Bullitt County History

Bullitt County in 1905

In 1908 Hubert Vreeland, Commissioner of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, provided the Seventeenth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Agriculture in a volume called the Handbook of Kentucky, published by The Globe Printing Company of Louisville. In that volume, on pages 372-376, was a section on Bullitt County, revised in 1905 by John L. Sneed. That report has been transcribed in its entirety below. It is in the public domain.

(Revised 1905 by John L. Sneed.)

Bullitt county, named in honor of Capt Thomas Bullitt, [county actually named for Alexander Scott Bullitt] who, in company with a brave band of hardy Virginians, did considerable surveying in the vicinity of Shepherdsville and Bullitt's Lick, in 1773, was carved out of Jefferson and Nelson counties in 1796, and was the twenty-second county to be formed after Kentucky became an organized State.

During its early settlement several bloody fights between the pioneers and Indians occurred in what is now Bullitt county. About the last fight on Kentucky soil with the Indians, took place at Bullitt's Lick, where Gen. G[C]rist, a native of the county, and other settlers drove off a large party of invading savages, and pursued them to the banks of the Ohio river, near the mouth of Salt river, where they succeeded in escaping across to Indiana in canoes which they had concealed on the banks of the river.

Builitt county is traversed from east to west by Salt river, which is navigable for a distance of twelve miles. Salt river has two thributaies [sic] of importance, the Rolling Fork, which flows into the river from the southeast, and Floyds Fork, which flows from the Beargrass country on the north. Rolling Fork, part of the year, is navigable for a distance of ten miles, for small boats.

Salt river, Rolling Fork and Floyds Fork are moderately well stocked with fish and Salt river affords fairly good fishing in April and September.

Bullitt is bounded on the north by Jefferson, on the east by Spencer, on the south by Nelson and on the west by Hardin. The western part of the county is hilly and broken in places. Middle Bullitt is rolling generally, and all of it produces well when carefully cultivated. The soil of Bullitt will produce any crop grown in the State, with the possible exception of hemp.

Wheat. corn, oats, rye, barley, all kinds of grasses and vegetables are grown in this county, especially wheat and corn. The Salt river valley. Cox's creek bottoms, Rolling Fork bottoms, and Floyd's Fork bottoms are equal to any land in the State in the production of corn, and where the uplands have been taken care of and manured and clovered, twenty-seven bushels of wheat have been averaged on large fields per acre.

Recently the production of tobacco has increased very materially. Probably seven hundred hogsheads of burley will be raised in the county this year. Alfalfa raising is also receiving considerable attention from the farmers of the county and is growing in favor.

Timber is growing scarcer every year, owing to the continuous running of saw mills. Good timber lands sell for fifty and seventy-five dollars per acre. It is usually sawed and shipped to the market in commercial dimensions. Hickory, ash, oak, pine, locust, linn, poplar, cedar, cherry, and in fact all kinds of timber, indigenous to Kentucky, grow in Builitt.

Bullitt county contains many mineral wells, whose waters abound in medicinal virtues. Chief among these is the well at Paroquet Springs, famous in ante-bellum days as the foremost summer resort in the south.

The first salt ever manufactured west of the Allegheny mountains was made from the salt wells at Bullitt's Lick, three miles west of Shepherdsville, and the pioneer settlers came many miles to get it.

The town of Shepherdsville lies on the north bank of Salt river where the main stem of the Louisville and Nashville R. R. crosses that stream, and lies about eighteen miles south of Louisville. It is the oldest incorporated town in Kentucky, with the single exception of Harrodsburg, and has a population of about five hundred. It enjoys the distinction of having the largest and best stores to be found in the state, outside of the large cities, and in past few years many handsome residences have been erected. By reason of its superior railroad facilities, Shepherdsville would be an excellent point for factories of any kind, there being an abundance of water to run them. and building sites could be secured at low rates. It is now believed that an electric railroad line from Louisville will be extended to this place very shortly. It is badly needed and would pay well.

A canning factory would certainly pay at this place. All kinds of fruits and vegetables are raised, and the canner could market his goods at a nominal cost. Two creameries are at Shepherdsville and one at Mt. Washington have recently been erected and are sure to prove profitable investments.

Foremost among the many things which stamp the people of Bullitt as a progressive people is the Bullitt County Fair, which is regarded as one of the best in the State.

Shepherdsville has a good graded school, which is ably conducted, and last year erected a handsome school building. It also has a colored school with a large attendance.

Lebanon Junction, the railroad town of Bullitt, lies twelve miles south of Shepherdsville, at the junction of the the main line of the L. & N. R. R. and Knoxville division of the L. & N. R. R. and has a population of one thousand two hundred. It has a graded school empoying three teachers, and has a good colored school. The town of Mt. Washington lies ten miles east of Shepherdsville, has prosperous churches and schools, and is inhabited by a thrifty, peaceable people.

Among the other towns are Belmont, Pitts Point, Brooks, and Smithville. At Smithville is located a large flour mill, which does a big business. furnishing not only the farmers of the surrounding country with flour, etc., but shipping to Louisville and other points.

The only other flour mill in Bullitt is at Zoneton, although there are a number of grist mills in the county, many of them being run in connection with saw mills.

The rugged hills of Bullitt are full of ores of different kinds. In the day of the old stone furnace, all the furnaces in this county were run by ore mined near by, and that ore, said to be of a fine quality, is still here in inexhaustible quantities waiting for capital to take it into the markets of the world.

Natural gas exists in Bullitt in paying quantities. Mack Shiveley, a farmer living on Salt river between Pitts Point and West Point, bored a well about four years ago, and at the depth of something over three hundred feet struck a fine flow of natural gas, which he has been using ever since. It furnishes him an abundant supply of light and fuel and also supplies him with ample power to run a grist mill. One or two other good wells have also been bored in same neighborhood, furnishing ample light and fuel for their owners.

Bullitt county can boast of the finest building stone to be found anywhere in the State. It lies at Clermont six miles southeast of Shepherdsville, on the Bardstown branch of the L. & N., in inexhaustible quantities, and is used exclusively by the L. & N. for bridges and culverts.

There is also a fine grade of sandstone in the hills north and west of Shepherdsville, but owing to the difficulty of hauling it, there has been no effort to put it on the market. On the knobs west of Shepherdsville, about, seven miles distant is found a fine quality of gray limestone, which would be very valuable if nearer the railroad.

Fruit growing is the chief occupation of the people of western Bullitt. The knobs are covered with thrifty peach and apple orchards. The past two years have not been very successful ones for the peach growers. The yield both years has been small, but prices good. Each successful year's peach crop is estimated to bring about $60,000 to the Bullitt county orchard owners. Ben Davis, Johnson's Fine Winter, the Greening, Winesaps, and a few other less popular varieties, are the kinds of apples grown in Bullitt.

Bullitt has twenty-six and one-half miles of completed railroad, belonging to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, and about five miles belonging to the Illinois Central Railroad Company.

The plan adopted a few years ago of crushing stone at the expense of the county and letting the citizens along the proposed pike haul the stone on the pike free of charge has worked well, and Bullitt now has some eighteen or twenty miles of pike built in this way, and in addition thereto has recently acquired seven miles of the Louisville & Shepherdsville pike also, seven miles of the Louisville and Bardstown pike, all of either in the county, all of which is now open to the traveling public free of toil. A bond issue of $75,000 was voted last year for road purposes and the work of building new roads and improving old ones is going on rapidly under the direction of the fiscal court and a road overseer recently elected.

A handsome modern court house has been built by the fiscal court at a cost of $17,400, and is an ornament to the county and a source of pride to her citizens.

In addition to the improvements before named, Bullitt county las year constructed a first class iron and stone work, wagon bridge across Salt river, at Shepherdsville, costing something over $23,000 which was paid for out of money in the county treasury and the county is entirely free from debt of any kind whatever, except the road bonds.

There is but one college in Bullitt county, and that is for colored citizens. It was built by Eckstein Norton, for whom it was named, and has a large attendance.

Bullitt bears the reputation of being one of the most law-abiding counties in the State.

The character of labor employed by our farmers and others is as a rule high and wages very good.

The Bullitt County Fair has done much towards bettering stock. Fine horses and fine cattle, hogs and sheep, can now be seen on the farms of all thrifty farmers.

It is in the Fourth Congressional, Third Appellate, Tenth Judicial, Twelfth Senatorial, and Forty-first legislative Districts.

This is a work in progress. The webpage is copyright 2007 by Charles Hartley, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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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/bullittco1905.html