Explore Knox County, Kentucky

Tour curated by: Kentucky Historical Society

Knox County, located in state’s southeastern region, was created in 1799. The county was formed from parts of Lincoln County. Over the course of the nineteenth century, Knox County was broken up to create the counties of Clay, Rockcastle, Whitley, Harlan, Laurel, and Bell. The Cumberland River runs through the mountainous county. Daniel Boone and Dr. Thomas Walker both explored this area with expeditions in the eighteenth century.

The county is named after Henry Knox, the famed Revolutionary War veteran and later George Washington’s Secretary of War. In addition, Kentuckians who made their mark on history came from this area. Two governors grew up in Knox County-James D. Black and Flem D. Sampson. Both men also have connections to the county’s primary institution of higher learning, Union College. Black, Sampson, and the school are all featured on this tour.

Knox County and Barbourville played an important role in Kentucky’s history, from its people to the county’s involvement during the Civil War. We hope that you will use this app to better understand Knox County’s importance to Kentucky's past.

Locations for Tour

Historical marker #2054 in Knox County notes the founding and history of Union College. Incorporated in October 1879, this small, private college in Knox County is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The college was formed by a group of…

Historical marker #1884 in Knox County commemorates the life of Kentucky Governor Flem D. Sampson. Born on January 25, 1875, Sampson was born in London, Kentucky. Sampson earned his early education from local schools before attending Union College…

Historical marker #1811 in Knox County commemorates the life of Kentucky Governor James D. Black, a native of the county. Born on September 29, 1849, Black grew up in Knox County. His parents were John C. and Clarissa (Jones) Black. James attended…

Historical Marker #782 in Knox County relates the history of the county’s namesake, Henry Knox. Created in December 1799, Knox County became the forty-first county in the state of Kentucky. The county was created from parts of Lincoln County.…

Historical marker #72 in Knox County notes the pioneering expedition of Dr. Thomas Walker and the site of the first structure built by white men in Kentucky. Before Daniel Boone, Dr. Thomas Walker and a small group of pioneers ventured into…

Historical Marker #1600 in the town of Flat Lick (Knox County) commemorates an important point of divergence, if traveling north, or convergence, if traveling south, of the three major frontier roads in this region: the Warrior's Path, Boone…

Historical Marker #518 describes the Civil War in Barbourville in Knox County. At the beginning of the Civil War, Unionists established Camp Andy Johnson near Barbourville. Kentuckians and East Tennesseans were recruited there, and, on September…