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Kentucky Counties
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Kentucky Counties

Kentucky has one hundred and twenty counties, third in the US behind Texas's (254) and Georgia's (159.) Washington County was the first county formed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky when it reached statehood, and the sixteenth county formed

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Owsley County, Kentucky

Owsley County Education, Geography, and HistoryOwsley County, Kentucky Courthouse

Owsley County is a county located in the Eastern Coalfield region of the state of Kentucky. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 4,755, making it the second-least populous county in Kentucky. The county seat is Booneville. The county was organized on January 23, 1843 from Clay, Estill, and Breathitt counties and named for William Owsley (1782-1862), the judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals and Governor of Kentucky (1844-48).

Etymology - Origin of Owsley County Name

William Owsley (1782-1862), judge in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Kentucky governor.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Owsley County History

Owsley County was formed in 1843 from portions of Clay, Breathitt, and Estill Counties and was named for Governor William Owsley.Owsley County was Kentucky's 96th county. Parts of Owsley County were used to form Jackson County in 1858 and Lee County in 1870.

 It is located in the Eastern Coal Field region of the state. The elevation in the county ranges from 650 to 1720 feet above sea level. In 2000 the county population was 4,858 in a land area of 198.09 square miles, an average of 24.5 people per square mile. The county seat is Booneville.

n January 1929, and again on January 5, 1967, there were courthouse fires. All records were lost in the 1929 fire.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 198 square miles (510 km2), of which 197 square miles (510 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (0.4%) is water. The South Fork of the Kentucky River passes through the county. Most of the precipitation that falls on the county ends up in this tributary of the Kentucky River. Some, however, on the northwest side of the county is in the Kentucky River watershed. Flood plains along the banks of the South of the Kentucky River and several streams provide the level land necessary for development/farming.

The county is located in the Eastern Mountain Coal Fields which is a part of the Appalachian Plateau (more precisely, the Cumberland Plateau). The elevation of the highest summit in the county appears to be between 1730' +/- 10' due to the 20' closed contour interval according to this map: It is located on the county's extreme southern boundary with Clay County. The lowest elevation (650' +/- 10') appears to be at the point where the South Fork crosses the Owsley/Lee border on the north side of the county.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • North: Lee County
  • Northeast: Breathitt County
  • Southeast: Perry County
  • South: Clay County
  • West: Jackson County


Public schools are operated by the Owsley County School District. Owsley County has one Christian Private school currently operating. Sugar Camp Baptist Church maintains a primary educational facility off of Hwy. 30 East.

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