KYGenWeb - Estill County

Kentucky American History & Genealogy Project

The American History and Genealogy Project

This site was last updated on 10/1/2015

Welcome to the Estill County site within the KYGenWeb project

In the spring of 1996, a group of genealogists organized the Kentucky Comprehensive Genealogy Database Project, which evolved into the KyGenWeb Project. The idea was to provide a single entry point for genealogy data and research for all counties in Kentucky. In addition, the information for each county would be indexed and cross-linked to make it easier for researchers to find a name or data that they sought.  

In June 1996, as the KyGenWeb Project was nearing 100% county coverage, interested volunteers decided to create a similar set of pages for all states, establishing The USGenWeb Project. Volunteers were found who were willing to coordinate the efforts for each state, and additional volunteers were and are being sought to create and maintain websites for every county in the United States.

Your county coordinator for Estill County is Harlan Sloan

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Estill County Public Library
246 Main Street
Irvine, KY 40336-1099
[email protected]

Estill County Historical Genealogical Society
133 Broadway
Irvine, KY 40336

Estill County, the 50th in order of formation, was establishedon February 19, 1808, from parts of Clark and Madison counties. It was named in honor of Capt. James Estill, who was killed by Indians during Estill's Defeat on March 22, 1782. The county is located in eastern Kentucky and comprises an area of 256 square miles, bordered by Clark, Jackson, Lee, Madison, and Powell counties. Parts of Estill County were used in forming Breathitt County in 1843, Jackson County in 1858, Lee County in 1870, Owsley County in 1843 and Powell County in 1852.

The county seat is Irvine. Irvine is on the Kentucky River at Station Camp Creek and at the intersection of KY 52 and KY 89. It was founded in 1812 and named for Colonel William Irvine, an early settler. An Irvine or Estill Court House post office opened in 1813. Irvine is home to the annual Mountain Mushroom Festival which is held in the last week of April.

The elevation in the county ranges from 566 to 1511 feet above sea level. Although mostly hilly, the fertile bottom lands are highly productive agricultural areas. Large crops of tobacco and alfalfa are grown, and there is limited livestock production. Extensive quantities of coal and smaller deposits of oil, iron ore, and lead are also found in the county. Approximately 75 percent of Estill County is forest, of which 4,458 acres lie within the Daniel Boone National Forest. Along with the Kentucky River, the principal streams of the county are the Red River and the Station Camp, Beech, Cow, Downing, and Miller's creeks.

Prior to pioneer settlement, Estill County was the site of a Shawnee village at Estill Springs, along the banks of Station Camp Creek. In the 1760s and 1770s, after John Finley, Daniel Boone, and Robert McAfee explored the area, many early settlers entered the region by way of an old buffalo and Indian trace that led to Boonesborough in what is now Madison County.

The mineral wealth of the region played an important role in the development of the county. The Shawnee mined lead in the area, and early settlers recognized the industrial potential of the region. The production of iron began in about 1810 and became one of the earliest industries. Evidence of the once-thriving iron industry can be found in the ruins of the Estill steam furnace, which operated from 1830 to 1874; the Cottage furnace; the Red River iron works; and the Fitchburg furnace. The iron industry declined after 1865 when iron deposits and timber to fire the furnaces were depleted, and innovations in the iron industry made charcoal furnaces obsolete.

The large hotel and land scaped grounds at Estill Springs drew many famous Kentuckians to the summer retreat before the Civil War. Henry Clay, who owned the springs, John Crittenden, and John C. Breckinridge were among the notables who summered there. The resort survived the Civil War and operated into the twentieth century.

Among the towns, villages, and communities in Estill County are the communities of Ravenna, Fitchburg, North Irvine, Sand Hill, South Irvine, and West Irvine. The population of Estill County was 12,752 in 1970; 14,495 in 1980; and 14,614 in 1990.

From The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John Kleber. Copyright 1992

Click for Irvine, Kentucky Forecast

Once the addition/update to this site is over one week old, the graphic and date will be removed from the index

The annual Family Reunion of the Descendants of Wildy McKinney will be held on Saturday, July 27, 2012, at Jackson's Chapel Methodist Church on Highway 82 in Estill County, Kentucky, between Clay City and Harg from 10:00 -- 5:00. The family is actively seeking antique photos of McKinney ancestors. The church will be open at 10:00 for displaying photos and documents, and artifacts. Every descendant is invited to search through their private collection of McKinney "stuff" and bring whatever you want to put on display for the day. Potluck dinner will begin at noon, followed by group pictures, a hymn sing, and a business meeting. Wildy's children are: David Russell McKinney and wife, Luanna Sharp McKinney, Lucy McKinney, William McKinney and wife Nancy McPherson McKinney, Matthew McKinney, Richard McKinney, Elizabeth McKinney, Miriam McKinney and husband William Clark, Martha McKinney and husband John Harris, Polly Jane McKinney and husband John Highley, Thomas Shelton McKinney and wife Mary Polly Harris, and Joel William McKinney and wife Eadah "Edith" Vaughn. All family and friends of the family are welcome to this time of visiting together. If you are unable to attend but have antique McKinney photos, snapshots of McKinney events, documents or artifacts that you would be willing to have us scan to share with the whole family, please contact [email protected].
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DISCLAIMER: All materials furnished on these pages are for free, non-commercial use by individuals. The information presented on them was either obtained from sources permitting free distribution, submitted by other researchers, or generated by myself. Any commercial use or distribution of the information obtained from this location without the consent of the author is strictly prohibited. Individuals posting or otherwise contributing material to this site do so in recognition of its non-commercial nature. The content of the information submitted by other researchers has not been verified and therefore the Estill County KyGenWeb and it's Coordinator can not be held responsible for this content. If you have a problem with a particular entry, please contact the submitter of said entry. All information is copyrighted by the author. Any reproduction is strictly prohibited unless permission is granted by the author. Send all questions and/or comments to Harlan Sloan.