County Formed, Named

Historical Marker #1206 commemorates the formation of Henderson County. Located in western Kentucky along the Ohio River, Henderson County was the thirty-eighth county to be formed.

Henderson County was named for Colonel Richard Henderson, the founder of the Transylvania Company. Henderson was born in Virginia on April 20, 1735, to Colonel Samuel and Elizabeth Henderson. The Hendersons moved to North Carolina in 1742. There, Richard studied law. By age thirty-three, he was appointed associate justice of the superior court of North Carolina, where he remained until 1773. Henderson eventually served in the North Carolina Council of State and the North Carolina House of Commons.

In 1774, Henderson organized the Louisa Company, which was reorganized as the Transylvania Company a year later. The company was created to purchase a large area of land in Indian territory to create a proprietary colony. Shortly after the company was reorganized, Henderson commissioned several famous explorers to begin land purchase negotiations with the Cherokee Indians who inhabited the area. On March 17, 1775, the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals was completed by Richard Henderson, and the Transylvania Company claimed much of present-day Kentucky, as well as north-central Tennessee. The next week, the first general assembly of the proprietary colony met in Boonesborough as the colony of Transylvania.

In November, a representative was sent to Virginia to ask the Continental Congress to make Transylvania the 14th colony. Instead, the Continental Congress voided the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals. In November 1778, the Virginia General Assembly granted 200,000 acres to the Transylvania Company as compensation for the voided treaty. This land would become part of Henderson County.

Henderson did not live to see the formation of the county named in his honor. Instead, he died in North Carolina on January 30, 1785. It would be another twelve years before the Transylvania Company sent three men to survey the 200,000 acres from the grant. Henderson County was created out of Christian County by state statute in December 1798, and was officially established in May 1799. The earliest settlement, Red Banks, eventually became the county seat, aptly renamed Henderson.