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Bell County Kentucky Articles


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Bell County Kentucky Research Articles
Cumberland Gap from the South, Courtesy of the Library of Congress Digital Collections



Josh Bell county the 112th in order of formation organized in May 1867 and named after Joshua F Bell of Danville Ky.  It was formed from part of Knox and Harlan counties and in 1870/71 a portion of Whitley county with about 45 voters known as the South American district was cut off and added it. It is bounded N by Clay county E by Harlan S by county Virginia and Claiborne county Tennessee and W Whitley and Knox counties Ky.  It is very mountainous , the river and creek bottoms the coves and north side of the mountains afford some rich and productive soil and the ridges and side of the mountains are thin lands.  White oak, black oak, poplar, sugar tree maple,  black and white walnut beech, lynn, sycamore, dogwood, elm and chestnut exist in abundance and the south side of Pine mountain quantities of the yellow and black pine are to be found. The mountains produce good grazing for cattle and sheep the latter do well without feeding winter.  The products are corn, wheat, rye, oats and quantities of tobacco. The country abounds in timber but there are a few sawmills near Pineville but for want of water they are a stand still the greater part of the year.  Some of the finest of coal in the world are in this county one on Clear creek is feet thick. The county is watered by part of the river and by small streams emptying into it Right fork,  Caney fork, Stony fork and Turkey Straight.  Four Mile Browning’s Hause’s Yellow Big Clear Little Clear and Run creeks The Wilderness turnpike road extends through 8 w part of the county. Pineville the county seat 16 miles E of Barboursville and miles n of Cumberland Gap is situated on the west bank of Cumberland river on a very narrow strip of land where the breaks through Pine mountain hence its name. The rise very high on both sides east and west of the village are almost perpendicular with large cliffs or rocks overhanging. Immediately bordering on this town northwest is Ford one of the oldest settlements in this part of the country said to have belonged originally to Gov Shelby and been from him by James Renfro whose family owned it for generations. During the civil war the house and fences destroyed by the Federal army but have since been rebuilt the place is now in a fine state of cultivation. This was considered the most desirable site for a town but it was opposed by owner who instead gave an acre of ground for it a level of land on the side of the mountain where a large frame house was built and around which the town has grown. Pineville has now 4 stores 3 hotels 2 mechanics shops 4 lawyers doctor and 1 good school and there are a grist mill and a mill in the county.

From  Collins’ Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky, Volume 2

By Lewis Collins 1878

First Tavern of Pineville

Nixon’s First Trip to Bell County

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