Native-peoples have lived, hunted, and fished along the lush and
temperate banks of Elkhorn Creek in what is now Scott County for
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
The 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
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 McClelland'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
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."
Georgetown 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
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.
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
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.
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.
The text was taken (with permission) from the Georgetown - Scott
County Tourism Commission's website. http://www.georgetownky.com/hist.html