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Harlan County Kentucky Research Links

Kentucky History and Genealogy Network, Inc.


Harlan county, the 60th county formed in the state was erected in 1819 out of parts of Floyd and Knox counties and named in honor of Major Silas Harlan. From that date for a period of forty eight years it was the extreme south-eastern county until Josh Bell county was formed in 1867 out of its southern and south-eastern part this took off about two hundred voters. It is bounded to the north by Perry and Letcher counties, to the east and south by the Virginia state line and to the west by Josh Bell county. It is a high rugged and mountainous county with a fertile soil and heavily timbered with good timber of all kinds. On the southern border lies the great Stone or Cumberland mountain surmounted by a stupendous rock one mile long and six hundred feet high on the northern border and the Pine mountain ranging nearly east and west.  This range separates the county from Letcher and Perry counties in the eastern part the Black mountain.  The range is probably an arm of the Cumberland.

The products are corn, wheat, oats, rye. Tobacco stock raising is carried on to some extent.  Mount Pleasant (Harlan) is the county seat and the only town. It is one hundred sixty eight miles from Frankfort, thirty four miles from Cumberland Ford, (Pineville in Josh Bell county) and forty nine miles from Whitesburg in Letcher county. Mount Pleasant contains a court-house,  four lawyers,  five stores, a grist and saw mill, a tavern and four mechanics shops.  Population is about fifty. Elsewhere in the county are one lawyer, one doctor, three stores, two saw mills and seven grist mills .

From Collins Historical Sketches, 1878 edition



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