Bracken County, Ky

Bracken County was the 24th county formed in Kentucky.  The law enacting Bracken County was passed on December 14, 1796, and the county was formed on June 1, 1797 from Mason and Campbell Counties. Its boundaries are unchanged since April 22, 1882. It has an area of 203.2 square miles, making it the 100th largest of Kentucky's 120 counties.

Discover the highest point in the county.


Chicago's Newberry Library has posted online a complete set of maps of American counties formations. They start with the date of 6 such changes, and you can see Bracken maps here (pdf). To see the counties from which the county was formed, Kentucky links are here. There's also a feature that you can use to import all this data into Google maps. Good stuff!

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The Bracken County Historical Society's site is here.

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Belfast Florence Miller Rattler
The Belfast The Florence Miller, later known as the The Rattler
There were three Union ships on the Ohio at the time of Augusta Civil War fight, altho none of them offered much support. A third boat, not shown here, was the Allen Collier. None of these pictures was taken at Augusta.

Sam Veach was 10 years old on September 27, 1862, when he witnessed the Civil War's Battle of Augusta, and he recalls that experience in this 1936 remembrance.

Joseph D0niphan writes a description of Augusta's Civil War battle. The Bracken County bounty fund.
Walter Rankin's piece on the Civil War in Augusta is here (pdf). Civil War prisoners from Bracken County, here.
The outbreak of the Civil War leads to these resolutions between the citizens of Ripley, Augusta, Dover, and Maysville.
Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, September 31, 1864

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Can you name the fifty-five (55!) town names in Bracken
 County that have had US post offices? That list is here.

On September 1, 1870, the Post Office Department listed these towns in Bracken County as having Post Offices:
Augusta, Berlin, Bradford, Brooksville, Browningsville, Foster, Harmon, Locust Mills, and Powersville.

Here's a curious collection of documents from the 1860-1940's, from the post office, with town names, maps, and name changes. You really should start here, and they might make more sense to you. All are pdf's.
Augusta Berlin Bethesda
Bladeston Bradford Bridgeville Brooksville Chatham
Collins Cumminsville Elm Grove Foster Germantown
Gertrude Harmon Hillsdale Johnsville Lenoxburgh
Locust Mills Metcalf Milford Morris Mt. Hor
Neave Parina Pearl Petra Powersville
Rama Rock Spring Sante Fe Tietzville Waelda
Walcott Willow Grove      

Robert Rennick wrote this piece (pdf) for the WPA about the Bracken County post offices, and how their locations got their names.

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The 1939 Brooksville Centennial Booklet featured a history of virtually every church
and every town in Bracken County.  Both are pdf's.

The church histories are here.       frill       The town histories are here.

They held an election in 1820 to decide here the county seat would be.

The 1947 Augusta Sesquicentennial program, with a history of Augusta and Augusta College by Walter Rankin is here (pdf). It's a big file.

Maysville's Ledger-Independent featured Marla Toncray's piece on “History, Origins and Towns of Bracken County,” featuring backgrounds on 15 towns that are, mentions 14 towns that no longer are.

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An 1812 gazetteer has a brief mention of Augusta here.

Augusta and Foster in an 1861 gazetteer briefly described, here.

In 1876, the R. L. Polk Company published The Kentucky State Gazetteer and Business Directory, which listed information about virtually every town in Kentucky.  The listings from Bracken County are these:
Augusta Berlin Brooksville
Foster Germantown Lenoxburg Powersville

Bracken County, Kentucky

Cigar factory ad from the 1876 Gazetteer

In 1883-84, the R. L. Polk Company published The Kentucky State Gazetteer and Business Directory, Vol. IV, which listed information about virtually every town in Kentucky.  The listings from Bracken County are these:
Augusta Brooksville Berlin Bradford
Foster Germantown Johnsville Lenoxburgh Milford
Minerva Neave Petra Rock Spring / Tietzville

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 “A large mastodon tooth, weighing 14 1/2 pounds, was found on the farm of Jacob  Fite, in Bracken county, some time ago.  Other bones, evidently belonging to the ancient monster, have been found near where this tooth was discovered.” From the Covington Journal, April 6, 1872

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In 1911, there were these five Masonic Lodges in Bracken County:  
Augusta Brooksville Foster Germantown(pdf) Milford

In 1890, there were these four Masonic Lodges in Bracken County:
Augusta Brooksville Foster Germantown

For membership rolls of ALL Masonic Lodges in ALL cities in Kentucky,
from 1878 thru 1922, they're at the Hathi Trust Digital Library, by individual year.


Who's who in Bracken County, in 1840.

An earlier Gazetteer published in Louisville, was George W. Hawes's Kentucky State Gazetteer and Business Directory, for 1859 and 1860. It's pre-Civil War, and has detail on these four Bracken towns:
Augusta Bridgeville
Brooksville Santa Fe

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The 1878 Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky
 had these entries for folks with a Bracken County connection (all are pdf's).

J. J. Bradford

J. T. Bradford

John Boude

John Clarke G. W. Macke T. F. Marshall B. G. Willis

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"The Maysville (Ky) Post understands from reliable authority that an extensive
and productive mine of silver ore has been discovered on the lands of Mr.
Dorn, in Bracken County.  It is now being worked with great success."
  The New York Times, November 7, 1851

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The Augusta Herald is established in 1827. And dies in 1828
Bracken Sentinel's from the 1820's are discovered, and excerpted, here (pdf). The Centinel, as it was spelled in the statute, was authorized by the Legislature to carry official pubic advertising in January, 1820.
In an Act of the Kentucky General Assembly, approved on August 11, 1818, eight newspapers were named as the official publishers of legal advertising. One of them was The Augusta Whig, published in Bracken County.
The Brooksville Review started publishing in 1904
“We are sorry to learn that the Bracken Record, a lively little sheet [newspaper] published in Brooksville, has suspended.  The publisher says, 'We have blowed all of the music out of this horn, but will perhaps, in the future, take up anther that will make better music than the one we have laid aside.'”  From the Commonwealth, December 2, 1877
“Mrs. R. S. Williams, lately of the Winchester Chronicle, proposes to publish a paper, entitled Bracken County Chronicle, at Augusta, Ky.  The Chronicle will be independent and conservative.  Price $2 per year.  We trust the undertaking will be entirely successful.”   from the Covington Journal, December 22, 1855

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A London attorney attempts an 1858 version of the Nigerian Prince Scam on a Bracken County man.

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Bracken County, Kentucky

 Ferry from Chilo, Ohio to Bradford, Kentucky
(or, we've also seen it listed as the Ripley Ferry)

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“The trial of Wm. T. Marshall for killing a Negro named Dudley Hutcheson, at Augusta, in October last, has been in progress in the Criminal Court in Brooksville, Bracken county, for several days past.  Charles Duncan, Commonwealth's Attorney, and Judge B. G. Wells are prosecuting the case, and the prisoner is defended by Hon. Joseph Doniphan, Hon. T. F. Marshall, Hon. Wm. E. Arthur, and Hon. W. H. Wadsworth.  The general impression at Brooksville, when our informant left, was that Marshall would be acquitted.”   - from the Covington Journal, November 27, 1869.


Nora Hickey wrote not one, but two Bracken County histories for the WPA. Both pdf's. They're here and here. Grand jury finds no bill on lynchers in Bracken County, story here.
“It is recorded in a Western paper that 'Henry S. Blades, a popular calliope manipulator during the war, afterward a Memphis and Vicksburg pilot, then a passenger agent at Memphis, and recently editor of the Bracken County Chronicle, has been chosen Mayor of the city of Augusta, Ky. Calliope “manipulator,” pilot, passenger agent, editor, Mayor; it is a song of degrees that would have astonished King David.”  - The Galaxy, Volume 19, Issue 4, April 1875.
In 1937 UK released surveys of known archaeological sites by county.  Bracken County's is here. (pdf) Read about Bridgeville's Uncle Tommy Kenton's 99th Birthday party, in 1886, here.
In 1931, the Indianapolis Recorder, an African-American newspaper had a couple of social items from Augusta. Read them here and here. Hey, Bracken County genealogists! The most convoluted family line in Bracken County is detailed here.
In 1906, the Courier-Journal published a list of out-of-state residents who would come home to Bracken County.
Cock Fight
Cincinnati Commercial, October 23, 1877
Unusual relic plowed up in Bracken County
The Cincinnati Commercial reported, on January 30, 1869, there were 21 doctors practicing in Bracken County.
The Bracken County Banks of 1910, here. DeSoto (1495-1542) (Wikipedia) relic found in Bracken County? This says yes.
“Confirmed. — The Cincinnati Commercial of a late date, confirms the report of the death of Hon. Wm. C. Marshall, and gives the following particulars of the affray: "Mr. W. C. Marshall, recently a candidate for Congress, had a dispute in Brooksville, Bracken county, with a Mr. Wilson, the keeper of a hotel in that town. During the trouble, while high words were passing, Marshall drew a pistol and fired at Wilson, the ball passing through, his left arm. In an instant Wilson returned the fire, shooting Marshall in the forehead, who fell, and in about four minutes expired. So much for one tragedy.” Sacramento Daily Union, May 29, 1852
“A destitute woman, with three children, lately found friends in Cincinnati, after walking bare footed a distance of ninety miles, from Bracken county, Kentucky, on her way to join her relatives in Pittsburg. Her husband has forsaken her, having gone to California years ago. When discovered in Cincinnati, the mother and her children were nearly dead from hunger.” Sacramento Daily Union, May 27, 1852 The legend of Betsy “Boo” Boothe's Well, here.
Berlin girl chooses between rich mill owner's son and poor schoolteacher, and elopes, here.
Every hear of a circular fox drive? In 1875, in Bracken County, 800 men turn out for one. Details here. Bracken farmer goes to the city with $250 in his pocket, has a “spree.” Comes home with less. Much less. Here.
Bracken County part of a land grant from Queen Elizabeth. The first Queen Elizabeth. Resources, Attractions and Opportunities in Bracken County in 1927.
A few random Bracken clippings from the Louisville papers. Bracken “greeny” loses money in the city, 1858.
“Augusta is situated on the left bank of the Ohio, 22 miles below Maysville, and is the seat of justice for Bracken county. It is a handsome village, with an extensive bottom, and in its front a fine view of the river, with a clean gravelly beach for its landing, and contains about 80 houses, several stores, a court house, and meeting house. Bracken creek enters the Ohio about half a mile above the village, and affords water for several grist mills.” from An Emigrant's Guide or Pocket Geography of the Western States and Territories, Philips and Spears, Cincinnati, 1818
Travel writer William Tell Harris describes Augusta c. 1818, here. Travel writer Caleb Atwater describes Augusta in 1831, here.
Legislature passes a law in 1872 prohibiting the killing of songbirds in Bracken County for profit. A short history of Bracken County is here.
Legislature passes a law in 1880 prohibiting the killing of additional species of birds in Bracken County for profit. The Bracken Academy, in 1798.
A few words about the moves of the Bracken County seat An 1835 voting precinct moves.
A history of telephone service in Bracken County. Body found at Turtle Creek
The proposed Falmouth dam would put a lot of Bracken underwater.
A Bracken County history from 1927 and one from 1940. Bracken runs a surplus, here.
History of Bracken County from Collins' History of Kentucky. (pdf) Other excerpts from Collins' History.
“In February, 1775, accompanied by two other men, Butler [Simon Butler, Simon Kenton's real name], descended the Ohio, and landed about the place where Augusta now stands; thence he proceeded into the country, in search of rich land; and being pleased with the appearance of the soil, water, &c. he selected, and improved, the place, which has been mentioned near Washington. He had now found the country for which he had been searching.” excerpted from Humphrey Marshall's 1812 History of Kentucky.

“Bracken County - The crop of wheat, rye, oats, corn, and tobacco are exceedingly promising.  Should the weather prove favorable for twenty days, our county will yield 250,000 bushels of wheat.” - NY Times,  July 15, 1857

There's a story here about a giant cave being discovered in Bracken County.  Is it true or is somebody from 1876 pulling our leg?  It's true.  Bill and Judy Cooper tell us the opening is very small, but the interior is as described.
Here's a pair of older travel brochures, with historical and tourist sites identified, one for Bracken County, and one for Augusta.  (pdf's) The D.A.R. put together a listing of the members of the oldest Temperance Society in Kentucky,  in Augusta, c. 1840.  It's a long list of names, and you can read it here.  (pdf)
from the Sacramento (CA) Daily Record-Union , June 23, 1888
Ed Kruse
Hillsboro News-Herald, November 16, 1899

Claysville Road
Cincinnati Daily Gazette, August 14, 1858

They're taking bids for building the road from Augusta to Brooksville in 1850.

Turnpike Turnpike
The Catholic Telegraph, September 7, 1850 The Catholic Telegraph,May 18, 1850

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Bracken County, Kentucky

Walcott Covered Bridge, a.k.a. The White Bridge
On Rt. 1159, originally built c. 1835.

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“Near Berlin, Bracken County, last Saturday Worth Courts and George Smith, two farmers, got into a difficulty over a cow, Courts accusing Smith of shooting the animal.  Smith denied the charge. Hot words ensued, and Courts drew a revolver killing Smith instantly.  The affair has created a great stir in that part of the county, as both were respectable men.”  Cincinnati Enquirer, April 25, 1882.

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The Library of Congress has three sets of Bracken County pictures on their website:
12 pictures of the Wayne Holton House, Salem Ridge Road & KY State Route 1159, Brooksville are here. Five pictures of the Rock Spring House, South of Salem Road / Locust Creek on Route KY 1159, Brooksville, here. North Fork Bridge, Spanning North Fork of Licking River, Milford vicinity, here.


This item appears in the Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1843-1844, on Tuesday, April 9, 1844  “By Mr. Tibbatts: A petition of the heirs of Philip R. Rice, deceased, late of Bracken county, State of Kentucky, praying compensation for a vessel lost in the service of the United States in the war of the Revolution: which was referred to the Committee on Revolutionary Claims.”  Anybody know details??

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This list of Bracken County deaths from WWII is from
 the site of the National Archives. There's a key to what the
 various abbreviations mean here, and the actual list is here.

The WWI list is here.

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“Barn Burned — Nightriders have resumed operations near Brooksville, Ky. They burned the barn of Edward Johnson, near Willow, in Bracken county, last night. Three thousand pounds of tobacco was destroyed. Johnson had not pooled his tobacco with the Burley Tobacco society.” Los Angeles Herald, October 10, 1909

“W. O. Blackerby, in the Brooksville Review, says: 'On Friday night about midnight about twenty-five riders went to Edward Johnson's, near Willow, and burned his old log barn containing about 3000 pounds of tobacco. The barn, we understand, belonged to his father, Noah Johnson, of this place.'”    from the Falmouth Outlook of October 22, 1909.

Additional Bracken County doings in the Kentucky Tobacco Wars, here (Sanders/Crawford), and here (McKibben). Not all tobacco fires were night riders. An example.
Standford (Ky) Interior Journal, February 25, 1908
In Lenoxburg, unless you supported the Night Riders, you couldn't get a date.
  Marshall Haley attacked while trying to sell his crop.
Milton McClean visited by night riders. Clarence Brevard joins the Equity. The hard way.
“A number of the men went to the local exchange of the Bracken county  telephone company and kept guard over the operator, Miss Holton, so that no word could be sent for assistance. The men attempted no violence nor did they destroy the warehouse, but took the tobacco outside and set it on fire. After seeing that it was all destroyed they departed as quietly as they had come.” Los Angeles Herald, March 11, 1908
April 25, 1908. Night Riders shoot-up Augusta. May 5, 1908. Night Riders attack homes.
May 13, 1908. Night Rider situation deemed serious May 13, 1908. Spreads to Ohio
The tobacco wars get serious in Bracken County, here (Kinney). The follow up is here. John Hull's crop burned, here, and here.

Did Bracken County men take the tobacco wars to Ohio? A deposition (pdf) from 1908 seems to indicate yes.

This may - or may not - be the incident that led to the deposition above.

These are all skirmishes in the Tobacco Wars of 1907-1910 in Kentucky.  More on them, is here.

A later civil suit with Bracken participants is successful against the Night Riders. But they had to file the suit twice, and bring in a jury from the Kentucky mountains for the second trial to get it done.

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In October 1986, around the time PBS film producers were releasing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was filmed in the area, the New York Times wrote a piece about Augusta, Maysville, and Washington called "Old Kentucky Towns" which provides a wealth of history about the area at this site.

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The Metcalfe - Castro Duel, May 8, 1862, here, and a more detailed version here (pdf).
A contemporary account here.

The Lynching of George Duncan in 1871, story here, and a second story here. A list of people in many Bracken Co
cemeteries is at this site.
The news from Fairview, in 1879, is here.
At one time, Bracken Co had over 50 one-room schools - the list is here. Powersville was first settled in 1783 by Captain Philip Buckner, a revolutionary war veteran who is buried in the western edge of town. “Licenses to vend spirituous or malt liquors in this the Augusta precinct, expired with both our saloons last Saturday. We are now a temperance city now.” from Covington's The Ticket, April 21, 1877.
  An 1857 Tornado hits Augusta & Higginsport, read about it here and here. A few words on the old Augusta Court House are here.
Legislature authorizes a new road from Georgetown, KY to Augusta, 1804. A variety of apple from Bracken County? That's what this says. A tourist visits Mason and Bracken Counties. His report is not exactly flattering.
List of the Bracken County Association of Baptists, 1960's, here. History of the Bracken Baptist Escutcheon is here. A site dedicated to the bridges of Bracken County is here.
In 1969, Edna Talbott Whitley compiled a list of Cabinetmakers in Kentucky.  The Bracken County portion of that list is here.

Burley tobacco was first discovered in Bracken County, or maybe Brown County, Ohio. Read about it herehere (pdf),  and here. (pdf)

Or maybe it came from Maryland.

In 1930, Kentucky Progress Magazine ran a feature letting each of Kentucky's counties list their accomplishments for 1929. What Bracken County came up with is here. (pdf)
Col. Duffy, of Higginsport, O., accompanied
by his heard of buffaloes, passed through
this place last Wednesday evening en route to the Germantown fair." The Augusta Bulletin Republican, Oct.11, 1884
Kentucky Legislature acts to repay Bracken Coroner $12.90. What traveling companies were told about Augusta's Russell Opera House, in 1901,  is here.
“Bracken county shipped 461 hogsheads more tobacco last year than Mason county.” Courier Journal, January 17, 1870 In 1871 Bracken County farmers shipped over 10,000 pounds of honey. Story here. Brooksville's H. T. Bradford wrote this piece on Bracken County in 1907.
A list of Bracken officials, merchants, doctors and attorneys, from 1847, is here. “The tobacco crop in Bracken county for the year 1872 amounted to 5,585,350 pounds.” Courier-Journal, May 31, 1873  
There's only one Bracken County in the entire USA. The C&O Railroad, forerunner to CSX, has
an on-line  historical society, here.
Seventy-year old Bracken man sentenced to be hung, here.  (pdf)
The Bracken County Roots Web site is here, and the Bracken Gen Web site is here. Unclaimed items in the 1833
Augusta Post Office, here.
A list of Bracken County's Historical Markers is at this site.
“The Ku-Klux in Bracken county took out two brothers (Tucker) for seducing two sisters, Vivian Bailey for knocking his wife down, John Watson and Duncan Strayler for laziness, Mr. Maybreier for keeping a house of ill repute, and Blevin Dixon for instituting a suit against one George Fowler for twenty five acres of land, and whipped each one soundly.  Dixon's son was badly injured in an attempt to rescue his father.”  from Covington's The Ticket, June 24, 1876. In. 1928, the Kentucky Opportunities Department published a fact sheet about Bracken County for potential businesses that might be interested.  You can read it here (pdf)
At the turn of the last century, virtually all roads were private toll roads. Some road owners kept their road up; others didn't, but still collected the tolls. It became an issue. It's pretty much why we have public roads today; people demanded them. Sometimes like this. Note the date - 1898 - is before the auto was invented. A Mt. Olivet man advocates a trolley line which would take this route thru Bracken County.
Lawyers of Bracken County, 1872, here. The Ku Klux Klan strikes in Bracken County. Sheriff murdered in 1845, here.
A list of the first automobiles registered
in Bracken County is here.
Foster's J. B. Hiles wrote a history of Bracken Co. in 1917, here. (pdf) In 1919, there was a farm census, counting livestock, crops and farms.  Bracken County's is here.
Mob frees accused murderer from Bracken
jail; man later found in Ripley. The story is here, and here; the follow up is here.
The Bodmann House, 1870 A status report from the Superintendent of Schools in Bracken County from 1900 is here. 1907 is here.
The progress of the Methodist circuit rider in Mason and Bracken, in 1828, here. The Geological Survey of Kentucky did a geological analysis of Bracken County in 1856.  Read it here. (pdf)
Who went to the penitentiary from
Bracken County from  1808 t0 1830, and why?  There's a list, here.
Pickpockets do well at the 1897 Augusta
Centennial, story here.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture's assessment of agriculture in Bracken County, 1898-1899 can be found here. (pdf)
“Perry McDowell, of the Disher neighborhood, some three miles above Bridgeville on the North Fork, caught an otter last week in a steel trap.  The animal weighed 23 pounds and measured three feet and ten inches.  This is the first one caught or killed in this section for years, as they have become a rare specimen of animal.” from a January, 1900 Augusta Chronicle
“Henry E. Ware, John W. Ware, and H. Clay Black, of Brooksville, published a challenge to any three gentlemen of Germantown, to hunt quail under the rules and regulations governing sportsmen. Each party furnishing their own dogs, and hunting separately or together.” from the Courier Journal, January 5, 1870 TV star Don Galloway was Born in Brooksville.  A list of all of his roles is at this site.
“To the Editors of the Enquirer:  The Cincinnati Gazette of the 27th of July contains a letter purporting to have been written at Brookville [sic], Ky., which charges us with endeavoring to incite a mob against General Carey, whilst he was addressing our fellow-citizens of Bracken.  The writer does not give his name, therefore he can not be reached except through the public press, that his statement is a falsehood, from beginning to end, and that the author is a slanderer and a dog.  W. C. Marshall, T. F. Marshall, Jos. Doniphan, J. H. Bonde.”  Cincinnati Enquirer, August 5, 1865
Eloping, 1856. Obituary of Martin Marshall (1777-1853) The 1873 Bracken County dog tax allows you one dog free, but after that . . .
Detailed Presidential voting statistics from Bracken County are here. Obituary of Mrs. Susan Lloyd. Buffalo killed on Bracken Creek in 1775.  Read about it here.


The Snag precinct established, 1834. “Mr. Benjamin F. Blades, of Bracken County, killed an animal on Big Snag Creek, in that county, a few days ago, which is supposed by a number of people who have seen it to be a lynx. It is three and a half feet long, and has claws about an inch long.” Evansville (Ind) Journal, June 4, 1867 Snag Creek
Catholic Telegraph, March 22, 1888


Opportunities    Opportunities

Bracken County Business Opportunities, 1927

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Lost or stolen horse in Augusta, 1816
The Union, a Washington, Ky. newspaper, May 9, 1817


Bracken County, Kentucky

from Trows Legal Directory of Lawyers in the United States, 1875

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“A case of white capping [Wikipedia] is reported from Augusta, Ky.  George McDowell and his paramour, who is the wife of his brother, have been white capped.  The home of the McDowells is at Oklahoma, in the southern portion of Bracken county.  They were visited at midnight by fifty masked men, who dragged them from their room and gave the man and woman fifty lashes with heavy whips, until their backs were cut and bleeding.” The Hillsboro, Ohio News-Herald, February 1, 1894

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A newspaper special from 1976 featured a page on each of the 120 Kentucky Counties. Here's Bracken's.

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Xenia Daily Gazette, June 14, 1889

Bracken Wine
Lexington's Dollar Weekly Bulletin, March 10, 1864
Devil in Bracken
Marin (CA) Journal, May 5, 1866
Big Bird
Sangamo (IL) Journal, May 4, 1853

Mt. Oliver
Cincinnati Daily Chronicle and Atlas, May 21, 1852

We're not sure about this one. It says there's a new post office in Mount Oliver, but we know of no such place in Bracken County, and Post Office records don't list a post office by that name. Did they misspell Mt. Olivet and put it in the wrong county? Don't know.

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Additional Links that apply to all of Northern Kentucky Views, and may or may not
be related to Bracken County, are on the main Links & Miscellany page, here.

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