Bullitt County History

Bullitt County in 1878

The following description of Bullitt County in 1878 was originally printed in Kentucky: Its Resources and Present Condition. The First Annual Report, prepared by Winston J. Davie, Commissioner of the State Bureau of Agriculture, Horticulture, and Statistics [Frankfort, KY, 1878, pages 278-281].


Bullitt county, named for Col. A. S. Bullitt, was taken from parts of Jefferson and Nelson counties in 1796. It is bounded on the north by Jefferson, east by Spencer and Nelson, south by Nelson and Hardin, and west by Hardin, the Ohio river, and Jefferson.

Geology and Soil. - The geological formations of this county are exceedingly varied, beginning with the upper Silurian as the lowest, then the Devonian, Lingula Shale, Waverly Group, and sub-carboniferous sandstone. The northeast part of the county is located on the Silurian, and the formations vary as they advance towards Hardin county. The face of the country is "knobby" and rolling in parts, and in other portions flat, wet, or craw-fishy. There is much good land, and some very inferior, dependent on the formation. The knobs are capped with sub-carboniferous sandstones, on which pine trees grow quite freely. Below these are the different kinds of shale and limestone, in which are found two or three kinds of iron ores in considerable quantities. The black Devonian shale exhibits a large per centage of potash (from 5 to 7 per cent.), and could be used profitably on the exhausted lands. The lands generally of this county are acid or "sour," and would be greatly improved by sowing over them lime or land plaster, the German kainit, and dissolved bone-dust. The iron ores of this county are found in that shaly formation, that differs in thickness from 75 to 150 feet, and which also is the source of the "bitter water," from which salt was made in the first settlement of the country.

The soil, formed by the disintegration of the coralline limestone, similar to that of Jefferson county, is the best in the county. Beneath this, in the northeastern part of the county, are marls which might be of advantage to the worn land, but their value is greatly decreased by want of the phosphoric and sulphuric acids, which make the South Carolina marls so valuable. Ashes are an excellent fertilizer for these lands, and in many localities subsoiling would prove advantageous, and in nearly every section under-drainage by tiles would add much to the productive capacity of the flat lands. If any lead ore exists near the surface, which is probable in the Silurian formation, it is not enough to be worked with profit. No county in the State can be improved more than this by chemical fertilizers and tile-drainage.

Towns And Manufactures.

Shepherdsville, the county seat, at the crossing of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad over Salt river, has a population of some 300 persons, with a good court-house, several fine churches, and many neat residences. Its business is local, without much pretension in regard to manufacturing enterprises, although its situation is good for this class of industries.

Mt. Washington, some ten miles northeast of Shepherdsville, is a place of large local trade, with a population of about 400 people.

Pittspoint, at the junction of Rolling Fork with Salt river, has a population of 125 persons, and is also a place of fine trade, and quite prosperous.

Along the railroad are several neat villages, which supply dry goods and groceries to the people of their respective neighborhoods, and ship the surplus from their farms to the Louisville market; these are Bardstown Junction, Mt. Vitio, Cane Spring, Belmont, and Lebanon Junction.

Rivers. - Salt river passes centrally through this county, and, with its tributaries, drains every part of it. The Rolling Fork, which empties into Salt river, is the southern boundary for some distance. There are on these streams several fine sites for mills and factories, with water enough to run them all the year; in fact, Salt river has water enough to be made a fine slack-water navigable stream by a proper system of dams and locks.

Manufactories. - Formerly there were several salt-works in this county, which, however, are not now active. The iron interest has been partially developed, a furnace or two being in blast, which make the very best quality of tough, soft iron. Other enterprises of the same kind could be profitably located in the knobby regions of the county. Excellent locations could be selected for cheese factories, and for canning fruits of all kinds, as the lands of this county are well adapted for orchards and vineyards.

Smaller Industries. - Owing to the proximity of the city of Louisville, the farmers of Bullitt county are compelled to engage in those classes of business that will furnish the daily markets with supplies. Orchards, vineyards, and gardens will eventually occupy a large portion of the territory, while dairies, bees, poultry, and fish will be found most lucrative sources from which can be derived the wealth of the population. Fortunately the great variety of soil, and the peculiar formation of the hills and valleys, are promotive of these very industries: grapes and peaches will do well upon the hills, and with proper mineral fertilizers and tile drainage, the sour, level, spongy soils can be made equal to any garden lands in the Union. Vineyards planted on the southern and eastern slopes of the hills and ridges ought never to fail in grapes, provided the hardy American stocks are used, such as Concord, Ives Seedling, Delaware, Hartford Prolific, Catawba, &c. Similarly situated soils in Tennessee have produced over ten thousand pounds of good Concords to the acre, from which over seven hundred and fifty gallons of wine can be made, with a body and bouquet much superior to the wines of Missouri or Ohio. Bees (Italian are best) and poultry can be made more profitable than any other branch of farming; and, on account of the ever ready market at Louisville, within an hour's railroad travel, eggs, fowls, and honey may be reckoned as cash articles, and as staple as tobacco or wheat. Small fruits, berries, and nuts also can be made to pay largely, and supply a healthy marketing, which can never be over-stocked.

Mineral Springs. - Sulphur, chalybeate, and salt springs and wells are found in many localities. Paroquette Springs, near Shepherdsville, is a place of great resort by the people of Louisville, Jefferson county, Bullitt county, and by invalids and pleasure-seekers from abroad. The waters of these springs are said to be very fine for many chronic diseases, as well as for intermittent fevers. There are other springs in the same formation which no doubt will some day be equally as much esteemed.

Education and Religion. - The people of Bullitt county are intelligent, educated, and refined, and are beginning to feel the necessity of a further advance in scientific attainments, in order to fully enjoy the advantages of their proximity to the metropolitan city of the State. The common schools are taught in nearly all the districts, and several private schools and academies of higher grades are patronized by students desirous of a more advanced or classical education. The morality of the country is excellent, and the churches are generally well attended. The leading denominations are the Baptist (Primitive and Missionary) the Methodist, the Presbyterian, the Reform Christian, and the Catholic A few Episcopalians, Unitarians, and Universalists are scattered over the county. There are many elegant church buildings, and the preachers' salaries are punctually paid.

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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday appointments are available by calling 502-921-0161 during our regular weekday hours. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 12 Jan 2024 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/bc1878.html