Explore Boyle County

Boyle County, Kentucky, was formed from sections of Lincoln and Mercer Counties in 1842. The county was named in honor of John Boyle (marker #1218), a US Congressman, Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and US District Judge. The county covers 180 square miles and includes the towns of Danville, Perryville, and Junction City.

Danville, the county seat, is known as the City of Firsts. Home to Centre College, the town has hosted some of Kentucky’s elite jurists, doctors, and politicians, including Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, Chief Justice Fred M. Vision, Dr. Ephraim McDowell, and Vice President Adlai Stevenson. Danville hosted the first state constitutional convention and housed injured Civil War soldiers following the Battle of Perryville. Danville’s thriving business district has supported the community for nearly 180 years. In the years prior to the Civil War, a free Black community flourished. Danville’s Black business district continued to prosper during Jim Crow segregation, but was destroyed in the 1970s. Urban renewal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allowed the razing of the businesses along 2nd Street at Constitution Square. Today, the Danville-Boyle County African American Historical Society collects and interprets the histories of African Americans in the county.

Perryville sits nine miles west of Danville. It was established as a town in 1817 and is best known as the site of Kentucky’s largest battle during the Civil War. On Oct. 8, 1862, U.S. troops successfully drove Confederate troops from Kentucky. The battle resulted in nearly 8,000 wounded or dead soldiers and devastated the farmland between Danville and Perryville. The town thrived as an agricultural community throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries and today remains vibrant.

Junction City was created as a railroad exchange in 1882, as the Louisville & Nashville and Cincinnati Railroads crossed through the town. Though the railroads have left the area, the area continues to support a commercial district, family farms, and educational opportunities.

The nearly 30,000 residents of Boyle County are surrounded by history, as the markers on this tour show. Beginning in Perryville, the markers move East to Danville and cover events or people in the 18, 19, and 20th centuries.

Kirkland Home

Historical Marker #2391 in Boyle County commemorates the site of the Kirkland Home, which was one of the homes used by soldiers during the aftermath of the Battle of Perryville. Charles King Kirkland and Caroline Purdom Kirkland lived between the…

Perryville's Henry P. Bottom

Historical Marker #192 in Boyle County commemorates a Perryville resident who made great sacrifices during the Civil War. Henry Bottom was a farmer and justice of the peace whose home was caught in the crossfire of Kentucky's largest battle. …

Perryville, Kentucky

Historical Marker #1284 in Boyle County highlights the community of Perryville and notes that this town was named after a War of 1812 veteran. Originally established in a cave located near the Chaplin River, Perryville was first called…

Site of First Rural Electric Co-Op Substation in County

Historical Marker #2399 commemorates the beginning of rural electrification in Kentucky by recognizing the first Rural Electric Co-Op Substation located in Boyle County. On June 10, 1938, 33,000 volts of electricity was sent to 115 homes along 56…

James G. Birney Home

Historical Marker #36 in Danville, Kentucky, notes the birthplace of abolitionist and nineteenth-century presidential candidate, James Gillespie Birney. Birney was born in Danville in 1792 to a slaveholding family. As a young man he was educated at…

Centre College

Historical Marker #923 in Danville commemorates Centre College, an institution of higher learning that the Washington Post has called "one of the premier intellectual gathering points in its region."Founded in 1819 by former governor Isaac Shelby,…

John Todd Stuart

Historical Marker #2244 in Danville commemorates John Todd Stuart, who was Abraham Lincoln's first law partner. When Abraham Lincoln moved to Springfield, Illinois, Kentuckian John Todd Stuart encouraged Lincoln to study law. He also became…

Ephraim McDowell, 1771-1830

Historical Marker #2281 commemorates the life and legacy of Ephraim McDowell, the "father of abdominal surgery." A native of Rockbridge County, Virginia, Ephraim McDowell moved to Danville, Kentucky, when he was a child. His father,…

Danville Presbyterian Church

Historical Marker #754 commemorates the Danville Presbyterian Church, which was used as a hospital following the Battle of Perryville.When the Reverend David Rice traveled through early Kentucky, he saw a need for churches. "I found scarcely one man…

School for the Deaf

Historical Marker #197 in Danville commemorates the founding of the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD), "the first state-supported school in the United States for the instruction of deaf children." In the early nineteenth century, General…

Courthouse a Hospital

Historical marker #756, located at the Boyle County Courthouse in Danville, commemorates the occupation of the structure as a field hospital during the Civil War. When the Battle of Perryville was fought ten miles from Danville on October 8, 1862,…

First Hemp Crop

Historical Marker #1279 in Danville notes the first recorded hemp crop in Kentucky, which was grown on Clark's Run Creek in 1775. Hemp has a long history in the state. From its first recorded planting near Danville to its reemergence during…

Theodore O'Hara

Historical Marker #24 commemorates Danville native Theodore O'Hara who wrote the famous poem, "The Bivouac of the Dead." Born in Danville on February 11, 1820, O'Hara was an attorney and journalist. He served in the US Army during the…

John Marshall Harlan

Historical Marker #1606, located at the Boyle County Courthouse in Danville, commemorates John Marshall Harlan, a Boyle County native, Civil War veteran, and U.S. Supreme Court justice. Born a few miles west of Danville in 1833, Harlan's family…

General Jeremiah T. Boyle

Historical Marker #1218 commemorates the establishment of Boyle County. It was named after Judge John Boyle, a state representative, congressman, and prominent judge. Boyle's son--Jeremiah Tilford Boyle--became Union military commander of…

Trinity Episcopal Church

Historical Marker #1442 notes that Trinity Episcopal Church is "one of the oldest church buildings in Danville." Constructed in 1830 by resident Robert Russel Jr., the early members of the church included Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who…

First USCT Recruits at Camp Nelson

Historical Marker #2388 in Danville notes the African American community's contributions to the U.S. Army during the Civil War. In many instances, enslaved and free men of color who tried to join the Union army faced substantial danger. The…

Walker Daniel

Historical marker #190 in Danville commemorates the town's namesake, Walker Daniel. One who knew Daniel called him "a young gentleman of rare talents," and one who "gave promise of great distinction." Sadly, Daniel was…

Lewis and Clark in Kentucky: Danville

Historical Marker #2216 in Danville commemorates the visit from Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, leaders of the Corps of Discovery Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back from 1803-1806. Danville's location on the famed Wilderness Road brought…

Ephraim McDowell House

Historical Marker #2284 in downtown Danville commemorates the Ephraim McDowell House. There, in 1809, Danville physican Ephraim McDowell performed the world's first successful abdominal operation when he removed a twenty-two pound ovarian tumor…

Site of Log Courthouse

Historical Marker #49 at Constitution Square in Danville commemorates the site of Kentucky's earliest district court sessions. Before 1792, Kentucky was part of Virginia. Therefore, ten years before statehood, Virginia law created the…

Grayson's Tavern

Historical Marker #755 commemorates Grayson's Tavern, a popular meeting spot in Danville constructed by Benjamin Grayson in 1785. Used by local residents and travelers, Grayson's Tavern was an important part of Kentucky's early…

Willis Russell House

Historical Marker #2386 notes the location of the Willis Russell House in Danville. Russell, a free man of color who lived in the house, taught African American children during the mid-nineteenth century. Virginia Revolutionary War veteran and…

John A. Jacobs

Historical Marker #2005 in Danville commemorates Jacobs Hall, a structure at the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD). The marker also recognizes the namesake of the building, John A. Jacobs, who was "KSD's first trained teacher, principal,…

Family Services Association of Boyle County

Historical Marker #2527 celebrates the 100+ years that the Family Services Assocaition of Boyle County has worked to improve the lives of local residents. Founded in the second decade of the twentieth century, the organization that became the Family…

John William Bate

Historical Marker #2186, located in Danville, Kentucky (Boyle County) commemorates the inspiring life and progressive work of Black educator John William Bate. Bate was born in 1854 at the Woodside Plantation on the outskirts of Louisville. His…