Explore Daviess County, Kentucky

Tour curated by: Ashlee Chilton

Daviess County, located between Hancock and Henderson counties and along the Ohio River in the western half of the state, was founded in 1815. The fifty-eighth county to be formed, it was named for local landowner and lawyer, Col. Joseph Hamilton Daveiss, who was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Although named for Daveiss, when the county was officially enrolled the clerk misspelled the name. Therefore, today it is spelled Daviess. The city of Owensboro serves as the county seat.

Much of the history explored on Daviess County's highway markers are the people, places, and events of its early settlement. Before Daviess County was formally established, its location along the Ohio River made it an attractive location for early settlers seeking an accessible landing place. In addition, the county's fertile farmland encouraged its rapid agricultural development in the mid-nineteenth century.

Daviess County is also noted for its military heritage. During the Civil War, the county—like most of Kentucky—was split in its sympathy. Highway markers note the service of Confederate soldiers, and U.S. Medal of Honor winners in the Western Indian Wars and Vietnam. Honored on the markers, too, are the local men who served in World War I.

Daviess County's highway makers cover a wide range of topics. Here, one can learn about an individual who served as Harriet Beecher Stowe's model for the character of Uncle Tom in her famous book; an Owensboro man who won the Pulitzer Prize for photography; a man who went on to become a Tennessee governor; and founding fathers who owned land in what would become Daviess County.

We hope you will use this app to better understand the important part that Daviess County has played in Kentucky’s rich history.

Locations for Tour

Historical Marker #1873 marks the location of Bethabara Church, organized by dismissed members of Panther Creek Baptist Church, the first church in Daviess County. Bethabara Church was organized on October 5, 1825. Beginning as a log house, it was…

Historical Marker #1843 marks the former site of Thruston Elementary School. It was named in honor of Algernon Sidney Thruston. Born in Jefferson County in 1801, Thruston was nine months old when his father died. His inheritance, two hundred acres…

Historical Marker #1747 in Daviess County commemorates the first Kentuckian to receive an award for more than seventy years of service with the Boy Scouts of America. As a youth living in Detroit, Hazen Dean first joined the Boy Scouts in 1913.…

Historical Marker #1456 commemorates the 1,747 men who served from Daviess County during World War I, between April 1917 and November 1918. Kentucky enlisted more than 80,000 men in the Armed Forces for the First World War. With more than 1,700…

Historical Marker # 1436 at the Owensboro courthouse honors George Graham Vest, who began Owensboro’s second newspaper in 1852. Vest was born on December 6, 1830, in Frankfort, Kentucky. He moved to Owensboro around 1852, where he edited the…

Historical Marker # 1333 marks the birthplace of Albert Smith Marks, the twenty-fourth governor for Tennessee. Born in Daviess County, Kentucky, Marks lived in Kentucky until he was nineteen years old. In 1850, at age fourteen, Marks’s father…

Historical Marker #1307 marks the site of the first “road” in the wilderness. This path allowed settlers to follow the trail to the site of present-day Owensboro. Herds of buffalo walked along this stretch, created the trail, and led to it being…

Historical Marker #1183 commemorates three Daviess County Confederate soldiers who were honored by Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. Albert M. Hathaway, John L. Bell, and Mathias Garrett were three of seventy-two Kentucky…

Historical Marker #1918 commemorates the Hawes family and their contributions to Daviess County’s history, particularly in the Yelvington area. Richard and Clary Hawes settled in the Yelvington/Maceo area in 1810. They arrived three years before…

Historical Marker #1081 marks the site of property that belonged to George Mason, the author of the Virginia Bill of Rights and Constitution. Although he owned about 60,000 acres of land in Daviess County, he died in 1792 without ever having visited…

Historical Marker #883 marks the home of Colonel Joseph Hamilton Daviess, a farm called “Cornland”, located on the Ohio River a mile and a half east of Owensboro. The original residence was a hewn log house, although none of that remains…

Historical Marker #744 marks the site of the first permanent settlement in Owensboro, settled by Bill Smothers (also known as Bill Smeathers) in 1797-98. Bill Smothers served in Kentucky’s “Corn Stalk Militia” as an ensign before becoming a…

Historical Marker #590, located on the courthouse lawn, notes the burning of the Daviess County courthouse on January 4, 1865, by a band of Civil War guerrillas. Formerly a captain in the 7th Kentucky Union Infantry Regiment, William…

Historical Marker #1241 in Daviess County notes the location of the Riley family home place. The Rileys were the owners of Josiah Henson, a slave whom Harriet Beecher Stowe used to help model her main character in the famous novel "Uncle…

Historical Marker #2036 in Owensboro notes the accomplishments of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Moneta J. Sleet, Jr. An age-old adage declares that "a picture is worth a thousand words." But a picture also has the power to bring…

Historical Marker #2467 commemorates the Daviess County United States Colored Troops in the Civil War. In 1864, several hundred enslaved African American men joined the Union army in Daviess County. Many black recruits from surrounding counties…