Christian County, Kentucky County Officers

It may not be uninteresting in this connection to give a list of the county officers in the order in which they have served. Be-ginning with the Circuit Clerks they are as follows:

Young Ewing was the first Circuit Clerk, appointed at the first term of the court in March, 1803. He was succeeded by James H. McLaughlan, he by Nathan S. Dallam, and he by John H. Phelps, who filled the place acceptably until 1842, when Richard Shackelford succeeded him. In 1853, R. R. Lausden was appointed, but the next year (1854) was the first election under the new Constitution and John C. Latham was elected to the office,’ which he filled until 1862, when Joab Clark was elected. Mr. Clark served one term, giving way in 1868 to Nathan Gaither, who was then elected and re-elected in 1874. In 1880, B. T. Underwood, the present Circuit Clerk, was elected.

John Clark was the first County Clerk, and also Clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions. He was appointed Clerk at the first County Court, March 21, 1797, and was succeeded by Justinian Cartwright, May 15, 1798, who resigned in July following. Clark was then re-appointed and served until succeeded by Abraham Stites about the year 1824, who served until 1853. John S. Bryan was then elected, and in 1862 was succeeded by George H. Lawson, who served one term. In 1866, E. M. Buckner was elected; in 1870, B. M. Harrison; in 1874, John W. Breathitt, who is now serving his third term, which will expire in 1886.

Abraham Stites

A brief sketch of Mr. Stites is appropriate in this connection. He was a son of Dr. John Stites, and was born in Elizabeth, N. J., during the Revolutionary war, and with his mother was re-moved into a cellar to avoid danger resulting from a sharp engagement then going on between the British soldiers and the rebels of that day. A singular coincidence in the life of Mr. Stites is that he died in February, 1864, in Hopkinsville, during a skirmish here between the Confederate and Federal troops. He, with a large family connection of the Ganos and Stiteses, removed from New Jersey to the Ohio Valley in 1808, carrying their goods on horseback across the mountains to Pittsburgh, and thence by flat-boats to Cincinnati; his father’s family settled near Georgetown, Ky. Mr. Stites had been educated for a lawyer, and licensed as such by Chancellor Kent. He commenced practice at Georgetown, and soon after married Miss Ann Johnson, daughter of Col. Henry Johnson, a Revolutionary soldier. In 1818 he removed to Hopkinsville, where he resided until his death.

Mr. Stites was a man of fine education, and devoted to belles lettres and literary pursuits. He was a good lawyer-an excellent counselor-but seldom, after becoming a county official, made any charge for legal advice. He was the confidant of many of the wealthiest men of the county, but was so opposed to litigation, that on all occasions, when he could do so consistently, he would use his efforts to conciliate rather than draw his friends into the meshes of the law. He was brought up, as it were, in the office of Johnson, the compiler of ” Johnson’s New York Re-ports,” and aided in their preparation. He was public-spirited, and gave liberally to aid all public enterprises, and especially such as were de-signed to promote the cause of education.

In 1824 Mr. Stites was appointed Clerk of the’ Christian County Court, an office he held until 1851, when the present constitution went into effect, making all county offices elective. In that year he was elected by the people to the same place, and was the only one of the old officers of the county under the appointive system elected. He was defeated for the office in 1854, and retired to private life. For over thirty years he was Master in Chancery, and his reports in complicated cases furnish evidence of his capacity as a lawyer. As a clerk, he was accurate and attentive in the discharge of his official duties, and earned and retained the confidence of all who had business relations with him. As an evidence of the estimation in which he was held as a public officer, the following resolution was adopted by the court September 5, 1854, and on motion of Robert McKee was ordered to be spread upon the records:

“Resolved, That Abraham Stites, former Clerk of this court, is entitled to the respectful regards of all the citizens of this county for his faithful discharge of the duties of Clerk of the county for over thirty years past duties with which he was familiarly acquainted, and which he discharged with promptitude to himself and to the satisfaction of all having business in his office.”

Mr. Stites raised a large family of children, some of whom have be-come prominent in public life, and all of whom sought to follow his in-junction to render themselves useful members of society. Judge Henry J. Stites, his son, is Judge of the Common Pleas Court at Louisville, and one of the eminent jurists of the State. A sketch of him appears in the biographical part of this volume.


Charles Logan was the first Sheriff of the county, and was appointed at the same term of court that Clark was appointed Clerk. He served from March 21, 1797, to May 15, 1798, when James Wilson was appointed and served until 1800. Matthew Wilson served 1801, 1802; Samuel Means, 1803, 1804, 1805; William Armstrong,’ 1806, 1807; James M. Johnson, 1808, 1809; James Thompson, 1810, 1811; John Maberry, 1812, 1813; John Wilson, 1814; Samuel Bradley, 1815, 1816, 1817; James Bradley, 1818, 1819; James Moore, 1820; Benjamin Lacy, 1821; James Bradley, 1822, 1823; Matthew Wilson, 1824, 1825; Joseph Clark, 1826, 1827; Jonathan Clark, 1828; F. P. Pennington, 1829; James Bradley, 1830, 1831; Samuel Younglove, 1832, 1833; John Buckner, 1834, 1835; Cons Oglesby, 1836; Alfred L. Hargis, 1837; Powhatan Wooldridge, 1838, 1839; Edward Payne, 1840; R. D. Bradley, 1841; Thomas Barnett, 1842; William Henry, 1843; John Buckner, 1844, 1845; Lemuel Clark, 1846; Daniel S. Hays, 1847, 1848, 1849; Larkin T. Brasher, 1850; Benjamin Bradshaw, 1851; Thomas S. Bryan, 1852, 1853; Richard D. Bradley, 1854, 1855; John B. Gowen, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860; Richard T. McDaniel, 1861, 1862, 1863; Joseph McCarroll, 1864, 1865, 1866; James D. Steel, 1867; James 0. Ellis, 1868; James Wallace, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872; W. L. Garth, 1873, 1874; Polk Cansler, 1875, 1876; Peter F. Rogers, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880; C. B. Brown, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, and the present incumbent.


The first Assessor, or Commissioner of Tax, as formerly called, was James Henderson, but without following them through the old appointive system, we take the list from the adoption of the new constitution. John W. Wiley filled the office until 1857, when 0. S. and J. W. Brown performed the duties up to 1862; then J. Milton Clark, 1862-1866; F. P. Stuart, 1866-1870; J. Milton Clark, 1870-1874; F. S. Long, 1874-1878; Young J. Means, 1878-1882; R. T. McDaniel, 1882-1886, the present incumbent.

County Judges

Alexander D. Rodgers, to 1862; H. R. Little, 1862-1866; A. G. Wooldridge, 1866-1870; James 0. Ellis, 1870-1874; A. V. Long, 1874-1882 (two terms); W. P. Winfree, 1882-1886, and still in office.


Alfred Younglove, 1854-1860; Thomas Wiley, 1860-1862; William A. Sasseen, 1862, 1863; C. W. Mills, 1863, 1864; Thomas C. Truitt, 1870-1874; J. T. Meacham, 1874-1878; J. C. Courtney, 1878-1882; Beverly Kelly (colored), 1882, and the present incumbent. Additional to these are the Jailer and Surveyor; and the more recently established officers, School Commissioner and Master Commissioner, but of these we failed to obtain a list, even since the elective system went into effect.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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