Our History

On December 13, 1799, the Kentucky General Assembly enacted a bill creating Floyd County from Fleming, Montgomery and Mason counties. Floyd County was the fortieth county to enter the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Floyd County was named in honor of Colonel John Floyd (1750-1783), a surveyor and famous pioneer explorer.

In the 1800's, all or parts of fifteen other counties were formed from the original 3,600 square mile tract. Today, Floyd County consists of 393 square miles. The 2000 Census population of Floyd County was 43,586.

Located in the coal, oil and natural gas fields of Eastern Kentucky, Floyd County is part of the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachian Mountain range. Drained by the Louisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, it has elevation ranges of 641 feet above sea level to over 2000 feet on higher peaks. There are five incorporated towns in Floyd County: Prestonsburg (county seat), Allen, Wayland, Martin and Wheelwright.

Archeological evidence shows that the Adena Indians (Mound Builders) originally occupied the Big Sandy Valley. Many tales of Indian captives are recorded in the area's folklore. The most popular is the captivity of Jenny Wiley in 1789. In fact, the word Kentucky is derived from the Indian word kain-tuc-kee, which means "the dark and bloody hunting ground." The phrase still rings true today, as the hills of Floyd County remain generous to the sport of hunting.

Historians mark the founding of the Leslie Settlement on Johns Creek in early 1790, by William Robert Leslie as the earliest permanent settlement in what was to become the original Floyd County.

As in many areas of the south, the Civil War reportedly divided the neighbors of Floyd County. Union victory was claimed in two Floyd County battles. The most popular of these was the Battle of Middle Creek, which took place on January 10, 1862, and is still re-enacted today.

The story of the Battle of Middle Creek involved Union Colonel James A. Garfield who would later become President of the United States and Confederate Brigadier General Humphrey Marshall. In addition to a future president, the Civil War brought a twist of fate to Floyd County engineers of the north. These northern engineers recognized the vast amounts of bituminous coal seams in the area. This occurrence would later contribute to the locals selling their land and mineral resources to northern coal barons for mere pennies, and in some cases barter trade acres of land for chickens.

Floyd County is rich in history and heritage. Coal, once a major resource for settlers, continues to decrease in the 21st century. Leaders now view Floyd County on a new economic plane taking into consideration the diverse land potential and the increase in tourists. Floyd County continues to grow, learning from its history and expanding through technology.