1874 Map of Kentucky

Stations and Early Settlements in Kentucky

In a meticulous endeavor to enrich the historical narrative of early Kentucky, the authors, father and son, embarked on a thorough journey of discovery. Lewis Collins, the father, devoted two years to an exhaustive study, anchored in the belief that an intimate knowledge of the topography of early Kentucky is indispensable for understanding its history. His efforts resulted in a compilation that surpassed even his own optimistic expectations in both completeness and accuracy. This remarkable feat is especially noteworthy considering it was largely informed by the contributions of Dr. Christopher C. Graham of Louisville, who, at the ripe age of

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Vital Records Legislation by the Commonwealth of Kentucky up to 1942

Since 1851, laws mandating the recording of births and deaths in Kentucky have evolved considerably. Prior to 1911, however, these records were not systematically maintained. The current statewide system, overseen by the State Bureau of Vital Statistics within the State Board of Health, was established that year, significantly improving record-keeping. Earlier laws required health professionals and county officials to register these events annually, with varying levels of detail and enforcement. Key legislative changes over the years included establishing and then abolishing the role of State Registrar, appointment of local registrars, and standardized forms for certificates. Failure to comply with these regulations carried fines and later, risk of misdemeanor charges. Procedural requirements for reporting births and deaths have been stringent, involving physicians, midwives, coroners, and local registrars to ensure proper certification and preservation of records. Similarly, marriage laws in Kentucky, which initially operated under Virginia laws until 1798, have undergone adjustments, such as easing bond requirements, ensuring parental consent for minors, and implementing mandatory medical certificates to curtail the spread of syphilis since 1940. Divorce jurisdiction has resided with the circuit courts since 1809.

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Origin and Early History of Record Keeping in the State

Kentucky, mirroring parent state Virginia, adhered to Anglican Church practices for vital statistics record-keeping until independence, when the county clerk assumed this role with minimal attention to detail. The pursuit of scientific vital statistics began earnestly with the Seventh Decennial Census in 1850, but faced underfunding and public apathy. Kentucky responded with the Sutton Law in 1852, mandating local record-keeping, but with limited success. Only in 1910 did genuine reform occur with a new registration law and the foundation of the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Despite earlier neglect, some records persevered, aiding future genealogical and public health research. Today, Kentucky’s vital statistics system, adhering to a national model, is critical for affirming identity, property rights, and public health, with marriage records remaining the most complete and accessible. The significance of these records is underscored as they intimately affect citizens’ lives and contribute to a comprehensive view of community health and wellbeing.

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Three-thousand acre land grant to the heirs of Hugh Mercer, Kentucky County, Virginia

Index to Kentucky Land Grants

An index has been kept of the patents on record, but many of these indexes were made at a time when little thought was given to efficiency, and much confusion has resulted, both to the public who seek information, and the custodians of the Land Office who seek to supply the information.

In all about 160,000 patents have been granted to land located in the State of Kentucky. These patents are divided into nine groups, as follows: Virginia Grants, Kentucky Grants, Kentucky Land Warrants, County Court Orders, South of Walker’s Line, South of Green River, West Tennessee River, and W. F. H. Lands. Besides these patents, there are seven or eight volumes of “Entries” of surveys made before the State of Virginia or the State of Kentucky perfected any method of patenting land. Very few of these entries are indexed at all, or if they have ever been indexed, the indexes have long since been lost. It also frequently happens that patents are found which have not been indexed at all.

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