Kentucky Historical Timeline
The following timeline documents all major events in Kentucky history from 1739 to present. As you read through each year and event, try to imagine what it would have been like to live in those times.
- 1739 - Capt. Charles de Longueuil discovers Big Bone Lick
- 1750 - Thomas Walker explores Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap
- 1751 - Christopher Gist explores area along Ohio River.
- 1763 - France cedes area including Kentucky to Britain.
- 1769 - Daniel Boone and John Finley first saw the far distant Bluegrass atop Pilot Knob, now in Powell County. The recorded date is June 7, 1769.
- 1774 - James Harrod constructed the first permanent settlement in Kentucky at Fort Harrod. 1774. James Harrod starts building Harrodstown (Harrodsburg); Indians force settlers to withdraw; settlers return in 1775.
- 1775 - Daniel Boone builds the Wilderness Trail and establishes Fort Boonesborough
- 1776 - Harrodsburg settlers, jealous of Boonesborough, send George Rogers Clark and John Jones to ask for Virginia's aid; Virginia declares Transylvania Land Company illegal; creates Kentucky County.
- 1778 - The longest siege in United States frontier history was the thirteen-day siege of Fort Boonesborough in September 1778.
- 1779 - The First Baptist Church west of the Allegheny Mountains was formed at Elizabethtown.
- 1780- Transylvania University opens its doors, making it the oldest college west of the Allegheny Mountains.
- 1782 - "Last battle of American Revolution" fought at Blue Licks, near Mount Olivet.
- 1784 - First of ten conventions held to prepare way for separation of Kentucky from Virginia.
- 1791 - Upper Spottsvania Baptist Church Left In 1791 For Floyd County, Kentucky From Virginia Leading the Wagon train was Rev. Lewis Craig and Capt. William Ellis.
- 1792 - Kentucky becomes the 15th state on June 1, 1792. June 1; governor, Isaac Shelby; capital, Lexington, then Frankfort.
- 1794 - On July 4, 1794, Col. William Price, Revolutionary War veteran, held the first Independence Day celebration in the West, in Jessamine County.
- 1796 - Wilderness Road opened to wagons.
- 1798 - Legislature passes Kentucky Resolutions opposing United States Alien and Sedition Acts.
- 1801 - The great church camp meeting at Cane Ridge in Bourbon County was attended by more than 20,000.
- 1811 - Henry Clay elected to Congress from Kentucky. New Orleans, first steamboat on Ohio River, stops at Louisville; Enterprise reaches Louisville from New Orleans, La., in 1815.
- 1812 - Kentuckians bear brunt of war with England north of the Ohio and in New Orleans.
- 1818 - Westernmost region of the state was annexed, following its purchase from the Chicasaw Indians.
- 1819 - The first commercial oil well was on the Cumberland River in McCreary County Kentucky in 1819.
- 1830 - Louisville and Portland Canal opened.
- 1849 - Zachary Taylor, Kentucky hero of Mexican War, becomes 12th president of United States.
- 1850 - Kentucky was the 8th most populated state in the nation in the 1850 census. There were 982,405 citizens listed.
- 1861 - Civil War Kentucky had supplied about 86,000 troops to the north and 40,000 troops to the south. Ironically, south-central Kentucky was the birthplace of both the Union president, Abraham Lincoln, and the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, further enhancing the state's dualistic role in the Civil War
- 1862 - The bloodiest Civil War Battle to be fought on Kentucky soil was the Battle of Perryville, Oct. 8, 1862.
- 1865 - University of Kentucky founded at Lexington.
- 1875 - First Kentucky Derby run at Churchill Downs.
- 1891 - Present state constitution adopted.
- 1892 - The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892.
- 1899-1900 - Kentucky experienced four different governors in less than three months time, between early December of 1899 and early February of 1900.
- 1900 - Governor William Goebel was shot by an assassin on January 30, 1900. He died on February 3, 1900
- 1909 - Present State Capitol completed.
- 1912 - McCreary County, the last to be created of Kentucky's 120 counties, was formed in 1912. It is the only one formed in the 20th century.
- 1904-1909 - The Black Patch War ends a tobacco-buying monopoly
- 1921 - In 1921 the law passed making it legal for women to serve on juries.
- 1926 - The cardinal was adopted as Kentucky's state bird and the goldenrod as the state flower in 1926
- 1933 - The Tennessee Valley Authority begin building dams in Kentucky
- 1936 - The last legal public hanging in Kentucky took place August 14, 1936 in Owensboro. Florence Thompson was the first female sheriff in Davis County History. She was in charge of Kentucky's last legal hanging.
- 1937 - Worst Ohio River flood occurs. United States gold depository built at Fort Knox.
- 1944 - Kentucky Dam on Tennessee River completed by Tennessee Valley Authority.
- 1946 - Frederick M. Vinson, born in 1890 in Louisa, is appointed chief justice of the United States.
- 1950 - Atomic energy plant built near Paducah.
- 1951 - Wolf Creek Dam on Cumberland River dedicated.
- 1959 - Cumberland Gap National Historical Park dedicated.
- 1961 - It takes 20,000 plants to decorate Kentucky's Floral Clock. The clock was dedicated May 4, 1961 by Governor Bert T. Combs.
- 1962 - Kentucky is first state given control of certain nuclear energy materials by federal government.
- 1964 - Western Kentucky Parkway opened; Kentucky Central Parkway, in 1965.
- 1966 - Kentucky is first Southern state to pass a comprehensive civil rights law.
- 1969 - The Tennessee Valley Authority builds a steam-generating plant in Paradise
- 1977 - Nightclub fire in Southgate kills 164 persons.
- 1988 - Voters approve the establishment of a state lottery.
- 1990 - The Kentucky Education Reform Act is passed