Historical Marker #1123 in McLean County details the early history and naming of the county and the county’s seat of Calhoun.
In 1854, Kentucky established McLean County by combining parts of Daviess, Muhlenberg, and Ohio counties. This county became the state’s 103rd county and sits in Kentucky’s Western Coal Region. The Green River cuts through the center of the county and the river’s tributaries weave throughout the area. McLean’s terrain is characterized by low hills and broad flat valleys.
The county received its name in honor of Judge Alney McLean, a former prominent resident of the area. Born in 1779, McLean travelled from North Carolina to Kentucky when he was twenty years old and took up residence in Muhlenberg County. McLean served as a captain in the War of 1812 and then as a representative in Kentucky‘s General Assembly. In 1821, he became a circuit judge and held that position until his death in 1841.
The first white settlers to present-day McLean County arrived around 1784. These men, Solomon and Henry Rhoads, established the town of Rhoadsville. In 1785, needing protection from Native Americans, Jacob Myers issued orders for Henry Rhoads to establish a fort and partition land for settlers along the banks of the Green River. Though these orders, Rhoadsville became Fort Vienna, the present site of Calhoun. In 1849, the county seat of McLean County received its present name of Calhoun. The city was named for John Calhoun. He was the first circuit court judge of Fort Vienna and served from 1835 to 1839 in the U.S. Congress. At various times, maps listed the town as “Calhoon,” a local spelling of the name. In 1852, the city of Calhoun was incorporated and officially became the county seat when McLean County was created two years later.