Did you know Aurora, Kentucky, the little tourist community on Kentucky Lake, almost became the county seat of Henrietta County?
Yes – it’s true. Back in the day, the State of Kentucky created counties until McCreary became the last 1912. The state ended up with 120, the first fourth most in the United States.
Henrietta County came to existence with an act of the Kentucky General Assembly on January 26, 1867. The county was to be carved out of Marshall and Trigg counties. It is not entirely known why this took place; perhaps folks from “between the rivers” wanted their own county separate from Trigg.
Esquires named in the act were John Nunn, Peter Gardner, and Elliott Grace. They were to meet at the home of M. H. Egner (namesake of Eggner’s Ferry Bridge) to take an oath of their duties of creating four polling districts within the county.
The original boundaries of Henrietta County included all of Trigg between the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, but also included a tiny section of southeast Marshall County. The act specifies the tiny Marshall County portion include a half mile north of the Columbus-Hopkinsville State Road (believed to be just south of today’s US 68), west one mile, then south one mile, then east back to the river. Most of Kenlake State Park would be in Henrietta County today, but much of the Marshall section would lie underneath Kentucky Lake.
The act called for voters to choose between West Aurora and East Aurora as the county seat. East Aurora appears on a map as a landing site along the old state highway. I am assuming the county seat would go on either the west side of the Tennessee River or the east side.
That election was to be held on the second Monday of October 1867. Voters would not only pick the county seat, but would choose officers such as the county judge, sheriff, clerk, jailer, and several others.
However, before all of this could happen, the local voters had to choose if they wanted to create Henrietta County or not. The act allowed a vote on the matter. If the voters rejected the notion, Henrietta County would become null and void.
In August 1867, voters in Trigg County went to the polls to choose “for new county” or “against new county”. The measure failed 680 to 579 votes, with 46% approving and 54% rejecting.
Apparently, a second effort came about in 1869. According to the Kentucky Journal of the House of Representatives on March 3, 1869, another bill was passed creating Henrietta County. This time, the Marshall County section included all the area east of Jonathan Creek, a significantly larger cut. The bill specifically mentions the county seat be called Thomsonsville and be located at the site of East Aurora.
Another vote on the matter was to be held on the Monday, May 10, 1869. The ballot would read differently this time – “For Henrietta County” or “Against Henrietta County”.
And that’s where the trail ends. I haven’t been able to find any information regarding the fate of Henrietta County afterwards. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but the thought is entertaining. Had the county gone through, the vast majority of it would be uninhabited, since all but the Marshall County portion would be in Land Between The Lakes.
The county seat would be in LBL, too, so that creates an interesting wonder. Had everything stood, the population of Henrietta County would be limited to the Aurora area. That would no doubt be the smallest county in Kentucky.
- Acts of the Kentucky General Assembly – 1867
- Journal of the Kentucky General Assembly, House of Representatives – 1869
- Courier-Journal – March 3, 1867.