Georgetown / Scott County History

Uncover the rich history that surrounds Georgetown/Scott County, Kentucky.


Native-peoples have lived, hunted, and fished along the lush and temperate banks of Elkhorn Creek in what is now Scott County foradenaindians at least 15,000 years. In particular, the Adena culture (800 B.C. - 800 A.D.) thrived in the area, with several significant Adena mounds still marking their presence.

Exploration by people of European ancestry can be traced to a surveying expedition from Fincastle County, Virginia, led by John Floyd in June of 1774. A journal kept by one of the group noted a prominent feature of the rich land that is now Scott County: the "spring is the largest I have seen in the whole country, and forms a creek in itself."

greatcrossingThe region was sporadically settled by as early as 1775, and an army outpost, McClelland's Fort, was built overlooking the spring in 1776. After an attack by Indians in 1777, the fort was abandoned. A permanent community was not established until the winter of 1783 when Robert and Jemima Johnson established Johnson Station near the North Fork of Elkhorn Creek. Johnson Station was later renamed Great Crossing because of the buffalo crossing nearby, and is approximately five miles west of the current location of Georgetown. In 1792, Scott County became one of the first two counties created by the newly formed Kentucky Legislature, and was named for General Charles Scott, a Revolutionary War hero who later served as the Commonwealth's fourth governor from 1808 through 1812.

In 1784, Elijah Craig (1743-1808), an idealistic Baptist preacher from Spotsylvania County, Virginia, incorporated the town of Lebanon near the site of Elijah Craig woodcutMcClelland's Fort in the Virginia legislature. In 1790, the town's name was changed to George Town in honor of President George Washington. And in 1792 it became George Town, Kentucky, when Kentucky became the15th state of the union.

Craig is credited by some with the establishment of "the first classical school in Kentucky, the first saw and grist mill, the first fulling and paper mill, and the first ropewalk. Others affirm that he also produced the first bourbon whiskey. In the December 27, 1787, edition of the Kentucky Gazette Craig advertised for fifty or sixty scholars to study at an academy that would open on January 28, 1788 "in Lebanon town," and would offer courses in Latin, Greek,and "such branches of the sciences as are usually taught in public seminaries." Ten years later the school was absorbed by the Rittenhouse Academy, which was given by the state some 5,900 acres in Christian and Cumberland counties so that they might sell the land to benefit their endowment fund. The academy, in turn, was absorbed by Georgetown College in 1829.

The community went into a decline after the death of Elijah Craig in 1808. When Elder Barton Warren Stone (1772-1844), a founder of the Christian Churches movement during the Great Revival, moved to Georgetown in 1816 to become principal of Rittenhouse Academy, he found the community "notorious for its wickedness and irreligion."

GeorgetownCollege GiddingsHallGeorgetown College was founded in 1829 by orthodox Baptists to provide education for clergy to combat the reforming threat of the Disciples of Christ, and by those men simply interested in providing a superior classical education. Thereafter the college continued to prosper and in 1898 became one of the first such institutions in the South to become coeducational. During the nineteenth century Georgetown's cultural and economic life, the latter based on tobacco, milling, distilling, and the rope and bagging businesses, was closely tied to the deep South. While Kentucky remained officially neutral during the Civil War, Scott County's leanings were Southern.

After the war, many of Scott County's African American citizens took part in the "Great Migration to the West," with many settling in the newly formed, all-Black community of Nicodemus, Kansas. After experiencing the hardships of life on the Great Plains, many of these people would later return to Scott County. With the end of slavery, the new African-American communities of Zion Hill, Watkinsville, and New Zion were formed. Today, in New Zion's cemetery, lie the remains of several local residents who seized the opportunity to join the first all-African American military units formed during peace-time, the 9th and 10th Cavalries, and the 23rd and 24th Infantries. Cemetery records from "Gone, Forgotten, Now Remembered: Scott County, Kentucky Cemeteries" indicate there are at least four soldiers buried buffalosoldiersin the Old Georgetown Cemetery that served in Buffalo Soldier Unites. The troopers assigned to these regiments were more commonly known as "Buffalo Soldiers." All four units established outstanding records during the campaigns and policing actions in the American West.

While Georgetown was growing, other communities in Scott County were also flourishing. In 1834 Stamping Ground, so called for the buffalo herds that would gather at the salt spring and stomp the ground while waiting for water, was incorporated.

Sadieville, once called "Big Eagle," was formed in the northern portion of the county as a rail stop along the Cincinnati Southern Railroad in 1879. The city was named in honor of Sadie Emison Pack, an honored citizen who was hostess to the construction engineers working on the line. toyotaplant

Throughout the 20th century, Georgetown and Scott County have been in a transition from an economy based primarily on agriculture, to a diversified one mixing manufacturing, small business, and the family farm. During the 1960s, the construction of Interstate 75 placed the county on one of the busiest highways in America. The selection of Georgetown as site of Toyota's first American assembly plant in 1985 has resulted in the greatest period of growth in the county's long and storied history. 

Today, Georgetown and Scott County stand as a mix of a rich past and an exciting future. We invite you to visit with us and experience our heritage.


Sadieville, once called “The Big Eagle” started out as a railroad town in 1880. Residents can enjoy tree-lined country roads, historic homes and the beautiful Eagle Creek.
The City of Sadieville  was incorporated in the year 1880 and named for Mrs. Sadie Pack, one of the most highly honored citizens of Scott County. The city is built around Eagle Creek is on a railway that was once the greatest and most lucrative in the south. As a shipping point, Sadieville was, without a doubt, one of the best on the Southern Road. In 1904, there were 216 cars of stock, logs and tobacco shipped which amounted to thousands of dollars. Over $13,000 worth of rabbits , hides, produce, etc. were shipped by Sadieville merchants in 1904.
Sadieville was the largest market for shipping yearling mules and colts in the country, and the firm Burgess and Gano purchased most all of the mules and colts in Sadieville and from there they were shipped to many points in the state of Georgia. The young mules and colts would be kept in corrals out in the country, until three or four hundred of them had been delivered by the stock raisers and then drivers would each get on horseback in front, at the side, and in the rear of the drove, and drive them to the stockyards in Sadieville which was alongside the railroad tracks. Two or three men would always go along the road in advance, and notify the residents that the "mules were coming." They really raised a thick cloud of dust but at least the youngsters enjoyed it. Dust was at times as bad as a heavy fog.

The Sadieville Rosenwald School is one of many state-of-the art schools built in the early 20th century for RosenwaldSchoolAfrican-American children across the South. This specific Rosenwald School was built between 1917-1920 and remained segregated until 1954. The Rosenwald School was closed and the Mount Pleasant Church congregation used it as their fellowship hall. The Mount Pleasant Church closed in 2000 and the building was purchased by the City of Sadieville in 2008. In 2011, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the city emergency funds to repair the building and preserve the history that was once there. The Sadieville Rosenwald School preservation project is now complete and the building serves as a museum/cultural center. Visit through appointment by contacting the City of Sadieville at 502-857-4576.


Stamping Ground
The town of Stamping Ground in Scott County was settled near the Buffalo Spring in a rich farming area, which then produced thick stands of wild cane. In pioneer times, great herds of buffalo came to drink at the spring and stamped around it.
buffalospringThe Buffalo Springs was discovered in 1775 by Will McConnell and Charles LeCompte. They called the area around it the "Buffalo Stamping Ground." Stamping Ground is located on the Alanant-o-wamiowee Trail or "Buffalo Path." This trail was established ages ago and has been an ancient migratory route since prehistoric times. The buffalo stopped to get a long lick of salt at the site of the town of Long Lick and closer to Georgetown they crossed the Eagle Creek at the Great Crossing.
The first settlement at Stamping Ground was Anthony Lindsay's fort in 1790. Anthony Lindsay chose Stamping Ground as the stie for his station. It was located near LeCompte's Run, a branche of the Elkhorn named for Charles LeCompte, who was here with William McConnell and others in 1775. The station was on an Old Buffalo Trace, leading north to the Ohio River and was a regular stop for travelers and traders.

Stamping Ground is located on an ancient migratory path that was well used by prehistoric animals and later, the buffalo, seeking salt. This path was also used by the Mound Builders, and later Pioneer Settlers. The Native Americans called it the Alanant-o-wamiowee. The Alanant-o-wamiowee is a wide swath of land cut into forest and has left a permanent path at the Buffalo Spring. The Alant-o-wamiowee is likely the road bed that forms the road from Stamping Ground towards Georgetown, where the migrating herds would ford the Elkhorn at the location known as Great Crossing.


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