marker #1125 in Johnson County commemorates the naming of the county after Richard Mentor Johnson, a lawyer, soldier, and U.S. Vice President. Johnson was born on October 17, 1781, at Beargrass, a frontier settlement in present-day…

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…

Historical Marker # 1632 in Johnson County remembers entrepreneur John Caldwell Calhoun Mayo as a "dreamer" and a "doer." Born in Pike County on September 16, 1864, the Mayo family moved to Paintsville in Johnson County when John…

Historical Marker #1125 in Johnson County commemorates the county being named for War of 1812 veteran and U.S. Vice President Richard M. Johnson. Born in 1781 in what is now Jefferson County, Johnson's formative years were spent in Fayette…

Historical Marker #556 in Johnson County remembers a Civil War skirmish at Paintsville, which led to the subsequent engagement at Half Mountain in Magoffin County. On April 12, 1864, Union Colonel George W. Gallup arrived in Paintsville, determined…

Historical Marker #985 in Johnson County remembers noted historian William Elsey Connelley. Born on March 5, 1855, on a prong of the Middle Fork of Jennie's Creek, Connelley received his earliest training from his parents. Overcoming a…