Originally published in 1848 by Lewis Collins and bearing the title Historical Sketches of Kentucky, this majestic history was brought down to the year 1874 by Mr. Collins’ son Richard and re-titled History of Kentucky. Despite its age, the Collinses’ History of Kentucky is a veritable goldmine of information on the Bluegrass State.
Volume I delves into Kentucky’s statewide political and social history in great detail. The main component is 250 pages of annals, that is, a chronology of Kentucky history from 1539 to 1874. Additional chapters in this volume cover Kentucky in the Revolutionary War, Kentucky office holders at the national and state level, the state’s Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic denominations, education, internal improvements, art and culture, and more.
Volume II is devoted to Kentucky’s 110 counties in existence at the time of the work’s original publication in 1874. Each county receives its own essay, which typically describes the county’s topography, date of formation, principal towns, population, sources of commerce and industry, officials, and, without exception, detailed biographical sketches of the county’s founder(s) or other distinguished citizens (e.g., Gen. John Adair of Adair County). The biographical sketches, totalling 500 in all, treat all aspects of the subject’s career and, in the case of Kentucky personalities like George Rogers Clark, range over a number of pages.
Complete with illustrations and indexes totalling more than 25,000 entries, the Collinses’ History of Kentucky is a work which no serious student of the Bluegrass State can afford to be without.